Insurance Adjuster Basics:
The Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How of Claims Adjusting
Who are insurance adjusters?
Nearly anyone can become an insurance adjuster. A college degree is not typically required for independent adjusters so the only hard and fast prerequisite concerns age - 18 years or older. While some adjusters have started out from the outset in the claims industry, many folks begin their insurance claims career after work in other fields. Common backgrounds include property construction, inspection,or appraising and insurance and real estate sales. These backgrounds variously lend themselves to the work of handling claims. However, teachers, farmers, attorneys, plumbers, truckdrivers, and a host of other professionals have all made successfull transitions into the world of insurance claims adjusting.
What do insurance adjusters do?
Insurance claims adjusters (1) inspect claims of damage or loss, (2) interpret and apply the customer's insurance policy, (3) negotiate settlement, and may (4) authorize payment..
Independent adjusters handle claims as either independent contractors or employees of adjusting firms.
Staff adjusters handle claims as direct employees of insurance companies. Most adjusters are staff adjusters.
Why are insurance adjusters needed?
Insurance adjusters are needed because settling most types of insurance claims requires human judgment. As each claim is unique, call-in centers with computers can only take insurance companies so far - finally, field adjusters must be called upon to bring their own senses and intelligence to bear upon the particular demands of the claim. It is reassuring to realize that insurance adjusters will always be needed. Outsourcing to technology can streamline and minimize the workload for adjusters, but will never eliminate the need for adjusters themselves.
The need for adjusters is never higher than when catastrophe strikes. In the wake of Hurricanes Katrina, Wilma, and Rita in 2005, major insurance companies were desperate for licensed and trained independent insurance adjusters. Even though major companies staffed a contingent of their own salaried "storm troopers" - these adjusters simply were unable to handle the sheer volume of claims created just by Katrina. When Rita and Wilma made landfall, it seemed the requirement for getting hired as an independent adjuster dropped from having a license to having a car. Thousands of new and inexperienced "cat adjusters" cut their teeth in the fall of 2005 and many more will join the ranks as meteorologists expect the next 10 to 15 years to yield unusually high storm activity.
Where do insurance adjusters work?
Independent Adjuster: Independent adjusters will generally work wherever mother nature has wrought violence. Where an adjuster lives may have no bearing upon where he or she works. An independent adjuster residing in Minnesota may contract with an adjusting firm in Iowa and be sent to work hurricane claims in Florida! An independent claims adjuster should be prepared for extensive travel.
Staff Adjuster: Staff adjusters typically work a limited geographical region in their vicinity. While extensive travel is possible, the range and frequency of travel is much less than for the average independent adjuster. Operating this way may be more suitable for those where family demands are prohibitive to extensive time away from home.
When do insurance adjusters work?
Independent Adjuster: Independent adjusters will work as long as the job requires. A hail storm may require only 3 weeks of claims adjusting while a category 5 hurricane may put some independent adjusters to work for over a year.
Staff Adjuster: Staff adjusters will generally have a far more consistent schedule than an independent adjuster. As a salaried employee, staff adjusters will work year round.
How can I become a successful insurance adjuster?
Successful insurance claims adjusting can be very demanding and requires a high degree of professionalism. To see what it takes, check out the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Adjusters and if you're ready to begin your career, check out AdjusterPro's industry leading catalog of Adjuster Licensing and Training.