Catastrophe Adjuster

Ready for the Storm: What Every New Adjuster Needs to Know

This is a general guide to getting started as a claims adjuster. For a more specific discussion of the current situation see our Harvey and Irma FAQ, or join our next free webinar where we answer your questions about working hurricane claims.

A few times a decade, a major weather event occurs that dramatically alters the landscape of independent claims adjusting.

Brand new adjusters, who have previously found it difficult to break in, are hired often en masse to help cover the sudden, overwhelming demand. In fact, catastrophe adjusters were already being deployed to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma before they even made landfall. Then came Maria followed by a (thankfully) weaker Hurricane Nate. Most of these events would be considered a major catastrophe in their own right, but the fact that they happened essentially back to back means the insurance industry will be feeling the effect for a very long time.

It is in the best interests of everyone – the policyholders, the carriers, and the communities – to get adjusters into affected areas as soon as possible after a disaster so they can go to work. If you are interested in handling CAT claims, being prepared, licensed, and ready to go beforehand is ideal – but it’s not a must. Remember that adjusters will still be needed long after the storm has ended and the camera crews have gone home. For those newbies interested in working claims after a big event, here are the steps you’ll need to take to get started:

1. Get your home state adjuster license.  ASAP.

This might seem counter-intuitive. Shouldn’t you get a license for the state where the hurricane hit? After all, that’s where the claims are! Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

Home State License

State Departments of Insurance are working towards better industry uniformity and they have come to a consensus that adjusters need to get their home state license first. In some states like Florida or Indiana, the entire process, from taking our course to getting your actual license can take as little as a week. In other states, like Texas, it takes much longer and so you need to get on this asap.

Designated Home State

There are several states that do not license independent insurance adjusters so state regulators created the Designated Home State (DHS) license. This allows individuals from non-licensing states to designate a licensing ‘home state’ and obtain a valid license. Once you have a DHS license, you can use it to apply for additional licenses through reciprocity. We recommend the Florida Adjuster License for people from non-licensing states. The Florida non-resident 70-20 DHS License has moved to the top of our list because it requires all the necessary items, like a state exam and fingerprinting, which offer adjusters the smoothest reciprocity with other states. But unlike some of the other states that offer the same reciprocity benefits, Florida is able to approve and issue adjuster licenses within a week.

Additional Licenses

Then, once you have your home state or DHS license, there are two ways most adjusters become qualified to work a catastrophe in another state: through reciprocal licenses or emergency licenses. Both require you obtain your home state or DHS license first. 

  • Reciprocal License: Once you have your home state license, you can simply apply for another state’s license through reciprocity. The process is pretty straightforward: apply online, pay your fees, and you should receive approval relatively quickly – as long as the states are reciprocal with each other. And reciprocal licenses have one huge advantage over the emergency license: once you have it – you are ready to go. No waiting. No paperwork. No time limit. No sponsor needed. Read more on the benefits of expanding your license portfolio in our Increase Your Odds blog article from earlier this year.
  • Emergency License: An emergency adjuster license is temporary, good for 3 to 6 months, and can be extended as needed.  These licenses are incredibly important after a disaster as they allow the state to quickly license out-of-state adjusters who otherwise wouldn’t qualify. But they do present a challenge – you must be sponsored by an employer to be approved. And while that doesn’t usually affect veteran adjusters, it can be an obstacle for brand new adjusters who are looking to break into the industry. Employers will sponsor new adjusters when things get tough, but you are a much more attractive candidate when you already have the necessary license in hand.

But first thing is first! Get your home state or DHS license immediately.

Bottom-line: browse the AdjusterPro course catalog or call one of our Career Consultants at 214.329.9030 to get started right now. It doesn’t matter where you live, we can help.

2. Learn basic estimating in Xactimate.

If you’re handling residential or light commercial property claims without a basic command of Xactimate, you’re dead in the water. Take our live, instructor-led webinar and get yourself technically equipped while making you more marketable to hiring firms.

3. Get on IA Firm rosters. Lots of them. 

The very second you have your Home State license (you aren’t deployable without it), start applying with as many IA Firms as you can. Many new adjusters only apply to the top 4 or 5 firms thinking that’s where the claims are. But when a catastrophe hits, it affects everyone – not just the state(s) where it happens or the large firms. For example, when a hurricane hits The Gulf, Texas and Louisiana might pull all the adjusters from Oklahoma and Alabama. That leaves an adjuster vacuum in those states, who then may need folks from other areas to come in and pick up the slack. And remember, the effects of such a large scale disaster don’t stop once the sun shines. They often affect the industry, the employers, and the communities for months. Sometimes years.

These companies are all prepared to handle the high volume of claims from a severe event. We recommend you apply and get on as many rosters as possible.

4. Write an industry specific resume.

If you’re not feeling great about your resume, or just want some advice on how to get noticed by claims managers and insurance carriers, check out my guide to Writing a Claims Adjuster Resume.

5. Follow us on Social Media.

If you’re a former AdjusterPro student, join our Facebook Alumni Group for advice, updates, certification classes, job postings, and more! Or you can follow AdjusterPro on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

We’ve been doing this a while, so if you have questions or need help, let us know. We have your back!

You can start the licensing process immediately by purchasing directly from our online course catalog. Our courses include printable reference materials, instructions on scheduling your exam, and a step-by-step guide on how to apply for your license.

Still have questions?

You should attend our next free Claims FAQ webinar, where we’ll cover these basics in more detail and then open it up to your questions.