Should I Become an Auto Claims Adjuster?
|Degree Level||High school diploma or equivalent; some employers prefer formal training/college degree|
|Degree Field||Auto body repair|
|Licensure and/or Certification||Varies by state: adjuster's/appraiser's license often required|
|Experience||1-2 years working with auto claims|
|Key Skills||Analytical, verbal and written communication, interpersonal, customer service, and math skills; familiarity with word processing, spreadsheets, and claims software; auto body and mechanical knowledge; valid driver's license|
|Salary||$64,300 (2015 median for claims adjusters, examiners, and investigators)|
Sources: Online job postings (November 2012), U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Auto claims adjusters are typically hired by insurance companies to inspect vehicles damaged in accidents and work with clients regarding settlements. The claims adjuster will often travel to the site of the vehicle, inspect the damage and assess how much the insurance company should pay the customer for the required repair costs.
They might interview witnesses and review police reports to gather facts about the accident scene. The job requires claims adjusters to negotiate parts and repair costs with auto repair shops and suppliers, and they also negotiate settlement amounts with claimants. Many hours might be spent in travel or in noisy auto repair shops. The duties of the job require a particular skill set. Auto claims adjusters must have auto body and mechanical knowledge, customer service skills, analytical ability and verbal and written communication skills. They also need familiarity with word processing, spreadsheets and claims software. So how much can auto claims adjusters expect to earn? The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that claims adjusters, examiners and investigators earned an average salary of $64,300 as of May 2015. Now we'll walk through the steps that lead to a career in auto claims adjustment.
Step 1: Earn a Certificate or Degree
Since auto claims adjusters must inspect damaged vehicles and assess repair costs, employers often prefer formal training in auto body repair. Aspiring auto claims adjusters may earn a technical certificate or an associate's degree in auto body repair technology at a vocational school or community college.
These programs use hands-on learning techniques to equip students with working knowledge of auto body repair and train students to diagnose automotive problems. These programs may include courses in auto design, metalworking, glass installation, painting and frame alignment, knowledge of which is essential to the career. Such training programs often follow industry standards in training, such as those set by the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair, the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence and the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation.
During college, you may want to learn basic computer skills. An auto claims adjuster should have knowledge of computers and software for job duties, such as record keeping and communications. Aptitude in Microsoft Office, especially Word and Excel, as well as claims software is essential.
Step 2: Become Professionally Licensed
The next step is to obtain any necessary licensure. Licensing requirements for auto claims adjusters vary by state, but they may include pre-licensing education or experience and passage of a licensing exam. A fee is often required when the license is first issued and upon renewal. States requiring a license to work as an auto claims adjuster may also require yearly continuing education credits towards license renewal.
Step 3: Acquire On-the-Job Training
After applying for and obtaining employment, claims adjusters generally complete on-the-job training under an experienced supervisor. Beginning claims adjusters are assigned larger claims once they've learned more about the industry and its requirements. Competency must be exhibited before the adjuster is assigned more complex cases.
Step 4: Continue Education
After acquiring a license, if one is required, auto claims adjusters must remain up to date on new and changing state and federal laws. In fact, some states require continuing education for licensure maintenance. Additionally, staying abreast of changing laws and policies through continuing education may increase job prospects and could create opportunities for career advancement. You might attend auto claims seminars, which are often hosted by insurance companies to keep employees up to date on new policies and laws. Continuing education opportunities are also available through the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation, which administers the Continuing Automotive Service Education program.
A career as an auto claims adjuster generally requires a technical certificate or associate's degree in auto body repair technology and on-the-job training, as well as licensure in some states.