How to Become an Independent Claims Adjuster

Oct 17, 2019

Find out about how to become an insurance adjuster. A summary of the education, training and licensing requirements is provided here for those considering a career in insurance.

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How to Become an Independent Adjuster

Step 1: Earn a Degree

While it is possible to obtain employment as an independent claims adjuster with just a high school diploma, most companies prefer their claims adjusters to hold an associate's or bachelor's degree in insurance and risk management or something similarly relevant. Such programs educate prospective claims adjusters in finance, business, law and risk assessment. Often these programs can be completed entirely online.

Step 2: Get a License

As of 2018, about 34 states require independent claims adjusters to be licensed. This means candidates in these states must take a verified course in insurance adjusting, pass a subsequent exam, provide character references, and obtain a surety bond. The licensing process usually involves taking a pre-licensing course, which are made available in person or online by private companies or public education institutes. The courses tend to be quite short and can often be completed in a week.

The format of the licensing exam itself again varies by state. Some require a formal examination consisting of a number of multiple-choice questions (e.g. 100 questions in California) covering areas such as the Adjuster's Act, adjusting losses and fair claim settlement practices, while others just require the complete of the relevant paperwork and payment of a fee. In some states, such as Florida, candidates who complete an approved pre-licensing course and associated course exam are exempt from having to take the state adjuster exam and can therefore apply for their license on immediate completion of the course. The license application procedure will require candidates to pass a background check and criminal records search.

Step 3: Maintain the License

States that require licenses may also require adjusters to complete a specific number of continuing education credits every year in order for a license to be renewed. These credits can be earned from online correspondence courses and training sessions organized by employers. Additionally, presenting industry related lectures and/or publishing articles can earn credits. Membership of a professional organization, such as the National Association of Independent of Insurance Adjusters, can provide a variety of continuing education opportunities. The number of credits vary by state. California and Minnesota, for example, require 24 hours of continuing education courses every two years.

Step 4: Gain Experience

Internships and entry-level positions with reputable insurance companies are an effective way of acquiring foundational experience and knowledge in the processes and law that allow claims adjusters to carry out their job well. Internships often provide early-career adjusters with the opportunity to shadow an experienced claims adjuster who can pass on their knowledge of claim quotes, negotiation, medical terms, etc.

Insurance Adjuster Requirements

Degree Level High school diploma or GED. However, many employers prefer an associate's or bachelor's degree
Degree Field Insurance, finance, business, or other relevant field
Licensure and/or Certification Adjuster's license required in many states
Experience Normally 1-5 years
Key Skills Strong verbal and written communication, analytical, good interpersonal skills, mathematical aptitude, medical knowledge in some instances
Median Salary $65,900 (claims adjusters, examiners, and investigators)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Independent Claims Adjuster Career Details

Claims adjusters take care of insurance claims. These claims can be associated with personal injury, loss of property or damages. A claims adjuster is responsible for compiling reports about a variety of claims, and this can involve working with the police, medics, lawyers, witnesses and the policyholders themselves. Once all of the relevant information has been gathered and collated the claims adjuster will complete the report and make a decision on whether to pay the claimant and how much. Sometimes this can involve negotiation with policyholders or even having to testify in court to support a contested claim.

Independent claims adjusters are not permanently employed by one insurance company. They typically work for a number of companies or work on a contractual basis for one company. Claims adjusters need to schedule their day in accordance to the availability of the people they need to interview, and this can often result in adjusters working long hours. Adjusters can specialize in a particular area, such as property insurance or medical insurance.

Independent Claims Adjuster Salary

As of May 2018, the median salary for claims adjusters, examiners and investigators was $65,900 according the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The top 10% of earners in the field earned in excess of $98,660. The BLS also projects that the number of job opportunities in this field from 2018 to 2028 will decrease 4%.

So, earn a degree, get your license and gain some experience. If these steps are carried out well, a successful career as an independent claims adjuster can be available.

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