Is a Career as an Insurance Claims Adjuster Right for You?

Low angle view of the front part of a car after an accident
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Among the many career paths in insurance, insurance claims adjusters are those who determine whether a party claiming loss due to property damage, bodily injury, etc., is owed a payment under an insurance policy. They also decide the payment amount, if one is due. Most insurance claims adjusters are employees of insurance companies, but some are independent consultants who represent claimants. Closely allied occupations include insurance claims examiners, insurance appraisers and insurance investigators.

An alternative job title for insurance claims adjuster is insurance loss adjuster.

Insurance Claims Adjuster: Basics of the Profession

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Education: Educational requirements vary greatly, depending on the level of the position and the employer. Normally, a bachelor's degree is sufficient.

Certification and Experience: There are no formal certification processes to help you get hired, but many of the large insurance companies have in-house training programs. Additionally, if you have previous experience in a related field that's often taken into consideration in the hiring process. For example, insurance companies like to hire people with legal experience to become adjusters for liability claims whereas people with engineering or architectural backgrounds tend to get hired to be adjusters for industrial claims.

Skills and Responsibilities: Insurance claims adjusters need both analytical skills and people skills. To evaluate a claim, an adjuster may need to interview numerous people such as the claimant, witnesses, law enforcement personnel and expert consultants. They also need to examine numerous documents such as police reports, court records, building records and medical records.

Also, coming to a settlement with the claimant may require negotiation or even legal action, which means insurance claims adjusters need to work well with lawyers.

Typical Schedule: Insurance claims adjusters split their time between office work and field work, and sometimes the work requires out of town travel. Workweeks can be highly varied because they are based on client need and may require working evenings and weekends. You may also need to work long hours without warning to handle a rash of claims pursuant to a natural disaster or severe weather event. Workweeks of 50-60 hours are not unusual.

Pros and Cons: The good news is, this job has a lot of variety, will test your analytic and people skills and (because no two claims are exactly the same) the job is rarely mundane. The bad news is that dissatisfied or demanding claimants are not unusual and can make the job taxing. You'll need to say "no" a lot, which is hard for some people.

Salary Range: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, median annual compensation was about $51,000 as of May 2006. Fast-forward to 2016 and, with inflation, the median annual salary was $63,680 but independent adjusters can make over $100k a year, especially if they handle catastrophes.