How to Become an Insurance Claims Adjuster in 5 Steps
Explore the career requirements for insurance claims adjusters. Get the facts about job duties, education requirements and licensure to determine if this is the right career for you.
What Does an Insurance Claims Adjuster Do?
Insurance claims adjusters examine damaged property in order to decide on a settlement for the losses. As a claims adjuster, you'll collect information and write reports for evaluation by examiners. You'll also negotiate and settle claims. You may be self employed or work for an insurance company.
The chart below gives an overview of this profession.
|Degree Required||High school diploma or equivalent; bachelor's degree preferred by some employers|
|Key Skills||Interpersonal and investigative skills, communication and mathematical skills|
|Licensure Required||Licensure requirements vary by state|
|Job Growth (2020-2030)||3% decline (for claims adjusters, appraisers, examiners and investigators)*|
|Median Salary (2020)||$68,270 (for claims adjusters, appraisers, examiners and investigators)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
What Is an Insurance Claims Adjuster?
When an individual has items or property of value, he or she will often insure them so that they can receive payment in case of loss, theft or damage. Should any of those events occur, the individual files an insurance claim. A claims adjuster will step in and process the insurance claim that is submitted by the policyholder. For instance, a claims adjuster might handle a claim after a tornado damages a policyholder's home. Ultimately, he or she makes the decision as to whether or not a claim has merit and should be paid.
Step 1: Research the Career Responsibilities of an Insurance Claims Adjuster
A claims adjuster is responsible for reviewing insurance claims, interviewing customers and any witnesses, inspecting damage done to property and consulting official records, which could include police and medical reports. Sometimes you'd consult with lawyers, architects, physicians and construction workers for expert advice about an insurance claim. Claims adjusters carefully document the information they gather, and, based on their findings, they settle any claims they deem to be valid. In this role, you'd team up with witnesses and lawyers to help the insurance company defend its position against contested claims.
Step 2: Earn a Degree
You won't necessarily need a college degree to become an insurance claims adjuster. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the minimal educational requirement for claims adjusters is a high school diploma (www.bls.gov). However, acquiring a college degree in any discipline can help you to gain employment because employers tend to hire candidates who have degrees or industry experience. Consider the area you'd like to specialize in, and plan your curriculum accordingly.
If you'd like to work on financial loss claims, you should major in business. Take legal courses if you'd like to work on liability or worker's compensation cases. Medical courses would be helpful if you plan to specialize in life or medical claims. As an example, a 2-year business curriculum at a community college would include courses on marketing, business management, accounting, macroeconomics, computer applications and business law.
Step 3: Seek Employment
Although claims adjusters work mainly for casualty and property insurance companies, you'll also find opportunities with commercial insurance, disability insurance, medical insurance or health insurance companies. Job opportunities could also exist in the area of worker's compensation. In any one of these areas, you might begin your career as a trainee, working under the supervision of more experienced adjusters. As your skills and competence grows, you'll be given more responsibilities and autonomy.
Step 4: Become Licensed
Licensing requirements for claims adjusters vary by state. In some states, you'll have to fulfill specific educational requirements or successfully complete an examination. You may be able to work under your insurance company's license. Some community colleges offer short pre-licensing accredited claims adjuster courses. Upon successful completion of such a program, you may be granted a company adjuster or an independent adjuster license, so you wouldn't have to also take a state licensing examination. In some states, continuing education is required for license renewal.
Step 5: Take Continuing Education Courses
As a claims adjuster, you'll need to stay updated on information pertaining to government laws and new medical technology. This is because amendments or technological advances could affect a policy's coverage or the way claims are handled. Continuing education courses are an ideal way of remaining updated. You could enroll in a school program, take courses online or attend seminars for claims adjusters. Also, many companies provide the necessary training to help employees stay informed of changes in the industry.
What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?
A high school diploma is also required to become an insurance sales agent or a fire prevention specialist. Insurance sales agents help clients choose insurance, sell insurance and are in charge of policy renewals. Fire prevention specialists look for fire hazards and ensure the fire code is being followed, as well as providing advice on reducing fire risks.