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What Does a Claims Adjuster Do?

Claims adjusters examine damaged property, including cars and homes, to determine insurance compensation. Read on to learn more about job duties, required education and employment outlook for this career.

Career Overview

Generally, when a policyholder experiences a loss involving their car or home, they will notify their insurance carrier and file a claim. The claim will be assigned to an adjuster, and as the claims adjuster, you are responsible for identifying the loss, discussing policy coverage with the insured, and taking appropriate measures to investigate the claim.

Investigating the claim includes:

  • Taking photographs of the loss
  • Speaking to the policyholder and other parties involved
  • Obtaining police reports if necessary
  • Assessing the damaged property and/or vehicle involved
  • Working with other insurance companies or lawyers if a claim is contested or needs to be settled
  • Calculating what costs the insurance company should cover
  • Obtaining hospital bills and records if someone was injured
  • Settling the claim after coming to an agreement with the policyholder

Important Facts About This Occupation

On-the-Job Training Working on small claims cases under the guidance of a more experienced adjuster is typical when first hired
Key Skills Ability to think analytically, get along with others, and communicate well; attention to detail; mathematical knowledge
Required Education Minimum of a high school diploma or equivalent; a bachelor's degree may be preferred by employers
Similar Occupations Cost estimator, construction and building inspectors, fire inspectors and investigators

Work Environment

Every insurance company is a little different; some claims adjusters work out of a main office and others work in the field. Carrying laptops, portable printers, and cameras with them, adjusters are able to complete a majority of their work on location. While many adjusters will work a typical 40-hour work week, shifts can vary depending on the type of insurance company and the number of claims a person can handle.

While much of the paperwork needed to process a claim can be handled by fax and e-mail, there are instances that require you to be out of the office. Some claims have a rather long process, which requires you to perform research and coordinate communications with all other possible parties involved.

Education

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) advises that while there is no specific degree required to pursue a career as a claims adjuster, you do need to have at least a high school education. Many insurance companies may require you to have a college degree and previous insurance work experience. As a claims adjuster, you may also be required to obtain a license, but the need for a license will vary from company to company and state to state. You also need to have a good driving record and valid driver's license in order to travel for the job; the company you work for may provide a vehicle for you to drive.

Job Outlook and Salary

Adjusters have the capability to move up in the ranks to a supervisor or claims manager with training and experience. The employment of claims adjusters, examiners, and investigators are expected to decline by one percent from 2016-2026. The BLS also reports that the average annual salary for claims adjusters, examiners, and investigators was $67,540 in 2018; those working for insurance carriers earned an average of $67,210 a year in 2018.