How To Become An Insurance Adjuster In 5 Steps

In this post, we are going to talk about how to become an insurance adjuster. It’s actually very simple once you start to look into the process. Specifically when you compare it to the cost and time it takes to get a college or technical degree.

 

Step 1: Verify That Insurance Claims Adjusting is Right For You.

One of the last ‘hidden gem’ careers in America, an insurance adjuster, is a stable industry with excellent earning potential, but it is not for everybody:

  • Hard & Soft Skills Required: The hard skills and qualifications necessary to become an adjuster are relatively simple; be at least 18 years old, hold a valid driver’s license, be a resident of your state. But it’s the soft qualities that set great adjusters apart; self-discipline, an excellent worth ethic, and great communication skills.
  • Challenging But Rewarding: An Insurance Adjuster is a challenging but truly rewarding career. The pay is certainly good and helping people get back on their feet after a loss is a deeply satisfying line of work.
  • Always In Demand: Insurance adjusters are in demand in any economy since claims remain steady regardless of economic factors. When it comes to insurance adjuster salaries, annual earnings in excess of $100,000 are realistic for independent insurance adjusters, while staff adjusters who work directly for insurance carriers earn salaries ranging from $45,000 to $80,000 or more.
  • The Challenge & Opportunity of Catastrophes: In catastrophe situations (e.g. after a Hurricane or Hail storm) the huge volume of claims causes a massive increase in the demand for adjusters. During these spikes, a good adjuster can earn more in a few months than he or she would normally earn in an entire year. But you have to be ready to go at the drop of a hat and be prepared to work in an extremely challenging environment.
  • The Future Is Bright: The industry is rapidly evolving, and employers are struggling to fill the vacuum from a generation of adjusters who are retiring out of the industry.

Step 2: Choose the Type of Insurance Adjuster You Will Be

Most insurance adjusters choose between two career paths, electing to become either a staff adjuster or an independent insurance adjuster.

  • Staff Adjusters: They work as year-round employees, typically full-time, for an insurance company.
  • Independent Insurance Adjusters: They are contractors who work for one or more Insurance Adjusting firms. The IA firms usually have a multitude of insurance companies as clients and the independent adjuster may handle claims for any one of those insurers, often multiple at once.
  • Catastrophe Adjusters: This type of adjuster can be either staff or independent, and will travel to hard-hit areas as needed.

Both staff adjusters and independent adjusters may handle both regular daily claims that happen on a normal basis, as well as catastrophe claims from weather related events and manmade disasters.

There are many, many more directions you can take with your claims career. As more experience is gained, many adjusters will specialize in a certain type of work or claim, such as CAT, Auto, Workers’ Comp, or Marine.

Step 3: Get Your Insurance Adjuster License

To start, you’ll need to know whether your home state licenses insurance adjusters, and most do. However, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Ohio, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Massachusetts do not license adjusters.

  • If Your Home State Issues Adjuster Licenses: If you live in a licensing state, you must obtain your home state license first. Many firms and educational companies offer courses that will fully prepare you to ace your state’s licensing exam. And in some cases, they can even issue the exam or exemption from the state exam. To see what requirements are needed for your home state, visit The CLM, and click on the state you are inquiring about, and select Adjuster Licensing Information. You can also visit NIPR, go through the prompted drop-down list questions and find the info you are looking for.
  • If Your State Doesn’t License Insurance Adjusters: Even if you live in a non-licensing state, obtaining a license is vital to your success as an adjuster. Because while you might not need a license to work in your state, you will need one to work claims anywhere else. In fact, most Independent Adjusting Firms require you to be licensed before applying, regardless of their, or your, location. We recommend getting a Designated Home State (or DHS) license from Texas or Florida.
  • The Application Process: Application instructions and requirements vary by state but you will need to formally submit your application and pay your fees after you pass the state exam (or equivalent.) You can find this information as well in the above linked resources.
  • Apply For Reciprocal Licenses: Once you receive your adjuster license, you’ll want to apply for reciprocal licenses in the states you are most likely to work in. The Gulf Coast and Eastern states are often favored by employers due to the high volume of claims. For most states, you’ll only need to complete an application and pay your fees to receive a reciprocal license. There is no need to take a test for every state license.

 

Step 4: Learn the Most Essential Skills

An insurance adjuster license is only the starting point of your new career. Software training is the next step. However, good adjusters never stop adding to their resume and skill set.

Estimating Software Training:

Proficiency in the industry-standard claims writing software, Xactimate and Symbility, are critical for success in this career field. These are the top two programs used by most adjusting firms and frankly, you won’t be able to successfully close claims until you learn them. There are plenty of online courses offered that teach you everything you need to know to start working in the field. There are too many to list here, but a quick Google search will provide you with plenty of options.

Proficiency in Estimating Software is the single most important technical skill a new adjuster must acquire.

Step 5: Land Your First Insurance Adjusting Job

Whether you are looking for employment as a staff adjuster or prefer to remain independent and handle claims on a contractual basis, treat your job search as a job in itself, and you will not be disappointed.

  • Reach Out To IA Firms: Contact the HR departments at major adjusting firms to inquire about openings and their hiring process.
  • Get Your Resume Ready: Create a resume that is specifically tailored to the claims industry with an understanding of what employers want. Most Licensing and Adjuster Training courses offer a resume component to and are happy to help you with your resume. As well, a quick search on the internet will come up with lots of examples.
  • Expand Your Knowledge: Just because you obtained your Home State License, and took a Symbility or Xactimate training course, doesn’t mean that you are all done and ready to go. What sets a great adjuster apart from the rest is that fact that they never stop learning and improving their skills and knowledge. You will not get ahead or keep being deployed if you do not spend the time to improve yourself.
  • Join Various Rosters: Get on the rosters of the employers you want with a strategic and intentional campaign. But don’t limit yourself to the largest 2 or 3 firms! More and more today, carriers are spreading their contracts around to medium and even small firms to suit the demand.
  • Follow Up: Follow up on your resumes, job applications, and personal contacts with diligence.
  • Network: Join local and national industry associations and insurance job boards and network, network, network.
  • Stay Compliant And Say “Yes!”: Keep your licenses current and in good standing. Be prepared to deploy quickly, especially during catastrophe season. When the firms call to fill a position, they usually have a deadline to be on location. They will not wait an extra day or two to suit your timeline so it’s best to always be ready. If you have an opportunity, take it!

Whether you are just starting to consider a possible career as an adjuster or you have specific questions about licensing and compliance, we are here to help.

Download a PDF version of this newsletter here.