Becoming an Insurance Adjuster
Becoming an insurance adjuster is a career option that offers solid earnings potential.
This article will examine the job duties of a property claims adjuster and how individuals can obtain the required license(s).
Q: “What credentials are needed for becoming an insurance adjuster?”
A: Insurance adjusters are not required to have a college degree, but many insurance companies prefer to hire people who have completed college. However, there is no specific degree that’s required to become a claims adjuster.
Every state requires that insurance adjusters be licensed, but you do not necessarily need an adjuster’s license to get a job.
In fact, some insurance companies will hire you, give you time to get trained, then give you a certain amount of time to pass your adjuster’s test.
However, getting a job with an insurance company is much easier if you already have your adjuster’s license.
Q: “So, is becoming an insurance adjuster difficult?”
A: It doesn’t have to be.
Some individuals will be more naturally suited to the career, because of a background that includes residential construction, for example.
But even with no prior experience in this industry, it is possible to get trained and licensed, within a few months (sometimes just weeks).
Keep in mind that insurance laws and certification process vary from state to state; you will typically need a separate insurance adjuster’s license for every state you want to work in. (reciprocal licenses can help with this issue, to some degree)
However, during emergencies – like a massive hurricane – some states will grant ‘temporary licenses’ for periods of 30-60 days. Your employer or TPA company should be able to handle this process on your behalf.
Insurance Adjuster As A Second Career Option?
Becoming a claims adjuster is an excellent second career choice, even in the ‘down’ economy of 2012. Getting licensed and becoming an insurance adjuster does not require huge amounts of money.
Obtaining your claims adjuster license will not require a college degree, nor will it require months of your life spent in classes. In fact, it is possible to get trained and pass your adjuster’s license exam in less than 6-8 weeks.
“Becoming an insurance adjuster isn’t just about learning insurance laws…”
Quite honestly, not everyone is suited to being an insurance claims adjuster. Here are some skills and qualifications that we believe are important:
- Good computer and ‘technoloogy’ skills; most damage appraisals are prepared using specialized software, such as Xactimate.
- You must be detail-oriented. You’ll be reading and interpreting policies, where details are very important. You’ll be inspecting for physical damage, some of which is not obvious. Adjusters are also required to keep detailed records of each claim.
- People Skills: Empathy and customer service skills are essential. (you will be dealing with policyholders who are impatient, upset and sometimes emotional)
- Knowledge of construction and construction materials. Those with a background as contractors, home inspectors, roofers, etc. will be ahead of the curve.
- Negotiation skills. One of your jobs is to interact with –and negotiate with — contractors.
- Are you adventurous by nature? If you are dispatched into a hurricane-ravaged area, you may find that there is no power or potable water. Finding a place to stay, other than your own trailer or vehicle, may be difficult. Phone service may be spotty or non-existent for the first days or weeks. If you like adventure and variety, you will thrive as an insurance adjuster.
Additionally, property insurance adjusters need some practical knowledge of construction materials.You will build component-based estimates, using Xactimate software or another software that your employer requires.
For example, it is not good enough to say that someone’s roof needs to be fixed. As an insurance adjuster, you will have to consider details that many people overlook – like the cost of new roofing tiles, the cost of related materials, and the cost of scraping off the old, damaged roofing materials.
Professional estimation software, such as Xactimate, will help you to get all of the items into your completed repair estimate.
Adjuster Continuing Education Requirements
In order to keep your adjuster license(s) current, most states require yearly continuing education. The number of continuing education credits needed will vary from state to state. (we offer 16 hours of CE credits for Xactimate training-see details here)
“What exactly does an insurance adjuster do?”
Becoming an insurance adjuster makes you the liason between a policyholder and the insurance company. You work on claims from start to finish, and you are responsible for making sure that all applicable insurance laws are followed.
Once you are assigned to a claim, you will start by contacting the policyholder. In property insurance claims, this is usually the homeowner.
Insurance adjusters will start by talking to the homeowner, any witnesses, and getting an overview of what caused the damage–and assess the severity of damage. For example, after a tornado, a homeowner may report that his roof is damaged, and that several windows were broken during the storm.
After the initial phone call, the adjuster will go to the property and appraise the damage. The adjuster will take pictures and make detailed notes, which will be incorporated later into a final repair estimate.
As an adjuster, you are also responsible for reading the policy and determining what is covered in the policy language. For example, if the house is damaged by a hurricane, the policy may cover wind damage – but not flood damage.
It is the responsibility of the claims adjuster to figure out which damage occurred as a result of high winds, and which damage was a result of subsequent flooding. After collecting all of the information, the adjuster will prepare a repair estimate, negotiate with the repair contractor if needed, and arrange for the policyholder to get paid.
video: Becoming an insurance adjuster