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Become An Auto Claims Adjuster

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Working As An Auto Claims Adjuster

  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Getting Information
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Processing Information
  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • Mostly Sitting

  • Make Decisions

  • Stressful

  • $70,453

    Average Salary

What Does An Auto Claims Adjuster Do

Claims adjusters, appraisers, examiners, and investigators evaluate insurance claims. They decide whether an insurance company must pay a claim and, if so, how much.

Duties  

Claims adjusters, appraisers, examiners, and investigators typically do the following:

  • Investigate, evaluate, and settle insurance claims
  • Determine whether the insurance policy covers the loss claimed
  • Decide the appropriate amount the insurance company should pay
  • Ensure that claims are not fraudulent
  • Contact claimants’ doctors or employers to get additional information on questionable claims
  • Confer with legal counsel on claims when needed
  • Negotiate settlements
  • Authorize payments

Claims adjusters, appraisers, examiners, and investigators have varying duties, depending on the type of insurance company they work for. They must know a lot about what their company insures. For example, workers in property and casualty insurance must know housing and construction costs to properly evaluate damage from floods or fires. Workers in health insurance must be able to determine which types of treatments are medically necessary and which are questionable. 

Adjusters inspect property damage to determine how much the insurance company should pay for the loss. They might inspect a home, a business, or an automobile.

Adjusters interview the claimant and witnesses, inspect the property, and do additional research, such as look at police reports. They may consult with other workers, such as accountants, architects, construction workers, engineers, lawyers, and physicians, who can offer a more expert evaluation of a claim.

Adjusters gather information—including photographs and statements, either written or recorded on audio or video—and put together a report for claims examiners to evaluate. When the examiner approves the claim, the adjuster negotiates with the policyholder and settles the claim.

If the claimant contests the outcome of the claim or the settlement, adjusters work with attorneys and expert witnesses to defend the insurer’s position.

Some claims adjusters work as self-employed public adjusters. Often, they are hired by claimants who prefer not to rely on the insurance company’s adjuster. The goal of adjusters working for insurance companies is to save as much money for the company as possible. The goal of a public adjuster working for a claimant is to get the highest possible amount paid to the claimant. They are paid a percentage of the settled claim.

Sometimes, self-employed adjusters are hired by insurance companies in place of hiring adjusters as regular employees. In this case, the self-employed adjusters work in the interest of the insurance company.

Appraisers estimate the cost or value of an insured item. Most appraisers who work for insurance companies and independent adjusting firms are auto damage appraisers. They inspect damaged vehicles after an accident and estimate the cost of repairs. This information then goes to the adjuster, who puts the estimated cost of repairs into the settlement.

Claims examiners review claims after they are submitted to ensure claimants and adjusters followed proper guidelines. They may assist adjusters with complicated claims or when, for example, a natural disaster occurs and the volume of claims increases.

Most claims examiners work for life or health insurance companies. Examiners who work for health insurance companies review health-related claims to see whether the costs are reasonable, given the diagnosis. After they review the claim, they authorize appropriate payment, deny the claim, or refer the claim to an investigator.

Examiners who work for life insurance companies review the causes of death and pay particular attention to accidents, because most life insurance companies pay additional benefits if a death is accidental. Examiners also may review new applications for life insurance policies, to make sure that the applicants have no serious illnesses that would make them a high risk to insure.

Insurance investigators handle claims in which the company suspects fraudulent or criminal activity such as arson, staged accidents, or unnecessary medical treatments. The severity of insurance fraud cases varies, from overstated claims of damage to vehicles to complicated fraud rings. Investigators often do surveillance work. For example, in the case of a fraudulent workers’ compensation claim, an investigator may covertly watch the claimant to see if he or she does anything that would be ruled out by injuries stated in the claim.

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How To Become An Auto Claims Adjuster

A high school diploma or equivalent is typically required for a person to work as an entry-level claims adjuster, examiner, or investigator. Higher level positions may require a bachelor’s degree or some insurance-related work experience. Auto damage appraisers typically have either a postsecondary nondegree award or work experience in identifying and estimating the cost of automotive repair.

Education

A high school diploma or equivalent is typically required for a person to work as an entry-level claims adjuster, examiner, or investigator. However, employers sometimes prefer to hire applicants who have a bachelor’s degree or some insurance-related work experience or vocational training. Auto damage appraisers typically have either a postsecondary nondegree award or experience working in an auto repair shop, identifying and estimating the cost of automotive repair.

The varying types of work in these occupations can require different backgrounds or different college coursework. For example, a business or an accounting background might be best for someone who wishes to specialize in claims of financial loss due to strikes, equipment breakdowns, or merchandise damage. College training in architecture or engineering is helpful for adjusting industrial claims, such as those involving damage from fires or other accidents. A legal background is beneficial to someone handling workers’ compensation and product liability cases. A medical background is useful for examiners working on medical and life insurance claims.

Although auto damage appraisers are not required to have a college education, most companies prefer to hire people who have the formal training, experience, or knowledge and technical skills to identify and estimate the cost of automotive repair. Many vocational schools and some community colleges offer programs in auto body repair and teach students how to estimate the cost of repairing damaged vehicles.

For investigator jobs, a high school diploma or equivalent is the typical education requirement. Most insurance companies prefer to hire people trained as law enforcement officers, private investigators, claims adjusters, or examiners, because these workers have good interviewing and interrogation skills.

Training

At the beginning of their careers, claims adjusters, examiners, and investigators work on small claims, under the supervision of an experienced worker. As they learn more about claims investigation and settlement, they are assigned larger, more complex claims.

Auto damage appraisers typically get on-the-job training, which may last several months. This training usually involves working under the supervision of a more experienced appraiser while estimating damage costs, until the employer decides that the trainee is ready to do estimates on his or her own.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Licensing requirements for claims adjusters, appraisers, examiners, and investigators vary by state. Some states have few requirements; others require either completing prelicensing education or receiving a satisfactory score on a licensing exam (or both).

In some states, claims adjusters employed by insurance companies do not have to become licensed themselves because they can work under the company license.

Public adjusters may need to meet separate or additional requirements.

Some states that require licensing also require a certain number of continuing education credits per year to renew the license. Federal and state laws and court decisions affect how claims must be handled and what insurance policies can and must cover. Examiners working on life and health claims must stay up to date on new medical procedures and the latest prescription drugs. Examiners working on auto claims must be familiar with new car models and the most recent repair techniques. In order to fulfill their continuing education requirements, workers can attend classes or workshops, write articles for claims publications, or give lectures and presentations.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Adjusters and examiners must both evaluate whether the insurance company is obligated to pay a claim and determine the amount to pay. Adjusters must carefully consider various pieces of information to reach a decision.

Communication skills. Claims adjusters and investigators must get information from a wide range of people, including claimants, witnesses, and medical experts. They must know the right questions to ask in order to gather the information they need.

Detail oriented. Adjusters, appraisers, examiners, and investigators must carefully review documents and damaged property, because small details can have large financial consequences.

Interpersonal skills. Adjusters, examiners, and investigators often meet with claimants and others who may be upset by the situation that requires a claim or by the settlement the company is offering. These workers must be understanding, yet firm with their company’s policies.

Math skills. Appraisers must be able to calculate property damage.

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Auto Claims Adjuster Jobs

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Auto Claims Adjuster Career Paths

Auto Claims Adjuster
Senior Claims Adjuster Claim Specialist Specialist
Account Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Office Manager Real Estate Agent Insurance Sales Agent
Agency Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Property Claims Adjuster Senior Claims Adjuster Claims Manager
Claims Director
12 Yearsyrs
Adjuster Senior Claims Adjuster
Claims Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Property Adjuster Bodily Injury Adjuster Adjuster
Claims Supervisor
7 Yearsyrs
Account Manager Client Services Manager Client Manager
Client Account Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Appraiser Underwriter Commercial Lines Account Manager
Commercial Account Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Operations Manager Underwriter Commercial Lines Underwriter
Commercial Lines Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Bodily Injury Adjuster Adjuster Loss Mitigation Specialist
Loss Control Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Claims Representative Office Manager Billing Manager
Patient Services Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Estimator Operations Manager Branch Manager
Relationship Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Field Adjuster Senior Claims Representative Risk Manager
Risk And Insurance Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Claim Specialist Claims Manager Risk Manager
Risk Management Director
10 Yearsyrs
Senior Claims Adjuster Claims Manager
Risk Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Estimator Project Coordinator Account Manager
Sales Account Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Property Claims Adjuster Adjuster
Senior Claims Adjuster
7 Yearsyrs
Property Adjuster Claim Processor
Senior Claims Examiner
7 Yearsyrs
Claim Specialist Billing Specialist Claims Representative
Senior Claims Representative
5 Yearsyrs
Adjuster Claim Specialist
Senior Claims Specialist
7 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as an Auto Claims Adjuster?

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Do you work as an Auto Claims Adjuster?

Auto Claims Adjuster Demographics

Gender

Female

49.0%

Male

49.0%

Unknown

2.0%
Ethnicity

White

60.9%

Hispanic or Latino

17.8%

Black or African American

12.4%

Asian

5.7%

Unknown

3.1%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

70.4%

Portuguese

5.6%

Polish

5.6%

German

3.7%

Carrier

3.7%

Chinese

1.9%

Vietnamese

1.9%

Japanese

1.9%

French

1.9%

Urdu

1.9%

Hmong

1.9%
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Auto Claims Adjuster Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

21.1%

University of Texas at San Antonio

12.3%

Arizona State University

5.7%

Ashford University

4.8%

Middle Tennessee State University

4.8%

University of South Florida

4.4%

Grand Canyon University

4.4%

University of North Texas

3.9%

Community College of the Air Force

3.9%

University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

3.9%

University of Central Oklahoma

3.5%

Texas A&M University

3.5%

University of Missouri - Columbia

3.5%

Kaplan University

3.5%

Illinois State University

3.1%

Webster University

3.1%

Michigan State University

2.6%

University of Tampa

2.6%

Northern Arizona University

2.6%

University of Houston

2.6%
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Majors

Business

34.9%

Criminal Justice

8.5%

Communication

6.2%

Management

5.6%

Finance

4.8%

Psychology

4.7%

Political Science

3.7%

Human Resources Management

3.7%

Insurance

3.2%

Marketing

3.1%

Accounting

2.6%

English

2.5%

Liberal Arts

2.3%

Health Care Administration

2.3%

Sociology

2.3%

Education

2.1%

Legal Support Services

2.0%

General Studies

1.9%

History

1.9%

Biology

1.7%
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Degrees

Bachelors

54.3%

Other

17.3%

Masters

13.9%

Associate

9.3%

Certificate

3.3%

License

0.8%

Diploma

0.7%

Doctorate

0.6%
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Top Skills for An Auto Claims Adjuster

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  1. Liability Claims
  2. Property Damage
  3. Total Loss
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Conducted investigations into auto liability claims, including analyzing data to determine extent of company's liability for loss and damages.
  • Compose automotive and property damage estimates and document all necessary requests, photos and relevant claim information appropriately.
  • Negotiated total loss settlements with both insureds and claimants, including running evaluations, calculating taxes and unused registrations.
  • Provided excellent customer service by educating and supplying the customer with useful and specific information about their automotive extended warranty.
  • Discussed liability decisions with other insurance companies and involved parties.

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