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Insurance Adjuster Careers

What Does an Insurance 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.

How To Become an Insurance 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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Average Salary
$44,655
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
-4%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
11,545
Job Openings

Insurance Adjuster Career Paths

Top Careers Before Insurance Adjuster

Owner
9.7 %

Top Careers After Insurance Adjuster

Adjuster
14.4 %

What is the right job for my career path?

Tell us your goals and we'll match you with the rights job to get there.

Average Salary for an Insurance Adjuster

Insurance Adjusters in America make an average salary of $44,655 per year or $21 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $47,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $42,000 per year.
Average Salary
$44,655

Best Paying Cities

City
ascdesc
Average Salarydesc
New York, NY
Salary Range45k - 58k$51k$51,393
San Juan, PR
Salary Range40k - 45k$43k$42,917
Miami, FL
Salary Range37k - 45k$41k$41,371
$37k
$58k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyascdescCompanyascdescStart DateascdescSalaryascdesc
Insurance Adjuster
Insurance Adjuster
Randstad
Randstad
12/16/2019
12/16/2019
$46,37312/16/2019
$46,373
Insurance Adjuster
Insurance Adjuster
Randstad
Randstad
11/22/2019
11/22/2019
$43,82711/22/2019
$43,827
Insurance Adjuster
Insurance Adjuster
Randstad
Randstad
10/05/2019
10/05/2019
$46,16410/05/2019
$46,164
Insurance Adjusters, Examiners, and Investigators
Insurance Adjusters, Examiners, and Investigators
Ernst & Young U.S. LLP
Ernst & Young U.S. LLP
02/02/2018
02/02/2018
$60,32002/02/2018
$60,320
Insurance Adjusters, Examiners, and Investigators
Insurance Adjusters, Examiners, and Investigators
Ernst & Young U.S. LLP
Ernst & Young U.S. LLP
02/02/2018
02/02/2018
$59,32202/02/2018
$59,322
See More Recent Salaries

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Insurance Adjuster Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming an Insurance Adjuster. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

Learn How To Write an Insurance Adjuster Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Insurance Adjuster resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

View Detailed Information

Insurance Adjuster Demographics

Gender

male

62.2 %

female

33.1 %

unknown

4.7 %

Ethnicity

White

64.5 %

Hispanic or Latino

14.3 %

Black or African American

13.7 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

73.8 %

French

6.2 %

Carrier

4.6 %
See More Demographics

Insurance Adjuster Education

Majors

Business
32.8 %

Degrees

Bachelors

47.3 %

Certificate

18.1 %

Associate

15.1 %

Top Colleges for Insurance Adjusters

1. Stanford University

Stanford, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,354
Enrollment
7,083

2. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764

3. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

In-State Tuition
$54,568
Enrollment
8,451

4. Maine Maritime Academy

Castine, ME • Public

In-State Tuition
$13,478
Enrollment
979

5. University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$56,225
Enrollment
19,548

6. California State University - Bakersfield

Bakersfield, CA • Public

In-State Tuition
$7,309
Enrollment
9,142

7. SUNY at Binghamton

Vestal, NY • Public

In-State Tuition
$9,808
Enrollment
13,990

8. Villanova University

Villanova, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$53,308
Enrollment
6,819

9. San Diego State University

San Diego, CA • Public

In-State Tuition
$7,488
Enrollment
30,018

10. Bentley University

Waltham, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$49,880
Enrollment
4,177
See More Education Info
Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Top Skills For an Insurance Adjuster

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 13.3% of insurance adjusters listed total loss claims on their resume, but soft skills such as analytical skills and communication skills are important as well.

  • Total Loss Claims, 13.3%
  • Insurance Companies, 13.2%
  • Life Insurance, 10.9%
  • Customer Service, 10.7%
  • Liability Claims, 6.4%
  • Other Skills, 45.5%
  • See All Insurance Adjuster Skills

Best States For an Insurance Adjuster

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as an insurance adjuster. The best states for people in this position are New Jersey, North Dakota, New York, and Alaska. Insurance adjusters make the most in New Jersey with an average salary of $52,527. Whereas in North Dakota and New York, they would average $51,735 and $51,294, respectively. While insurance adjusters would only make an average of $50,856 in Alaska, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. North Dakota

Total Insurance Adjuster Jobs:
75
Highest 10% Earn:
$57,000
Location Quotient:
2.06
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Alaska

Total Insurance Adjuster Jobs:
55
Highest 10% Earn:
$56,000
Location Quotient:
1.68
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Utah

Total Insurance Adjuster Jobs:
140
Highest 10% Earn:
$59,000
Location Quotient:
1.12
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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How Do Insurance Adjuster Rate Their Jobs?

Zippia Official Logo

3.0

Auto AdjusterFebruary 2019

3.0

Zippia Official LogoAuto AdjusterFebruary 2019

What do you like the most about working as Insurance Adjuster?

Complexity of the job, everyday was different Show More

What do you NOT like?

Volume of daily claims, stress level, rudeness and angry customers, lack of job growth and promotability, working on Saturday Show More

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Top Insurance Adjuster Employers

1. State Farm
4.6
Avg. Salary: 
$46,440
Insurance Adjusters Hired: 
67+
2. Allstate
4.7
Avg. Salary: 
$46,374
Insurance Adjusters Hired: 
62+
3. Electronic Arts
4.8
Avg. Salary: 
$63,003
Insurance Adjusters Hired: 
56+
4. Crawford & Company
4.6
Avg. Salary: 
$48,102
Insurance Adjusters Hired: 
46+
5. Farmers Insurance Group
4.5
Avg. Salary: 
$46,314
Insurance Adjusters Hired: 
45+
6. Eberl Claims Service
3.8
Avg. Salary: 
$45,250
Insurance Adjusters Hired: 
42+
Updated October 2, 2020