How to Become an Insurance Claims Adjuster

By: Kaplan Financial Education
March 7, 2019
Claims adjuster reviewing damage to a vehicle

While most people think of insurance agents when they think of an insurance career, there are many other options available to you. Among the insurance career “hidden gems” is the insurance claims adjuster industry. Insurance claims adjusters are high in demand because claims remain steady, but a large generation of adjusters are retiring out of the industry. If you have a good work ethic, have a knack for working with numbers and people, and enjoy variety in your work day, becoming an insurance claims adjuster might be right for you. Learn more about the process of becoming an insurance claims adjuster in this article.

Step 1. Complete Your Education

In order to become a claims adjuster, you must have a high school diploma or GED equivalent. Some employers prefer an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, but it is not required for claims adjuster licensing.

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Step 2. Determine Your Insurance Adjuster Career Interests

There are a few different routes for employment that an insurance claims adjuster can use: become a staff adjuster, independent adjuster, or a public adjuster. A staff adjuster works full-time for one insurance adjuster firm exclusively. An independent insurance adjuster handles claims for multiple firms. A public insurance adjuster, conversely, is paid directly by the policyholder.

Being a staff adjuster for an insurance group or firm generally means you are salaried, and you’ll receive benefits like a pension, life and health insurance, and continuing education training.

An independent insurance adjuster works as a contractor for multiple insurance firms or third-party administrators. These people are sometimes referred to as “catastrophe claims adjusters” because they are the ones on the ground after major weather events and emergencies.

Public insurance adjusters work on behalf of policyholders directly. They will help businesses or individuals file an insurance claim if a proposed settlement from an insurer is seen as unfit.

While being a staff adjuster is a steady 40-hour-per-week job, the independent and public routes offer more flexibility. If it’s the busy season, you could work well over 40 hours per week, but you could work considerably fewer hours during less busy times.

Step 3. Complete an Insurance Licensing Course and Exam

Depending on what state you live in, you may need to take a course and pass a licensing exam to become an insurance claims adjuster. Some states have minimal requirements, while others require completing an insurance licensing course and passing a licensing exam. If you live in a state that requires adjusters to be licensed, you should get your home state license before thinking about other licenses. If you do have to take an exam, an insurance certification study package can help.

If you live in a state that does not require an adjuster license, you can legally adjust claims without taking a licensing exam. However, many adjusters want to get out-of-state licenses that will enable them to work throughout the country. To do this, you can get a DHS (Designated Home State) license. What this means is an individual residing in a state that does not require an adjuster license or does not offer their own adjuster licensing exam may choose to designate another state as their resident or “home” state under the Designated Home State (DHS) process. Nonresident licensure is then based on that qualification.

Step 4. Maintain Licensure (Continuing Education)

States that require licenses likely also require continuing education credits for adjuster license renewal. Continuing education (CE) credits can be earned from live or online courses. Occasionally, CE can also be earned from employee-provided training sessions, or by publishing articles or giving lectures related to the insurance claims industry. Check with your state to find out what CE is required and how you can fulfill the requirements in your state.

If you like investigative work, crunching numbers, and negotiating settlements, you could have a bright future as an insurance claims adjuster. Regardless of whether you are interested in a steady 9 to 5 job, or would prefer to choose when and how much you work, there’s an insurance claims career path that is right for you.


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