What Does an Insurance Claims Adjuster Do?

By: Kaplan Financial Education
August 11, 2022
Tree on a damaged home representing a scene a claims adjuster would evaluate
Becoming an insurance claims adjuster can be a complex job and is often overlooked as a profession in the insurance industry. Insurance claims adjusters play an important role in the insurance industry and the need for adjusters remains consistent over time as catastrophes and accidents happen every day. 


Types of Insurance Claims Adjusters

There are a few different types of insurance claims adjusters, and each would influence what the day-to-day work is like.

Company or Staff Adjuster

A Company or Staff adjuster works full-time for one insurance adjuster firm exclusively. Generally, these positions mean that you are salaried and receive benefits from the firm, such as a pension, life and health insurance, and continuing education training. Company and staff adjusters respond to claims for the one insurance company they work for. Often, these are home and personal auto claims.

Independent Adjuster

Independent adjusters work as contractors for multiple insurance firms or third-party administrators. They often work with catastrophe claims and will travel to the impacted areas after major weather events or emergencies.

Independent adjusters are sometimes referred to as “catastrophe claims adjusters” because they are the ones on the ground after major weather events and emergencies.

Public Adjuster

Public insurance adjusters work directly on behalf of policyholders. They help businesses or individuals file insurance claims if a proposed settlement seems unfit from an insurer. Generally, public adjusters are contract workers rather than salaried.

How To Become A Claims Adjuster >>

Day-To-Day Work As A Claims Adjuster

Regardless of what type of insurance claims adjuster you are, you will be doing investigative work. Once an insurance claim is filed, a claims adjuster is called in to take over the process. They gather information and details to work out what happened in the incident and find a fair settlement price. 

Some of the information a claims adjuster collects during their investigation include:

  • Police reports 
  • Witness statements
  • Photos of an incident or property damage
  • Statements from everyone involved in an incident

Each type of adjuster has different goals when conducting their investigation. For example, a public adjuster wants to get the highest possible amount paid to the insured, whereas a company/staff adjuster or independent adjuster works in the interest of the insurance company.

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Are Claims Adjuster Jobs Stressful?

Working as a claims adjuster can be stressful, especially during difficult times like natural disasters. Communicating and negotiating with someone who recently lost all of their possessions can be demanding and difficult.   

Work Environment

Claims adjusters can work from home, work in an office, or work in a hybrid environment depending on their role, employer, and subject matter of the claim. When investigating a claim, most adjusters will need to travel to conduct their investigation, especially if the claim involves property damage. 

What Hours Do Claims Adjusters Work?

The hours claims adjusters work vary considerably. A company or staff adjuster for an insurance company may work regular 9 to 5 hours and rarely on weekends; independent or public adjusters are more likely to work irregular hours to accommodate client schedules and do investigative work.

Independent and public adjusters, in particular, may have to work well over 40 hours a week during catastrophic events. However, there will also be times during the year when their workload is much less. As contract adjusters, they have more control over how much they want to work than company or staff adjusters.

While being a company or 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.

Claims Adjuster Salary

Salaries can vary from state to state however the median base salary for a claims adjuster in the United States is around $65,000. The more experience an individual has, the more money they can expect to earn as a claims adjuster.

Job Outlook for Claims Adjusters

Currently, there are 349,400 claims adjuster jobs in the United States. From 2020 - 2030, over 25,000 jobs are expected to become available each year. These openings should provide interested individuals with enough opportunities to become a claims adjuster.

Similar Occupations

There are many positions that are similar to being a claims adjuster. Some of them are within the insurance industry and some are in other industries like finance. Jobs that are similar to a claims adjuster include:

  • Appraisers and Assessors
  • Brokerage Clerks
  • Compliance Officers and Inspectors
  • Cost Estimators
  • Credit Analysts
  • Fire Inspectors
  • Insurance Underwriters
  • Insurance Policy Clerks
  • Loan Clerks
  • Tax Emaniers
  • Title Examiners

Getting Started as an Insurance Adjuster

To become an insurance adjuster, you will need a minimum education of a high school diploma or GED equivalent. While some insurance companies may require a bachelor’s or associate’s degree, it is not required to get into the profession in all cases.

In some states, you will also need to have an adjuster license. Even if you don’t live in a state requiring a license, you may decide to get an out-of-state license, called a Designated Home State license, so you are able to work throughout the country. 

The Designated Home State adjuster license is available to individuals who are residents of a state that does not license adjusters, or to individuals that are company adjusters and reside in a state that only licenses independent adjusters and want to designate a non-resident state as their home state. By obtaining a license in another state under the Designated Home State exemption, adjusters can adjust claims in the designated state and any states that have reciprocity with the designated state.  

For example, a Florida 70-20 Non-Resident Designated Home State Adjuster license provides non-Florida residents a chance to designate Florida as their “home state” and work claims in Florida along with many other states. 

Which States Require an Adjuster License? >>

If you get licensed, you will need to maintain that license with insurance continuing education. Each state has unique requirements, so it’s best that you consult your state department of insurance website for specific details.

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