Becoming an Adjuster: Careers, Salary Info & Job Description

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What are the good and bad sides of being an adjuster? Is it worth the training the requirements? See real job descriptions and get the truth about career outlook to find out if becoming an adjuster is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of Becoming an Adjuster

When an insurance claim is filed, an adjuster assists the person in receiving their insurance money. Adjusters might report to a main office to receive their work for the day before heading out to visit claim sites or they might simply call in from home before heading directly to a location. If an emergency occurs, an adjuster might have to work beyond normal work hours to ensure that the claim gets resolved. Keep on reading to find out the best and worst parts of becoming an adjuster.

Pros of Becoming an Adjuster
Minimal educational requirements*
Job training generally provided*
Relatively high average annual salary (about $63,500 as of May 2014)*
Room for promotions to managerial or supervisorial positions*

Cons of Becoming an Adjuster
Out of office visits are necessary.*
Examining damaged buildings and sites can be dangerous.*
Extended business trips can occur during disasters.*
State licensure may be required.*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Vocational Information

Job Description

When a car crash occurs or weather damages a home, an insurance claim usually results. An adjuster handles these claims. When an adjuster receives a new claim, the adjuster looks over all the materials related to the incident. This might include examining hospital records, talking to the police, interviewing witnesses and the claimant and taking a look at the damage done. In some cases, an adjuster might contact engineers, lawyers, doctors or architects to get their opinion on the claim. Depending on the evidence, the adjuster can approve the claim or contest the claim for fraud in court.

Salary Info

In May 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the average annual income for claims adjusters, investigators and examiners was about $63,500, which amounted to about $30.53 an hour. Adjusters who were in the top ten percent of wage estimates made about $44.53 or more an hour, which translated to around $92,620 or more yearly. The top-paying locations for adjusters were District of Columbia, Connecticut, New Jersey, Alaska and Maryland.

Career Requirements

Although formal education isn't required to become an adjuster, some employers prefer applicants to have an educational background in accounting or a similar field. If you're planning to work on a lot of building claims, obtaining some architectural or engineering education can be beneficial as well. Most adjusters learn the trade through job training. Trainees start out under the guidance of an experienced worker before moving onto small claims. Over time, you'll learn how to handle bigger claims. Job training can last several months and the employer ultimately has the final say in when an adjuster is ready for advanced work duties.

What Employers Want in Adjusters

If your state requires licensure for employment as an adjuster, an employer first and foremost wants to make sure you possess that license. From there, employers are looking for adjusters with relevant work experience. If you have a thorough knowledge of computer applications, then you'll be prepared to handle the necessary claim filing on computers. Having a good driving record and a valid driver's license is crucial in this career, since adjusters have to visit sites to assess the damage of a claim. Find out what employers on Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com in March 2012 were looking for by reading below.

  • A position for a senior claims adjuster in Tennessee required applicants with experience in worker's compensation investigations and claims settling.
  • An insurance business in Florida wanted an adjuster who had worked on first party medical losses before.
  • In Georgia, an auto insurance company needed an adjuster with a Texas P&C Adjuster License.
  • A mortgage business in Texas desired an adjuster who could gather information to be used in contested claims in court.
  • A bank in South Dakota looked for an adjuster with experience in agriculture.
  • An auto insurance business in Alabama prefers adjusters who are bilingual and have experience in non-standard auto insurance.

How to Stand Out as an Adjuster

A professional designation or certification can help prove your expertise to an employer and set you apart from other applicants. Organizations like the American Institute for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters and the Insurance Institute of America offer specialty designations in areas like national flood insurance, marine insurance management, insurance accounting, personal insurance and insurance services (www.aicpcu.org). The requirements for certifications like these can vary, but generally you'll need to provide proof that you have a certain amount of experience in the field. Additionally, passing an examination is normally required. Designations like these require renewal. To renew a license, you normally have to fulfill continuing education requirements.

Other Career Options

If you like the numbers involved in being an adjuster, but you want to apply them towards other avenues, then look into becoming a cost estimator. On behalf of their employer, a cost estimator bids on various projects such as the construction of a building. A cost estimator needs to leave room for profit, while ensuring that their client chooses their employer for the project. The BLS reported in May 2011 that cost estimators earned around $58,000 (median wage) in a year.

If you're more interested in collecting money than paying claims, then you can become a bill and account collector. In this field, you'll process payments your company receives. If payments are late, then you'll contact the customer to arrange the payment. This can involve tracking down debtors who are trying to avoid paying. A high school diploma is normally required for this occupation along with job training. Bill and account collectors made a median annual salary of about $32,000, according to the BLS in May 2011.

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