Claims Manager Careers: Salary Information & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of a career in claims management? Get real job descriptions, career outlook projections and salary info to see if becoming a claims manager is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of Being a Claims Manager

In helping clients recover from adverse life events, a career as a claims manager can be rewarding and diverse. Check out the following pros and cons to see if being a claims manager might be right for you.

Pros of Being a Claims Manager
Above average pay (about $96,000 median salary in 2015)*
Make a living by helping people*
Can work in many industries throughout the country, like insurance, financial services and transportation **
Independence in decision-making **

Cons of Being a Claims Manager
Slow job growth (expect about 3% from 2012-2022) ***
7-10 years of job experience may be required *
Working with people who are ill, injured or suffering emotionally can be stressful **
May be exposed to physical hazards following natural disasters or in damaged structures ***

Sources: * Salary.com, ** O*NET OnLine, *** U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Essential Career Information

Job Description and Responsibilities

Insurance policies can be purchased for homes, cars, health, life and just about anything that is valuable to someone. When a policy holder experiences a loss, they file a claim with their insurance company. As a claims manager, you'd use your expertise and good judgment to oversee the process associated with denying or approving claims. You'd work closely with other insurance workers, such as claims adjusters, appraisers, examiners and investigators, exercising your leadership skills to ensure that all professionals work together quickly and efficiently to resolve claims.

Claims managers need strong organizational abilities to manage the large amount of data and paperwork involved and to make sure that each document is filed properly or passed on to the next step in the claims processing chain. Good communication and interpersonal skills are paramount, since many claims managers work directly with policy holders and claimants in order to simplify the process and answer questions. You might also work with insurance company executives in order to meet performance goals and other quality standards.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

Most claims managers - about 68% according to Salary.com - work in the insurance industry. Other job sectors include healthcare, financial services and transportation. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects just 3% job growth for those in the claims field during the 2012-2022 decade, a rate that is slower than average. Opportunities could be best in the health insurance sector where an aging U.S. population means more medical care and insurance claims. Property and casualty may be another area with job potential, the BLS notes, since claims for natural disasters, such as fires, tornadoes and earthquakes have been on the increase throughout the country.

In March 2015, Salary.com stated that the median salary for claims managers was just over $95,500. Regional claims managers, most of who work in insurance, took home a median salary of about $108,000 during the same period. However, aspiring claims managers will want to take into consideration that they'll likely need several years of experience as a claims adjuster, examiner or investigator before attaining management status. In May 2014, the median wage for non-managerial claims positions was around $62,000, according to the BLS.

Education and Credentialing Requirements

Many employers include a requirement or strong preference for a bachelor's degree in their job ads. With this in mind, you could earn a degree in a specific area of claims management, such as collision repair and insurance management. You might also choose to earn a bachelor's degree in a major like business, management, finance or communications, all of which are applicable to the claims management profession.

There are some instances in which you could qualify or move up to a claims management position with less education, such as a high school diploma or an associate's degree in health insurance claims management. In addition, some states mandate licensing for claims personnel. Criteria vary widely, but often include an exam and certified education credits.

Skills for Claims Managers

Much of a claims manager's work involves interacting with people, so it's important to gain decision-making and leadership/supervisory experience, as well as to develop strong interpersonal skills, problem-solving skills and negotiating abilities. An aptitude for math is also needed for assessing and calculating settlements. Claims managers must be highly organized to handle the large volume of data they are responsible for on a daily basis.

What Employers Are Looking For

In addition to a 4-year degree, employers want claims managers with many years of claims experience - as many as ten. Depending on the job, some of this experience must be in a managerial position. Budgeting and experience with insurance laws may also be required or preferred. The following job postings illustrate what real employers were seeking in April 2012:

  • A large insurance company in Washington State looked for a regional auto damage claims manager with eight years of experience. Duties included customer service management, control of expenses, supervising claims representatives and recruitment.
  • A health plan administrator near Stockton, CA, sought a healthcare insurance claims manager with at least two years of experience. The job included managing claims processes and developing business plans. A bachelor's degree was preferred.
  • A Phoenix, AZ, insurance company wanted a claims manager with experience in reviewing medical claims and Federal laws regarding self-funded medical plans. The job entailed medical stop loss claims and development of claims handling procedures.

How to Make Your Skills Stand Out

According to the BLS, in addition to your college degree, having knowledge and experience in a specialty area can help you attract the attention of potential employers. For example, if you've got a healthcare background via your education or profession, that could be helpful for landing a position in the life insurance or medical claims sector. If you're interested in healthcare, but have no prior experience, you might consider earning a certificate in a healthcare specialty, such as healthcare risk management. If you've given workshops or written articles on claims issues, be sure to include this on your resume as well, notes the BLS.

Other Career Paths

Real Estate Appraisal Manager

If you like some aspects of working as a claims manager, but it's not quite the right fit, you might consider being a real estate appraisal manager. While evaluating the property ratings and fair market value of residential or commercial properties, an appraisal manager analyzes data, makes independent decisions and manages coworkers and information. The BLS reports that job growth in this profession will likely be about seven percent during the 2010-2020 decade, which is slower than average. In addition, up to seven years of relevant experience may be needed. According to Salary.com, as of 2012, the median salary was about $98,000.

Fire Inspector Supervisor

If you're someone who wants to be active much of the day while still using your analytic skills and helping people, being a fire inspector supervisor could fit the bill. Fire inspector supervisors manage the examination of built structures, including office buildings and shopping malls, to ensure compliance with fire codes. They also investigate residences or commercial structures that have been burned by fire to find out what happened. The BLS notes that you'd need to invest in state-approved fire education, on-the-job training and national certification, as well as gaining about four years of experience. You might stand out as a job candidate if you also have an undergraduate degree in an area like engineering or fire science. The BLS also reports a job growth rate of nine percent for this job during the 2010-2020 decade. As of 2012, fire inspector supervisors were paid a median salary of about $71,000, according to Salary.com.

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George Mason University

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Kaplan University

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Saint John's University

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Seton Hall University

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Georgetown University

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Keiser University

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Herzing University

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Utica College

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