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Adjusters play an important role in the insurance process for property owners. They work on behalf of the policyholder—not the insurance company—to help file claims and recoup as much as possible after a disaster, accident or coverage event. Here's what to expect for a public adjuster salary and a closer look at what the job entails.
What Is a Public Adjuster?
While there are different types of adjuster jobs in the insurance industry, including those who work directly for insurance providers, a public adjuster is a neutral third party. They work to get policyholders, ranging from fire, home or car insurance, the maximum amount allowed per their policy. Similar storm adjuster jobs abound in areas of the country that are prone to hurricanes or floods, where adjusters focus on storm damage claims.
Consumers typically seek out a claims adjuster following large incidents like floods, home or business fires or major auto accidents. They assist with claim processing, which can typically include numerous forms, repair estimations from approved vendors, and costs associated with repairs and replacements. While they often work for an adjustment firm--some can be individual contractors. While those with public adjuster jobs typically make a monthly salary, consumers can expect to pay up to 15 percent of the insurance settlement to the firm or the adjuster.
Claims Adjuster Salary
How much do insurance adjusters make? Like any profession, there's a pay range that varies depending on education, experience, and type of analysis required to do the job. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average claim adjuster salary is $64,690 per year (as of May 2017). In states with a higher cost of living, like New York or California, expect the average salary to be 10- to 15-percent higher.
Expect salaries to rise with experience. Public adjusters can work their way up to more senior-level jobs, and continue on to management or more lucrative consulting.
Depending on the firm, some only require a high school diploma for entry-level insurance adjusters, while others require a bachelor’s degree or insurance-related work experience. Auto damage appraisers typically have previous work experience in identifying and estimating the cost of automotive repair in addition to insurance industry work. It's common to take classes at vocational schools or community college to learn both auto repair and cost estimation procedures and best practices. Top skills required include:
- Analytical skills to navigate complex processes and specific rules and regulations.
- Math and science knowledge, including the ability to handle large spreadsheets and quickly calculate estimations.
- Communication skills are required as it's important to ask the right questions, be clear with clients and work efficiently with insurance companies.
- Be confident in interpersonal interactions, as a large part of the job requires working with clients in times of distress.
In addition, most states require adjusters to be licensed per their individual laws. For example, Massachusetts requires applicable experience in either the insurance profession or experience in the area the adjuster will specialize in, think construction, home repair or auto repair, and successful passing of an exam. In California, adjusters must be at least 18 years old and have two years of certified experience in the insurance adjusting field, equal to 4,000 compensated hours, and have successfully passed the licensing exam.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Claims Adjusters, Appraisers, Examiners, and Investigators
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics: Claims Adjusters, Appraisers, Examiners, and Investigators
- MyPlan.com: Insurance Adjusters - Examiners & Investigators
- Insurance Information Institute: What is a public adjuster?
Kristin Amico is a career and business writer who spent more than a decade managing creative teams at digital agencies. She has written for The Muse, The Independent and USA Today.