Claims officers evaluate insurance claims to determine whether or not they should be paid and, if so, how much they're worth. Usually called adjusters, they work for a variety of insurance companies, from auto insurance to medical insurance. Because of this, adjusters must be thoroughly familiar with what claims are covered by their agency's various policies.
Claims Adjuster Education
To secure an entry-level position as an adjuster, you typically only need to hold a high school diploma. However, having an education or some experience in the field of insurance you're working for makes you a more attractive candidate to an employer. Those who work for auto insurance carriers usually have a post-secondary certificate in automotive repair, for instance, and those who handle housing and structural claims should have some training in architecture. Some more advanced positions require a bachelor's degree. In states where adjusters need to be licensed, you'll have to complete a licensing course, pass an exam or both.
As a claims adjuster, it's absolutely necessary that you stay current with the industry you work in. New cars, new technologies, new types of medicine and new medical procedures are introduced to the market all the time. In fact, depending on the state you work in, you may be required to take continuing education courses each year to maintain your license.
You'll undoubtedly have to deny claims as a routine part of your job. Claims may be fraudulent, meaning they're deliberately unlawful, or there may be a disagreement between the customer and insurance carrier about what's covered by the customer's policy. In these cases, you'll work with an attorney and expert witnesses to defend the position of the insurance company. You may need to negotiate with the customer to settle for a claim that's lower than what they're asking.
Salary and Job Outlook
In 2012, the average income of a claims adjuster was $59,960 a year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those earning in the lowest 10 percent that year brought home $42,260, while those earning in the highest 10 percent earned $82,540 a year. The BLS anticipates a 3 percent increase in job openings through the year 2022, a rate that's much slower than the 11 percent national average. Opportunities will be negatively affected by the widespread use of automated claims processing. Those who work in health insurance should have the best job prospects, as well as those who work in homeowners' insurance in areas prone to natural disasters such as wildfires or hurricanes.