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Independent claims adjusters play an important role in the chain of events following an insurance claim. Adjusters manage and oversee the claims process, obtain information from investigators, conduct interviews with all involved parties and even consult experts and professionals, such as architects or physicians, to determine a final settlement. Independent adjusters are self-employed and hired by insurance companies. Licensing and training for the independent adjuster can happen on the job or through classroom training. Independent adjusters hired by insurance agencies work for the benefit of the insurance company, not the claimant.
Choose a type of adjusting to specialize in; independent adjusters can specialize in one type of claim. Catastrophe adjusters work with catastrophic events like floods, hurricanes or tornadoes, and manage large numbers of claims. Liability adjusters work in the area of personal injury, such as accidents and negligent behavior, and can refine their training by focusing in a particular area of liability, such as workers' compensation, health care, automobiles or structures.
Obtain a formal education. Although not a requirement, earning a bachelor's degree can be an asset for an independent claims adjuster. Degrees in the adjuster's area of interest, such as architecture, engineering, law or health, can help the adjuster when investigating claims. For instance, a legal degree is helpful when investigating worker compensation claims. A degree in architecture or structural engineering aids the adjuster in the investigation of structural damage to buildings, parking garages or homes.
Obtain professional training. Training can occur on the job or through a classroom program. Working within a large insurance company before becoming an independent adjuster, or apprenticing alongside an experienced adjuster, can provide hands-on claims experience. Some adjusters may learn their trade through training programs offered by companies like AdjusterPro or Adjuster Training. The amount of training or experience required is dictated by each state's licensing requirements.
Apply for a license. Licenses are managed by each state, and the process and fees for applying will vary. Contact your state's board of insurance or its professional licensing and regulations agency for more information. New Mexico requires a $30 fee, a $10,000 surety bond, a completed application and notarized proof of training; Texas requires a $50 fee, a $10,000 surety bond, a completed application and an exam, plus adjuster training courses.
Learn to use specialty software, as some types of claims may require the use of specific software programs to complete. For example, Xactimate is a program used to complete damage estimates to structures, while AppTrak software conducts auto appraisals. Most software companies offer training for their products. Some may conduct training through local community colleges or continuing education courses offered through universities.
Renew your license. License renewal typically occurs annually, and often requires proof of continuing education. Each state will outline what continuing education is acceptable, and may include participation as a lecturer or instructor within the industry, attendance at industry conferences and seminars or completion of courses taught through a university or community college. Renewal fees will vary from state to state, but should not exceed the original cost of the license.
AdjusterPro's website provides links to state licensing departments.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook, Edition 2010-11: Claims Adjusters, Appraisers, Examiners and Investigators
- State of New Mexico: Public Regulation Commission, Insurance Division: Instructions for Independent Adjuster Application
- Texas Department of Insurance: Agent Adjuster Licensing Facts: How Do I Apply for an Adjuster's License
- Texas Department of Insurance: Adjuster – All Lines
Alex Burke holds a degree in environmental design and a Master of Arts in information management. She's worked as a licensed interior designer, artist, database administrator and nightclub manager. A perpetual student, Burke writes Web content on a variety of topics, including art, interior design, database design, culture, health and business.