Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Great Adjuster
Things to consider:
Deciding on becoming a property adjuster but unsure if the career is for you?
Do you want a better understanding of what it will take and the steps to get there?
If so, keep reading, I’ll give you the real deal on what it takes to become a great adjuster!
DOWNLOAD THE CHECKLIST AND TAKE NOTES AS WE GO ALONG
Why you should be an adjuster:
- Property adjusting can be a rewarding career, both financially and emotionally. An adjuster can realistically make around $100,000 a year. Depending on the weather, some years are better than others, thanks to natural disasters.
- Insurance, in general, doesn’t appear to be going anywhere, thus the need for insurance adjusters.
- You should feel secure in this field as long as you are keeping up with the ever-evolving technology.
- Being an adjuster is more than just investigating claims, sometimes you are required to be emotionally present and help the insureds through the difficult time they are experiencing. Overall, being an adjuster is one of the best careers out there!
STEP ONE: Determine if claims adjusting is for you.
First things first: You need to understand what an adjuster is and what they do. The primary task of an adjuster is to handle claims for an insurance company. That may be directly from the insurance company or a third-party firm. Well, let’s get deep into the details below.
- Typically, a field adjuster will be responsible for scheduling their claims. You will need to review each claim assigned and prepare for the questions you are required to ask to schedule your claims successfully.
- Once your claims are scheduled, you will need to go out and inspect each one thoroughly and investigate the claim for possible coverage or denial. You will need to take photographs and document the damage to prepare an estimate and report to submit to the insurance carrier. Being aware of what insurance covers will prepare you for each inspection.
- Once your inspection is complete, be sure to communicate with the insured on what to expect going forward. The final step is to prepare a written report, photograph report, an estimate of damages. There are also additional documents sometimes required, such as property valuations, underwriting concerns, non- waivers, and invoices.
- You must be prepared to work hard. Excellent communication, both verbally and written is a must, or you will get yourself into trouble. Organization is critical; you will get lost in the claim load fast. Being an adjuster takes someone self-motivated and very disciplined.
Does this sound like you? If so, let’s keep going.
STEP TWO: Decide what type of adjuster you want to be.
In this article, we are focusing on property adjusters (this could potentially apply to auto adjusters as well). To be a property adjuster, you must be prepared to go out in the field.
If you want to sit behind a computer all day, then this article is not for you.
Working in the field is tough. You must be able to schedule your appointments for the week, go to inspections and photos/document the damage, keep track of your mileage and expenses, take notes, phone calls, and write reports in a timely fashion. I say a timely manner; however, it probably must be done that instant or by the end of the day at the latest.
Alright, so we hit the broad details, now you need to decide what kind of adjuster you want to be. There are three kinds: staff, independent, and catastrophe (CAT).
- A staff adjuster works solely for the insurance company of their choice.
- An example would be All-State, State Farm, Nationwide.
- They may also hire outside adjusters during a CAT (national catastrophe that will require many adjusters in an area), but that is for another article.
- Next up is the independent adjuster, an adjuster that works for a third-party adjusting firm and can also be an individual 1099 employee.
- Independent adjusters typically can work from home, make their own schedules and have more freedom (in a sense) than a staff adjuster.
- Independent adjusters can work for one firm or many firms and be an independent contractor, or also known as a 1099 employee. In that case, you must pay quarterly taxes. It’s not that difficult, but it’s something to consider.
- Lastly, we have our CAT adjuster. CAT adjusters are typically independent adjusters, but they can also be staff adjusters that opt to go on duty during a national disaster.
- CAT adjusters work very hard. They are on the road for many months of the year and do not always have a steady income.
- Prepare to manage your money throughout the year responsibly, or you could be in trouble. You cannot count on a catastrophe each year.
- You must obtain a claims adjuster license in each state that you plan to work in if that state requires a claims adjuster license.
- Check to see if your resident state claims adjuster license is reciprocal in the states you want to work in.
STEP THREE: Obtain claims adjuster license.
Becoming an adjuster may require a state license. So, let’s look that up next and see what the requirements are.
- Google your state plus insurance adjuster.
- Click on the information for adjusters and find the requirements for licensure.
- I would go ahead and print it out so you can go through the list one by one and gather all documentation.
- If your state does not require a license, do not start fist-pumping just yet. Having a license may make you an adjuster, but it does not make you a great adjuster, and that’s what we require of ourselves.
- If your state requires a license, then we need to get studying and prepare for the state exam. I recommend reviewing a study guide before the exam. I genuinely recommend adjusterpro.com. It is the exact route I took to pass my exam!
- Some states require you to have pre-license requirements such as a certified online or in-person course.
- Once you receive your claims adjuster license, you will be required to keep up with continuing education credits to be able to renew each specified period.
STEP FOUR: Start training now.
You need more than a license to be an adjuster. We are talking knowledge of insurance, Xactimate training, and some gear. In some cases, a company that will be willing to train you.
If you want to become a cat adjuster, then you need to be prepared and do NOT count on the firm/ company training you. Do you just want to go ask a company to hire you with literally no knowledge or preparation? How will the interview go? In my opinion, it will not go great.
So, let’s start with a basic knowledge of insurance. I do suggest taking an online course to prepare yourself.
Once you have that under your belt, it’s time to move on to the most popular and widely used claims estimating system- Xactimate. Xactimate is expensive, I get it, but you need to have a basic understanding of this program before taking claims. TRUST ME ON THIS.
You do not want 7-10 claims already in the bucket, and you have no idea how to write an estimate. That goes without saying that you must know about the construction of a home and commercial buildings. How can you write an estimate without having any knowledge of the materials that are damaged? Precisely- you cannot!
Some companies will provide almost all the gear you will need. You most likely will need your vehicle, and you must be able to have a reliable and large enough car to fit your ladder. We are talking about being a property adjuster, so let’s remember that! You may spend the entire day of the road and must factor in being comfortable into the equation.
Finished printing out the checklist? Okay- let’s move on!
STEP FIVE: Apply for jobs.
So far, you have decided on what kind of adjuster you want to be, state license requirements, a checklist of gear, and now we need to get you prepared to find a job. It does not hurt to research companies and firms while you complete your training and license exam (if applicable).
I’ve included a spreadsheet for you to keep track of the firms you have applied for and other essential information. Both the PDF and Excel versions are included under the Adjuster Resource Library tab.
STEP SIX: Learn to manage your money & expenses.
Congratulations! Your license number came in, you have completed the required documentation, and you have studied your tail off. You are now an adjuster and ready for one of the most rewarding careers.
Next, you will have to learn how to manage your money, track expenses, learn about tax breaks such as a home office. I highly recommend downloading and paying for QuickBooks self-employed. You will be able to keep track of your expenses, mileage, and pay your taxes. Be sure to categorize every single expense related to your new career. You will be surprised how fast it all adds up.
Quickbooks made my life so much easier!
Having a home office, in my opinion, is crucial. Go ahead and prepare your home office now; it will help you focus on your goals, apply for jobs, and be ready for when claims are assigned. When designing a space for your new office, I recommend a quiet, organized area where you will be able to fully focus on your claim load. Be sure to have a printer, scanner and back up device for a large data load.
STEP SEVEN: Conferences and CE credits.
Once you have your adjuster license, feel free to start going to conferences and getting some CE credits! You will learn so much and be able to network. It wouldn’t hurt to have some business cards ready to hand out.
As mentioned earlier, you will need to determine the exact number of continuing education (CE) credits that your state license requires to be able to renew and keep your license active.
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and go for it. These steps have prepared you to be the best adjuster you can be—more on that at a later blog post.