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Claims Adjuster Job Description, Career as a Claims Adjuster, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: High school; license

Salary: Median—$44,080 per year

Employment Outlook: Good

Definition and Nature of the Work

Claims adjusters ascertain how much money people are entitled to receive on their insurance claims. Most claims adjusters work for property-liability insurance companies. Property-liability insurance covers such losses as fires, thefts, and accidents. People who buy this insurance protect themselves and their property against these events. The claims adjuster goes to the scene of the accident or fire to see that the claim is valid and that it is settled as quickly as possible. This work requires a thorough knowledge of insurance policies and practices.

As soon as a loss is reported, an adjuster investigates the claim by talking to witnesses and studying police reports before determining the amount that should be paid to the policyholder. Part of the adjuster's job is to determine whether the amount of the claim has been inflated and whether fraud has been committed. The claims adjuster may prepare written reports of the findings.

Sometimes the amount of a claim is discussed or negotiated with the policy- holder. This is especially true when the loss is extensive. The claims adjuster must work out a settlement that is fair to both the policyholder and the insurance company.

Whereas most claims adjusters work for insurance companies, some are employed by large policyholders, such as banks, and others work for independent adjusting firms. Some handle several types of insurance, whereas others specialize in one kind, such as automobile coverage. Although a few have desk jobs, most adjusters conduct investigations in the field.

Education and Training Requirements

Many claims adjusters have college training, although it is not always a requirement for the job. A high school diploma is necessary, however. A course in business law may be helpful, because adjusters must understand the legal language of insurance and be able to explain it to their customers. Some claims adjusters learn the business through on-the-job training and evening courses sponsored by their companies. Others take part in work–study programs offered by schools of insurance. Insurance companies also like to employ adjusters with some experience in the products the company insures. A person with a college degree and a background in automobile repair, for instance, would have an advantage over someone with just a college degree when applying for a job as an auto damage insurance appraiser.

Most states require claims adjusters to be licensed. Although licensing regulations vary widely from state to state, typical requirements include proof of state residency, a written examination covering the fundamentals of adjusting, successful completion of an approved insurance course, and proof of good character. Some states also require that examiners enroll in continuing education courses each year to maintain their license. Beginning adjusters almost always work on small claims under the supervision of more experienced workers.

Getting the Job

Most claims adjusters, particularly those without college training, are promoted to their positions from beginning clerical jobs. In some companies, however, it is possible to start as a junior adjuster even with no previous insurance experience. In this case a training period is usually provided for new employees.

Interested individuals can contact insurance companies directly for jobs. State and local insurance associations may offer suggestions about the best places to apply and the correct people to see when applying for a position. Jobs are sometimes listed in the classified ads of local newspapers or on the Internet.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Talented and experienced claims adjusters may work toward the job of chief adjuster or claims department supervisor. Workers who take advanced law courses may become home office legal managers.

Employment for claims adjusters was expected to grow as fast as the average for all occupations through the year 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many openings will occur as experienced workers retire or leave their jobs for other reasons. Although computers have taken over some of the routine tasks that were done by examiners in the past, the demand for skilled claims adjusters will keep pace with the rest of the economy. Growth in the proportion of the population over age twenty-five, together with the expansion of the economy, will lead to a steadily increasing volume of insurance claims.

Working Conditions

Claims adjusters spend much time away from the office conducting investigations. Adjusters often work during the evening. Their workweek is generally forty hours, but adjusters must arrange their own schedules.

Some claims adjusters are on twenty-four-hour call. However, on-call duty nearly always rotates among several adjusters. Claims adjusters have contact with many different kinds of people.

Earnings and Benefits

Earnings vary depending on experience, location of the work, and level of responsibility. The median salary of an inside claims adjuster was $44,080 per year, according to salary.com.

Where to Go for More Information

American Institute for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters and the Insurance Institute of America
720 Providence Rd.
PO Box 3016
Malvern, PA 19355
(800) 644-2101

Insurance Information Institute
110 William St.
New York, NY 10038
(212) 346-5500

International Claim Association
1 Thomas Circle NW, 10th Fl.
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 452-0143

National Association of Insurance Women (International)
6528 E. 101st St. PBM #750
Tulsa, OK 74182
(800) 766-6249

Property Casualty Insurers Association of North America
2600 South River Rd.
Des Plaines, IL 60018
(847) 297-7800

Usually claims adjusters either are given company cars or are reimbursed for the use of their own cars. Company benefits are usually good. Adjusters can expect to receive paid vacations and holidays and health and pension plans. Job-related educational expenses are often paid by the employer.

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