Many independent adjusters dream about traveling the country to process catastrophic claims, better known in the industry as “cat claims.”
Getting a call for deployment as a catastrophic insurance adjuster after a big storm can mean a paycheck of five hundred dollars or more per day — and it’s an exhilarating job.
But if you aren’t careful, you can make some common mistakes and ruin your chances of being successful.
If you are brand new to independent adjusting, or wondering how to become an insurance adjuster, you can start by getting licensed in states that will boost your career opportunities. We have a dedicated article on state licensing requirements for insurance adjusters, and the best licenses to pursue.
In this article, you’ll find valuable tips to be successful as a catastrophic insurance adjuster, and learn how to avoid the pitfalls.
How to succeed as a new Catastrophic Insurance Adjuster
Finding success as a catastrophic adjuster is not easy. But for those that persist, a lucrative and fulfilling career can be found.
Over the past 11 years, I’ve seen a lot of independent adjusters stumble and fall when trying to get started in catastrophic claims.
Nearly every one of them did not follow the five tips I lay out for you below. They ended up sabotaging their career before they got off the ground. Here’s how to avoid making those mistakes:
1. Have some startup cash
I suggest having at least $2000 in cash available to you before you accept any catastrophic deployments as an independent adjuster.
It is expensive on the road and you need to be able to pay for any emergencies that may arise while waiting for your first check. You may also need some additional insurance adjuster tools for this kind of work.
If you are going to be working a catastrophic property deployment, raise the minimum amount to $5000. It takes longer to get paid for property claims than auto claims, and you’ll need to make sure you don’t run out money while you wait.
2. Manage your expectations: How much can you make in catastrophic adjusting?
Most independent adjusters believe people will start stuffing money into their pockets the moment they get deployed. This isn’t the case. Many adjusters are lucky to break even on their first few storms.
When you get deployed for the first time, call earning any profit a win. Consider it paid training, and go after your next opportunity for work.
It’s important to have realistic expectations about how much you can make in catastrophic adjusting and to be prepared for ups and downs in cash flow as you get started.
3. Be proactive to get more catastrophic claims
As an independent adjuster, you need to be proactive in getting more claims. Networking is often how an adjuster will get opportunities. This business is about who you know, and who you are getting to know.
Adjusters that sit at home waiting to find a “golden ticket” opportunity, will likely keep sitting at home. Get busy networking and looking for work. It won’t find you on its own.
4. Have a back-up plan: Daily auto or property insurance adjusting
Waiting for a hurricane to hit the east coast or a tornado to demolish the midwest is NOT a business plan. You should be looking for part-time work while you wait for catastrophic claims.
If you truly want to become a catastrophic insurance adjuster, working daily auto or property claims is a great way to get started. It gives you the opportunity to prove to yourself and potential employers that you can close claims.
5. Control your expenses when working on the road
Eating steak dinner while you are deployed is NOT a good use of your money. First-time independent adjusters often act as if they’ve just won the lottery when they get deployed. They spend lots of money and don’t control their expenses.
If you want to survive as a catastrophic insurance adjuster, you’ll focus on saving money whenever possible. If you aren’t careful, the cost of living on the road and having a household at home can quickly add up, and you’ll be left with nothing when the storm ends.
Top 5 ways to get more catastrophic adjusting work
Now that you’ve learned how to avoid the obstacles that can trip you up as a new adjuster, it’s time to step up your game. Here are the top five ways to get more catastrophic claims, and build towards long-term success:
1. Get on more rosters with independent insurance adjusting firms
It may seem simple, but the more independent insurance adjusting companies you are able to work for, the better. Spreading your chances across dozens of companies is a great way to increase your odds of getting called to a catastrophic storm.
I suggest onboarding with at least thirteen companies. If you can increase that number all the better. Don’t make the rookie mistake of signing up with just one or two companies, and expecting to get enough work.
2. Get more adjuster licenses
The more adjuster licenses you hold, the more states you can handle claims in. Holding multiple licenses is a great way to make sure you are available for more catastrophic deployments.
When deciding which additional licenses to get, think about the type of storms you are anticipating in the coming months. Is it hail season? Get licenses in the midwest. Hurricanes on the horizon? Buckle down and grab some east and gulf coast licenses.
I also have some personal recommendations on which state licenses are most valuable, based on my 11 years of experience working catastrophic claims, this article, Insurance Adjuster License Requirements by State.
Another good one for CAT adjusters is the NFIP certification, a government-run insurance program that’s part of FEMA.
3. Get some training in auto and property adjusting
Very few catastrophic independent adjusters are actually good at their job. This is great news for you! If you get proper training and practice writing estimates, it is easy to stand out from the crowd.
Learning how to use the software isn’t enough. Companies want to know that you know how to close claims and understand how the industry works. Invest time, effort, and energy into training — it’ll pay you back tenfold!
4. Get networking
Most of my deployment opportunities have come as a result of knowing somebody. Don’t overlook this as a way to increase the number of catastrophic claims and deployments you will have available to you.
Getting to know other independent adjusters through Facebook, LinkedIn, or our own independent adjuster community is an effective way to find more work opportunities.
To hire you, or recommend you to a potential employer, people need to know, like, and trust you. You can work on all three by networking.
5. Get working
The working adjuster tends to keep working. If you only focus on working catastrophic claims, it is likely that you are missing a huge opportunity. You can start working daily auto or property claims in your area.
When a company sees an adjuster that is actively closing claims, they want to work with them. They know you understand how to do the job, and that is VALUABLE in this business.
If you’d like to get started working daily claims in your area, I’d suggest checking out our Auto Adjuster’s Path. This is our flagship mentoring program that walks you through establishing yourself as an IA business and helps you start working claims within the next 90 days. Check out our Auto Damage Certification & Mentorship and get working!