The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Being an Independent Insurance Adjuster

Is becoming an independent insurance adjuster a good idea? 

What is bad about being an independent adjuster?

I had a call from a good friend in the industry who is looking to pivot from a supporting role at a firm to being an adjuster himself. He wanted to know more about what it is like to be an adjuster and in his words, “I knew you were the only one that’d give me the good, the bad and the ugly.”

I figured you all probably have wondered the same thing at one point and now is as good a time as any for me to share.

The Good of Being an Independent Adjuster

We’ll start right in the good stuff so you can feel great about your decision to puruse adjusting before I air its dirty laundry. LOL.

The good things likely come as no surprise to you if you’ve been doing research and asking question to other adjusters on social media etc.

Rewarding

Being an adjuster is an AMAZING job. It is fulfilling because we help people in their time of need. Unlike many jobs I’ve had in the past it is easy to see how we are helping other people.

Few things are as fulfilling as helping Grandma Ethel by estimating her damaged Buick and helping her get through this stressful time.

Freedom

Depending on what side of the adjusting aisle you fall (staff or independent) the job comes with lots of freedom. Even as a staff adjuster you are free to make many decisions.

As an independent you are free to decide what type of claims you want to handle, where you work, when, and whether you want to travel the country doing catastrophic claims or just hang out doing daily claims in and around your hometown.

Nothing is quite like leaving early in the morning, stopping and getting Dunkin Donuts coffee (and of course the Pumpkin donut) and then cranking your favorite music or podcast as your drive the highway ahead of the work traffic. Watching the sun come up from behind the trees from behind the wheel of your fuel effecient car that you happen to be drumming on.

It is also very diverse. Age, race, and gender have not had a major impact on people having opportunities. (that I’ve seen or heard about)

Pay

The pay of an adjuster is well above the national average. Whether you work for an insurance company as an employee or as an independent running your own business, you have higher earning potential than most of America and for many of us even WITHOUT COLLEGE DEGREES.

If you step into independent adjusting or the upper levels of adjusting on the insurance company side you can earn an extremely healthy living! IA’s can earn up to and beyond six figures if they want. How hard you want to work and how many opportunities you want to puruse is up to you! You control your destiny.

On this topic I encourage you to listen to a new podcast episode where IA Path gradaute Koby Hearn takes over the mic and tells you why $100k Is a Horrible Goal.

Stable

The insurance industry is EXTREMELY stable. As covid ravaged the world last year my community of 300+ adjusters communicated openly about claim volume, slow downs, struggling to find work, and the impact of covid on their business.

Despite the world going on lock down MOST CONTINUED TO WORK. There were a month of two we all held our breath, but for the majority of the year most of our students had solid years.

We can’t say the same for airline pilots, waitresses, event planners, chefs, etc. Adjusters were deemed early on as ESSENTIAL so we were allowed to keep working even when the rest of the world had to stop.

Plus there is trillions (yes with a T!) of dollars of insurance premiums that must be honored when a claim is filed. All the money in the insurance industry gives us peace of mind that our job is stable. It may change with technology how we do it, but there is work for adjusters for decades to come.

The Bad of Being an Independent Adjuster

Getting a job as an adjuster isn’t as easy as raising your hand. If you want to become an Uber driver it is so easy you can be up and running in a few days. Door Dash… I doubt it is much harder.

Having a career as an insurance professional doesn’t happen at the snap of a finger. You either have to get chosen by an insurance company or start your own business as an independent and take matters into your own hands. (we know it isn’t easy)

To get chosen by an insurance company you have to have a pristine resume that isn’t garbage (and trust me most peoples are… including mine prior to this year) and ace an interview process that is daunting. You are competing with college kids that will take almost any salary and no matter how much valuable life experiences you have if you don’t frame it properly the insurance company DOESN’T CARE. At least that is how it feels.

It ends up feeling like a resume lottery. (although there is much more than that going on behind the scenes)

As an independent adjuster you’ve got to build your business, earn respect and trust while somehow surviving the lack of cashflow as you get started with NO guarantee anyone will ever give you a shot.

If you’d allow me to get on my soapbox a second… *cough* *clears throat*

If I’m being real and transparent with you (and yes I am) I’ve got to tell you. It is really hard for me to hear people whine and complain about how hard it is to get into our industry. It is easier now than ever before. If you want an easy to get income go deliver pizzas. If you want a career that requires skills you must acquire that provides you stability for years to come… then be willing to freaking work for it.

I remember as a teen how hard it was to even get a “normal job.” I believe 40 applications got me my first interview. It wasn’t my dream job, but I got to work at Target. 40 applications… you hear me? Few adjusters ever apply to that many independent firms or apply for that many insurance adjuster jobs. Much less do the training, networking, and business building it takes to be get a shot.

You can do this, but you can’t think it’ll be handed to you on a silver platter. If you want it… you’ve got to pursue it. You’ve got to go for it, you’ve got to claim it!

(steps down off soap box)

Competitive

Our industry is competitive. Lots of other licensed adjusters. That is a general statement. It is extremely competitive if you live in Florida, Texas, or California, and way less competitive everywhere else.

Yes you can compete and win, but there is a competition with yourself to beat the odds.

The Ugly of Being an Independent Insurance Adjuster

College Degree?

No one cares about your degree. LOL did I say that out loud? Your degree is for you more than it is for the benefit of an IA Firm. Insurance companies may care a little, but from what I’ve been hearing it doesn’t move the needle much to being successful in our industry.

What you learned about the world and about yourself in college is what makes you valuable. Your piece of paper though isn’t useful. YOU ARE WHAT IS USEFUL and you have to know how to communicate that. to someone in a way that compels someone to want to work with you. The paper won’t do it for you.

Yet on the other hand many jobs list a college degree as something that is a benefit… so if you have it great if not lets learn how to communicate the value we bring to a company even WITHOUT a college degree.

PC World

Computer skills are basically a must. If you struggle with a computer start playing around on a WINDOWS based computer ASAP. Our industry relies heavily on a PC to do our job and if you can’t operate one you’ll be falling behind even if given the chance.

No, you can’t use your Apple computer to do most jobs in our industry. You better get good at Windows… sorry Steve Jobs the insurance industry isn’t apparently your cutting edge audience.

It is About Who You Know

Oh I hate this. Yeah sure, it is about who you know, but it is more about who you are getting to know. If you aren’t networking and getting to know people you likely won’t make it in this industry.

There are still strong pockets of the “old guard” who want it to be a good ol boys club. Luckily for you there is people like Mathew Allen of AdjusterTV and myself trying to break down those barriers.

You can utilize LinkedIn to get in contact with almost anyone so nearly ANY excuse can be removed with a little work and networking.

You Must Spend Money… to Make Money

ANY business requires you to spend money to make money. I’ve yet to find an idnustry where I just show up and start printing money. You have to invest in your license training, other licenses, adjuster job training (different than licensing!), software training, certifications etc.

You also have to invest in tools of the trade. Ladders and Cougar Paws aren’t cheap! Having a good laptop is a must. IF you are an independent don’t forget your insurance to protect you and your business.

It Takes Time

The reality is it can take some time to make your dreams of becoming a successful independent or staff adjuster come true. IT won’t be anything as grueling or expensive as 4 years in college, but it does take time, effort, money, and patience.

At the end of the rainbow is a career you can make great money in a career that gives you flexibility and lots of options for expansion and diversification. It is worth it, but it isn’t for everyone.

I love to help people determine if this career is right for them. Help them determine next steps based on their circumstances, answer question, and give custom advice.

Send me an email at [email protected] with your questions.

If you want help getting started as an independent adjuster I can help you in 3 different ways.

  1. Purchase the Independent Adjuster’s Playbook from Amazon
  2. Join the IA Path Virtual Adjuster Mentorship Community & Help Room (free 7 day trial) and get training courses for every step of your IA Path Journey.
  3. Enroll in the Auto Collision Damage Certification. (Experience requirements waived with 40+ IA Firms once earned)

Ready to Accelerate Your Success as an Independent Adjuster?

Get Free Access to our 5-part
video crash course