Figuring out insurance adjuster license requirements by state can be a BIG HEADACHE when you first get started. Some states have their own program, some coordinate with other states, and some don’t even require a license.
And there’s a lot riding on the choice of where to get licensed. Being able to work in multiple states can dramatically increase your earning potential — and getting the wrong license can kill your career.
In this article, I’m going to simplify this choice, so you’ll know how to become an insurance adjuster, and exactly which license you need to start working.
Be sure to read until the end to find out which adjuster license to get if you want to increase your career trajectory exponentially. This one tip could save you years of heartache and headaches!
What insurance adjuster license should you get first?
This is an important decision — there are consequences that are extremely painful if you choose the wrong license. Attempting to work as an adjuster without the correct license can result in:
- losing licenses
- inability to get work
- being blocked from holding an adjuster license in the future
Getting an adjuster license also isn’t easy. It takes a fair amount of investment from you in terms of both money and time. It can take weeks or sometimes months to obtain your license, and you don’t want to throw away time and money on the wrong adjuster license.
The 3 factors to consider in getting licensed
The answer to what adjuster license to get first is NOT universal, contrary to what many online forums and websites proclaim. There are individual factors that determine the correct license — and the smartest choice — for the adjusting career you want.
Here are the three questions to answer, before we jump into the licensing requirements:
- Does your home state require a license?
- Which other states do you want to work in?
- Do you want the extra earning potential of working catastrophic claims across the country?
Now, let’s review each of these factors, and walk through the state licensing requirements you’ll need to build your ideal career.
Do you live in a licensing or non-licensing state?
The first question to answer is whether your home state requires a license, or has a different process.
Some states require anyone handling claims to be licensed as an insurance adjuster and other states don’t have that requirement. We call states that require an adjuster license “licensing states.”
States that don’t require a license are “non-licensing states,” and the process to get started as an adjuster is different.
If you live in a state that requires a license you’ll typically be required to complete a few steps to obtain that license.
The states that require you to obtain a license are blue on the map while the grayish states are non-licensing states:
What to do if your home state requires a license
If you live in a licensing state, start by finding out your state’s process.
One of the main steps will be to complete your state’s licensing exam. Most of us don’t walk around knowing insurance industry terminology and policy so you’ll need to get prepared for that test.
There are two different ways this is handled:
- pre-licensing classes
- exam prep courses
Exam prep courses prepare you for an exam you’ll have to take at a testing facility. Pre-licensing courses are typically 40hr courses you’ll need to complete and INCLUDE the test.
You can complete the exam prep or pre-licensing at training centers around the nation or online. If you are looking for an online option, I recommend AdjusterPro.com, which can help you prepare for testing in ANY state in the nation.
Here are the steps you’ll need to complete for the majority of licensing states:
- Purchase an exam prep or pre-licensing course
- Complete the exam prep or pre-licensing course online or in-person
- Apply to the state in which you passed with the following items:
- Test Certificate
- Background Check
- Payment for License
- Receive License
It can take a few days to a few months to obtain your adjuster license, so be patient. It also helps to follow up with the state every few weeks to ensure there is no issue.
The cost associated with the license range greatly depending on the state. There are a handful of states that cost less than one hundred dollars and others that cost several hundreds of dollars.
Choose the right type of license
There are different license options in each state, so be sure to select the license that allows you to handle ANY type of claim.
This is typically called an “All Lines Adjuster license.”
If you have any doubt about which license to get, you can contact the insurance commissioner’s office in your state, AdjusterPro, or email me.
If you live in a state that doesn’t require an adjuster license, you are not required to obtain a license to complete work in that state.
Here is a list of non-licensing states:
- District of Columbia
- New Jersey
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
What to do if you live in a non-licensing state (choose a designated home state)
If you live in a non-licensing state, you can skip the exams and get straight to work — in your home state.
But if you want to work in any other state, whether that’s a neighboring state, or further afield for more lucrative catastrophic claims, you’ll need catastrophic insurance adjuster licenses for those states.
You’ll need to choose a state to start with, and it will be your “designated home state.” Read on to find out which state licenses will give you the most opportunity.
Reciprocity and choosing the best designated home state
As an insurance adjuster, you can hold 20+ adjuster licenses across the country, to maximize your work options and opportunities.
However, taking 20 tests would be grueling, expensive, and super time consuming. To streamline the process, many states have reciprocity agreements.
Reciprocity is a fancy word that means a state recognizes another state’s licensing requirements. If you passed the exam of a state with similar requirements, they’ll waive the need for you to take another test.
You’ll still need to submit all the necessary documents and payment, but you won’t be forced to take another brutal test if the state you obtained your first license in is reciprocal with a lot of other states.
That is why, if you live in a non-licensing state, your best option for a designated home state license is one with a high number of reciprocal states.
I recommend choosing one of these three states, because they have great reciprocity and can be easily completed online with pre-licensing classes from AdjusterPro:
I favor Florida and Indiana over the long-time license king of Texas because they typically will get you your license in less than two weeks. Texas has been known to take over a month.
There are other providers online that are GREAT, but I’ve not seen any with as extensive of a catalog as AdjusterPro — check out the complete list of states and training options.
(disclaimer – I receive a small commission if you use the links above to purchase your licensing training)
States that are reciprocal with Florida, Texas, and Indiana
All states that require an adjuster’s license are reciprocal if you hold an Indiana, Texas, or Florida license except the following three states:
- New York
If you want to see an interactive map you can check it out at AdjusterPro.
Which state licenses to get for catastrophic claims
Some states are prone to extreme weather, and generate high volumes of claims work for adjusters who are willing to travel. If you want to work as a catastrophic claims adjuster, take note of which state licenses provide the best work opportunities.
Adjuster licenses to get for hail season
Hail falls from the sky frequently from March to August. If you are approaching that time of year and looking to be in a better position to work in hail-prone states, I recommend getting the following licenses in addition to your home state or designated home state license:
Adjuster licenses to get for hurricane season
Hurricane claims can be a great way to increase your income. You can gain a competitive edge by already holding licenses in states that are frequently affected by hurricanes.
Hurricane season is at its peak from June to November. If trying to prepare yourself for work in that time of year, use the reciprocity of your home license to apply for these states:
- South Carolina
- North Carolina
The best state insurance adjuster license to get
There is one single license that can single-handedly change the trajectory of your career.
After obtaining your home state or designated home state license, going for this one next is almost like money in the bank
This is often referred to as the “Golden Ticket License” and that license is New York.
The New York adjuster license is NOT reciprocal with any states, so few people are licensed to handle claims there. Also, it is a hard test to pass and expensive to apply.
But don’t let that hold you back from this opportunity. If you complete the New York Exam prep by AdjusterPro, I’m confident you can pass — many of my students and apprentices have done it, and so can you.
Both insurance companies and independent adjusting firms are in a desperate need for adjusters that can settle claims in the state of New York. This can happen on the phone from anywhere in the country. By obtaining the New York license, you just made yourself more valuable by tenfold.
The second and third best adjuster licenses to get
For some of the same reasons listed above for the New York license, both the New Mexico Adjuster license and the auto damage appraiser’s license in Pennsylvania are extremely valuable.
Next steps to start getting work as an independent adjuster
I hope now the questions surrounding state insurance adjuster licensing requirements — and which ones are the best investment — have been answered.