An independent insurance adjuster is someone who is responsible for evaluating insurance claims on behalf of insurance companies.
These adjusters are not directly employed by the insurance company but instead work on a contract basis, providing their services to multiple insurance carriers.
This article will provide an overview of the role of an independent insurance adjuster, discussing their responsibilities, qualifications, benefits, challenges, and opportunities.
What is the difference between a claims adjuster and an insurance adjuster or an insurance appraiser?
There are many different insurance adjuster jobs, roles, and terms that get used when referencing independent insurance adjusters.
The key thing to realize is that the “independent” stands for how the adjuster gets work. They aren’t an employee of an insurance company, but a subcontractor.
Here are some alternative terms for the term adjuster,
- Insurance adjuster
- Claims examiner
- Claims adjuster
- Claims handler
- Claims representative
- Insurance claims handler
- Loss adjuster
- Claims investigator
You’ll also hear the term appraiser in our industry.
The difference between an appraiser and an adjuster can be summarized like this,
An appraiser writes the estimate the adjuster writes the check.
The adjuster is the one settling the claim and writing the check on behalf of the insurance company.
An appraiser is typically assisting the adjuster by determining the value of the damages and of the property that was damaged.
An adjuster can also fulfill the roles of an appraiser, but in some states there are separate licenses that are required to do each role.
What is an Independent Adjuster’s Roles and Responsibilities?
As an independent insurance adjuster there are a lot of different things that we have to do while handling a claim.
Investigate the Claim
- Reviewing insurance policy details & insurance company guidelines
- Reviewing all documentation on the claim
- Assess the cause of damage or loss
- Estimate the cost of damages
Communicate With All Parties Involved in the Claim
Communicating is one of the most underrated and forgotten jobs as an independent insurance adjuster.
This is the primary job of an independent insurance adjuster, to communicate any and all parties that are involved in the claim including,
- Independent adjusting firm
- Insurance company
Document and Report Your Findings
An independent insurance adjusting is building a case for what needs to be paid for and why.
Claims adjusters gather this evidence by,
- Taking photos of the damaged property or the scene of the loss
- Assess damages and take details noes
- Write an estimate using an industry standard estimating software
- Write a claim summary report
- Submit all documents to the insurance company or client
Run Your Independent Adjusting Business
Because independent insurance adjusters are not employees of any companies, they are business owners and have the extra responsibility of running their own business.
Independent adjusters must,
- Track mileage and expenses
- Invoice and bill clients
- Reconcile payments to invoices
- Set aside taxes
- Insure themselves and their company
Having your own business provides a lot of freedom and responsibility as an independent adjuster.
What is an Independent Insurance Adjuster’s Skills or Education Requirements?
Education Requirements for Independent Insurance Adjusters
Independent insurance adjusters do not have any formal education requirements.
It doesn’t matter if you a degree, a high school diploma or a GED.
The only requirements that matter are the requirements for getting an adjuster license.
What is the Independent Insurance Adjuster Licensing Requirements
Independent insurance adjusters are required to have an adjuster license to legally handle and settle claims in most states.
If your state requires an adjuster license their requirements will likely be,
- Be at least 18 years old
- Be a legal resident of the state you are getting a license in
- Complete state-specific licensing prep course & pass test
- Complete your continuing education to renew your license
Each state has different requirements, you’ll want to find out your state specific adjuster licensing requirements and adjuster licensing prep options.
Skills and Attributes of a Successful Independent Insurance Adjuster
While anyone can be a successful independent insurance adjuster, not everyone will enjoy the responsibilities of running a business and running claims.
Certain skills and attributes contribute to an adjusters success more than others.
Some of the most important skills and character traits are,
- Strong analytical and problem-solving abilities
- Excellent communication and negotiation skills
- Attention to detail and organizational skills
- Adaptability and willingness to travel
- Ability to take ownership of mistakes and failures
- Teachable and able to learn new things fast
What are the Benefits of Being an Independent Insurance Adjuster?
Working as an independent insurance adjuster provides a lot of flexibility in freedom with your schedule.
Depending on the type of work you are getting as an independent insurance adjuster you are able to dictate when and how often you work.
Although taking a long time to complete an assigned claim will cause you to have slow cycle time, the choice is yours.
Some of the biggest benefits to being an independent insurance adjuster are,
- Control over workload and schedule
- Opportunity to work with various insurance carriers & firms
- Earning potential is uncapped
- Competitive pay based on experience and expertise
- Lots of career growth opportunities
- Different types of employment situations
Challenges Faced by Independent Insurance Adjusters
Being an independent insurance adjuster isn’t all roses and sunshine.
It can be a very tough career for some people.
Some of the hardest parts of being an independent claims adjuster are,
- Irregular workload
- Fluctuations in the number of claims
- Seasonal nature of certain types of claims
- Frequent travel to claim sites
- Extended periods away from home
- Different guidelines & processes for each company
- Work life balance
- Dealing with difficult people
With this long list of negatives and many more that I haven’t listed, the next logical question is this.
Is Being Insurance Adjuster a Stressful Job?
Being an independent insurance adjuster can be a very stressful job.
The Burned out Adjuster’s Playbook mentions,
“Stress, by definition, is your body’s reaction to a challenge or demand.
Your body’s reaction to a challenge or demand.
Stress in short bursts is valuable and healthy. By definition “eustress” is a psychological benefit to us. It is what gets us to complete a project on time, make two extra phone calls to meet quota, or what helps us turn off the TV and find a job.
The problem comes in when we face too many challenges and too many demands. When we live in a state of stress rather than using stress as a catalyst for our best work.”
I’ve mentored over 800 new independent insurance adjusters and auto damage appraisers and here are some tips for handling stress as an independent adjuster or appraiser.
- Know your why
- Continue to learn new skills
- Create boundaries for your work
- Diversify where your work comes from
- Understand you are building a business, not getting a job
- Get advice from mentors and other adjusters that have been where you are
It is very different running a business compared with having a job.
The mental shift can be tough for some people, but for those that do, they are able to claim their life and enjoy their new business.
What are the Independent Insurance Adjuster Jobs?
First off, lets talk about how an independent insurance adjuster actually gets work.
How Does an Independent Insurance Adjuster Get Work?
An independent insurance adjuster is never guaranteed work.
As an independent it is your responsibility to go and find work. This is a big shift for some people compared to clocking in and clocking out at a job.
There are several different types of customers that hire you as an independent adjuster.
Who Hires Independent Insurance Adjusters?
- Independent Adjusting Firms
- Insurance Carriers
- Property Owners
- Body shops
- Restoration & Construction
Most new independent insurance adjusters get their work from independent adjusting firms.
These companies are hired by the insurance company to locate independent adjusters to handle their claims. They are similar to a temp agency that locates workers for companies that are understaffed.
The insurance carriers that hire independent adjusting firms either don’t have staff or company adjusters in the area that you work or are overwhelmed with a high demand of claim volume in that particular area.
Once you’ve experienced working for an independent adjusting firm you’ll have a better idea of what is expected of you as you pursue the other types of clients.
Types of Claim Independent Insurance Adjusters Can Handle
The insurance industry has many different types of claims and ways to work as an independent insurance adjuster.
Some of the most common ways to segment or describe the various types of work are,
This is where you go to the owners house, vehicle, or scene of the loss to investigate the damages and claim. You are going into the field.
A desk adjuster typically handles everything sitting at a desk. They handle everything remotely.
Catastrophic adjusters respond when a catastrophic weather or man made event occurs. Large numbers of claims are in a condensed area and the insurance company needs adjusters to come into the area to assist in getting the claims handled.
Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, wildfires, and hail storm are common catastrophic events.
Unlike catastrophic, daily claims occur consistently. Daily independent adjusters or appraisers handle claims consistently in a geographic area. They tend to sleep in their own bed at night.
Instead of being sent to handle a large number of claims, a daily adjuster is assigned each claim one at a time.
5. Claim Type
The type of independent adjuster is also indicated by the types of claims they are handling.
Some of the common independent adjuster claim types are,
i. Standard Auto
iii. Diminished Value
iv. Appraisal Clause
c. Heavy Equipment
e. Bodily Injury
How to Become an Independent Insurance Adjuster
It can be confusing when you try to become an independent insurance adjuster.
What order do you do what in?
What is the fastest way to become a working independent insurance adjuster?
The Independent Adjuster Path is a seven step roadmap to getting you your first claims fast.
7 Steps to Becoming an Independent Insurance Adjuster
- Set Up Your Business
I’ll break down the Independent Adjuster Path and each step into a little bit more detail.
We recommend starting with daily auto claims because it is less competitive and there are 19,937 car wrecks that happen in the United States every day.
While most new independent adjusters imagine waiting for a hurricane or hail storm is how they will get started, this is like playing the adjuster lottery, just waiting for your number to get called.
You are competing against every licensed adjuster in the country rather than just those in your geographic region.
2. Training: Get Adjuster Training, Learn How You Do the Job
Learning how to do your job is an essential element of being an independent insurance adjuster.
Having an adjuster license is a legal requirement, but your exam prep doesn’t teach you how to do the job.
You’ll want to learn how to inspect and write auto damage claims using the CCC One Estimating Software so you can write estimates on some of those 19,937 cars that are wrecked each day.
3. Set Up Your Business: Establish Your Legal Business
Getting your business set up is one of the most confusing parts for some new independent insurance adjusters.
You’ll need to set up an LLC or S-corp for your business because independent adjusting firms will only hire subcontractors that are set up as businesses. A sole proprietorship doesn’t work.
Once you have that in place you get an EIN from the IRS and open up a business bank account.
There are various insurances you may want to consider when getting started like Errors and Omissions Insurance and General Liability Insurance to protect you and your business if you make a mistake or damage something.
4. Certifications: Earn Industry Recognized Certifications
Once you’ve been trained you’ll want to earn industry recognized certifications that prove to an independent adjusting firm that you can actually do the job.
The difference between training and certifications is one is teaching you how to do something and a certification is verifying you can apply that knowledge.
Some independent adjuster training companies have both a training and certification, but make sure with the independent adjusting firms which certifications they actually value and recognize.
IA Firms don’t want to send untested adjusters to handle their claims because a new person can damage the firms relationships with the insurance company.
There are only two companies that I know of that offer auto damage certifications,
IA Path has the only CCC One Certification and Training available.
5. Resume: Create Your Adjuster Resume
Once you’ve earned a certification you now need to update or create your adjuster resume.
Making sure you present your past experience as applicable to the adjusting industry is crucial.
Your resume is typically requested when you apply and connect with independent adjusting firms.
6. Network: Network With People In the Industry
A key part of being a successful independent insurance adjuster is having a strong network of people in the insurance industry.
Most of the work I’ve ever gotten as an adjuster came about as a result of a friend, relative, or connection I had in our industry.
Getting connected to industry leaders and adjusters on LinkedIn and other adjuster support groups is vital to getting traction in our industry.
7. Rosters: Get On Independent Adjusting Firm Rosters
The last step of the Independent Adjuster Path is to onboard with the independent adjusting firms.
The independent adjusting firm will request everything you’ve already completed up to this point,
– Adjuster license
– EIN & company docs
– Coverage area and zip codes
We have a list of 100+ Independent Adjusting Firms you can contact.
How Do You Find an Independent Adjuster Mentor?
Having an independent adjuster mentor is like having a shortcut into the industry.
Many new adjusters are told, “You don’t have enough experience.”
And the logical question is, “How do you get experience if no one will give you a chance?”
When I got started in the industry I have a mentor that trained and vouched for me to companies he was connected with.
I didn’t know it at the time, but that company had a 2 year experience requirement.
An independent adjusting mentor not only trains and connects you to people, but assists you with your claims on a daily basis.
At IA Path we offer a 1 year mentorship program that includes our Auto Damage Certification & CCC One Certification so you can get the 2-5 year experience requirement waived with 40+ Independent Adjusting Firms.
We’ve developed relationships with them and once we know you are ready to handle claims professionally we vouch for you and help you get work and handle that work for 1 year and beyond.