How to Become an Insurance Adjuster in California

Written by: Kevelyn Rodriguez

Cartoon man holding California Insurance Adjuster

    Getting a California insurance adjuster license requires completing a few steps to apply for a resident license in your state.

    California requires an adjuster to successfully pass an exam before obtaining a license. To become an insurance adjuster in California, simply complete the steps below to get your insurance adjuster license.


    What Kind of Insurance Adjuster Will You Be?

    There are four main types of insurance adjusters: staff adjuster, independent adjuster, catastrophe adjuster, and public adjuster.

    Each of these positions accomplishes essentially the same task: assess the damage to property brought about by some event and make an evaluation of what monetary value the insurance claim should carry.

    The big difference between these different types of adjusters is who pays them, and in the case of the public adjuster, who they are advocating for. Staff, independent, and catastrophe adjusters all require the same type of license, while a public adjuster license is a little different in its specifications.

    • Staff Adjuster – Works directly for an insurance company
    • Independent Adjuster – Works for a third-party company who performs insurance adjuster work and is contracted by an insurance company
    • Catastrophe (CAT) Adjuster – An independent adjuster who travels to an area that has been largely affected by an event (usually severe weather) and performs claims adjuster services en masse
    • Public Adjuster – Is an advocate for the insurance customer, not the insurance company (requires a different type of license)

    This article provides six easy steps on how to get a California insurance adjuster license. These steps cover the process of applying for a standard insurance claims adjuster license (sometimes known as an independent adjuster license).


    How to Get Your Insurance Adjuster License in California

    Getting your California insurance adjuster license is a simple and easy process. Follow these 6 easy steps to get started. Don’t forget to bookmark this page so that you can refer to it again throughout the process.

    Step 1. Adjuster Pre-Exam Education

    Preparation for this exam is not something to take lightly, as the average pass rate of insurance exams nationwide is around 55% for first-time test-takers, and even less for any following attempts. We want you to pass your test the first time you take it.

    Studying for this exam can take many different forms. The most common way to get prepared is to take an online study course. These courses are generally comprised of video and text with short knowledge quizzes to make sure you have a comprehensive understanding.

    A slightly more minimal approach would be to purchase a state-specific study guide. These guides give you all of the facts that you need to pass the exam and maybe a bit less expensive than a course. They are, however, quite long and densely packed books, so be sure you are ready to tackle this task.

    You should choose the method that fits best for you. Some people learn best out of a book, while others take in information better through video and short text. Remember, the goal is to pass your exam on the first attempt, so pick your best path forward and study hard.

    Recommended Course

    For California insurance adjuster pre-license education courses and exam prep, StateRequirement recommends:
    4.8 out of 5 starsAdjusterPro


    Step 2. California Insurance Adjuster License Exam

    The next step after completing all your coursework is to take and pass the California Insurance Adjuster License exam.

    This is a proctored test, which means that you will be in a controlled environment with a person watching over you. For people who haven’t tested in a situation like this should be aware of this fact, and work on taming their nerves prior to sitting for the exam. When you arrive at the exam location you must have a photo ID any other documents that the testing facility has asked you to bring.

    California offers one line of authority for an adjuster: Independent Adjuster. This exam consists of one hundred (100) questions and you will be given two hours and thirty-eight minutes (2:38) to complete it.

    An outline of included subjects for the exam can be found here: California Department of Insurance Insurance Adjuster (Independent)

    The exam costs $72 if you take it at any California Department of Insurance (CDI) Examination Site while it costs $105 if you take it at any PSI Test Center. Any attempts after the first will cost $29 through CDI and $62 through PSI, respectively.

    A total score of 70% or more is required to pass this test. For more information on the scoring of the exam, we will quote the PSI California Department of Insurance Candidate Information Bulletin

    Score Reporting

    The examinee’s “pass” or “fail” score will be displayed on screen at the end of the examination and a score report will be emailed to the examinee. If the examinee fails, the emailed score report will include the diagnostic report indicating how many questions were answered correctly. Please note the examinee must select to end both the examination portion and the survey portion of the test in order to receive the on-screen results and emailed score report. If the examinee does not receive an emailed score report or would like a duplicate score report, they will need to contact PSI at: to receive the score report. The examinee will need to include their name, examinee ID number, and confirmation number. The examinee’s examinee ID number and confirmation number is on the examination confirmation.

    Insurance license tests are intentionally difficult, but not impossible by any means. You should study to the point of comfortability with the information before you attempt the test. Failing the exam isn’t the end of the world, but keep in mind that you will need to pay the fee each time you attempt the test.

    You may register to take your exams and find more information on the PSI California Insurance page or by calling PSI at (877) 392-6422.


    Step 3. Fingerprinting and Background Check

    The State of California requires that all insurance license applications provide fingerprints prior to licensing. Giving your fingerprints will initiate a background check. If you have any prior misdemeanors or felonies, this may affect the outcome of your licensing efforts. If you have specific questions regarding things that may come up on your background check you may call the California Department of Insurance at (800) 967-9331 or send them an email.

    You will process your fingerprints through Accurate Biometrics. Once you pass the exam, you will have your fingerprint impressions taken at the designated examination site. You will need two copies of  Live Scan Request, form LIC 442-39A. Retain a copy of this form for your records.

    The fee for fingerprinting services is $59 in a CDI Examination Site or $69.95 in a PSI Test Center.


    Step 4. California Insurance Adjuster License Application

    Once you have completed your exams and fingerprinting, you are now ready to apply for your license.

    The fee for an application is $311.

    You must mail a completed LIC 041-A Application Form to 320 Capitol Mall, Sacramento, CA 95814-4309 together with the check for the application fee and the exam results letter. There is no option to apply for this license online.


    Step 5. Execution of California Surety Bond

    You must obtain and submit a surety bond in the penal sum of $2,000 executed by a California admitted surety, and signed by the principal.


    Step 6. Application Review

    Once you have submitted your application and have completed all the other requirements, your license application will be reviewed by the state. This process generally takes about fifteen to forty-five (15-45) working days. Depending on the results of your background check, the Department of Insurance may request more information or documentation.

    After the review is complete, you will receive an email from the state regarding the status of your license.



    You’ve done the work, put in the time and effort, and now hold the key to your own success!  We’re proud of you. Take five (5) minutes and celebrate.

    California Department of Insurance Contact Information

    Mailing Address:
    Producer Licensing Bureau
    320 Capitol Mall
    Sacramento, California 95814

    Phone: (800) 967-9331

    Email: Contact Form


    California Insurance Adjuster License FAQ

    How long does it take to become an insurance adjuster in California? 

    In California, the process of insurance adjuster licensing can range from a few weeks to a few months (pre-exam education, pre-license exam, background checks, license application, and application review). Follow the steps above to get your insurance license in California.


    Do you need a license to become an insurance adjuster?

    Yes. Earning an insurance adjuster license allows you to increase your income potential, add to your credibility, and qualify for advanced employment opportunities.


    Is being an insurance adjuster difficult?

    Being an insurance adjuster can be a highly rewarding role. In fact, insurance claims adjusters enjoy their work and report high levels of job satisfaction, according to Payscale.


    How much do insurance adjusters make?

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the most recent median annual salary for claims adjusters, examiners, and investigators was $65,080. This was higher than the median salary for all occupations in May 2021, which was $45,760. The highest earners worked for the government, with a median salary of $81,890.

    If you want to work as a catastrophe (CAT) adjuster in areas frequently affected by natural disasters (like the Gulf Coast), you will likely have higher earnings potential and employment. For independent insurance adjusters that work on commission rather than salary, the high demand for claims adjusters in these areas can result in a lot of business.


    What skills are needed to be an insurance adjuster?

    Insurance claims adjusters typically investigate insurance claims and travel to locations to inspect property (such as automobiles, buildings, etc.), assess damage, and make notes on repairs and costs. Insurance adjusters deal with individuals in high-stress situations a lot so you must have a professional attitude at all times.

    Due to the nature of the job, insurance claims adjusters must have excellent communications skills, write clearly, be comfortable with math and basic computer software, and have a flexible schedule since they travel a lot to areas hit by disasters with irregular work hours. Insurance adjusters must have specific industry knowledge to interpret contracts, determine insurance claim payouts, and make recommendations for how the insurance company proceeds in resolving the claim.


    Do you need a degree to be an insurance adjuster?

    You don’t need a four-year degree to become licensed as an insurance adjuster. However, you will need to complete your education requirements or pass the California insurance adjuster exam to be a licensed insurance adjuster.

    One of the prerequisites to fulfill your education requirements is to complete a minimum number of hours of college level insurance-related coursework. If you are working on an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, you can take courses that will work toward the California insurance adjuster license requirements.

    Information on this page has been gathered by a multitude of sources and was most recently updated in November 2022.

    Any Information on this site is not guaranteed or warranted to be correct, accurate, or up to date. StateRequirement and its members and affiliates are not responsible for any losses, monetary or otherwise. StateRequirement is not affiliated with any state, government, or licensing body. For more information, please contact your state's authority on insurance.

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