What Does an Insurance Adjuster Do

Written by: Mary Gerardine

Last updated:

Becoming a licensed insurance claims adjuster is a big step towards a thriving career. Insurance adjusters investigate and negotiate claims, and represent policyholders and insurers during trials. They may work for a company, are self-employed, or can open their own insurance claims business.

So what does an insurance adjuster do exactly? In this guide, we dive into the roles and responsibilities of insurance claims adjusters as well as their salaries, work environments, and the tools they use to perform their jobs effectively.

What is an Insurance Adjuster? 

An insurance adjuster is a licensed insurance professional responsible for assessing damages to property or injuries sustained by the policyholder. Insurance adjusters determine the amount of compensation that an insurance company should pay out to each policyholder.

Some insurance adjusters work for insurance companies, while others work for independent adjusting firms or as self-employed contractors. They may also specialize in specific types of insurance, such as property or casualty insurance.

Interested in becoming a licensed claims adjuster? Have a look at our state-specific Insurance Adjuster Licensing guide.

Types of Insurance Adjusters

There are generally three types of insurance adjusters:

  • Staff adjusters: These are full-time employees of an insurance company who handle claims on behalf of the company. They are typically salaried employees and are responsible for investigating and settling claims within the company’s guidelines.
  • Independent adjusters: These are contractors who are hired by insurance companies to handle claims; they are not employees of the insurance company, but rather work as freelance independent adjusters and are paid on a fee-for-service basis. They can work on all sorts of claims, whether it’s catastrophe claims, auto claims, or property claims.
  • Public adjusters: These adjusters are hired by policyholders to represent their interests in the claims process. A public adjuster works on behalf of the policyholder and is trained to negotiate with insurance companies and ensure that their clients receive fair settlements.

Insurance Adjuster Duties

The specific duties of an insurance adjuster vary based on the type of insurance they are working on. For example, a property insurance adjuster may be responsible for inspecting damaged homes or businesses, while a car insurance adjuster may evaluate the damage to a vehicle after an accident.

Insurance adjusters may also negotiate settlements, conduct investigations, interview witnesses, review police reports, and examine physical evidence. They must have strong communication and customer service skills to work effectively with both policyholders and insurance company representatives.

Insurance Adjuster Required Education

Prospective insurance adjusters are required to complete certain educational requirements before getting their adjuster licenses:

  • High school diploma or equivalent: Most insurance companies require a high school diploma or equivalent to work as an insurance adjuster.
  • Bachelor’s degree: Although not always required, a bachelor’s degree in a related field such as business, finance, or accounting can be beneficial in advancing your career.
  • Training and work experience: Many companies provide on-the-job training for new insurance claims adjusters. However, completing a formal training program or having adjusting experience can give you an advantage in the job market.
  • Licensure: Insurance adjusters must be licensed in the state where they work.Requirements for licensure vary by state but typically involve passing an exam and meeting pre-licensing education and work experience requirements.

Recommended Insurance Adjuster Course

For insurance adjuster pre-license education courses and exam prep, StateRequirement recommends:

4.8 out of 5 starsAdjusterPro

Insurance Adjuster Work Environment

Insurance adjusters usually work in an office environment, but also include frequent travels to various locations, such as the location of the incident or the policyholder’s property.

Besides doing fieldwork, adjusters also spend most of their work hours in the office, where they review and evaluate insurance claims, negotiate settlements, and communicate with other professionals involved in the claims process, such as attorneys and medical professionals.

The work of an insurance adjuster can be stressful and emotionally challenging, as they often have to handle claims related to accidents, injuries, and other traumatic events. They may have to deal with difficult or uncooperative policyholders, as well as simultaneously manage multiple claims.

As a result, adjusters must have strong communication and interpersonal skills, as well as the ability to remain calm and professional under pressure.

Insurance Adjuster Skills

To become an insurance adjuster, you will need to have a combination of skills and education.

Some of the skills that are required for a successful career as an insurance claims adjuster include:

  • Analytical skills: Adjusters must be able to analyze complex information related to insurance claims, including policy language, medical reports, and legal documents.
  • Communication skills: An insurance claims adjuster must have strong communication skills to interact with policyholders, claimants, witnesses, and other professionals involved in the claim.
  • Negotiation skills: Adjusters must be able to negotiate settlements with claimants.
  • Attention to detail: They must pay close attention to detail when reviewing claim documents and conducting investigations.
  • Customer service skills: They must be able to provide excellent customer service to claimants, including answering questions, providing updates, and explaining claim decisions.

Insurance Adjuster Salary

Insurance adjuster salaries vary depending on factors, such as specific job duties and responsibilities of the adjuster, and level of education, experience, and professional certifications.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2021, the median annual salary for insurance claims adjusters, appraisers, examiners, and investigators was $65,080. The lowest 10% of earners made less than $41,490 per year, while the highest 10% earned more than $101,290 yearly.

For more information, we recommend having a look at our How Much Does an Insurance Adjuster Make article.

Insurance Adjuster Tools

Insurance adjuster tools include any technology, software, or application that an insurance claims adjuster uses to perform their job more efficiently and accurately. 

There are several types of tools that insurance adjusters can use, including estimating software, claims management software, mobile apps, communication tools, navigation equipment, and more.

Recommended Insurance Adjuster Tool

We recommend AdjusterPro’s Xactimate® training course to create accurate estimates for a variety of different scenarios. Being Xactimate-certified demonstrates a high level of proficiency in using the software and makes you stand out in the insurance industry.

4.8 out of 5 starsAdjusterPro Xactimate

How Do Adjusters Handle Claims?

Insurance adjusters handle claims by following a process. Here are some of the common steps that an adjuster would take to handle a claim:

  • Contact the policyholder: The adjuster will contact the policyholder to collect information about the claim. This may include the date and location of the incident, a description of the damage or injury, and contact information for any witnesses.
  • Investigate the claim: The adjuster will investigate the claim by gathering evidence, such as photos or videos of the damage or injury, police reports, medical records, and other relevant documents. They may also interview witnesses, and if necessary, hire outside experts, such as engineers or medical professionals, to assist in the investigation.
  • Evaluate the claim: Once the investigation is complete, the adjuster will evaluate the claim to determine the extent of the damage or injury, and whether it is covered by the policy.
  • Negotiate a settlement: If the claim is covered by the policy, the adjuster will negotiate a settlement with the policyholder and determine the amount of the losses incurred.
  • Deny the claim: Insurance adjusters are trained to investigate claims to determine their validity, and to identify any signs of fraud. If an adjuster suspects that a claim is fraudulent, they will gather evidence, investigate, consult with experts, deny the claim, and notify the insurance company’s fraud investigation department.
  • Close the claim: Once a settlement has been reached, the adjuster will close the claim and ensure that the policyholder receives the appropriate payment or reimbursement.

Throughout this process, the adjuster will also communicate with the policyholder and any other parties involved in the claim to keep them informed of the status of the claim and to answer any questions they may have.

What Does an Insurance Adjuster Do FAQ

What are the responsibilities of an insurance adjuster?

The responsibilities of an insurance adjuster include investigating insurance claims, assessing damages, negotiating settlements, and adhering to legal and ethical standards when handling claims. The primary responsibility of an insurance adjuster is to ensure that policyholders receive the compensation they are entitled to under their insurance policy, while also protecting the interests of the insurance company.

Is being an insurance adjuster a stressful job?

Insurance adjusting can be a stressful job, as it often involves dealing with people who are in difficult and emotional situations, such as those who have experienced property damage, accidents, or injuries.  Insurance adjusters work under tight deadlines and may have to handle a large volume of claims, which can lead to high levels of pressure and stress. The level of stress depends on the individual’s ability to manage the demands of the job. It is important for insurance adjusters to take steps to manage their stress, such as setting boundaries, taking breaks, and seeking support when needed. See our What Is an Insurance Adjuster article for more information.

Can I start a business as an insurance adjuster?

Yes. However, there are specific requirements that you will need to meet to become an insurance adjuster, such as getting the necessary licenses and certifications, gaining experience in the industry, and building a network of clients. To become an independent insurance adjuster, you will need to obtain a license from your state’s Insurance Department. The specific requirements for obtaining a license vary by state, but may include passing a state-administered exam and completing a certain number of hours of pre-licensing education. Learn how to get your business license with our How to Get an Insurance License for an LLC and How to Get an Adjuster Business License guides. 

What is the difference between an insurance adjuster and an insurance agent?

While both insurance adjusters and insurance agents work in the insurance industry, their roles are different. Insurance adjusters investigate and evaluate claims, while insurance agents sell insurance policies and provide ongoing customer service to clients. For a more in-depth read on the differences between the two, check out our Insurance Agent vs. Adjuster page.

How do I become an insurance adjuster?

Visit our Insurance Adjuster Licensing page to find out how to become licensed in your state.

Ready for more?

Start Studying

Learn More