Staff Claims Adjuster vs Independent Insurance Adjuster…Are They Different?

Yes, there is a difference in these roles! While the credentials needed are the same, the job in itself is slightly different. Let’s start with the staff claims adjuster position.

In this role individuals work for a single insurance company. They may work for Allstate, State Farm, Progressive, etc. A staff claims adjuster works with just the claimants for the organization they are employed by. If they are working for Allstate they will only work on claims for Allstate customers and are paid by only Allstate.

The claims that a staff claims adjuster handles will still vary. They may handle an auto accident claim, a house fire claim, a property damage claim, a commercial insurance claim, pretty much any type of claim that their employer (the insurance company) will cover. In the staff claims adjuster role, individuals will communicate with the claimant through the entire claims process. They will review all information for each incident including photos, videos, receipts, police report(s), witness statements, repair estimates, and all information relating to the claim.

claims adjuster inspecting fire damage
After reviewing all documentation, the staff claims adjuster will determine reimbursement to the claimant. In the case of extreme damage and costs of repair the adjuster may determine the claim to be a total loss. In the case of a total loss the adjuster will look at replacement value comparisons in the claimant’s area and determine a fair replacement value. For example, in an auto claim the adjuster will look at comparable vehicle values in the geographic area of the claimant. They will review replacement costs of similar vehicles and settle on fair replacement value. In this case the claimant is usually working with an inside insurance adjuster which is an individual that is working inside at a desk and does not physically travel to review the damage.

In the case of more extreme claims where photos and videos cannot provide enough details for the staff claims adjuster, an outside claims adjuster will be assigned. This individual is still considered a staff claims adjuster and works for the insured’s insurance company. Their role is to physically review the claim meaning personally review the damages. In the example of an auto claim, the outside staff claims adjuster may be driving to the body shop to review and assess the vehicle’s damage. If in the case of a homeowner’s insurance claim, the outside staff claims adjuster will personally visit the claimant’s home and assess the damages.

The outside claims adjuster works in tandem with the inside staff claims adjuster. The difference is that the outside adjuster will go on site to verify the damages and get a better assessment more so than what photos and videos can show. Once the inside and outside adjuster have reviewed the information, they will put together the reimbursement package for the claimant.

staff claims adjuster talking on the phone
How does the independent insurance adjuster differ from the staff claims adjuster role?
The independent insurance adjuster does not work exclusively for one insurance carrier as does a staff claims adjuster does. The independent adjuster works for many providers and handles claims for different ones. This type of adjuster still handles a variety of claims for auto, property, home and commercial. On any given day they may handle a handful of auto claims for Allstate customers and a handful of homeowners claims for State Farm customers.

An independent insurance adjuster works directly with the policy holder when they need to file a claim. This type of adjuster advocates for the claimant. They review all information pertaining to the claim (photos, videos, receipts, repair estimates, etc.) and will assess replacement values much like a staff adjuster does.

Like the role of an outside claims adjuster, the independent claims adjuster will physically review the damages. Unlike that of a staff claims adjuster, the independent adjuster will move around geographically. This person may work in one state for a 30-day period or longer then relocate to a totally different part of the country. In times of the year when Mother Nature wreaks havoc in certain areas of the U.S., the independent insurance adjuster will base themselves out of that particular geographical area. When there is heavy damage, these adjusters are in very high demand especially during hurricane season that runs June 1st through November 30th each year.

The independent insurance adjuster works on a contract basis with different insurance agencies as opposed to the staff claims adjuster that may get paid a salary from one particular insurance company. The independent adjuster is paid on a percentage fee schedule based on each claim that is closed. The compensation percentage the independent adjuster receives is based on the final claim settlement.

Are the credentials the same to work as a staff claims adjuster and an independent insurance adjuster?
Yes! The credentials needed are the same. In both roles individuals are required to earn their 6-20 Accredited Claims Adjuster (ACA) designation. Once they earn this designation individuals can apply to the state for their all-lines adjuster license to be eligible to handle any type of claim.

At Educational Services & Consulting our 40-hour online ACA designation course can equip those looking to earn the right credentials to work as a staff claims adjuster or an independent insurance adjuster. Our course is extremely popular as it is self-paced and online. The course can be completed in 60-days from the time one has registered and paid the tuition. We also offer final exam re-takes. Students may re-take the final exam 5 times within the 60-day period. Once the final exam is passed students can apply to the state of Florida for their all-lines adjuster license.

For more information or to register for our accredited claims adjuster designation course please call us at 1-800-309-2549 or click here to learn more about our ACA course.

insurance adjuster taking photos of car accident

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