What Does It Mean To Work as an Independent Insurance Adjuster?

independent insurance adjuster to inspect damage from a house fire

Working as an independent insurance adjuster means you don’t work exclusively for one insurance company. As an independent, you would handle claims for several firms. In an earlier blog entitled “What Does It Mean to Work as a Staff Claims Adjuster”, we discussed job tasks and how it’s different from other types of adjuster roles.

As an independent insurance adjuster, you will work directly with policy holders when they have a claim. An independent insurance adjuster advocates for the policy holder by reviewing the claim, assessing the damages and calculating replacement or repair costs. Independent insurance adjusters will typically work in one territory for an extended period of time and will review a wide variety of claim damages from claimants of different insurance companies. Typical damages an independent insurance adjuster may see include those involving fire to a home, car or vacation home. When inspecting wind damage the adjuster may be looking at fallen trees, roof replacement and damage any hail has caused. In the case of a hurricane, the adjuster will be looking at water damage, possibly areas flooded, structure damage due to water, and roof shingle and tile damage. In the case of a car accident, an independent insurance adjuster will review damages ranging in severity from a small fender bender to a car collision, a T-bone car accident to a multi-car crash.

The independent adjuster will visit the claimant personally, take copious notes, talk with all people involved in the claim (husband and wife, maybe other family members or roommates if applicable). They will continue to gather information by taking photos, videos, capture receipts, records, and any other documentation to quantify the claim. The independent insurance adjuster’s job is to calculate the value of the damages and losses then calculate repair and replacement costs. In one day, this type of adjuster may review multiple house fire claims or several car accident claims or storm damage claims while other days this independent adjuster may only review a couple claims related to hurricane and/or flood damage. This person may have a coverage area that spans 8 hours or more in drive time. When working for multiple insurance agencies as an independent insurance adjuster does, they may be traveling to different areas within a specific geographic region.

As storms ravage across the United States an independent insurance adjuster can do very well financially. These adjusters are in very high demand during certain times of the year in certain parts of the U.S. One example is during hurricane season. In Florida, between the months of June 1 through November 30th, an independent insurance adjuster has the potential to stay plenty busy in part due to Mother Nature. The most active time for hurricanes is typically mid-August through the middle of October. Cyclonic activity is on the rise during this time of year due to the wind temperatures, warm ocean water and moisture in the air. Storm damage from a hurricane has greater potential during the Mid-August through October timeframe. In areas that are devastated by storms, independent insurance adjusters could be stationed in those areas until all claims have been filed which could take months to a year of time.

How do independent claims adjusters make money?

Independent adjusters work on a contract basis, with their pay based on a percentage fee schedule rather than a salary or hourly wage. The independent adjuster or their firm is paid a fee for every claim closed. The percentage received is based on the final claim settlement. In the past, independent claims adjusters have been classified as 1099 or independent contractors. For liability and legal purposes, some insurance companies are hiring independent claims adjusters as a W-2 employee and using them for seasonal development or in times of catastrophe.

What type of license is required to work as an independent insurance adjuster?

In the state of Florida, individuals looking to become an independent insurance adjuster are required to obtain their all-lines adjuster license. There are a few ways to go about this. One way is to earn your 6-20 Accredited Claims Adjuster (ACA) designation. Through our company, Educational Services & Consulting, we offer a 40-hour online course that includes an online final exam at the end. Once candidates pass our online exam, they can apply to the State of Florida for their All-Lines Adjuster license, and they will not be required to take a state exam. Passing our final exam will fulfill the state requirements for candidates to earn their ACA designation.

Generally speaking, people earning their 6-20 ACA designation to work as an independent insurance adjuster may have a high school diploma or equivalent and may not have extensive work experience in the industry. Between 2019 and 2029 there are projected to be 21,000 annual job openings in the United States for accredited claims adjusters, examiners, and investigators. In Florida, top performers in the industry make just over $98,000.00 annually.

Our team at Educational Services & Consulting invites retired or discharged members of the military to take our 6-20 Accredited Claims Adjuster designation course. We have had many former military personnel succeed with earning their license and going on to become an independent insurance adjuster. Military personnel who are used to traveling typically enjoy the job as an independent adjuster as they can continue to travel and help others in time of disaster.

Good listening skills is key when working as an independent insurance adjuster. The ability to make decisions based on research and gathering detailed information is extremely important. Independent insurance adjusters also need some compassion when helping individuals with their claim. Typically, claimants have suffered extensive losses to their home, property or autos so their stress may be at an all time high. Successful independent insurance adjusters show they care through their high level of customer service and can console claimants with words of encouragement, detailed follow through and continual communication through each step of the claim process.

If you are considering a career as an independent insurance adjuster, we invite you to register online for our 40-hour online Accredited Claims Adjuster course. Candidates taking our course will learn insurance terms and concepts, auto insurance, residential property insurance, commercial property insurance, commercial general liability insurance and ACA ethics, negotiation and communication. For more information we invite you to call us at 1-800-309-2549 or contact us online.

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