Consumers buy insurance so that they can receive money to pay for such disasters as an accident crushing the family car, a tornado destroying the home or a fall breaking someone’s leg. Claims adjusters make sure that claims are legitimate, so they can negotiate terms that help the client but still give their companies profit.
As a claims adjuster, you will need good interpersonal skills because you meet with claimants and must be good at dealing with the public. A consumer may be in a tizzy about an accident or medical condition, so you must be able to calm the customer down and remain professional. You can then use good communication abilities to get information by asking questions, listening carefully for the answers and writing down what you just heard. You must use analytical acumen to check out how what just happened requires payment and rely on math skills to calculate the value of damage and payouts.
As a claims adjuster, you represent your insurance company’s human face by talking directly with the consumer. You make sure that any claim is not fraudulent and that the policy covers it. You then investigate the situation, such as by traveling to the scene of a disaster to look at the damage personally. You may consult with other professionals, such as the claimant’s employers or doctors, for additional information and discuss the case with company lawyers. Finally, you decide how much money the consumer gets and when she gets it. You keep careful records of all activities, in case your company or the insured has questions.
Because the insurance field is so broad, claims adjusters often specialize, which defines what they need to know and what they do. For example, as an automotive damage adjuster, you learn to spot the causes of dents and dings and whether accidents are real or staged. In medical insurance, you may use the services of investigators to tail a claimant for long periods to ensure how badly she’s hurt. Tools of your trade include digital cameras for taking pictures of damage, tablet computers for getting information on the fly and cell phones for chatting with the home office.
All you need to work as an adjuster in most cases is a high school diploma. However, employers in some fields, such as auto insurance, prefer a two-year associate degree or previous work in a repair shop. For complex business insurance or claims involving financial analysis, a bachelor’s degree related to the insurance field may be necessary. Once you get the job, you go through training at your company, sometimes in formal classes, but often by working with a more experienced adjuster. Some states may require licensing, which demands some combination of education and passing an exam.
Aurelio Locsin has been writing professionally since 1982. He published his first book in 1996 and is a frequent contributor to many online publications, specializing in consumer, business and technical topics. Locsin holds a Bachelor of Arts in scientific and technical communications from the University of Washington.