To become an insurance adjuster, one must normally complete a course of study and pass an exam administered by a governing body, such as a state insurance department. Most companies require adjusters to have a bachelor’s degree and a background in insurance. A membership in a professional association, such as the National Association of Independent Insurance Adjusters (NAIIA) is also important if one wants to become an adjuster.
Licensing requirements to become an adjuster vary from place to place. There normally is a 40-hour course of study followed by an exam. Topics generally include insurance contracts, automobile insurance, homeowners insurance, commercial insurance, casualty insurance, inland marine insurance, workers' compensation insurance and adjuster practices. Once the exam is passed, an application is submitted along with a licensing fee. Continuing education classes often are required for an adjuster to maintain his or her license.
There are many types of insurance adjusters, and there are several lines of coverage one might specialize in to become an adjuster. Most adjusters start their careers as personal lines adjusters. Personal lines adjusters normally deal with insurance claims related to auto accidents or claims against a homeowners policy.
Experience with automobile repair estimates is helpful to become an adjuster. To process homeowners claims, one must have some basic knowledge of home construction. Personal lines adjusters must be familiar with insurance contracts related to automobile policies and homeowners policies. The insurance contract spells out which parties are covered by the contract, what property is covered and what perils are insured against.
Casualty adjusters deal with liability insurance, which pays for damage caused by someone covered by an insurance policy. Good investigative skills and the ability to communicate effectively with claimants, witnesses and law enforcement are important to become an adjuster. Many liability claims involve lawsuits and casualty adjusters are often asked to submit documentation or even testify about their findings in court.
Knowledge of medical claims, disability coverage and state and local workers' compensation laws are required to become an adjuster in the workers compensation field. Workers compensation adjusters must be able to communicate with doctors’ offices, employers and claimants. They must be able to coordinate medical bills, disability payments and return-to-work programs.
There are many other types of insurance, and each requires a different specialization to become an adjuster. Life insurance adjusters process death claims and often deal with complex trust, tax and inheritance issues. Disability insurance adjusters need to be able to coordinate with workers' compensation or government disability programs. Training by claims companies, insurance carriers and third-party vendors is available for any type of insurance adjuster specialization.