An insurance claims adjuster gathers and analyzes information about various insurance claims. He or she attempts to determine the legitimacy of a claim, deciding whether or not an incident should be covered under a specific insurance policy. An adjuster then negotiates compensation terms with the claimant. A claim which is not settled is usually brought to court, where an insurance claims adjuster may be required to provide expert testimony and present reports to a judge.
In order to find out information about an accident, injury, or property damage claim, an insurance claims adjuster might conduct interviews with law enforcement personnel, witnesses, and the claimant. He or she may investigate hospital records in the event of bodily injury, or review a mechanic's repair estimates in the case of an automobile accident. An adjuster frequently performs firsthand inspections of damage to property and automobiles, and consults with experts to evaluate fair compensation rates. After gathering sufficient information, an adjuster usually creates a claim report and attempts to settle with the claimant.
Many claims adjusters find employment with companies which specialize in property and casualty insurance services, though others find work with public firms or become independent freelance adjusters. An insurance claims adjuster at a public firm is contracted by the claimant rather than the insurance provider. Though the job duties and responsibilities are the same, public adjusters attempt to negotiate claims in favor of the individual instead of the insurance company. Freelance claims adjusters are typically contracted by insurance carriers that do not staff permanent adjusters.
To become an insurance claims adjuster, a person must typically have at least a high school diploma, though many employers prefer applicants with associate's or bachelor's degrees in business management or accounting. Many universities, community colleges, and accredited online schools offer programs helpful to prospective insurance claims adjusters. Established claims adjusters frequently pursue continuing education to stay up to date on changing insurance laws and new legal procedures.
Many states require adjusters to become licensed by fulfilling certain education requirements and passing a standard exam. Licensing requirements are generally stricter for public and freelance adjusters than for employees of an established insurance company. Once licensing requirements are met, a new insurance claims adjuster usually receives on the job training by experienced adjusters. New adjusters typically begin by handling small claims to gain experience. In addition, many professionals receive certification from various professional organizations to improve their chances of finding adjuster jobs.