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Posted by Kara Franklin ● July 19, 2023

What Do Insurance Adjusters Do?


What Do Insurance Adjusters Do? 

The insurance industry isn’t all about sales. Some insurance professionals, like underwriters, don’t deal with selling insurance at all. Insurance adjusters also fit into this category. But what is an insurance adjuster and what do they do?  

The adjuster is an integral part of the claims process. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) defines an adjuster as the person who investigates an insurance claim, inspects property damage, and determines coverage. This can involve interviewing the claimant and any witnesses, reviewing police reports, and examining damaged property. Based on the information they gather, adjusters will determine the insurance company’s financial responsibility or negotiate fair settlement amounts. In some cases, they may determine the amount payable under the insurance policy. 

How Adjusters Work With Property & Casualty Insurance 

Say, for example, a branch falls on your car after a storm, and you need a hood replacement. You call your insurance company and submit an auto claim form with the amount the body shop quoted you. They send out an adjuster to determine whether the claim falls under your insurance policy’s coverage, examine the vehicle, assess the physical damage, and determine the amount of loss. The adjuster finds an aftermarket hood you can use that will reduce the cost of the repair, so they pay the claim based on this adjusted amount. This is just one example of an adjuster in action for a property insurance claim. 

Casualty insurance works a bit differently. Examples of casualty insurance claims generally fall under liability insurance, which covers personal injury and property damage that are the claimant’s legal responsibility. Homeowners and auto insurance policies, for example, have liability insurance built in. If someone is injured at your residence — or by your car — your insurance company typically will help to cover their medical expenses. An adjuster may be called in to interview you and any witnesses to the injury. They’ll also review the injured party’s medical information before the insurance company pays for the hospital bill. (This is different from health insurance — in fact, it is important to note that adjusters are commonly not used for health insurance or life insurance claims.) 

What is the Hardest Part About an Insurance Adjuster’s Job? 

An insurance adjuster’s job can be stressful. When an adjuster is called to assess a claim, they may be entering a highly emotional situation. The claimant may have lost everything they owned or may be suffering from a tragic accident, and you may be required to navigate a delicate situation. 

How Much Money Does an Insurance Adjuster Make? 

While an insurance adjuster’s income varies, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the mean annual wage of a claims adjuster is $72,380 as of May 2022. The highest paid adjusters in the United States receive $102,630 annually, and BLS includes maps of the highest paying locations. 

What Types of Insurance Adjusters Are There? 

There are three types of adjusters: Company adjusters, Independent Adjusters, and Public Adjusters. These roles differ based on how they are hired, who they work for, and how they are paid. 

Company (Staff) Adjusters  

Insurance company adjusters are employees of an insurance company that typically receive a salary and benefits. They work exclusively to settle claims for their employer and its affiliates. In some states, a company adjuster does not have to be professionally licensed.  

Public Adjusters 

Public insurance adjusters are contracted workers hired by the claimant. They are paid on a contract basis for each claim they settle.

Independent Adjusters 

Independent insurance adjusters are contract workers that may be hired by multiple insurance companies. They are paid on a contract basis for each claim they settle. Independent adjusters have the ability to travel to different locations and are often the ones who assist with catastrophic damage from natural disasters. 

Specialty Adjusters 

In some states, independent adjuster licenses are limited to certain insurance lines. Specialty areas may include homeowners, auto, motor vehicle appraisal, property-only, casualty-only, workers' compensation, or crop insurance.

What Are the Requirements to be an Insurance Adjuster? 

Generally, you must be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma. An insurance company or adjusting firm may prefer to hire applicants with a bachelor's degree or with a few years of job experience.  

The state licensing requirements for adjusters can get complicated — age, experience, and professional licensure can all factor into becoming an insurance claims adjuster, so we recommend checking your specific state’s license requirements. There may even be separate requirements by adjuster type. For example, many states do not have licensing requirements for staff adjusters, but independent adjusters and public adjusters must be licensed.  

Adjuster License

Currently, the NAIC reports that 34 states require independent adjuster licenses, 40 states require public adjuster licenses, and 15 states require company adjuster licenses. In these states, you will need to pass a state licensing exam to qualify for an adjuster’s license, and you may be required to complete a prelicensing education course prior to the state exam. Checking with your state’s department of insurance is the best way to know which licenses are required. 

States that do not require independent adjuster licenses are: 

  • Colorado 
  • District of Columbia 
  • Illinois 
  • Iowa 
  • Kansas 
  • Maryland 
  • Massachusetts 
  • Missouri 
  • Nebraska 
  • New Jersey 
  • North Dakota 
  • Ohio 
  • Pennsylvania 
  • South Dakota 
  • Tennessee 
  • Virginia 
  • Wisconsin 

IMPORTANT: If you want to work in a state that requires an adjuster’s license, you must obtain one. If you live in one of the listed states, don’t worry. You can obtain a “Designated Home State” (DHS) licensure in some states even if you are not a resident of that state. Once you designate a home state for licensure and pass that state’s exam, you will qualify for nonresident licenses in other states that require a license.

Download the Independent Adjuster License requirements in all 50 states


Continuing Education (CE)

To maintain your license, your state may require you to complete continuing education coursework. These courses keep adjusters up-to-date with the latest industry information and regulatory changes. States with CE requirements generally require 1,2-24 hours over the course of one renewal period (a renewal period is typically two years). You can view your state’s requirements on our CE Requirements page.


A.D. Banker’s flexible, online prelicensing courses will help jumpstart your career as an insurance adjuster in any state. We’ll help you fulfill your state’s requirements and provide you with the resources you need to pass your exam on the first try. Find your state course to start your journey today. Once you’re licensed, come back and we’ll help you fulfill your continuing education requirements with our CE subscription, course packages, and webinars.