Learning a new skill can be difficult and learning how to become a claims adjuster is no exception. Even within the insurance industry there are multiple fields of expertise – Workers’ Compensation Claims Adjusters, Automobile Claims Adjusters, Homeowners’ Claims Adjusters and Catastrophe Claims Adjusters, to name but a few. Each field has its own requirements in terms of certifications, experience and skill set, so it’s not surprising some might be confused about how to take this career step. So, if this is your career path shouldn’t your first question be, ‘How to become a Claims Adjuster?’
We found Travis B. online and he was more than happy to share his story and answer our questions about his experience in the claims adjuster business. He also shared some valuable career lessons with us.
Hi Travis. How long have you been a Claims Adjuster?
I am coming up on 4 1/2 years. At 3 years, I was certified for my USAA certificate (very well respected) and at 5 years I will be eligible to become a Flood Adjuster. I think these are great for my career progress and development. I feel beyond proud of my advancements and I’m extremely excited about the career path I have chosen.
When did you decide to become a Claims Adjuster?
I became Head Project Manager for a roofing company at a young age. I wasn’t scared of getting on the steep roofs and I envied the position and authority that insurance adjusters had. After being laid off, I thought to myself “Why can’t I do that?”.
I have never had a claim denied by an adjuster because I am always very thorough in my inspections. I can’t imagine the feeling of being denied; for my customer or for myself.
How did you get into adjusting?
I did my research and searched for trainee positions. I met with a contact who held a local class for Xactimate and beginner adjusters. He initially overwhelmed with me information, but he did explain the business in an honest fashion and even stressed that most people are simply not cut out for it. This challenged me, and I began to think of success: “If I worked hard enough I could become the person I wanted to be in life – through my work.”
So, I attended classes and gained an understanding of the business and the software. I was ready for anything! I invested around $1000 for my first set of classes and they proved to be useful because I was hired immediately from a preferred contractor of USAA to do their estimates. I wasn’t a full adjuster yet, but I was learning. After a year of supervision from a 25-year veteran State Farm Adjuster (who was much like a drill sergeant!), I felt like I was ready. I was licensed and eager.
I proceeded to apply to an independent firm. I went to their classes and passed with flying colors! No more than 2 weeks later – Hurricane Ike hit and I was on my way to my first storm.
What was your first experience with a storm like?
I was working for State Farm through an independent firm and I was definitely enjoying life. On that initial deployment, I met many people who were already accustomed to the business. They proved to be both knowledgeable and helpful. After a few days at a hotel staging in Birmingham, AL I drove to Maryland to get pre-staged. It was my first storm. I handled around 175 claims and got my butt kicked!
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It was a long experience. 7 days a week, 14 hour days, constant phone ringing and a lack of laundry, sleep and nutrition, but in the end when I returned home with a nice set of pay checks, and a few months off due to my hard work…it was worth it.
Which type of person would make a great Catastrophe Claims Adjuster?
I would not recommend anyone looking for a normal “desk job” position to pursue this career. These are generally “work hard, play hard” kinds of jobs and you will be pushed to your limit. I have been fed up, challenged, irritated, and pushed well beyond what I thought I was capable of many, many times. Unfortunately, this is part of the job. You live out of hotels or your pick-up truck, and sometimes eat take-out non-stop. That is the job. You’ve got a cell phone, a laptop and a hotel room to make an orchestra out of. Use your time wisely, and know that you will push yourself to the absolute limit.
What kind of lessons have you learned throughout your experience working in the insurance industry?
I’ll make a nice list for you!
- Priceline Negotiator is awesome. Hotels…half price.
- Doing a claim from start to finish usually doesn’t pay that well.
- Denial letters are not fun, and dictating letters isn’t fun your first 50 times.
- You apparently cannot pump your own gas in the state of NJ.
- Have a vehicle you can sleep in for a few days. Makes life a little better for that week when you can’t get a hotel room.
- Axe body spray helps.
- Lock your ladder(s) to your vehicle every night, or you will have to drop $300 for another ladder the next morning.
- Laptops crash. Backup your files and bring your copy of windows with you. That alone will save you.
- Build some great macros to use. Saves you time and time = money.
- The majority of Public Adjusters are great – they don’t waste time and like to get paid just like you do.
Licensing: Texas, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Mississippi, Florida
Certifications: USAA, Tower Hill, LA Citizens, State Farm, Assurance, Citizens, Allstate Certified, State Farm 2 Story Steep Team
“I completely recommend the business to those interested” – Travis B
After learning how to become a claims adjuster, it seems there are many different qualities a Claims Adjuster needs to possess in order to be successful, including: self-motivation, the ability to work under pressure, strong organizational and communication skills, and last but not least – to be adaptable (and often innovative!). Being a Claims Adjuster may not be for everyone, but if you think you have what it takes, take 2 minutes to fill out a Personal Career Profile and let TheBestIRS help you find an Insurance Job that fits you!
Thank you Travis for your valuable insight.
Have you had a similar or different experience to that of Travis’ career track? Leave a comment or share your story with us.