You can be an insurance adjuster three ways: you can be a salaried employee of an insurance company; you can work independently to try to get the most money for the claimant or you can work independently on a freelance basis on behalf of insurance companies. The amount of money you can make as an independent adjuster depends on how much you work.
How You Get Paid
Your work as an independent adjuster typically is directly contingent on how many claims you process. If you freelance for insurance companies, a firm contacts you on behalf of an insurance company or you contact the firm to let it know of your services. You get a percentage of the claim. According to the National Institute of Adjusting, which is an education provider approved by the Texas Department of Insurance, independent adjusters can earn $400 on a typical hurricane claim they settle.
Many independent adjusters can work on three to five claims per day. A good adjuster can make $1,000 a day, according to the National Institute of Adjusting. If you become a regular freelancer for an insurance company, you might charge a daily rate instead of a per-claim rate. Adjusters who do that typically earn $700 per day. Compare this rate to salaried adjusters who work for insurance companies who earn a median wage of $55,760, as of 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $34,140 and the highest 10 percent earned more than $84,260. Being an employed adjuster may come with extra perks, such as a company laptop, car and cellphone.
How to Find Work
The National Association of Independent Insurance Adjusters is an association that represents independent insurance adjusters throughout the United States. Find a listing on its website of insurance firms looking for independent adjusters. You can also find work from private individuals. After Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, for example, many people were unhappy with the settlement offered by their insurance company, so they hired an independent adjuster to help them deal with the insurance company. Most independent adjusters charge private individuals 5 to 15 percent of the settlement claim, according to Brian Sullivan, of the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters, in a CNN Money article.
Education and Licensing
You often need only a high school diploma, not other formal education, to become an independent adjuster. However, some states require you to be licensed, some with more stringent requirements for licensure than others. Some states require you to have a surety bond. Find out what you need to become a practicing insurance adjuster in your state.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics; Claims Adjusters, Appraisers, Examiners, and Investigators; December 2009
- National Institute of Adjusting: Frequently Asked Questions
- The National Association of Independent Insurance Adjusters: Home
- CNN Money: Sorting Out Your Home Insurance Claim; Gerri Willis; September 2005
- Brian Harkin/Getty Images News/Getty Images