When I was a kid, there was no question what I wanted to be: hands down I wanted to be a race car driver. I even raced a rally car for a while when I was a younger man, until I totaled the thing and nearly killed myself. To say that a career in insurance claims adjusting was not on my radar would be a grave understatement.
Interestingly enough, this seems to be true of lots of adjusters I talk to. Adjusting is simply not a career that many people think of pursuing right out of the gate. Doctor, lawyer, astronaut, president, ballerina, sure. But claims adjuster? Beyond the logical necessity of it – if insurance covers losses, then someone must handle that – most people don’t ever think much about the claims industry at all. It certainly doesn’t help that the media often portrays adjusting and adjusters as soulless, boring, or bureaucratic. A recent study shows careers in insurance as 98th out of 100 on the list of undesirable jobs! But I firmly believe that insurance adjusting is truly, truly one of the great hidden gems of careers in America today.
So how do folks get into the claims business? Typically, they meet a claims adjuster for themselves and they’re intrigued by the person and the job they’re doing. Maybe it’s after a storm or a personal loss of some kind. Or they know a friend of a friend or a cousin’s wife’s uncle and end up talking with them one day.
It sounds funny but seriously, I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard this from adjusters. In fact, this is how I got into the business myself…
My brother-in-law was a “storm chaser.” A roofing contractor who followed hail storms in order to sell roofs to folks after their roofs were damaged by hail. He invited me out to a storm in Kentucky as an estimator. Honestly? I hated storm chasing, but the adjusters I met every day on the job intrigued me. They hustled, they were enthusiastic, and they seemed to enjoy what they did. Over time I met some of them on multiple jobs and got to know them better. Then I got seriously interested when I learned about how they got paid. Unlike my estimating work, where I was living off of draws and working like a madman trying to get the roofs completed so I could get paid for them, these adjusters were getting a direct deposit every two weeks. And the deposits were impressive. I met one husband and wife team handling State Farm claims in Olathe, Kansas who were knocking out over ten claims per day! The husband confided in me what they had made in a mere two month period and I just about fell over. From that moment on, I was hooked and knew I had to find a way into this.
Within two months my brother-in-law and I found a class to get our Texas adjusters license. We passed the exam, got our licenses and…went back to what we were doing. (I didn’t know then what I know now about getting into the business so I just kept that license in my back pocket.) A year and a half later a major storm hit. I was licensed, ready to go, and most importantly, in demand. I got a call from a friend working for a TPA saying that they needed adjusters. A phone call later I was on a plane and the rest is history.
I wasn’t sure how I was going to like adjusting. I was praying it was really, truly better than storm chasing. I worked my tail off with all of the determination of a desperate man. Failure was just not an option. Weeks went by like days. I don’t know if I had ever worked that hard or that long in my life. But after a while, I started seeing the fruits of what I was doing. My direct deposits were getting bigger and bigger, and I realized to my delight that I was having a blast. True…I missed my family while I was on the road, but man the job was cool! My enjoyment of it showed, too. Pretty soon, people I’d meet on inspections would ask me about my job and how to get into it. I could tell them with honest and eager enthusiasm how cool my job was and what it was like. And (if I decided to tell them) people just couldn’t believe how I got paid.
I smile when I realize that the cycle continues to repeat itself. The secret is still being passed on as it had before: person to person, one experience at a time, to a future group of fantastic adjusters.