I’m often asked what it takes to become a good independent claims adjuster. There is really no short answer because the job requires a number of different skills or “habits” to be successful. But as with any habit, these can be developed, so if you don’t have all 7 habits of highly effective independent adjusters completely dialed in right now, don’t worry. (Unless, of course, you lack ethics!)
In any of the areas below, you can and should always be working to improve your skills. There are some habits we can help you cultivate. Others will require you to learn more about something on your own. Regardless, enduring success in the insurance claims industry means taking ownership of the following:
Habit #1: Communication
Insurance claims adjusters need to possess excellent people skills. An adjuster will deal with all manner of people in every frame of mind – from happy and grateful to angry and suspicious. You might also be working under unpredictable circumstances, especially if you are on a catastrophe deployment. Downed power lines, spotty phone service, unreachable claimants, dangerous inspections…these all pose challenges to good communication and service.
As representatives of insurance companies, claims adjusters are often the only point of contact between the insurer and insured. Customer service with an emphasis on cordial, patient, and professional communication should always be your goal, even when…no, especially when, things get tough.
Habit #2: Time Management
Wasted time and stress are twin enemies of an insurance adjuster – particularly an independent adjuster handling catastrophic claims. Effective time-management will minimize stress and maximize profits. It is not uncommon for insurance adjusters to be handed stacks of claims numbering in the hundreds. And in a catastrophic situation, each claimant wants the adjuster there yesterday. Managing expectations, multi-tasking, and using time wisely are essential to surviving the insurance claims “storm”.
If you’re interested in staying ahead of the stress game, our Adjuster Success Method Course was created to help adjusters, new and old, develop a systematic method for handling their claims. One that helps you stay organized and teaches you to use your time effectively. You can learn more on the Adjuster Success Method page.
Habit #3: Computer Proficiency
The days of hand-writing estimates are over and nearly every major insurance carrier now requires that claims estimates be delivered electronically. Becoming proficient in general computer usage will dramatically elevate the ability of an insurance adjuster to close claims quickly. Those who struggle with typing, using a mouse, or navigating through a Windows-based program should strongly consider enrolling in a basic computer skills course before taking on insurance claims.
The Most Vital Computer Skill for New Adjusters
Xactimate, the industry’s leading estimating software, is the single most important skill new adjusters must acquire. It’s also been listed by many as the most challenging. AdjusterPro can help.
Habit #4: Integrity
An insurance adjuster, particularly an independent adjuster, has significant freedom and power…and therefore he or she also has a significant responsibility. Temptations to abuse the position (i.e. taking bribes, contractor kickbacks, etc.) exist and a good insurance adjuster should constantly be vigilant in guarding against even the appearance of ethical infractions.
Crime may pay in some professions but not in insurance adjusting. An unethical adjuster – and this is best-case scenario – will be likely to find themselves out of work. Worst case? Loss of license and possible criminal prosecution.
Those with integrity will be just fine.
Habit #5: Insurance Policy Knowledge
Knowing how to read an insurance policy is fundamental to proper insurance claims adjusting. But the real skill is in applying the policies within the context of very specific aspects of a particular insurance claim. Excellence in adjusting is as much art as science – formulas and rules can lead you through the black and white but when grey areas arise an adjuster must rely upon intuition, conscience, and experience – in short, good judgment.
This isn’t something you gain overnight. Our courses will help. Experience will help. Asking questions of your colleagues, superiors, and industry leaders will help. It’s a journey you must be willing to take on if you want to be a great adjuster.
Habit #6: Construction/Engineering Knowledge
Being familiar with the makeup of the property you are investigating is obviously essential. If an adjuster doesn’t know what is behind a wall in a house he or she certainly won’t know to account for it in the estimate. The goal of the insurance adjuster is to compensate the homeowner, car owner, or business owner to an extent sufficient to return their property to its pre-damaged condition. Understanding how those properties are constructed, from foundation to roof, is indispensable in coming to a fair and accurate claim settlement amount.
But if you can’t build a house on your own, don’t worry. Much like insurance policy knowledge, this is something you can control. Take courses or get your certifications, read books, and learn the basics. The rest will come with time and experience.
Habit #7: Determination and Will to Succeed
Sometimes claims adjusters find themselves confronted with seemingly impossible situations. Difficulties ranging from language barriers, unresponsive claimants, impassable roads, and software bugs can make an insurance adjuster long for greener pastures.
In catastrophic events, this is particularly true. Some folks take their footballs and go home, and some muddle through an event not to return the next year. But others rise to the challenge, facing problems with a determination to get things done and the will to succeed. Being proactive, confronting challenges head-on, persevering are hallmarks of the highly effective adjuster.
If you don’t possess all 7 habits of highly effective independent adjusters today, don’t worry. You can work on these habits, both today and moving into the future. Great independent adjusters are never stagnant. They know there is always more to learn and are eager to continue on their journey to self-improvement.