As Eric Gough watched Hurricane Laura slam into Lake Charles, Louisiana in August, he decided once and for all that he was going to become an insurance adjuster. It was an idea he’d discussed with his wife Bridget for a while, but seeing the powerful category 4 storm’s impact on the Gulf Coast convinced him that it was time to act. Eric had previously been doing tax work for the government in the Chicago area. “The job had its perks”, he said. “but there was little growth that would result from it.”
It was now or never, he thought. So he went for it.
Four weeks later, after getting his insurance adjuster license through AdjusterPro, Eric found himself in Lake Charles, doing claims estimates for Wardlaw, an independent adjusting firm. Four weeks. That’s all it took from the day he decided to become an adjuster to actually assessing claims on the ground in a hurricane recovery zone. He also made great money (he averaged $37.50 per hour, plus overtime every day). He learned valuable skills. And, perhaps most importantly, he helped make a difference in a community where so many lives had been turned upside down.
But he’s the first to tell you it was a challenging transition.
Being an insurance adjuster requires sacrifice. For one, being separated from his young family was difficult for everyone. “It’s never easy being away from family. I’ve had to get creative in fulfilling my familial position and showing the people I love the affection they deserve,” Eric said.
After a natural disaster strikes, insurance adjusters are sent out to the affected communities en masse, often with little to no notice. In Eric’s case, he had a few days to prepare but that isn’t always the case. An adjuster may get a call for work and told he or she needs to leave the next day, or that if they want the work, they need to be in X location by X time. There’s little time to pack or procure supplies so many adjusters get ready…and stay ready.
Once there, adjusters are busy. Insurance claims have time deadlines that need to be met. And claimants want to start the cleanup and recovery process which usually can’t happen until and adjuster gets in to evaluate the damage. So there is no 9-5 schedule or weekend visits home. The days are long and family time has to be planned around schedules and appointments. These ‘deployments,’ as they are referred to in the industry, can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months or more, depending on the extent of the event’s damages. But for many, the sacrifices are more than worth it.
The conditions aren’t exactly first-class either. When Eric arrived on the scene, few accommodations were available because demand was at such a premium. Because they work such long hours and they’re constantly on the go, accommodations often take a back seat. Luckily Eric found an apartment right by Wardlaw’s base of operations, otherwise known as the “War Room”. The proximity to the experts was crucial for him to getting up to speed much sooner than if he had “done it on his own.”
How to Become an Insurance Adjuster in 5 Steps
See what it takes to become a licensed insurance claims adjuster. You can make a great living while helping people get on the road to recovery after a disaster.
For Eric, the journey has just begun. And while it’s still early in his tenure as an insurance adjuster, “he’s glad he made the decision to pursue it.” As of this writing, he’s about to embark on his second deployment to do claims for Hurricane Zeta, the latest hurricane to hit Louisiana this season. The storm is estimated to have caused $4 billion in damages to over a half-dozen states with the New Orleans area bearing the brunt of the destruction.
This time he’s confident he can do things on his own, so instead of working for an hourly wage, he plans to get paid per claim. This method, called a “fee schedule“, is the more standard way of paying independent adjusters. With the wide swath of damage spread across multiple states, he anticipates finishing a lot more claims and making a lot more money.
Eric strongly believes the key to success as a claims adjuster is to stick to it, ask a lot of questions, and never turn down an opportunity to learn something new. “With a bit of determination, the job went from daunting to doable in the first two weeks,” he said. Like anything else, attitude is everything. “Being an adjuster is what you make of it. Diligence and hard work are critical to making it work.”
If you’re interested in following in Eric’s footsteps, check out our Explore Adjusting page.