Independent catastrophic claims adjusting or “cat” adjusting is an exciting, lucrative, and largely unknown niche in the insurance industry.
When disaster strikes, these storm troopers answer the call to assist insurance policyholders in recovering from their losses. The work is challenging, personally fulfilling, and can be surprisingly profitable. Follow these 4 steps to become a licensed, trained, ready-to-deploy cat adjuster:
#1: Obtain Your Adjuster License
Adjuster licensing is regulated at the state level (there is no national cat adjuster license) and I strongly recommend you start by getting licensed in your home state. Getting licensed in your home state will give you the greatest flexibility and coverage when it comes to obtaining licenses reciprocally in other states, a necessity for cat adjusters who are nearly always on the move. You can read more on this subject in our Why Adjusters Should Get Their Home State License First blog article.
Each state’s licensing rules are a little different but you can find your state’s specific licensing regulations, as well as a step-by-step guide on how to get your license on the AdjusterPro State Pages under the compliance section.
Several states, however, do not require a license to operate as an adjuster.
These are: Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Tennessee, Maryland, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Virginia. If you hail from one of these states then I recommend you obtain the Florida 70-20 Nonresident Designated Home State (DHS) License. A DHS license will give you all the benefits of a home state license in terms of reciprocity and coverage.
Florida, Texas, and Indiana each offer strong DHS licensing options and while you can’t go wrong with any of them, Florida tops our list due to cost, quick turnaround time, and reciprocity value. Why get a license at all if your home state doesn’t require it? For those who truly have no intention of ever working outside their home state, it may be unnecessary. But for those with designs on working as a cat adjuster, where travel to affected regions is standard operating procedure, a Designated Home State license is crucial for your ability to work in other states. More to the point, most independent adjusting firms won’t hire you without one.
#2: Obtain Critical Adjuster Training
For those making career transitions from the residential or commercial contracting industries, supplemental training may prove unnecessary. But for those who have little previous experience with construction, loss analysis, estimating software, and standard methods of repair, it is tremendously helpful to undertake some practical training. The most important training a newly licensed adjuster should consider is Xactimate Training. Used by the vast majority of independent adjusters, Xactimate is the most popular estimating program today. Courses, ranging from 1 to 3 days ($200 to $600) may be taken and courses taught by actual claims adjusters ought to be preferred over those taught by programmers.
#3: Find a Job
Becoming an adjuster doesn’t make sense unless there is work to do. While ultimately there is no silver bullet (outside the handy personal contact) for finding work, understanding the employment landscape will go a long way towards helping you land a job.
The bottom line is that the demand for independent adjusters fluctuates greatly and depends on the frequency and severity of catastrophic weather events. In 2005 and 2006, in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma, finding work as a cat adjuster was almost as simple as raising your hand. The same can be said in 2017 after Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. In other years, however, surprisingly docile weather can result in fewer disasters and fewer spikes in claims.
It should be noted that experts do agree that while the number of actual disasters may not increase in future years, today’s disasters are costing more money and resulting in more insurance claims than ever before. We have bigger and better homes. We are building on and in floodplains. More people are living in flood zones, coastal zones, and forest fire-vulnerable areas than at any other time in history. This all results in larger combined losses, even though the events themselves might not be record-breaking.
Where do I Look for a Job?
Reference our adjusting firm directory for contact and background details on those who hire. Independent adjusting firms maintain deployment “rosters” of qualified adjusters who are eligible for being put to work in the event of a catastrophe. A new independent adjuster should work to join as many rosters as possible. The ultimate goal is to have a steady stream of invitations to work which can be accepted or declined at your discretion. Remember, you are your own boss!
#4: Maintain Your Good Standing
Staying on top of Continuing Education (CE) requirements keeps you in compliance with your adjuster license and also gives you a legitimate opportunity to advance your knowledge base and skills as an adjuster. We’ve added a ton of new state-approved CE courses to our AdjusterPro Course Catalog the past few years. Every class is 100%online and can be taken on your own time – just don’t forget to take it before your renewal deadline! Remember, failure to maintain CE compliance can result in very steep penalties and forfeiture of your license.
If you’re considering a career as a catastrophe adjuster, check out some of our additional resources. We’re here to help.