A common question posed by prospective independent adjusters concerns the feasibility of working from home. Most folks understand that independent adjusting can require extensive travel, but must it? Can an adjuster enjoy the benefits of independent adjusting (good pay, autonomy) and sleep in their own bed every night? Many folks are excited by the career prospects of adjusting but are apprehensive about its effect on their family life. So, what should one realistically expect?
Its our opinion that under ordinary circumstances independent adjusting can be done from home but NOT until you have first paid your dues. Let’s unpack this statement fully. To work at home as an independent, you would be primarily handling daily or non-catastrophic claims. Why? Because there simply aren’t enough catastrophes in any one geographic region to keep a cat adjuster consistently busy for an extended period of time (> 2-3 years). Even residents of Florida can hardly expect to only work hurricane claims in Florida for a living as there may be 4+ years without a major hurricane hitting the coast. Granted, some adjusters worked in the New Orleans area for several years but this truly is the exception that proves the rule. An independent that doesn’t want to travel is simply going to subsist almost exclusively on daily claims. “Daily” or non-cat claims are those everyday property and liability claims that happen “daily” across the country – pipes bursting, kitchen fires, leaky roofs, barns burning, dead trees falling on structures, auto accidents, slip and falls, etc. Accordingly, the adjuster who works daily claims will probably be expected to be a bit of a generalist – a little residential property here, a little commercial liability there. This requires a higher level of overall proficiency as an adjuster with a better understanding of the whole claims process, multiple types of insurance, and multiple types of loss assessment. Its not surprising therefore that independent adjusting firms either strongly prefer or just fundamentally require 3 to 5 years experience in their daily claims adjusters.
So, how does one acquire experience in the first place? How do you pay your dues? The answer is often through catastrophic claims work. When “the big one” hits, say a major hurricane or an earthquake, the demand for adjusters immediately exceeds the supply and adjusting firms are willing to give anyone meeting the basic qualifications (licensure, a vehicle, citizenship) a set of claims files. Here is the proving ground for new adjusters. It can truly be baptism by fire but for those that succeed and even thrive, the door is opened wide. Work two or three CATs and suddenly you have both the experience and the confidence to vie for a daily claims gig in your area. And from there, you can really begin to carve out your niche in the claims industry (i.e. someone living close to a Marina and with a passion for boats could become a full-time recreational boat adjuster).
Obviously, there are many, many ways to break into the industry and the old adage that who you know beats what you know is probably true here as well. But, for many, the career trajectory sketched above will closely mirror their own. You can work at home, but expect to hit the road to earn it.
– Daniel Kerr