Claims adjuster salary rates are pretty competitive because these industry professionals play an important role in claims processing. In fact, this is considered one of the highest-paying careers in the industry, which is one of the top reasons why many aspiring insurance professionals dream of becoming one.
But how much do insurance adjusters make? Does entry into the profession follow a smooth sailing path? And what factors impact how much claims adjusters earn?
Who is a claims adjuster?
A claims adjuster investigates insurance claims to determine the extent of insuring a company’s liability. Claims adjusters may handle property claims involving damage to structures, and/or liability claims involving personal injuries or third-person property damage.
A claims adjuster reviews each case by speaking with the claimant. They interview witnesses, research records (such as police or medical records), and inspect any involved property.
Claims adjusters verify policyholder requests for funds from an insurance policy. They determine a fair amount for settlement. These can be any type of claim, from personal injury to property damage. In property damage claims, the main role of the insurance adjuster is to carry out a detailed investigation into the claim by:
- Reviewing police reports
- Inspecting the damage
- Talking to property owners
- Speaking to witnesses
For example, if a homeowner makes an insurance claim due to a tree falling on the house, a claims adjuster would interview the claimant (homeowner), along with any witnesses, and inspect the property to determine the extent of the damage and the costs of repairing the property. The claims adjuster then submits documentation to the insurance company describing the incident and recommendations for the claim amount (how much money the insured will receive from the insurance company to repair the property).
However, there are also several sub-categories under these classes, including:
Desk adjusters vs. field adjusters
Desk adjusters, also known as inside adjusters, work in offices. They handle claims using their computers by information, including images, sent to them by policyholders. Field adjusters, meanwhile, go to the center of the action. They travel to where the damage occurred, interview people there, take pictures, and assess the damage firsthand.
Catastrophe adjusters vs. daily claims adjusters
Catastrophe adjusters, also called CAT adjusters, are tasked to handle large-scale calamities and are often deployed to disaster zones to work on the claims. Given that these professionals work extremely long hours, with each assignment lasting weeks to even months, and face brutal conditions, they are also among the highest-paid adjusters.
Daily claims adjusters, on the other hand, handle claims resulting from losses that can happen in our everyday lives, including clogged toilets, grease fires, and burglary.
How much is insurance claims adjuster salary?
Insurance adjusters earn a mean annual salary of $73,380 or an hourly rate of $35.28, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). While entry-level salaries can be significantly lower than this figure, industry veterans with an established reputation and professional network can earn a six-figure salary.
In coming up with the national average, the BLS factored in all types of insurance adjusters, including specialists that handle property, casualty, life, health, and other forms of claims for an employment estimate of 285,270. The table below reveals the percentile wage estimates for “claims adjusters, examiners, and investigators” based on the bureau’s latest Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS).
|Percentile Wage Estimates (Insurance Adjusters)|
|Percentile||Annual wage||Hourly wage|
Insurance claims adjuster jobs with the highest salary
If you’re planning to pursue a career as an insurance adjuster or you want to move to a different role within the profession, you have several options. This employment website ranks the highest-paying insurance adjuster roles. Here are the top 10.
|Top 10 highest-paying insurance adjuster jobs|
|Rank||Job/Role||Annual salary range||What they do|
|1||Auto damage estimator||$50,000 to $114,000||Inspect vehicle damage after an accident to determine what repairs are needed|
|2||General adjuster||$96,500 to $100,000||Assesses incidents to determine an insurance company’s financial liability|
|3||Independent insurance adjuster||$74,000 to $92,000||Usually employed by independent adjusting firms, they are contracted to handle claims from several insurers|
|4||Casualty claims adjuster||$80,000 to $88,500||Evaluates and settles claims related to property damage, injuries, or other losses, excluding life/health insurance claims.|
|5||Field adjuster||$72,500 to $86,500||Travels to the place of a claim to assess the damage, as opposed to a desk adjuster|
|6||Property field adjuster||$65,500 to $85,000||A field adjuster who specializes in property claims|
|7||Bodily injury adjuster||$66,500 to $81,000||Handles claims that have resulted in physical injury|
|8||Property claims adjuster||$52,500 to $78,500||Inspect and assess damage to property, including those in residential and commercial buildings|
|9||Material damage appraiser||$43,000 to $61,000||Evaluates and settles insurance claims by assigning appropriate values to damaged items|
|10||Auto damage trainee||$48,000 to $54,000||Trained to specialize in auto body damage, determine a repair estimate, and process insurance claims|
Cities with highest claims adjuster salaries
Topping the list is Sunnyvale, CA, with Livermore, CA and Vacaville, CA close behind in the second and third positions. Vacaville, CA beats the national average by $13,175 (22.8%), and Sunnyvale, CA furthers that trend with another $16,021 (27.7%) above the $57,774 average.
With these 10 cities having average salaries higher than the national average, the opportunities for economic advancement by changing locations as a Claims Adjuster appear to be exceedingly fruitful.
Finally, another factor to consider is the average salary for these top ten cities varies very little at 8% between Sunnyvale, CA and New York City, NY, reinforcing the limited potential for much wage advancement. The possibility of a lower cost of living may be the best factor to use when considering location and salary for a Claims Adjuster role.
|City||Annual Salary||Monthly Pay||Weekly Pay||Hourly Wage|
|Santa Rosa, CA||$69,031||$5,752||$1,327||$33.19|
|Long Beach, CA||$68,337||$5,694||$1,314||$32.85|
|Costa Mesa, CA||$68,226||$5,685||$1,312||$32.80|
|New York City, NY||$68,059||$5,671||$1,308||$32.72|
Top related claims adjuster jobs with high salary
We found at least five jobs related to the Claims Adjuster job category that pay more per year than a typical Claims Adjuster salary. Top examples of these roles include General Adjuster, Licensed Adjuster, and Remote Independent Adjuster.
Importantly, all of these jobs are paid between $22,091 (38.2%) and $41,116 (71.2%) more than the average Claims Adjuster salary of $57,774. If you’re qualified, getting hired for one of these related Claims Adjuster jobs may help you make more money than that of the average Claims Adjuster position.
|Job Title||Annual Salary||Monthly Pay||Weekly Pay||Hourly Wage|
|Senior General Adjuster||$98,890||$8,240||$1,901||$47.54|
|Insurance Adjuster Appraiser||$81,356||$6,779||$1,564||$39.11|
|Auto Field Adjuster||$79,865||$6,655||$1,535||$38.40|
Factors that impact insurance adjuster salary
As you may have noticed from the figures above, there’s a huge difference between the earnings of those in the bottom and top percentiles. This is because how much insurance adjusters make is influenced by a range of variables.
These are the biggest factors that impact a claims adjuster’s earning potential.
Type of adjuster
There are three main types of insurance adjusters, all of whom follow slightly different payment structures, which impact how much they earn. We will discuss how these roles differ in more detail later, but generally, this is how they get paid.
- Staff insurance adjusters. These are salaried employees who work for a single insurance carrier. They earn between $40,000 and $70,000 and have access to employee benefits such as health insurance and paid leave.
- Independent insurance adjusters. These professionals work as independent contractors for adjusting firms and can handle claims from different insurers at the same time. They can earn significantly more than staff adjusters, with potential earnings that can reach six figures, depending on how hard they work. However, they don’t have access to the same employee benefits.
- Public insurance adjusters. These are self-employed professionals who policyholders hire if they believe that they have received an incorrect or unfair settlement from their insurers. Public adjusters are paid a portion of the settlement fee, usually ranging from 5% to 20%.
Type of policy
How much insurance adjusters make is also affected by the type of claims they are handling. Adjusters handling life, health, and other medical claims are paid an average of $59,500 or about 23% less than those dealing with other types of insurance claims – including auto, home, and commercial – estimated at around $76,980.
Where an insurance adjuster practices also dictates how much they can earn. Some areas, for example, are more prone to natural disasters and adjusters can be in high demand in these locations, especially after a calamity. Cost of living, public safety, and accident rates can likewise impact a claims adjuster’s earning potential.
Benefits of becoming a claims adjuster
Claims adjusters have very stable careers: there is always demand for this role, and even in a recession, there will always be a need for adjusters to come and estimate the damage caused by natural disasters for individuals, businesses, and corporations. In addition, it’s pretty easy to become a claims adjuster, if you’re willing to put in the work and pass the licensing exam.
In addition, claims adjusters have a lot of freedom in their work. It’s a mobile job, but claims adjusters work on everything from estimating hurricane damage to doing paperwork, consulting, inspection, and more. It’s a job that you can build to focus on what you love and hire out for the parts you don’t.
Especially if you’re an independent claims adjuster, you can choose how you charge for the job and how you’re paid.
How to become an insurance claims adjuster
Becoming a claims adjuster is not typically a career path that people think about, but is an industry in high demand of careers. Typically, insurance claims adjusters need at least a high school diploma, although an associate’s or bachelor’s degree can be preferred. From there, individuals will need to study and pass a licensing exam.
Some states require a certain number of hours of training that must be done ahead of time. From there, insurance adjusters need to complete continuing education credits in order to keep their licenses. In California, licensed independent insurance adjusters must complete a minimum of 24 hours of continuing education, per every two-year license term.
For example, in Florida, insurance claims adjusters must take and pass the Florida Adjuster Examination from an approved vendor. The state also requires adjusters to complete 24 hours of continuing education every two years.
The following jurisdictions do not require licenses for insurance adjusters:
- District of Columbia
- New Jersey
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
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