A property adjuster is a person who works with insurance policyholders whose property has been damaged natural disasters, fires, or vandalism. Whether he is representing the insurance company or the policyholder, his goal is to determine the amount of compensation that the former should pay to the latter. His job entails visiting damaged properties to assess the extent of the damage, consulting relevant professionals such as architects for additional advice, and compiling the information into a report from which a compensation figure can be calculated. Although some states require property adjusters to pass an exam or obtain certification, there is no specific college degree required for this job.
To receive coverage when an insured property is damaged, the policyholder must file a claim. Following the filing of a claim, the insurance company usually dispatches a property adjuster to the property to assess the damage and determine the appropriate coverage amount. In some cases, the insured may choose to hire a third-party adjuster instead. Both types of adjusters do essentially the same job, with the exception that the former represents the insurer while the latter represents the insured.
Typically, the property adjuster begins his work inspecting the damage to the policyholder’s property. He’ll probably take copious notes describing the devastation. He may also take photographs and videos, as well as interview the insured and any witnesses who are available. He may also consult with relevant experts, depending on the nature of the damage. For example, if a policyholder has filed a claim claiming that his property has been damaged fire as a result of a malfunctioning stove, the property adjuster may request that an electrician inspect the stove.
After a property adjuster hired an insurer completes his site visit, he compiles the information into a file that is then used to process the claim. The insurance company looks over this file to see if the claim is valid. If the claim is accepted, the adjuster collaborates with his colleagues to determine an appropriate coverage amount. If the insured accepts the coverage amount, the insurance company pays the claimant, and the matter is considered closed. When the insured disputes the proposed coverage amount, the adjuster may refer the case to his company’s legal department or conduct additional on-site research.
An independent adjuster, like insurer-employed adjusters, compiles his site visit materials into a file. He then calculates the appropriate compensation amount and submits it to the policyholder’s insurer. If the figure isn’t accepted as is, the independent adjuster will typically negotiate with the insurer to get his client the best possible compensation rate.
There is no specific college program for people who want to work as property adjusters, though having a basic understanding of architecture can help. Many states demand that potential adjusters pass an exam or complete a training program. Because legislative changes can often change an insurer’s obligations, some states require adjusters to take continuing education classes to stay up to date on new laws.