How Do I Become a Public Adjuster?

Learn about the education and training requirements for becoming a public adjuster, including licensing and certification requirements. Explore what public adjusters' typical job duties entail. Schools offering Risk Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Training and Education Is Available for Claims Adjusters?

Uniform formal education standards haven't been established for public adjusters beyond a high school diploma or GED. A college degree, insurance industry experience or a combination of both are possible ways to gain the necessary skills and knowledge. For example, you could gain experience by working for an insurance company under the supervision of an established adjuster. In this scenario, you'd move up from working on simple to progressively more complex claims as you learn more about claims investigation.

Most employers prefer to hire applicants who have degrees, but you have wide latitude in your choice of majors. A paralegal or legal assistant degree is relevant to product liability or workers' compensation cases. An engineering degree has applications in assessing property damage due to fire or natural disaster. An accounting degree is generally helpful in financial loss assessment.

A number of community colleges and vocational schools offer courses in claims adjusting through which you could receive initial training or meet continuing education requirements. These courses cover claims assessment principles and practices in workers' compensation, general liability and commercial and residential property cases. In rare instances, schools offer claims adjuster associate's degree programs. These provide a more comprehensive examination of investigative methods, case management and insurance law.

What Certifications Are Available?

The National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters offers the Certified Professional Public Adjuster (CPPA) and Senior Professional Public Adjuster (SPPA) designations (www.napia.com). You need a college degree and five years of experience as a claims adjuster to be eligible for the CPAA certification and ten years of experience to eligible for the SPPA exam. Each exam tests your knowledge of the assessment and adjustment process and common provisions in insurance forms.

Will I Need a License?

Public adjusters face varying licensing requirements from state to state. Completion of an educational program, experience in claims adjusting, passage of a licensing exam or some combination of the three are typical. Some states may also direct you to post a surety bond. Several have reciprocity agreements that will grant you a new license if you've already earned a license in another state.

What Will My Job Duties Be?

You perform many of the same duties as a conventional claims adjuster. These include collecting evidence; assessing property damage; reviewing damage assessments made by others; conferring with or interviewing clients, witnesses and other interested parties; and writing reports. However, rather than working for an insurance company, you'll represent the claimant and their best interests during settlement negotiations with or legal proceedings against insurance companies.

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