How to Get a California Adjuster License

Author: Ethan Peyton
Updated:

To get your California Adjuster license, you’ll need to follow a few steps. These steps include taking a California adjuster course, passing the state adjuster exam, filing your application and paying licensing fees, and submitting your fingerprints.

We’ve put together this step-by-step guide to ensure your licensing journey is as simple and inexpensive as possible. This guide also covers adjuster requirements and prerequisites along with steps to take after getting your license. 

Be sure to bookmark this page so you can reference the steps as you need them.

Quick Tip

We recommend AdjusterPro adjuster courses to prepare for your exam. California courses start at $179.

California Adjuster License Requirements

Before you begin the steps to getting your California adjuster license there’s a few requirements you’ll need to ensure you qualify.

  • You must be 18 years of age or older
  • You must be a resident of California (non-residents will need to apply for a different license)
  • You must be able to pass a background check (more info in step 4)
  • You must have 4,000 hours (2 years) of experience in the adjusting field

California Adjuster Experience Requirement

California is one of the only states that has an experience requirement for independent adjusters – and it’s the highest bar by a wide margin.

The question most asked about this requirement is: How do I get the experience if I can’t get a license?

We’ve come up with a few ways to make this happen:

  • Staff Adjuster – Work as a staff adjuster for an insurance provider (ie. State Farm, Allstate, etc…). This is an employee position working under a licensed adjuster, which means you are not required to hold a California Independent Adjuster license to handle these claims.
  • Apprentice Public Adjuster – California offers a one-year Apprentice Public Adjuster license. This allows you to work under a licensed public adjuster. This work would count toward the experience requirement of the independent adjuster license. If you choose this path, you would need to apply for the apprentice license at least twice to satisfy 2 years of experience.

California Adjuster License Course

Before you apply for the license or take the exam, you’ll need to take an California Adjuster License course.

These courses are designed to prepare you to pass your exam. The exams don’t contain any “common sense” questions – rather, the information tested is dense insurance law and ethics. Taking a training course is the only way to prepare for and pass the test.

Some courses offer not only test prep, but instruction on the day-to-day operations and duties of an adjuster. If you don’t have any experience handling claims, it would be wise to consider these higher-level courses.

Recommended

We recommend AdjusterPro as our adjuster course of choice. Courses start at $179.

How to Get an California Adjuster License

To get an California Adjuster license, you’ll complete your adjuster course, pass the exam, file your application and fees, then submit your fingerprints.

A common question we receive is: How much is the California adjuster license? Prices will vary depending on the type of license, but the most common license will cost as little as $700.

Another common question is: How long does it take to get the California adjuster license? If you’ve already got the required experience and take the proper time to study and pass the exam on your first attempt, the process should take around 3-4 weeks.

Step 1: California Adjuster License Course

The first step to getting your adjuster license is taking your test-prep course.

As mentioned above, we recommend AdjusterPro’s courses.

The prices of these courses range depending on the provider and level of coursework, but generally start around $179.

Be sure that you’re comfortable with the material in the coursework before moving on to your state exam. AdjusterPro recommends that you consistently score 90% or better on the course quizzes before taking the real test.

Step 2: California Adjuster Exam

Once you’ve completed your adjuster pre-license education course, the next step is to pass the California Adjuster Exam.

To register to take the exam, use the PSI California website.

The price for each attempt of the exam is $122.

The California Adjuster Exam passing score is 70%.

See the exam details in the table below.

Adjuster License TypeCostQuestionsTime AllottedExam Outline
Independent Adjuster$1221002 hours and 30 minutesExam Outline

Is the California Adjuster Exam Hard?

A common question we receive is: Is the adjuster exam hard?

Difficulty is a subjective matter, but we answer this question with: Yes. The exam is intentionally tough.

Don’t let this discourage you. Keep in mind that most folks who take this exam haven’t taken any formal tests since high school or college. The state intentionally makes these tests difficult in the hopes of protecting the average citizen from working with adjusters who don’t understand the laws and guidelines surrounding insurance.

The key to passing the exam is to take your exam-prep course seriously and allow yourself time for in-depth study. 

Check out our Adjuster Exam Study Guide for tips and strategies to pass your exam on the first attempt.

Step 3: California Adjuster Application – CDI

Once you’ve passed your exam, the next step is to apply for your license.

Apply for your license using the NIPR California Insurance Application page.

The application fee is $311 per qualified manager. 

With your application, you must submit a 2×2 passport photo. You can have these taken at most big-name pharmacies or at your local USPS. Photos can be mailed to CDI or uploaded during the NIPR application process.

Passport photos cost around $20.

Along with the application, you’ll need to submit a Bond of Insurance Adjuster surety bond in the sum of $2,000. This bond, along with form LIC 31 A-14 must be uploaded with the application via NIPR. Bond prices differ depending on the vendor you purchase them through.

Note

  • If you have been convicted of a felony involving dishonesty regarding insurance or financial matters, you may need to submit a Form 1033 to the state prior to applying. Find more information here.
  • If you are interested in getting a California Crop Adjuster license, see this page for more info.
  • If you don’t have a passport, you might as well get one since you’ve already got the photos!

Step 4: Fingerprints and Background Check

Once you’ve submitted your license application, the last step in the process is to submit your fingerprints.

First, complete and print the Live Scan Form BCIA 8016.

Next, find a location. The total fee varies depending on the vendor.

Be sure to call ahead or schedule an appointment with PSI or Accurate Biometrics before test day.

At your appointment, you will be given an automated transaction identifier (ATI) number. Keep this number in case any issue arises.

Note

Submitting your fingerprints will initiate a background check. If you have any past offenses on your record and are curious of your eligibility for an insurance license, reach out to the CDI licensing department for clarification.

Application and Background Check Processing

Once you’ve completed all of the steps above you’ll just need to wait for the background check to come back and the licensing department to process all the paperwork. CDI will contact you if they need any supporting documentation or have any questions. Be sure to respond promptly to any requests. You can check the status of your background check on the DOJ website.

If everything goes smoothly, you’ll receive a message from the licensing department within a few weeks containing your license number and any other pertinent information. You can check the status of your license online using the California Insurance License Search tool.

Congratulations! You are now a licensed insurance adjuster in California!

After Getting Your License

Now that you’re licensed, you can get to work! Most folks take one of two paths at this point. They choose to become an independent adjuster or a staff adjuster.

The main difference is that staff adjusters are employed by one firm, usually an insurance company, whereas independent adjusters operate as contractors, normally being “rostered” to multiple Independent Adjusting (IA) firms.

If you’re interested in becoming a staff adjuster, check out the current job openings on StateRequirement Jobs

If the independent adjuster role is more alluring (we think it is), check out AdjusterPro’s IA Directory

Adjuster Certifications

To be considered a great candidate for IA firms or insurance companies, you’ll need to prove that you know how to actually work an insurance claim. Certifications show that you know your stuff and will give you a strong advantage over other candidates. 

While there are several adjuster certifications available, focus on Xactimate and Insurance Company certs first.

Xactimate Certifications

Xactimate is the industry standard software used by adjusters and insurance companies. There are three levels of certification offered by Xactimate

You should strongly consider levels one and two now, and look into level three after you’ve spent some time in the field.

Insurance Company Adjuster Certifications

Large insurance companies like State Farm, Allstate, Liberty Mutual, and others require that adjusters (staff or independent) get their specific certifications. 

To get these certs, you’ll need to be on the roster of an IA firm that works with that company. They offer courses to their adjusters throughout the year. Staff adjusters that work for the insurance company will be provided training and certification through their employer.

It’s widely accepted that State Farm’s adjuster certification is the most valuable insurance company cert. They are the largest insurer in the US, and therefore have more claims than other insurers.

Out-of-State and Reciprocal Licensing

Most claims, especially catastrophe (CAT) claims come from weather events. And since you can’t control the weather, you should get licenses in states outside your home state. These are called Non-Resident Adjuster Licenses.

IA firms are much more likely to both roster you and select you for work if you are licensed in states where they operate. If you’re already on a roster or two, talk with your contact there to see if they recommend a state to get licensed in.

The best states to start with are generally those that neighbor your home state. For California, this includes:

  • Oregon
  • Nevada
  • Arizona

These states offer what’s called reciprocation with California. This means that you don’t need to take a pre-licensing course or pass an exam in order to get their license. All you need to do is apply, pay the fee, and you’ll be licensed quickly.

License Renewal and Continuing Education

The California Adjuster License expires every two years. To keep your license active, you must:

  • Complete 24 hours of continuing education (CE) coursework
  • Pay the renewal fee of $311 per qualified manager

Any additional non-resident licenses you hold will also expire. Most state licenses expire every two years and require a renewal fee. Note that California doesn’t reciprocate or accept reciprocation of continuing education – so if you hold additional licenses, you’ll need to take addition continuing education alongside that for CA.

Find detailed instructions on our California Adjuster License Renewal guide.

References and Links

California Department of Insurance

320 Capitol Mall
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 492-3085
Sac.Adjuster@insurance.ca.gov