How to Become an Independent Insurance Adjuster

Author: Ethan Peyton
Updated:

If you’re looking to become an independent insurance adjuster, you’re in the right place. 

This guide breaks down the essential steps: getting licensed, training your skills, and joining adjuster firm rosters

We’ll provide straightforward, actionable advice to help you start your journey. This is a practical guide for anyone ready to embark on a career as an independent adjuster, with clear insights to get you moving in the right direction.

Requirements to Become an Independent Insurance Adjuster

There are just a few mandatory prerequisite requirements before you can enter the workforce as an independent insurance adjuster.

  • 18 Years Old – To get your adjuster license or enter into any contractual agreement, you need to be at least 18 years old.
  • Background Check – When working toward your license, you’ll be required to pass a background check. If you have any marks against your record, you may need to work with the licensing department to ensure you’re eligible to hold an insurance license.
  • Physicality – If you’re planning on working in the field – where most independent adjusters start – you’ll need to be able to get yourself and your tools on a roof (and other physically taxing activities). This means packing and climbing a ladder, working around damaged materials, and keeping the property, the clients, and yourself safe during inspections.
  • Education – There are no formal education requirements – meaning you do not need a college degree to become an adjuster.

Soft Skills of Independent Adjusters

Along with the required prerequisites, there are a number of soft skills that independent adjusters must have to have to excel at the job.

  • Customer Service – Much of your time as an adjuster will be spent communicating with clients in some level of distress. Working as a professional in these situations is an absolute must.
  • Organization and Prioritization – Independent adjusters are generally handed a large number of claims to work during a deployment. Understanding how to systematically work through your workload will ensure you’re maximizing your time – and your paycheck.
  • Patience and Time Management – Adjusters often find themselves working around the schedules of clients, contractors, and insurance company representatives. When timelines don’t line up, it’s good to have a plan for how to best use your down time and continue progressing through your claims.

How to Become an Independent Insurance Adjuster

We’ve broken down the process of becoming an independent insurance adjuster into 3 steps: licensing, training, and rostering.

Once you’ve worked through these steps, you’ll be ready for your first deployment, and prepared to start earning!

Step 1. Get Your Adjuster License

The first step to becoming an independent adjuster is to get your insurance adjuster license.

Each state has a slightly different process to get a license. Use our Adjuster Licensing Guide to find the steps for your state.

Adjuster License Guide

Use our Adjuster Licensing Guide to find the steps for your state.

The process generally involves a few steps: test prep course, state adjuster exam, license application, and a background check.

Test Prep Course

In order to pass the exam, you’ll need to take an adjuster study course. These courses teach specifically to the exam – not how to be a “good” adjuster. 

There are very few common sense questions on state insurance exams, so passing them without specialized test prep is almost impossible. 

Adjuster courses start around $179 for most states.

Adjust This recommends AdjusterPro for all test-prep courses.

State Adjuster Exam

After you’ve completed your test prep, you’ll be ready to take the state adjuster exam

All states differ, but adjuster exams are generally 50 – 150 questions long, and cost around $15 – $80 per attempt

Most states require you to take the exam at a physical exam center like Prometric or Pearson Vue, though some states allow home exams.

These exams are tough, meaning that you’ll need to study the material sufficiently. As mentioned above, you’ll need to take a test prep course before attempting the exam.

Note

There are a few popular states (including Florida and Texas) that have a slightly different process depending on the adjuster course you take. 

If you take AdjusterPro’s course, you can skip the state’s license exam. Instead, you’ll take an internal test – which has a much higher pass rate.

This is a game changer for the industry and makes the licensing process much simpler – we highly recommend you take their course.

License Application and Background Check

To get your license, you’ll need to submit an application with the state’s insurance department (or equivalent). Applications always have a fee, which ranges from $15 – $200+ depending on the state.

Most states also require fingerprinting to apply for an insurance license. This process varies from state to state, but generally comes with a cost of around $30 – $50.

Your application and/or fingerprint submission will initiate a background check. These background checks are conducted by the state’s law enforcement commission with cooperation by the FBI. 

Prior misdemeanor or felony charges do not automatically exclude you from being able to get a license. If you have questions regarding eligibility, contact your state’s insurance licensing department.

Note

As mentioned, each state’s licensing process is different, so check out our Adjuster Licensing Guide to find the steps for your state.

Step 2. Training and Certifications

The world of claims adjusting is huge. There are countless training courses you can take and hundreds of certifications you can get that highlight your skills.

Since this is an article specifically for independent adjusters, we’re going to highlight the most important skills to train on. This will save you time, money, and ensure you’re focusing on the most important aspects right away.

We’ll highlight two areas of study: Xactimate training and IA firm recommendations.

Xactimate Training

Xactimate is the main tool used by adjusters and insurance companies. It’s used to evaluate property damage, create sketches, build estimates, and for general claims management.

Since this software is the industry standard – and you’ll be using it every single day – having a strong understanding of how this tool works is an absolute must.

Xactimate training can be found in many different places, in many different forms, and at many different price points. 

We recommend starting with a simple YouTube video – like this one – to jump in head first. This is a quick and free way to familiarize yourself with the basics of the software. Once you’ve seen an example usage of the tool, you can download the Xactimate X1 demo and play around by building estimates or sketching the room you’re in.

After you’ve worked with the tool and have a basic understanding, it’s time to get serious. We recommend taking a professional Xactimate course from a reputable adjuster school. This course should lead you through the entire process of a claim and teach you the specific skills adjusters need to effectively use Xactimate X1.

Recommended Course

AdjusterPro offers two options for Xactimate training: 

Tactical Xactimate Training – This standalone course is a live, in-person webinar that teaches the exact tools adjusters need to know.

Total Adjuster Package Pre-Licensing with Exam + Xactimate – This course includes an exam prep course, the Tactical Xactimate Training, and the Adjuster Success Method

We highly recommend the Total Adjuster Package for those who are serious about becoming an independent adjuster.

Once you’ve taken a course and have a high level of confidence in your skills, you can prove your knowledge by getting an Xactimate Certification.

Verisk (the company behind Xactimate) offers three levels of certification:

  1. Level One Certification – Xactimate Fundamentals
  2. Level Two Certification – Xactimate Proficiency
  3. Level Three Certification – Xactimate Mastery

We recommend at the very least getting your level one certification, and to strongly consider the level two. You shouldn’t need to get the level three certification unless an IA firm specifically requires it.

Showing your proficiency with Xactimate is the #1 way to improve your position on the IA firm rosters.

Aside from Xactimate, we believe new independent adjusters should be focused on the skills, training, and certifications that are recommended or requested by the IA firms they are rostered with.

Once you’ve gotten your name on a few rosters, reach out to your contact at the IA firms and ask them what specific skills or certifications they are looking for. 

This will ensure you aren’t spending time and money for certifications that won’t further your career. Plus, it will deepen your relationship with the IA firm by showing them you understand what is important to them.

Some of the more common certifications IA firms recommend are:

  • Carrier-specific certifications (ie. State Farm or Allstate)
  • AIC or AINS from The Institutes Knowledge Group
  • Construction and roofing inspection certifications from HAAG

To learn more about adjuster certifications, check out our guide: Best Adjuster Certifications.

Step 3. Landing a Job an Independent Insurance Adjuster

After you’ve gotten your license and worked towards learning Xactimate and other common adjuster certifications, your next step is to find work as an independent adjuster

As mentioned, independent adjusters work as contractors and are assigned work from Independent Adjuster firms (IA firms). These firms work with insurance companies to assess, adjust, and settle claims between them and their insured clients.

As a new adjuster, your job is to get onto as many IA firm rosters as you can. Being on multiple rosters ensures that your chances of being assigned to a deployment quickly are as high as possible.

The first step is to apply for rosters at the top 5 IA firms:

Once you’ve gotten onto these rosters, the next step is to find firms that are close to your home location, or work in the specific type of claims you’d like to adjust. To find these companies, check out AdjusterPro’s list of IA firms.

Note

Depending on time of year, large weather events, and general demand for adjusters, it may take some time to be assigned to your first deployment. Your main job during this time is to build relationships with your contacts at the IA firms and keep applying for more rosters.

Becoming an Independent Insurance Adjuster – FAQ

Do independent insurance adjusters need a college degree?

No, independent insurance adjusters do not need a college degree.

Is being an independent adjuster stressful?

Being an independent adjuster can be stressful due to tight deadlines, handling complex claims, and working long hours, especially after major events like natural disasters. With experience and a solid time management strategy, adjusters can reduce their stress level significantly. 

What are the pros and cons of independent adjuster?

Pros: Schedule flexibility, variety of work, high income potential. Cons: No employment benefits, income instability, stress. For more detail, read our guide: What is an Independent Insurance Adjuster.

How much do top insurance adjusters make?

Top insurance adjusters can make more than $100,000 per year. Earnings vary based on experience, specialization, and workload, especially during years with multiple catastrophic weather events. Learn more about adjuster salaries on our guide: How Much do Insurance Adjusters Make?

Is a career in claims worth it?

Yes, a career in claims can be worth it for those who enjoy problem-solving, helping people through difficult times, and are looking for a job with variety and potential for good earnings. Learn more about the pros and cons in our guide: What is an Independent Insurance Adjuster.

Do insurance adjusters travel a lot?

Yes, field insurance adjusters travel frequently. Assessing damage and investigating claims almost always happens on-site. This is particularly true for those handling catastrophe claims. Other types of adjusters may travel less, or even work from home. 

What are the best states to get adjuster licenses?

The best states to get adjuster licenses depend on several factors, including: your home location, the types of claims you adjust, geographic risk factors, etc…