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Claims Adjusters, Examiners, and Investigators - What They Do


How to Advance (Advancement)
Employees who demonstrate competence in claims work or administrative skills may be promoted to more responsible managerial or administrative jobs. Similarly, claims investigators may rise to become supervisor or manager of the investigations department. Once they achieve expertise, many choose to start their own independent adjusting or auto damage appraising firms.

Numerous examiners and adjusters choose to earn professional certifications and designations to demonstrate their expertise. Although requirements for these designations vary, some entail a minimum number of years of experience and the successful completion of an examination; in addition, a certain number of continuing education credits must be earned each year to retain the designation.

Employment
Adjusters, appraisers, examiners, and investigators held about 306,300 jobs in 2008. Insurance carriers employed 49 percent of claims adjusters, appraisers, examiners, and investigators; agencies, brokerages, and other insurance related activities, such as private claims adjusting companies, employed another 24 percent. Less than 4 percent of these jobs were held by auto damage insurance appraisers. About 2 percent of adjusters, appraisers, examiners, and investigators were self-employed.

Job Outlook
Overall employment is expected to increase as fast as average. For claims adjusters and examiners, opportunities will be best with health insurance companies. For appraiser jobs, opportunities will be best for those who have some vocational training and previous auto body repair experience. Keen competition is expected for investigator jobs as the number of applicants typically outnumbers the number of positions available.

Job Growth
Employment of claims adjusters, appraisers, examiners, and investigators is expected to grow by 7 percent over the 2008-18 decade, as fast as average for all occupations. Employment growth of adjusters and claims examiners will primarily stem from the growth of the health insurance industry. Rising healthcare premiums and attempts by large insurance carriers to minimize costs will result in a greater need for claims examiners to more scrupulously review a growing number of medical claims. More claims being made by a growing elderly population also should spur demand for adjusters and claims examiners. Although technology is reducing the amount of time it takes for an adjuster to complete a claim, thereby increasing the number of claims that one adjuster can handle, demand for these jobs will increase anyway because many tasks cannot be easily automated.

Employment of insurance investigators is not expected to grow significantly, despite the expected increase in the number of claims in litigation and complexity of insurance fraud cases. Efficiencies gained through the Internet will continue to reduce the amount of time it takes investigators to perform background checks, allowing them to handle more cases.

Little to no change in employment of auto damage appraisers is expected. Despite a growing number of drivers and auto insurance policies being sold by insurance companies, the number of claims being filed is not expected to increase as much as the number of policies as efforts to make vehicles, roads, and highways safer will yield a decrease in the number of claims per policy.

Job opportunities for claims adjusters and examiners will be best in the health insurance industry as the industry seeks to minimize the number of paid claims, and in areas susceptible to natural disasters, such as the Gulf coast or West coast. Hurricanes in Florida or wild fires in California, for example, will continue to spur demand, and opportunities with smaller independent firms will be particularly good. And while technology has made the work more efficient, workers will still be needed to contact policyholders, inspect damaged property, and consult with experts. Numerous job openings also will result from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force. College graduates and those with previous related experience should have the best opportunities for jobs as claims adjusters, examiners, and investigators. Auto damage appraisers with related vocational training and auto body shop experience should have the best prospects. People entering these occupations with no formal training may find more opportunities with large insurance companies rather than small independent firms who prefer to hire experienced workers.

Competition for investigator jobs will remain keen because the occupation attracts many qualified people, including retirees from law enforcement, the military, and experienced claims adjusters and examiners who choose to get an investigator license. Heightened media and public awareness of insurance fraud also may attract qualified candidates to this occupation.

Earnings
Median annual wages of wage and salary claims adjusters, examiners, and investigators were $55,760 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $42,400 and $70,860. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $34,140, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $84,260.

Median annual wages of wage and salary auto damage insurance appraisers were $53,440 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $43,990 and $63,180. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $36,500, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $73,210.

Many claims adjusters, especially those who work for insurance companies, receive additional bonuses or benefits as part of their job. Adjusters are often furnished with a laptop computer, a smart phone, and a company car, or are reimbursed for the use of their own vehicle for business purposes.

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