How Much Does a Insurance Claims Adjusters Make?
If you're trying to decide whether insurance claims adjusting is the career for you, one of your biggest questions is "how much do insurance adjusters make?"
The answer is more complicated than you'd think. There's a broad range of salaries in the industry, and how much you make as a claim adjuster will depend on the type of insurance you handle, what kind of employment you want, and how you'd like to spend most of your time.
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What is the Average Insurance Adjuster Salary?
The most recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data says that the mean annual wage is $68,270 for all insurance examiners, adjusters, and investigators.
The salary range is a pretty big one, though. The BLS finds that "most" (80%) make roughly between $40,000 and $100,000. The bottom 10% make less than that, and the top 10% make more.
When a salary range is that big, it's important to drill down and find out what factors impact insurance claims adjuster salary and what each type of insurance adjuster can expect to make.
How Much Does A Claims Adjuster Make By Type?
In the article we posted about how to become an insurance claims adjuster, we talked about the licensing process and explained that there are four main "lines" of insurance that get bundled into two broad categories: Life & Health versus Property & Casualty.
There are many other "types" within insurance adjusting work – field vs desk, daily vs catastrophe, auto vs property, commercial vs personal. Some of these have an impact on your income, while others don't.
However, the division that ties all of these differences together and defines your earning potential best is the decision of who to work for: an insurance company, an IA (independent adjusting) firm, or the policyholder as a public adjuster.
Company or Staff Adjusters Salaries
Company claims adjusters, also called staff adjusters, are the full-time employees of insurance companies. They get a regular salary as well as benefits like health insurance.
As of 2020, the BLS found that 38% of all claims adjusters, examiners, and investigators work directly for an insurance company. All insurance lines employ staff adjusters, but some lines rely on them more heavily than others. They're the norm in Life & Health, and they're common in auto insurance.
Staff adjusters primarily handle run-of-the-mill daily claims, though there may be an opportunity to handle catastrophe claims as well. Some adjusters work in the field, conducting on-the-ground inspections, while others work at a desk, reviewing field reports and using claims software. Field and desk adjusters often work in teams.
According to BLS data, staff examiners at life, health or medical insurance companies make less than other lines, with an average of $58,740.
In contrast, the average for staff adjusters in other lines is $67,770. That's the ballpark for auto claims adjuster salaries, property adjuster salaries, and more.
Staff adjuster salaries increase with experience. A desk adjuster's salary is roughly the same as a field adjuster's salary. Entry-level positions are typically $38-40k, but once you've gained experience, $50k is typical. Senior-level staff adjusters can earn $70k, and if they handle catastrophe claims, they can earn more.
Independent Adjusters Salaries
Independent adjusters work for IA firms. IA firms are then hired by insurance companies, typically for property, personal injury, and auto insurance claims after a natural disaster or other catastrophes.
Historically, independent adjusting is where you earn the big bucks. During hurricane or fire season, catastrophe adjusters can exceed a staff adjuster's salary in a single month.
Independent property adjuster salaries can easily be more than $100,000 a year, but it's hard to say what's "average" because earnings depend on how much you want to work. Plus, income can vary a lot from year to year. When independent adjusters are employed as 1099 contractors, they're also responsible for a lot of things that are normally paid by an employer, like income tax, health insurance, equipment, and operating expenses.
Things may be changing as insurance companies outsource more and more of their claims to IA firms. Outsourcing of daily claims used to be limited to highly specialized situations or claims where an independent adjuster was required by statute. As a result, there's an increasing demand for desk adjusters, even though independent adjusters used to work almost exclusively in the field.
Insurance companies are also beginning to expect IA firms to hire adjusters as W-2 employees. This changes a lot for independent adjusters, financially.
It's unclear how much these changes might limit the earnings potential of independent adjusters in the future, but for the moment, it's still the most lucrative gig in the industry. You'll have to decide for yourself if the travel, unpredictability, and lack of stable income is worth the cash.
Public Adjusters Salaries
Public adjusters are hired by policyholders – individuals or businesses – to secure them the largest possible settlement. They may work as freelancers, or they may join a public adjusting firm.
Most public adjusters deal with property claims – either personal property or "real" property (land or buildings). Some public adjusters work in other sectors like health insurance or personal injury loss claims.
Public adjusters are paid a percentage of the settlement amount after the case is closed. Their take can is typically between 5 and 15%. They can earn a higher percentage with time and experience.
According to Ziprecruiter, public adjusters' average salary is roughly like that of a staff adjuster – between $39k and $72k with a $50k mean.
Start Your Claim Adjusting Career Online
Ready to start your career as a claims adjuster?
You can complete your pre-licensing courses online and at your own pace in many states. It's cost-effective and convenient.
If you live in a state without its own licensing process, employers will still expect you to become licensed! You'll need to earn your license in a state with a reciprocal agreement with your state. We recommend going for a Texas adjuster's license, which has a large claims volume and reciprocal agreements with 28 states