Insurance Loss Adjuster

The Job and What's Involved

Insurance loss adjusters investigate claims on behalf of insurance companies. They are impartial specialists who work independently and often work for several different companies. Their recommendations help the insurance company decide how much to pay out for a claim.

When a claim is reported, loss adjusters visit the client to make investigations and assess the damage. Clients may be individuals or businesses.

Claims can include:

- Damage caused by fire and explosions, storms and floods
- Theft and fraud
- Accidental damage
- Transportation losses
- Loss of profits
- Public, product or employee liability
- Personal accidents

During their investigation, loss adjusters:

Survey any physical damage.

  • Gather information about the incident by interviewing the client, often on site, and possibly liaising with police, solicitors, surveyors and forensic experts.
  • Get reports from the emergency services or valuation certificates.
  • Check that insurance policy conditions have been followed, the policy will cover the loss and the amounts claimed are fair and reasonable.
  • Advise customers on how to avoid further losses (eg install better locks) and give advice on repairs - they may recommend specialists to do the work.
  • Organise clean-up and salvage operations in emergencies such as flooding or a fire - for example re-locating families and arranging for building contractors to restore their home.

A loss adjuster may visit as many as three clients a day, carrying out evaluations and completing relevant paperwork. Most of the administration is done on computers.

If the loss adjuster suspects a fraudulent claim, they will investigate further, and tell the insurance company.

Loss adjusters usually work 35 to 40 hours a week. They sometimes have to work long and unsociable hours, possibly on call during weekends and public holidays.

They are usually based in an office, but spend most of their time visiting claimants or sites, so a valid driving licence is essential. They tend to work alone. They may travel long distances and occasionally abroad. During an environmental emergency, loss adjusters may be drafted in to respond to a regional or global situation, spending time away from home.

They can visit the site of a train crash, building sites, factories and homes within hours of a disaster. It is a very physical job that can be dirty, potentially dangerous and sometimes distressing. Safety equipment may include a hard hat, rubber wading boots, fluorescent jacket and torch.

Some sites may affect people with allergies to dust or smoke.

Starting salaries may be around £17,000 to £21,000. Company cars, private medical insurance, life insurance and pension schemes are usually provided. Those who work from home are often provided with a networked computer and office equipment.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Employment opportunities are varied, and jobs for loss adjusters can be found nationwide with:

  • Insurance companies.
  • Specialist loss adjusting firms.
  • Insurance brokers.
  • Risk management departments of public and private companies.

Specialist loss adjusting firms provide independent claims assessments for insurers, insurance brokers, companies and private individuals. They often work in specific areas, such as IT, business interruption or fine arts. Firms are located throughout the UK, employing anything from one loss adjuster to over 200. Some international organisations have overseas opportunities.

Opportunities are growing as loss adjusters are called upon to deal with many different claims. There is demand for loss adjusters with specific industry and sector expertise, such as marine, aviation and forensic accountancy.

Vacancies are advertised in Post Magazine, Insurance Age and Insurance Times, on the website, www.insuranceday.com, and through specialist recruitment agencies in the financial sector.

Education and Training

It is possible to train straight from school, college or university. However, most new entrants have a professional qualification and relevant work experience in careers such as risk management, accountancy, law, surveying, engineering or insurance.

Employers may look for GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3) in maths and English. A BTEC diploma, HNC/HND or degree in accounting or finance, business studies, economics, law, science or engineering may increase an applicant's chances.

However, greater emphasis is placed on individual characteristics, particularly communication skills and integrity.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Loss adjusters normally train on the job, working under the supervision of an experienced loss adjuster. Large firms and insurance companies usually provide structured training schemes.

The normal route is to start work with an insurer or specialist firm and study for the Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters (CILA) exams. For those who already have an approved professional qualification, this takes three to four years. If not, it is necessary to obtain one first, normally from the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII). It will take six to seven years to train.

The CII provides a range of courses for people in the insurance industry. Studying is through day release, evening classes or distance learning. Entry requirements for the Associateship of the CII are a degree in any subject, three A levels/H grades or two A levels/H grades and two GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3), or equivalent qualifications.

For a specialist qualification in loss adjusting, the CII and CILA have a claims faculty for people who provide claims handling and support. Visit the CII website for more details.

CILA encourages loss adjusters to progress to qualified status. For ordinary membership, applicants take an exam. They need to be 21 and have two years of experience with a Chartered Loss Adjusting company. They also need:

  • A relevant professional qualification in an area such as accountancy, engineering, law, surveying, architecture or building.
  • Fellowship of the CII.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

Insurance loss adjusters should:

  • Have good people skills.
  • Be impartial and have integrity.
  • Have good observation skills.
  • Be methodical.
  • Be tactful and understanding.
  • Be flexible and able to react quickly to different situations.
  • Be physically fit.
  • Have a good working knowledge of the law and insurance policy wording.
  • Understand different trades and manufacturing processes.
  • Have excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • Have a responsible attitude towards safety.
  • Be confident and take responsibility for their workload.

Your Long Term Prospects

With experience, loss adjusters may take on increased responsibility and deal with more complex claims. There may be opportunities to progress into management, locally and regionally. Promotion is based on merit and specialist skills.

The CII offers a range of routes for gaining further qualifications, up to degree level.

It may be possible to move into related areas, such as surveying, claims management or fraud investigation.

Some loss adjusters become self-employed consultants or set up their own company providing specialist services to insurance companies, brokers and loss adjusting firms.

Many UK-based loss adjusting firms appoint people to work overseas on temporary or permanent contracts.

Get Further Information

The Association of British Insurers (ABI),
51 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7HQ
Tel: 020 7600 3333
Website: www.abi.org.uk

The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII),
Training Advisory Service, 42-48 High Road,
South Woodford, London E18 2JP
Tel:020 8989 8464
Website: www.cii.co.uk

The Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters (CILA),
Peninsular House, 36 Monument Street, London EC3R 8LJ
Tel: 020 7337 9960
Website: www.cila.co.uk

Financial Services Authority (FSA),
25 The North Colonnade, Canary Wharf,
London E14 5HS
Tel: 020 7066 1000
Website: www.fsa.gov.uk

Financial Services Skills Council,
51 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7HQ
Tel: 0845 257 3772
Website: www.fssc.org.uk

The Institute of Financial Services (ifs), Administrative Centre,
IFS House, 4-9 Burgate Lane, Canterbury, Kent CT1 2XJ
Tel: 01227 762600
Website: www.ifslearning.com

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