Chartered loss adjusters use their skills to resolve large, complex or contentious insurance claims on behalf of insurance companies
As a chartered loss adjuster, you'll investigate the scene of an incident to establish the cause of the loss (for example, damage or destruction of property) and determine whether it's covered by the policyholder's insurance policy. You'll write a report for the insurer, assessing the validity of the claim and recommending appropriate payment.
Losses can involve tragic circumstances, and those affected may be in shock. It's important therefore that you have an empathetic, caring and supporting attitude.
Although you'll typically work on behalf of an insurance company, you can also be appointed by a policyholder to work on their behalf. There are also instances where chartered loss adjusters handle losses that are not insured, for example international organisations or government bodies that have no insurance but employ chartered loss adjusters to investigate and negotiate losses.
Types of loss adjusting
There are opportunities to work in a variety of areas of loss adjusting, including:
- property - covering buildings and contents
- business interruption (BI) - includes both BI and other financial risk claims
- liability - covering employers, public and product liability, as well as professional indemnity claims
- claimant - where you're employed by a policyholder to provide expert claims advice and assistance
- subsidence - a mixture of building surveying, structural engineering, geotechnical engineering and loss adjusting
- fraud investigation - investigating claims which may be false or exaggerated.
Your day-to-day activities will vary depending on the area of loss adjusting you're working in. However, you'll typically need to:
- attend the site of a loss to survey and assess the damage
- interview the policyholder making the claim to discuss valuation and validation of the claim
- gather and check through evidence, for example CCTV footage or police reports
- request reports from specialist third parties, such as building surveyors
- ensure the site is secure to prevent any further damage
- organise any salvage work, building repairs or clean-up operations that need to take place
- make sure that the loss or damage is covered sufficiently by the terms of the policyholder's insurance policy
- advise both insurers and claimants about repair issues
- investigate suspicious claims by checking, for example, the existence and value of goods being claimed for
- provide evidence in court in cases of fraud
- liaise with insurance brokers, policyholders, lawyers and other parties to reach an equitable settlement
- write full and detailed reports for insurers, including recommendations for settlement
- negotiate and resolve disputed claims
- help businesses to quantify the loss of income while the premises are closed for repair
- advise claimants on security and other precautions to reduce the risk of further losses in the future.
- Starting salaries typically range from around £18,000 to £30,000, depending on your experience and qualifications.
- As an experienced loss adjuster, who has gained chartership, you can typically earn between £30,000 and £60,000.
- With the right mix of skills and experience it's possible to earn in excess of £80,000. These roles are usually at management level.
Salaries vary depending on your location, employer and experience, as well as on the complexity and value of the claims you're dealing with. Additional benefits may include a company car, medical care, pension scheme and bonuses.
Income figures are intended as a guide only.
Although you'll generally work typical office hours, you may need to attend call-outs in the evenings and at weekends in response to emergencies.
Some roles are office based, but there are opportunities to work from home or a mixture of both.
What to expect
- You'll spend your time between the office and on-site investigating claims. This can either be in people's homes or commercial premises. Depending on the complexity of the claim, you might carry out several inspections a day or spend several days on one case.
- You may need to wear protective clothing, particularly if you're drafted in following incidents such as fires, train crashes and earthquakes.
- Freelance work is possible for experienced loss adjusters. There are opportunities to set up in private practice and run your own business.
- Jobs are available in most towns and cities in the UK and you'll usually cover a particular geographical area. You'll need to be flexible in location and able to travel.
- Due to the investigative nature of the work, you'll need to feel comfortable working to tight schedules and under pressure.
Although you don't need a specific degree subject to become a loss adjuster, a degree or HND in the following subjects may be useful:
- building or construction
- risk management
Employers are generally more interested in your skills and personal attributes, as well as your potential to handle the varying demands of the work of a loss adjuster. Firms specialising in particular areas of loss adjusting, such as construction for example, may prefer a relevant degree.
Some large loss adjusting firms offer structured graduate training schemes. Firms usually accept a 2:2 or above, although some will ask for a 2:1 or above.
You can also gain entry via a Level 4 insurance professional or Level 6 senior insurance professional apprenticeship.
If you don't have a degree, you could start out working in claims handling before progressing into loss adjusting. It's also possible to start as a loss adjusting assistant/administrator and work your way up.
Although employers usually provide training in insurance-related legal issues, you'll need to have a good understanding of the insurance industry. Make sure that you research the company you're interested in working for thoroughly and read the specialist press.
Loss adjusting is often a second career for those with previous experience in fields such as insurance claims, engineering, accountancy, law and surveying.
You'll need to have:
- good interpersonal skills for liaising with clients who may be distressed or in shock
- diplomacy, negotiation and influencing skills
- a good standard of numeracy
- oral and written communication skills for writing reports
- research, investigation and analytical skills
- the ability to use your judgement to determine the validity of a claim
- problem-solving and decision-making skills in order to bring a claim to a conclusion
- the ability to prioritise your workload and manage your time effectively
- attention to detail
- the ability to work independently, under pressure and to strict deadlines
- teamworking skills for work on more complex cases as you will be liaising with other professionals such as engineers, surveyors and accountants
- strong commercial awareness
- integrity and professionalism
- a flexible approach to work, as you may be called in during an emergency
- the ability to remain calm in difficult circumstances
- confidence, tenacity and resilience.
Try and get some insurance-related experience, for example a work placement or summer internship during your studies. Some major companies have formal placement programmes, but you may need to approach smaller firms directly to find out about opportunities.
Customer service experience is also useful and can demonstrate your ability to handle challenging customers and difficult situations.
Find out more about the different kinds of work experience and internships that are available.
Loss adjusters are traditionally employed by independent loss adjusting firms. If you're a fully qualified member of the Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters (CILA), you're allowed to work for a wider range of employers including brokers, insurance and reinsurance companies.
Firms of loss adjusters can range in size from sole practitioners to those with hundreds of staff and cover many fields, such as:
- construction and property
- commercial and industrial
- motor vehicle
Large insurance companies also have in-house loss adjusting teams.
It's also possible to work directly for a range of companies outside insurance in order to minimise and manage the risk of incidents, which lead to claims in the first place.
Once you've got experience there are opportunities for freelance work and self-employment.
Look for job vacancies at:
Specialist recruitment agencies such as IAUK also handle vacancies.
Whether or not you're on a structured graduate training scheme, you'll usually start by spending some time learning the mechanics of the claims handling process in a desk-based role. You'll then accompany experienced loss adjusters on site visits before handling cases on your own.
Training usually combines hands-on experience and mentoring from experienced colleagues with part-time study to gain professional qualifications from CILA and the CII.
CILA provides a full range of qualifications at Certificate, Diploma and Advanced Diploma level. To become an Associate member, which allows you to use the title Chartered Loss Adjuster, you must pass the Accreditation for Chartered Status (ACS) assessment process. The ACS is open to CILA members who have passed the CILA Advanced Diploma.
The ACS involves taking a three-and-a-half hour written exam and submitting a 3,000-word critical analysis of a claim. You'll also need to show that you've got at least five years' experience working as a loss adjuster (three if you've got a professional qualification approved by CILA). If your experience was gained with a firm of chartered loss adjusters, you're then eligible to become an Associate of CILA (ACILA). However, if this experience was with a company other than a chartered loss adjusting firm, you are eligible instead to become a Certified Member (MCILA).
The CII also provides a range of qualifications at Certificate, Diploma, Advanced Diploma and Masters level. The CII Advanced Diploma in Insurance provides an enhanced understanding of insurance practice and leads to eligibility to apply for Chartered Insurance Practitioner status (subject to having five years' experience, not necessarily post-qualification) with the CII. Once you've completed the Advanced Diploma, you're entitled to use the designation ACII.
Once qualified, it's vital to keep up to date with developments and changes in the industry. Both CILA and CII provide opportunities for CPD (continuous professional development) and networking.
There are good career prospects for loss adjusters with the right combination of skills and qualities. You may start as a trainee loss adjuster before moving on to a qualified role and then progressing further into a senior loss adjusting role. There are also opportunities to move into management. For roles requiring experience or management responsibilities, you'll usually need to have achieved ACILA or ACII.
With experience it's possible to move into an area of specialisation, such as accident investigation or fraud. If you're already working in a particular area, for example, property adjusting, you may be able to specialise further into a specific area of property.
As you gain experience, you're likely to spend more time out on the road, visiting sites and claimants. The claims you investigate will become more complex and of higher value as you develop your skills.
It's possible to progress to the role of team leader, handling particular categories of claim, such as fraud or subsidence, and then move into a management role. Some firms have several offices across the country, giving you the opportunity to move into branch management and take on areas such as human resource management, financial planning and monitoring, strategic planning and marketing.
As even large firms of loss adjusters are still relatively small organisations, you may need to move employer to further your career. Some smaller firms regularly hire loss adjusters on a case-by-case basis, so once you've gained experience there are opportunities to work freelance. It's also possible to set up your own company.
There is considerable scope for overseas travel, both for individual claims and on a longer-term basis, especially when working on behalf of large insurers or reinsurers, whose own clients are global businesses.