If you have excellent analytical, influencing and negotiating skills, a career as a chartered loss adjuster could be for you

As a loss adjuster you'll use leading-edge technology to resolve insurance claims. You'll investigate at the scene of an incident to establish the cause of the loss (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.

Responsibilities

As a loss adjuster, you'll 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;
  • request reports from specialist third parties, such as building surveyors;
  • 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;
  • 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 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.

Some loss adjusters are employed by individuals or businesses to present their claim on their behalf.

Salary

  • Starting salaries typically range from £20,000 to £30,000 depending on your experience and qualifications.
  • As an experienced loss adjuster you can typically earn between £30,000 and £60,000.
  • With the right mix of skills and experience you can earn in excess of £60,000. 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.

Working hours

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 in 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.

Qualifications

Although you don't need a specific degree subject to become a loss adjuster, a degree or HND in building or construction, surveying, engineering, risk management, law or finance may be useful. 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.

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 will usually begin by working in claims handling and then progress to loss adjusting. It's possible to start as a loss adjusting assistant/administrator and work your way up. It's also possible to gain entry via an apprenticeship or with A-levels or equivalent.

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.

Skills

You will need to show:

  • strong oral and written communication skills;
  • a good standard of numeracy;
  • research, investigation and analytical skills;
  • diplomacy, negotiation and influencing skills;
  • the ability to work under pressure and to strict deadlines;
  • strong commercial awareness;
  • decision-making skills;
  • integrity, empathy and judgement;
  • a flexible approach to work (as you may be called in during an emergency situation);
  • the ability to remain calm in difficult circumstances;
  • confidence and resilience.

Work experience

Try and get some work experience in insurance, 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 direct to find out about opportunities.

Employers

Loss adjusters are traditionally employed by independent 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;
  • marine;
  • petrochemicals.

Large insurance companies also have in-house loss adjusting teams.

It's also possible to work directly for a broad 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.

Professional development

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 the:

CILA provides a full range of qualifications at Certificate, Diploma and Advanced Diploma level. To become an associate member of CILA, which allows you to use the title chartered loss adjuster, you must pass the Accreditation for Chartered Status (ACS) process. The ACS is only open to CILA members who have passed the CILA Advanced Diploma.

The ACS involves either taking a three-and-a-half hour written exam and writing a 3,000 word critical analysis of a claim, or undergoing a panel interview, completing a 4,500 word summary of experience and 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 adjusting firm, you are eligible instead to become a certified member (MCILA).

Once you've achieved associate status, you can take the MSc Professional Development (Loss Adjusting), developed in conjunction with Bournemouth University, to top-up your existing CILA qualifications.

The CII also provides a range of qualifications at Certificate, Diploma, Advanced Diploma and Masters level. The CII Advanced Diploma in Insurance provides a comprehensive overview of insurance 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 qualified, it's vital to keep up to date with developments and changes in the industry. Both the CILA and CII provide opportunities for CPD (continuous professional development) and networking.

Career prospects

There are several routes to career development, including technical specialisation and management. Areas of specialisation include accident investigation, property or fraud. For roles requiring experience, you will usually need to have achieved associate membership of CILA (ACILA).

With experience, you can become a team leader handling particular categories of claim, such as fraud or subsidence. 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.