Loss adjusters are independent claims specialists who assist in the fair and just settlement of claims, including complex or contentious claims, on behalf of insurance companies. They help policyholders restore their property to full working order.
Within the sector they are sometimes referred to as domestic adjusters or commercial adjusters.
Loss adjusters investigate at the scene of an incident to establish the causes of the loss (damage or destruction of property) and ascertain whether it is covered by the insurance policy. They are able to do this by understanding the legal aspects of insurance policies and by engaging other experts, such as forensic scientists, as appropriate.
They then write reports for the insurer, assessing the validity of the claim and recommending appropriate payment.
Claims could be caused by a wide range of incidents including flood, accident, fire (including arson), theft or fraud, giving the job plenty of variety.
Policyholders may be individuals or businesses based in the UK or throughout the world.
Work activities vary depending on the nature of the policyholder (individual or business) and the nature of the loss/claim. However, the broad range of tasks includes:
- communicating with insurers to receive instruction on new claims;
- confirming that the information in the claim is valid, complete and recorded appropriately;
- visiting the site of a loss to survey and assess the damage;
- making proposals to mitigate the extent of the loss for the benefit of all parties;
- recording the situation at the site with equipment such as digital cameras and camcorders;
- ensuring the immediate security of the site by, for example, having doors and windows boarded up;
- requesting reports from specialist third parties, such as building surveyors;
- supporting policyholders through the claims and restoration process;
- advising insurers and policyholders on the most appropriate repair or replacement technique;
- helping businesses to quantify the loss of income while the premises are closed for repair;
- recommending local specialist firms for demanding repair or restoration work;
- interviewing the policyholder making the claim to discuss valuation and validation of the claim;
- inspecting documentation to verify that the loss or damage is covered sufficiently by the terms of the insurance policy;
- reviewing recordings from security cameras and reports from emergency services and/or security contractors;
- investigating suspicious claims by inspecting claimants' records to verify the existence and value of goods being claimed for;
- liaising with any other insurers to negotiate the spread of liability;
- writing reports as swiftly as possible for the client, including recommendations for settlement;
- advising claimants on security and other precautions to reduce the risk of further losses in the future, e.g. installation of new alarms and security lights;
- sometimes acting on behalf of individuals or businesses to present their claim on their behalf;
- providing evidence in court.
Depending on the nature of the claim, loss adjusters might carry out several inspections a day or spend several days on more complex cases. They may also be employed by individuals or business to present their claim on their behalf.
- Starting salaries typically range from £15,000 to £30,000 depending on experience and qualifications.
- Salaries for experienced loss adjusters typically range from £25,000 to £60,000.
- Those with the right mix of skills and experience can earn in excess of £80,000. These roles are usually at management level.
Salaries vary between employers and location and may include a range of additional benefits such as company car, medical care, pension scheme and bonuses.
Income figures are intended as a guide only.
Loss adjusters may need to work outside normal office hours. There may also be call-outs in the evenings and at weekends in response to emergencies.
Part-time work is possible, but flexible working hours are required.
What to expect
- Loss adjusters spend part of their week working in offices or from home, but the majority of their time is spent on-site.
- Loss adjusters may be drafted in following incidents such as fires, train crashes and earthquakes. Visits may be undertaken in all kinds of weather conditions, so protective clothing may need to be worn.
- Much of the work is conducted independently as part of a small team.
- Freelance work is possible for those with experience. 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.
- The work is investigative in nature and very varied. It often requires working to tight time schedules and under pressure.
- Travel within a working day is common and occasional absence from home over night may be required.
- Experienced loss adjusters will find a range of opportunities to work abroad.
Although this area of work is open to all graduates, a degree/HND in the following subjects may increase your chances:
- business studies;
The degree subject is generally less important to employers than showing the competencies and potential to handle the varying demands of work as a loss adjuster.
Entry without a degree or HND is possible for school or college leavers with A-level/Higher or equivalent qualifications.
Work would probably start in claims handling for an insurance company with progression to loss adjusting. There are opportunities for loss adjusting assistants/administrators, which may be useful entry points. It is also possible to gain entry via an apprenticeship.
Postgraduate qualifications are not necessary for entry and do not usually increase your chances.
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;
- ability to work under pressure and to strict deadlines;
- strong commercial awareness;
- decision-making skills;
- customer service skills;
- a flexible approach to work (as you may be called in during an emergency situation);
- the ability to remain calm in difficult circumstances;
- administrative and IT skills;
- confidence and resilience.
Formal graduate programmes exist with major companies. Employers usually ask for a 2:2 or above. Try to obtain work experience or vacation work in insurance. Before applying, research the company and the insurance industry thoroughly.
Loss adjusting is often a second career for those with previous experience in fields such as:
- insurance claims;
Loss adjusters are traditionally employed by independent firms. Fully qualified members of the Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters (CILA) are allowed to work for a wider range of employers including brokers, insurance and reinsurance companies.
Companies have broadened their scope beyond taking instructions from insurers to investigate and validate claims. They now seek to offer comprehensive claim and risk management services to corporate clients, a service where demand is driven by increasing insurance premiums and these organisations' desire to keep these costs under control.
Firms of loss adjusters can take instructions from policyholders, advising them on preparing and negotiating claims through to settlement. These range in size from sole practitioners to hundreds of staff and are located around the country.
In-house loss adjusting teams within large insurance companies are also located nationwide.
Firms can cover many fields, such as:
- construction and property;
- commercial and industrial;
- motor vehicle;
It is possible to work directly for a broad range of companies outside insurance. This reflects an increasing emphasis within the profession to minimise and manage the risk of incidents which lead to claims in the first place.
Opportunities for self-employment exist for those with experience.
Look for job vacancies at:
Vacancies are handled by specialist recruitment agencies such as IAUK.
Some larger loss adjustment firms have structured graduate training schemes. However, whether in such a programme or not, most new entrants spend some time learning the mechanics of the claims handling process in a desk-based role before commencing site visits.
It is then usual to accompany experienced loss adjusters on site visits before handling cases single handed.
Training combines hands-on experience and learning from experienced colleagues, with part-time study to gain professional qualifications from the:
For those without previous experience, the CILA provides any entry-level Certificate qualification, Cert CILA, for anyone in the claims industry. It can also be used as a stepping stone to the top-level Chartered or Certified qualification.
The Diploma (Dip CILA) is aimed at members who have passed the Certificate and focuses on developing interpersonal and management skills. The top-level ACILA Associate qualification, which confers chartered status, is available to those working at a loss adjusting firm or practice. The equivalent MCILA qualification, available to those whose main role is the investigation of loss, but who don't work for a loss adjusting firm or practice, confers certified status.
To become an associate member of CILA you need to pass a series of examinations and obtain five years' (three years' in certain cases) experience working for an independent loss adjusting firm as an ordinary member. Members who have completed the ACILA qualification are able to claim dispensation from part of the MSc Professional Development (Loss Adjusting) at Bournemouth University.
The CII Diploma in Insurance provides a comprehensive overview of insurance. Employers will usually encourage you to follow these professional qualifications, choosing modules relevant to the specialist area you work in, e.g. commercial, marine or general insurance.
Those who undertake the CII Advanced Diploma in Insurance can apply for associated membership of the CII (ACII). This usually takes three years and should improve your chances of seeking promotion or management roles within the industry. A range of study options are available including distance learning, evening classes or day release. Members who hold the CII Advanced Diploma in Insurance are eligible to apply for chartered status (subject to having five years' experience, not necessarily post-qualification) with the CII.
Once qualified, continuing professional development (CPD) is vital, given the frequent changes in both insurance regulations and new technology.
After gaining chartered status following successful completion of the CILA or CII examinations, there are several possible routes to career development, including technical specialisation and management.
As even larger firms of loss adjusters are still relatively small organisations, it is usually necessary to adopt a proactive approach to furthering your career and you may need to move employers in order to progress.
Within larger firms, there will be teams handling most types of claims as well as a management route to follow. These firms take instructions from a wide range of insurers as well as reinsurers and Lloyd's.
Typically, the first step is to become leader of a team handling particular categories of claim, such as fraud or subsidence. Some firms have several offices across the country, giving additional opportunities to move into branch management. The work could then include:
- human resource management;
- financial planning and monitoring;
- strategic planning;
It is possible to specialise in a particular area of loss adjusting such as accident investigation, property or fraud instead of prioritising management responsibilities.
Some smaller firms regularly hire loss adjusters on a case-by-case basis, so there are opportunities for those with experience and a good track record to work freelance. It is 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. This is particularly the case when working on behalf of large insurers or reinsurers, whose own clients are global businesses.
Financial loss adjusting gives particularly good scope for overseas assignments when investigating claims. Some of the larger UK-based firms of loss adjusters have overseas offices.