What is a Catastrophe Adjuster?
(and How to Become One)

A catastrophe adjuster is an insurance professional who visits and assesses areas affected by natural disasters. Becoming a catastrophe adjuster can be complex, with certifications varying by state. If you're considering finding a career in this industry, it's important to learn about the benefits, which include helping those affected by tragedy and earning a high salary.

What Does a Catastrophe Adjuster Do?

A catastrophe adjuster specializes in assessing property damage from natural disasters and catastrophes. These include hurricanes, wildfires, hailstorms, tornadoes, tsunamis, and earthquakes. Insurance companies hire catastrophe adjusters or independent contractors to evaluate their customers' property damage and resolve claims quickly.

The assessment process involves determining the extent of the damage and its cause. Catastrophe adjusters then compare the damage to the customer's insurance policy to make sure the policy covers it.

Once certified as an adjuster, you can pursue a variety of careers within the catastrophe insurance field. For example, you might work as a field adjuster, who visits sites to assess damage. You can also work at the desk to assess a client's needs and send someone else out to the claim site. Certified catastrophe adjusters can have full-time positions with a company or work contractually during peak natural disaster seasons. This field includes opportunities for a variety of work environments, salary ranges and workplace benefits.

How to Become a Catastrophe Adjuster

The process of becoming a catastrophe adjuster varies by state. The first step is to get your adjuster license. Then you might receive training in the insurance adjusting field. After completing these steps, you can look for the job that suits you best. Here's the common path to becoming a catastrophe adjuster:

Get Licensed
Most states have their own licensing processes, with some accepting qualified licensees from other states. Check with your state insurance department for licensing details. Other states do not require a license to operate as an adjuster, but a license can be helpful when looking for jobs in the field. If you're in a non-licensing state, you can find a state with a nonresident DHS (designated home state) licensing process. These are available from several states, with Texas and Florida being the most popular because of their reciprocity deals and low costs.
Receive Adjuster Training
Unless you have prior experience as an insurance adjuster, you might want to pursue training or further education in insurance adjusting before applying for jobs.  Training in understanding insurance policies, estimating software like Xactimate and Symbility, estimate writing, and customer service are highly recommended. Various online courses, in-person and IA-sponsored trainings can help hopeful catastrophe adjusters prepare to work in the field or at the desk.
Choose a Career in the Field or at the Desk
The last step to becoming a catastrophe adjuster is choosing a career in the field or desk, applying, and getting hired. Regardless of your preference, you have many options when looking for work in catastrophe adjusting. But remember, as a catastrophe adjuster, you will be working as an independent contractor. You will need to pursue work from IA firms, and not wait for someone to call. There are many people looking to enter the industry, and you need to make yourself stand out with training and aggressively pursuing your new career.

Reasons to Become a Catastrophe Adjuster

Here are four reasons to become a catastrophe adjuster:

Job Satisfaction
People living in the aftermath of a natural disaster need rapid financial and personal relief. Catastrophe adjusters work to provide that relief by arriving on site soon after the disaster occurs, assessing the damage and closing claims as quickly as possible. Catastrophe adjusters have the rewarding job of getting disaster victims the help they need.
Variety of Work Environments
A licensed catastrophe adjuster can pursue careers in a variety of work environments. They also have the flexibility to change career paths. Opportunities as a catastrophe adjuster exist in property, auto and flood . An adjuster might want to take a desk job after years of working in the field, which is readily available to tenured employees.
Easy Access
Catastrophe adjusting is a relatively easy field to enter compared to other fields. It doesn't require a college degree or years of work experience to find a job. While a degree and work experience can help you find catastrophe adjuster jobs, the basic requirements are being over 18 years of age and able to work in the United States.
Unlike many insurance careers, catastrophe adjusting gives those working in the field the ability to travel around the United States. Natural disasters can occur in every state. The opportunity to work around the country holds great appeal for many people. These trips often require the adjuster to stay for extended periods beyond a day or weekend, allowing them to experience new regions, cultures, and cuisines.


Careers in the Field of Catastrophe Insurance 

Here are four careers available as a catastrophe adjuster.

Catastrophe Claim Desk Adjuster
Catastrophe claim desk adjusters, also called inside claims adjusters, work in insurance company offices to examine and finalize claims. They receive information from field adjusters, verify the findings and complete claim payments. This administrative position requires knowledge of computer programs and the ability to communicate clearly and professionally with employees in and out of the office.
Field Catastrophe Adjuster
A field catastrophe adjuster travels to natural disaster sites to assess the damage to a customer's property. This job involves travel, taking photographs, meeting with and interviewing claimants, collecting data and examining a claimant's policy. Using this information, field adjusters work with other professionals within the insurance company to resolve claims.
Commercial Property Catastrophe Adjuster
A commercial property catastrophe adjuster works with large companies that insure commercial rather than residential properties. They perform many of the same duties as normal catastrophe adjusters, such as assessing damage, meeting with claimants, and ensuring a disaster caused the damage. Commercial adjusters work on large accounts with high insurance policies. For this reason, employers hold these adjusters to high standards.
Catastrophe Claims Field Adjuster
An independent claims adjuster gets hired by an insurance company temporarily. They might service a single catastrophe insurance claim or an entire region after a natural disaster affects multiple insurance customers. These adjusters often work seasonally, such as in California during the summer wildfire season.

Regardless of what path you choose to follow, becoming a catastrophe adjuster is a challenging and rewarding career.  When you make your decision to become a catastrophe adjuster, NACA is here to help you by providing resources, education and training and connections with others in the field.  Join NACA today to get started!