Public Adjuster vs. Independent Adjuster: Which Career to Choose?
If you’ve already decided that you want to become an adjuster, yet you find yourself struggling to decide which road to take, I’m here to – at least try to – help you determine which career path might be the best choice for you personally.
As you probably already know, there are three types of adjusters: public adjuster, independent adjuster and company adjuster.
Now, I personally don’t consider the last option to be an option in the first place. Reason is I personally am not a fan of working in an office inside of a cubicle.
That being said, being a company adjuster offers a great opportunity to familiarize yourself with the industry and “get your feet wet”.
Keep in mind that it is coming from a person who started off as a company adjuster.
With that being said, let’s break down these two types of adjusters and take a closer look at some of the pros and cons that both options are offering.
Independent adjusters are also known as field adjusters.
They are person’s licensed as all-lines adjusters who can either be self-appointed or employed by an independent adjusting firm or other independent adjusters.
As such, you can say that an independent adjuster basically acts as the eyes and ears of the insurance company.
Their role is to go out and inspect the damages, inspect the loss, put the estimate together and send it back to the company adjuster.
Pro #1 – Work consistency
No matter if you’re working for an independent firm or you have your own independent firm and you have contracts with insurance companies, as an independent adjuster, you can rely on work consistency.
Simply put, accidents and damages happen all the time, so you can expect to have insurance claims coming in virtually on a daily basis.
And, since you’re not the person who will be seeing the entire claim through, you can really take on as many claims as you feel comfortable with.
Con #1 – Can feel overwhelming
The majority of independent adjusters go through a minimum of three and a maximum of about six claims in a day.
And while this may sound quite appealing from the financial point of view, it can get quite overwhelming quite fast.
More often than not, independent adjusters find themselves working the weekends as well, since they’ve spent their entire work week driving to locations and assessing the damage.
So, if you’re looking to become an independent adjuster, make sure you balance your workload to avoid burnout.
Pro #2 – Consistent income
As an independent adjuster, you won’t be paid a fixed salary.
Instead, you’ll get paid based on all of your claims.
But since you’ll be getting constant work assigned to you, the income will also be consistent.
On a similar note, the majority of companies pay according to the loss inspected. The bigger the loss, the more time you’ll need to spend on putting together the claim.
Of course, the more time you spend on a claim, the greater the payout you can expect to get.
Con #2 – Limited income
However, even though the income will be consistent, and will depend on the amount of work you’re putting into it, your income will be limited.
Simply put, you can only handle so many claims in a day, and since you’ll get paid based on the number of claims you can successfully handle, that will instantly limit your potential profit.
Pro #3 – Catastrophe work
Another pro of being an independent adjuster is the possibility of catastrophe work.
Any time there’s a catastrophe anywhere in the county, the insurance company you’re working for may send you out to cover it.
Unlike public adjusters, it’s safe to say that independent adjusters are in a somewhat more favorable position here, as they’re not the ones covering all the expenses of the trip, nor do they need to be well connected with other related experts in the said area.
Con #3 – Advocate for insurance company, not the client
Even though as an independent adjuster you’re – technically speaking – independent, you’re still be working for an insurance company.
Now, some people don’t necessarily find this to be a con. In the end, it all depends on your moral approach to the entire thing.
Now, on the other hand, a public adjuster is someone who works exclusively for the client.
You advocate solely for the policyholder in appraising and negotiating a claimant’s insurance claim.
What this means is that a public adjuster is completely independent from the insurance company and is, instead, an advocate for the policyholder.
Con #1 – Finding the work on your own
As a public adjuster, you’ll be completely independent of any company or firm.
The only person you’ll be working for is the client that hires you.
Now, it’s important to understand what this means. More often than not, as a public adjuster, you’ll be the person in charge of finding work.
What this means is that you won’t be able to rely on a third party to find work for you or send work your way.
Unless of course you work for a firm that solicits and advertises and is capable of providing you leads.
While this may sound like a better option, the leads tend to be weak and/or you end up signing a lot of less than average claims you might have normally walked away from.
Pro #1 – Make your own schedule
Public adjusters have the freedom to make their own schedules.
Here, if you don’t already have well-developed time-managing skills, it’s definitely something you need to work on improving.
In order to be able to organize both doing your work and being able to find it in the first place, you’ll need to learn how to handle your time in the most efficient way.
What this also means is that, if you’re able to organize everything properly, you’ll actually be able to enjoy more free time than you otherwise would.
Con #2 – Inconsistent income
The next con is the fact that, as a public adjuster, you won’t have the luxury of having a consistent income.
Since you’ll usually be the only person both finding and doing the work, you simply won’t be able to assess how much work you’ll have upfront.
So, in order to secure healthy finances, you’ll also need to learn how to manage your money early on.
Therefore, to avoid finding yourself in a situation where you’re suddenly completely broke, you’ll need to find ways that will help you stay smart and savvy with your finances.
Pro #2 – Limitless income potential
On the other hand, as a public adjuster, you’ll be paid based on a percentage, which means you have the potential to make a lot of money with a single claim.
Unlike independent adjusters, the amount you manage to earn won’t directly depend on the number of claims you have.
Instead, the larger the claim is, the more money you can expect to make. Depending on the state, you can expect to get anywhere between 10-20% per claim, which is definitely a pretty decent sum.
Con #3 – Takes time to kick off
If you’re starting out as a public adjuster, you need to realize that – just like any other job – it will take some time before it takes off.
What this means is that you simply can’t expect to find work the moment you receive your license.
Instead, building your business should start even before you apply.
You’ll need to find contacts and put your name out there, in order to actually be able to get your venture off the ground.
Pro #3 – You can have another job
The fact that it will take some time for your public adjuster career to take off does mean you’ll also have plenty of time to devote to another job.
I personally started building my PA career, while I was working as a full-time tennis instructor. So, even though the beginning may be a bit slow, it will offer you plenty of time to focus on other ways you can secure an income until your career takes off.
With all of this said, remember that one of these career paths is not better than the other.
Your choice will mainly depend on the type of person you are and the things that bring you more comfort.
So, if you’re looking for job consistency and a secure income, an independent adjuster may be the right choice for you.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a perfect career that will enable you to finally become your own boss, becoming a public adjuster is the way to go.
It’s time to take full control of your claims. Of your business. Of your life.
A community can help you get there faster. It can offer support during these tough times. Inspiration. Guidance.
Together, we can get you to where you want to be.
What are you waiting for?