Aspen Claims Service

Seven Adjuster Career Killers (and how to avoid them!)

 Tuesday, January 17, 2023   Gene Strother   Adjust U

You want to succeed in life. You want a killer career.

First, you need to identify and avoid those career killers!

After consulting with the senior leadership team at Mid-America Catastrophe Services – a team that represents a combined 192 years of experience in the claims adjusting business – I compiled the seven deadliest sins adjusters commit. These are career-killers. They can be avoided through proper training, guidance, and care.

#1 – Not getting properly trained
Can you succeed in life without a postgraduate degree? Yes! What about an undergraduate degree? Yep. How about without so much as a high school degree? That, too.

So, does education not matter? Of course, it matters! The more you know, the better situated you are for success! You would never encourage your children to ignore education. You want them to be as informed as possible. You want them to get that degree.

Why???

Because you want them to succeed.

Where you get your education and how you are educated really matters. At Adjust U, we take educating adjusters seriously for three big reasons:

  1. We have a mantra to uphold. Our core value is this: We deliver Faith and Trust. You cannot make a bold statement like that and then practice half-measures. If we are going to educate you, we intend to earn your trust and give you value for your time and money.
  2. We have a reputation to protect. Our parent company, Mid-America, has been in business since 1980. We have spent more than 40 years building a reputation as a company that employees and works with the best quality people and delivers a consistent, top-quality product.
  3. We have a roster to build. Adjust U is not primarily about revenue. We are a resource to continually replenish and enhance the Mid-America roster of independent field and desk adjusters.

#2 – Poor time management

"Time is money." - Benjamin Franklin


Time is money…especially in the business world. When an employee accepts a salary or hourly wage job, they are agreeing that their time is worth X dollars per hour.

In catastrophe adjusting, field adjusters more often than not work on a fee schedule that is graded by the size of the claim. Let’s say two adjusters each work a claim that has a $1,200 fee bill. One of them inspects the claim, records the necessary documentation, and closes the claim the same day. The other takes three days to do this. How does that work out mathematically for each? Did they make the same money? No! It is way better to make $1000 a day than it is to make $1000 every three days.

At Adjust U, we teach time management especially aimed at the life and work of an adjuster.

#3 – Poor financial planning
There is a start-up cost involved in adjusting. You are an independent contractor, which means you are in business for yourself and that is a great feeling! Being in business means there will be upfront costs and the necessity to remain solvent while you build your business. Plan ahead. Make sure you have the capital necessary for travel, housing, food, equipment, and the expenses of maintaining your home life while on the road.

Whether you are a desk adjuster on a day rate – I currently have 20 in my Dallas office making in excess of $500 per day – or a field adjuster on a fee schedule, on a Catastrophe, you can earn a lot of money in a short time. Beware, though! You do not control the weather. None of us do. Plan for the in-between time. The one thing that drives more new adjusters out of the business than any other is the failure to budget for downtime.

At Adjust U, we address this with our students and offer advice and insights on how to do what we have done; which is, not only to survive but thrive in this business.

Succeed in business; succeed in life. Many of the principles for one apply to the other.

"Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now." - Alan Lakein, American author



#4 – Failing to get a license
On a major event, many new adjusters will work the storm under state-issued temporary licenses. Then, they go home and wait for the next event, only to find out that no emergency licenses were issued on the next one and they were out of luck.

This is a regulated business. Get your adjuster’s license. We can help you understand exactly which state licenses are vital to your success.

#5 – Failing to understand this is a people business
“Adjusting” is a funny word for a career, don’t you think? Yet there is no better word I know of to describe what we do. We adjust!

  • The first thing you have to adjust is yourself, your own mindset, expectations, and willingness to learn and grow.
  • Second, you must adjust the insured, the customer whose loss you are adjusting. That begins with knowing how to handle people who are under stress – how to empathize. We address this in our classes. It also includes knowing their policy, coverages, deductible, policy restrictions, exclusions, and limitations. We will teach you how to know and where to find everything you need to know on every claim you will ever encounter.
  • Third, you adjust the claim. To do this, you need to know the policy, as I just mentioned. You also need to have construction knowledge, and how to identify materials. Further, you will need to know how to efficiently write and estimate in the carrier’s estimating software of choice. In more than 90% of the cases, this means knowing Xactimate™ thoroughly and working in it efficiently. I recommend you get Level Two or even Level Three certified. We have an Affiliate Xactimate Level Three Trainer teaching our classes. We will help you master this vital software.
This is another key to succeeding in life, right? Life is a people business.

#6 – Failure to become efficient
That last bullet point in the previous topic above fits right here, as well. Efficiency will make or break you. It will keep you at the bottom where adjusting dreams languish and die or it will lift you to the top, in that rare air of “making money hand-over-fist.” The more efficiently you work claims, the more claims you will be given to work, the more complex claims you will be allowed to work, and the more storms you will be invited to work. See the word “work” three times there? It works!

Let us help you with that! Efficiency is one of the things our students master.

#7 – Poor Communication
An adjuster has many people with whom he or she communicates:

  • The insured
  • The insurance company’s rep(s)
  • The IA firm’s management/support team (Hey! That’s us!)
  • The file reviewer/Quality Assurance professional
  • Sometimes third-party interests like contractors, attorneys, or public adjusters

"Good communication does not fix everything; it prevents most things from needing to be fixed in the first place!" - Gene Strother


The best way to handle an insured or anyone connected with the claim is to be as proactive as possible. The better you communicate with them, the less you will receive communication from them. You do not work on an island, nor should you. Good communication does not fix everything; it prevents most things from needing to be fixed in the first place!

These are the most common pitfalls, the seven deadly sins of the adjuster. Avoid these to succeed. We can help you with that!

Want to ask me personally about any of this? Drop me an email here.

Let’s work together to make your dreams of being a top-earning adjuster a reality.
Gene Strother is Vice President of Adjust U and VP of Operations for its parent company Mid-America Catastrophe Services, where he is responsible for all facets of the operation, including best practices, company culture, client services, adjuster services, internal and external communications, personnel, and production. Gene has held as many as 29 state adjuster licenses, NFIP certifications, and the California Earthquake certification. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Liberty University. He can be reached at Gene.Strother@adjust-u.com or (833) 938-4545.
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