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  • Writer's pictureBrenda Heffner

Claim Adjusting 101: Understanding the Different Types and Their Roles

Navigating the world of claims and adjusters can be overwhelming, but understanding the differences between them and their roles is crucial. From staff adjusters to independent adjusters and public adjusters, each type serves a specific purpose in the claims process. Let's break it down and help you better understand this complex industry.

As a former staff large loss adjuster, previous independent adjuster and a current licensed public adjuster, I have seen firsthand the confusion that often arises when people try to understand the different types of insurance adjusters. In this blog post, I will explain the differences between staff insurance adjusters, independent adjusters, and public adjusters. Then we will dive even deeper into the different levels of the adjusters.

Staff Insurance Adjusters

Staff insurance adjusters are employees of insurance companies. They are trained and work solely for the insurance company that employs them. When a policyholder files a claim, the insurance company assigns a staff adjuster to investigate the claim and determine the amount of the payout.

"Cracking the Code: The Different Degrees of Staff Adjusters"

If you've ever filed an insurance claim, you may have heard the terms "desk adjuster" and "field adjuster." But did you know that there are different levels of staff adjusters within those categories?!

Oh yes my friends it gets even more complicated and in-depth. Stay with me on this. I'll explain it short and sweet. Promise!

At the entry-level, you have "trainee adjusters" who are just starting their careers in claims. They typically handle simple claims under the supervision of more experienced adjusters.

Moving up the ladder, but not by much you have "desk adjusters" who work primarily from their office and handle more complex claims that don't require an on-site inspection. These adjusters may have a few years of experience, but they are still considered entry-level.

We are getting there, almost finished.......

Next, "field adjusters", on the other hand, have several years of experience. They travel to the site of the loss and conduct inspections, gathering information to settle a claim. Field adjusters usually the most experience and knowledgeable of the staff adjusters. Because they have been around the block once or twice.

I know I know bad joke!

Finally, we have the "large loss adjusters", who usually have years of experience as a field adjuster then are at the top of the ladder in the staff adjusting world. They specialize in handling claims with significant losses. These adjusters are highly experienced and knowledgeable in handling large claims, such as commercial property losses, industrial accidents, or natural disasters.

However, staff adjusters are bound by the policies and procedures of their employers, which may not always be in the best interest of the policyholder meaning YOU.

Independent Adjusters

"Independent adjusters" are contractors who work on a freelance basis. They are hired by insurance companies to investigate and settle claims on their behalf. "Independent adjusters" may work for several insurance companies, and their job is to provide an "objective" assessment of the damages and the costs associated with the claim.

The advantage of working with an independent adjuster is that they are not always bound by the policies and procedures of any particular insurance company. They are supposed to provide an impartial assessment of the claim. However in my experience, even the independent adjusters are provided "claim handling guidelines" set by the insurance company who hired them. "And don't want to bite the hand that feeds them."

So even these freelancers' hands are tied, just not usually as tightly as the staff adjusters' are.
Not all insurance company adjusters are licensed.

Last, but definitely not least we have Public Adjusters

Public Adjusters

Public adjusters are professionals licensed through the department of insurance and are held to the highest of standards within the claim adjusting world. They work on behalf of policyholders to help them file and settle insurance claims. Unlike staff and independent adjusters, "public adjusters" work solely for the policyholder and have no affiliation with any insurance company.

The main advantage of working with a public adjuster is that they are exclusively focused on the interests of the policyholder. They work to ensure that the policyholder receives the maximum payout they are entitled to under their policy. Public adjusters are also experts in the claims process and can help policyholders navigate the often complex and confusing world of insurance claims.

In addition, "public adjusters" have access to a network of experts, including engineers, contractors, and other professionals, who can help them assess damages and determine the appropriate payout. Public adjusters also handle all the paperwork and negotiations with the insurance company, which can be a significant burden for policyholders who are already dealing with the stress and upheaval of a disaster or loss.


In summary, staff insurance adjusters work for insurance companies, independent adjusters work on a freelance basis, but also "don't bite the hands that feeds them" and still work for the insurance company, and public adjusters work exclusively on behalf of policy holders.

If you would like more information on the differences of claim adjusters or have any question regarding property claims feel free to contact my firm and I. Advise, claim reviews and general questions are always free and we are happy to help any way we can.


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