What does a Catastrophe Adjuster do?

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A catastrophe adjuster, also known as an insurance adjuster, is responsible for inspecting property damages following a man made or natural disaster. His or her job is to establish a fair and fast claims settlement with an insurance policy holder. This is done through direct, physical inspection of the damaged property.

A catastrophe adjuster might be called in regarding tornado damage.
A catastrophe adjuster might be called in regarding tornado damage.

Catastrophe adjuster jobs are continually growing. Insured property damages following an earthquake, tornado, fire, flood, or other disaster all require an assessment by a claims adjuster. Many opportunities exist in this field. Some of these include public catastrophe claims adjuster positions, independent catastrophe insurance adjuster jobs, and staff adjusters within private businesses.

A claims adjuster must assess property damage following a catastrophic flood.
A claims adjuster must assess property damage following a catastrophic flood.

Claims adjusters who specialize in catastrophes should be prepared to perform a variety of physical tasks. These may include climbing ladders, inspecting unsafe or hazardous materials, and working in unstable conditions, such as in homes that have burned or floods. A catastrophe adjuster should strive to maintain an optimal physical fitness level in order to carry out these tasks well.

Several tools may be used by the average catastrophe adjuster. A laptop computer is generally needed in order to access and transmit information quickly while at the site of a catastrophe. Other tools might include a calculator, ladder, specialized software, and measuring tape, along with any necessary paperwork, and a vehicle.

Various backgrounds can come in handy for this job. Many catastrophe adjusters have worked in contracting, construction, or home inspections. Some may have done work in home appraisals as well. Without these backgrounds, additional catastrophe adjuster training may be required prior to working in the field. Adjusters require a strong foundation in the components of building structure and design.

Skills needed in a catastrophe adjuster position include a proficiency in mathematics, interpersonal communication skills, technical knowledge, and computer skills. Most adjusters travel frequently as well. Those who do not wish to travel may be able to work as staff adjusters for less pay.

An education program for a catastrophe adjuster includes a high school diploma and course work in insurance adjusting. These courses may completed at a university or within a company's training program, which is usually completed within two weeks. These courses typically cost the student money rather than the company. Online courses are available. A specialized license will also be required per individual state laws.

Like many business people, catastrophe adjusters should maintain a professional wardrobe. A polo or button up shirt coupled with khaki trousers usually works for this purpose. Several professional societies, organizations, and clubs are available for interested adjusters who wish to join.

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, Sara has a Master’s Degree in English, which she puts to use writing for wiseGEEK and several magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She has published her own novella, and has other literary projects currently in progress. Sara’s varied interests have also led her to teach children in Spain, tutor college students, run CPR and first aid classes, and organize student retreats.

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Discussion Comments


I have been a loss adjustor for seven years now. I live in Louisiana, so perform the bulk of out-of-office work during hurricane season. I also regularly travel to Florida, Texas and Mississippi after major hurricanes or thunderstorms.

I love my job, but it is not for everyone. I sometimes go for months working at my desk, and then get called away unexpectedly to work for weeks on end at remote locations. I have to stay in hotels and be away from my wife and three kids the whole time.

However, my paychecks double or triple when I am away. Because of the extra money, my wife and I have been able to pay off all of our credit cards and both of our vehicles. We are now working on paying off our house within the next 7 years, remaining debt free, and retiring within the next 15 years. We are both in our early thirties, so we will retire early enough to really enjoy our lives and not be slaves to the daily grind until our golden years.

For me, the work is enjoyable, the pay is great, and the delayed gratification that the position lends me is priceless. Hope this helps you make the right decision. Good luck.


I am seriously considering becoming a catastrophe adjuster for a very old, well-established insurance company. I have been on two interviews for the position. My third interview, which I believe is just a formality, is coming up next week.

While I am well aware of the extensive travel required for the position, I think that the job sounds exciting and the pay is top-notch. However, I do not know anyone who works in this field. So, I am wondering if I am making the right decision for myself and not just blinded by the dollar sign potential of this position.

Can anyone honestly tell me what being a professional catastrophe adjuster is really like, and if the quality of life is comparable to the level of pay and benefits that are usually indicative of this position?

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