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Claims Adjuster

6 Types of Residential Property Claims Handled by Independent Adjusters

types_of_claims_blogMany independent adjusters are prepared to tackle more than one type of claim. Why? Here are a couple of reasons: Being able to manage different categories of claims makes work more interesting and rewarding. It also can increase an adjuster’s earning potential by opening up more opportunities to get hired.

So, let’s take a look at six common types of homeowner claims handled by independent adjusters.

1. Catastrophe Claims

Independent adjusters often are the first individuals to respond to insurance customers whose homes have suffered from a natural disaster. In fact, independent adjusting (IA) firms rely heavily on them when claims jump up due to a catastrophic weather event – such as a tornado, hurricane, earthquake, flood or wildfire. This ensures that homeowners are not waiting weeks or months for a claim review to get the financial help they need.

Adjusters who specialize in catastrophe disaster claims are nicknamed “CAT adjusters.” The ones who are in high demand have an opportunity to earn a six-figure income within just a few months.

What the assignment involves: willingness to deploy quickly; travel to disaster sites away from home; long hours assessing and reporting on damage; calming distraught homeowners; coordinating with emergency responders and construction contractors; coping with inclement weather; and perhaps dealing with road, utility and communication infrastructures that are damaged or restricted.

READ MORE: Mother Nature’s Wrath: How to Be Prepared to Handle Increases in Job Assignments

2. Wind and Hail Claims

According to the Insurance Information Institute, wind and hail accounted for more residential property damage in recent years than any other cause. In 2020 alone, wind and hail were attributed to a whopping 45.5% of homeowner insurance losses! That’s because wind and hail occur throughout the United States and are difficult to prevent. Therefore, claims caused by these types of weather situations can be a great source of income for independent adjusters. That why this phrase is common in the claims adjusting industry: “Hail pays the bills, while hurricanes buy the toys!” Undoubtedly, cash flow must be a priority when an adjuster is working independently.

Another advantage to wind and hail claims: Damage caused by these weather-related conditions is usually much less severe than damage reported in most CAT claims. That means job sites and surrounding conditions are usually more tolerable. Plus, homeowners may appear calmer and less overwhelmed.

What the assignment involves: being away from home and working long hours to address multiple claims in a single locale… but usually with less urgency than what is typically experienced with catastrophe claims.

3. Fire and Lightning Claims

These account for roughly one quarter of home insurance claims – and are, by far, the most costly home insurance claims. The average claim for fire and lightning damage is $77,340. Damages can be deemed as either a partial loss or a total loss. Plus, a fire usually makes a home temporarily uninhabitable until reconstruction and restoration can be completed. That means the home’s inhabitants must move out and live somewhere else temporarily. This falls under ‘loss of use’ coverage and can be another major expense.

What the assignment involves: inspecting, documenting and reporting on fire/smoke damage affecting a home’s structure, contents and safety.

READ MORE: Fire Damage: How to Properly Assess a Residential Property

4. Water Damage Claims

Accidental water damage can result from rain, snowmelt, water main breaks, or indoor plumbing failures, such as a leaky pipe or a backed-up drain. Mold damage, a related problem, can wreak havoc as well and requires safe, professional mitigation measures to prevent the spreading of dangerous mold spores.

Most homeowners’ coverage does not include flood insurance. But some insurance customers may have purchased a separate flood insurance policy to keep their homes protected.

What the assignment involves: inspecting and reporting on all water damage within a home, including signs of mold.

READ MORE: 7 Reasons to Create a Digital Floor Plan Sketch During Water Damage Assessment

5. Cleanup Claims

These types of job assignments can be classified as second-time-around claims. More specifically, a cleanup claim will surface out of an insured’s dissatisfaction with the outcome of a previous claim adjustment. This means a second home insurance adjuster is typically assigned to the case to help arrive at a resolution.

What the assignment involves: becoming familiar with the initial claim’s specifics and settlement; visiting and investigating the claim site; being extra meticulously and observant to spot previously overlooked damages; reporting on findings in a clear, thorough and detailed manner.

6. Daily Claims

Independent adjusters are responsible for handling a good amount of local or ‘daily’ claims that happen around the country. These are common claims that stem from everyday living and are usually smaller in scale. Causes vary, but include accidental mishaps such as broken windows.

Daily claims are typically less impactful than other types of claims, require little travel, and can provide a source of steady income for independent adjusters. These types of claims usually pay less than the larger claims listed above, but are faster and easier to process. Some independent adjusters even specialize in handling daily claims, avoiding other types of claims altogether.

What the assignment involves: being ready and willing to act at a moment’s notice; knowing how to collect a homeowners’ testimony and how to document physical evidence with photos and floor plan sketches (the same basic steps required for other types of claims).

A Time-Saving Tool for Handling Property Insurance Claims

Time is money, right? That’s why every independent adjuster can benefit from using a mobile floor plan app. It’s a digital drawing tool that allows floor plans to be created quickly, and then used to generate reports in record time.

A good-quality floor plan app will combine a high degree of augmented-reality automation with easy-to-use features to make the room-mapping process remarkably faster. By harnessing the power of this advanced and intuitive technology, independent adjusters can boost their productivity significantly. And that frees up more time to take on more claims.


If you are just starting a career as an independent adjuster, you can gain a lot by learning how to handle different types of insurance claims. The better you are at handling multiple claims, the more likely you are to boost your reputation, win more jobs and elevate your income!


Continue reading our guide on how to land work as an independent adjuster.

Or find out how to become an independent adjuster.