What do parents who've spent the last 20 years at home raising five children have in common with students who've just graduated from college with English degrees? They all have the skills needed to work as insurance claims examiners, once they've completed the right courses.
Like parents, good claims examiners have a knack for managing time, says David Blakesley, curriculum director at the Insurance Educational Association (IEA), one of the largest instructor-led insurance training organizations in the United States. "The clock ticks when you receive [an insurance] report," he says. "That sense of time management and get-it-done-now attitude really show up in people who have raised families and want to get back into the workforce." English majors who have the ability to comprehend and write about complex issues also make good claims examiners. But plenty of students also come into IEA's training programs with business backgrounds, he says.
Could It Be for You?
Why would anyone want to work as a claims examiner? Perhaps because good pay and flexible hours can be quite attractive. Jessie Wiser, a recruiter and placement counselor, places workers' compensation insurance examiners with one or two years of experience in jobs in California paying $24 to $26 an hour. For those with three years of experience, the rate rises to $30 to $39 an hour.
While most insurance companies won't hire applicants off the street without experience, you can always work as a clerk or customer service representative and move into an assistant examiner position as you complete the required coursework. While you're working during the day, you can study at night to complete a certification program.
"After you get assistant experience, the company may open a training class and hire examiners from within," Wiser says. For instance, after you complete the first three workers' comp courses, you'll have a good base to land a job as an assistant and start working on claims files with supervision.
Name Your Work Status
Once you've been working in the insurance claims examining field for a few years, you can name your hours by switching to contract work. "The temporary folks are there, because they want to be temps and like the freedom of working six weeks and then taking six weeks off," Wiser says. "Ninety-nine percent of the time, they don't want permanent positions." And chances are that when they get back from their six-week trips to Egypt and the like, a job will be open. Wiser, who places temps in workers' comp every week, finds positions are consistently open in the field.
The Road to Success
What type of personality traits do you need to thrive in this field? Flexibility, an easygoing attitude and a willingness to accept direction, Wiser says. Armed with a happy outlook and a solid knowledge of the insurance laws of your state, you're sure to succeed as a claims examiner.