An inside look at a career in catastrophe claims

Supporting homeowners with compassion and empathy during hard times

4 min read

October 2021

Blue tarp covering roof with palm trees blowing in background

Property Catastrophe (CAT) Claims Adjuster Zara is new to Progressive, but she isn’t new to catastrophe claims. After spending the last 16 years as an independent adjuster inspecting property damages, Zara sought out a career at Progressive for a bit of normalcy. Zara has travelled across the continental U.S. inspecting property damage following man-made or natural disasters making sure that families and homeowners get the support they need during some of the hardest times in their lives. It’s a fast-paced job that requires compassion and empathy. I sat down with Zara to see what a career as a CAT field adjuster entails.

Tell me a little bit about your experience outside of Progressive

Prior to Progressive I spent 16 years as an independent adjuster. I worked for myself, taking my own assignments all over the U.S. focusing on large losses to property. The work often took me away from home for long periods of time.

What made you interested in working at Progressive?

I got a dog and wanted to return to a bit more normalcy from the independent adjuster world. There are times when you work for three or four months and sometimes you don’t work for three or four months. I haven’t been home in the summer since the beginning of my career.

You joined Progressive at a time when working from home became a norm. How did your onboarding go?

Onboarding went well. I had two weeks of training and two weeks of onboarding all done over the computer. I got the opportunity to learn about Progressive’s policies, the company culture, and the systems. I met with managers and role-played different scenarios I might encounter out in the field.

You chose a career in the Progressive Home department as a property CAT adjuster. Does this role require specific licensing? How long does it take to get licensed?

The most common license needed is a Texas all-lines adjusters license. This license works with many other states. There were times where I would need to obtain an emergency license to work in a state where the Texas license wasn’t reciprocal. Progressive is a company that pays for licensing fees and renewal fees if your role requires a license, and that’s a huge perk for adjusters.

What does a CAT adjuster do?

We adjust property claims on the catastrophe level, meaning customers affected by wildfires, hailstorms, tornadoes, and other weather-related events. Using discretion and independent judgment, we determine coverage and liability and run as many claims as we can as fast as we can in a 20-to-30 day span. We contact claimants once they report property damage and provide emergency services if needed. We set up appointments to survey damage. We check the exterior and interior damage of houses, taking pictures and writing up estimates of what it will take to fix those damages. We act as an emergency triage team for homes.

What kind of skills does a CAT adjuster need?

There should be a good understanding of what damage is and what isn’t. For instance, wind damage, versus, hail damage, versus vandalism. It’s important to be able to determine the type of damage. If you’re looking to get into this industry, get a mentor and ride along with them. You need to have good estimation skills as well as a good understanding of product identification, and damage identification. Great customer service skills are also important to have. You’ll need empathy and good listening skills. We must be able to explain why certain damage is or isn’t covered, so effective communication skills are important. We also have to be well organized to manage our time well. This job is ideal for someone who is comfortable using discretion and independent judgement and is flexible with their schedule and can be ready to travel at any time. CAT field adjusters are gone for extended periods of time and the work is very demanding when you are gone.

Is this a traditional 9-5 job?

This is not a 9-5 job. Workdays are 20 consecutive days and eight consecutive days off. There are no regular weekends. The schedule is not for everyone. You are away from home typically a month at a time. It depends on what state you’re in. This job is stressful due to the nature of the job—you’re helping people who are experiencing a significant hardship. As an adjuster you’re travelling around the country and living in a hotel for three weeks at a time.

What is some advice you’d give to someone wanting to get into your field of work?

I’d encourage them to get a license—you’ll learn a lot from that. It’s always great to get any certifications that you can for product identification. Also, brush up on damage identification.

Learn more about the property claims adjuster role

Zara is a Senior Catastrophe Field Adjuster. She joined Progressive in March 2020 with 16 years of independent adjuster experience. She takes pride in being able to help Progressive customers in their time of need.

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