Auto Appraiser Career Facts

An auto appraiser is an assessor of damages for vehicles. This is a fundamental role in auto insurance, and is one of the more demanding customer service jobs in the auto industry. Auto appraisers are basically case managers, dealing with claims by customers of auto insurance companies. Their work involves making an estimate of costs of repairs to vehicles. Auto appraisers provide quotes to insurance companies on the basis of giving unbiased quotes, as distinct from the estimates by auto repair firms, which may be inflated.

The Job

The work involves direct inspection of vehicles, documenting the damage, and using a standardized basis of calculation of costs. Most auto appraisers can deal with customers on site, with downloadable forms and other materials for customers. In many cases the appraiser will also take photos of damage, to support the appraisal, which are then uploaded to the insurer.

Supporting software is used to calculate the costs of damage on a check list basis where costs are assigned to particular forms of damage. This is a useful and fair way of evaluating costs on a standardized methodology, rather than a case-specific method. This allows insurers to provide equal coverage to all customers on a clearly understood basis.  

In many cases the auto appraiser may be able to provide all information regarding a claim direct to the insurance company while on site. The insurer factors in the appraisal with policy details, and can then provide the customer with a settlement quote. This is a quick, effective service to customers, reducing administration issues for settlement and allowing the insurance company to streamline procedures and give better turnaround times for processing claims.

Another Aspect of the Job

Auto appraisers are also investigators in a way. The appraiser work includes checking the prima facie authenticity of claims, which may lead to investigation of possible fraud, if the causes of damage are considered suspicious. Insurance fraud, particularly in auto insurance, is a major cost to insurers, who pass on their losses to consumers in the form of higher premiums. The appraiser may include information regarding details of suspect claims while uploading a report to the insurer. This information is then passed on for investigation.

Wages and Hours

Appraisers may have significant workloads, and long hours based on those workloads. Auto appraisal is usually conducted at least once on every car on the road, at some point in its existence. Appraisers usually work in local areas, which mitigates the effects of the high volumes to some extent. Insurers may require appraisers to do remote area work in some states.

The pay for most appraisers is $40,000 to $65,000 per year. The pay structure will vary depending on experience and nature of package.

Career Outlook

Career progression for auto appraisers involves hierarchical progression in insurance companies through qualifications, experience and performance. Auto appraisers have considerable job mobility and can find work across the auto insurance industry easily, due to ongoing demand.