The New York Adjuster License

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You know, I love New York City.

There's energy, there's famous people walking around, there's ALWAYS something going on at any hour of the night or day.  It's an iconic city.  It's one of the most famous cities in the world.  When people from other countries plan a vacation to the US, they don't go to Omaha, Nebraska.  They go to New York.  Aside from their sad taste in pizza, New Yorkers are in a class by themselves.

But I don't wanna work there.

So Eric asks, Matt, what’s your take on the value of NY license? 


Wondering where the most storm damage occurs? Start getting your licenses in the places you’re most likely to work NOW.

I see this question asked on social media all the time and I get emails about it quite often.

Let's talk about the NY License.

Why do people say that the NY adjuster license is a Golden Ticket license?

Here's why:

New York is a pretty big state.  It's the fourth most populous state in the US with around 20,000,000 people living there.

What does that mean? 

It means that there are a LOT of insurance policies there.  A lot of vehicles, a lot of houses, and a lot of businesses and commercial structures.

New York is also in the top ten most expensive places to live.  Why do we care about that?  Because property replacement and repair are going to be more expensive there and so - a benefit to us - fee bills can be higher in NY for the same claim that you have in Des Moines, IA.

Those are face-value reasons to having a NY adjuster license.  

But the reason behind that reason is actually a little different:

The reason why IA firms will really push hard on you getting the NY adjuster license is because their carrier clients want them to be able to help them staff a big event if it hits new york.  And new york gets hurricanes.  

The problem is that the NY license is pretty challenging to get.  They used to have a temporary emergency license - and that's how I always worked there - but it's been reported to me that this is no longer available.

So I'm just going to say this:  I don't have a NY license nor am I going to get one.

Why would I say this when so much potential money can be made in NY on a big event?

It's my choice and I'm not telling you that I don't think YOU should get a NY license, not at all.

But here are the reasons why I don't like working in NY:

  1. Cat events aren't that typical there.  Maybe once every 2-3 years, maybe 4 years, there's a big winter storm or every 8-12 years there's a hurricane.  Those are the only times I've worked NY.  Yes, you can argue that plenty of adjusters work every year in NY on cat, but that's a relatively small group.  AND more importantly for me, Texas, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri are going to ALWAYS keep me busy during storm season.

  2. New York is expensive.  Sure, the fee bill might be a bit higher.  But an Extended Stay hotel in Long Island in 2002 was $900 a week where even in Chicago suburbs, the same hotel was $290 a week.  That adds up.  Food is more expensive, fuel is definitely more expensive, and every road is a toll road.... The Big Apple is the apple that bites you back.

  3. New Yorkers are a feisty bunch.  You can give them everything under the sun on their claim and they'll still yell at you and say unkind things about your mother.  Many New Yorkers will assume that you're trying to rip them off no matter what you say.  It can be an uphill battle on a lot of claims that - in any other part of the country - would be smooth as silk.  I love em.  I love their passion.  If I was going to be negotiating with an adjuster, I'd want a New Yorker there to keep them honest, I truly would.

Let's look at it this way:  In adjusting as in many things in life, we can apply the 80/20 rule.

If I get 80% of my income from 20% of states in the US, I'm going to focus on those states.  So I KNOW that the region between Colorado and Ohio and Canada and Mexico - that box - is going to keep me busy every summer without fail.  That's where I'm going to concentrate my efforts.  That's where I'm going to get and maintain my licenses.  I'm going to be on the rosters of the IA firms that have a big presence in those areas.

I'm not getting a Hawaii license.  Or an Alaska license (even though both of those places would be super cool places to work).

I'm going to focus my energy where it's most profitable to me and - frankly - forget the rest.  It's a strategy that's worked for me for my entire career.

But that's for CAT.

If you're a daily adjuster and you want to travel and do daily OR you're doing ANY kind of desk work, you're going to want to get a NY license without a doubt.  

I went to CA several years ago to work mudslide claims and ended up staying there for MONTHS doing slab leaks - which are DAILY claims.

Now, I don't want IA firms to think that I'm trying to dissuade you from getting a NY license.  You have to understand that if there's another Sandy or Floyd in NY, they will need licensed adjusters.  There's no way around it.  They need to have people licensed in NY. 

I choose not to bother with NY.  


My advice to you is to YES, get a NY license.  BUT..  get these FIVE or SIX licenses FIRST:

  1. Your home state license

  2. Indiana

  3. Texas

  4. Oklahoma

  5. Minnesota

  6. Florida

If your home state doesn't have a licensing requirement for adjusters, get an Indiana license first.  It's just easier.

Those licenses are going to cover you for most of the most common claims you'll handle as a cat adjuster - midwest wind/hail.

The places your IA firms will send you the most often will be someplace inside of that box - Colorado to Ohio and Canada to Mexico.

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That's where you LIVE as a cat adjuster.  

THEN, start picking up south Atlantic coastal states.  THEN go after your New York license.

But don't spend a lot of time waiting around to get a NY license FIRST because you can miss a great hail storm in Texas or Minnesota that can keep you busy all summer.  

You don't want to miss the bread and butter stuff that cat adjusters live off of just so you can say that you have a NY license that you MIGHT use once every 3 or 4 years.  

Go for the stuff that's going to keep you busy out of the gate FIRST and then pick up the extra licenses once you've got what you need to get you out the door NOW, instead of "just in case."

Question of the Day

If you're an experienced cat adjuster have you worked outside of that Colorado to Ohio and Canada to Mexico box (plus Florida) and if so, where and how long were you there?

Mathew Allen

I teach new catastrophe adjusters how to get started in the business.  I also build my own websites and sites for friends (who sometimes pay me).  In addition, I film and produce personal adventure videos for hunting and fishing clients.