Insurance investigators research and verify claims to make sure no fraud or cheating is involved. They search records and databases, conduct personal interviews and inspect damaged vehicles, property and buildings. They also write reports of their findings and cooperate with other investigators and law enforcement professionals. Although investigator jobs often require only a high school diploma, many hiring managers prefer candidates with relevant work experience or education. Some investigators must be licensed.
Insurance companies usually require a high school education or the equivalent for insurance investigator jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Take speech classes or join the debate club in high school to develop the interviewing skills you will need as a future investigator. Take courses in English and writing to prepare for the report-writing component of an investigator's career.
Some insurance companies prefer to hire investigators with college degrees, although no degree is mandatory. The desired degree varies with the type of claims work. For example, an engineering degree is useful for investigating claims in factories, while an accounting degree equips you to investigate business fraud. A bachelor's degree in criminal justice is another path to the job of insurance investigator. A criminal justice program provides a legal background plus the necessary skills in research, investigation and critical thinking.
Experience and On-the-Job Training
Insurance companies often give hiring preference to applicants with relevant work experience, as police officers or private investigators, for example. Previous experience as an insurance claims adjuster or a firefighter can also help you get an investigator position. These jobs develop the interviewing and research skills needed for investigating claims for possible fraud. Insurance companies also provide on-the-job training for new insurance investigators. New hires usually begin work on simple cases under an experienced investigator before moving on to more difficult assignments.
Licensing requirements for investigators vary from state to state. In some states, an investigator working as an insurance company employee doesn't need a license. However, private investigators doing insurance company work as private contractors normally need licenses. In some states, the only requirements for a license are passing an ethics test and paying a fee. Other states require completion of an educational program or an examination on insurance investigating. Some states also require continuing education. In most states, you must pass a background check and be free of felony convictions.
Insurance fraud investigators can qualify for optional certification as Certified Fraud Investigator through the International Association of Special Investigation Units. To become certified, you need a minimum of a bachelor's degree plus relevant work experience. You also must agree to a code of ethics and pass an examination. Continuing education units are required to maintain your certification.