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Tens of billions of dollars are lost each year due to people and businesses who purposefully deceive insurance companies. Insurance fraud investigators play a key role in catching people who submit false information about fires, automobile accidents, and workers' compensation, among many other schemes. To become an insurance fraud investigator, you must usually obtain a college degree and devote years to gaining experience and learning the trade at an insurance company.
Insurance fraud investigators need to be honest, detail-oriented, and quick thinking. Prospective investigators typically cannot have anything suspicious in their background or criminal record, and they must be willing to submit to extensive background checks. Many employers prefer to hire investigators with extensive experience in law enforcement and certain insurance jobs, such as claims adjustment and appraising. Employers often look for people who have a detailed understanding of both the legal system and the insurance business.
There are several educational paths that someone might take to become an insurance fraud investigator. Most often, future investigators receive bachelor's degrees in criminal justice, though some companies feel that an associate degree is sufficient for employment. In addition to traditional universities, colleges, and community colleges, there are many accredited online programs that offer both bachelor's and associate degrees in this field.
You'll usually be required to get licensed in a specific country or state in order to work as an insurance fraud investigator. Licensing procedures vary by location, though they usually involve the successful completion of a standard licensing exam. Although not a requirement, many hopeful investigators obtain certification from a respected organization, such as the International Association of Special Investigation Units, to help them stand out from the crowd. Investigators who wish to obtain certification usually pay a fee to take a certification exam.
As the number and severity of fraudulent insurance claims continues to rise, the need for skilled investigators is increasing. Competition for insurance investigator jobs can be fierce, however, because of the sheer number of qualified individuals in the job market. Even with a strong educational background, you may be need to take on a less significant role in an insurance company before advancing to the rank of investigator. You must demonstrate a strong knowledge of operations, organizational skills, and a willingness to succeed in order to become an insurance fraud investigator. With enough patience and experience, insurance investigators often go on to manage entire investigations departments or even open their own private firms.