The Life of a Contracted 1099 Auto Damage Appraiser

Working as a 1099 contracted independent auto damage appraiser, can be thrilling and fulfilling but, let’s be realistic, it also has its disadvantages. It takes discipline to keep a schedule, balancing work life and personal life, obtaining a good client base and let’s not forget invoicing and paying taxes. Let’s look at what it takes, both good and bad, to be a contracted 1099 auto damage appraiser.

What it Takes

An independent auto damage appraiser needs to be disciplined, dedicated, and prepared to receive a fluctuating income. As an independent contractor, your discipline level needs to be high.

Most people hate the dreaded “B” word, budget, but knowing what income you have coming in, when it will be available, and what your family and business bills will amount to is crucial to ensuring that you don’t end up in a cash flow nightmare. Budget! It may sound stressful, but it’ll help you stay in control and eliminate stressful situations that will arise later.

Now as an appraiser you may not have to start at seven o’clock every day or clock in at nine, but you’ll need to stick to some type of schedule. It is a slippery slope transitioning from clocking into an office to having complete autonomy over your time. Don’t look up and wonder where your day has gone.

As an appraiser you work a lot and work hard to grow business. Don’t forget though to try and maintain a work life balance at home. That is where a schedule can really help set up boundaries for your career and family.

The Upside

As a contractor you will be able to work independently, and you won’t have to answer to a boss – you are the boss, but remember that when you don’t have a boss….. everyone becomes your boss.

A huge plus come tax time is that you can write off expenses related to your work, such as the mileage for driving to your claims, your office space in your home and office supplies needed to do your job. We recommend that most appraisers use a mileage tracking app like, MileIQ, to ensure you track every mile without having to worry about logging your mileage. It keeps track of your mileage automatically.

A great upside to being an auto damage appraiser, is that your income is only limited to how much work you can complete. Many appraisers continue to grow their business with new clients and some even add other team members. You truly do own your business and what services you offer and how large you grow is totally up to you!

The Downside

One big downside to being an auto damage appraiser is that there are no health benefits provided that are typical when you are a W-2 employee. Also, as a 1099 contractor you are required to pay quarterly taxes on your income, which many beginner appraisers are unaware of. This can lead to owing a large amount of taxes at the end of the year and being subject to penalties for not paying your estimated taxes.

Don’t forget about vacations, if you want to take a vacation you’ll have to really plan for it. You’ll either have contract someone to cover for you or take a risk and ask companies, like us at SCA Appraisals, to turn off your claims. The hard part is that SOMEONE must be doing those claims and if you are on a vacation you may return to being depended on less by your companies, but that’s part of that work-family balance mentioned earlier.

As an independent auto damage appraiser will need to know, or learn, how to invoice for your services. You’ll need a system to be sure to get the invoices out and the money rolling in.

There are may great invoicing and accounting programs that make invoicing and receipt tracking easy, such as QuickBooks, FreshBooks, and Zero for starters. These software’s cost under $20 a month and are well worth the investment. There are also some free options, like Wave, which is an app that you can check out for invoicing and keeping track of your receipts.

Another difficult aspect of being an independent contractor is finding more work. The thought of cold calling and receiving rejection from insurance companies can be frightening and challenging to some. You’ll either need to buckle down and do it, or consider the alternative, utilizing a company that handles client acquisition for you.

That’s where we come in. At SCA Appraisal we take away as many headaches as we can for you. Let us handle client acquisition so you can handle claims. Join us at SCA-Appraisal.com to experience having a full team supporting you as a contracted 1099 auto damage appraiser.

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