Insurance Jobs and Careers
Insurance is the process that enables businesses and individuals to reduce the financial impact of negative events that pose a risk.
It's one of the biggest industries, offering a wide range of careers with many highly structured recruitment and training programmes. It's possible to enter via specialist areas or through general management programmes.
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Professions include actuarial work, brokering, surveying, claims handling and investigation, underwriting and risk, investment and pensions' management. General management includes accountancy, marketing, management and personnel.
Why Might You Want a Job in Insurance?
As part of the financial industry, insurance is a fast moving sector that evolves rapidly as commerce, industry and society become more complex. It is increasingly necessary, as most people are aware, with organisations and individuals seeking to mitigate their risk in many areas of activity. Without insurance, many events wouldn't go ahead and services wouldn't be provided.
Insurance also provides financial protection in the event of an unforeseen event or disaster. Cover is provided against events such as floods and storms, or fire. Theft is another risk that homeowners, businesses and, indeed, anyone with valued possessions insures against. Individuals also insure their health, to protect against hefty medical bills or loss of income in the event of accident, illness or death.
The business of providing insurance is undertaken by teams of specialists working in collaboration. Professional roles include underwriting, risk management, broking and sales, training, marketing and administration, and more.
Insurance Jobs Sectors
The insurance marketplace can be divided into two. Although both are concerned with providing financial protection against events, there are some fundamental differences, particularly in terms of the type of customers and scale of protection provided.
The wholesale market works with very large risks - e.g. Lloyd's of London syndicates work with the London offices of some major insurance companies to insure against major disasters on an international level.
The retail market comprises the insurance services offered to the general population and organisations by well-known insurance companies. This can be health, motor, home or travel insurance, income protection, pensions and life cover.
Types of insurance
General insurance is the category most familiar to us. Insurance for individuals includes cover against damage to possessions, or injury and accidents happening during particular sports or while on holiday. This category also includes insurance for businesses, such as covering premises against fire or other unforeseen events.
Life assurance is offered to individuals to provide financial security for surviving family members if the insured person becomes critically ill or dies. It usually covers mortgage repayments. Pensions are also part of this category. Life assurance and pensions are usually only found in the retail insurance market.
The third category is reinsurance, which is when an insurance company takes out its own insurance against a risk it has already covered. This is usually within the wholesale marketplace.
Main Professional Jobs Roles in Insurance
As already mentioned, there are numerous career opportunities in the insurance sector. Here, we focus on some of the main professions.
Financial Adviser Jobs
Financial advisers or brokers work with clients, whether individuals, businesses or public organisations, to advise on the insurance products most suited to their needs and financial situations. They are usually employed by high street insurance companies, although there are also many independent financial advisers (IFAs) and brokers who have no allegiance. As well as insurance, they usually advise on other products such as mortgages and investments.
Advisers are paid on a commission basis for the products sold, although fee-based payment schemes are increasingly popular. Fee-only advisers arguably offer a more objective recommendation, being unmotivated by personal commissions. Fee-based advisers usually earn their living through part-commission, part-fees.
Either way, advisers need solid knowledge of risks and the insurance market in order to locate suitable policies. Working independently or with a small agency, advisers need to have a comprehensive knowledge of different products. In larger companies, advisers may work in specialist areas.
This work can be challenging, as it's sales based and there are inevitably going to be failures where sales don't materialise. This can be stressful, as your income is affected. Numeracy is obviously important for this work, but just as important is the ability to communicate and get along well with clients. If you are successful, adviser work can lead to other jobs in the insurance industry
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Insurance Account Manager Jobs
The insurance account manager is employed by an insurance company and is responsible for promoting sales of their insurance products by promoting them to agency brokers and independent financial advisers. Providing good information to brokers and IFAs in turn enables them to effectively sell the products to the end clients. In this way, the account managers develop sales of the products.
These managers usually have longer term relationships with their adviser or broker client base and drive the commercial success of their insurance products. As with any sales management role, they work to sales targets and their success is gauged on reaching these. Their work involves visiting brokers and IFA clients to introduce new products and update on existing ones. As part of their ongoing communications and support for clients, they provide advice about product suitability in individual cases.
Degrees or Higher National Diplomas (HNDs) are preferred by many employers, usually in business, economics, statistics or mathematics subjects. Entry to graduate training schemes usually require a 2.1 degree or higher. It's also possible to enter this role from a position lower in the structure, such as a junior position in the department, such as sales administration. Claims handlers can also move into this area.
Insurance Claims Inspector Jobs
The inspector is involved with the processing of claims from existing clients. Employed by a single insurance company that provides the products, their role is to assess claims that have been made, before authorising payments and settlement - or rejecting them. They also work to prevent fraudulent claims.
Degrees or Diplomas are preferred by many employers, usually in business, economics, statistics or mathematics subjects. Entry to graduate training schemes usually require a 2.1 degree or higher. Higher National Diplomas (HNDs) can be in a wider range of subjects, including legal studies and building construction or management (due to the nature of site visits). Junior employees in insurance can also work their way up through internal training programmes.
Insurance Risk Surveyor Jobs
Insurance risk surveyors are involved with the development of insurance policies for underwriters - usually general insurance companies. These are the companies who take on the actual financial risk involved in insurance cover. Also known as risk consultants, the surveyors calculate the financial risk involved in providing cover for fire and other destructive events to buildings, accidents and liability, burglary and theft. Their reports inform the terms and conditions offered in policies. Surveyors often specialise in one of these areas.
No degree is needed to enter this profession, as other experience still counts for a great deal - underwriting, health and safety, engineering or surveying in particular. This is due to the nature of evaluating risk on site. That said, more people entering this profession now do so as graduates of degree or Higher National Diplomas in subjects such as insurance, business studies, engineering or science.
Insurance Underwriter Jobs
Insurance underwriters are the professionals who decide if an application for a policy should be accepted or not. They work for the insurance companies. Their decision is based on the likelihood of a claim being made, which they derive from information about the proposer (applicant for the policy).
Underwriters usually specialise in one of the following: general insurance, life insurance/assurance, commercial insurance for businesses, or reinsurance. The application is usually sent to them by a broker or independent financial adviser, so that is who they are communicating with, besides their own employer.
Degrees are usually required for prospective underwriters, in any subject, but mathematics, economics and business subjects are clearly advantageous. Strong analytical skills, communications and decision making abilities are important. It's possible to progress to senior underwriting or other insurance management positions. Underwriters can also move sideways into other areas.
Loss Adjuster Jobs
When claims are large, complex or in dispute, insurance companies or policy holders may engage the services of loss adjusters. They are independent claims experts who resolve these cases in as short a time as possible, so all parties can continue with their business. This kind of work tends to be done by loss adjusting firms who have specialist teams.
In the case of a domestic fire, for instance, the loss adductor would visit the scene to meet the policy holder and evaluate the problem, while advising on how to progress with renovation. If a case were contested, such as in the case of a motor accident where the other party's insurers were contesting the claim, the loss adjuster would investigate the incident. A commercial claim might involve highly experienced loss adjusters in evaluation and quantifying the costs of business interruption and/or liability.
The fees for loss adjusting work are usually paid for by the insurance companies. They pay the adjusters to go on site to work through the complexities of the claim and establish the most expedient way to resolve the claim. Cases are growing increasingly complex due to technical innovations and the ability of loss adjusting companies to respond faster in a wider range of fields.
Loss adjusting is a wide and varied field, with plenty of opportunity to follow different routes. There are many specialisms, from domestic to corporate fraud, to become involved with. There is also the possibility of entering management, either at regional level or within a team. The profession has its own institute, the Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters, which you would need to join.
Actuaries spend their working time calculating the likelihood of events happening in the future, creating ways to reduce that possibility and to decrease the impact if they do occur. UK law specifies that every life insurance office should appoint at least one actuary to ensure sound financial management and strategising.
The information provided by actuaries is crucial to the creation of insurance policies and the setting of premium rates. This covers personal insurance, home and motor insurance, and commercial insurance policies for single projects. As well as advising on the companies' ability to pay out on claims, the actuaries work to ensure a good return on policyholders' invested monies.
Actuarial work is very skilled and requires a high level of training. Employers usually require a 2.1 degree or a First, preferably in a numerate subject such as maths, statistics, economics or a science. This is followed by a traineeship with an actuarial firm, with further studying with the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries.
Type of Person Suited to Insurance
While specialist skills are needed for some of the above insurance professions, there are certain attributes that employers wish to see. Skills that are important across the board include: a logical approach that combines analytical thinking and problem solving, communication and interpersonal skills, Numeracy, negotiation skills, and an awareness of good customer service. A good understanding of risk is always required.
With so many specialisms and so few dedicated educational courses, a business, mathematics or economics degree or Higher National Diploma is going to be sufficient qualification for entry onto one of the various graduate training programmes. In positions where more technical knowledge is also needed, employers will often provide in-house or external training for the right candidates. Insurers are well represented at university careers fairs and similar events.
A willingness to continue learning is vital, as most employers expect continued training towards professional qualifications. These are important in an industry which is very highly regulated.
Insurance Jobs Sites
- Insurance Jobs has around 1000 jobs. www.insurancejobs.co.uk
- Search by category and city at Online Insurance Jobs at www.onlineinsurancejobs.co.uk
- Browse for Insurance jobs at www.insurancetimesjobs.co.uk/
Additionally, a search for insurance careers' information will yield insurance company websites with careers pages, giving details of their own recruitment schemes.
For more information about insurance careers, see
- The Chartered Insurance Institute at www.cii.co.uk and its linked website, Discover Risk at www.discoverrisk.co.uk for case studies, market data, etc.
- The Association of British Insurers at www.abi.org.uk
- The British Insurance Brokers' Association at www.biba.org.uk
- Lloyd's of London at www.lloyds.com