The insurance industry is a hugely varied one. From insurance broking to underwriting, read on to find out about the variety of roles available to you in this fascinating profession.
Brokers work independently to arrange deals between clients and insurers. They advise clients on the most appropriate policies for them.
Personal insurance brokers generally deal directly with individual clients or companies and arrange policies for home, motor, travel or pet insurance, while commercial insurance brokers deal with more high-value insurance for areas such as marine, aviation, energy and finance sectors.
Numerically-related or business degrees can be an advantage, but aren’t a requirement for entry to the profession. Training programmes vary considerably, with larger broking firms offering more opportunities for structured training programmes. These typically involve job rotations for experience of different areas of work, over a period of 18 months to two years.
There has been a growing emphasis in recent years on graduate-level recruitment and the development of graduate programmes that include CII professional qualifications. This provides a structured framework leading to Chartered Insurance Broker status. Many employers grant study time and provide help with tuition fees and the cost of learning materials.
Underwriters issue insurance policies – they decide which policies an insurance company should offer to potential clients and calculate the premiums (the amount charged for insurance coverage). In order to do this, underwriters obtain detailed information from prospective policy holders and assess the risks, likelihood and potential cost of a claim.
Graduate training schemes for underwriters typically last around two years and are often followed by another two or three years’ training in a specialist area of risk.
Degrees in business and management, mathematics, law or economics are an advantage, but it is possible to enter the profession from any discipline. Most training tends to be on the job, working alongside experienced colleagues and learning about different departments about accounting, claims and investment functions.
A claims manager receives, assesses and manages the claims made by policy holders on their insurance policy. They assess whether a claim is valid, whether it may be fraudulent, then organise any required action, such as payment being made to the claimant. Claims managers may get involved in loss adjusting.
Claims professionals can work directly for insurance companies, a dedicated claims management company or the claims team of an insurance broker. Some larger insurance companies include claims work as part of general graduate management training schemes. Graduate recruits usually undergo two years of intense on-the-job training. This is generally structured and supported by formal training courses, often in-house and is likely to be followed by a further 2-3 years’ experience in underwriting risk and negotiating claims.
Loss adjusters operate independently of insurance companies. Their aim is to mitigate loss and get businesses back up and running with the minimum amount of disruption. They look into the circumstances surrounding a claim – for example, establishing the cause of a fire – before negotiating a fair sum to replace the loss or repair the damage.
Having checked the authenticity of the claim and negotiated an acceptable amount, loss adjusters will report the facts to the insurers and make recommendations for interim and final payments. Although they cannot commit the insurers to payment, or determine the actual amount they paid, they are deemed to be fair and impartial. Most insurance companies maintain a panel of loss adjuster firms.
Some larger firms run structured training schemes to give you a broad-based introduction to the profession while smaller firms will hire on a case-by-case basis, often focusing on people with experience of the profession, particularly in claims management. Loss adjusters will expect you to spend your early months with the firm doing desk-based work, validating claims and liaising with insurance companies and policyholders. This is essential grounding – the mechanics of the profession and claims work will prepare you for your first visits to claims scenes.
Risk managers help to assess potential risks and advise on how to avoid or reduce those risks. They can be involved in identifying risks, evaluating and reporting risks to various parties, including underwriters, loss adjusters and business heads to ensure they’re aware of risks relevant to their function. Risk managers ensure that effective frameworks are put in place to deal with risk and ensure compliance with legal requirements.
Degrees in risk management, economics, business, law, insurance or management can be helpful but no specific degree is required. It is possible to enter the profession as a trainee risk analyst at a brokerage, but risk management most often attracts mature entrants as those with commercial and/or insurance sector experience are preferred. Some companies ask for as much as five years of underwriting experience.
Catastrophe modellers use complex IT models to estimate losses from natural hazards and terrorism in particular. They often work with underwriters in an insurance company to ensure that probable losses are kept within specified limits.
Unlike a majority of roles in insurance, those wanting to get into catastrophe modelling are likely to have a specific degree in geography, maths or statistics.
Given the niche nature of the work involved, there are very few wider, generic graduate schemes with a catastrophe modelling specialism. Most people who work in the area started either in direct entry role or have transferred from a role such as Underwriting Assistant.