Insurance 101 for Early-Career Professionals
All sorts. Some you might call traditional and specific to the industry – positions like actuary, underwriter and claims specialist – others are less specific, but no less important. Let’s look at both.
First, the specifics:
- A broker/agent sells insurance to people and businesses.
- An underwriter helps price insurance using technology and actuarial data.
- A loss adjuster determines how an event that triggers a claim happened and calculates the amount covered.
- A risk manager or risk analyst researches insurance risks to reduce them.
- A claims investigator reviews and validates claims.
- A loss-control specialist inspects businesses to identify potential risks and recommend solutions.
- An actuary assesses risks associated with items or situations for which customers want insurance.
- An appraiser estimates the value of insured items and evaluates claims to determine how much the insurance company should pay.
Want to do something else with your career? Great! Insurance companies always need people in:
- Human resources
- Sales and marketing
- Account management
- Accounting and finance
- Graphic design
Check out the Argo Group Careers webpage for positions.
Yes. From 2007 to 2012, those aged 17 to 32 doubled their presence in the insurance industry. They now make up 27 percent of the workforce. Insurance companies are working hard to attract bright young people to the sector.
About 400 of Argo Group’s workforce – out of a total 1,300 – are members of the millennial generation.
Not necessarily. There are many other skills that are valuable to the industry. For example, insurance adjusters in accident benefits may have degrees in kinesiology, nursing and health sciences. If you do excel in math, then actuarial may be a great place to start your career.
The answer depends on where you are and what you want to do with your career. Compensation levels vary, and salaries rise with experience. If you stick around, you’ll prosper.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, actuaries make anywhere from $58,290 to $180,500, underwriters make $38,960 to $116,600, and sales agents make $26,330 to $122,590.
According to the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries in the U.K., a student actuary makes £35,936 on average while a senior actuary as a function head or practice director makes £135,192. Compensation consultancy PayScale says underwriters average £38,518.
Those are not the only jobs in the industry. Insurance has roles for people with all sorts of skills.
Understand insurance. Read magazines, newspapers, blogs and websites that follow the industry. Get to know the regulations governing insurance in your jurisdiction.
Be the expert. Take courses from industry associations and your employer to learn as much as you can about the industry, your role and your product.
Once you learn, teach. Become a mentor. Write articles for trade publications. Offer seminars to help your colleagues develop professionally.
Have goals? Good. Now stretch further. If you’re the sort of person who strives for more, you’ll do well here.
Be positive. You don’t need to be smiling 24/7, but you’ll prosper if you recognize certain truths: the only way to succeed is to try, and failure is a stepping-stone to success.
Collaborate. Insurance is a team industry. Play well with people from different departments and who have different perspectives and watch your career take off.
Ask why, dig in and wonder. Your need to know helps you meet challenges and find solutions.
In 2015, insurance companies worldwide wrote a combined US $4.6 trillion in life and non-life insurance direct premiums. (Premiums refer to the amount customers are required to pay for policies over a certain period of time.) In the U.S., companies wrote $1.3 trillion in premiums; in the U.K., $320 billion. Insurance accounts for more than six percent of the global gross domestic product. Approximately 2.5 million people in the U.S. work in the sector. About 315,000 people do so in the U.K.
A number of developments are disrupting the industry. Here are a few high-profile examples:
- Self-driving cars – Who truly operates these vehicles?
- The sharing economy – Technologies that enable people to share rides and homes blur the lines between personal and business coverage.
- Artificial intelligence – Finding a way to capitalize on the wealth of information companies generate is a significant challenge.
- Cyber threats – Personal internet security policies and enterprise-level cyber risk management are a growing area.
- Millennials – Your generation is quickly going to become the largest client demographic. Insurance companies have to change their products and strategies to meet your needs.
- Customer demand – Policyholders want to be able to buy insurance and connect with providers when it suits them, not just from 9 to 5 on weekdays.
- Competition – A number of companies including retailers and technology firms are entering the insurance sector, putting pressure on traditional carriers.
OK, so everyone has an idea of what insurance is, but if you’ve ever heard the terms “specialty insurance” or “reinsurance” and been afraid to ask, then wonder no more.
Specialty insurance is for items other than cars and houses. Someone might buy specialty insurance for their pet or an antique. Businesses buy it to protect not just physical assets like an oil rig or an assembly line, but also to cover costs relating to business operations such as decisions made by directors, and compensation owed to injured or sick employees.
The specialty market is always changing. For example, many companies are now buying cyber insurance to cover costs related to threats to their digital assets – like their websites – and confidential information stored on servers.
Reinsurance is a different animal entirely. It’s a process rather than a type of insurance. It’s where insurance companies work together to share risks by buying pieces of policies from each other. The goal: limit the loss for the original insurer in case of disaster. By spreading risks this way, insurers can take on more risk. That enables businesses to take risks. And taking risks is just how businesses succeed.
Argo Group is a specialty insurance and reinsurance company. Companies come to Argo for insurance to cover activities in all sorts of areas including medical, environmental, business management, retail and many others. Argo also operates a syndicate in the famous Lloyd’s of London global insurance franchise.