Careers in Insurance

By: Damyanti Ghosh

Jobs in the insurance sector are not just about sales, though sales form a major part. Jobs in this industry can be as rewarding as that in any other sector, and contrary to common impression, there are a wide variety of openings available, requiring disparate sets of skills, ranging from good arithmetic or statistics to good communication. Those employed in this field need to be flexible and adaptive and be able to thrive in a fast-paced environment. According to the Industry overview provided by Insurance Information Institute, http://www.iii.org/media/facts/statsbyissue/industry/), “The U.S. insurance industry, which is made up of property/casualty and life/health companies and agents, brokers and service personnel for all sectors, employed 2.3 million people in 2004".

To begin with the much-maligned job of a sales agent, it is a myth that this career keeps you desk bound, and does not require much application or provide any challenge. The role is to promote policies and help the customer select the policy that is correct for their situation, in order to provide the best coverage for property, life and health. “Slower than average employment growth is expected among insurance agents through 2012. However, those with the right qualifications and skills will have favorable opportunities." according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, (http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos118.htm). Those who learn the ropes and show leadership abilities rise to managerial or upper executive positions.

Most however, prefer to establish their independent brokerage firms and agencies: nearly one out of three insurance sales agents is self-employed. Sales agents can be captive, that is , sell insurance policies for one company. A majority of them are independent, and sell insurance on behalf of multiple companies, the only requirement to become a sales agent being a license. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, (http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos118.htm) “Insurance sales agents must obtain a license in the states where they plan to sell insurance. Separate licenses are required for agents to sell life and health insurance and property and casualty insurance."

Some sales agents later become insurance broker consultants, and work for various insurance companies, promoting their products, services and key features to several insurance brokers.

This is a well paid job, though it might require travelling, and can only be taken up by veterans in sales, as they face stiff competition from other insurance providers.

If the sales position is too demanding in terms of smooth communication skills, there are other careers like those of actuaries, who use their analysis of statistics of relevant facts to predict the relative likelihood of different kinds of unforeseen disasters, accidents, sickness, disability and mortality. They do not need major mathematical prowess but an inherent ability is useful as they often advice their organizations on liabilities for payments of future benefits and the premium rates desirable and cash reserves essential to ensure timely payment of future benefits. They also profile the buyers to be targeted for a particular policy and keep abreast of social cultural and political trends as well as any changes in legislation, so as to be continuously aware of risk factors.

Underwriters are an invaluable part of the industry as they help determine the premium buyers are to be charged in order to balance out the overall risk they pose to the insurance company. They identify and calculate risks based on the latest methods, and they need to have strong decision-making and analytical faculties. They are the conduit that bring together the insurance carrier and sales agent, and are tech-savvy and computer-literate, in order to be able to efficiently process insurance applications. Large companies have big underwriting teams and require rapid-fire response mechanisms.

The money that comes in through the premiums paid by the policy buyers is suitably invested by money managers, in the market or through other low risk investment alternatives. In large insurance organizations with an international wingspan, this role is especially important in order to spread out the risks across countries, if so required.

Risk managers and loss control experts are also part of insurance organizations, or may work in other organizations and collaborate with insurance companies in order to identify and resolve potential risks. They make presentations regarding business proposals to a firm’s management, and help formulate benefit plans for employees. Loss control experts specialize in mitigating risks, and minimizing losses and accidents by anticipating them and adopting precautionary measures. These can be international careers in companies dealing with worldwide insurance solutions for health and travel, or expatriate insurance, or in multinational companies that require risk assessment and loss control across various nations.

It is today a part of healthy corporate policy to provide insurance to the employees, and companies usually tie up with a particular insurance solutions provider to do this. To liase with the human resource department in the client company, insurance companies employ benefits managers in order to manage the relevant health and life insurance programs. Benefit managers need excellent interpersonal skills and a good knowledge of corporate policy in order to succeed in their roles.

In case of a claim by a buyer, the claim cannot be paid off without verifying its genuineness and it is here that the claim examiners, investigators and adjusters come in. The investigators often have a background in criminal justice, and have a nose for identifying true claims from false. Claim adjusters negotiate with the buyer in order to ensure that both parties involved reach a fair settlement and decide how much is to be paid or if a claim should be paid at all, depending on the feedback from the investigators. If any claim requires litigation, these adjusters seek legal counsel. Continuous learning is crucial to these careers as the licenses initially acquired, as changes in legislation affect claims handling and coverage.

As the insurance industry is expanding, it is acquiring various assets across the globe in order to reduce the risk involved in the business. As such, positions in insurance companies also include those involving corporate finance, business development, IT and marketing, which can be globe-trotting careers, with the right blend of qualifications. In short, insurance is a lucrative field with relatively higher earnings, immense growth opportunities, and avenues for work satisfaction, and should be a serious consideration for any ambitious graduate on the lookout for a shining career.

Careers and Job Hunting
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 

» More on Careers and Job Hunting
 



Share this article :
Click to see more related articles