Broadly speaking, the insurance sector can be viewed as risk management: a way of providing individuals, companies, organisations and institutions with a way of protecting themselves financially from particular events. There are opportunities for analysts, sales exectutives, investigators and virtually every other aspect of general management (marketing and HR, for example) in this industry.
Insurers are in the game of calculating risk. They work out how much money they would need to ‘pay out’ on a claim, the number of claims that are likely to occur, and from there they put a price on their coverage. Businesses and individuals need a way to reduce the financial impact of events that could put their survival at risk. For example, a fire at a paper factory would render the business useless. By insuring against the possibility of fire, a company is able to survive such a situation by collecting their ‘premium’ (the amount of money that it was agreed they would receive, should a fire occur).
Generally, the sector can be split into two parts: life and general insurance. Life insurance is associated with permanent injury or premature death, as well as assisting people with their savings and retirement needs. Those working in general insurance tend to focus on providing protection for property, liabilities and personal injury.
However, there is also something called reinsurance. Insurance companies themselves look to spread their own risk by taking out their own insurance against potential claims. A significant amount of British insurance activities is involved in the reinsurance market.
Analysts (often referred to as actuaries) assess the likelihood of certain events occurring. How often drivers in a particular age group are likely to crash, for example, or what the average pay out tends to be. They could be calculating how much the insurer should charge per customer to ensure that it turns a profit.
Those in the sales side of insurance are responsible for going out and generating revenue, promoting policies and getting clients on the books. If an insurance company doesn’t have enough subscribers for a particular policy and several pay-outs are requested in one go, the company could be in trouble.
Insurance claims inspectors also aim to protect the company: their job is ensuring that each claim is legitimate. Often, huge premiums are offered, and therefore it is common for people to try to cheat the system.
Insurance brokers are the individuals that act as intermediaries between insurance providers and companies, providing advice to potential policyholders on what is the most appropriate product to take.
School leavers can access this industry via apprenticeships, such as an Advanced Apprenticeship in the role of insurance practitioner, responsible for duties like supporting the acquisition of new clients, providing support in the retention of existing clients through the renewal process and handling client queries on products, services and accounting.
There are also Higher Apprenticeships (Level 4) available, which train you to work in the insurance sector in a claims, broking or underwriting technician or team leader/supervisor role.