CHOOSING A CAREER IN INSURANCE
No matter what path brought you to this point in your life, you are probably thinking a little about what the future has in store for you. A big part of your future is either directly or indirectly related to your career path. You may not know exactly what you want to do for the rest of your life, but now is a good time to start thinking about some of the opportunities available out there.
So now that you’re starting to think about all the possibilities out there, you might want to look at insurance. If you do a little research you will quickly see that insurance is a significant industry in Arizona and across the nation.
Insurance positions involve everything from one or two person offices to company headquarters employing thousands of people. Actuaries, Adjusters, Agents, Attorneys, Underwriters, Information Technology, Marketing and Human Resource professionals are just a few of the many opportunities available in the insurance industry. Whatever job skill you may possess, the insurance industry probably has a fit.
An actuary is an analyst, a forecaster, and a planner. Actuaries study and analyze the company’s previous payment of claims and the frequency of chance occurrences such as tornadoes, fires, thefts, explosions and auto accidents. They tabulate the damage and injuries these disasters cause, calculate the probability of recurrences and then recommend the price that should be charged for those risks. Actuaries can work for insurance companies, rating bureaus, state departments of insurance, or as independent consultants. A college degree and a background in mathematics and statistics are important requirements. In addition, actuarial trainees must complete a series of examinations to receive the designation of Fellow in the Casualty Actuarial Society.
Skills for Success: Mathematical and analytical skills, computer knowledge, outstanding academic record.
Insurance adjusters, often called claims investigators, have action packed responsibilities. Many adjusters go to the scenes of disasters, such as tornadoes, to view the damage, talk to the victims and issue claims payments. Others handle claims settlements from their offices by telephone. Adjusters may specialize in settling particular types of claims. For example, some adjusters handle property claims for auto accidents and others specialize in claims for business firms. Since they must talk to individuals who have suffered a loss, adjusters need to be people oriented and able to deal with difficult situations. Though it is not required, a college degree is desirable. Knowledge of the law is also useful to adjusters when explaining the legal technicalities of insurance contracts to claimants.
Skills for Success: Excellent communication an interpersonal skill, analytical skills, organizational abilities, and computer skills.
AGENTS AND BROKERS
Insurance agents and brokers provide a vital service, advising people on insurance for automobiles, homes, businesses, and public institutions. Some agents work directly for a company and receive a regular salary, or a salary plus commissions on the policies they sell. Others are independent businessmen and women who represent several companies and receive a commission for each sale they make. Unlike an agent who represents a company, a broker represents the customer and places business with the company of the broker’s choice. A great deal of the special knowledge needed by the agent or broker can be learned on the job. Companies and professional associations conduct a wide variety of educational programs for training agents and brokers. It is necessary, however, for agents to be licensed by the state.
Skills for Success: Interpersonal skills, motivation and perseverance.
Auditors review company accounts to be audited and determine if there should be voluntary, physical or outside audits. They are responsible for conducting timely and accurate field audits and provide insureds with assistance in determining the best methods of record keeping. Auditors are required to work closely with company employees regarding calculation of audits and relay any pertinent risk information to underwriting.
Skills for Success: Accounting and mathematical skills, industry knowledge, organization and analytical abilities.
HUMAN RESOURCE PROFESSIONAL
Human resource professionals specialize in the recruitment, hiring, training and development of employees in all departments of the insurance company.
Skills for Success: Industry knowledge, communication skills, computer skills.
LOSS CONTROL SPECIALIST
As the job title indicates, loss control specialists are in accident prevention. They carefully study the work areas and operations of businesses, municipalities and other risks to identify hazards and to make suggestions for their elimination. People who work in this field must have the ability to envision, develop, and implement safety programs to prevent accidents and save lives. Especially important is a broad knowledge of devices, materials, and methods of preventing and fighting the spread of fires. A college background is desirable for this career. Various educational programs in safety, occupational health, and engineering are available at colleges and community colleges. On the job education continues through conferences, workshops, and seminars where the latest techniques, devices and systems of loss prevention are demonstrated and discussed.
Skills for Success: Analytical skills and technical expertise, organizational skills, and computer knowledge.
The marketing department of any insurance company deals primarily with strengthening public perception of the products and services provided by the company. Some act as spokespersons for the company with the public and the media.
Skills for Success: Industry knowledge, communication skills, organizational abilities.
Programmers typically are involved in database design and modeling based upon company requirements. They maintain and improve upon existing systems including researching and evaluating new technology solutions.
Skills for Success: Knowledge of various computer languages, ability to work independently, strong analytical and problem solving skills.
Special investigators utilize a network of outside sources and work closely with public and industry agencies. The serious crime of insurance fraud has caused many companies to implement a special investigative unit. Exposing insurance fraud is time intensive work as the appropriate and necessary information must be gathered, analyzed, reports must be prepared and activities documented. It is important that investigators collect and preserve physical evidence and assist with any necessary legal preparation.
Skills for Success: Investigative abilities, analytical skills, communication skills.
Underwriters are responsible for reviewing risks and making decisions on whether or not applications for insurance coverage from individuals, businesses, and even counties and cities should be approved. The decisions underwriters make are based on their company’s experience and their own analysis. Underwriting work requires an analytical mind that can deal with complicated and technical subjects: numbers, policy forms, rating manuals, claims reports, and applications for insurance. Individual underwriters specialize in areas such as automobiles, homes, businesses, and public institutions. A college education, though not always required for initial employment, is important for those who wish to advance to positions of responsibility. Education on the job is equally important.
Skills for Success: Communication skills, technical knowledge, and analytical ability.