If we've got you interested in a career in insurance you may have more questions about how you could get suitably qualified, where to look for your first job or what kind of first salary you could expect.
What's a loss adjuster?
Loss adjusters are independent claims experts who help insurance companies and policyholders resolve complex claims and get individuals and businesses up and running again as quickly as possible.
What is risk?
Risk underpins consumer confidence, making it possible to do risky things and bounce back from disasters.
We all need a way to offset risks in our everyday lives, like accidents and theft. By paying a small premium we all share the risk. Natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes increase the risks to commerce, to property, to life and to the stability of nations. The risk industry provides a crucial role in accommodating risks, and in helping to put things right when the worst happens.
What's an underwriter?
Underwriters assess risks and decide whether to accept applications for insurance cover, and on what terms. The aim is to minimise losses for their company and help it to make a profit.
What is reinsurance?
Reinsurance companies are the industry's own insurers, enabling large and small companies to mitigate their own potential risk, either of a single massive claim or of a large volume of claims at the same time.
What does claims involve?
Insurance claims handlers are responsible for investigating incidents and paying out claims. They decide how valid the claim is and whether it's genuine or not, keeping an eye out for fraud.
What does a broker do?
Brokers go between insurance companies and their customers (who could be individuals or businesses), advising people on the most suitable product for their needs, getting the best deal for them and arranging their cover.
What is risk management?
These professionals help insurance companies assess the potential financial risks of offering insurance cover for particular items or properties. They then provide the underwriters with information on levels of risk associated with each client, and the ways in which those risks could be minimised.
Why work in risk?
The opportunities are vast as risk affects almost every aspect our lives. From motorists to farmers and householders to businesses - every one is a potential client. Insurance reaches more parts of society than any other sector of the financial services industry:
- 75% of households buy home contents insurance
- 72% of households buy motor insurance
- 63% of households buy home buildings insurance
- 40% of households buy life assurance.
What's an actuary?
Actuaries provide the mathematical and analytical foundations for financial decision-making. They assess risks, based on what has occurred in the past, using statistics and applying probability theory. They then calculate premiums and advise on whether or not a company has sufficient assets to meet its potential and actual liabilities.
What should I study at University?
There are many dedicated insurance degrees - in Actuarial science, risk management and insurance. Economics, business studies, law, management, accountancy or mathematics degrees may also give you an advantage. And if you think you'd like to be a specialist engineering insurance surveyor then an engineering subject is a pre-requisite.
Where can I do a dedicated insurance degree?
University of Nottingham, Cass Business School and Queen's University Belfast all run dedicated insurance degrees - in Actuarial science, risk management or insurance. See our University page for more information.
What about Professional qualifications and exams?
Professionals in risk can get ahead with a CII qualification. There are opportunities to study in all disciplines from newcomers all the way through to professional qualifications for managers. When you've successfully passed your exams you can apply the relevant letters to your name and may gain a promotion or pay rise. These qualifications demonstrate to employers that you are committed to the profession and have the right technical knowledge to do the job. They can all be completed alongside a full-time job.
Award in Insurance
An introductory-level study programme, providing basic fundamental knowledge on key topics. Candidates pass one test, gaining credits which they can use towards study for a CII qualification.
Certificate in Insurance
This is the 'core' level qualification, suitable for those entering the industry and gaining the essential basic knowledge of the market, key disciplines and products. It requires candidates to pass a 40-credit threshold.
Diploma in Insurance
This qualification recognises 'technical' development achieved by those with a growing understanding of the industry. It requires candidates to pass a 110-credit threshold.
Advanced Diploma in Insurance
This is the 'professional' qualification awarded to experienced and expert market practitioners. It requires candidates to pass a 290-credit threshold.
The highest qualification on offer from the CII. This requires the completion of a personalised, structured advanced professional development programme.
In addition to these qualifications, the CII also offers other options for insurance professionals seeking to enhance and demonstrate their personal development. These include:
MSc in Insurance and Risk Management - developed in conjunction with Cass Business School this is a respected qualification in its own right, but can also form part of Fellowship studies. A fast-track completion route is available for Advanced Diploma, or equivalent, holders.
This cements a qualified practitioner's professional standing with titles to match career specialisms: Chartered Insurer, Chartered Insurance Broker, Chartered Insurance Practitioner. It has been developed for those holding the Advanced Diploma who are seeking to demonstrate their professional standing.
Who are the biggest UK employers?
Allianz, Aon, Aviva, AXA, BMS, RSA, Standard Life, Zurich, Lloyd's of London, NFU, Willis.
See our employer information page for more information.
What if I don't want to work in London?
If you want a career in insurance but don't fancy London life many of the UK's biggest towns and cities are home to regional or national offices of the world's largest insurers. They offer great careers with a good work-life balance without the daily dose of London Underground.
Work in Ipswich and you could find yourself in an office that's listed as a UK Attraction. 'In 1991, the Willis Building was the youngest in Britain to be given Grade I listed status. Designed by Sir Norman Foster and completed in 1975, this high-tech curvaceous building has 890 tinted windows, which reflect the much older buildings around it. The centre of the building is made from a grid of concrete pillars 14 metres apart and a central escalator takes staff up to a rooftop restaurant and a roof garden.'
Bristol and Birmingham are also risk hubs with many large firms like AXA, Legal and General, Hiscox and Zurich having offices here.
What are the opportunities to work abroad?
It's hard to think about risk without thinking internationally. Understanding risk, and how it is spread around, is vital to the smooth running of the global economy.
There are insurance companies in every continent. See who's looking for new talent by checking out companies like Alliance in Abu Dhabi, Aviva and AXA in Australia, Standard Life in Canada and China, HSBC in Hong Kong, Indian Mercantile in India, Mapfre in Madrid, Pan-American Life in Puerto Rico, Prudential in the Philippines and Sanlam in South Africa.
Where can I find graduate schemes?
AON, Aviva and many other global firms run graduate schemes. See our employer information page for more information.
Who offers work experience?
Many firms large and small provide work experience opportunities, speak to your careers adviser for local firms or see our employer information page for more information.
What do starting salaries look like?
The rewards are pretty good in risk. You could start on £15,500 as an underwriting clerk, £28,000 as a Reinsurance Technician or £28,500 as an actuarial graduate. See our salary survey for more information.
What could I be earning in four years?
Get some experience under your belt and some professional qualifications from the CII and you could be on an average of £36,000 as a liability adjuster or up to £60,000 in reinsurance. Nearly qualified actuaries will be paid anything from £50,000 to £75,000 - not bad for a 25 year old! See our salary survey for more information.
What benefits can I expect?
Join a big player like Willis and you'll be eligible for their Stakeholder Pension Scheme, Save As You Earn Scheme, Life Insurance, Health Insurance, Paid holidays, Subsidised canteens, season ticket loans and a host of other benefits. It's hard to imagine how these will affect you if you're still at school or college but trust us; they'll come in handy when you start working!
What qualifications will I need?
Being such a vast and diverse industry means that risk offers many points of entry. There are some opportunities for school leavers with A levels but many more opportunities for graduates - particularly in the fields of actuarial science. Risk management, economics, business studies, law, management, accountancy or mathematics may also give you an advantage.
What type of roles could I do?
You could become a broker, an actuary, an underwriting, handle claims, work in reinsurance or risk management or maybe loss adjusting is more your thing. Or you could be more of a generalist. Business management, marketing, HR and IT are all hotly in demand from risk's biggest players.
What is the CII?
The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) is the world's largest professional organisation for those working in insurance, risk and financial services.
It works hard to ensure that its members have the right skills for the job, setting exams for those within the profession from awards and certificates to Chartered Status and Fellowship.
The CII can offer support at all stages of your career whether you're just starting out or starting to specialise in a particular area. It also speaks for those working in insurance and tries to ensure Government represents their interests.
If you're starting a career in insurance then joining the CII will give you a great head start as well as good deals on exams and study packs.