When considering a career in insurance, you need to consider which area will interest you. Yes you could apply to every graduate scheme or job listing you find and pepper the industry with your CV / resume, or you could hunt out areas of insurance which would be more fitting to your interests – and there is a niche for everyone.
In general, I’m going to concentrate on the specialist insurance market and not go near the types of insurance that you can buy on the internet. The reason being this business is heavily data driven, it is generally bought direct from insurers or through comparison sites and does not use brokers. However, there is a role for everyone and if you are looking at becoming an actuary, you will love the more commoditized insurance products, as a mass of data is available which you can use to create detailed and very accurate pricing models.
If you want to get into insurance, you should start by looking at the more specialist types of insurance. For an underwriter, the more specialist products require underwriting judgement and business is transacted through a broker, so building experience and expertise in that area as well as creating a name for yourself in the market is key. This is exactly the same if you are a broker – you still go into a specific area of insurance, building your expertise in one line of business before broadening your experiences.
So where to start. Look at your interests and what you are good at. If you are into finance and business, you should have a look at Directors’ & Officers’ insurance, which covers directors and officers of companies against company mismanagement. This means ripping apart their financial statements and analysing the state of their business, then looking at how they manage their business and finally the market they play in. This can be a very high profile position, especially in the US and it can often mean you are meeting with CFOs and Presidents of major US companies and discussing the future prospects of their business with them. When I worked in New York in corporate D&O, I found myself across the table from the CFO of a US defence contractor one day and on the phone to a pharmaceutical start up the next.
If you’re into history or politics, have you ever considered a career in insurance? Probably not. Many companies offer political risk insurance products that cover companies against the risk of instability in a country where they have assets or are delivering products. For this, you would look at the political situation in the country and the risks attached to insuring certain assets in that country. For example, if you owned a flower farm in Kenya, and there was a political uprising, resulting in the confiscation of your land and machinery, you could make a claim against your insurer for the value of those assets.
Engineers would love insurance; there are so many different areas you could go into: property – i’m not talking houses, i’m talking iconic office buildings, onshore or offshore energy (insuring anything from oil refineries, wind farms or petrochemical plants) and aerospace – looking at insuring spaceship launches, satellites or airoplanes. You would have a field day. As a broker, you would be liaising with your clients to find out what their exact insurance needs are, and as an underwriter you’d be looking at how best to insure them, whilst correctly pricing the risk and diversifying your portfolio.
Fancy yourself as a bit of a bit of a James Bond character? Then you should look at Kidnap and Ransom cover, covering individuals and companies against the risk of kidnap, extortion or piracy.
If you enjoy sailing, you’d want to get into pleasurecraft insurance, marine cargo insurance or marine hull insurance. At the moment, the insurers are battling with the piracy off the coast of Somalia and have been known to drop cases of money into the ocean to pay the pirates’ ransom fee. They’ll never admit to that though. In this role, you would be looking at small risks like small dingys through to ocean liners. You would be analysing weather conditions, routes and destinations, as well as the experience of your captain and the age of the ship. A very interesting line of business and the claims that come out of this line will blow your mind – just look at the Costa Concordia. Just as an example, a friend of mine is a sales manager in pleasurecraft insurance and he wins his business at industry events like the Monaco boat show or the London boat show; then he races at Cowes week and calls it work. Lucky guy.
Any art students should look into Fine Art and Specie insurance. Specialist insurers will insure museums full of historic artifacts, as well as galleries putting on exhibitions; then you have the Picasso’s hanging on restaurants’ wall or the Damien Hurst piece sitting on display in someone’s house. Risk of fire, flood and theft are the important factors in this line of business and all need to be considered before you underwrite it, or as a broker, find the best deal for your client.
Those of you who love the horses, bloodstock or equine insurance is for you. Insurers and brokers will have famous liveries as clients and will cover against stallion infertility and broodmare barrenness amongst other things. There is also livestock insurance for other types of animals.
There are many more types of insurance out there, which will suit your particular interest. The best thing to do is to type your interest into Google, followed by ‘insurance’ and see what comes up. Then do your research into which insurers write that particular line of business, or look at brokers who target that specific type of client.
Insurance is hugely diverse and cheesy as it sounds, people really can enter into an industry where their passion can also be there job.