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What can I expect in the Insurance field? (underwriting, claims, etc)

I am currently in an insurance program in my post-secondary school however, I am not that exposed to it. The main courses for the program don't begin until my third year and I do not know what I am really getting myself in to.
I was wondering if any of you could explain the different roles in the insurance field and what it looks like on a day-to-day basis for each role.
Thanks!
#insurance #underwriting #broker #claims #JULY20

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Abel’s Answer

Hello Jenny,

Insurance is a wonderful industry, and I think you've chosen a great career. There are so many options that you can choose from, but I'll answer this from my vantage point.

Underwriting: I started my career as a commercial underwriter for Large Middle Market, Mega Real Estate Deals and BOP Business. Essentially, my job was to review requests for insurance and ensure it meets the qualifications of the underwriting guidelines.

CAT Management: This job entails assessing a portfolio based on the propensity to be impacted by a major storm (Hurricane, Earth Quake, Storm Surge, Tornado, Hail Event, Etc).

Product Management: This job is multi faceted, and entails building, managing, deploying, distributing, etc different products within the insurance industry.

There are so many more traditional options like Actuarial, etc. However, I always say that working in insurance gives you the option to enter any career you may be interested in. If you have an affinity towards marketing and technology for example you can do both jobs in this industry and make a great living. In the end, determine your career choice and search for an insurance company that will allow you to do that job with the company.

Best of luck!
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James’s Answer

Hello Jenny,

I’m a career insurance worker. (14+ years and counting). There are endless possibilities in the field and I’ve really only been in two places (started in Halifax and moved to Calgary).

Underwriting quite simply you evaluate a specific risk (personal home, auto, personal medical for life, commercial businesses in all sectors, directors and officers, surety/contractual obligations, etc)

Broking - similar to the above - except you are managing clients directly and guiding/advising them on who to best place a client’s insurance with a particular underwriter.

Adjuster - handling loss/claim situations (ie the Calgary hail storm we had a few weeks ago). They are the first people to get the client’s call after a loss (the broker could also be called first). Adjusters can work for insurance companies (alongside underwriters) or they can be independent 3rd parties.

Bottom line: you have a great field to be entering. The day to day can certainly vary between the different roles but it can also be quite similar depending on the exact role that you might be working.

There is also the risk management field which can focus specifically on the insurance / balance sheet protection for large companies. This would put you on the client side or purchasing side although this side of this business is somewhat limited.

My suggestion would be to check out a career fair (we host a few industry ones throughout the year exception of Covid) and apply for summer positions or part-time to see if you might be interested in a particular job type.

Hope this helps and all the best in your education and career.

James recommends the following next steps:

Career Fair
Apply for Part-Time
Reach out to me or others to discuss
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Michael’s Answer

I have had the pleasure of working in insurance underwriting throughout a majority of my career, after starting off on the agency side of the business. To answer "what can you expect" - I think you can expect a very rewarding career where you get to help people every day. The insurance business is necessary to the overall economy and allows businesses to grow while insurance companies take on risk on their behalf. I think you can expect a myriad of options in the insurance industry - everything from underwriting, claims, finance, risk management, accounting, audit, etc. The insurance industry offers a breath of options and I am excited that you are considering a career in the industry.
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Demba’s Answer

Good evening Jenny, I have been in the insurance over 10 years now counting, in the Washington DC metropolitan area... I covered property, casualty, health and life altogether and found out healthcare a good fit with my propensity is helping people make choices over their healthcare coverage...

Concurring with previous remarks, I’d add that product knowledge is key in underwriting and down the road such knowledge would your be your best asset whether advising clients on suitable options or protecting company’s bottom line.

Insurance covers all aspects of our lives and underwriting remains an exciting avenue whereby your sense of detail intersects with end users expectations of quality service in all regards.

Demba recommends the following next steps:

Internship opportunities
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Peter’s Answer

Hello Jenny - You received a ton of great responses. If you are staying in Canada, there are a few differences between there and the US market, with one being how workers comp type coverage is handled. Internships are always a great way to at least get a foothold in the industry. When trying to determine what job to go after, I found that starting in a more technical position (like claims for me, or loss control or underwriting) is a better place to begin and develop "real world" understanding of how insurance works. Most companies also provide training as part of those entry level jobs. Getting into a sales position as a first job sometimes limits one’s prospects as others will have greater industry and market knowledge to leverage. Best of luck.
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Ibraheem’s Answer

Hi Jenny

I have been in the insurance industry for over 10 years and have spent all those years in Underwriting.

This is what you can expect- (Workers’ Compensation Insurance)

Entry Level: You are probably doing a ton of Data Entry work. You are logging in submissions and doing various tasks for Underwriters. This is the best way to get your foot in the door and learn a ton about insurance.

Mid-Level- You are going to be doing a lot of processing and policy management.

Underwriter: You are evaluating the risk associated with the job and to see how much price it makes sense to offer coverage.
Hope this helps and best of luck to you!
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Hassan’s Answer

I have worked in health insurance underwriting for around two years as an underwriters, i believe that the field is very interesting, mainly i would go over historical claims and costs related to each insurance policy and assess if the group is a profitable group or not, and assess if there are any points of concerns that could lead to high costs which can lead to losses. you would work a hand to hand with actuary so it would be better if you have an understanding of that field.
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Lisa’s Answer

I can only speak for workers' compensation. My degree was in an unrelated field, so you are definitely getting a good head start by exposing yourself ahead of time! Most lines of business offer on the job training as long as you have a degree (in any field). Claims jobs are very busy but interesting. My job requires knowledge in litigation, customer service, investigation, strategy, creative problem solving, medical, etc...a little of everything. Best of luck!
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Mary’s Answer

I am a professional in the Workers' Compensation insurance industry. I manage a team of underwriters who decide if we want to insure businesses for their workers' compensation coverage. Underwriters in this sector of insurance need to understand what workers do in all types of jobs. Whether it be manufacturing, construction, hotel, restaurant or healthcare (for example) the underwriters has to gain an understanding of how these workers could get injured on the job. Then they price the quote depending on how many employees and payroll the business has.

There are other product lines in the world of business insurance -- General Liability, Property, Auto, Inland Marine (to name a few). Underwriters essentially do the same thing, which is to assess the potential risk for loss given what the business does. The goal is to charge enough premium to cover those losses and then make some underwriting profit too.

I have never worked in claims, but I can help with explaining what they do if you'd like.
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Bill’s Answer

Jenny - I've been in the insurance industry for over 25 years in a variety or roles primarily on the commercial lines side. I never wanted to get into insurance after I graduated college as I honestly didn't now enough about the industry. Eventually, I found an opportunity that I couldn't pass up.

I'll cover the three major departments that are customer facing at any insurance carrier outside of back office support roles.

CLAIMS: You are going to deal with people at the worse time of their life...auto accident, home damage, business damage, etc. just to name a few. The folks who go into claims are very involved on a daily basis investigating what happened, why, is it compensable and if so, what's the value of the claim. You are going to need to be a strong negotiator, detail oriented, organized and have a thick skin. Successful claims representatives are very into helping others and in my opinion, vert special people. This is a tough job.

LOSS CONTROL: This is an interesting role as you get to visit customer locations, tour facilities and review all the details of what they make, how they make it, are they doing it safely, are they protecting their equipment and employees, etc. Most of the LC representatives have a background in safety as you need to know about fire codes, trucking best practices, etc. to name a few.

UNDERWRITING: Depending on the type of accounts you get into, this can be repetitive (small account to medium size) to very account specific / class of business specific if you get into large / jumbo size accounts. This also depends greatly on whether or not you are in a personal lines role (personal home / auto) or a commercial lines role (business). If involved with commercial lines, you are a salesperson to a point. While you are not calling on customer directly, you are selling your carriers services to the agency. You also can attend customer loss control visits where you too get to see how your customers business operates and this is when you get to sell your carrier to the insured. If you can get into a commercial underwriter role and eventually show your expertise and grow into a large account underwriter role, to me this is the most exciting and makes days just fly by. Like I said, I'm on the commercial side, so I do have a bias on what I find enjoyable. I know personal lines underwriters that feel the same way about personal lines as I do commercial lines.

I'd suggest you look for internships at various insurance carriers or even insurance agencies to get a feel for the variety of roles available to you. The insurance industry is a fairly stable industry as it's a mandated statute / law coverage which means we are going to be here helping cover our insureds for the foreseeable future.

I hope this helps shed some light on things ,but if you have more specific questions or would like to chat let me know as this is a great industry.

Good luck on your future endeavors.
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Mike’s Answer

Hi Jenny,

I have worked in insurance for about 15 years on both the commercial brokerage side and the commercial carrier side. While I didn't originally anticipate falling into insurance as a career coming out of college (majored in political science and English and originally thought I'd go to law school), it is one that has treated me well and has countless avenues to apply a person's various strength's and interests. I started out my career in Chicago as an Insurance Broker, which means that you procure an Illinois commercial producer license for property and casualty (you can also obtain a life/health license to sell life/health insurance). A broker (versus a direct agent) acts as a professional middleperson between insurance companies and customers. They provide expert guidance to customers and negotiate the best price and programs for their customers' various insurance needs. Many large customers require at least a handful of commercial insurance policies: Property, General Liability, Commercial Auto (if they have company vehicles), Workers Compensation (if they have employees) and Umbrella/Excess Liability policies. A broker works with numerous insurance companies to negotiate the best policy(ies) in terms of price and specific coverages for their customer(s). This day in age, there are dozens of types of coverages that customers may need depending on the industry they operate in and it's a broker's job to supply the best price and program for their customers. Commerical Insurance Companies cannot sell directly to customers and must work with appointed brokers to sell their products. There are various roles at an insurance agency: Producer - which is the main salesperson working directly with customers; Account Managers - deal with the day-to-day communications and work directly with the producers to service their customers; Accounting Professionals; and some of the bigger brokerages have claims and loss control professionals to assist customers with those specific needs. If you want to be a producer at an insurance agency (highest paying role) you need to be a strong sales-minded professional and put in a lot of hours both during the work day and outside to build up a book of business. You need to be prepared to make lots of "cold calls", attend lots of industry events, network and be able to take rejection. Also, If you are a producer, you most likely are working on a commission based salary, which can volatile.

I found that while I'm an outgoing personality, my strength is more suited for the carrier side. I currently work as an underwriter for a commercial insurance company that specializes in workers compensation. I enjoy it more as I am selling a product that I am an expert at and working with commercial brokers who want to supply my product to their customers. It fulfills my competitive/sales driven personality, but is not as "cut throat" as being a producer. I am able to build relationships with my brokers and network that way as well. In addition to underwriting, the main rolls at my company are in the claims and loss control fields. Being a claims adjuster allows one to assist customers with losses (in my company it's injured workers since we specialize in workers compensation). And from a loss control standpoint, our Loss Control Technicians assist our policyholders with their safety programs and help them with service objectives to strengthen their safety cultures and identify gaps that might result in claims.

Hopefully this helps answer some of your insurance questions. Good Luck!

-Mike
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Gina’s Answer

Hi Jenny,
I have been in the health insurance industry for a year now. Coming from the finance side of things so I'm a numbers person by nature. I have transitioned to the underwriting side of our business into an underwriting manager. I mainly analyze risk and complete experience rating and renewal quoting. Basically I look at claims history for individuals and groups and assess if they are the kind of groups we want to write and what rates are most appropriate. I find it to be extremely interesting and my days are all very different. I work directly with our pricing manager who is an actuary (definitely something you should look into). I have an MBA with an accounting designation so it was definitely a change of pace but it has been awesome so far! Good luck to you in your studies and career path!
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Krickett’s Answer

Good Morning Jenny,

I have worked in insurance claims for 8 years. There are many facets of claims. Property damage, first reports, and subrogation to name a few.
I am in the Subrogation Department and work on the recovery side.
Subrogation is responsible for either recovering damages we paid out from the at fault parties Insurance carrier or for paying out to the other carrier if we are at fault. In order to be able to recovery you need to prove liability based on statements, police reports, and scene investigations.
In these processes there is a lot of negotiations that take place for example : liability and damages.
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Lisa’s Answer

I can only speak for workers' compensation. My degree was in an unrelated field, so you are definitely getting a good head start by exposing yourself ahead of time! Most lines of business offer on the job training as long as you have a degree (in any field). Claims jobs are very busy but interesting. My job requires knowledge in litigation, customer service, investigation, strategy, creative problem solving, medical, etc...a little of everything. Best of luck!
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