If you haven’t seriously considered the insurance industry as an ideal place to start your career, maybe these statistics will encourage you to start:
Not even the recent tough economic times could slow the growth of the insurance industry: while many industries were laying off workers at the height of the last economic downturn, about 12,000 positions were added to the insurance workforce in Canada!
“Insurance as a career is not just about sales. Other roles can work directly with customers, in business-to-business relationships, or in the ‘back office’ in claims, underwriting, actuarial science, risk management, appraising and investigations.”
—Trevor Buttrum, Career Connections Program Manager, The Insurance Institute of Canada
In addition, according to recent demographic research conducted by The Insurance Institute of Canada, about half of the approximately 110,000 Property and Casualty insurance professionals are between 41 and 60 years old, and 25% of them are expected to retire in the next two to six years.
There aren’t enough young insurance professionals to fill those gaps at the entry level or to move up into management roles, so the opportunities to start and grow your career within the insurance industry are enormous no matter what your educational background.
Trevor Buttrum, Career Connections Program Manager at the Insurance Institute, answered a few of our Insurance 101 questions to help students and recent grads like you better understand the job opportunities in this booming industry.
Trevor: There are three main types of insurance:
Life, Health and Financial: These are your extended health plans, critical illness insurance, creditor’s insurance and life insurance – essentially, making sure money is there to support you in case you get sick or to make sure families/friends do not need to shoulder the costs associated with your final expenses.
Social Insurance: These are government administered programs. In Canada, we are lucky enough to have universal health care. We also have employment insurance and workplace safety insurance which make sure we have a means of financial support in the case of job loss or injury at work.
Property and Casualty: This is essentially for anything without a pulse. Whether it’s for something we own, our businesses or even our liability in an accident. Property and casualty insurance can be for almost anything!
Trevor: Insurance is unique in that there are nine “gateway” roles in the industry which don’t even include positions in IT, Accounting/Finance or HR that also exist in our sector! These gateways include:
Common entry level job titles in the industry include: Customer Service Representative, Junior Broker, Underwriting Assistant, Junior Underwriter, Risk Analyst, Claims Assistant, Claims Representative, Actuarial Intern, Junior Actuary, Marketing Assistant and Appraisal Representative.
Insurance as a career is not just about sales. In fact, only two of the nine gateway roles have a sales component to them. Other roles can work directly with customers, in business-to-business relationships, or in the ‘back office’ in claims, underwriting, actuarial science, risk management, appraising and investigations.
Trevor: No, you do not require a business or finance degree to work in the industry. In fact, no matter what your background, chances are you can find ‘a fit’ in the insurance sector.
Gifted at Math? Consider a role as an Actuary. Have a Kinesiology, Nursing or Health Sciences degree? Think about work as a loss adjuster specializing in Accident Benefits. English your thing? Take a look at underwriting.
Trevor: Insurance offers above-average potential for advancement – if you demonstrate you are competent, committed to continuous learning (e.g., earning industry designations/licenses, attending seminars, etc.) and work hard, you are very likely to be rewarded for it!
There are supervisory, team lead, managerial, director and executive positions available within the industry. Compensation within the industry is lucrative and often includes benefits such as no-cost insurance education, extended health and life insurance, and a multitude of opportunities for professional development.
Trevor: When asked what they like most about the industry, many insurance professionals talk about the variety and stability the industry offers.
There is a multitude of opportunities available within the sector that build on your interests, experience and career goals. The industry also has an openness to working in multiple business areas or changing directions over the course of your career. This allows for a career path that evolves and is as individual as you are.
Trevor: A good starting point is the Career Connections website. Here students and recent graduates can:
Also, students can take advantage of seminars and industry networking events offered by industry organizations like the Insurance Institute of Canada, Insurance Brokers Association of Canada, Insurance Women Associations, etc. These provide great opportunities to network and expand industry knowledge.