Office Hours: A Q&A With Career Connections On The Insurance Industry

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For many individuals, the insurance industry is not always top of mind when it comes to their career-hunt. However, this field is one of the best places for young professionals to get their start!

At first glance, it can be a bit daunting – after all, there are so many positions and departments to explore. Luckily, Career Connections is committed to helping students and grads navigate the insurance industry. On November 18th, they joined us online to answer your career questions about this fantastic field.

Missed the event? Check out the full transcript below!


 

TalentEgg
Hello everyone! Thanks for joining us – Office Hours with Career Connections will begin promptly at 4 p.m. EST.

TalentEgg
Hello TalentEgg-ers, great to have you here today! My name is Veronica and I’m egg-cited to be moderating today’s chat.

Today, we’ll be discussing the Insurance industry and all the amazing opportunities it holds for young professionals. We’re delighted to have our guest expert at Career Connections here with us today!

We’ve received a lot of career questions in advance, and I know you probably have more! You can begin submitting your additional questions now, and we’ll be addressing as many as we can over the next 60 minutes.

Before we begin, let’s introduce our guest expert, Trevor. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections
Hi everyone! My name is Trevor Buttrum and I am the Career Connections Program Manager at the Insurance Institute of Canada. The Insurance Institute is the education and designation body for the property & casualty (home, business, auto, liability, etc) insurance sector in Canada. Career Connections is a division of the Insurance Institute and is all about helping career seekers to explore and understand the rewarding careers available in the insurance sector and to illustrate the role insurance plays in our society. I am really egg-cited to be here today to answer questions about the industry and how you can find your place in this vital, rewarding, and stable sector!

TalentEgg
Great! And now without further delay, here’s the first question.

Alma, a Mathematics major/Economics minor at St Francis Xavier University asks:
“Which roles have a high demand for new graduates in Mathematics?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections
Hi Alma! Thanks for your question. Mathematics is a degree that has a lot of possible applications within the property & casualty insurance sector. Most often, when we think math… we think Actuaries! Actuaries are responsible for developing many of the probability, funding, and reserve models for the insurance industry. In simple terms, they write the rules for what kinds of, how many, and how often companies can takes on different types of risk. They also help to determine how much premium is required in the pool at any given time so that companies can meet their regulatory requirements and pay out claims as risks turn into reality. Those with degrees in mathematics might also think about Risk Management, Underwriting, and Loss Control as potential starting points for exploring a career in insurance. If you haven’t already, I’d encourage you to visit our TalentEgg Profile and website for more information.

TalentEgg
Jenny, a Psychology major at the University of Western Ontario asks:
“Which degrees are most likely to land a job in Insurance?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections
Hello Jenny – Good news! Virtually any degree or experience has potential applications in the insurance sector. Why? Because insurance is embedded into everything we do in life and in business. Therefore, we need talented, creative, and motivated people from diverse with diverse academic backgrounds and experiences to help offer the expertise required to make our industry go. For example, someone, like you, who is majoring in Psychology, might find their place in insurance as a Loss Adjuster. Loss adjusters work with people when they are at their most vulnerable and walk them through the process of managing their claim. They play a role which is part therapist and part investigator – helping people to understand what their insurance policy covers; navigating setting up appointments or coordinating work with healthcare professionals, lawyers, construction or restoration companies, repair shops, skilled trades people, etc.; and, determining what happened and who might be liable. The ‘Your Education’ section on our website offers some insight into how various concentrations or majors may be leveraged in the insurance sector. Check it out!

TalentEgg
Amna, a Biology major at the University of Toronto asks:
“How can we get a job in Insurance without experience?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections
Thanks Amna – I appreciate you asking that question. More often than not, those who join the insurance industry have very little experience working with insurance products and services. However, they are bringing skills and experiences that are transferable. Think about what you have done in your work, through volunteering, or even as part of a sports team/club, etc. Then read a few insurance job descriptions that sound interesting to you. As you read it, you will likely have a few “I can do that” moments. Think about what makes you say that? What experiences have you had and how could you translate that experience in a way that applies in the role you might be after. For example, working in customer service or hospitality might have provided experience in building client relationships or fostering your commitment to service excellence. Your experience in retail might have offered you experience in preparing bank deposits or maybe you were a key holder. These help to demonstrate your ability to ensure procedures are followed correctly, a commitment to ethics, and your ability to handle sensitive information. You might have worked as a camp counsellor or in construction? Health and safety procedures, documentation, and managing risk are a part of all of these roles. These are just a few examples. You might find it helpful to explore the ‘Your Experience’ section on our website and consult our resume tips and tools for more information. Hope that helps!

TalentEgg
Jason, a graduate from Ryerson University asks:
“What do I need as a new graduate to break through the investment portfolio section of Insurance?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections
Jason – investments are a key part of what make our industry go. In fact, it is how insurance organizations ensure that they have enough reserve to pay out larger claims and fulfill their obligations under the regulatory frameworks of our industry. It is also how they make their money! For those with an interest in working in this area of the business, we definitely suggest looking at analyst roles within finance departments of insurance companies. You may also find that your gateway might come from working in the operations first, prior to joining the finance department. For example, experience in underwriting, claims, risk management, or the rates and premiums section of the actuarial department might provide some egg-citing opportunities and experience to help you build your knowledge of the business that you can apply in future roles.

TalentEgg
Uchechukwu, a Computer Science major with an MEng in Information Systems Security at Concordia University asks:
“As a security analyst with an interest in application security, cybersecurity and vulnerability research, how can I start a career in this amazing industry? What opportunities are there for me?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections
Uchechukwu , Cyber security is definitely an issue that is a priority for the insurance sector. Lots of thought has gone into and work is being done to help protect organizations and individuals from the threats that exist in this space. You might find that opportunities in risk management and underwriting would be a fit for your experience profile. Anything in the commercial space to start will likely give you opportunity to be exposed to cyber risk and ultimately specialize in this area of the business.

TalentEgg
Curious about entry-level opportunities in insurance? Here are some great ones to explore!

Marcia asks:
“How do I get a job in the Insurance industry?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections
The million dollar question – Thanks Marcia! From my perspective, given that there are so many different roles available within insurance – Loss Adjusters, Risk Managers, Marketing Representatives, Brokers/Agents, Underwriters, Actuaries to name just a few – it is usually a good idea to do some research about which role(s) are of interest for you and fit with what you are looking for in your career. You can take our quiz that explores your interests, what you like to do, and your experience to help you narrow down some potential starting points. From there, it is about considering how your experience can translate to the role(s) you are interested in. Put together a quality resume – here are a few tools and suggestions to help! And, start networking – are a few tips for networking in the insurance sector. Our FAQ also points you to a few sites, including TalentEgg, to keep your eye on for potential openings to apply to. And, of course you can check out our insurance events on a campus near you! You may also consider taking one or two courses on your own towards your Chartered Insurance Professional (CIP) designation or the Insurance Institute’s General Insurance Essentials (GIE) course. This can help demonstrate your interest and commitment in the sector and build some foundational knowledge you can apply on the job.

Kateryna, a student at Coventry University asks:
“What would make me a more attractive candidate? How can I prepare for this?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections
Kateryna – thanks for your question! I think that there a few things you can do to help make you an attractive candidate in insurance. First, do your research. Understanding the sector, roles available, and companies you might be interested in working for can go a long way in helping you connect to an insurance career. It demonstrates that you are interested and have already started to make connections between the role you want and your interests, skills, and education to date. Second, engage the industry. Whether reading industry websites, attending an event or function hosted by a professional association or body like the Insurance Institute, or keeping up on issues in the news that could have an impact on the industry (ie. extreme weather, autonomous vehicles, Uber, etc.) showcases your interest and can help you engage in more meaningful conversations with industry contacts and recruiters. Third, put your best foot forward. A great resume, a solid understanding of what skills/experience you are bringing to the table, polished look, and confidence in your networking and interview skills all will help you stand out from the crowd. Finally, you might consider taking one or two courses towards your Chartered Insurance Professional (CIP) designation, General Insurance Essentials (GIE) certificate, or Risk Management (CRM) designation. This can help to further demonstrate your interest and commitment.

TalentEgg
Rit, an Urban Studies major at the University of Calgary asks:
“What is the most concrete path into a rewarding career in the Insurance industry?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections
Rit – one thing is for sure, there are multiple pathways into the sector. It is really about what you like to do and the role you are most interested in. We really encourage you to explore the roles in our videos and on our website. From there, you can start to map out the path that fits with who you are and what you want out of your insurance career. That being said, the most common roles – just because there are more of them and are a part of the industry’s core operations – for new graduates include Broker/Agent, Underwriter, and Claims Professionals.

TalentEgg
There are a lot of great video and resources on Career Connections’ TalentEgg profile as well. Take a look!

Matthew, a International Studies major/Global Asian Studies and History minor at the University of Toronto asks:
“What does a day-to-day schedule look like in this industry?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections
Matthew – this is a great question, but tough to answer as it will really vary from role to role. That being said we would encourage you to watch our videos of real life people working in the industry to hear about their experiences and what it is like to work in the sector. You may also find it helpful to consult our occupational profiles on the website to get a feel for the role and responsibilities, typical pathways, future outlook, and even average salaries. We also have some great profiles on TalentEgg of recent grads who found their career in insurance. Check out the Insurance Career Guide for these articles. Stay tuned for additional profiles coming in the new year!

TalentEgg
Matthew – here’s just one of the articles Trevor was talking about. Hopefully it’ll help you find an insurance role that suits you!

Lusito, Financial Services Compliance Administration (Graduate Certificate) with a Bachelor’s of Accounting at Brock University asks:
“Are there opportunities for Finance Services Compliance?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections
Good question Lusito! Regulatory compliance is paramount to ensuring that our industry operates ethically and can honour its obligations to policyholders in the event of a claim. Without out, our tangible product of ‘peace of mind’, is compromised. Therefore, in short, yes there is opportunity for those with a background in Financial Services Compliance in the sector. I would zero in on the for our regulatory bodies – here in Ontario those are the Financial Services Commission of Ontario, Registered Insurance Brokers of Ontario, and the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Services and Insurance (OSFI) – but, also consider roles in underwriting, compliance, and risk management within insurance organizations themselves.

TalentEgg
Quinn, a student at Seneca College asks:
“Where can I find co-ops in this field?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections
Quinn – There are a growing number of insurance organizations that have co-op and internship programs available for students and recent graduates. I would suggest that you do some research on companies that fit the geography of where you would like to work (ie. downtown Toronto, Mississauga, etc.) and visit their websites. You can explore if they have a program that would fit with your institution’s requirements for a co-op work term… and, apply accordingly. If not, don’t give up. If it is somewhere where you really want to work, connect with a recruiter on LinkedIn or network your way to a professional who works for that organization… present what your co-op program has to offer and see if there might be a way to build an opportunity that is beneficial to everyone.

TalentEgg
Speaking of LinkedIn, Career Connections has some great tips for tailoring your profile for a career in insurance! Read it here.

Taviraj, an Economics major at York University asks:
“What is the most effective way to get a job in Insurance?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections
Tavraj, 43% of those working in the industry got their start through a family member or friend. Referral programs are a key tool recruiters use to help identify and hire talent. So, I would have to say networking will help a lot. We have put together a few tips for insurance networking – check them out here. That being said, insurance recruitment is still pretty traditional in that opportunities are often posted on company or industry websites. Our site offers connections to 150+ employers in the sector – So be sure to check on those as well. You will find that a blended approach will likely be most effective in connecting to a rewarding career in our sector!

TalentEgg
Anita, a student at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology asks:
“What is the hiring process like?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections
Hi Anita! It tends to vary from organization to organization. Traditionally, it will involve submitting an application and if you are moving forward, being invited for an initial interview. This typically will take place over the telephone or be a brief face-to-face conversation. The goal here is to confirm some assumptions and assess a little bit of your fit for the role based on your experience and education to date. From there, you may be invited for a subsequent round or rounds of interviews. These may be 1:1 or with a panel of interviewers. You may find it useful to do additional research on the company/role and to practice your interview skills to help you make the most of the experience. Finally, if you are successful, you will be made an offer. There may be some additional steps like checking references, police checks, etc. before you are officially hired. Hope that is helpful in giving a little preview about what the hiring process may be like.

TalentEgg
Thanks for your question, Anita. We also suggest you check out this fantastic article on how to ace an insurance interview!

Now seems like a great time for our poll!

In your opinion, what is the most appealing part about the insurance industry?
  • The ability to gain experience in a dynamic industry (38%)
  • The growth potential (50%)
  • The exciting work environment (13%)

TalentEgg
Ahara, a Business Administration major asks:
“Are we required to have certain designations or education before applying to the Insurance industry?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections
Ahara – this is one of the most common questions we are asked and is a really great question! There short answer is, no. The industry does not require that you have a designation or education before you apply to roles in the industry. Insurance professionals have been self-educating for centuries – meaning, we invest in the training and development of professionals to help them build the insurance knowledge they require to excel in their careers. That being said, you may find that taking one or two courses towards your Risk Management designation (CRM), General Insurance Essentials (GIE) Certificate, or Chartered Insurance Professional (CIP) designation can be helpful in demonstrating your interest and commitment to a potential employer. As well, if you are considering a career as an actuary – writing one or two examinations can be extremely helpful. Same goes if you are considering a career as a Broker/Agent – if you know this is where you want to head, it could be to your advantage to complete the licensing exam prior to joining the sector.

TalentEgg
Tammy, a Business Administration major at Brock University asks:
“What are some challenges of working in the Insurance industry?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections
Tammy, in speaking with the industry professionals we work with as Ambassadors when we are on campus, they often talk about how they love that there are new and exciting challenges in each step of their career. Seemingly, no two days are the same and the industry is ever evolving. This can be both a rewarding aspect of a career in the industry and something that will keep you on your toes. Continuous learning is the key to staying on top of this particular challenge. Sometimes, there can also be a perception amongst consumers that insurance is a money grab as the product we offer is intangible until risk has become a reality for you. We essentially offer peace of mind. It is important to understand that about 89% of what we pay as consumers in premium gets paid out in claims. That means that insurance companies do not make their money from premiums they charge rather, it is from their investments. Investments not only help with viability/profitability of insurance organizations, but also ensure that insurance organizations have enough money on hand to pay out claims as they arise. Finally, insurance is at the forefront of game changing issues that impact the world around us like climatic change, autonomous cars, the shared economy (eg. Uber, AirBnB), and cyber security. These issues are presenting challenges in almost every area of life and in business – insurance is no exception.

TalentEgg
Sonia, a Criminology and Economics major at the University of Toronto asks:
“I am currently working as an Adjuster and taking courses with CIP. I would like to get information regarding the path I could take to switch from adjusting to Risk Management/Loss Prevention.”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections
Sonia – First, let me say welcome to the industry and great choice for ‘hatching’ your career in insurance! In answer to your question, there is a lot of opportunity for mobility and variety in your insurance career. It is definitely possible to make a transition to the areas of the business you mentioned. Your Chartered Insurance Professional (CIP) courses will help a lot. You can take courses in the applied professional streams and electives that can really round out your insurance knowledge and steer you towards opportunities in Risk Management and Loss Prevention. You may also consider taking courses towards your Risk Management certificate – which, could offer you up to two credits towards your CIP if you take your courses through the Insurance Institute. And, do not discount your experience working as an adjuster. You have exposure to the wordings of insurance policies, understanding the impacts of when risk becomes a reality, perhaps insights into how often a particular risk is resulting in a claim, etc. These types of experience can be translated and ‘flipped’ to fit in with the work of an Underwriter, Risk Manager, or Loss Control Specialist. You may also find it helpful to do more research on these roles on our website, network, and have conversations internally to see how you might make this transition.

TalentEgg
Want more information on this egg-citing industry? Be sure to explore Career Connections’ Employer Profile! http://talentegg.ca/employer/career-connections

Andrew, a graduate from Acadia University asks:
“How important is having a high GPA?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections
Andrew, Good marks can help – they show you are committed to learning and excellence. But, they are by no means the only measure of success. Nor are they the only thing that go into hiring decisions for those entering the P & C insurance sector. We suggest being well rounded – what you learn and the skills you develop from things like work experience, volunteering, playing sports, being a part of a club, exploring your passions, interests, etc. can all be leveraged to help you build a compelling case as to why you might be a great fit for a particular role in insurance. Also, building a strong network, having overall ‘career brand’, curiosity, and enthusiasm can go a long way to helping you connect to the insurance sector.

TalentEgg
Hamza asks:
“Is this field only for business students?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections
Hamza – Business is NOT the only background insurance employers are interested in. Many insurance professionals have backgrounds in things like psychology, political science, mathematics, actuarial science, IT, engineering, science, healthcare, automotive mechanics, skilled trades, criminology, law… you get the idea!

You may find it helpful to visit the ‘Your Education’ section of the Career Connections website to explore how your area of specialization could be leveraged in the insurance industry.

TalentEgg
Still have a burning question about the insurance industry? Check out this handy FAQ.

Millie asks:
“Do you have to be good with numbers to go into this field?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections
Millie – obviously, because insurance is the third pillar of the financial services industry and is based on models derived from a world of statistics and probabilities… it can seem like insurance is all about numbers. But, it is also involves people, relationships, communication, writing, marketing, systems, legislation, and more… therefore, we need people with a wide range of skill sets to fill the roles we have available.

Some roles are more numbers driven, others are more people driven. Explore and understand what you are good at… and, then start to explore the industry in more detail. This will help you to see how your skills and talents might be a good fit within our industry. Take our Quiz for an even more in depth look at how your interests, skills, and experience could be put to use in an insurance career.

TalentEgg
The insurance industry is an amazing place for young professionals to start their careers! Take a look at this article for more info.

Krishma asks:
“I only have retail experience, and not a lot of extra curriculars. What kinds of positions can I apply for in insurance?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections
Krishma – let’s not focus on what you do not have… and, focus on what you are bringing to the table. Which, in my opinion is a lot. Your are balancing work and school – this demonstrates an ability to manage multiple priorities and work to tight timelines. Also, your experience in the retail sector is all about relationships and customer service. These play an important role in being a broker/agent, claims professional, underwriting, and marketing. Take a look at these roles and see if they might be a fit for what you are looking for longer term when it comes to your career.

PS: a number of insurance professionals I respect and admire got their start in retail. Check out the ‘Your Experience‘ section of our site for more information about how this can be applicable to the insurance industry.

TalentEgg
On the fence about pursuing an insurance career? These 5 facts could change your mind! Take a look.

Jack asks:
“I have writing experience through writing for my school newspaper. Would this qualify me to be an underwriter?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections
Jack – amazing that you are writing for your school paper! This is a great way to build communication skills, develop capacity for research and working as part of a team, hone your experience with time management, and yes… probably, makes you a really good wordsmith. This in combination with what you are learning in school and other work experience may help you get your start as an insurance underwriter.

Also, experience in being detail oriented, editing, etc. can come in handy!

TalentEgg
We have a few more minutes for questions!

Maria, a Business Administration major at the University of Victoria asks:
“How much competition is there in the Insurance industry, and is it likely that I can advance my career there?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections
Maria – so, insurance like any other industry can have a competitive aspect to it – securing a role in a particular department, meeting targets or objectives within your department, receiving highest ratings for work outputs, audits, etc… all can create a desire to push forward and be excellent.

I should note, that there is an above average potential for advancement in the industry – in essence, if you work hard and do a good job, you will be rewarded.

TalentEgg
Jane asks:
“Is it required to have sales skills for these positions?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections
Thanks Jane! Good question. One of the most common misconceptions about the insurance sector is that it is all about sales. While sales is an important element in a role of say, a Broker or Agent… Sales would not often be a part of the claims, underwriting, risk management, loss control, investigations, actuarial, or appraising roles available in our sector.

TalentEgg
Is the time up already? That hour flew by! Thanks for all your egg-cellent questions, everyone.

We covered a lot of ground in the past hour! Hopefully you have a better understanding of the insurance industry and how you fit within it.

A very special thanks to our guest expert, Trevor! Anything you’d like to say before we finish?

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections
Wow! Great questions everyone!! I really appreciate you taking the time to participate in this session today. I hope you have found it helpful and informative as your explore your options in the insurance sector.

Let’s keep the conversation going – you can follow us on Twitter (@find_your_place) or Like us on Facebook. Also, check out our TalentEgg Profile, Youtube channel and website for even more information about careers in the insurance sector.

Many thanks to our moderator extraordinaire, Veronica, and to all of our friends in the egg carton for another great session. Have a most wonderful day everyone!!

TalentEgg
Thanks Trevor, I had a great time with this event, and I hope everyone else did as well!

If you missed out on our chat today, don’t worry – we will be posting a transcript soon. That way, you can review all the great info from today’s conversation!

Be sure to look out for future events on our Office Hours page as well!

Thanks again, everyone. Have an egg-cellent afternoon!

Ready to eggs-plore an insurance career? Check out Career Connections’ Employer Page for more information!

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