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Where to start

Insurance is concerned with managing the exposure to risk and so incorporates most financial transactions you can think of, from life and house cover to space and sport. It’s graduates roles are knowledge intensive, client and team facing and delivered under pressure, attributes common to most of the aspirational careers in the City. The Target Jobs website about Insurance gives an excellent overview of the work and roles, as well as a listing of the major employers, internship opportunities and news from the sector.

How to know if you are suited to this sector

Insurance cover, either for individuals or organisations, is first sourced and dealt with by an insurance broker who will identify which cover sold by which insurer is most appropriate. It is then passed to an insurance underwriter to assess a premium and any likely costs from a possible claim. Should a claim need to be made it will sometimes, especially for large sums, require a claims assessor or handler who may in turn need to use a loss adjuster to assess a realistic payment. Because the insurance business is such a large one and is especially strongly positioned within London, roles also exist in insurance account management and in insurance risk surveying. Each of these stages of the life cycle within insurance has graduate roles on offer and you should research which of them has a particular interest for you. The Reassured Careers Guide has a handy listing and summary of salaries and entry requirements for all the roles.

Each role requires a level of analytical skill, some with an emphasis on numeracy, especially around forecasting and evaluating risk. Each may also require differing levels of client and communication skills and claims assessors may sometimes have to work outside the office. This is a business built on “trust” and this is reflected in a clear concern for professionalism and ethical standards and the desire to protect individual or corporate clients.

How to get the experience to be credible

Insurance differs by type and in getting experience be sure it conforms to the graduate role you aspire to, namely, general insurance, life insurance/assurance, commercial insurance or reinsurance.

Internships and vacation work experience especially with the larger companies will be advertised in the same way as graduate roles on Handshake, Prospects Jobs and via Inside Careers.

Relevant experience exists outside the larger employers but may require an unsolicited application for “something appropriate” acknowledging that a career path towards a graduate role is not expected.

How to find employers and opportunities

The best known entry route is with Lloyds of London, the world’s largest specialist marketplace for insurance and reinsurance, and their Graduate Scheme.

Graduate schemes exist in all the large companies offering general or commercial insurance cover or in life assurance. Smaller companies may focus on providing specialised cover. There are opportunities in reinsurance companies, health insurers and even banks and credit agencies. Such employers will use Handshake to advertise their vacancies as well as Prospects Jobs. Inside Careers offers a particularly useful jobs board and employer directory covering insurance. There are also specialist recruitment jobs websites which carry entry level or trainee roles such as Insurance Jobs. The African-Caribbean Insurance Network is a social enterprise set up to boost ethnic representation within insurance and provides CV and interview preparation and mentorship.

 

Further study or certification required

One or two specialised postgraduate courses exist most notably one offered in Risk Management and Insurance at UWE Bristol or Insurance and Risk Management at Bayes Business School in London (formerly Cass). However employers will expect you to qualify professionally and will support you on the job whilst you do so. The Chartered Insurance Institute is the validating and regulatory body for professional qualifications which are clearly listed by Inside Careers and of which the most common is the Advanced Diploma in Insurance. Along with other training this leads to the chartered status of ACII.

Tips for succeeding in the application or selection process

You will need to show a combination of commercial awareness and some insurance industry sector knowledge when making applications and having interviews. The FT regularly focusses on the sector with news and special reports which you can access free of charge using your Raven account at www.ft.com. Make particular use of the Chartered Insurance Institute’s news and insights section to stay up to date. Ensure you know the basic positioning and differences between the main employers you are applying to and be able to compare them effectively if asked to rank your preferences in an interview. The British Insurance Brokers Association has a good website for a summary of current issues and news.

What Cambridge offers to help with this career

Contact Cambridge alumni who have worked in this sector and review a multitude of career trajectories for graduates of every subject by free text searching “Insurance “ on LinkedIn Cambridge alumni.

Other things you should know

To keep up to date with sector news of interest to graduates and to review employer profiles and an insight into how the profession is developing use Inside Careers from which you can also download a very useful free careers guide.