Ursula Murphy, Human Resources Director at Allianz Ireland, discusses the ins and outs of a career in insurance, highlights a diverse range of roles available to graduates and professionals and asks the question: is this career path right for you?
As a graduate or a school leaver there are a multitude of things to consider as you look to enter the workplace. You’ve worked hard during your studies, but what’s next?
Pursuing a career in the insurance sector means joining an industry that in 2014 had a combined premium income of over €11,645m, accounting for 6.2% of GDP.*
In Ireland, the insurance industry employs approximately 28,000 people – with over 1,450 working across a number of Allianz organisations and departments – to deliver a range of insurance products from car, home and pet to commercial vehicle, property and more.
A job in insurance is not only one role or one career path, but a membership of a professional and dynamic industry that provides excellent opportunities, career progression and the ability to undertake lifelong, career-based learning.
The general insurance industry is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland and our educational body is The Insurance Institute. As a part of this, embarking on a career in insurance means working within a sector that has committed to ongoing professional development, across a diverse range of professions.
For some graduates, the progress toward professional insurance qualifications can commence as part of their third level curriculum, but for others considering a career in insurance, this commences when you join an insurance company.
In Allianz, we are committed to working with our colleagues who join us post education, to support them towards the Professional Diploma in Insurance (CIP).
Like many of our industry colleagues, we also support and invest in advanced insurance qualifications such as the Management Diploma in Insurance (MDI), Advanced Diploma in Insurance (ACII) and Fellowship of the Chartered Insurance Institute (FCII), meaning that you can continue to grow professionally and develop your knowledge base, in line with your career.
Career paths in insurance
There are a number of career paths in insurance. To understand if any of these are right for you, here is some more information on what a career in each space entails:
In insurance, the customer is the centre of what we do. In Allianz Direct, we have over 70 agents, who are responsible for engaging with our personal customers by phone, email, letter and online through MyAllianz. In customer service you can learn about personal insurance products, such as home, motor and pet and commence or continue professional insurance exams.
Is a career in this area for you?
If you are committed to delivering exceptional customer service, have strong communication skills, and enjoy working in a busy target driven environment, this could be the career for you.
Underwriting within any insurance company is the area responsible for assessing the risk behind the insurance products that are sold. In real terms, underwriters make sure that the price you pay for your motor insurance is enough to cover costs, including the cost of replacing your car, and to cover any claims costs incurred by injury.
Underwriting also works closely with business customers and broker partners to make sure that the cover applied is enough to protect against potential losses across a number of areas, like liability, property and even marine insurance.
Within underwriting itself, it’s also possible to have very different responsibilities; a career here could involve working closely with actuaries, pricing and developing products, working with brokers to design cover or analysing the health of the overall risk held by a company.
Allianz has a team of Underwriting Analysts most of whom will come from a Maths, Physics or Quantitative background, and in 2016 is introducing a new Underwriting Fraud area, mirroring market leading best practice from Allianz Group.
Is a career in this area for you?
If you have an analytical mind-set, can explain technical concepts in plain English and work well with colleagues within sales, compliance, actuarial and claims, a career within underwriting or analysis could be the career in insurance for you.
The claims team within any large insurer are the people who take care of customers during times of stress; after a car crash, a burglary or when a pet needs to visit the vet, depending on the insurance cover you have taken out. Claims teams, like those here at Allianz, handle claims from the first call to notify them that a claim may be needed, all the way through to finalising the claim.
Most claims handlers will specialise in an area over time. Some areas to consider are motor, home/property and injury claims, although some claims handlers may have more than one area of speciality, particularly for those who deal with business customers and very high value risks.
Within the insurance industry, there is an increased emphasis on controlling the costs of fraudulent claims, so a career in in this area may even mean that you become involved in investigations, review accident reports and attend court proceedings.
Is a career in this area for you?
If you have a commitment to delivering exceptional service, have an investigative mind-set, outstanding attention to detail and can work well with a multitude of departments (which can even include other insurance companies), a career in claims could be the right area of insurance for you.
Other career paths in insurance
Insurance as an industry is a fantastic place to commence your career in a multitude of areas; finance, IT, actuarial, compliance, risk and legal, to name a few. Career based learning is encouraged and supported in these areas of business too, toward professional accreditations such as the ACCA, ACOI and ASA.
How do you get started?
As a graduate, school leaver or early career professional there are some fantastic resources that provide information on careers, training and development and qualifications if you’re interested in pursuing a career in insurance.
*For information on the insurance industry in Ireland, visit the Insurance Ireland website where you will find some really interesting statistics on the industry itself. Their 2014 factsheet can also be found online here.
About the author
Ursula Murphy is Human Resources Director with Allianz Plc. Ursula has extensive Strategic Leadership, Change Management and Organisational Development experience across a number of sectors. She holds an MBS in Business Practice from University College Cork, an MSc. in Strategic Human Resources Management from Sheffield Hallam University and a Graduate Diploma in Personnel Management (DIT). Ursula holds further post graduate qualifications in Management and Industrial Relations (NCI), a Diploma in Business Coaching (Mindstream) and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (FCIPD). In addition, Ursula has received a Certificate of Merit from the Institute of Directors Centre of Governance at UCD. Ursula is Chairman of The Irish Youth Foundation and a non-Executive Director of Business to Arts.
Allianz p.l.c. is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. Registered in Ireland, No. 143108.