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Careers Centre

Insurance

Sector Overview

This page has been written by Pamela Andrew, the relevant Careers Adviser for this occupational area. To see how you can meet Pamela, or any of our advisers, visit our website.

What do they do?

Insurance is concerned with risk and arrangements designed to minimise its impact. Insurance is involved with almost every aspect of commercial and personal life. Beyond car insurance, holiday insurance and personal pensions are the complexities of insuring ships, aircraft, satellites and footballers’ legs. Insurance is a key part of Britain’s invisible export earnings. Many St Andrews students are attracted to lesser known areas of insurance and reinsurance risks such terrorism, media and professional indemnity through to high-value personal insurance, such as fine art and kidnap and ransom.

Where do they work?

Employment in insurance falls into three main areas: the London Market, insurance companies and insurance brokers. The London insurance market is where all three areas overlap. Employers in the sector include insurance companies, reinsurance companies, national insurance broking houses, and underwriting syndicates.

Most roles in insurance are office based but you can have frequent visits to clients.

Many of the large companies in the insurance sector, with multiple global offices are looking for highly-skilled, capable graduates. If you want to move from the UK to Australia, Asia, the Middle East, Europe, Africa or the Americas, insurance is full of opportunities to do just this. St Andrews graduates currently work in Singapore, Munich, Geneva, New York, Hong Kong and Brussels.

What is the work like?

You can be involved in the key issues facing the world today: climate change, cyber crime, political risk, the cost of supporting an ageing population? Insurance understands and helps to manage all of these issues and so many more. Insurance roles offer professional qualifications, excellent career progression which are well rewarded and the possibility of international work.  If you are business orientated, enjoy analysing facts and figures as well as proving excellent customer service this may be the sector for you.

Growth Areas

With new technologies everyday cyber crime is becoming a much more prominent risk. Climate Change with the recent floods, wild fires and other catastrophes is also a growing area.

New competitors have joined the insurance sector such as banks, building societies and supermarkets making it even more dynamic.

Roles:

 

The Discover Risk website provides an overview of working in this sector, and a detailed description of the roles.

 

 

Insurance attributes/skills profile

Key attributes/skills needed for the roleWhere you could develop these skills or attributes while at university
Analytical and problem solving skills with the ability to produce accurate facts, figures and reports.

Through academic studies and relevant work experience. Practical problem solving skills are particularly valued for example taking on the role of treasurer for a society.

Demonstrable interest in insurance and commercial awareness Keep up-to-date with business and sector news, especially through publications such as the Financial Times and Discover Risk.
Excellent inter-personal and customer service skills. The ability to negotiate is looked on favourably. Mainly through working in a customer service environment but could include roles such as university ambassador or working for a university unit.
Strong communication & interpersonal skills

Many of these skills you will develop through your academic studies and extra-curricular activities.

CAPOD offers courses on these kinds of skills regularly within its Professional Skills Curriculum
Ability to organise time and work methodically whilst paying attention to detail
Leadership qualities and effective team working skills
IT skills Using  the University’s subscription to the Microsoft IT Academy can help to develop your skills with programmes such as Excel, the latter is particularly valued in the finance industry.

 

Networks - why and how to use them

Why are networks important?

Networking is particularly important and can help you succeed with your applications. If you have been in contact with someone working for the organisation then you have extra information to back up your case for why they should employ you. Use social media sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook (many organisations have their own page) to connect with organisations.

Where alumni work now

Recent St Andrews graduates have gone on to work for Aviva, Standard Life, Willis, AIG and Prudential Assurance. Alumni can make extremely useful contacts, giving you an "edge" with your applications and interviews.

Your networks

There are several ways to make contact with alumni.

 

How to gain experience/internships

To gain a graduate position in insurance, it’s certainly an advantage if you have relevant experience or have completed an internship.

If you can't get experience with an insurance company, look anywhere in the financial sector where you will get the chance to find out about financial markets and work with clients. Concentrate on those areas where you can develop analytical and interpersonal skills.

Read TARGETjobs ‘Getting work experience and internships in retail banking, insurance, regulation or actuarial science’

 

How to get a (graduate) job

How to start your job search

Qualifications required

The majority of employers usually require a 2:1 for their graduate training schemes, although some schemes (eg Lloyd's) accept a 2:2.  Graduates from any degree discipline can work in the profession as you will learn the specialist skills on your graduate scheme and beyond. Companies are looking for people with the right set of skills (see section above), rather than a particular set of knowledge. That makes for a diverse and stimulating sector where historians, linguists and engineers can be team members.

Graduate programmes

Several of the large employers in the insurance sector offer structured graduate training schemes. Some of these will look first to their talent pool of students who completed internships at their own firm when looking to recruit, so it's important to gather as much relevant experience of the industry while still at university, to improve your CV and forge contacts in the business. It is generally accepted that the best time to apply to insurance companies for a graduate position is at the beginning of your final year at university, with TARGETjobs noting that deadlines for larger insurance graduate employers normally end sometime between November and January, whilst smaller employers will recruit graduates on a more ad hoc basis.

Smaller organisations

Smaller firms may occassionally have vacancies. Consider making speculative applications to find opportunities. Use the ABI listing of companies to find employers.

Example of employers who have offered graduate insurance positions


Jobs online

The following websites advertise vacancies in insurance and finance-related areas:


Recruitment Agencies

There are a number of insurance recruitment agencies, including:

 

Applications, interviews and assessment centres

Application procedures

The recruitment process for the insurance industry will vary by individual employer, but may include some, or all of the following steps:

The following websites provide some good advice on making insurance applications:

Be aware of what to expect at each stage and what the recruiters are looking for. Employers usually provide advice on their selection processes - check individual websites for full details prior to making an application. Interviewers will want to ascertain why you would like to work for/with them, so be prepared to talk about the goals and projects of the organisation in order to articulate why you feel you would be a good fit for the organisation and it for you – this will also show them that you have an active interest in the company and the industry. Be sure to express yourself enthusiastically and make sure you can explain what it is about the position that interests you.

 

Relevant postgraduate study

Is it a requirement?

For further information on researching and planning for a postgraduate qualification, please visit the postgraduate study page.

Key UK links and resources

Careers Centre resources

'Take-away:'

Online:

General insurance careers information

Professional Bodies, Trade Organisations & Journals/Magazines

 

USA resources

The USA job market and recruitment timetables, for both internships and graduate jobs, for sectors of employment often differ from the UK.

The Careers Centre subscribes to the reputable independent USA careers information and vacancy provider Vault. The links below will take you directly to Vault subscription resources which cover this sector. You may find further useful and relevant resources linked from there as well.