Skills you'll need to work in insurance

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If you want to work in insurance, you need to be aware of how technology is reshaping the industry. The recent impact of digitalisation, emerging markets growth and regulatory change mean it’s crucial to keep your skills up to date.

“Traditional jobs will undergo change due to digitalisation. Human expertise will be applied only for complex and high-value claims or underwriting requirements,” says Sabine Goesch, chief human resources officer at Allianz Asia Pacific.

Across all jobs functions, insurance firms are now starting to put more emphasis on agility and flexibility – they want to employ people who can still thrive when their job description suddenly shifts. “While hiring, we no longer place importance only on soft skills like having a ‘curious mind’ or being ‘highly motivated’. We’re now looking for those who are agile and can handle change, identify new opportunities and undertake ‘lifelong learning’ to enhance their skill sets to meet the new market demands,” says Goesch.

Many insurance jobs involve dealing with clients who are facing stressful situations, which means that empathy and the ability to remain calm, listen, and remain in good spirits in the office are all vital ingredients for career success, says Alejandro Fernández Campos, a business Analyst at Munich Re. The global expansion of the industry and fact that insurance is intertwined with risk management mean that an “international mindset” and “outstanding analytical skills” will will be increasingly important, he adds.

The four core job functions in insurance – actuaries, underwriters, claims and brokers – also call for specific skill sets:

If you’re working as an actuary you must be highly numerate with a strong grounding in economics and statistics. Research skills are also vital, but you can’t just rely on your analytical expertise. Actuaries need to communicate complex topics and data to colleagues and clients in a way they can easily understand. There’s also a lot of self-discipline demanded at the start of your career because you need to juggle work with part-time study for your actuarial qualification.

Sound judgment and the confidence to make decisions are key to a career in underwriting as you’ll be constantly called upon to approve or reject insurance applications. Your numeracy and statistical skills will need to be sharp in order to analyse the data provided by actuaries. And you’ll be a good negotiator in order to negotiate terms with policyholders or their brokers.

Your numeracy and statistical skills will need to be sharp in order to analyse the data provided by actuaries

Strong customer service, interpersonal skills and problem-solving skills are needed for claims jobs – you’ll be communicating with claimants on a daily basis, many of whom will be in difficult circumstances. Attention to detail and analytical skills become more important as you become more senior and get involved in claims investigations.

As well as an encyclopaedic knowledge of available insurance products and an understanding of insurance risk, brokers need to be natural salespeople with the energy to build and maintain their own client networks. As intermediaries they must also be confident enough to negotiate with both clients and underwriters. Looking after your own client book also calls for good administrative and time management skills and the ability to work independently.