A Career Path in Insurance Brokerage

Starting a career in insurance is often overlooked as a career option by many. This has been driven by limited awareness of the varied and diverse career paths available within insurance and up until recent years, a lack of availability of insurance specific third level qualifications available throughout Ireland. Put simply, the conversation about insurance as a career path was not discussed at school level, transcending beyond this into adulthood. For most seasoned insurance professionals, they somehow accidentally found themselves working in insurance initially and stayed because they enjoyed the variety of the work and found it to be a very rewarding and broad career. Thankfully today the picture is very different and there are many routes into insurance as a career path and many differing insurance career paths to choose from. This article focuses on insurance brokerage as a career path, the roles and progression opportunities within and the routes to start that journey (whether it be straight from school or as a change from an alternative industry).

Insurance Brokerage As A Career Path

As per Brokers Ireland, there are over 1,200 insurance and financial brokerage companies across Ireland. For those living in towns outside of large cities, this means that there is a high likelihood of a brokerage operating within their commutable working area. Very few professional service industries have this level of local presence, meaning that a career in an insurance brokerage is a very viable option for those who are seeking a fulfilling, progressive and professional career, without the need to relocate. Of course there are also insurance brokerages within cities across Ireland. In terms of the required skillset for a career within an insurance brokerage, the key associated skills relate to customer service, administration and the ability to take on board and apply learnings. These are skills that many people have from previous work environments, meaning that starting off a career in an insurance brokerage is accessible to most.

Roles and Progression Opportunities Within An Insurance Brokerage

Before we explain the roles available within an insurance brokerage, we first should explain what an insurance brokerage is. An insurance brokerage supports customers by assessing their insurance needs, following which they review all relevant providers within the market, to find the customer the cover that best suits their needs, at the most competitive price. Read our recent blog on the benefits of using an insurance broker here

Typically an insurance brokerage will have 2 broad career paths – Personal Lines and Commercial Lines. Personal lines deals with new and existing customer personal insurance needs, such as motor, home, van, farm, marine and health insurance. Commercial lines deals with new and existing commercial customer business needs such as commercial property, motor trade, professional indemnity, public liability, cyber and other technical commercial products.

Additionally some insurance brokerages (including Hastings Insurance) will also have a financial advisory offering to their clients and with this, a career path focussing on providing financial advice on personal financial products such as pensions, investments, personal protection policies and mortgages. We will cover financial advisory as a career path in another post later this year, as it is quite different from the personal and commercial insurance career paths, both in terms of roles within the career path and qualification requirements.

Finally depending on the size of the insurance brokerage there may be other applicable career paths, such as Claims, Business Development, Accounts, Compliance, Human Resources, Marketing and IT.

Personal Lines

Most people who start out in an insurance brokerage with no background in insurance will start in a personal lines role. This is because it is a great learning ground to learn the basic principles of insurance and although never having worked in insurance before, most people will have had exposure to personal insurance products (as a customer), at some stage throughout their lives. This combined with a new entrant’s existing skills in customer service and administration, typically means that they can reach an operational level of insurance knowledge (under supervision) within a few months in personal lines. The complexity of some commercial lines products means that commercial lines typically attracts those who have some insurance experience behind them.

The three main areas that a person in an insurance brokerage personal lines role can be working in are: 1. New customer quotations and sales, 2. Existing customer mid-year policy amendments and 3. Existing customer annual renewals. Within personal lines, these activities can all be carried out within the one role or may be divided between distinct teams. In terms of progression, there are varying types of roles within personal lines, beyond the customer advisor role outlined, typically including Product Specialist, Team Leader, Branch Manager and Operations Manager.  

Commercial Lines

As referenced, commercial roles within an insurance brokerage support commercial business clients, ranging from sole traders to large multinational corporations. Because of the range and complexity of business types and associated products, most commercial lines roles require a level of insurance experience before joining an insurance brokerage. However, this experience does not always have to be commercial insurance experience. Having personal lines insurance knowledge and professional insurance qualifications can be enough to secure a commercial lines role within an insurance brokerage.

There can be instances where a person without a background in insurance can move into a commercial lines administration role and then progress into more technically experienced roles with subsequent training and completion of professional insurance qualifications. Such roles require a background in administration and strong attention to detail. Typical commercial lines roles within an insurance brokerage include Commercial Account Administrator, Commercial Account Handler, Commercial Account Manager, Commercial New Business Executive, Claims Executive, Operations Manager and Business Development Manager.

Entry Routes Into A Career In Insurance Brokerage

There are three broad routes into starting your career in an insurance brokerage:

  1. Work First, Study Later
  2. Study First, Work Later
  3. Earn and Learn

Work First, Study Later

The first route into a career in an insurance brokerage is to secure an entry level customer service role, aligned with your previous experience of working with customers in another industry. Once you join the brokerage, you will then be provided with training to develop your skillset on the various products, systems and compliance requirements of the role. You will also be financially supported to complete your professional insurance qualifications through the Insurance Institute, a requirement of any role in insurance where you are providing advice to customers. Full details of the qualifications of Accredited Product Advisor and Certified Insurance Practitioner can be found on the Insurance Institute’s website.

Study First, Work Later

Many people start their career in insurance following completion of their third level qualifications, in either an unrelated field or a qualification that touched on insurance as a module major/ minor. This route into a career in an insurance brokerage can help in those initial stages of learning in the role, as terminology may be familiar for the person and they most likely will have developed a strong skillset in systems, attention to detail and are comfortable in a learning environment. There are a couple of third level courses in Ireland that will have a strong focus on insurance and include an insurance based placement as part of the college term; University of Limerick’s Risk Management and Insurance MSc is an excellent course in this regard.

Earn and Learn

The Insurance Practitioner Apprenticeship Programme is the third type of entry route into a career within an insurance brokerage. The Insurance Practitioner Apprenticeship is an honours degree level apprenticeship programme designed around the principle of studying whilst working in an insurance-based role.  This allows the student to practically apply the theoretical knowledge they are learning in college on a day-to-day basis in a work-based environment. College fees are fully funded by the programme and students earn a full time salary whilst completing the course. Study is done through a blend of online lectures, discussions and face-to-face group sessions – all during working hours.

The 3-year degree programme is open to anyone aged 18 and above, who meets the entry requirements (A minimum of 2 honours at higher level in the Leaving Cert or equivalent, and a pass in four additional subjects including Maths and English or Irish).  The programme is run by the Insurance Institute, and is delivered online in partnership with Atlantic Technical University, Sligo. Upon completion of the 3 years, students will have obtained 2 professional insurance qualifications, Accredited Product Advisor and Certified Insurance Practitioner, and will graduate with a BA (Hons) in Insurance Practice. Learn more at www.earnandlearn.ie.

If you would like to start your career in an Insurance Brokerage, Hastings Insurance have 8 offices across Mayo, Galway, Sligo and Dublin. Keep an eye of our website to see what roles we are hiring for.

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