Careers in Risk Management & Insurance

Agents or brokers are primarily responsibility for selling and/or placing insurance. Agents or brokers act as intermediaries between the customer and the insurance company. It is their job to evaluate and select risks for placement with insurers that can provide insureds with the best coverage at the best price. The agents or brokers also may provide the customer with additional services such as helping customers identify the risks they face as well as determining various ways of controlling, retaining, or transferring the risks. They play a very important role in the insurance industry because they are the first contact that most customers have with the industry when applying for insurance as well as when they have a claim.

Claims Adjuster
A claims adjuster is responsible for settlement of policyholders' claims. The adjuster will investigate the claim, determine if coverage exists, and decide how much should be paid. As a result, adjusters are insurance companies' first line of defense against fraudulent claims. They must have extensive knowledge of company policies and current insurance laws. Adjusters also must be able to communicate and negotiate effectively with insureds, claimants and/or other insurance companies. They are used in both commercial and personal lines of insurance.

Risk Manager
A risk manager is responsible for identifying risks and determining the most effective ways to deal with the risks in order to preserve firm's assets against accidental losses. Losses could result from events such as product or professional services liability, property damage, or employee dishonesty. A risk manager uses various methods, including loss control, retention, and risk transfer techniques, including insurance, to reduce risk. Risk managers are primarily employed by large to mid-sized corporations, non-profit organizations, and public entities. Risk management is sometimes outsourced to consulting firms and other businesses.

While agents or brokers may provide the initial screening of risks, it is the underwriter that makes the final decision on whether or not to insure a risk. In other words, underwriters are responsible for determining if risks meet the criteria set by the insurance company and what rate classification the risk can be placed in. Underwriters work closely with agents and brokers in an effort to make sure that the insurance company has all of the needed information. They also may work with agents, brokers and potential customers to address specific concerns regarding the risk.

Other Career Opportunities

Accountants, investment specialists, economists - In compliance with regulation, insurance companies must be able honor all claims made against its policies. In order to do so, they must maintain sufficient financial reserves. Accountants, investment specialists, economists are responsible for investing premiums, completing regulatory filings, and preparing financial statements as well as managing the day-to-day financial functions of the company, such as payroll and budgeting.

Educators - The primary responsibilities of educators are to provide the training required to keep employees up to date on changes in the industry and to aid employees in obtain licenses needed to perform their jobs. They also are often responsible for determining what type of training and/or skills are needed for different positions within the company and designing training aimed at career advancement.

Investigators - Insurance companies attempt to protect themselves against fraudulent claims by using both in-house and contract investigators. Suspect claims are referred to investigators. They research things like prior claims involving the same individuals or vehicles or the use of the same doctors and/or lawyers with multiple claims to determine if a claim is legitimate. They may conduct surveillance on individuals claiming injuries or inspect property suspected of being intentionally damaged.

Lawyers - One very important responsibility of lawyers within the insurance company is to review policy language. Since insurance policies are in fact contracts between insureds and insurance companies, the policies must be written such that the promises the insurance companies are making and the responsibilities of the insured are clear and not open to interpretation. In-house and outside lawyers are also used to defend insurance companies and insureds against lawsuits, to make sure insurers are operating within the scope of the law, and to communicate with lobbyists and regulators on proposed legislation that would affect the insurance industry.

Loss control specialists - The objectives of loss control specialists are to try to reduce the frequency with which losses occur and to reduce the severity of losses when they do occur. This involves working to identify the hazards a company faces and determining the most effective way to control them. Specialists generally work for insurers, brokers, or consulting firms and generally have highly specialized and/or technical knowledge in the field in which their customer operates.

Public relations/consumer affairs experts - How the insurance industry and specific companies are perceived is important to the insurance community. Public relations or consumer affairs experts are responsible for keeping the public well informed on insurance related issues and what their company is doing to address policy concerns.

Regulators - Both the state and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners employ individuals to approve policy and rating changes by insurers, to issue licenses to insurers, agents, and brokers, and to assist consumers who have questions about insurance or complaints related to claims settlement. They also are involved with monitoring insurers to make sure they are adhering to the insurance codes in the states in which they operate.

System analysts - Being able to efficiently and accurately store and recall coverage information and loss data is essential to the functioning of the insurance company. System analysts are needed to design and manage these systems as well as integrate outside resources used to investigate and process applications for insurance and claims. Additionally, risk management information systems are used by risk managers to organize all of the information they need to effectively identify and manage the risks faced by their customers.