My insurance careers reads like a Dr. Seuss book…”Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” I started this article with that line, but by the time, I finished proofreading I realized it was only a small piece of the story I wanted to tell and considered removing it. I left it in because, well, it’s an attention grabber, but I want everyone to know that there is so much more to this industry.
I started in insurance right out of school. Like so many stories, mine is no different, I just fell into insurance. I was a few weeks out of school with a Political Science degree and wasn’t really sure what I was going to do with my life. Either way, I was pestered by my lovely, caring mother to “get a job.” I ended up going to a temp agency, per her recommendation, to just do something. Anything. There was a data entry position open that the temp agency location manager told me I could apply for, but I just needed to take a typing test ( I think I needed to hit 65 words per minute or thereabout). Figuring this was a job that paid over minimum wage, $9.50 per hour, I took the test. I failed. I explained to the location manager this was the first time I ever took a typing test and asked for a second chance. Graciously, and thankfully, she obliged, and I had to quickly analyze what corrective actions I needed to make in order to pass. Needless to say, I did pass on my second try and was ready to report for duty the following week. Monday morning, I showed up at the client location – at the offices of The Hartford in Syracuse, NY. And while only a temp, my career had begun.
I share this story because I think it is important to impart that it is difficult for people to understand and grasp – myself included – how large a world insurance is when you are only a speck in a vast industry. And furthermore, what opportunities it holds for its constituents. Little did I know at that time what would be in store for me (by the way, they hired me full-time 3 months later). The only thing I knew about insurance at that time was that I had an automobile policy for my 1994 Buick Regal. Back then, I couldn’t explain one iota of that policy. Insuring agreement? Dec Page? PIP? As I rose through the ranks at the Hartford during my first four years in the insurance industry, I did learn a lot – mostly about claims and workers’ compensation – but slowly new topics were introduced. A decade later I realize I have been blessed to have worked on so many sides of commercial insurance, meet fantastic people, and obtain a plethora of skills and knowledge from books, experience, and mentors. From the carrier side, I eventually moved to a TPA, then in-house claims manager for a Fortune 500 company, to a global broker, and now employed as a consultant at a Big 4 firm. Each opportunity exposed me to new facets of the business and gave me an understanding of how so many different roles were all interconnected.
I want to pause though from my story to “insert here” why insurance is so cool – cool meaning important. It’s because it is so fundamental to capitalism, and it creates the ability for all people to live the American Dream. No, seriously, that is not fluff. Former Willis CEO Joe Plumeri called insurance the “DNA of Capitalism.” He is quoted as saying, “Without insurance, no bank would lend money to a construction company to build homes; no manufacturer would load their goods onto a freighter to carry those products across the oceans; no company that thrives on creative innovations would invest in research and development to advance whatever their cause – from pharmaceuticals to microprocessors. Without insurance, the people of Florida who lost their homes and just about everything they had at the hands of four devastating hurricanes last summer wouldn’t have received approximately $2 billion in a matter of days…” Being a part of such an amazing industry that makes the world turn is really appealing for me.
Insurance is a cornerstone of the economy, we just don’t get much credit…
Insurance touches everything we do. And no matter what your interests, there is a job for you in insurance. Are you artistic? Work in marketing. (C’mon, you have to know insurance has some of the best commercials. Allstate’s ‘Mayhem’ is one of my favorites.) Are you good with numbers? Be an actuary. Do you like to work with people? Go work in client services. Do you like finance? Go structure a $500 million insurance-linked security to help insurers get some CAT exposures off their books. Do you like healthcare? Be a nurse case manager or work in product development. Insurance also needs technology developers, attorneys, analysts and the list of opportunities go on and on. But most importantly, do you like to help people? All of these jobs indirectly impact people, especially claims adjusting. Being a claims adjuster who processes claims is not just pushing paperwork and making phone calls. After someone has lost a home to a tornado, totaled a vehicle in a major accident, or lost a spouse in a workplace injury, you can positively impact someone’s life during one of the worse times in their life. STOP…if you were skimming this article and missed my last sentence, then READ IT AGAIN. This is the second reason I love working in insurance.
Sometimes I get lost in the fanfare of being a consultant – travel, working with C-suite execs, dropping names of major clients, solving big and complex issues – but at the end of the day, I remember what I do has far reaching repercussions not only to my clients who I see day in and day out, but also their employees, policyholders, and their families. I love helping my clients, so they can in turn help their employees deliver a better experience to their customers, claimants or other stakeholders. So while companies in other industries tout social responsibility and improving lives globally, that is something the insurance industry does intrinsically on a daily basis.