Making Insurance an Industry of Choice to Work In

This article originally appeared on Best’s Review.

Ask most of your colleagues how they got their start in the insurance industry, and you’ll typically hear “It’s kind of a funny story. . . I basically stumbled in to it.”  You might hear “My dad was in the business.”  You never hear “I wanted to help people.” Or “I saw the innovative work Company X was doing and wanted to be at that company.”  Companies like IBM, Google, and Apple have people pursuing a spot in their ranks from the moment they enter the workforce. How can insurance become an industry of choice?  Here are three suggestions to start developing this reputation:


Create awareness of the purpose of insurance in every interaction:


Employees, particularly Millennials, want to work for organizations that are serving society.  What could be more pro-social than providing protection for individuals and business when they have a claim?  When I was a direct sales agent, I had the opportunity to hear Joseph Jordan (author of Living a Life of Significance), speak on what it meant to deliver claims checks to widows.  More recently, I attended a CPCU Society conference, where a claims manager shared an anecdote with a table of Insurance and Risk Management students, he ended it by saying “I would be shocked if you work at an insurance company and haven’t seen a claims adjuster tear up telling you about a claim from some point in their career.”  Hearing these stories and seeing the benefit that we provide when we settle a claim is the most inspiring thing about an insurance career.  In some of our entry level or support roles, it can be easy to lose sight of the greater purpose.  Being intentional about sharing these stories regularly will help employees connect their role to the already awesome mission of the company and the industry.


Speak the language of your potential employees:


As insurers look to attract and encourage interest in potential hires from outside the industry, it is important to recognize that insurance has its own language and jargon.  Even when I write a story about delivering claims checks or protecting individuals when they have a claim, I am speaking a language that other insurance professionals understand.  If I wanted to make this meaningful to someone outside the industry, I would need to write in their language.  I would need to talk about what happened that caused the check to be written, what the checks paid for, and how the insured felt after they were able to get their life back in order.  I would want to avoid words like indemnify and settlement.  Similarly, if I am writing a job description for the work I do, I ought to write it using phrases that paint a picture of my day to day work, so that someone who has never been an underwriter, a producer, or a risk control consultant can imagine themselves in the role.  This seems like it would be a simple fix, and yet, even I must remind myself not to speak in “Insurance” when I’m sharing stories with my family and friends.  To help others be inspired by the work we do, we must adopt this practice.


Adopt benefits and practices that are important to your (potential) employees:


We often hear about exciting perks offered by some companies like on-site laundry, gourmet cafeterias, and nap pods.  While these are fun extras, the insurance industry ought to adopt and maintain benefits and practices that will provide long term value to their employees: professional development and career pathing, true work life balance and flexibility, and financial incentives that match up with employees’ individual needs.  Forbes reported recently that 4% of employers are offering a student loan repayment benefit in 2016.  If employers are looking for ways to attract Millennials, this is definitely a benefit that will impress!



With the looming Talent Crisis, and as our industry becomes more technologically sophisticated and data driven, we must prepare to attract top talent by becoming an industry of choice  These three items are just the beginning of the transformation.  Our work will not be done if we accomplish these things, and we must continue to adapt if we wish to attain and retain industry of choice status.

About Carly Burnham

Carly Burnham began her insurance career in 2004 as an office assistant at an agency in her hometown of Duluth, MN. She got licensed as a producer while working at that agency and progressed to serve as an office manager. Working in the agency is how she fell in love with the industry. She saw firsthand the good that insurance consumers experienced by having the proper protection. When Carly moved to Des Moines in 2010, she decided to commit to the industry, and she completed her CPCU in one year finishing it in 2012 and attending commencement in New Orleans. She completed her MBA at Iowa State University in 2014. During this time, she and Tony founded a Gen Y Associate Resource Group at Nationwide in Des Moines. After they had both left Nationwide, Tony recruited Carly to co-author and manage She has the difficult task of keeping his constant flow of crazy ideas focused and helping to flesh them out into useful articles. Carly enjoys sharing knowledge and ideas about the future of the industry and finds the website a good outlet for this passion. Carly is involved in the the CPCU Society Underwriting Interest Group. She also writes "Next Wave" a monthly column in the "Perspectives" section of Best's Review.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.