Why I Love Insurance: Teresa’s Story

Raise your hand if you set out with a career path in insurance? (My hands are by my side.) 

Many of us in the insurance industry did not plan on being here. Frankly, the thought of insurance, let alone a career in it, did not even cross my mind until I saw a job posting for a claims position at an insurance carrier while studying for the NY Bar. Needless to say, I applied for and got that job. Now, over ten years later, I am still in insurance.  But, why did I apply for the claims job in the first place? What was so appealing about the position?

Growing up, I always had an affinity for business and law. In fact, in high school, I filled every elective class possible with anything even remotely related to business or law.  In college, I obtained an undergraduate degree in Business Management and, after graduating, began working at a large management consulting company. Even though I liked consulting, I still had a desire to learn more about law with the goal of somehow “marrying” it with my business background. Admittedly, I did not know what this “marriage” would look like or what career paths might encompass the two areas. However, I did know that I wanted a law degree to try and achieve this and I also knew I did not want to work at a law firm. So, I enrolled in law school, graduated, and sat for and passed two bars. 

Throughout law school and even during college, I had not heard about positions or careers in the insurance industry. So, when I came across the posting for this claims position, it was the first I learned that such a role even existed.  The description of the role appealed to me for a variety of reasons. Firstly, many of the skills I learned in law school such as critical thinking and issue spotting seemed inherent in the position. Also, the role intrigued me since I would be dealing with various legal issues such as contract language while also “managing” the litigation process for those claims in suit. On the other hand, I would also be dealing with the internal risk analysis for the carrier as well as utilizing investigative and problem-solving skills which tapped into my business background. All of these characteristics of the job appealed to me and even though I did not know what to expect, I took a leap of faith and applied.  Fast forward ten years later and I am still here.

Admittedly, I did not think I would stay in insurance and for a while, I did think I should be here. For years I kept telling myself “oh you need to be doing this…” or “I should be doing that….” The reality of it though is that I like insurance. (Yes, I just admitted that.) Actually, I do remember the moment when this all dawned on me. It happened one random day several years ago while my husband and I were sitting at the kitchen table finishing dinner. I started to tell him about my day then, of course, started talking about a claim my team was dealing with. While I cannot recall the details about the claim, I do remember that this conversation was during a time I kept telling my husband that I should be doing something else. My husband pointed out how enthusiastic I became talking about this claim and innocently asked why I kept saying I needed to be doing something else. Not to sound cliché, but that is when the “light bulb” went off. I realized, yes, I am supposed to be here. But then I asked myself why?  

Claims is a fascinating world. From dealing with a new legal issue to needing to come up with a creative solution to address a unique situation to having to interpret internal data about claim trends to communicate metrics to the underwriters, the need to constantly shift gears keeps me intrigued. Additionally, the vast array of claims and the nuances each claim or jurisdiction makes the day to day interesting.    

Insurance is everywhere and there are so many different facets– claims, underwriting, the broker side, risk management, defending policyholders in lawsuits. Insurance impacts so many areas and frankly, I am always learning something new. Whether it be how market conditions impact policy language and pricing or what new insurance product is being offered, things are always changing, and I like that.   From the numerous industries and areas that insurance touches to the countless types of policies and issues that exist, the possibilities of what can you can do in this industry seem endless. I think the abundance of opportunities the insurance world has to offer has made me stay here. Unfortunately, so many people are not aware of the way insurance infiltrates our world and the abundance of careers in and related to insurance. There needs to be more education in colleges or law schools about this industry and the different directions one can go in.  I, for one, am just happy I landed here!

About Teresa Milano

Teresa Milano is head of Professional Liability Claims at StarStone Insurance. She has extensive insurance, claims, and managerial experience with a focus on mitigating exposures and improving efficiencies. She is also a licensed attorney and panelist at various speaking engagements.

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