Insurance’s ongoing talent challenge

In this in-depth article, authors Brian Klapper and Francois Kouroriez explore the talent problem that consumer-driven disruption has inflicted on the insurance industry. They believe the insurance industry has three main talent challenges: 1. Most top graduates from business schools don’t aspire to work for insurance companies. “The industry projects a dusty, 19th century image,” they write. “People tend to think of insurance as looking backward as opposed to looking forward; a necessary evil rather than a positive force.” 2. Insurers are having trouble attracting the digital natives who may better understand the changing needs and expectations of digitally inclined customers. 3. Many of the well-regarded training programs were eliminated in the 1990s and 2000s, resulting in the loss of the pipeline of talent that was being developed. How can insurers get over these hurdles? “At the top, the C-suite and the board must recognize that their businesses require different kinds of talent than before and that the people they are hiring want different things from their work lives than did previous employees. Moreover, companies must engage this new generation of talent in novel ways, such as presenting them with the chance to actively participate in the transformational programs that will define the insurers of the future,” the authors write.

Remote work on the rise in Canada’s insurance industry

Canadian insurance employees are 13 percent more likely to work remotely than office workers in the United States, Canadian Underwriter reports this week. The article shares highlights of the Insurance Institute of Canada’s recent report, “Demographics of the P&C Industry in Canada,” which states that more than one-third of insurance employees north of the border work remotely, compared to the one in five U.S. workers who do. Remote work is most common in risk management (63 percent) and claims (41 percent). Only 20 percent of Canadian brokers and actuaries report working remotely. The article notes that working from home is not a set-in-stone rule, based on formal agreements. The Insurance Institute study found that 70 percent of the employees who work remotely do so on an informal basis. “Technology today provides us with the opportunity to enhance the employee experience with the ability to work from home,” Catherine Leclair of Gore Mutual told Canadian Underwriter. “This flexibility has given us the ability to attract top talent and provide all our employees with a better work-life balance. I see the concept of working from home continuing to expand in the future.”

Cultivating the future leaders of insurance

As baby boomers continue to retire from the insurance industry, insiders continue to worry not only about attracting the next generation of talent, but also about the loss of expertise and leadership. This Insurance Business Magazine article argues that the current transition period can be an opportunity, instead of an obstacle. “While many young people don’t consider insurance as exciting as other financial services fields such as banking or investments, by creating an ongoing and structured dialogue with younger people, insurance leaders have a chance to slowly shift those outdated views,” the article notes. Josh Ammons, vice president of the WSIA’s U40 group for young insurance professionals, shares his tips on engaging younger generations about the industry. “It’s a people business, and I don’t think enough people know that,” he says. “The retirements in the next five to 10 years are going to create so many opportunities, both for people who are already in the industry and fall into the under-40 segment, and for people in their early 20s who don’t know much about the business at all.” Ammons believes that insurance companies looking to attract the next generation of leaders should avoid being influenced by stereotypes about millennials. “It’s up to us as leaders to create a culture where millennials feel part of a team and are held accountable. We need to give them a career path, direction, and some mentorship and opportunities for development along the way,” he says.

Insurance: the new American dream job?

According to a new report from Bankrate.com, actuarial science was ranked the most valuable college major, with an average annual salary of $108,658 and a better-than-average unemployment rate of 2.3 percent. “The actuarial science profession is interesting because students don’t need advanced degrees to gain livable wages, but instead are certified through a series of exams overseen by the industry’s professional organizations,” Bankrate.com analyst Adrian Garcia told Bloomberg in an interview. “Students typically pass one to two of these exams while in school and then go on and complete others while working, earning raises and bonuses as they pass.” The study was based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 American Community Survey and ranked 162 majors with labor forces of at least 15,000 people. Other fields of study that topped the list were in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields, bolstering the efforts to get more students involved in STEM programs.

Survey predicts record hiring in insurance in 2018

According to the 2018 Insurance Industry Employment and Hiring Outlook Survey released earlier this month by GreatInsuranceJobs.com, there is potential for record hiring in the insurance industry through to the end of the year. The survey found 8,454 current job openings among 64 companies, with an additional 13,000 jobs to become available in the last three quarters of 2018. The top five positions insurance companies are looking to fill are in sales, underwriting, customer service/administration, technology and claims. On the other hand, the top hiring challenges include the lack of skilled talent, uncompetitive salaries and small recruiting budgets. “One of the biggest things is the fact that employers stated recruiting strategies have not changed since the recession,” explained Roger Lear, the site’s co-founder. “For most, this leaves them in the dust to companies who can get a targeted recruiting message delivered on multiple platforms. Most of our surveyed employers have not even considered new recruiting technology yet.”

Butler University pilots student-run insurance company

Students in Butler University’s Davey Risk Management and Insurance Program are underwriting Steinway pianos, rare books in the library, as well as the school’s mascot bulldog, according to an article in The New York Times. The student-run captive insurance company is the brainchild of Zach Finn, a clinical professor and the program’s director, and Michael M. Bill, co-founder of Indianapolis-based MJ Insurance, who funded the minimum capital for the company. “To the students, learning by doing through an on-campus insurance entity makes sense,” the article notes. Josh Toly, a Butler senior and the student company’s vice president for property underwriting told The Times: “We go here. We know the ins and outs of the buildings better than a standard insurance company would.”