What is insurance and pensions?
What is insurance?
The point of insurance is to protect something that is valuable to you and make sure that you are compensated properly if something bad happens, like a flood in your home, an accident at work or a dodgy driver reversing into your shiny new car. You can insure pretty much anything: singers even insure their voices in case their throats get damaged and they can’t perform.
Pensions are a little different, they are a way of making sure you have regular money coming in after you retire from work. When you start a job, you and your employer can choose to invest a little bit of your salary each month into a pension fund that you’ll then get back in regular instalments after you retire.
Both pensions and insurance are about managing your cash over a long period of time so insurance companies often handle both. Insurance companies need people to work out the risks of insuring people or businesses, set out the rates, invest pension funds properly, help people find a good deal and check claims are legit.
What insurance and pensions jobs can I do?
Actuaries use their business and maths skills to measure the financial risks caused by real life events and business decisions. They use research and statistics to predict how likely it is that an event will happen, for example – that houses near a river will flood, that someone will have an accident on a construction site or that a business will lose money.
Actuaries use these risks to decide what rates people should pay for insurance, how much is needed to cover a pension fund, or work out a plan for investing money.
For more information about how to become an actuary, check out this interview we did with a graduate trainee actuary.
Insurance brokers advise people and businesses on the kind of insurance they need, as well as finding them a good value deal. Insurance brokers are experts at reading the small print and making sure people are properly protected by their plans.
Claims inspectors work for insurance companies to make sure that claims are valid. This can involve a bit of detective work, including visiting the scene of an accident, checking security footage and official records, as well as negotiating with claimants and lawyers to sort out payments. Loss adjustors do a similar thing, but work independently.
Pension scheme managers
It’s important that any company has enough money in its pension fund to pay out when employees retire. Pension scheme managers look after pension funds including developing new policies to offer employees, advising on investments and working out strategies for looking after the fund.
Asset managers invest cash from insurance premiums, or the money individuals pay into their pension, to grow these funds.
Underwriters decide whether or not applications for insurance cover should be accepted or if special conditions need to be made.
Working in insurance and pensions often lends itself to careers in banking and finance as well.
Is a career in insurance and pensions for me?
Insurance is a complex game, so being a good communicator is important if you do a frontline job like insurance brokerage, as you will need to explain detailed, technical info to clients.
If you’re good with numbers and problem solving, then working as an actuary or asset manager might suit you.
If you’d like to work investigating claims you’ll need to pay attention to detail, hunt down clues and research things thoroughly.
How can I start an insurance and pensions career?
To work in this field you should aim for at least 5 GCSES at 9-4, including maths and English. Economics or Business Studies are useful subjects too.
Maths, sciences, economics, computing and business studies are all key subjects.
To become an actuary you’ll need at least two A-levels including maths or a science subject. You’ll then register with the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries and take lots of professional exams to qualify after that.
To become an insurance broker you’ll need two or three A-levels, or an NVQ in Business.
If you get a trainee job with an actuarial firm, they will often help you to study while you work. A degree in maths or business will also help you get ahead and skip a few exams.
Some insurance firms offer advanced apprenticeships with the chance to gain professional qualifications, including trainee brokers, actuaries and underwriters. They will normally ask for a good maths A-level result to apply.
You can improve your problem solving skills by simply practicing logic puzzles and brain games. A great puzzle-based activity is the annual UK Maths Challenge. Taking part could help you with your studies and you'll pick up a certificate to add to your CV too, which will show your initiative and commitment.
Check out our jobs board to see the latest trainee and work experience opportunities.
What insurance and pensions qualifications are available?
There are lots of opportunities to get new qualifications on the job.
As a member of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, you can study to become an Associate or Fellow. Advanced-level students can become Chartered Enterprise Risk Actuaries, which is a global risk management qualification.
You can also become a Chartered Insurance Broker through the Chartered Insurance Institute.
Did you know these insurance and pensions facts?
Celebrities have a habit of insuring their super famous body parts. Rihanna reportedly has her legs insured for $1 million, and in 2006 David Beckham insured himself for £100 million.