Going for broke in insurance

As an insurance broker or agent, you would act as the link between insurance companies and customers.

You would use your knowledge of the insurance market to find the most suitable policies for individuals or business clients.

Your typical tasks would include:

l gathering information from clients to assess their insurance needs,

l researching policies from a number of insurance companies,

l arranging insurance cover for clients,

l negotiating with insurers for policies at the best terms,

l renewing or changing existing policies,

l collecting insurance premiums and processing accounts,

l advising people making a claim on their insurance policy,

l inputting data to a computer system, sending letters and keeping records,

l preparing reports for insurance underwriters and surveyors, in complex cases.

You might advise on all types of insurance, or you could specialise in one main area, such as motor insurance.

You would offer products from more than one insurance provider, so your advice must be impartial.

In a full-time job you would typically work standard office hours Monday to Friday, although some high street brokers open on Saturdays. Part-time work is possible.

You would be office-based primarily, although in some jobs you may visit client companies.

If you work for a company with overseas business, you may occasionally travel abroad.

Starting salaries can be between £15,000 and £23,000 a year.

Experienced brokers usually earn between £20,000 and £40,000.

Salaries at senior level can be £50,000 to £100,000 a year.

Earnings may include commission and bonuses. A salary package may also include a company car, insurance and pension benefits.

Figures are intended as a guideline only.

You would often start as an insurance technician, junior account handler or trainee broker, and work your way up to broker as you gain experience and insurance industry qualifications.

Entry requirements can vary between employers in the insurance industry.

Companies often prefer you to have minimum qualifications of GCSEs (A-C) in English and maths. You may need a minimum of A levels or equivalent qualifications to get on to a management training scheme.

If you have a degree, you could join a large insurance broking firm’s graduate training scheme.

Most degree subjects are accepted, but you may have an advantage with a good degree (class 2:2 or above) in a business or maths-related subject.

Whatever your qualifications, you will find it useful to have experience in office work, sales or financial customer service.

You may be able to get into the insurance industry through an apprenticeship scheme.

Your training would be a mixture of on-the-job learning and study for insurance industry qualifications, possibly through a company’s structured training scheme.

Many insurance brokers study for qualifications from the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII).

If you were to advise clients on life assurance, health insurance or pensions, you would by law have to hold ACII qualification or you would need to take an extra qualification in financial advice (these are known as ‘appropriate exams’, qualifications which meet industry regulatory standards to prove you are competent.