CLAS Industry Spotlight: Insurance

Wondering about how to use your CLAS degree in the world of business? Have you considered a career in insurance?

For more information and tips about entering the insurance industry, check out our interview with CLAS alumni Sonja Plasvic, and review the articles, job boards, resources, and professional associations below:

Alumni Insights:

Sonja Plavsic ’13, Adjuster, Amica
College Major: Honors Psychology and Communication Sciences; Minor in Business
LinkedIn URL: www.linkedin.com/in/splavsic
(If your reach out to Sonja on LinkedIn, remember to mention that you found her info through this blog post)

  • Why did you decide to pursue a career in the insurance industry? (See Response)
  • What is your favorite part about your job? (See Response)
  • What is a typical day in your job like? (See Response)
  • What skills do you need to succeed as an insurance adjuster? (See Response)
  • Do you need a specific educational background to enter this career? (See Response)

Relevant Articles:
Look to the Insurance Industry for Job Stability
By Dona DeZube, Monster Finance Careers Expert

Types of Companies:
“While most people think of insurance as a consumer product, businesses also need insurance for a variety of reasons, but mostly to protect their assets in the event of lawsuits, disasters, thefts, and so on. Thus insurance can be divided into two primary types: individual or personal policies and commercial or business policies. Once this categorization has occurred, they can be divided further into four additional types of insurance:

  1. Health insurance: Covers expenses in the event of illness, hospitalization, etc. Individuals can purchase their own policies, and companies provide health insurance benefits for their employees.
  2. Life insurance: Pays benefits to a designated beneficiary when the policyholder dies. Like health insurance, life insurance is purchased by both individuals for personal use and by businesses as a benefit to their employees.
  3. Liability insurance: Protects individuals and businesses in the event of a law suit, and other specific insurances, such as executive insurance.
  4. Property insurance: Insures properties such as homes, cars, boats, and business buildings and inventory.

An insurance company can be licensed for life and health insurance or property and liability insurance. Life and health companies offer protection to individuals directly or through companies (e.g., group insurance). Property and casualty companies offer policies only to individuals and families (e.g., GEICO and Progressive) or to individuals and families as well as businesses (e.g., Nationwide, Travelers, Allstate).” (Retrieved from Vault.com)

Related Positions:
Accountants and Auditors
Actuaries
Business Managers
Financial Institution Officers and Managers
Forensic Accountants and Auditors
Insurance Claims Representatives
Insurance Policy Processing Workers
Insurance Underwriters
Life Insurance Agents and Brokers
Property and Casualty Insurance Agents and Brokers
Risk Managers

(Retrieved from Vault.com)

Industry Job Boards:
Search for internships and jobs
www.greatinsurancejobs.com/
www.insurancejobs.com/
www.insurancejournal.com/jobs/
www.ultimateinsurancejobs.com/
www.indeed.com/q-Insurance-jobs.html

Professional Associations:
Build your professional network and industry knowledge. Additional professional associations on Vault.com

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
Association of Professional Insurance Women
American Business Women’s Association
America’s Health Insurance Plans

Additional Research Resources:

American Statistical Association Information about statistician positions in insurance.
Bureau of Labor Statistics Career summary, what they do, work environment, how to become one, pay, job outlook, and similar occupations.
Careers in Business “Careers-in-Business.com brings you the latest scoop on various business career areas including jobs, salaries, what people are saying and entry requirements.”
Career Overview: Insurance Shares industry insights, sample job titles and descriptions, required skills, and earnings info.
CRSWire “CSRwire is a digital media platform for the latest news, views and reports in corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability. CSRwire has helped to pave the way for new standards of corporate citizenship, earning the international respect of thought leaders, business leaders, academics, researchers, activists and the media.”
Wall Street Journal Global news and business coverage.

(Additional resources on Vault.com, Industry Guides, and O*NET)

Interview with Sonja Plavsic ’13, Adjuster, Amica

Why did you decide to pursue a career in the insurance industry?
I never really planned on working in insurance. I applied to a lot of different jobs my senior year of college, mostly in marketing and human resources. What drew me to the adjuster position was that it seemed different from other positions I had been applying to, as it had a more diverse workload and more autonomy, which appealed to me. I knew I didn’t want to be stuck in a cubicle all day and that I wanted to be challenged. Negotiation, conflict management, and time management are skills that are easily transferrable across industries, and were skills I wanted to hone, and it seemed like I would be able to do so with this job (which, I’m glad to say, I have!). I was drawn to Amica in particular because of its reputation and commitment to customer service.

What is your favorite part about your job?
I have a couple of favorite parts about my job. It’s hard work, but it’s fulfilling and I feel like I’m helping people. I also feel lucky in that I have a great support system within Amica. As soon as I started the job, I made friends within my training class, and even though we’re all spread across different offices throughout the country now, we still keep in touch. My coworkers in Hartford are also wonderful – everyone is always willing to help each other out and provide their own insight. Upper management is really accessible and invested in us and our futures, which is a quality I was looking for when I was applying to jobs.

The freedom of the adjuster position may be a double-edge sword, but I love being able to leave the office to do my job and discovering new places while driving to appointments. I like stopping by local coffee shops while on the road and taking note of parks and places to explore on the weekends. This one time, I had an appointment at a house that was literally 50 feet away from a small beach so, after I was done, I took a moment to kick my shoes off and enjoy the water and sand before driving back to the office… I don’t think that would be possible with very many other jobs.

What is a typical day in your job like?
I don’t have a typical day! Every day is different and I have the freedom of making my own schedule. I split my time between being in the office and being in the field, which means I have to be very flexible and able to change my schedule around in a moment’s notice if something comes up. I handle liability/bodily injury claims and homeowners’ claims, so my workload is varied. My responsibilities in the field include taking statements from involved parties and witnesses to accidents, taking photos of places where incidents have occurred, and doing home inspections. I could be going from taking a statement from an injured person about an accident one moment to inspecting water damages from a pipe break at a home, the next. I try to schedule my appointments so that I’m able to finish with road work by a certain time in order to go back to the office and finish reports, write estimates, and negotiate settlements. I’m also able to work from home and, although I don’t generally work from home, it’s nice knowing I have the option.

What skills do you need to succeed as an insurance adjuster?
I think what is most important in order to succeed as an adjuster is competency of soft skills, such interpersonal savvy, being action oriented, and dealing with ambiguity, as we teach most of the technical skills in our different training programs. Time management is crucial as well, and it’s something that I struggled with. As an adjuster, I have to manage all my claims and all the people in them, make sure my files are well documented, and ensure that I’m taking the time to do extra work like calling people and sending follow up letters. While I might be working on an estimate and trying to reach an agreed upon scope of repairs with a contractor for a homeowners claim one minute, I might be trying to settle a bodily injury claim with an attorney, the next. It’s a learning process, and you’re started off very slow. The important thing is to be able to be disciplined and not abuse the freedom that comes with the position – if you’re able to do that, no matter what industry or position you’re in, you will be able to succeed.

Do you need a specific educational background to enter this career?
Not at all! Amica accepts all majors. Among my coworkers are English majors, Applied Mathematics majors, History majors, Psychology majors, Business majors, Biology majors…the list goes on. At the very least, we require a bachelor’s degree and a willingness to relocate. Amica differentiates itself in that it provides a seven week training program at the home office in Lincoln, RI, where new employees in the Future Leaders Program learn about their job duties, Amica’s company culture, and network with company executives.

Unless otherwise cited, direct quotes are from the organization’s “about me” page. The UConn Center for Career Development does our best to provide up to date, relevant resources, however the Center for Career Development does not specifically endorse any of these sites. Before joining an organization, investing in classes, or utilizing a placement agency be sure to check its credentials through additional sources.

By Emily Merritt
Emily Merritt Career Consultant, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Emily Merritt