What is an insurance Broker?
The UK has the largest insurance industry in Europe and the 3rd largest in the world and there are more than 2,000 registered insurance brokerages in the UK employing over 100,000 people.
Insurance brokers are responsible for identifying and organising suitable insurance cover for commercial organisations and private clients within the general insurance industry.
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 individual or business clients.
As an insurance broker your typical tasks would include:
- gathering information from clients to assess their insurance needs and evaluating their risks
- researching policies from a number of insurance companies, comparing features, level of cover and price
- arranging insurance cover for clients, submitting details to insurers
- negotiating with underwriters at the insurers for policies at the best terms
- renewing or changing existing policies
- ensuring cover and documentation meets legal and regulatory requirements
- collecting insurance premiums and processing accounts
- advising customers who are making a claim on their insurance policy
- inputting data to a computer system, issuing documentation and keeping detailed records
- Preparing reports for insurance underwriters and surveyors, in complex cases.
Retail insurance brokers usually focus on sourcing general insurance cover for individuals or companies, such as motor, home, pet or travel cover for individuals or property damage and business interruption for companies.
Commercial insurance brokers deal with standard risks such as Commercial Property, Commercial Package, Liability, Motor Trade, Motor Fleet but also more complex, higher value and sometimes really unusual requests, such as insuring a fleet of ships or sportspeople and celebrities.
You would offer products from more than one insurance provider, so your advice must be impartial.
The British Insurance Brokers Association is the UK’s leading general insurance intermediary organisation representing the interests of insurance brokers, intermediaries and their customers.
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.
You do also find that the larger national insurance brokers look at University graduates who are interested in applying for a graduate training scheme. Graduate trainees enter at a more senior level and are usually offered a permanent job at the end of their training programme.
Be warned, however, that this route is generally extremely competitive, and the interviewing process is often extensive. You may be asked to attend several interviews in addition to group assessments. You will need a good degree and excellent interview skills.
Bear in mind, however, that while graduate training schemes are an excellent way to enter the insurance business a little higher up the ladder, many people find success by taking an entry level position and working their way up after proving their commitment and skill.
Entry requirements can vary between employers in the insurance industry. Companies often prefer a minimum of GCSEs (A*-C), including English and maths. IT skills are also important. You may need a minimum of A levels or equivalent qualifications to get onto a management training scheme. The Diploma in business, administration and finance can provide a useful introduction to working in insurance and customer focused finance roles, like broking.
Specialist recruitment agencies such as Barker Munro are a good place to begin looking for work.
Employers may also encourage (or demand) that employees study for additional qualifications. This is particularly common on graduate training schemes. Often, these qualifications will be from the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII)
Entry level insurance brokers can progress from the CII Certificate in Insurance, to the CII Diploma in Insurance. Those who wish to acquire Chartered Insurance Broker status must also complete the CII Advanced Diploma in Insurance, which also requires 5 years of experience as an insurance broker.
More information about these qualifications and the role of the Chartered Insurance Institute can be found on the CII website.
Training and development
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.
Working as a general insurance retail broker (placing motor, home, travel and pet cover) is not a regulated function. However, many insurance brokers study for qualifications from the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII). The CII qualifications offer units of study relevant to the insurance functions you specialise in, for example marine, commercial or general insurance, and you can progress through levels:
- CII Level 3 Certificate in Insurance – for trainee brokers
- CII Diploma in Insurance
- CII Advanced Diploma in Insurance (ACII).
- CII also offers a lower entry-level qualification – the Foundation Insurance Test (FIT) Award in Insurance.
If you deal with complex and specialist wholesale risks in the London Insurance Market (sometimes known as being a ‘Lloyd’s broker’), you will need to pass the Lloyd’s and London Market Introductory Test (LLMIT). This is offered through the Edexcel BTEC Level 3 Award in Lloyd’s and London Market Insurance. You can also take the CII Level 3 Award in London Market Insurance.
You should keep up to date with new products and financial regulations throughout your career. The CII and the British Insurance Brokers’ Association both run a range of short courses at training centres throughout the UK.
Barker Munro, insurance recruitment specialists in Kent have established themselves as leaders in the South East Insurance market. Keep up to date with us on Twitter and LinkedIn for the latest jobs, news, contents, blogs and career advice