General Insurance is technically defined as insurance of anything that isn’t Life or Health, so it’s a very broad topic. It covers everything from your house or mobile phone, through to a spaceship going to the moon. Most people break up discussion of General Insurance into “Personal Lines and SME (small businesses)” and “London Market”, because of the nature of the risks under each of these headings, and companies tend to specialise in one or the other. Actuaries get involved across a variety of areas in a General Insurance business, often linking together other functions such as Claims and Underwriting. It’s an exciting field of work, with no two years the same, and is very relatable to things you might see in the news such as rising inflation. This article aims to give you a bit of background of what it’s like to work in General Insurance and the types of roles you could take on.

Personal Lines and SME

  • Personal Lines insurance products are the type you would tend to interact with in your daily life – motor, home, travel, pet, gadget. They are often sold through price comparison sites or straight from the insurer, however they are also sold through brokers.
  • SME covers small, but relatively standard businesses, such as a hair salon or a takeaway restaurant.

As an Actuary, I see two main appeals of working in Personal Lines. Firstly, there is a lot more data than the other options, if you think about how many people need that kind of insurance, there are more policies and more claims to analyse, which can make it more interesting and easier to draw conclusions. The other thing I think is important is the link to the customer – the work we do as actuaries to help the business understand the drivers of claims experience, set appropriate reserves and capital, or price policies appropriately, helps protect the average member of the public by ensuring fair pricing and financial solvency of the business, which they are relying on in their time of need.

London Market

The London Market, and in particular Lloyd’s of London, is a world famous historical establishment, which insures some of the more obscure and bespoke risks – jumbo jets, space craft, a footballer’s legs – although there are also many large businesses and more standard risks. All the business is sold through brokers, and there is a lot of risk sharing and reinsurance to spread out some of the larger, less standard risks. There is less homogenous data, and therefore setting prices and reserves relies a lot more on judgement and understanding individual risks.

Some of the appeals of working in this area are the variety of different types of business and people interactions; because of the judgement-based approach there is a lot of speaking to non-technical people to get information to feed into technical models. Actuaries are also highly involved in business planning because there is so much variation and differing requirements year-on-year.

You can find out more by reading the ‘What is Lloyds of London?’ article on Insurance Careers’ website here.

Types of Actuary in General Insurance

Actuaries have a big part to play in General Insurance but, compared to Life and Pensions, are relatively new to the field. Broadly, the types of areas you can work in are similar across all General Insurance:

  • Reserving: setting appropriate reserves – in general terms, making sure the company puts aside the right amount of money to cover claims that have yet to come in or settle at their final value.
  • Pricing: setting the right premium at which to sell policies, which is complicated because you don’t know what the claims will be when you sell the policy.
  • Capital: calculating the assets an insurer needs to keep aside to protect against extremely rare events, for example those seen once every 200 years.

There are also Risk Management and Reinsurance fields, which are covered by their own articles.

Starting a Career in General Insurance

One thing General Insurance has that makes it particularly dynamic and exciting, is that it’s very susceptible to economic and environmental/political factors, and this means that as an Actuary you will have to respond to challenges and change your approach when the environment changes. For example, there have been new rules in relation to pricing, how you treat new customers vs renewals and, long ago, whether it was ok to charge a different premium for men and women. Reserving has been impacted by the way that personal injury claims are evaluated in court, among many other things. Therefore, this type of career would suit you if you are a flexible, creative problem-solver, and particularly if you enjoy digging into data to understand trends. As with any actuarial career, you need to be very comfortable with numbers and interpreting data, and able to communicate what you’ve done.

Firms tend to offer graduate entry-level positions and support you with your study through study days, purchasing study materials, and pay rises for exam success. At graduate level, employers are looking for aptitude for the type of work rather than in-depth knowledge, and will teach you what you need to know – there is a variety of Actuarial software used in the different fields of work, and a lot of terminology and theory to get your head around. It can be a really good idea to do an internship in your chosen field – it often leads on to a job offer at the end, and in any case will give you a chance to try out the career before you commit. Another thing you may wish to look out for is a graduate programme that offers rotations through different types of work – such as time in different product types or Reserving, Pricing, Capital, before you eventually settle into your longer term career preference.

You can see which employers are currently recruiting by viewing the ‘Find Jobs’ section of the website.

Overall, I can personally say I have had a very interesting and rewarding career in General Insurance since starting as a graduate, and I believe it has a lot to offer you too.

About the Author

  • Name: Philippa King, Senior Actuary at Ageas Insurance Ltd
  • Organisation: Ageas

Pip began her career at an Actuarial Consultancy called LCP, working on both London Market and Personal Lines clients in Reserving and Capital. After a few years, she moved to Ageas, initially joining the Motor team and working on Reserving and Pricing. Over six years at Ageas, she has undertaken a variety of roles, including being the Actuarial lead on a project to implement new accounting standards (IFRS17). She now heads up the Central Actuarial Team, which looks after Home reserving, transformation projects and some of the Actuarial reporting, as well as supporting the Motor and Capital teams with their workload when they need more people. Pip qualified as an Actuary in 2017 and has previously been involved with the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) in a volunteer capacity – chairing the Flood Working Party, and sitting on the General Insurance Board.

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