Insure your job
The insurance industry offers a range of careers and opportunities to new entrants to use their intellectual and creative abilities, to work on their own initiatives and to make their own decisions. The companies normally provide training to new entrants so that they get a flair for the business. Insurance companies are divided into two sectors. One that looks after life insurance polices and the other that looks after non life insurance policies.
Agents: Marketing involves looking into the insurance needs of clients for which market research. No person goes to the top without going through various levels and insurance companies are no exception. The entry level in the company for a fresher who has the minimum qualification of School Leaving Certificate is the post of agent. “Those who want to join the company have to undergo a training under Bima Samati and get a license from them. After procuring the license they can apply to various insurance companies to work as agents,” says R Naidu, deputy general manager of Himalayan General Insurance Company. Agents are expected to go to the field, find people and convince them to buy insurance policies. Mind you! For this job you should be proficient enough to sell anything under the sun.
The only setback in this job is that agents do not get paid on a monthly basis. “All marketing agents are commission based. The more they get clients the more they earn from the commission,” says BC Sharma, CEO Nepal Life Insurance Company. All set to toil hard and earn big bucks?
Marketing officer: The more clients you bring in, the more credit you get not only in the terms of money but in terms of position also. If a person does really well, he can be promoted to the position of marketing officer and have agents working under him. “A marketing officer has to supervise the agents and provide them assistance, guidance and training and make sure that they achieve their business targets, and provide efficient after-sales-service to the clients,” says Sharma. Marketing officers earn monthly salaries and if the person is a graduate and is serious about his job there is no limit to where he can go. Marketing officers can also work their way up the organisation ladder to the position of CEO.
Underwriters: “Underwriter’s job is to assess the risks involved in insurance proposals made to the company and decide whether to accept or reject the proposal. If the underwriter decides to accept the proposal, he also decides on the terms and conditions of the insurance contract depending on the degree of the risk. He may decide to pass on a part of the risk to another insurer,” says Naidu.
Passing on part of the risk is known as reinsurance. Reinsurance is insurance bought by the insurers. Handling reinsurance is a specialised job. In many insurance companies, a separate department handles reinsurance. The reinsurance manager has to plan reinsurance programme of the company, negotiate the terms of the reinsurance contract with the reinsures and supervise the administration and accounting of the reinsurance. A person specialising in reinsurance work, has job opportunities in specialised reinsurance companies too.
Claim manager: “A claims manager’s job is to process and settle claims made on the insurance company under insurance contracts. Before settling the claims he ensures if the loss has taken place and that the loss is covered under the terms of the policy,” says Naidu. To do this he needs enough evidence of the causes that led to the loss and the extent of the loss. If the loss is outside the scope of the insurance cover, the claims manager may either reject the claim or decide to make ‘ex-gratia’ payment (a payment made out of grace and not as a legal obligation under the terms of the insurance contract). This is done for retaining good business relations with important clients.
Accountants: The accountant needs to be qualified in this specialised field. “He has the responsibility of collecting premiums and prepare the final accounts. In a nutshell he takes care of all the financial work in an insurance company,” explains Naidu. Almost all insurance companies use computers for their accounting and therefore the accountant should possess sufficient knowledge of computer operations in relation to accounting. Computers are widely used in this industry not only for accounting and policy production but also for obtaining information required by the management. Most management decisions are based on the data or information obtained through computers. The efficiency of the management of an insurance company depends to a large extent on how effectively the computer is programmed .
Actuaries: “Without an actuary the life insurance company doesn’t function,” says Pant, deputy general manager of Himalayan General Insurance Company. He adds, “Amazingly none of the life insurance companies in Nepal have one.” Naidu explains, “An actuary is a professional who uses mathematical skills to define, analyse and solve financial and social problems. Actuaries create and manage programmes, which reduce financial loss due events that happen to people, such as illnesses, accidents etc.”
The actuary helps design plans and evaluate the financial risks a company takes when it sells an insurance policy or offers a pension programme. Actuaries have many responsibilities. First, an actuary must make sure that there is enough cash on hand to pay benefits when people make claims on their insurance policies or draw income from their pension plans. Secondly, the actuary also sees to it that the price charged to participants of insurance or pension plans are fair. Actuaries are often found in highly responsible management positions. “Life insurance companies in Nepal don’t have an actuary from the country till date. They hire them from India or other countries,” says Pant. Pay and compensation: Subarna Lal Shrestha, deputy general manager of Himalayan General Insurance says that pay scales differ from one insurance company to another. “Basically I guess the salary starts from around Rs 8,000 to Rs 15,000,” he says.