Despite thriving as an industry, the US insurance sector continues to face a considerable talent shortage as unfilled job vacancies reach record numbers, the latest analysis from insurance recruitment firm The Jacobson Group and industry giant Aon has revealed.
While this talent gap in the market is nothing new, Greg Jacobson, the firm’s co-chief executive officer admitted that the recruitment situation has gotten worse.
“We are in an extreme situation in terms of not a lot of talent out there, but this is not really anything that is that unusual for our industry,” he said. “Generally, we are keeping it in a range bound by 2 to 3%.”
Insurance carriers across the country employ an estimated 1.56 million staff, a decline of about 85,000 from 2020 figures, according to the biannual insurance labor market report.
“This is not because insurance companies are not hiring people,” Jacobson explained. “They are trying to hire lots of people… The reason why we’re down 85,000 jobs is because companies cannot hire fast enough to replace the workers that are leaving.”
Jacobson also noted that while layoffs in the broader financial services industry have hit a 10-year low, the opposite was true in terms of the number of personnel quitting their jobs, which reached its highest in a decade.
Jeff Rieder, partner at Aon and head of its subsidiary Ward Inc., added that in the past 10 years, most insurance companies operated with about an 8% to 9% staff turnover rate, which included voluntary and involuntary exits. At present, however, many insurers are running at between the 12% and 15% range.
Both experts agreed that the majority of the 14% of firms who said they operated with reduced staff between July 2021 and July 2022 did so unintentionally.
What are the benefits of choosing a career in insurance?
According to the study, more than two-thirds, or 68%, of insurance carriers plan to increase their personnel count in the next 12 months – a jump of 12 percentage points from last year.
Insurers said that the rise is primarily because of the “anticipated increases in business volume.”
And with competition in the industry for the best available talent as fierce as ever, those looking to build a career in insurance can find no shortage of job opportunities.
Insurtech firm One Inc, which provides insurers with a digital payments platform, shared the top reasons why working in the insurance industry is a good option. These are:
- A variety of opportunities: Apart from traditional roles such as agent, adjuster, and underwriter, insurance offers diverse professional opportunities, including those in the fields of accounting, customer service, marketing, IT, legal, sales, communication, research, data analytics, investigation, finance, actuary, management, and human resources.
- Upward mobility: An insurance career leaves room for growth in practically every role, allowing professionals to continually develop new skills and progress in their careers.
- Continuing education: Because of the ever-evolving nature of the industry, employees are encouraged to pursue educational opportunities to sharpen their knowledge and skills, with some companies offering financial assistance.
- ‘[There’s] never a dull moment’: Insurance is a dynamic field, which presents a different challenge each day.
- Flexibility: With the pandemic changing how everybody works, many insurers have also began offering staff flexible working arrangements, including remote work.
- Job security: As long as people are investing in homes, driving vehicles, running businesses, seeking medical treatment, or in need of financial protection, insurance will always be in demand.
- Work-life balance: Insurers are taking strides to ensure their employees can enjoy ample time to pursue interests outside work, which are proven to increase productivity in the workplace.
- Earning potential & benefits: The insurance industry offers a good living wage with a high potential for growth.
- Challenging & rewarding work: Insurance professionals are regularly faced with a “supply of healthy challenges,” providing opportunities to solve problems, and be innovative and creative, which can give them a sense of fulfillment at the end of the day.
- [A chance to] make a difference: Insurance professionals are given the opportunity to help individuals, families, and communities to overcome hardship.
What are the best-paying jobs in the US insurance sector?
According to the insurance labor market study, the insurance roles that are most difficult to fill in order are those in technology, actuarial, analytics, claims, and underwriting. Almost every company surveyed in the report said these positions are more challenging to fill now compared to a year ago, with the exception of those for executive roles.
Rieder noted that insurers are paying existing employees more to prevent salary compression and inequity.
“This is causing more companies to have to make salary mid-year market adjustments as well,” he said. “While many companies probably budgeted for only a 3.5% to 4% increase in merit, the reality is year-over-year, the trend is about 5%.”
To find out which insurance career pays the most, job-posting service website ZipRecruiter generated “compensation estimates” for each role, factoring in the job title and location, and the hiring company. The firm noted, however, that the figures “reflect a base compensation range, and do not consider years of experience, benefits, bonuses, or other factors that may affect individual compensation rates.”
Here are the top 10 highest-paying jobs in the insurance industry, according to the company’s calculations.
1. Consulting actuary
Annual salary range: $93,000 to $173,000
A consulting actuary provides accounting and risk-assessment advice to clients. The role entails several years of experience in the actuarial field and skills related to performing financial audits and risk modeling. This type of professional can work as part of a large consulting agency or as a freelancer.
2. Life insurance actuary
Annual salary range: $67,000 to $150,000
Professionals in this line help determine pricing for life insurance policies to minimize cost and risk. Their duties include assessing client risks, performing financial analysis, and creating reports for salespeople and management. Those wanting to pursue a career as a life insurance actuary should have a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, actuarial science, or a related field, and a professional actuary certification.
3. Pricing actuary
Annual salary range: $99,500 to $149,500
A pricing actuary is a statistician who works in financial services, including insurance. They help determine the price of products by calculating risks and analyzing data, with the goal of ensuring the coverage of the company’s expenses such as the cost of claims or employee retirement. Actuaries need strong analytical and computer skills. A bachelor’s degree in math, statistics, or actuarial science is required as well.
Annual salary range: $111,500 to $142,500
Actuaries price insurance policies and advise corporations on how to meet regulatory standards and balance capital. Their duties also include maintaining daily correspondence with clients, and programming or implementing risk management software. The four actuary specializations, according to ZipRecruiter, are property and casualty (P&C), life, health, and pension.
5. Automotive finance manager
Annual salary range: $97,500 to $141,500
These professionals are responsible for overseeing the financing process for new and used vehicles, creating sales training programs, and ensuring that all transactions meet federal, state, and local regulations.
6. Underwriting manager
Annual salary range: $92,000 to $125,500
Underwriting managers oversee the daily operations and administrative tasks of the underwriting department. Their responsibilities include helping underwriters review applications, establishing appropriate screening protocols, and developing new methodologies and models to assess the financial risk of clients.
Read more: Insurance underwriters - what do they do?
7. Casualty underwriter
Annual salary range: $87,500 to $121,000
A casualty underwriter assesses commercial and personal insurance policy applications. Their duties include analyzing property statistics and reviewing the applicant’s history, financial status, and employment to ensure premiums can be met. They are also responsible for monitoring and assessing existing policies.
8. Health actuary
Annual salary range: $75,500 to $116,000
Working for healthcare organizations and insurance companies, health actuaries analyze healthcare data and marketplace trends to determine future financial and strategic plans. They also prepare rate files, review plan reserves, interpret medical patterns for new risks and opportunities, and create reports from aggregate health plan data that is collected from national databases.
9. Claims director
Annual salary range: $75,000 to $115,500
These professionals manage the daily operations of an insurance claims department. Their duties include establishing uniform policies on insurance coverage and claims for a variety of situations. They also ensure that customers receive outstanding service.
10. General adjuster
Annual salary range: $43,000 to $114,000
General adjusters are responsible for analyzing incidents to determine the financial liability of the insurance company. Their duties focus on researching the property or physical damage related to insurance claims, including assessing the cause of the incident, extent of the damage, and cost of repairs. This job entails investigative research experience and interpersonal skills.