INSURANCE COMPANIES have reported confidence in continued growth of both staffing and revenue. Sixty-two percent of insurance companies surveyed by The Jacobson Group and Ward Group in their Mid-Year US Insurance Labor Outlook Study said they expect to hire more staff in the next 12 months. So where are the roles – and, given the saturated employment market, where are the candidates?
Jay Rollins, president of InsuranceJobs.com, says that in the US, the most common searches by job-seekers – and the most common employer postings – remain client-centric positions.
“I would say the most popular job searches are for claims, sales and customer service,” he says, “and that matches the most job categories posted by employers.”
Yet the industry continues to shift. The specter of automation remains the biggest cause for concern, but companies’ investments in tech efficiencies and automation haven’t resulted in the expected job losses.
More than a quarter of respondents to the Mid-Year US Insurance Labor Outlook Study said that automation of roles will be “the primary reason for reductions in staff during the next 12 months.” That isn’t actually happening, though, says Jeff Rieder, partner and head of Ward Group. Despite the industry’s new focus on automation and data analysis, traditional brokering positions don’t seem to be in jeopardy.
“The reality is that despite the massive investment [in tech efficiencies], it’s making companies smarter about their policyholders and smarter about how to settle a claim efficiently … but it’s not necessarily eliminating people to do [those roles].”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment in the US insurance industry remains almost nil, at just 2%. Plenty of baby boomers continue to retire at the top end of the spectrum, and there are a lot of people jumping ship throughout the industry, but the ranks keep filling.
Greg Jacobson, CEO of The Jacobson Group, attributes this to a tightening of the market. The low unemployment, he says, is something that has long been predicted.
“We’re in a long trend, according to our study, of increasing employment in the insurance industry,” Jacobson says. “What’s not talked about a lot is that the insurance industry has been growing substantially. Since the recession, the insurance carrier market – not including brokers – has grown about 6.5%, and it’s actually now almost at the employment level of the [highest point] of the last 20 years. And if you look at the insurance industry as a whole – insurance carriers and related activities, which includes sales, producers, brokers – we’re at an all-time high … since 2000. I think a lot of that is growth in salespeople … with more competitors out there.”
Since 2015, the group’s labor market studies have consistently seen around 65% or 66% of companies predicting they’ll be recruiting more staff. That number actually dipped slightly to 62% in the most recent study, Jacobson says, although he acknowledges that “that’s still a very high rate.”
“But we’ve also seen an increase in the number of companies that plan on reducing staff over the next 12 months,” he says. “I am not in any way predicting a downturn in employment in the insurance industry. It’s just interesting that the numbers seem to be waning a little bit. I don’t think this is a big trend, but it might be a slight slowing down of a really, really hot market.”
At the individual level, Jacobson points out that employees today are more prone to skip from one job to another. Voluntary resignation numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics back up that claim. For the finance sector, including insurance, the voluntary resignation figure in 2009 was 9.8%; today, it has jumped to 13.2%.
“I think people define loyalty to their employer in a different way than they used to,” Jacobsen says. “They define their loyalty [now] as giving all they have when they’re there. But if other opportunities come up that might be better, that might advance their career, then people are more open to that.”
Jacobson predicts this trend could grow as boomers continue to retire. Once older workers who were more inclined to spend their entire careers at one firm are gone, he says, they will be replaced by younger professionals who are more apt to move around.