Insurance as a Career Choice

It’s National Careers Week and what better way to kick off this week than myth-busting what it is like to work in insurance!  Sarah Beatty joined the Commercial Underwriting team at ICCI in 2004, some 17 years ago.  Sarah has gone on to have a very successful career both within Insurance Corporation (ICCI) and also within the insurance industry itself, having been appointed the President of the local Institute of Insurance of Guernsey in recent years.

Sarah is very passionate about recommending insurance as a career choice to the younger generation.  There are many benefits to working in the industry both from a personal and professional perspective and we sat down with Sarah, who is now the Commercial Director and part of the Management Team at ICCI, to hear more about what it is really like working in the insurance industry and ICCI.

It’s National Careers Week and there are many students considering what their next step is – how would you inspire students to consider a career in insurance? I would encourage anyone leaving education to seriously consider a career in the insurance industry. The industry is a strong and important part of the local financial services with a wide range of career opportunities. Insurance is often not a preference for school or university leavers, which is a real shame. I am proof that there is an opportunity to develop a long, successful and fulfilling career in insurance and have fun whilst you are doing it.

Can you provide an insight into the different departments we have here and the range of opportunities available? ICCI are an end to end regulated insurer so the career opportunities are wide ranging.  We have a number of different departments within our business including underwriting, claims, operations, finance, IT, HR & PR.  Each team has an opportunity within it to progress and develop their career.

ICCI has captured your heart for over 17 years – what do you love most about working here? The best 3 things about ICCI is the team, the culture and the opportunities available.  The team are the best part of the business, without a doubt.  ICCI have always had a highly qualified and experienced team.  Working as part of a top-quality team means we bring the best out in each other and encourage each other to achieve great things.  This is supported by how much ICCI care about their team and the level of importance they put on ensuring we have a supportive and well-balanced culture within the business.  We work hard but also have a lot of fun, I have made some good friends over the years whist working here.  It really does feel like a family.  Finally, the level and breadth of opportunity here is fantastic.  We are a unique business in the Islands' and within each team, there are a number of avenues you can follow to develop your knowledge and progress your career.  ICCI is great at playing to individual team member’s strengths and tailoring progression, each development plan is bespoke.  The result of this is a team which feels empowered and valued.

What are the training & professional development opportunities available at ICCI? Professional development has always been something which is important to me. I progressed my way through the insurance exams and became ACII qualified.  ICCI achieved Chartered Status from the Chartered Insurance Institute in 2018, which is something we are very proud of. The CII provides a clear and structured professional development programme, which ICCI is exceptionally supportive of.  ICCI provides not only financial support but also provides study buddies and allocated study leave for team members. Being able to tap into this structure is invaluable. There are other professional qualifications available for team members to take too, if more appropriate for their roles, such as the Chartered Insurance Loss Adjusters qualification for our claims team or accountancy qualifications for our finance and operations team. On top of professional development, training has been a key cornerstone of our business. This has been the case throughout my whole career.  Training can range from on the job, to team wide or bespoke designed training just for us.  We use a blend of internal expertise from the wider group, as well as external providers.

How do you feel ICCI gives back to our local communities? Giving back to the local community is really important to ICCI.  I feel proud to work for a business which is so passionate about this and has remained unwavering in their support of this over the years.  Whether it is our Healthcare Bursary, Conservation Awards or the effort our team put into our annual volunteer days, I absolutely love seeing the support and the work we do make such a difference.

What would you say are the biggest benefits to working for ICCI, opposed to other career choices or employers?One of the biggest benefits of being part of ICCI is the fact that we form part of a wider group.  We are part of the RSA group, which is such a great business to be involved in. We trade as a small and incredibly successful team, which is fully local and we retain full autonomy in our decision making and operational activity.  At the same time, we get to benefit from a wide range of technical skills and experience from being part of a larger group and network.  I have personally benefitted from this by spending a period of time working within RSA.  It was brilliant to be able to bring that knowledge and experience back to ICCI and to have been able to develop strong network and relationships with the wider team.

How do you react when you hear people outside the industry say insurance jobs are boring and not personally fulfilling? Insurance is one of life’s necessities and no one loves paying their premiums but when someone faces a loss and needs to report a claim, we get to prove our worth. It feels amazing to be able to help a client recover but we also take measures to aim to support them in preventing claims.  When a job affords you the opportunity to help people is such a remarkable way and at the time when they need us most, gives you purpose each day and a sense of fulfilment knowing you made a difference.

Can you give an insight into the culture here at ICCI? Ensuring that the team have a healthy work life balance is a key priority for ICCI.  We ensure that our team feel supported with the work they have to do, as well as making time to find solutions to improve. We have proactively implemented new ways of working post Covid, which allows team members to work from home more regularly. This has been a great addition to our environment and allows team members to be as effective as they can be, by being able to enjoy a flexible working environment. In addition to this, we have a robust mental health support programme.  This is aimed at picking up the early signs of anyone who may be struggling and providing support for them.  This is such an important topic in today’s environment, so I am really pleased to see ICCI take it so seriously.

Do you have any advice for students looking for their next step and considering a career in insurance? Try it, you might like it!  Genuinely, my advice would be to go for it.  You will be surprised by what the industry has to offer and how interesting and varied the roles can be.