Case study

Development underwriter — Anastasia

Over the last three years at Allianz, Anastasia has gone from underwriting simple projects to looking at large complex cases. Find out more about how her career has developed

How did you get your job as an insurance underwriter?

I always knew I wanted to work in a commercial (preferably global) environment so looked for internships in this sector in my second year of university. The Allianz summer placement stood out to me, and after applying for the internship and attending an assessment day I was accepted for the nine-week placement in their Bristol office.

Following the internship I was offered a place on the Allianz Technical Graduate Scheme after I had completed my final year of university.

What's your working day like?

Each day is flexible, but I need to be organised and make sure that I'm meeting internal service standards and external deadline dates.

On my desk I typically have around ten to 15 cases allocated to me that will be in different stages of completion. Some will be quoted, some ready to refer to senior colleagues for sign off, some needing to be rated up and some that haven't been looked at. Once I've rated up a case, I will contact the broker dealing with it to discuss whether it can be progressed with Allianz as the insurer.

Although my role is primarily office based, I also spend time on internal weekly strategy meetings and visits to brokers, which are an important part of relationship building. These visits normally take place in work time, although they occasionally include networking functions out of work hours.

There are also opportunities to go out with surveyors to see businesses that we currently insure and help build up my underwriting knowledge.

What do you enjoy about your job?

As well as the great working environment and excellent support I receive, I particularly enjoy underwriting because it's a complex role involving two, sometimes conflicting, elements.

On the one hand, the role is very technical and commercial, which requires an investigation of risk on which there are strict guidelines of acceptance. On the other, insurance is a 'people business' and an important aspect of the role is about building and developing relationships.

What are the challenges?

It can be disheartening when a lot of effort goes into a case, which ultimately fails to work out. However, you can usually work out why it's failed and apply your knowledge to future business cases. This makes the wins even more worthwhile.

How relevant is your economics and philosophy degree?

Although there was no degree subject specified, many graduates have an economics and business background.

However, I feel that most insurance companies recruiting today would look at what value you would bring to their company, rather than the degree you did. The ideal candidate should be articulate, creative, a team player and an effective communicator and have sound numerical skills.

How has your role developed?

When I began as an intern I had no working experience of the insurance industry or underwriting. In my time with Allianz they've supported me as I studied towards the CII Advanced Diploma in Insurance, which provides the foundations of insurance and how it operates in the UK.

I initially worked in the existing business team as a renewals underwriter. This was an excellent position to build up my technical insurance knowledge, trading skills and personal skills development, while completing the Advanced Diploma.

In the past year I've moved from dealing with existing policies to development, which largely involves acquiring new business for Allianz. While I continue to expand my insurance knowledge in this role, I'm also working on improving my personal skills development such as communication, negotiating and team building.

My ambitions are to continue building up my technical and personal skills with the aim of becoming part of the leadership team in the future.

What advice can you give to others?

Research all the major insurance companies, initially through their websites, and if you're interested or would like to know more, don't be afraid to contact them directly to obtain further information. Also make sure any application demonstrates why you want to be an underwriter and what you would be able to offer the company.

Finally an internship is a great opportunity to see if the insurance industry is for you without having to commit to a full two-to-three-year graduate scheme.

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