If you're an excellent communicator, have an interest in financial services and are skilled at building relationships this could be the job for you

As an insurance broker you will use your in-depth knowledge of risks and the insurance market to find and arrange suitable insurance policies and arrange cover for your clients.

You will act as an intermediary between your clients, who can either be individuals, commercial businesses and organisations, and insurance companies, and will offer products from more than one insurer to ensure that your clients get the best deal.

Types of insurance broker

  • Retail insurance brokers - usually arrange insurance policies for individuals or companies and deal directly with them. Policies for individuals include motor, house, travel or pet cover, whereas policies for companies are likely to cover damage to property and business disruption. Retail insurance brokers also deal with employer's liability and public and products liability insurance.
  • Commercial insurance brokers - deal with high-value and more complex insurance cover in areas such as marine, aviation, oil and gas and financial risks.

Responsibilities

As an insurance broker, you'll need to:

  • gather information from your clients, assessing their insurance needs and risk profile;
  • research insurance companies' policies and negotiate with underwriters to find the most suitable insurance for your clients at the best price;
  • ensure that your clients understand the terms and the extent of the cover provided in line with industry regulations;
  • foresee your clients' insurance needs, such as policy renewals or amendments;
  • advise your clients on whether and when they need to make a claim on their policies;
  • arrange specialised types of insurance cover in complex cases; this may involve preparing reports for insurance underwriters and surveyors and negotiating with insurers;
  • advise your clients on risk management and help to devise new ways to mitigate risks, for example, by adding security measures such as fencing, surveillance cameras or lighting to commercial properties to reduce the likelihood of a break-in;
  • build and maintain ongoing relationships with your clients;
  • acquire new clients and win accounts against competitors;
  • keep detailed records and complete administrative tasks such as paperwork and correspondence;
  • develop relationships with underwriters, surveyors, photographers, structural engineers and other professionals;
  • keep up with changes in the insurance market and in your clients' industries;
  • collect insurance premiums and process accounts.

Salary

  • Salaries for junior or trainee brokers can range from around £16,000 to £22,000. If you're on a graduate training scheme, your salary may be around £22,000 and £26,000. Graduates on the two-year Lloyd's Graduate Programme start on £27,000 with a salary increase of £1,000 every six months of the programme.
  • As a qualified broker you can earn around £20,000 to £30,000.
  • Senior brokers/account directors can earn in the region of £30,000 to £45,000, with salaries rising to in excess of £80,000 for those handling more complex, high-value risks.

Some brokers receive performance-related pay or bonuses, plus additional benefits such as a company car, pension and private medical insurance.

Salaries vary depending on the size and location of the company and the nature of its work. Brokers with commercial clients may earn more than those with personal clients.

Income figures are intended as a guide only.

Working hours

You'll typically work usual office hours, although you may need to work some evenings or Saturdays to meet with your clients. Part-time work is available.

Career breaks are also possible, but you'll need to keep up to date with changes in the industry.

What to expect

  • Opportunities are available throughout the UK, mainly in cities and large towns, although much of the wholesale market is in the London Market, based at Lloyd's.
  • Although the work is mainly office based, you may need to visit clients at their place of business.
  • If you're working for a large company you may specialise in a core area, but in a small firm you're likely to be involved in most functions, including new business development and acting as placing broker and claims broker.
  • You'll need to feel comfortable interacting with a large number of different clients and working to set deadlines.
  • If you work for an international firm with business overseas, you may need to travel abroad.

Qualifications

Although you don't need a specific degree to become an insurance broker, a degree in accounting or finance, business, management, economics or mathematics may be useful. However, employers are generally more interested in your skills and personal attributes and what you can contribute to the role.

Some of the large insurance brokers offer structured graduate training schemes. These are competitive and usually require a 2:1 or above, although some schemes, such as the Lloyd's Graduate Programme, will accept a 2:2.

Entry without a degree is possible in a junior or trainee broker role, or as an insurance technician. You can progress to the role of broker after gaining experience and insurance industry qualifications. It's also possible to gain entry via an apprenticeship.

Although employers usually provide training in insurance-related legal issues, you'll need to have a good understanding of the insurance industry. Make sure you research the company you're interested in working for thoroughly and read the specialist press.

If you're interested in a particular company, it's a good idea to visit one of their recruitment events to speak to employees and find out about what they do and what they're looking for.

Skills

You will need to have:

  • excellent written and verbal communication skills;
  • the confidence to advise and negotiate with clients and underwriters;
  • the ability to build, manage and develop relationships;
  • numerical skills;
  • business acumen and commercial awareness;
  • the ability to plan and manage your time and to work on a number of projects concurrently;
  • strong problem-solving and analytical skills;
  • the ability to work well in a team;
  • a flexible approach to work;
  • an understanding of client confidentiality and how to be discreet;
  • administrative and IT skills.

Work experience

Although it's not essential to have pre-entry experience, work experience with a broking house or insurance company can improve your chances. Many of the major insurance companies have work placement or summer internships programmes. Competition for places is strong and employers often ask for a predicted 2:1 or above.

Smaller firms may offer work experience but you may need to approach them direct to find out about opportunities. Work experience in a customer services role in the financial services sector and sales experience may also be useful.

Employers

The majority of insurance brokers are employed by insurance broking firms. These range from small niche firms to large multinational insurance and financial advice companies.

There are over 200 registered brokers working at Lloyd's, the world's specialist insurance and reinsurance market, many specialising in particular risk categories.

Other employers include insurance companies and the insurance risk management departments of non-insurance companies.

Wholesale brokers also work for reinsurance companies.

Look for job vacancies at:

Specialist recruitment agencies also handle vacancies. Look for advertisements in the national press and specialist journals. The large insurance companies advertise vacancies on their websites.

Professional development

Training may be offered through structured graduate training schemes at large firms of brokers. These schemes provide experience of different areas of work over a period of around 18 months to two years. This generally includes attachments to a variety of departments in both technical and client-facing roles. Training usually includes courses covering the technical aspects of broking. Support and mentoring is provided by senior colleagues.

If you've got a place on the two-year Lloyd's Graduate Programme, you'll get experience of the range of roles within insurance. You'll do four placements of six months duration in a range of areas, including broking, underwriting and claims, to help you choose an area of specialism. You'll also take the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) Advanced Diploma in Insurance.

The CII Advanced Diploma in Insurance is the starting point for many graduate brokers as it provides a comprehensive overview of insurance. Employers will usually encourage you to follow professional qualifications, choosing modules relevant to the area you work in.

Once you hold the CII Advanced Diploma in Insurance, you can use the designation ACII and can apply for chartered insurance broker status (subject to having five years' experience, not necessarily post-qualification) with the CII.

Career prospects

It's common for brokers to undergo general training and gain a few years' general experience before moving into a specialist sector, management roles or other functions within the industry. There is a clear career route within the profession with opportunities to move into other areas of insurance.

Specialist roles include:

  • insurance account executive;
  • technical broker;
  • claims broker;
  • new business executive or manager (whose role is to find and develop new business relationships for a firm);
  • sales manager (whose role it is to allocate new business once the initial client interest has been generated).

In smaller firms, you may undertake many of these roles as part of your job. In larger firms, these may be very separate roles, only reached through promotion.

You'll often specialise in one area of insurance, such as risk management, assessment, marine, household or motor. You may work in specialist departments in large companies or for small specialist firms.

Progression into management is possible, managing a team of brokers or several branches of a broking firm. Opportunities also exist to move in to related areas of work such as underwriting or loss adjusting.