Insurance brokers act as intermediaries between clients, who can be either individuals or commercial businesses and organisations, and insurance companies.
They use their in-depth knowledge of risks and the insurance market to find and arrange suitable insurance policies and arrange cover. They act in the interest of their clients and offer products from more than one insurer to ensure that their 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.
Activities depend on the type of employer and scale of the business. In a large company, a broker may specialise in a core area; in a small firm, a broker could be involved in most functions, including new business development and acting as placing broker and claims broker.
Tasks often involve:
- gathering information from clients, assessing their insurance needs and risk profile;
- building and maintaining ongoing relationships with clients including scheduling and attending meetings and understanding the nature of clients' businesses or lives;
- foreseeing clients' insurance needs, such as policy renewals;
- researching insurance companies' policies and negotiating with underwriters to find the most suitable insurance for clients at the best price;
- arranging specialised types of insurance cover in complex cases; this may involve preparing reports for insurance underwriters and surveyors and negotiating with insurers;
- advising clients on risk management and helping 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;
- ensuring clients understand the terms and the extent of the cover provided in line with industry regulations;
- renewing or amending existing policies;
- advising clients whether and when they need to make a claim on their policies;
- marketing and acquiring new clients;
- developing relationships with underwriters, surveyors, photographers, structural engineers and other professionals;
- administrative tasks such as paperwork, correspondence and keeping detailed records;
- winning accounts against competitors;
- keeping up with changes in the insurance market and in the clients' industries;
- collecting insurance premiums and processing accounts.
- Salaries for trainee brokers without a degree start at around £16,000.
- Graduates on training schemes may start on a salary between £22,000 and £26,000.
- Typical salaries for qualified brokers with experience range from £40,000 to in excess of £80,000 (not including additional benefits and bonuses).
Some brokers receive performance-related pay or commission.
Salary varies depending on the size and location of the firm and the nature of its work. Brokers with commercial clients may earn more than those with personal clients.
Additional benefits may include company car, private medical insurance and pension scheme.
Income figures are intended as a guide only.
Working hours are usually office hours, although some extra evening hours may be necessary to meet clients, and some brokers conduct business on Saturdays to accommodate their clients. Part-time work is possible.
What to expect
- Work is usually office based, although it is common to visit clients at their place of business.
- Career breaks are possible, but training must be kept up to date.
- 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.
- Travel during the working day to meet clients is common.
- Brokers need to enjoy interacting with a large number of different clients and working to set deadlines. Workload peaks occur related to the work pattern of clients.
- Due to the international nature of the insurance market, some brokers working for firms with business overseas may travel abroad and spend short periods of time away from home.
This area of work is open to all graduates, although a degree in the following subjects may increase your chances:
- accounting or finance;
Entry without a degree is possible in a support or administrative position. Progression to broker is possible after gaining experience and insurance industry qualifications. It is also possible to gain entry via an apprenticeship.
A pre-entry postgraduate qualification is not needed.
Some of the large insurance brokers offer structured graduate training schemes. These are competitive and usually a 2:1 or above is required, although some companies will accept a 2:2.
You will need to have:
- excellent written and verbal communication and interpersonal skills;
- the confidence to advise and negotiate with clients and underwriters;
- the ability to build and develop relationships and liaise with clients at all levels;
- customer service skills;
- business acumen;
- a high level of numeracy;
- the ability to manage your time and to work on a number of projects concurrently;
- strong analytical skills;
- the ability to work well in a team;
- attention to detail;
- a flexible approach to work;
- an understanding of client confidentiality and how to be discreet;
- administrative and IT skills.
Although employers usually provide training in insurance-related legal issues, you need to have a good understanding of the insurance industry. Make sure you research the company you are interested in working for thoroughly and read the specialist press, for example:
Although pre-entry experience is not essential, 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.
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.
Members join together to act as syndicates to provide insurance cover in the world's specialist market Lloyd's. Brokers and firms of brokers are assessed and accredited before being able to place business in the Lloyd's market.
There are over 180 firms of brokers working at Lloyd's, 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 handle vacancies. See advertisements in the national press and specialist journals. The large insurance companies also advertise vacancies on their websites.
Training may be offered through structured graduate training schemes at large firms of brokers or through schemes such as the CII Broker Academy run by the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) and developed in partnership with the British Insurance Brokers' Association (BIBA) and AXA.
Many structured training schemes provided by large firms of brokers give new graduates experience of different areas of work over a period of around 18 months to 2 years. This generally includes attachments to a variety of departments in both technical and client-facing roles.
Training will usually include courses to cover the technical aspects of broking. Support and mentoring is provided by senior colleagues.
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 specialist area you work in, e.g. commercial, marine or general insurance.
Those who undertake the CII Advanced Diploma in Insurance can apply for associated membership of the CII (ACII). This usually takes three years and should improve your chances of seeking promotion or management roles within the industry. A range of study options are available including distance learning, evening classes or day release.
Members who hold the CII Advanced Diploma in Insurance are eligible to apply for chartered insurance broker status (subject to having five years' experience, not necessarily post-qualification) with the CII.
Two graduate training programmes - a generalist and a claims graduate programme are offered by Lloyd's. The generalist programme provides the opportunity to learn about the various career opportunities available in the insurance sector, including insurance broking. As part of the programme, trainees are expected to pass the Lloyd's and London Market Introductory Test (LLMIT). In addition, Lloyd's trainees also undertake the CII Diploma in Insurance.
It is 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, brokers may undertake many of these roles as part of their job. In larger firms, these may be very separate roles, only reached through promotion.
It is common for brokers to specialise in one area of insurance, such as risk management, assessment, marine, household or motor. They may work in specialist departments in large companies or for small specialist firms.
Progression into management is also possible, managing a team of brokers or several branches of a broking firm.
To aid career development brokers are encouraged to take professional qualifications, such as those provided by the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII). Members who hold the CII Advanced Diploma in Insurance are eligible to apply for chartered insurance broker status (subject to having five years' experience, not necessarily post-qualification) with the CII.
Opportunities exist to move in to related areas of work such as underwriting or loss adjusting.