Insurance claims handlers ensure that claims made on insurance policies are dealt with efficiently and that payment for valid claims is made to policyholders
As an insurance claims handler, you'll be involved in managing a claim from the start through to settlement, making decisions on the extent and validity of a claim, and checking for any potential fraudulent activity.
You'll coordinate services that may be required by policyholders following an accident or incident. This can include organising approved tradespeople to make homes safe again or ordering replacement goods if a policyholder has been burgled.
Policyholders can include businesses and individuals, covering issues such as:
- business - damage to business premises, business disruption, injury to staff or the public, theft
- home - burglary, fire, flood or other accidental damage
- marine and aviation
- motor vehicle - theft, accident, injury or death
- personal - accidents, illness or death
- pets - vets' fees or damage or injury caused by a pet
- travel - flight delays and cancellations, missing luggage, theft, illness or injury.
You may be involved in large-scale accidents and incidents, for example a bridge collapse. As well as communicating with policyholders, you'll also liaise with external experts such as loss adjusters and lawyers.
Work on complex cases requires experience and expert knowledge. At this stage, you may become involved in loss adjusting activities (investigating the loss) or in legal discussions about the recovery of money from the party responsible for the loss.
As an insurance claims handler, you'll typically need to:
- process new insurance claims notifications
- provide advice on making a claim and the processes involved
- collect accurate information and documents to proceed with a claim
- analyse a claim made by a policymaker to establish whether it satisfies the policy conditions
- guide policyholders on how to proceed with the claim
- organise immediate help, for example alternative accommodation after a fire
- identify reasons why full payment may not be made
- explain to policyholders when their claim is not covered
- contact tradespeople from a network of approved professionals and arrange for them to make repairs on the policyholder's property
- monitor the progress of a claim
- investigate potentially fraudulent claims
- liaise with solicitors, as well as other legal and claims professionals, and negotiate the terms of a claim
- prepare an initial estimate of costs and then closely monitor and keep a record of costs
- get advice from external specialists, such as loss adjusters and forensic accountants, on complex cases
- ensure fair settlement of a valid claim
- ensure the customer is treated fairly and that the customer receives excellent service in accordance with industry and company guidelines
- handle any complaints associated with a claim
- manage all administration aspects of the claim, ensuring that case notes, logs and diaries for each customer are completed on time and accurately
- adhere to legal requirements, industry regulations and customer quality standards set by the company.
Senior claims handlers may also need to:
- manage a team of claims handlers
- provide guidance to more junior staff on complicated or high-value claims
- seek legal recovery of monies paid out
- take responsibility for productivity and profit
- get involved in loss adjusting activities and in legal discussions relating to settlement.
- Entry-level salaries, as a first notification of loss (FNOL) claims handler or trainee claims handler for example, range from around £18,000 to £20,000. Starting salaries for those on graduate trainee schemes are typically higher.
- Salaries for claims handlers can range from around £20,000 to £30,000. More complex claims and team leader positions may attract higher salaries.
- Salaries for claims managers can range from around £25,000 to £60,000. Salaries for claims directors and head of claims can rise to in excess of £100,000.
- Salaries for claims handling roles in London are likely to be higher.
Salaries vary depending on a range of factors including your experience, skills and professional qualifications, the type of insurance you're working in, the sector, the size of your employer, your level of responsibility and location.
You may receive additional benefits, which can include a company car, medical insurance, life insurance and discounted insurance premiums, as well as profit share, pension scheme and bonuses.
Salary surveys providing up-to-date information on current salary levels in the UK insurance and reinsurance sector, including insurance claims handling, are provided by a range of recruitment companies. These include:
Income figures are intended as a guide only.
The working week is typically 35 hours - Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. However, shift work, including evenings and weekends, may be required if you're working in a contact centre.
There may be opportunities for hybrid working with some employers, splitting the working week between home and the office.
Part-time work may be available.
What to expect
- Work can be based in an insurance office or contact centre. In some cases it may be possible to combine home and office-based work.
- Although office-based, you may need to travel to visit clients, brokers and solicitors. Most work, however, is done at a desk using a computer and speaking on the phone.
- Jobs are available in most areas of the UK. Offices are usually based in large towns and cities.
- The job involves working to tight deadlines, working under pressure and using technology.
- Absence from home overnight and overseas travel is uncommon.
Although this area of work is open to all graduates, the following degree or HND subjects may increase your chances:
- accounting and/or finance
- business or management/business with languages
- economics and accountancy
Graduate trainee schemes specifically covering claims are available with the larger insurance companies or loss adjusting firms. There are also opportunities via general graduate-management training schemes that include claims work.
You can also go directly into claims work after initial training. Opportunities are available for both graduates and those without a degree. An alternative route into the job is through more junior or clerical positions, such as administration assistant or technician, moving up through the company by training and promotion.
Insurance apprenticeships are available at different levels and are another useful way of getting into insurance. Apprenticeships combine paid work-based learning and part-time study. Search Find an apprenticeship.
You don't need a pre-entry postgraduate qualification, although some graduates have a relevant Masters degree.
If you don't have any experience of the insurance industry, you could consider taking the Chartered Institute of Insurance (CII) Award for the Foundation Insurance Test (FIT). This introductory-level qualification provides an understanding of how the insurance market operates.
There is strong competition for positions both from graduates and non-graduates with general insurance claims experience. Apply early in your final year.
Employers often look for candidates who have, or who are willing to undertake, industry qualifications from either the CII or the Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters (CILA).
You'll need to have:
- excellent interpersonal and customer service skills in order to provide relevant and accurate information to customers
- negotiation, questioning and decision-making skills
- good planning and analytical skills
- communication skills and confidence when dealing with people, often in difficult circumstances
- active listening skills
- administrative, organisational and time management skills
- the ability to work well under pressure
- commercial acumen
- the ability to think strategically
- initiative and the ability to adapt quickly to different situations
- teamworking skills
- good numeracy and literacy
- the ability to remain calm in difficult circumstances in order to help customers effectively
- discernment and the ability to assess a situation objectively
- attention to detail and sound report-writing skills.
Knowledge of foreign languages may be useful if you're working at a global firm or with foreign insurance claims.
Many of the major insurance companies have work placement or summer internship programmes. Placements usually last six to ten weeks and provide the opportunity to gain insurance-related experience while getting paid. Competition for places is strong and employers often ask for a predicted 2:1 or above.
Smaller firms sometimes offer work experience, but you may need to approach them directly to find out about opportunities.
Work experience in a customer service, technician or administration role in the financial services sector may be useful, and sales experience is also relevant.
Find out more about the different kinds of work experience and internships that are available.
Insurance claims handlers work at insurance companies, insurance brokers or for claims management or loss adjusting firms.
Opportunities are available throughout the UK.
Key areas within insurance that require assessment include domestic property, for example in incidents of fire, burglary and motor vehicle accidents.
The UK's insurance market is the largest in Europe and fourth largest in the world, employing over 320,000 people (Association of British Insurers).
Look for job vacancies at:
Specialist recruitment agencies handle vacancies. See advertisements in the national press and specialist journals.
Large insurance companies advertise vacancies on their websites.
Trainees on graduate schemes usually undergo two years of intense on-the-job training. You'll typically undertake a number of placements during this time, rotating round areas of the business. This initial training may be followed by a further two or three years of training in negotiating claims and underwriting risk.
Whether or not you're on a structured graduate scheme, training is usually done in-house and supported by formal training courses. It usually combines hands-on experience and mentoring from experienced colleagues with part-time study to gain professional qualifications from the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) or Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters (CILA). Both of these organisations offer qualifications ranging from entry through to advanced level.
The CII Advanced Diploma in Insurance, for example, provides an enhanced and comprehensive understanding of insurance practice. Members who hold the CII Advanced Diploma in Insurance are eligible to apply for chartered status (subject to having five years of experience, not necessarily post-qualification) with the CII.
To become an associate member of CILA and gain charted loss adjuster status, you must pass the Accreditation for Chartered Status (ACS) assessment process. The ACS is open to CILA members who have passed the CILA Advanced Diploma.
You'll also need to show that you've got at least five years' experience working as a loss adjuster (three if you've got a professional qualification approved by CILA). You're then eligible to become an Associate of CILA (ACILA).
Individual insurance companies may also provide their own ongoing training courses, in areas such as personal safety and communication skills. It's also important to keep up to date with legislation and developments in the industry by reading the specialist insurance press.
There are opportunities to move up the management structure, either in claims or other departments. In larger company structures, for example, claims handlers can progress to team leader, claims manager and then claims director.
As you progress, you'll develop your own claims portfolio. With further experience you could work as a claims negotiator with responsibility for more complex cases. In these roles, you'll negotiate with insurers, solicitors and clients before paying out any money. Depending on the nature of the company, you may also become more involved in project work, such as quality control or training.
Other possibilities include a move into loss adjusting, broking, account management, compliance, risk management or health and safety consultancy.
There are some opportunities to work with more specialist teams, such as fraud investigators, disease and environmental claims handlers, or with large case technicians. Gaining more specialised qualifications can help you move into a different insurance area, such as employer or public liability.
In order to gain further responsibility and experience, it may be necessary to move to a larger company or an organisation with a focus on a specialised area of insurance.