Insurance risk surveyors determine the possible financial risk posed by offering insurance cover for properties or sites

As an insurance surveyor, you'll undertake commercial and personal surveys and prepare and present reports for insurance underwriters. These reports are used to determine whether insurance should be offered and provide advice on improvements that can be made to reduce the risk of future insurance claims.

Surveys comprise a range of manufacturing, commercial, distribution and leisure businesses of varying size and may include an element of work on a fee-earning basis for third party insurers.

You'll typically work for general insurance companies, brokers or firms of specialist surveyors. You may work in all areas of risk surveying or specialise in a particular area such as:

  • accidents and public liability - looking at possible risks to employees, visitors and customers
  • burglary and theft - checking business premises for security and storage methods
  • engineering insurance - covering mechanical and industrial plants
  • fire - including plans, construction and fire protection systems.

Insurance risk surveyors may also be known as risk consultants, risk control surveyors and risk control advisers.

Responsibilities

As an insurance risk surveyor you'll need to:

  • undertake onsite valuations, surveys and risk management assessments
  • use templates to record assessments and collect photographic evidence
  • research, collate and assess risk information relating to buildings, property, employees or clients
  • prepare detailed valuation and risk survey reports and presentations for underwriters in order to identify and reduce risk
  • make recommendations to underwriters about risk quality, rating and classification, and prepare a schedule of risk improvement measures
  • advise clients on-site and discuss opportunities and requirements to reduce the risk of future insurance claims
  • allocate quality grades once improvements have been completed
  • accompany underwriters on site visits to help them understand the practicalities of the site
  • work collaboratively with other teams and professionals such as underwriters, brokers, clients' representatives, inspectors of health and safety, and fire officers
  • handle technical referrals from brokers, clients and other colleagues
  • work with the risk control team and other departments to maintain technical knowledge and standards within the business
  • share knowledge and expertise across the business, including providing training on risk management
  • keep up to date with technical aspects affecting risks, e.g. trade processes, health and safety legislation, codes of practice and industry standards
  • develop the business and maintain the professional reputation of the company with brokers and clients.

Salary

  • Salaries for insurance risk surveyors with one to three years' experience typically range from around £25,000 to £40,000.
  • With around four to eight years' experience you may earn between £35,000 and £50,000.
  • Salaries for those with the right level of experience, qualifications and skills can be between around £45,000 and £75,000, rising to in excess of £100,000.

Salaries can vary significantly depending on your skills and experience, location (salaries in the City of London, for example, are usually higher), the size and type of employer you work for and your qualifications. You may earn more once you've achieved chartered status.

Other benefits may include a company car or car allowance, pension, performance-related bonuses, discounted insurance, and medical and life insurance.

The IPS Group produces an annual General Insurance Market Salary Guide, providing up-to-date information on current salary levels in the UK insurance and reinsurance sector. Insurance salary surveys are produced by other recruitment companies as well, such as HAYS and IDEX Consulting.

Income figures are intended as a guide only.

Working hours

You'll usually work 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, although this may vary - particularly if you're on-call. Working from home can provide some flexibility. There is also the opportunity for part-time work.

What to expect

  • Your time will usually be split between the office (either at work or home-based) and the site/property you're inspecting.
  • You may need to work at heights, for example on factory sites and in hazardous locations. Some sites cover a large area and could involve a lot of walking to conduct the survey.
  • Jobs are available throughout the UK.
  • As surveyors represent the company on site, you'll need to wear smart dress but with appropriate changes/cover for site conditions. You may need to wear hard hats, boots and other protective equipment for some visits.
  • You'll need to travel regionally, and sometimes nationally, to site visits, and may have to stay overnight when working on large sites. There may be opportunities to travel if you're working for a multinational company.

Qualifications

Although a degree isn't essential, many insurance risk surveyors have one. Some of the large insurance companies run graduate training schemes and you'll usually need a 2:1 degree to get a place. The following subjects may increase your chances:

  • actuarial science
  • building surveying
  • business studies
  • economics
  • engineering
  • insurance
  • law
  • management
  • mathematics
  • quantity surveying
  • risk management.

Many insurance risk surveyors have gained experience in other areas of insurance first, often as an underwriter, and have recognised industry qualifications. Qualifications and experience in a related profession like building surveying, health and safety, engineering or fire safety are particularly useful for some areas of work.

You can also get into the insurance industry through an apprenticeship. These are available in different areas of insurance, including risk surveying, and at different levels. Search Find an apprenticeship for opportunities. For more information about insurance apprenticeships, see the CII Aspire Apprenticeship programme.

Skills

You'll need to have:

  • excellent interpersonal skills in order to develop a rapport with people from a variety of backgrounds and to communicate effectively with site workers, managing directors, insurance company colleagues and brokers
  • negotiating and influencing skills with the ability to handle occasional conflict situations
  • excellent presentation and report writing skills
  • the ability to inspire confidence in clients and to persuade clients of the need to implement the advice given to reduce risk
  • the aptitude to investigate and assess technical risks and to retain large amounts of technical knowledge
  • good commercial awareness
  • the ability to work collaboratively as well as alone
  • an eye for detail
  • strong organisational, planning and time management skills
  • the capacity to complete projects and keep to deadlines
  • a motivated, results-driven approach
  • the ability to use appropriate technical equipment, e.g. survey templates and digital photographic equipment
  • a flexible approach for dealing with changes in working methods and techniques
  • IT skills.

You'll need a driving licence for travel to sites.

Work experience

Most insurance risk surveyors have prior experience in insurance and it's worth investigating general graduate entry-level posts into the insurance industry in order to get the necessary work experience.

Some insurance companies, particularly the larger ones, offer summer placements for undergraduates in various areas of insurance, which will help develop your skills and knowledge in the insurance industry. Smaller firms may offer work experience but you may need to approach them direct to find out about opportunities.

Find out more about the different kinds of work experience and internships that are available.

Employers

The majority of surveyors work for general insurance or reinsurance companies, but some are employed by larger firms of insurance brokers (the intermediaries between clients and insurance companies).

Engineering surveyors usually work for specialist engineering insurance companies. Other surveyors might work for specialist insurance surveying firms, loss adjusting companies, life insurance or assurance companies or risk management consultancies.

Because of mergers that have taken place in recent years, many insurance companies are large organisations. The major general insurance and life and pension insurance groups are the most likely to recruit and train graduates through formal schemes.

There are also opportunities to work for local authorities or for insurance risk management departments.

Insurance risk surveyors are also employed by Lloyd's, the world's specialist insurance and reinsurance market.

Look for job vacancies at:

Specialist recruitment agencies handle vacancies. You can also look for jobs in the national press and specialist journals. Larger insurance companies advertise jobs on their websites. LinkedIn also advertises vacancies.

Professional development

Insurance risk surveyors are expected to have - or to be working towards - the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) Advanced Diploma (ACII). Qualifications are offered at Certificate (Cert CII), Diploma (Dip CII) and Advanced Diploma (ACII) level and are organised in a modular structure in order to allow you to choose the most relevant modules and study at your own pace. Search the full list of CII insurance qualifications.

Upon successful completion of the CII Advanced Diploma in Insurance you're entitled to use the designation ACII and are eligible for chartered status (subject to having five years' experience, not necessarily post-qualification).

It's becoming increasingly common for employers to also request NEBOSH (The National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health) qualifications, such as the National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety and the National Diploma for Occupational Health and Safety Management Professionals.

Some surveyors take the International Diploma in Risk Management offered by the Institute of Risk Management (IRM). As a Diploma graduate with a minimum of three years' practical experience in a risk role, you're eligible to apply for Certified Member (CMIRM) status and can use the title Certified Risk Professional after your name.

Workshops and qualifications are also offered by Airmic (the Association of Insurance and Risk Managers in Industry and Commerce).

Other training takes place on the job through in-house training programmes, mentor support, distance learning and some external training.

Career prospects

Progression is usually clearly defined within each company, from trainee roles to senior surveyor positions, heads of risk management departments or senior management roles. In general, the more senior the role, the more desk-based the work. Progression may lead to risk manager, senior risk manager and corporate risk manager positions.

If you want to keep your links with on-site work, you may stay within surveying, where more senior posts are concerned with leading and motivating a home-based workforce and ensuring that team members have adequate training and skills. Heads of department and senior managers will be more involved with strategic planning and have a more commercial focus to their jobs.

You may choose to specialise in an operational or technical field and deal with larger and more complex cases, while still retaining your competence in all general areas. Alternatively, you may move from more 'straightforward' industries, such as retail, into more hazardous and complex areas, such as steel works, chemical manufacturers, electronics manufacturing and the automotive industries. It may be possible to move out of the insurance sector into areas such as engineering, construction and the public sector.

With experience, you might set up your own consultancy or become a partner within a specialist firm of independent surveyors. Engineering consultancies often employ in-house risk surveyors. You could also move into insurance loss adjusting.

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