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Keven Moore: The insurance industry is a career option — check it out and consider the possibilities

The year was 1993 and as a 29-year-old and I had just graduated from the Loss Prevention & Safety Master’s Program at Eastern Kentucky University. My wife and I had just driven to St. Louis for a job interview for Venture Department Stores and it had snowed 17 inches the night before the interview.

The next morning I left plenty early not knowing for sure that I would make it to my destination, but when I showed up for the interview at the corporate office early that morning my future manager immediately said “you’re hired” as soon as I walked in his office. He said, “… anybody who would arrive early to his interview during a blizzard has to be hired on the spot, now sit down and let’s pretend that we had this interview.”

Since then I have taken a few turns along the way and somehow ended up in the insurance industry for the past 24 years. The funny thing is that out of all the people that I have spoken to along the way in this industry, the majority never ever planned to go into the insurance industry as a career. It just happened.

The fact is the insurance industry is pretty vast and diverse. It offers a variety of different careers in Health, Life, Property, and Causality, Workers Compensation, Excess and personal lines (home & auto) insurance.

The vast majority of the industry normally operates between the hours of 8 a.m.-5 p.m., with weekends and holidays off. According to the Insurance Information Institute the insurance industry is a trillion dollar industry and in 2016 there were 5,977 insurance companies in 2016 in the United States. Insurance carriers and related activities contributed $507.7 billion, or 2.7 percent, of U.S. gross domestic product in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The U.S. insurance industry employed 2.6 million people in 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Of those, 1.5 million worked for insurance companies, including life and health insurers (811,900 workers), P/C insurers (648,200 workers) and reinsurers (25,000 workers). The remaining 1.1 million people worked for insurance agencies, brokers, and other insurance-related enterprises.

Today, as a safety and risk control consultant when asked about what I do for a living, I oftentimes feel the need to try to spice it up a little bit, just because most people outside of insurance tend to find my industry to be monotonous and mundane.

Let’s not kid ourselves, when you talk to college kids today you will very rarely run across one who will tell you that their career aspirations is to become an Insurance professional. However, I truly believe that it is a hidden gem of an opportunity that is often times overlooked.

The insurance industry offers the opportunity to utilize many skills, including communication, technical, analytical, organizational and problem-solving. They analyze data, use cutting-edge technologies, conduct research, interact with customers, investigative situations, lead teams and so much more.

This industry can be very lucrative to a select few who put in their time, take risks and work hard along the way. Those that are in commission based sales and master their trade can earn well beyond the six-figure threshold.

For instance, early in my career I spent some time in Hollywood with a broker named Stan Reynolds that had found a way to corner the market in the theatre industry from his office all the way back home in DeMoines, Iowa. After sweating and working on a road crew in the 70’s he decided to create his own dynasty called Reynolds & Reynolds, Inc. with indoor air conditioning and I suspected at the time that he was earning more than the 7 figure mark. I had learned from that experience alone that those who take on the most risk, are often times rewarded the most.

This industry has something for just about anyone’s personality and doesn’t require everybody to be so entrepreneurially minded either.

If you are more of an introverted type personality there are plenty of jobs from accounting, claims, underwriters, auditing …etc. that would be better suited. If you are more of a mathematician, then the industry provides well-paying positions in their actuarial department.

If you have leadership skills and want to climb the corporate ladder through management, typically there isn’t a ceiling holding you back as there are countless stories where people had worked their way up from an entry-level position to later become the CEO, CFO or President.

If you prefer more autonomy in your career you can open up your own insurance agency, work as an independent consultant or adjuster; or you could even own your own third-party adjusting company. If you have a creative spirit, just about every insurance company has their own marketing department which has spawned the likes of Flo from Progressive to the Mayhem guy from Allstate.

Insurance companies grow and thrive in small towns and large cities all across the country, which can provide you the opportunity to chase your career from just about anywhere you so desire.

If you are more of an adrenaline type junkie and like to be at the tip-of-the-spear out helping people, you can join a CAT (catastrophe) adjusting team and be the first boots on the ground helping families and businesses recover after a man-made or natural disaster. The severity and frequency of unpredictable occurrences contribute to the dynamic nature of this industry.

The industry as a whole allows their employees to make a difference towards the common good, where so many losses occur each and every day.  By helping restore somebody’s property or business after catastrophe strikes has always seemed noble to me and truly meaningful.

If you are looking to telecommute to the office, many in the insurance companies have fully adopted this concept as a way to control costs by allowing many of their employees to work from home. If you like a variety or change; or simply like specializing in providing safety advice you can become a risk control consultant that allows you to travel and visit a variety of different industries.

Within the insurance industry, there are a number of earned designations, professional licenses, and continuing education courses to further develop your skills and expertise which allows you to grow professionally as well as economically.

If you flourish on competition then the insurance industry is the place to be because competition fuels teamwork, requiring every department to work together to achieve success and remain profitable.

For me as a risk control consultant working for an independent insurance agency I also get to participate in sales calls to visit new prospects, which fuels my entrepreneurial spirit. Being a people person, I also find my position to be exciting at times, which fits my personality very well because every day appears to be different and with a new set of challenges to tackle. 
 
The fact is insurance is the backbone of the world’s economy. Without it our world couldn’t function very well. After experiencing the great recession back in 2008, I quickly realized that despite how the economy is doing, as long as people continue to live longer, require healthcare, own cars and homes, and businesses remain solvent — insurance will be essential to everyday living. Insurance is intertwined with just about every person and business all across our nation. The industry isn’t entirely recession-proof, but at least it has proven to be sustainable whenever the economy does take a downturn making it a stable career. 

Being the first person in my family to work in the insurance industry, I have provided some career advice to several friends, college kids and family members who have gone on to work in the Insurance Industry. Even my oldest daughter now works down the hall from me today.

In my opinion, the best-kept secret and advice I can give any young person today is to look at Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) Risk Management & Insurance program for a career option.

This specialized program offered through EKU’s College of Business and Technology offers a BBA and BS in Insurance, making it the only undergraduate insurance degrees offered in insurance in the state of Kentucky. Since 2014, EKU’s Risk Management and Insurance program has placed 80% of graduates in a job after graduation.

As a testimonial to this claim, about four years ago an old high school classmate of mine (Boo Gilliam)’s son Cody Gilliam reached out to me after hitting a crossroads in his college career, and wanted to come in and talk about my profession as a safety and risk control consultant. After spending over an hour with this young man, I ended up convincing him to instead look into EKU’s RMI program because of all the opportunities that it provided and how well rounded the program has been designed.

Fast forward some two years later, Boo notified me that Cody was scheduled to graduate and already had several job offers to choose from; and today he is an Asset Protection/Risk Management Advisor at Bluegrass Insurance selling personal lines and small business policies.

Today in return for the advice Cody has now offered to mentor my son Austin after he too decided to charter the same course through EKU’s RMI program because the tremendous opportunity that the Insurance Industry can offer.

If you or somebody in your family is looking for a career option or even a career change and want to increase your odds of landing a position in the insurance industry; I would highly recommend reaching out to Dr. Burke Christensen to schedule a time to drop in to review the program. He can be reached at email: burke.christensen@eku.edu Phone: 859-622-1120. By specializing in this profession and earning a degree, you truly can write your very own ticket.

Dr. Christensen and his assistant Debbie Ellis, the program coordinator, are both true advocates for their students and you will not find a better sponsor for this promising growing industry.

Be Safe My Friends.

Keven Moore is director of Risk Management Services for Roeding Insurance (www.roedinginsurance.com) and is an expert witness. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kentucky, a master’s from Eastern Kentucky University and 25-plus years of experience in the safety and insurance profession. He lives in Lexington with his family and works out of both the Lexington and Northern Kentucky offices. Keven can be reached at kmoore@roeding.com.

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Published on February 22, 2018

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