In India, the concept of insurance was never a given a serious thought, as compared to other countries. People still are under insured, life insurance premia to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio is a mere 1.4% as compared to a healthier rate of 8% amongst other developing countries. The reason being lack of awareness and opportunities combined with poor state of services provided.
Presently in India, the insurance sector is nationalised, services are rendered by Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) and General Insurance Company (GIC) alongwith its 4 subsidiaries. While LIC provides life insurance, GIC is concerned with non life insurance like - motor, marine, fire, health and personal accident insurance. LIC employs people in various departments - publicity and public relation department, development department, personnel department, accounts department, actuarial department, secretrarial department, legal department, investment department, inspection department, mortagages department, vigilance department, foreign department, corporate planning department, building department etc.
Of late, parliament's nod for the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) bill has changed the whole scenario. With the passage of the bill, entry of private indian as well as foreign companies, alongwith existing players, in the insurance sector will add variety and quality to the present insurance services. The other positive impact would be on creation of new employment opportunities. Till now employment in the insurance sector was considered akin to any government job, but now with private participation, it will assume significant importance and probably become an exciting career option.
Nature of Work
The insurance corporation performs various tasks with each department having its own set of responsibilities. The various posts and their specific jobs are mentioned hereupon.
Administrative Officer and Assistant Administrative Officer
Administrative Officer (AO) and Assistant Administrative Officer (AAO) belong to the class I officer group. The job begins with the candidates joining LIC and GIC on a probation-cum-training period of 6 months. This is to provide exposure about the working of insurance sector. AAOs can choose any of the areas from Administration, Develpoment and Accounts. In Administration AAOs handle policy making, policy claims upto cetain limit, checking clauses and details, filing official returns and statements to higher regional offices etc. The Development AAOs deal with marketing and procurement of business, promoting policies, getting contracts etc. The Accounts AAOs manage the funds including incomes and expenses of the corporation. After 3 years of working as AAOs they can be promoted to AOs. This adds on more powers and authority and they can be posted anywhere in India.
Candidates applying for the post of AAOs should be between 21 and 28 years of age. They should hold a graduate/postgraduate degree in any subject with minimum of 50% marks. Recruitment is done by LIC Central Office at Mumbai. The entrance examination has two papers, one is of objective type and the other is of essay type - test of English. The objective type paper, tests intelligence and quickness of response. For the quantitative aptitude test good mathematical knowledge is essential. Logical reasoning, general knowledge, awareness of political, cultural events and happening are also tested. After the written test, selected candidates have to appear for inteviews which are conducted by the Board and are held across the country.
The Development Officer belongs to class II officer group. They are incharge of their territory for the development of the insurance policies. They handle recruitment of agents, train them for procurement of new business and servicing of the existing policies. Over a period of time Agents recruited by the Development Officers can also rise to the position of the Development Officer.
Recruitment process of Development Officers is handled by the Divisional Office. Candidates applying for the post of Development Officer have to be between 21 and 26 years of age and should be graduates. Eligible candidates are then put through written tests in English and mathematics. On clearing the test, they qualify for the interview which is conducted by the Board. Later on selected candidates have to serve as Apprentice for a period of one year. This is impotant to impart practical training in various areas.
Apart from the class I and II level, there are other posts such as Assistants, Typists, Machine Operators, Stenographer, Telephone Operators, Clerks etc. This group comes in the class III level category. They are recruited by the Divisional Office. The candidates applying for these posts have to go through a written test and an interview. There are reservations in the jobs for Handicapped persons, SC/ST, ex-servicemen. The age requirement for these posts is between 18 to 25 years.
Apart from people directly working in the insurance companies, there are other categories of people related to the insurance sector. These include the following.
- Insurance Agents: An insurance agent is a person who takes up agency from the insurance company to sell their policy on a commission basis. He acts as an intermediary between the insurance company and the policy holder. But before doing so, he has to undergo training and get a certificate of proficiency from the insurance company.
Mostly insurance policies are bought through agents. Agents help individuals and companies in selecting the right policy for their needs. They plan for the financial security of individuals, families and businesses and advise them about insurance protection. They also help the policy holders at the time of settlement of the claim. The job of agents is quite challenging as selling a product like insurance policy is not easy. For being successful, agents should be outgoing and social. They should have a knack of convincing people.
Recruitment of agents is done by the Corporation after a written test and an interview followed by a training period of 3 years. Graduates in the age group of 21 to 35 years are preferred.
- Insurance Surveyors: Insurance surveyors are qualified professionals deputed for the assessment of losses, according to their qualification and experience. They play an important role as they serve a link between the insurer and the insured. Their job is to assess the actual loss and avoid false claims filed by the insured and on the other hand help the insured who has suffered a genuine loss by indemnification of the loss. They act as investigators, assessers for determining the loss and liability to be reported to the insurance company. The work is not always delighting as it often involves a lot of hardwork and travelling at awkward times.
Surveyors are not employees of the insurance companies. They are independent professionals who are hired by the insurance companies. To hold a license of a surveyor, one must possess any one of the following qualifications.
- Fellowship or Associateship of the Institute of Insurance Surveyors and Adjustors (IISA), Mumbai.
- A Degree or Diploma in Architecture of a Recognised University or Institute.
- Fellowship or Associateship of the Institute of Chartered accountants or Cost and Works Accountants.
- A Degree or Diploma of a Recognised Institute of Engineering.
- A Degree or Diploma in Naval Architecture.
Around 1 lakh people are believed to be working in LIC in various departments. Apart from career opportunities available with LIC and GIC, employment avenues are also open in corporate sector, stock broking firms, finance companies, shipping companies etc. Now it's just a matter of time before a number and variety of other employment opportunities open up, with the insurance sector welcoming private participation. This will lead to competition and create a totally different work environment. The various areas which are likely to absorb people include the following.
- ACTUARIAL: An actuary holds one of the most important position in an insurance business. He is involved in solving wide range of financial problems related with insurance investments, financial planning and management. Graduates in maths or satistics are suited for this kind of a job because the work is based on mathematical and statistical skills. In the coming times it will definitely make one of the highly paid career option in the insurance sector. Entry level salary is expected to be somewhere around Rs. 8 lakh p.a.
- UNDERWRITING: The life and non-life insurance segments require professional underwriters. Underwriters assess the risk in the business and takes care of risk management. Normally foreign insurers prefer people with medical or life science background for this job and the same is likely to happen here. Entry level salary can be expected to be around 6 lakh p.a.
- MARKETING AND DISTRIBUTION: Marketing insurance product is not easy at all. It is like marketing any other financial product, which requires a push. Marketing therefore would require specialization. Degree holders from reputed institutes and those with experience in marketing and finance fields can anticipate bright opportunuties in the insurance sector. Even the role of agents will witness a radical change, they will moreover serve as financial consultants, who will offer a complete range of insurance solutions.
- OPERATIONS: The insurance sector will be requiring Infotech professionals for elaborate databases, network solutions and for in house packages etc. Like other sectors, demand for database and software professionals is expected to grow in the insurance sector as well.
- INVESTMENT: Like banks and mutual funds, investment professionals will be required in insurance sector as well. Professionals with degree in finance from reputed institutes as well as experienced professionals from banks and mutual funds will have promising career options to look forward to.