Insurance is a huge industry with a wide range of employment opportunities. The claims area provides entry-level opportunities where you can get a 360-degree view of the careers available. What you need to start are good math and communication skills, the ability to learn, and a willingness to serve the customer.
Behind every insurance agent is a vast support network that does everything from creating the company's advertising to processing customer payments. Glenn Williams, Heartland Zone human resources manager for State Farm Insurance, says that the claims area is a place where entry-level workers can get a 360-degree view of the industry and plot a career path.
Claims representatives are the people who interact with customers who have had a car accident or damage to their home. The claims representative explains where to go to get repairs, investigates accidents, takes statements from people and talks to authorities. Williams says most claims representatives will have a four-year degree.
Once the claims representative has determined the facts, a claims processor facilitates the payment. The claims processor position requires a high school or associate degree. `We're looking for a capacity to learn, good communication skills and a good foundation in math," Williams says.
A Helpful Heart
Claims representatives and processors are usually working with customers who are under stress - they may have been in a car accident or tornado. They have suffered damage to important possessions like a car or home. "These jobs require an extraordinarily strong bent to service," Williams says. "You have to want to help make people whole. We can teach the mechanics of handling a claim, but we can't teach people to have a helpful heart." Sometimes, Williams says, the job includes "delivering tough news with empathy."
Williams says an entry-level claims jobs is "a great place to get maturity. So many of our claims professionals go into different jobs within the company and excel because claims is such a good learning ground. Everyone who comes up through claims talks about how much they learned."
The claims career ladder goes up through supervisory roles to head of the claims department. On the other hand, Williams says, "If someone decided to branch out, they could go into HR, finance, public affairs or underwriting. It really depends on his or her interests and ability." Right now, Williams is working with a claims supervisor who is interested in moving into human resources. It's a natural match - Williams was once a claims representative himself.
Laura French is a freelance principal of Words Into Action, Inc., and is a freelance writer from Roseville.