In Friday’s national jobs report, you’ll see the number of people employed at insurance carriers and related activities went up last month, with 15,000 new jobs. There are now just under 3 million people employed in that industry, about 3% more than during the Before Times, in February 2020.
There are a few reasons for this growth. One is that, as the pandemic moves into a new phase, Americans are more worried than they used to be that things will go badly. Another is, when it comes to weather in particular, things have been going badly.
How badly? Well, forget April showers. This year, there was April hail, March tornadoes and February flooding. All of which caused massive damage.
“We’re seeing in response to that, companies are looking to add employees, particularly around their claims staffing,” said Jeff Rieder, who leads Ward Benchmarking, an insurance consulting practice that’s part of the company Aon.
For example, insurers might need to hire more adjusters to go out into the field to look at the damage caused by all that weather. Meanwhile, Rieder pointed out that there have been a lot of increases in insurance pricing.
“Many companies are experiencing revenue growth that’s supporting their staffing,” he said.
The pandemic has also made people more attuned to the likelihood of bad events happening, which can make them more inclined to buy insurance.
“It just grows the need, or the perception of the need, for the product,” said Matthew Palazola, an analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence.
That demand for insurance products is driving the need for more underwriters, the people who assess risk and determine how much to charge for policies, along with agents and brokers to sell those policies.
There are also potential jobs in the industry for people who understand everything from meteorology to appraising jewelry.
“If you’re an art history major, there’s a lot of insurers out there who need people who can appraise artworks,” said Michael Barry with the Insurance Information Institute, an industry-funded consumer education organization.
Noting this, colleges are trying to get more students excited about insurance as a career.
“If we’re honest, kids don’t grow up wanting to work in the insurance industry,” said Thomas Berry-Stoelzle, a finance professor at the University of Iowa. He’s one of the people behind the new risk management and insurance major at the Tippie College of Business.
But Berry-Stoelzle said once students learn about the problems they’ll be tackling in insurance, they get into it.
“It’s really about helping others stay out of trouble,” he said. Another thing that’s attractive? Berry-Stoelzle calls insurance a “very recession-proof industry.”
“Risk never goes away,” he said. While it may not be as glamorous as something like tech, insurance isn’t garnering big headlines about layoffs, either.
As Rieder of Ward Benchmarking put it: “I think a lot of people are seeing that there’s stability in the insurance business that’s not there in many other industries.”
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