P&C Carriers Lose 900 Jobs in Oct.; Industry Gains 4,900 Positions

Updated 4:09 p.m.

NU Online News Service, Dec. 7, 10:40 a.m. EST

Property and casualty carriers shed 900 jobs in October compared to September, continuing a trend seen since July 2008, but the insurance industry overall added 4,900 positions in October.

For P&C carriers, employment is down 8.3 percent from July 2008 to October 2011, according to an Insurance Information Institute analysis of the latest U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data. I.I.I. president Robert Hartwig says P&C carriers have lost 41,200 jobs over that time, with employment now standing at 452,000 positions.

Agents and brokers, both life and non-life, added 3,100 jobs in October compared to September, but Hartwig notes that “this merely reverses the nearly equivalent drop in September,” when agents and brokers shed 3,400 compared to August. Agent and broker employment currently stands at 641,400.

Hartwig notes that October has typically been a month for hiring agents and brokers. He says that “in the 22 years since BLS began collecting data, employment in agencies and brokerages increased in all but four Octobers. Moreover, three of the four ‘down’ Octobers were in recession years, when we might expect employment to shrink.” Those three years were 1991, 2008 and 2009.

Elsewhere in the industry, reinsurers neither added nor subtracted jobs in October. Employment in this sector stands at 27,500.

Claims adjusters added 900 jobs from September to October, increasing overall employment to 48,600.

Health/medical insurers added 1,600 jobs, bringing total employment to 419,000. Hartwig says this sector has seen job losses similar to P&C carriers since July 2008, shedding 22,500 positions during that time.

Hartwig says, “These two industry segments [P&C and health/medical] are more transaction-oriented than is the life/annuity segment, which is more asset-management oriented. This might account for why, in contrast, in that same time frame [July 2008-October 2011], employment at life/annuity carriers grew by 17,100.”

Life-insurance carriers added 1,400 positions in October compared to September, increasing employment in the sector to 374,900.

Title and other direct insurers lost 1,000 jobs in October, dropping employment to 64,100.

Third-party administrators shed 300 jobs, with employment standing at 127,900.

For the industry overall, employment rose to 2,208,900 in October, up from 2,204,000 in September.

Meanwhile, addressing attendees today at a conference sponsored by Advisen and the St. John’s University School of Risk Management in New York on “The State of the P&C Job Market” Mario Vitale, co-chief executive officer of Aspen Insurance, says the industry is going back to what it once was, where underwriting discipline was the primary concern, and away from “cash flow” underwriting that he described as “get the cash in and invest it.”

In terms of jobs, he says this means the industry needs to train people in a way “it has not done in 25 years” and educate them in the art and concepts of underwriting.

That, he adds, is “all about hiring the right people and getting back to doing the basics in this business.”

He notes too that the industry is not limited to underwriters, but as the economy pick up and profitability grows again, companies will need a diverse field of talent including field representatives, adjusters and loss-control specialists. Talents will also have to cover information technology, legal issues, marketing and human resources.

As the international aspect of insurance grows, it will become increasingly important for insurance professionals to know a second language, in fact, some companies will not hire unless individuals have that skill.

“I do believe this is a war for talent,” Vitale says.

He says this is a multi-faceted business and job seekers need “to find what is most passionate to you. Give it all you have and I’m sure you’ll be successful.”

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