I asked Matthew Scott a law grad and Chief Claims Manager for NFU Mutual for some pointers on why he chose to build his career in the insurance world and here’s what he told me.
“The insurance industry is a great sector in which to use and develop your law degree capabilities. Insurance touches every aspect of human endeavour so the work is challenging and exciting – it’s about a lot more than car and home insurance.
When I finished my law degree I ended up working in the insurance industry with only a limited idea of the opportunities ahead of me. I had some idea of insurance contract law from a 2nd year degree module. What I hadn’t appreciated was that much of the tort and contract law I had studied also had insurance at its heart. The civil cases I learnt about involved litigation in the names of the parties involved; but had mostly been funded – and directed – by insurers.
From joining as a graduate trainee, over 33 years ago, I’ve had constant opportunity to develop my skills and knowledge. With my interest in tort and contract law, it was fairly natural to choose the discipline of claims for my own career path, I was able to expand my skills and knowledge by completing studies to attain Associateship status with the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), the professional body for insurance.
Once I had completed my training I took on a personal caseload of claims. The work involves protecting the financial and reputational security of customers. From putting things back as they were for customers after a fire, theft or flood, to enabling fair compensation remedies in liability insurance cases where the law warranted it – and defending liability where it didn’t. I directed the conduct of a number of test cases on personal injury law; as well as on matters as broad as contract law in major construction projects, copyright infringement, and liability for defective goods.
I’ve had the opportunity to move into leadership positions, shaping the overall strategy and future claims capabilities for my employer, as well as the wider industry. My work with industry colleagues involves representing the insurance sector in discussions with Government, both directly and via our trade body the Association of British Insurers. We’ve helped shape the approach to issues as diverse as flooding, consumer rights, and injury compensation reform. At present we’re working on the Government’s introduction of ‘whiplash’ reforms and a new means of setting the personal injury discount rate.
The claims sector is not the only insurance area where a law degree background is valuable. Underwriters shape the policy wordings and pricing for risks. Procurement teams work to select and manage commercial relationships between an insurer and other businesses. Human resources deal with employee relations, performance management and grievances. The life insurance, pensions and investment sector creates products and services to enable financial planning and security for the long term. In all of these areas your law degree skills will be invaluable.
The insurance industry is, by necessity, one that has to anticipate future trends and develop products, services and business operations to meet the emerging needs of its customers. In every insurer these various disciplines and teams work together to understand and respond to new opportunities. My industry colleagues are currently tackling issues such as driverless cars, robotics, nano-technology, and changing weather patterns; as well as a constantly evolving overall competitive and regulatory environment.
What are the implications for our day to day lives of the ‘internet of things’, drones, greater shared ownership of property, and cyber-crime? How might they present challenges for the safety and security of businesses and individuals? Insurance is at the heart of all this – developing new products to help customers and innovative businesses mitigate and transfer risk – whilst making sure the way these products are sold, and fulfilled when a claim happens, matches customer and regulatory requirements.
So, insurance is not dry and dusty. It’s not just about TV adverts about the price of car insurance. It’s an exciting, vibrant, diverse, global industry that is essential to the health and wealth of businesses and families all over the world.
I’ve never regretted joining the insurance industry instead of progressing to qualify as a solicitor or barrister. It’s given me a wonderful career, great colleagues, and lots of growth, excitement, challenge, and fun. I have no doubt that the same will be true for those just starting out on their insurance career.