119 South St., BUS 200
Big Rapids, MI
Risk and insurance touches every aspect of daily life and business. When we drive our cars, we accept risk of damage to our expensive automobile and potential injury to ourselves and others. When we operate our business, we encounter risks to our business property, reputation, and livelihood. Risk management and insurance is what allows our lives and the economy to operate smoothly in spite of the risks and the reality that “bad things” will occasionally happen. Risk management and insurance is what makes us whole when things go wrong in both our personal and business lives.
As a risk and insurance professional, you will be responsible for putting lives back together. From insurance agents, risk managers, underwriters, claims, marketing, IT, human resources, to customer service representatives, everyone works in concert to make the world a better place. As a risk and insurance professional, your life will be far from boring and the type of work that you do can be extremely varied.
Insurance agents and customer service representatives are the front line in the business of risk management. Their objective is to match proper insurance products to the risks and needs of their clients. This requires getting to know and understand the unique risks of each client, learning their business, and building a helpful and trusted relationship. Many insurance agents own their own business and are very entrepreneurial.
Risk analysts and risk managers spend their time identifying and analyzing potential risks, and working with others both inside and outside of their organization to treat the risks. Risk treatment may include creative approaches to control, prevent, and reduce the losses that can result from various risks, which may or may not include risk transfer arrangements such as insurance.
Underwriters spend their time evaluating insurance applications, analyzing the risks that their insurance company is being asked to assume, determining an appropriate scope of coverage and price, and building relationships with their agency partners. Underwriting analysis must strike a balance between meeting the insurance needs of the marketplace and maintaining a profitable insurance operation.
Claims professionals investigate the circumstances of incidents, determine insurance coverage, and settle claims to help people and businesses rebuild and get back to normal after a negative event. They are directly responsible for making the insured whole again. Whereas this is one of the most challenging careers you may ever have, it will also be the most rewarding.
Loss prevention activities help people and businesses to reduce the likelihood of negative events and losses by inspecting their property and practices, making recommendations, and coaching them toward safer operations.
Risk and insurance activities include a number of other activities that are common to many industries, such as data analytics, accounting, information technology, marketing, customer service, and more. There is something for everyone in the risk and insurance industry.
Risk and insurance professionals typically find themselves working in office locations throughout the world. There are numerous opportunities in major U.S. cities, as well as in smaller field offices located in more rural towns. Some positions also offer flexible telecommuting options. Insurance is a global business as well, presenting the opportunity to work almost anywhere in the world. Some risk and insurance positions require the professional to be “in the field” meeting clients, examining facilities, and leading projects.
Median entry-level salaries excluding benefits and bonuses (Salary.com)
Insurance Agent: $47,900*
Claims Adjuster: $45,200
Loss Control Specialist: $47,800
Risk Analyst/Manager: $54,800
*Agents have the potential to earn a significant annual income.
Entry level salaries above can grow with experience. Claims Adjusters, Loss Control Reps earnings can rise into the $60,000s; Underwriting managers and directors can earn up to $150,000; Risk Managers rise into the $100,000s, and Agents owning their own business may eventually sell their agency business for seven-figures.
There are numerous professional organizations associated with specific disciplines within the industry. For example, there are several organizations for insurance agents, for claims professionals, and the Society of Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriters caters to the profession of underwriting. The National Association for Professional Surplus Lines Offices supports the specialty “Lloyd’s of London” type of insurance business.
A professional network of university students and faculty interested in risk management and insurance, and insurance industry professionals, with 64 chapters across North America and an annual membership of more than 3,000 students and an alumni population of over 22,000. The annual conference will attract 500 students and their faculty to the largest risk management and insurance career fair, and various industry and chapter management workshops. Alumni from different universities continue to network and do business with each other long after graduation.
There are a multitude of scholarship opportunities for students of risk and insurance, and they are constantly changing and evolving with new scholarships appearing. Scholarships can range from $500 to $6,000, and the award criteria varies as well. Although some scholarships are based, at least in-part, on student need, many of the scholarships are based on student merit and enthusiasm for becoming a risk and insurance professional. In fact, from 2013-2015 every Ferris State Risk Management and Insurance student who applied for scholarships was awarded at least one scholarship, and some students received multiple awards.
The following list is a representative sampling of scholarships currently available to students in this program:
Perhaps the most meaningful aspect of the education process is the opportunity to apply knowledge learned in the classroom to real-world situations. This is one of the primary objectives of internships which afford students the opportunity to work for a risk/insurance organization where the student is exposed to real-world business activities, projects, and challenges. Student interns are able to gain professional experience, make valuable network connections, and usually receive wages for their effort – all while cementing and enhancing their understanding of the concepts they first learned in the classroom. In fact, many internships ultimately lead to permanent employment offers upon graduation. Because of the incredible value that an internship experience provides, Ferris State’s Risk Management and Insurance major now mandates an internship as part of the degree requirements.
Here are a few of the firms where Ferris State students have recently interned: