When we pose this question to people we are profiling in Canadian Underwriter, the answer is almost invariably an interesting story of coincidence, circumstance or happenstance. Most commonly, the connection is based on a family member who was already in the business.

It's extremely rare that someone tells us: "When I was 8 years old, I wanted to be an adjuster." Or: "Ever since I saw that red fire truck go past our home, I knew I wanted to help, and so I was determined to become an insurance underwriter."

In fact, I don't think I have ever heard anyone say this.

Even in my case, writing about insurance was purely coincidental. Back in early 1999-2000, after receiving a graduate diploma in Journalism from Concordia, I edited a community newspaper in Woolwich Township (just north of Waterloo, Ontario). There, I loved the fact that on any given day, I could be writing about anything from traffic accidents, fires, municipal council news, sports, business, the high school play...etc. etc. For personal reasons, I moved to Toronto, where I was lucky enough to catch on as a staff writer at a weekly newspaper for lawyers called Law Times. While there, I contributed a number of stories to Canadian Lawyer, some of which were pretty fascinating and bizarre. Lawyers are at the epicenter of some pretty interesting conflicts.

Lured by the temptation of financial comfort and a 9-5 desk job, I moved to the communications field. But after a brief stint in corporate communications, I came to the realization that my first love was still in fact Journalism.

And so, surfing a Journalism job Web site one night at home, I found a posting for Canadian Underwriter magazine. When I first saw the posting for an editor, I hesitated to apply. I was worried that I knew nothing about insurance except for the insurance law cases I was writing about for Law Times (and these cases were always tricky to write about, because of the sticky nature of the policy language). I also believed — incorrectly, as it turns out — that the company would rather have 'an insurance person' edit the magazine, as opposed to having a journalist edit a magazine about insurance. And so I wavered between letting the opportunity pass and bringing my journalism talent to bear. In the end, I decided to apply, and I am glad I did.

Having served for almost four years as editor of Canadian Underwriter, I feel I am now saddled with two stereotypes. First, there is society's stereotype of a journalist as a celebrity. For example, when I tell people I am a journalist, people immediately ask which daily, weekly, tabloid or television news station I work for. They do this because In the cruel world of Journalism stereotypes, if as a journalist you aren't as famous as Woodward and Bernstein or Peter Mansbridge, then you must simply be a pretender. Of course, when I tell people I work at a trade publication covering all aspects of the Canadian insurance industry, I run into the double-whammy stereotype about insurance: "Oh," they say, moving on to some other topic of conversation, like whether the red M&Ms taste better than the green ones. Occasionally, someone will articulate the stereotype, allowing me to address it. "Insurance, eh?" they say sympathetically. "That must be boring."

In truth, I've actually found insurance to be quite an interesting field to write about. There is no lack of drama in a business in which personal relationships are front and centre. There are interesting legal challenges over seemingly arcane, metaphysical debates (is a motorized go cart a vehicle?), but debates that nevertheless translate into millions of dollars changing hands. There are people helping people in desperate times. There are people helping us to plan ahead so that we and our livelihoods are safe. And yes, perhaps not surprising in a business in which getting to know people is a prized skill, there are some pretty good parties going on. And since insurance, being fundamentally about safety, is intertwined with all aspects of our lives, the business has much to offer generalists like myself who get bored easily. Yes, you just heard me say it: insurance is pretty cool.

So, how did you get into this business....? What's your favourite part about it? Write me and let me know.

Views: 3158

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Played in a rock band for 5 years. Popular but messed up school badly. Parents not to happy. One day decided to make parents happy. Sold all my musical equipment on Yonge St from the trunk of my car. Found a job with the Commerce Group Insurance. Thought I was working for a bank in the mail room for the first few days. Got some valuable experience for 6 months. Decided to go back to College. Graduated from Insurance Administration at Seneca. Made the parents very happy. I have had the honour of speaking twice to the Graduating Classes at Seneca over the past 10 years. Indeed a great journey in a great industry.

As a young pup, I would go to job sites with my dad and help him out as much as I could. This eventually grew into me running crews of contents specialists for several restoration companies before taking my Marketing degree at the Asper School of Business (University of Manitoba). True to what seems to be tradition in this field, my dad gently nudged me to get back into the business for years until finally I decided start a Contents Listing service to help Adjusters, Insurers, and Policy Holders account for contents before and after a loss. Now, I'm able to use both my background in restoration and my education/work experience in technology and customer service to provide a fast, easy, and reliable service for my clients!

In my case, it was completely accidental.  I was doing business to business sales as an employee of a third party vendor.  I hated it!  I desperately wanted out of sales, out of pitching, out of quotas, out of schmoozing.  I did not want another day of being pleasant to people who were closing the door in my face, all over a product neither of us had any interest in.  I was a good salesperson, but it was making me miserable and so I decided to do something drastic.  I started applying for all kinds of jobs, even including security guard positions!    My only rule was “anything except insurance”, because I was sure it would be even more soul crushing than my then-current role.  I received a call from a company called Securican, asking me to come in for an interview.  I liked the gentleman I spoke with, his genial attitude, his enthusiasm, his engagement and positivity about his workplace and so I accepted the interview.  As an aside at the end of the call he asked me “Oh, by the way, do you know what we do here at Securican?”  I responded with “Don’t worry; I’ll make a great security guard!”  His response may as well have been accompanied by a horror movie musical score as said, “Actually, we do pet health insurance.”  Sounded pretty shady to me!  Still, I felt obligated and came in for the interview anyway.  I absolutely fell in love with the energy, culture, and values I saw.  I was excited by the scope of opportunity and the intellectual stimulation that had been so lacking in every job before this.  I am definitely hooked on insurance now!

I was a driver for a courier company in 1996 and involved in a horrific accident with a fatality.  I was on and off work dealing with physical and mental issues and decided to get an office job rather than a physical one, even temporarily.  I went into a Credit Union to drop off a resume and the manager told me their insurance side was hiring but I needed to write the licensing exam.

So I ordered the books and wrote the exam.  But by then the posting was filled.  The office that proxied the exam said that if I passed he could give me 4 days a week at the ICBC counter.

I worked there and another office over the next 2 years then found an office in my hometown looking to train someone for commercial sales.  14 years later I'm still here!


© 2018   Created by instouch.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service