Insurance Surveyor

The Job and What's Involved

Insurance surveyors, also known as risk surveyors and risk analysts, are employed by insurance companies to carry out surveys on buildings, sites, machinery or transportation, such as ships or aeroplanes, which need to be insured. They produce written reports, which are passed to insurance underwriters. This information helps insurance companies decide whether or not to accept the risk and what the terms and conditions of each insurance policy should be.

Whilst carrying out their surveys, insurance surveyors may make recommendations to clients on ways to reduce risks. This could include examining health and safety hazards and environmental and security risks and recommending:

  • New processes or procedures for companies or employees to follow.
  • Improvements to security, like alarms.
  • Enhancements to safety systems.

Insurance surveyors usually specialise in one of four areas:

Fire and Perils - looking at the risks to a building and its contents, examining the building's plans and gathering information about its construction, its fire protection and security systems and the way the business is managed.

Accidents and Liability - looking at the site risks to employees, customers and visitors, including products being manufactured to ensure they meet safety standards, machinery and equipment, and the health and safety systems and procedures.

Engineering - specialist engineering surveyors examine mechanical and industrial plants, machinery and equipment to look for faults. They could examine simple machines or huge industrial plants and offshore oilrig's.

Burglary and Theft - examining business premises, assessing security arrangements and checking how goods are stored, to make sure that the risk of burglary or theft is minimised.

While insurance surveyors often work alone, they will liaise directly with companies' internal risk managers and health and safety officers, and their employers' insurance underwriters.

Surveyors usually work normal office hours, Monday to Friday, possibly outside these hours if a particular job demands it. There are some part-time work and job- sharing opportunities.

Surveyors may be based in an office, but increasingly work from home, communicating by telephone and email. They spend much of their time visiting sites like industrial plants, construction sites, oilrig's and engineering plants. Conditions may be dirty or dusty or involve working at heights. In these situations hard hats, high-visibility jackets and safety boots are worn. The work can be physically demanding.

Those working for international insurance companies may have to travel to client sites around the world, spending short periods away from home.

A driving licence may be useful.

Trainee salaries are around £22,000 a year. Experienced and qualified surveyors may earn between £30,000 and £65,000 a year.

Specialist surveyors and senior managers can earn up to £100,000 a year.

Employers may provide benefits like a company car, medical insurance and life assurance.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Insurance surveyors are employed throughout the UK, with keen competition for jobs. They work for:

  • Large and medium-sized insurance companies and brokers.
  • Specialist insurance surveying firms.
  • Risk management consultancies.
  • Specialist engineering insurance companies (in the case of most engineering surveyors).

Vacancies may be advertised in national newspapers, in publications such as Post Magazine, Insurance Times, Insurance Age and Strategic Risk and by financial services recruitment agencies.

Education and Training

There are no set entry qualifications for insurance surveyors. It is usual, though, to have had a few years' experience in insurance, often in underwriting, before training as an insurance surveyor. Alternatively, qualifications and experience in a related profession, such as health and safety, building surveying or engineering are useful.

Some large insurance companies run graduate training schemes, which can be a route in. Entry is with at least an upper second class degree (or equivalent) in any subject. Applicants with a degree in insurance, business studies, economics, sciences, building surveying or risk management, though, may have an advantage in gaining a training position.

Entry to degree courses is usually with at least two A levels and five GCSE's (A*-C). Other relevant qualifications may be accepted, either on their own or in combination with A levels. Entry requirements vary, so candidates should check with individual colleges and universities.

School leavers with GCSE's (A*-C) or equivalents such as a Higher Diploma in business, administration and finance may be able to enter insurance as insurance technicians, claims handlers or risk assistants. They may work their way up while studying for a professional qualification such as:

  • The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) Diploma or Advanced Diploma in Insurance
  • The Institute of Risk Management (IRM) International Certificate or International Diploma in Risk Management.

Some people enter insurance through an Apprenticeship or Advanced Apprenticeship in providing financial services.

Engineering insurance surveyors need relevant engineering qualifications, usually a degree in engineering. It may also be possible to start on an Apprenticeship or Advanced Apprenticeship in engineering and gain insurance or risk management qualifications while working.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships, Careers Wales www.careerswales.com; and for Northern Ireland contact www.careersserviceni.com.

The Diploma in engineering may be relevant for this area of work.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Most training is done on the job. Newly appointed surveyors accompany experienced surveyors before conducting surveys alone. They may also attend in-house and external courses.

Trainee surveyors can study for the CII Advanced Diploma in Insurance by distance learning, online or through full-time tuition. Successful completion can lead to surveyors becoming Associates of the CII (ACII).

Some study by distance learning for the IRM's International Certificate in Risk Management. This is a broad, introductory qualification, achievable in six to nine months, leading to IRM Certification (CIRM).

Surveyors may also study for the National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH) National or International Diploma in occupational health and safety. Study can be full time by block release, part time or by distance learning.

Attending short courses and workshops run by the CII and IRM may count towards accredited continuing professional development (CPD).

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

An insurance surveyor should be:

  • Thorough, observant and attentive to detail.
  • Methodical, with an investigative approach to gathering information.
  • Excellent communicators, both verbally and in writing.
  • Tactful, assertive and persuasive.
  • Capable of understanding technical plans and able to convey complex information clearly.
  • Good negotiators.
  • Good at managing their time effectively.
  • Self-motivated but equally able to work within a larger team.
  • Able to write reports and draw simple plans.
  • Confident using computers.

Your Long Term Prospects

Insurance surveyors can go on to specialise in one type of risk. They may be promoted to senior surveyor or head of department. Moving between employers is usual for progression.

Self-employment is possible. There are also opportunities to work abroad for global insurers that underwrite policies for international risks.

Get Further Information

The Association of Insurance and Risk Managers (AIRMIC),
6 Lloyd's Avenue, London EC3N 3AX
Tel: 020 7480 7610
Website: www.airmic.com

The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII),
42-48 High Road, South Woodford,
London E18 2JP
Tel: 020 8989 8464
Websites: www.cii.co.uk, www.discoverrisk.co.uk
and www.thepfs.org

Financial Services Skills Council,
51 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7HQ
Tel: 0845 257 3772
Website: www.fssc.org.uk

The Institute of Risk Management (IRM),
6 Lloyd's Avenue, London EC3N 3AX
Tel: 020 7709 9808
Website: www.theirm.org

The National Examination Board
in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH),
Dominus Way, Meridian Business Park,
Leicester LE19 1QW
Tel: 0116 263 4700
Website: www.nebosh.org.uk

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