Tips for Talking About Your Insurance Career
How do you explain what you do?
Hey, you have a job in insurance! Congratulations!
Now comes the hard part: explaining your career to your friends and family.
Whether you’re around the table at a family gathering or out with your friends, explaining an insurance career is never easy. By now, you know that it’s one of the most misunderstood industries, so you’ll have to explain not only what you do, but also how insurance works in general. Ask any industry veteran, it’s tough to talk about in casual conversation.
“I really look at this stuff like, how would I explain this to a seventh grader?” said Marty Frappolli, senior director of Knowledge Resources at The Institutes and a nearly 30-year insurance industry veteran. “If you can explain it to a seventh grader, then you’re getting it down to the fundamentally important pieces.”
With that advice in mind, here are some tips for making it easier to talk about your career.
Speak in everyday, practical, jargon-free language about what you do, and explain your role as you would to someone hearing about it for the first time. Don’t immediately assume that someone knows what a claims adjuster or an underwriter does on a daily basis, or even that he or she grasps the principles behind the industry.
So, as an adjuster, don’t say, “I investigate an insurer’s liability for loss when a claim is made.” Instead, say, “I talk with people who have property damage and help determine how much the insurance company will pay them.” It’s basic, but it allows people to immediately picture what you’re talking about.
Ask a question
If someone asks what you do and your response is, “I’m an insurance broker,” it puts the burden on him or her to come up with another question that keeps the conversation going. Try pitching a softball question such as, “I’m an insurance broker, so I try to find the best policies on behalf of clients. Have you ever used a broker before?”
Tell a story
It’s unlikely that people will understand all the minutiae of your position (or anyone else’s, for that matter), but everyone loves a good anecdote. Before you head to a party, think of one or two of the best stories from the past year, whether it’s an example of a time when you truly helped someone or just something humorous that happened one day.
Got nothing? Steal another story by asking friends and family if they’ve ever seen an insurance-related movie, like Along Came Polly or Cedar Rapids, and explain how that is, and mainly isn’t, similar to what you do.
If it’s clear that a person is just baffled, it’s fine to change the topic. Countless poor insurance souls have labored to explain the fascinating aspects of actuarial tables and catastrophe models, all to no avail. Don’t sweat it; you’ll have a whole career to spread the word.
Of course, these handy tips are just a few general pointers; there are many more methods for simplifying these conversations.