Should I Become an Insurance Inspector?
Information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed that insurance inspectors are similar to insurance underwriters. Like underwriters, insurance inspectors determine financial risk factors involved in insuring a property, item, or person. With examining a home, for example, an insurance inspector would take a close look at the structure and identify potential risks, such as fire hazards or lack of structural integrity. Insurance inspectors write reports on their findings and make recommendations on whether to provide insurance.
The majority of insurance underwriters and inspectors work on a full-time basis. Much of an inspector's time is spent in an office setting, although they may be required to travel locally to sites in order to assess buildings. The majority of inspectors work directly for insurance companies.
|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree|
|Degree Field||Math, finance, economics, business or engineering|
|Certification||Insurance industry certification recommended|
|Key Skills||Able to communicate with other professionals, strong analytical skills, capable of making decisions, comfortable working without supervision and able to manage time effectively, capable of using document and spreadsheet creation programs, knowledge of insurance policies and insurance assessment procedures|
|Salary (2014)||$64,220 (Median annual wage for all U.S. insurance underwriters)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Iowa College Student Aid Commission
Step 1: Choose a Specialty
In the insurance industry, there are multiple specialties for insurance inspectors to consider. The four most common specialties, per the BLS, include property and casualty, life, mortgage and health. Of these four areas, property and casualty is the widest field with the most subfields, including home insurance, business insurance, vehicle insurance and personal insurance. Each field or subfield of insurance requires slightly different training and experience. For example, professionals who specialize in either life or health insurance may possess backgrounds in health care management or health care administration. Individuals who know what they want to specialize in early on may have an easier time selecting related degree programs.
Step 2: Earn a Bachelor's Degree
The BLS recommends that insurance inspectors pursue bachelor's degree programs related to finance, mathematics, business or economics. According to the Iowa College Student Aid Commission, prospective insurance inspectors may want to consider earning bachelor's degrees in engineering, especially individuals who want to go into property and casualty insurance. Engineering degree programs may provide students with a better knowledge of structural design and safety codes. Potential engineering programs that may prove useful include mechanical, electrical, civil and architectural.
- Take insurance classes. Although the BLS does not state that insurance inspectors or underwriters are required to take insurance courses, gaining the knowledge from these classes may impress potential employers. Risk management and insurance classes are often connected to financial degree programs. Course topics include property and casualty, commercial liability, health insurance, financial management and financial markets. Some universities also offer undergraduate certificate programs in this field.
Step 3: Obtain Entry-Level Employment in the Insurance Industry
Typically, insurance underwriters start out under the supervision of more experienced peers or supervisor, which may also be the case for starting insurance inspectors. As these professionals gain on-the-job experience, they may take on more and increasingly complex duties, such as handling cases independently.
Step 4: Become Certified
Insurance employers often prefer if underwriters obtain professional certification, per the BLS; however this may not apply to insurance inspectors. Insurance professionals often obtain certification by completing coursework or training programs prior to taking certification exams. Information from the BLS showed that many workers take professional development courses to keep up with legal changes or trends in the insurance industry, and some of these courses may lead to earning credentials.
New insurance inspectors may not be eligible for some certification programs, since many programs require workers to have several years of experience. There are organizations that offer training and certification programs to insurance underwriters who are just starting out, per the BLS, so there may be similar programs for insurance inspectors. There are also general knowledge insurance certification programs, and some of these programs may not require individuals to have prior work experience.
- Maintain certifications. Insurance inspectors who pursue certifications will need to maintain their certifications in accordance with the renewal requirements set by the granting organizations. Each organization has different rules for certification renewal, but some of the most common rules include completing continuing education (CE) courses. Many organizations require certified professionals to take CE courses to verify that each professional has received the latest training in their field of expertise. Other common certification renewal requirements may include retaking exams, paying fees or completing paperwork.