Generation Y is here: new challenges for insurers

Generation Y is taking over the reins – in insurance companies as well. The change is also affecting Claims departments. Lawyers are still in high demand. Exciting jobs await, especially thanks to digitalisation.
Stefan Klein, Munich Re
Dr. Stefan Klein, long-time Head of Claims at Munich Re

The insurance industry is in flux: the "Generation Game",  i.e. the shift from baby boomers and Gen Xers towards their children, is beginning. This process is opening up a gap. According to estimates, the qualified workers most sorely needed are accredited lawyers with insurance expertise in claims. Many law graduates tend to see themselves as lawyers, judges or working in a legal department. But that need not be all: in the digital age, many major developments are coming together in the Claims area, with its (regulatory) processes.

Big Data and data analytics, auto tech, industry 4.0, and the internet of things, are all fields with futures for lawyers as well. German insurance companies are planning to spend 31 percent of their investment budgets on digitalisation projects by 2018. Innovative tools for working together and interacting with clients, partners and intermediaries are also increasingly in demand. This is therefore a good time to ask a few questions of Dr. Stefan Klein, who was until recently long-time Head of Claims at Munich Re.

Dr. Klein, what can graduates expect in the Claims department?

Claims departments provide work with vary different types of issues. Experts in our primary insurance or reinsurance Claims departments face much different demands than those in a mass claims department. The latter area completely revolves around so-called operative claims control: experts there focus on compliance with the insurer's service commitment and work controlling. Handling large and complex claims or industrial losses, on the other hand, is more akin to interface management: you have to work with the policyholder or other damaged parties, the leading insurer and potentially other involved insurers, with Underwriting, Controlling and internal reinsurance. That is a broad spectrum!

What experience have you had with Generation Y recruits?

Young staff ask us already at the outset what their induction periods and later perspectives for further development will look like. And rightly so, I think. Generation Y wants to be given responsibility and customer contact quickly. They want to be seen. Many want an international aspect to their work, and to receive personal coaching. They want to learn from their predecessors' experience. And the way they gain experience of course differs from previous generations. Today, knowledge is available everywhere (digitally). A major challenge is filtering the really relevant and correct types of knowledge from among the mass of information. This makes regular coaching or sponsoring by the more experienced generation important. This is how we ensure knowledge transfer, and it is one of Munich Re's major strengths.

What are some of the opportunities available when starting in Claims?

Starting through the International Graduate Trainee Programme is ideal for law students, to prepare and gain the qualifications for broader responsibilities in insurance. Lawyers in Claims learn about underwriting and innovative processes, for example in Claims data analytics.  Those looking to move up into higher management should have experience in at least one operative position. To lawyers working in firms who are seeking a change, we recommend also looking for job opportunities beyond traditional legal departments. Today, insurance companies are looking further afield for talent than they have in the past. For example, colleagues in product development already have experience with the products, and are important interfaces for the Claims department. Insurance companies as employers are enormously valuable for the stability and growth of economies, and for the security of standards of living – and yet we have very few faces to present as role models. Yet they are there! The "Claims board member" is already a reality at some insurance companies.

What does the executive of the future in Claims Management look like?

They have to be able to assess risks, market situations and client needs in equal measure. In times of rising costs, they have to show a willingness to innovate and change. Good interface management is decisive when settling industrial claims – adjusters need to have many contacts. Good communication and moderation skills help, as do an ability to negotiate, and confidence when dealing with complexity! The variety of interfaces and issues does get any smaller at the executive level. Experience abroad is also good: our customers are getting more international. Cross-border losses and losses in the context of international insurance programmes are occurring regularly.

Is there something that legal applicants should pay particular attention to?

Loss events constitute the litmus test for insurance companies. That is the point at which customers decide whether they are satisfied,  i.e. whether they will stay with their insurer and recommend it to others. Thus claims handling is, and will remain, one of insurance's core competences. If you want to work in Claims you need to internalise this and make it clear during the hiring process. That will generate interest in your application.

Since almost every question that we face at Munich Re has a legal dimension, we are also looking for lawyers outside the Claims department. You can join Underwriting, which is our core business, or work as a trainee lawyer for us. We offer the mandatory internships (Pflichtwahlstationen) in commercial and tax law, as well as in labour and social law. One example of an exemplary career path can be seen here.

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