Helen Croft, a voice from the next generation of protection talent

Helen Croft - Underwriting Manager, AIG Life

When I finished university I got a job locally in an insurance company. I never would have imagined that my decision to take that job would allow me to progress along such an interesting career path. In many ways I’ve grown up in the protection industry, starting out as a young graduate, developing through a variety of underwriting roles with increasing responsibility and now heading up underwriting strategy at AIG Life. The protection industry has a lot of opportunities to offer to young ambitious people.

My favourite thing about working in this industry and about being an underwriting professional is the support network available. If you’re eager to learn, there is a real wealth of experienced people who I’ve found willing to support new talent in the industry – through training, coaching and mentoring. People are very generous with their knowledge. That’s something I’m keen to continue for the next generation of insurance professionals after me.

Ours is an industry where we can truly make a difference, whatever role you’re in. Seeing the very real and life-changing impact of claims that we pay, and how we help people is incredibly motivating. A great development over the past few years and one that we need to continue is highlighting customer stories to show the benefit of protection insurance.

There are challenges to keep up with; we have to adapt to make sure that our products are still relevant and appealing to the next generation. Future insurance customers are unlikely to buy in the same way as they do today.  Encouraging young talent into the industry and asking them how they want to buy protection will help us shape how to adapt.

One of the big changes I’ve seen since I joined the industry, particularly in underwriting, is how automation has grown. Different underwriting journeys are now used with different groups of customers and we’ve seen the introduction of “buy now” comparison sites. This year has shown how quickly things can change and how we have to adapt to meet the needs of customers. Covid-19 meant developing alternative ways to gather evidence and assess applications so we could keep the wheels turning and help customers get insured when it really mattered.

I really believe some of the biggest underwriting developments are just around the corner. Cracking the digitisation of health records could make an exciting difference to how we insure customers. It’s taking longer than expected but at some point, there will be a reliable structured form of GP evidence, which will enable more accurate underwriting and ultimately support paying more claims.

 I really love my job and feel incredibly lucky and proud to be part of the protection industry. I’d recommend the protection industry to any young person who is passionate about making a difference to the world and who wants to help drive change.

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