Alex Curtis joined Hiscox as an intern in summer 2016. At the conclusion of his internship, he graduated from University College London (UCL) and in the weeks after skippered a chartered yacht exploring the coast of Devon and Cornwall. Now Alex is back at UCL, thoroughly enjoying his Master's in Environmental Modelling and is keen to embark on a career in reinsurance.
In this post on the Hiscox Group blog, Alex offers his views on interning at Hiscox.
Tell any of your friends that you’re interested in pursuing a career in insurance and they will probably think of online comparison websites for car, mobile or home insurance. A boring city sales job that is somewhat inferior to the more conventional law or banking routes.
These stereotypes could not have been proven any more false and unfounded over the course of a two-month summer internship with Hiscox. I worked alongside the Hiscox London Market Alternative Distribution (AD) team, whose remit is to develop new opportunities - be it new, niche or multi-line products written via a binding authority, lineslip, master policy, MGA, quota share treaty or Lloyd’s consortium.
On my first morning I sat in on a series of meetings from which I came out of thinking I had no chance of ever understanding what was going on. After lunch I was introduced to the pricing actuary team with whom I spent the first half of my internship working alongside. The pricing team work closely with the AD underwriters to assess the profitability of new lines of business as well as monitoring and ensuring long term cost-effectiveness.
By the middle of the afternoon I was working on my first project, aggregating and analysing premiums and claims data to assess the profitability of a large and material Auto Physical Damage account. As I spent more time on the project I came to realise the business relevance of the work that I was undertaking. My work alongside the actuaries was ultimately to inform significant and tough decisions made by the underwriters. It was fascinating to follow this process from high level analysis through to negotiating changes with clients, whilst maintaining important relationships. I doubt there are that many internships where you are given such responsibility and insight from day one. This theme continued throughout my internship, as I was given my own insurance portfolio to review, culminating in me chairing a meeting with the portfolio’s brokers and my line manager.
Although insurance is full of technical jargon, one definite highlight of my internship was the level of help, support and training available to bring the interns up to speed. This ranged from intensive Excel training from the actuaries (their Excel skills were unbelievable!), through to externally-run courses on the insurance industry and weekly 'lunch and learns' on different elements of the business. I particularly enjoyed the two-day presentation skills course where we were thrown into the deep end to develop and practice our public speaking. This was particularly useful before presenting the findings of our intern projects to a packed board room of business leaders, with offices dialling in from across many of the national and international offices. This was a fantastic way to improve my confidence in public speaking, as well as my ability to field responses to challenging questions.
For me, one of the most important aspects of my internship was the ability to network and build long-lasting relationships as I look to begin a career in insurance. Not only did my line manager make every effort to take me along to meetings with external brokers and clients, but everyone at Hiscox was more than happy to take time out of their day to meet and discuss their role. I made a real effort to meet with staff working in Catastrophe modelling across the London Market and Reinsurance divisions because of my background and interest in physical geography. I have started a Master's back at UCL in Environmental Modelling and am hoping to complete my dissertation in conjunction with Hiscox. It was incredibly useful to be able to be able to discuss potential topics which could be of value for Hiscox, but also provide me with an interesting and niche area of research.
Furthermore, the accessible nature of the business also gave me wider opportunities to explore. For instance, through introducing myself to one of the terrorism underwriters, I was able to spend the morning at the box over at Lloyd’s experiencing insurance being underwritten first hand. You have to use your time to network and explore as much of the business as possible!
One final highlight that should not be forgotten was the chance to make friends with my fellow interns. It’s great to be able to chat and share your experiences with people who are also really interested in working in insurance, as well as getting to know socially the people, who I hope one day may be my colleagues.
For more information please visit the Hiscox intern programme page