How Can The Insurance Industry Attract Young People?

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There aren’t a lot of companies that would risk letting their staff speak to the media about their work and how things can be made better to attract bright young people.

The Bulrushes was pleasantly surprised this week when special risks insurance provider – iTOO Special Risk – did just that.

The online publication was allowed to speak to a diverse group of iTOO staffers about “making insurance attractive to the youth”.

It seemed an apt topic to discuss considering it was the month of the youth, besides the staffers were mostly young. 

They were quick to mention that iTOO was not just about underwriters, there was room for every profession. 

IT specialists, engineers, art experts, and many other disciplines add to the mix of skills that enable iTOO to offer specialised services.

Those in attendance included Thebe Matlhaku, Tammy Jackson, Nhlanzeko Mngomezulu, Sanchin Naicker, Tshegofatso Keebine, Zinhle Tshabalala, Bradley Butler, Tove Sithole, and Nadia Shiba.

Shoni Makhari, Ambani Chief Executive Officer, was the moderator.

Tshegofatso, who is passionate about the industry, said if only more young people in schools and colleges could be made aware of the many opportunities, the insurance industry would not be perceived as “just funeral policies” and “cover for cellphones”.

Tshegofatso graduated from the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg.

“I find that a lot of people in the insurance industry tell you I fell into insurance… it kinda just happened… but for me and my other grad Zinhle we actually studied insurance and risk management at Wits,” Tshegofatso said.

“So I would say for myself it wasn’t a choice… like ‘yeah risk management love it!’

“But when I got to honours I realised wow there is a real career path here it doesn’t just have to be motor, life asset cover. it can be liability cover, it can be specialised cover. 

“It’s only when I reached my honours when insurance spoke to me and I knew that’s where I wanted to be.”

She added: “This is it. I am doing what I studied for and it’s pretty cool”.

Tshegofatso’s colleague Zinhle, who also graduated from Wits, said she took a slightly different path to iTOO.

Zinhle said: “To add onto what Tshego said… she did her honours and I continued to do my LLB… so she knew in varsity that’s the route she is taking… for me, it was kind of different … I wanted to join my insurance knowledge and my law knowledge.”

Zinhle said she didn’t know about specialty insurance until she joined iTOO.

“So I started at a brokerage and I was doing their motor claims and it was only when I got to iTOO that I got to discover specialised insurance and how much more… how big insurance,” said Zinhle. 

“I am in the claims department and I love it.”

Zinhle said it was only after joining iTOO that she began to realise the important role insurance plays in “our lives”.

“What we do speaks to our everyday lives”.

From being allowed to make mistakes to flexible hours and remote work, iTOO staffers were keen to let the world know they had found the best company to work for.

Tammy said “she loves” the accessibility of senior staff and the free flow of information.

“There is no Chinese wall …everyone is very accessible,” said Tammy.

She also said iTOO gives staff the space to try out ideas and when they work don’t “it doesn’t mean you are fired”.

In other places, young people don’t get the opportunity to collaborate with seniors on their ideas.

“I came in as an accountant and I am now in brand,” said Tove.

Careers are no longer just ladders, said Tove, adding “they are jungle gyms”. There are opportunities for growth at iTOO.

“Some companies you come in as an underwriter and you stay as an underwriter.”

Butler whose been in the industry for years had this to say: “I have been in the industry for the last 12 years and I found that insurance as a whole in terms of like asset cover in your normal lines of business is very traditional they are not really forward-thinking and innovative in terms of creating new ways of work… style of work… I find the flexibility at iTOO and the culture is a bit of a shock to me the way it’s so different its phenomenal.”

Nadia, studied law at varsity and is enjoying herself at claims.

“You look at people on the floor, they like to call us a bag of all sorts… we are different quirky personalities but we come together and we work well together to produce this amazing product and keep the trend going,” Nadia said.

“It’s a recognition of different types of people and different types of ideas.

“It’s a collective type of project altogether.”

After the lifting of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, iTOO was quick off the block to adopt new ways of bringing staff back to the office.

READ: Returning Staff To The Workplace Not So Easy, ITOO Has Made A Plan https://www.thebulrushes.com/2022/03/29/returning-staff-to-the-workplace-not-so-easy-itoo-has-made-a-plan/

Commenting on the remote working options, Thebe said: “When we had the hard lockdown and people couldn’t come to the office iTOO took care of the staff… management would call to check on us.

Thebe: “Flexible work… it’s working for me … going back to a five-day week at the office sounds crazy… besides iTOO is flexi”.

A cursory look at the company’s website confirms everything the staffers said.

“We’re a special risks insurance provider, operating as Hollard’s preferred underwriter of specialty products. We see iTOO as a niche home for entrepreneurs, start-ups and specialist UMAs,” says the iTOO website.

“We partner with over 650 brokers countrywide and are always available nationwide and in selected African regions 24/7/365.

“We’re experts in what we do, so you can be an expert in what you do.

“We have the technical expertise in every sphere of our insurance offering and are passionate about finding a way to solve any and every problem.”