Insurance is being promoted as a career field with growing job opportunities, as Ohio insurance companies face a looming talent gap threatening the industry’s further growth.
Financial services, including insurance, are identified as a key Ohio industry sector. Ohio is the seventh-largest state for insurance-related employment of more than 100,000 workers at 256 companies, according to industry officials.
Between 2013 and 2018, it’s estimated more than 17,000 jobs will open up at Ohio-headquartered insurance companies. That’s the expected number of jobs that will need filled the next five years mainly due to baby boomer-generation retirements, a commissioned study shows.
To put that in perspective, about that many people, 17,000, work now at the four largest insurance companies based in Columbus — Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co., Grange Insurance, State Automobile Insurance Group and The Motorists Insurance Group, said John Bishop, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Motorists.
Bishop and his colleagues at 13 Ohio insurance companies are collaborating to address the talent gap, and formed the Insurance Industry Resource Council to tackle the issue. Bishop co-chairs the group, a public-private partnership in collaboration with Ohio Dept. of Insurance and trade associations.
The insurance council recently launched efforts to raise job awareness.
“We didn’t feel our industry in the past has done a very good of explaining the types of jobs and just the large number of jobs that are available,” Bishop said.
One of the problems with recruiting is getting over perceptions that insurance is boring.
Job needs are changing at insurers. The jobs require higher skills and pay more. Insurers need fewer paper file clerks than they used to, for example, and need more information technology specialists and data analysts.
A common misperception about insurance careers is the majority of positions are in sales, said the Insurance Resource Council. There’s always a need for new sales agents, but many job opportunities include positions such as claims adjuster and investigator, underwriter, actuary, customer service, information technology specialist and others.
“One of the challenges we have in Ohio is a lot of the people that are in the job market might go to another state or leave Ohio and that’s not going to help us on our unemployment rate. If we can redirect those resources and redirect those unemployed resources to an industry like insurance, then you can substantially impact these unemployment rates,” Bishop said.
Ohio is emerging as a national insurance capital, competing with other centers in Hartford, Conn., and Des Moines, Iowa. Six insurance carriers headquartered in Ohio are on Fortune’s list of the 1,000 largest U.S. companies based on 2010 revenues, according to JobsOhio, the private state economic development agency.
Financial services is one of the industries JobsOhio targets for business attraction and retention, underlining the industry’s importance to the state.
Nationwide, Progressive and Western & Southern underwrite policies and employ agents to sell their products. Companies such as Motorists Group in Columbus and Cincinnati Financial in Butler County are major insurers that do underwriting, but their products are sold by independent insurance agencies in multiple states.
Big players along the Interstate-75 corridor include: CareSource in downtown Dayton, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s main Ohio offices in Warren County, UnitedHealthcare’s regional West Chester Twp. office in Butler County, Liberty Mutual Group’s Mid-Atlantic market office in Butler County, and Humana’s Midwest region headquarters in Cincinnati.
Springfield companies include CodeBlue, an insurance claims processing company, and Assurant Specialty Property, which sells insurance products and services primarily to mortgage lenders.
CareSource has been a jobs engine for Dayton. The nonprofit is Ohio’s largest Medicaid managed care plan, employing about 1,200 people locally. About 225 new Dayton area jobs were added last year to support growing Medicaid enrollees, and CareSource plans to add another approximately 250 jobs in 2013.
As a managed care company, CareSource doesn’t underwrite polices, but helps coordinate health care with case management programs and a call center.
CareSource’s biggest hiring needs are nurses and customer service representatives, officials said. Nurses often work in case management, quality improvement and management positions. CareSource said its biggest challenge is finding the best talent, especially people with strong technology and managed care leadership experience.
The insurance industry council is promoting jobs by focusing on three groups of people — students, people changing careers and veterans.
“The talent gap can’t be filled just by recent graduates,” Bishop said.
The insurance council has launched a program and related website called Insuring Ohio Futures.
Also, new certificate and degree programs in insurance risk management are being introduced this fall at Columbus State Community College and Kent State University. University of Cincinnati is also considering a program.
Columbus State will have a “foundations of insurance” program, with courses starting in the fall aimed at entry-level customer service and beginning claims-type positions, said Cheryl Hay, administrator of Columbus State’s Center for Workforce Development. The center did the study on insurance industry hiring needs.
Foundations of Insurance II will begin fall 2014, and will expand on the first course to prepare people to fill a claims adjuster position.
“We can build education programs, but we can’t create interest to drive people to want to be in these programs,” Hay said.
Learn more about Ohio insurance jobs
Go online to www.InsuringOhioFutures.com to get career path information, company listings or ask a pro
Insurance Industry Resource Council
Ohio Mutual Insurance Group, Bucyrus
The Motorists Insurance Group, Columbus
State Auto Insurance Companies, Columbus
Celina Insurance Group, Celina
Nationwide Insurance, Columbus
Westfield Insurance, Westfield Center
Grange Insurance, Columbus
Cincinnati Financial Corp./Cincinnati Insurance Companies, Fairfield
Central Insurance Companies, Van Wert
Great American Insurance Group, Cincinnati
Medical Mutual of Ohio, Cleveland
Progressive, Mayfield Village
Liberty Mutual Group, Fairfield