10 years in the Insurance Industry, how it happened and how I got there!

Ashley Knowles, Senior Claims Handler at ICAB, wanted to be a photographer when she grew up. Now celebrating 10 years in the insurance industry, she shares her story of how she ended up working in insurance. 

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Celebrating work anniversary

When I was asked what I wanted to do when I grew up, I never dreamed I would end up working in an office and never thought I would work in Insurance. I had my sights set on something I loved, photography. As an 18 year old Photography student, I soon realised whilst I loved what I was doing, it was an area I may struggle to get consistent work and decided it was time to look for a career which I could build on. This was a very mature decision to make but I am proud and happy that I did. I am very much about taking opportunities in life and set my sights on the ever changing world of Insurance – a service the world will always need and something with endless opportunity to progress.

After a very short period of job hunting, an opportunity came up in a new team entering the world of the PPI claim in a neighbouring town (thankfully they were not cold callers, they dealt only with those who approached them). I decided to apply and within days, it had happened! I was flung in to the world of Insurance. I took every opportunity I could to learn everything I could from each division of the business and within 6 months, I was the Team Supervisor.

There were many challenges with the role, each taken in my stride but my biggest hurdle was gaining the respect and confidence of the team as I was only 19 years old and had many people a lot older and more experienced than myself to oversee. Thankfully they realised very quickly I was there to help. We all worked really hard together to ensure we hit our targets and continued to grow our knowledge in an everchanging industry. Nearly 2 years flew by and unfortunately the PPI claims market was completely saturated with claims management companies competing for business. This meant this was no longer an area the company wanted to grow and as such, redundancies followed. After surviving down to the last few people in the team, I knew my time was looming and I was gutted to leave such a great job. Undeterred by the disappointment, I set my sights on an new sector of the insurance world.

As if the world knew I was ready for a new challenge, an opportunity at the world’s largest loss adjusters, Crawford and Co came up. Raring to get back in to the industry, I applied and sure enough I was once again quickly adapting to a new role. This time with property claims and specifically the subsidence division. As a specialist Subsidence Advisor I was tasked with assisting insurers, builders, adjusters and policyholders throughout the claim and it was nice to work on a claim from start to finish and build a relationship with everyone involved. Most of the claims taken on were highly complex, often taking several years to resolve. This job provided invaluable experience and knowledge in to the property insurance claim world and I really did pick up a great familiarity both within the legal and technical side of property claims. As a sponge for knowledge, I made sure I took every chance I could to work with different teams and get stuck in to every task I could. After 3 years in the business, I felt I had given what I could and was on the lookout for a new challenge in my career.

Contemplating where I would go next, a friend who already worked at ICAB told me they were recruiting and I thought it could be an interesting new experience to work in arranging alternative accommodation. I originally applied for a role in the hotels team but on interview, was also offered the opportunity of working in the rentals team. Due to the experience I had already with insurance claims and specifically in the property division, I was veered more toward the side of rentals as I was confident in dealing with complex queries and assisting clients from start to finish with their claims. Nearly 5 years later I am still working in the team now and have progressed to Senior Claims Handler, dealing with high net worth claims, training new starters and working on major losses when they come through.

ICAB also launched their own accommodation solution, the ICAB POD since I have been here which has been really exciting and rewarding to assist with. I have gained further insight into the product side of what can be offered to insurers as a solution which means policyholders can stay at home. I have also gained an understanding of the production and costing processes which has added to my overall understanding of the cost savings we can make for insurers whilst also assisting policyholders to stay in their own homes. I find it really exciting when a customer takes a POD and we help keep them happy as they embark upon what is an often a very stressful claim lifecycle for them.

As I continue to progress in this role, it has allowed me to see the claim process from a different perspective and the challenges that come for both the insurers and insured alike. I hope to continue my career at ICAB for many years to come and hope to be part of their exciting new ventures.

The last 10 years have gone incredibly fast but I continue to impart my knowledge from previous roles, and gain new skills every day. I hope to have the same outlook in another 10 years’ time where I hope to have progressed further in my career and contributed more to the industry. I wonder what the insurance market will look like in another 10 years?

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