By Herminia S. Jacinto
DURING this period of uncertainty, what comes to mind is protection — protection of lives and property. Protection is synonymous with insurance. Suddenly, we became more concerned whether we have provided for this fortuitous event — the pandemic. This is one time when we look for the person who can best serve our needs — the insurance agent. Talking to one is very reassuring since he or she is well trained in describing the products or coverage that one needs. They can come up with plans that suit the client's requirements for protection and investments. These agents are trained very well by the companies they represent and have to be licensed by the Insurance Commission (IC) before they can sell insurance. They are trained how to address the physical, health and other concerns of their clients. Nowadays, they also have to be well versed in the various types of investments that are usually sold
with the life insurance plans.
The nonlife insurance agents or agents who specialize in property and casualty lines are similarly trained and licensed by the IC. There are many lines of business for which they have to be trained: fire, marine, motor, surety, personal accident and many more.
Where do these agents get the training? Insurance companies have their own training departments. Having a training department or full-time trainers is the ideal situation in insurance companies. They will be in charge of training not only their producers but also their employees. New employees have to learn about the intricacies of insurance in place while already working in the company. There are no dedicated courses in college for the study of insurance or at least feature insurance as a major subject. Much as i
nsurance companies would like to hire employees who can "hit the ground running," there are not many of these available. Training starts in the company. And there are so many subjects to be learned!
The Philippines is fortunate to have the Insurance Institute for Asia and the Pacific, more popularly known as IIAP. The IIAP, created by presidential decree in 1974, was formerly known as the Asian Insurance Institute. Courses offered in the IIAP range from the basic ones on life insurance, property insurance and micro-insurance. Advance courses like reinsurance, sabotage and terrorism, and other specialized subjects, which in the past
were offered by foreign training institutes are only now regularly held in the institute. Claims, or claims handling, which is the test of the insurance companies' efficient and fast service to policyholders, is offered by the institute for all the lines of insurance. A good after-sales service, which claims settlement should be the ultimate goal of an insurance company.
The insurance companies are constantly on the look-out for young and inspired employees but it is known that the young graduates are not attracted to insurance
as a career. They prefer to apply with the banks, marketing and, recently, technology companies. We go to the campuses every year to hold symposia to introduce insurance hoping that we can attract them to join the insurance industry. The IIAP has a program called "Suits" for Select Universities Insurance Training Scholarship. It is a two-month intensive training in life and nonlife insurance, which a young graduate would need to be hired as a junior executive in an insurance company. All expenses are paid for by the institute to be reimbursed by the companies, which eventually hire them.
Insurance being a global business, the industry has to be constantly abreast with foreign courses. IIAP has tie-ups or partnerships with foreign institutions and organizations such as the Chartered Insurance Institute, the International Labor Organization and other Asean institutes of learning for the exchange of courses and or faculty. An important part of the training of insurance professionals is the attendance of conferences both local and overseas. Companies have plans and budgets for these conferences, which provide interaction with other insurance players, learning from them in the process!