As of 2014, the average age of an insurance agent in the United States is 59, according to global management consulting firm McKinsey & Co., and one-fourth of the industry’s employees will retire by 2018.
And the widening talent gap isn’t exclusive to agents — it’s prevalent in other industry segments such as risk management and underwriting.
“The industry needs to reach out and get students when they’re younger,” says Peggy Accordino, vice president and director of risk management for National Financial Partners and chair of the Spencer Educational Foundation, an affiliate of RIMS, in a previous interview with National Underwriter. “I talk to college kids and many of them took insurance course as an elective, but they found comfort in it. Reach out to your local school. Get kids into those programs.”
So what schools should the insurance industry be targeting? Below and on the following pages, we outline the schools ranked in U.S. News & World Report‘s top 10 undergraduate programs in insurance and risk management.
9. (tie) University of Texas — Austin
In-state tuition and fees: $9,798
Out-of-state tuition and fees: $34,772
In the McCombs Schools of Business, the Center for Risk Management and Insurance is a premier independent research resource for public policy decision makers within Texas in regard to issues related to risk. Research topics include analysis and public policy implications of credit scoring in insurance, environmental risks and their handling, and social, ethical and financial implications of genetic testing for risk and insurance underwriting. The Center sponsors and edits the Journal of Risk and Insurance, the flagship publication of the American Risk and Insurance Association. Professional programs — ARM, CSP and CPCU — also are offered at the center. For an academic degree, in the Department of Mathematics, students can take a concentration in Actuarial Studies.
9. (tie) St. Joseph’s University
Tuition and fees: $40,580
The Risk Management and Insurance major at St. Joseph’s gives finance students an understanding of policies, pricing and underwriting. Students can join the college’s chapter of Gamma Iota Sigma to connect with educators, students and representatives in the industry.
8. University of Illinois — Urbana-Champaign
In-state tuition and fees: $15,602
Out-of-state tuition and fees: $30,228
Students can earn a degree in finance with an emphasis in insurance and risk management. The RMI program includes traditional classroom lecture and hands-on projects, and students are exposed to industry and government leaders in the field through guest lectures and internships at companies including Allstate, A.J. Gallagher, Northwestern Mutual and State Farm.
6. (tie) New York University
New York, N.Y.
Tuition and fees: $46,170
Students can earn an undergraduate degree in Actuarial Science at the university’s Stern School of Business. Students take courses in probability, statistics, financial mathematic, actuarial mathematics, finance, marketing, accounting, management and information technology. The program at Stern prepares students to take the first three examinations jointly offered by the Society of Actuaries and the Casualty Actuarial Society and satisfy the three Validation by Educational Experience areas of economics, finance and applied statistical methods. The Stern School of Business has an active student-run Actuarial Society, which offers seminars and meetings.
6. (tie) Florida State University
In-state tuition and fees: $6,507
Out-of-state tuition and fees: $21,673
The undergraduate program in Risk Management and Insurance was established at Florida State University in the 1940s. The RMI department holds Insurance Days, its own two-day placement program for RMI majors focusing on internships and full-time jobs. Students also can “fast-track” many training programs in their degree and can join the Florida State Insurance Society for the opportunity to interact with faculty and business leaders outside of the classroom. Famous alums include Dr. William T. Hold, a 1963 graduate who went on to found The National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research.