Insurance Processing Clerks perform the clerical duties required to serve as effective intermediaries between insurance companies and their policyholders. There are a large number of clerical duties that can be performed in this capacity, and for that reason, the job is sometimes split into two categories of clerk:
- Policyholder Information Clerks process the paperwork for new or modified insurance policies. They answer queries from policyholders, make cash value estimates, and interpret policy provisions. They also analyze transactions and adjust company records as needed.
- Insurance Claims Clerks (also referred to as Claims Interviewers or Customer Service Associates) deal with claims which have been filed. They act in the role of liaison between the insurance company and individuals associated with the claim. They are usually the company's first point of contact with the insured person, from whom they typically collect information.
Insurance processing clerks are responsible for performing the work required to process or modify insurance policies and/or insurance claims. When dealing with insurance policies, the clerk will interface with the new or existing policyholder by mail, telephone, or in person. They will obtain any information needed to produce a complete and accurate application and will verify the accuracy of any related documents. They will also update existing policies and company records to reflect changes requested by policyholders and/or by insurance company representatives. They will answer questions from customers about their policies, searching company records to obtain information as necessary. Using rate books and tables, clerks will make estimates of loan or cash values of policies for policyholders. They will also facilitate any desired changes to policies (e.g., change of beneficiary or change in method of payment) by interpreting the policy provisions to determine the optimal method of effecting the change. They will then expedite the processing of the necessary paperwork by forwarding required forms to the customer and subsequently routing completed forms to various company departments for processing.
When dealing with claims, insurance processing clerks will first collect information from the insured parties. Once the claim has been submitted, the clerk will review the form and verify the accuracy and completeness of the information contained on it. The clerk will subsequently update company records as required to reflect initial information about the claim as well as any changes that are made later. Clerks also work with customers to simplify the process of making changes to claim forms and will respond to any questions the customer may have.
In addition to the above, clerks are also required to maintain internal records and perform daily tasks to support their customer support duties. A partial list of some of the typical day-to-day tasks performed by an insurance processing clerk might include any or all of the following:
- Process and submit business or government forms
- Transcribe data to worksheets
- Use computers to enter, access or retrieve data
- Calculate insurance premiums, awards, refunds, and commissions
- Keep abreast of contract, property, and insurance laws
- Compose and send letters or correspondence
- Maintain insurance records
- Maintain inventory of office forms
- Prepare and maintain reports
- Organize and maintain files for each policyholder
- Verify signatures for financial transactions
Most insurance clerks work a standard 40-hour week. Much of this time is spent in an office setting, although clerks who work on claims may occasionally leave the office to visit customers' homes and places of business, or to visit a site associated with a claim. A great deal of a clerk's time is typically spent on the telephone. In some cases, these calls are fielded in call centers, although it is more typical for calls to be handled in an office.
Clerks usually have a great deal of contact with the public, doing things such as helping people complete insurance forms, explaining policies, and interviewing policyholders regarding claims. On the other hand, there is also a significant time spent working alone, as clerks need to review claim forms for completeness, make calculations on claim amounts, prepare paperwork, and distribute forms to appropriate parties.
In order to be successful in this profession, individuals need to be able to pay very close attention to detail, as it is vitally important that all needed information is provided in claims and that customers fully understand what their policies cover and what they do not. Clerks also need to have an aptitude for working with numbers. It is especially important for clerks to maintain a professional demeanor and to be effective communicators, both verbally and in writing.
Employment growth in this profession is expected to be somewhat slower than that of the average job category over the next few years. Advances in technology will allow an increasing number of functions traditionally performed by clerks to be assumed by other insurance professionals, who will be freer to supplement their existing duties with additional new ones. Job growth will also be limited by corporate downsizing. On the other hand, there will be some employment growth resulting from the insurance industry's expansion into the broader financial services field and also by newer types of insurance entering the market. Generally speaking, fluctuations in the economy are not expected to affect demand for this occupation as much as some others.
The fastest growing segment of the insurance industry is the medical and health insurance field. The aging of the baby boom generation is expected to spawn a strong market for health insurance and long-term-care policies, as well as for annuities and other forms of pension vehicles sold by insurance companies. There is also expected to be a sustained demand for auto insurance and homeowners insurance during the foreseeable future.
Education, Certification, and Licensing
A high school diploma (or equivalent) is the typical educational prerequisite for an insurance processing clerk position. Candidates can enhance their job prospects by supplementing their high school education with some type of postsecondary business program. Courses in word processing, business math, and computers are definite assets for this job. Many insurance companies expect their employees to take continuing education courses in order to increase their knowledge of the industry and to sharpen their "people skills".
Previous office experience is very helpful for job candidates. Many insurance processing clerks enter the profession after starting out in a lower-level clerical job within the industry. Sales experience is a strong asset, as is experience with spreadsheets, word processing software, and/or electronic billing systems. Once hired, insurance clerks typically receive on-the-job training, often from a supervisor or from a more experienced clerk. A combination of this informal training and the clerk's work experiences generally result in the clerk being able to develop the skills needed for the job within one to twelve months.
- Insurance Information Institute
- National Association of Health Underwriters
- National Alliance for Insurance Education and Research
- Insurance Education Institute
- Property Casualty Insurers Association of America
More than half of all insurance processing clerks work for insurance carriers. A few of these carriers are very large establishments which account for many of the jobs in this industry. Almost all other clerks are employed by insurance agencies, brokerages, or providers of other insurance-related services.
Schools for Insurance Claims And Processing Clerks are listed in the column to the left.