South African underwriters will now be professionally recognised with the introduction of the first-ever formal underwriter occupational qualification.
Underwriters have been hampered in their careers due to the lack of a professional qualification, but the South African Qualifications Authority qualification should change that. The Insurance Sector Education and Training Authority (INSETA) has completed a successful pilot project to deliver an Occupational Certificate: Insurance Agent (Insurance Underwriter).
“It has been a successful pilot, with more than 60 candidates entering the programme. We initially received many more applications, but candidates had to qualify in terms of their industry experience, as this is a Level 5 qualification,” explains Nasreen Ravat, Acting Quality Assurance Division Manager, INSETA QA Division.
Underwriters are often referred to as the gatekeepers of an insurance company. Ravat says the qualification will prepare candidates to evaluate and interpret information to protect stakeholders’ interests by using specialist technical knowledge to determine, price, manage and transfer risk.
“The course is divided into face-to-face lectures, to provide the knowledge component, assignments that speak to the practical application of the knowledge to the industry and each person’s workplace experience, created as an individual Portfolio of Evidence (PoE),” he explains. “The course can be completed in 12 months but there is a further six months available to allow candidates to complete their PoE or assignments.”
Students who have already qualified say that not only do they now have the formal qualification to their names, but their careers have been boosted. Michelle Coenraad says, “I’ve been able to provide input to my department on legalities, which I would not have had the confidence or knowledge to do before. As underwriters, we have a difficult task and we needed this course to get the recognition we deserve.”
“I think that it can easily be achieved in 12 months and I have already recommended the course to two of my colleagues,” says Idah Shimika of Affinity Health. Coenraad and Shimika, like many others, joined because although they have years of experience in underwriting, they did not have a qualification.
Ravat concludes: “The industry indicted that there were many people in the sector, who had extensive experience in underwriting, but lacked formal qualifications in finance or insurance. They needed the recognition of their experience in order to be in line for promotion or career advances.”
Companies in the financial services industry are encouraged to put forward their candidates with their CVS and a motivational letter to INSETA for assessment.