Working in insurance isn't what I expected at all: a work-life balance interview with Jabraan Shahzad

"It was a surprise to find that what I had enjoyed most about working in the charity sector – being able to support people when they need it most – was also the case with insurance."

How did you get into insurance?

I’m not going to pretend that a job in insurance was always my dream. I had been working as a fundraiser in the charity sector, which was really satisfying but I needed something that would give me a bit more structure, progression and stability. Then I noticed a posting for a job in commercial property claims handling that didn’t require any experience of insurance. I thought I had the skills to do it and I ended up getting the job!

When are you at your happiest?

It might sound kind of corny but spending time with my girlfriend, whether that’s going for a meal, playing video games together, going on holiday or picnicking.

So you're a romantic then?

We’re not just staring lovingly into each others eyes! But I suppose I did say picnics so, yes.

What were your first impressions?

I've been at RSA six months now, and the lasting impression I’ve got is that I really like the people I’m working with—it’s a really good working environment to step into.

The claims handler training has also been spot on. Massive credit to my colleagues and the support they’ve given me: I’ve never felt like I’m struggling to get to grips with the role, despite the fact that I started with no experience.

How have your gaming skills helped you in your role at RSA?

Games have helped me develop my know-how with technology. If my computer is playing up I can usually think of a couple of fixes. When I’m given an unfamiliar piece of software I’m able to figure out basic commands quickly. On the whole technology doesn’t seem too daunting to me.

What are you working on at the moment?

In terms of claims handling I’m moving out of the training setting, where we’ve been setting up FNOLs (first notifications of loss) and getting familiar with the business. I now have my own case load and am seeing claims right through to settlement. It’s going well!

My other focus, as the charity committee chair for the Manchester office, is raising the profile of the volunteering opportunities at RSA. All RSA employees get two paid days off a year to volunteer so we need to make the most of it!

What new skill would you most like to learn?

I’d like to be a bit more disciplined. Sometimes it’s all too easy to eat unhealthy food and not go on a walk or run.

Less junk food at the picnics then?

Ha! Or maybe run to the picnic but still have the junk food?

What’s surprised you the most about working in the insurance industry?

It has not been at all what I expected but in a good way! It’s not as formal as you’d think, it’s a nice setting to be in.

I also hadn’t expected to get so much satisfaction by helping customers on the phone. It was a surprise to find that what I enjoyed about working in the charity sector—being able to support people when they need it most—would also be present in insurance.

Name your number one desert island disk?

Dark side of the moon by Pink Floyd. Because you can listen to the whole thing in one go, it is like one huge song, and without getting into too much detail it takes you on a journey as all the songs are connected.

What would you say to someone considering insurance as a career?

Don’t judge it on face value. It’s not a single monolithic thing. It’s an industry made up of so many disciplines.

Even just in claims, there’s so much skill involved in fully understanding a claim—it’s satisfying, and kind of fun in a way, to unpick exactly what happened.

There are always new opportunities too. Something that appeals to me is the potential to move from claims handling into underwriting at some point.

What are you currently binge-watching/listening/reading?

Right! There is a lot of binge watching that goes on with me and my girlfriend. One thing that we’ve just finished and highly recommend is the series Chernobyl. It's really good and there are some very strong performances.

I haven’t read much fiction for a while but have just picked it up again. I’m reading Dune by Frank Herbert. I’m really enjoying it.

How is insurance making the world a better place?

Insurance provides a safety net for people and businesses of every size. We provide peace of mind—a certain level of security to society. It’s reassuring to speak to someone who is experienced with your type of claim and can help you sort it out properly. I like to think we give people comfort.

Tell us a joke

Knock, knock
Who’s there?
Lettuce
Lettuce who?
Lettuce in

It’s a bit cringe, but it’s the one I always remember.