There are so many amazing career opportunities in the insurance industry. Every business needs it. Every industry wants to be risk-averse. Every individual has the chance to carve out their niche. Be it broker, underwriter or risk manager, there’s a place for everyone.

Like the highly specialized role of a program administrator, or PA.

Most policies operate on an annual basis, signed at the beginning of the business year and left as-is until renewal. It would be nearly impossible for carriers to underwrite risk for every field on a continuous, day-to-day basis. But the thing is, programs change.

Program business is designed to tackle those everyday administration needs, targeting complex risks, difficult cases or new lines of business. Here’s where PAs lend their skills.

“The program space size is over $80 billion now, growing dramatically over the last 15 years,” said Ray Scotto, executive director, Target Markets Program Administrators Association (TMPAA), an organization dedicated to the unique challenges of program specialists.

There’s good reason why the program business is booming: PAs can carve out their niche; file their rates, forms, their rules; and they can really create a specialty segment for themselves.

Why Carriers Want PAs

Those who find their way into the programs space are in luck: It seems carriers are looking for these experts to help manage those niche business needs.

“Carriers are realizing that there’s an expertise in the program administrator world that they don’t always have. Having someone who understands a niche business and its class or type of industry goes a long way compared to just having a few underwriting generalists,” said Gene Abbey, director of insurance services and education at TMPAA.

Carriers are also recognizing the time-saving reward of having a PA on the team. Trying to create systems, technology or business processes on a one-of-a-kind basis requires research, personnel, capital and other resources. It could take years for the carrier to carve out a place within the niche.

But finding a PA already well-versed in that niche business?

“It reduces the expenses on the carrier side. So collectively, these are improved loss ratios for the carrier. That’s the role the program administrators are playing. And it lets a carrier get into a line or a class of business instantly, without the heavy lifting that the PA has already done,” said Abbey.

A Growing Profession Growing Professionals

As opportunity for the program administration profession grows, PAs might be asking themselves: What next?

Gene Abbey, director of insurance services and education, TMPAA

Pew Research shows that 63% of working Americans seek out and attend learning opportunities that lead to career advancement or improve their job skills. Around 10 to 15 years ago, Scotto said, the TMPAA wanted to help PAs be a part of this lifelong learning journey.

“We wanted to make sure that PAs were considered a best-in-class group. It wasn’t always the case that programs and program administrators were thought of highly in the industry,” said Scotto. “When Target Markets started, we knew it was our role to elevate the status of this industry segment. A clear way to do that was to demonstrate expertise.”

Target University was born, providing PAs with the opportunity to pursue the Certified Programs Leader designation.

“This was a way for new PAs to get a deep understanding of what it takes to be a program administrator,” said Scotto. The first class of CPL recipients graduated in 2012 and the program has been running since.

“Thanks to the guidance and industry expertise provided by long time TMPAA Advisory Board member, program education advocate and unofficial University Dean, Greg Thompson, the content produced by our subject matter experts greatly benefited the 200+ individuals who received the CPL designation and many others that took the courses,” Scotto said.

Given the continued growth and sophistication of program business, and the speed of change taking place in the industry, the designation was due for an upgrade. The complexity of the business became so significant that the TMPAA team saw a need to further enhance the educational experience for program insurance professionals.

Enter The Institutes Knowledge Group.

“The TMPAA,” Scotto said, “knew it was time to give its CPL program additional gravitas in the industry and make it more broadly accessible to others outside the association.

“We had already been working with The Institutes to provide some educational resources to another smaller group we run, so we were familiar with its process and reach,” Scotto said.

Abbey added TMPAA wanted to re-envision its CPL with the help of the education-based not-for-profit. “Leveraging TMPAA subject matter experts and The Institutes Knowledge Group’s expertise in instructional design and delivery for the adult learner, the new insurance Programs Business Professional (PBP) designation was developed,” he said.

A New Designation Emerges and Opportunity Blooms

All of this to say, those seeking a career in programs administration or those already serving as PAs can continue their education and really carve out a key space as a professional.

“Partnering with TMPAA enables us to expand our collective ability to help educate and elevate insurance program administrators who play a critical and increasingly expanding role within the risk management and insurance ecosystem,” said The Institutes Knowledge Group president Adam Carmichael, CPCU.

Scotto added that not only does this partnership open up access to a wider audience of insurance and risk management professionals, but it also enables crossover with other Institutes Designations, which gives learners another avenue to advance in their careers.

“We recognize that the CPCU is seen as a gold standard within the industry,” said Scotto.

The CPCU® covers a number of key topics across the entire insurance value chain, from risk management, insurance law and risk financing all the way to concentrations in commercial or personal lines. Many equate earning the CPCU to having a master’s in insurance.

Knowing this, the team has crafted the new designation to feature two PA-specific courses as well as two CPCU courses.

“All of the content that we had in the previous university is included in this tract. But we’re also including some CPCU courses, which will inspire some of our program folks to broaden their designations,” said Scotto.

Additionally, through the partnership, the courses allow members to achieve the CE credits required for most licenses.

And the best part? The designation is launching now during Target Markets Mid-Year Meeting 2024. Those interested in learning more can visit here.

“It’s an exciting step for program business education,” said Abbey. “Our hope is that it will give PAs the tools to continue their learning and grow this specialized niche industry segment.” &

CPCU® is a registered trademark of The Institutes Designations, LLC. Risk & Insurance® is an affiliate of The Institutes.

The post Empowering Program Administrators: Filling an Education Need for These Insurance Professionals appeared first on Risk & Insurance.

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