Insurance is basically a type of risk management, where the risk of a loss is transferred from one party to another, on payment of a premium. Insurance can relate to individuals, for example, many of us take out insurance for such things as cars, houses, life insurance, holiday and travel insurance and so on. Insurance is also crucial for companies as part of larger, commercial activity, covering such things as investment management, merger and acquisitions of insurers and so on.
Reinsurance is in effect ‘insuring the insurer’ – passing the risk on again, usually where large amounts of money are at stake.
What does this type of lawyer do?
To a large extent, this will depend on the type of firm you are at and the type of clients you have. For example, you may be acting for individuals who are bringing claims against their insurance companies for rejecting claims on their policies.
At the big business end of insurance law, large firms usually act on behalf of the insurance/reinsurance companies on a wide range of activities, from advising companies on claims being made against them, to the transfer of business between insurers as a result of a merger or acquisition.
Insurance lawyers review claims being made on behalf of, or against, their client, and advise their client on the likely strength of the case. If things turn contentious, claims can be pursued either by arbitration or in the courts.
What skills are required?
This is an area of law in which contract law features large, so you will need a good grounding in this area of law, an eye for detail, and excellent drafting skills.
As you will need to understand your client’s situation and be able to make sound business judgements, a good level of commercial awareness is also required.
As with so many area of law, communication and team-working skills are also a pre-requisite.
By and large insurance law firms and departments weathered the economic storm reasonably well. When the economy is good, insurance companies are less likely to litigate but when there is a dip in the economy insurance litigation cases increase as companies are more inclined to bring and defend claims.
Firms are currently ensuring their clients are up to speed with the changes introduced by the Insurance Act (2015) which has been described as the greatest change to insurance contract law in over 100 years.
What's it like in practice
Find out what some of our people who have practised insurance law say about it, and the advice that they would give those interested in a career in this area.
The student guides to the legal profession contain useful information on working in insurance law. Look at:
- LawCareers.Net: www.lawcareers.net
- Target Law: https://targetjobs.co.uk/career-sectors/law-solicitors
- The British Insurance Law Association’s website can be found at www.bila.org.uk