As some of the world's most skilled risk management professionals, actuaries work in many capacities throughout the business world. However, entry-level actuaries generally find work in one of three industries: Property & Casualty Insurance, Health & Group Benefits, and Life Insurance & Retirement. Each industry has its own unique draws for entry-level actuaries, and each poses its own set of challenges.
According to the CAS, a P&C Actuary is "a professional skilled in the analysis, evaluation and management of the financial implications of future contingent events primarily with respect to general insurance, including property, casualty, and similar risk exposures." Property insurance refers to protection for the owner or renter of a structure and land against damage or theft and includes homeowners insurance, renters insurance, and flood or earthquake insurance. Casualty insurance refers to a broad range of coverage, including against automobile accidents and commercial liability, which in turn includes workers' compensation, general liability (e.g., a customer slipping and falling on a wet floor), and malpractice.
Two of P&C actuaries' most important functions are pricing and reserving. Pricing is when an actuary calculates the insurance premium for policies to be sold, and reserving refers to setting aside an adequate amount of funds to pay for claims that will be made on policies already sold.
What makes P&C insurance exciting for many actuaries in the industry is that they must continuously adapt as changes in the environment and economy affect the nature of risk. New developments like terrorism, climate change, and self-driving cars are constantly challenging P&C actuaries to improve their pricing and reserving models, and new technologies and developments in predictive analytics and modeling facilitate change. Property and Casualty Insurance is also known as General Insurance.
A healthcare actuary delivers actuarial analysis and information to decision-makers in the healthcare marketplace to help them better understand and handle the complexity of the financial risk in healthcare. There are several major responsibilities of a healthcare actuary. First, they help the decision-makers design premium rates on new products and recommend features to be included. Second, the actuaries estimate liabilities and reserves, including claims incurred but not reported, disability reserves, and premium deficiency reserves. Third, the actuaries analyze current premiums and incurred claims to make suitable adjustments for future premiums. The healthcare industry is currently undergoing significant change due to the effects of government policies, requiring the healthcare actuary to stay updated on news regarding government policy that might affect health plans.
Life insurance policies are insurance policies that provide a sum of money to a designated beneficiary upon the death of the policyholder. These financial products are vital to the financial security of many families. Life insurance is a traditional field for actuaries, who use their knowledge of capital markets, mortality, and financial concepts like the time value of money and derivatives to design and develop contracts that provide financial protection to families. Modern life insurance actuaries are also involved in the investment of company assets to ensure solvency.
The retirement actuary's task is to ensure that clients’ retirement plans for their employees are in compliance with the law by calculating the employer’s liability for their defined benefits plan and determining the contributions to be made to the plan. These calculations are made based on various assumptions concerning future events, including employees’ ages of retirement, termination of employment, and death, and future economic trends, such as changes in interest rates and inflation. Plan sponsors utilize the retirement actuary’s calculations to adequately fund the pension plans. Currently, many companies are facing the conversion from defined benefits plans to defined contribution plans due to risk and cost considerations, and some companies are opting for a solution combining aspects of these two types of retirement plans, such as in the form of a cash balance plan. Retirement actuaries face these challenges head-on. The Society of Actuaries emphasizes that retirement actuaries are valuable resources in helping companies assess their talent management with regards to effectively attracting, retaining and replacing employees.