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Embracing the Unconventional: My Journey into the Insurance Industry


Toby Clark
Executive, Technical Underwriting

Earlier this year, I spoke about insurance to undergraduate students at an Insurance Springboard Programme event run by LIIBA and the charity upReach. This allowed me to share my positive experiences of the London market with soon-to-be graduates interested in insurance. 

I have been working at the LMA for nearly a year, joining in August 2023 with no previous experience in the insurance industry. When I first started, I thought my route into the industry had been unconventional. However, I soon realised there is no ‘conventional' route in such a fast-moving and varied industry. 

Until about a year ago, an insurance career had never occurred to me. I thought of insurance as an industry for people who had always known they wanted to work in insurance. But, like me, many of the people I’ve spoken to in the market ended up in the industry because they happened to come across a great opportunity. Despite never having applied for a job in insurance before, when I found the advert for my current job, I knew it was a perfect fit. And now I can’t imagine doing anything else.

Until I got this job, I would never have described myself as ‘career-driven’; I left school at 17 with no A-levels, mediocre GCSE results and no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I spent several years working in various short-term jobs, such as removals, office admin, loading bays etc. These jobs funded several trips around the world, and for a long time, I thought travelling was the only thing I wanted to do in life. 

However, realising I couldn’t spend my whole life travelling the world, I returned to education at age 20, enrolling on an intensive one-year A-Level programme. The prospect of doing my A-Levels in half the time most people take was daunting. It was made even trickier because I was an adult (albeit only 20) who had spent the last three years outside the education system. It was certainly worth it in the end, though. My A-level results earned me an undergraduate place to study politics at the University of Leeds at age 21. I graduated with a first in 2021 and still had no idea what I wanted to pursue as a career.

After around 18 months of searching, I stumbled upon an advert for a job in wordings at the LMA. I had never heard of wordings or the LMA. I also knew almost nothing about the Lloyd’s market or insurance. I was worried that my lack of experience in the insurance industry could be a barrier. However, this didn’t prove to be the case at all. Rather than being sifted out based on the experience I lacked, I was allowed to showcase the abilities and knowledge I did have. I believe my unconventional background ended up being a positive. Given the peculiarities of the Lloyd’s market, the ability to be adaptable and approach problems with a different perspective is certainly a strength.

The insurance industry is full of opportunities for emerging talent. Whether your path in life has been similarly ‘unconventional’, or if you’ve left school or university without a career in mind, insurance is a great option to consider. There is no such thing as a ‘traditional’ route into the industry, so don’t let a lack of experience put you off. In under a year, I have gone from knowing nothing about insurance to working on projects in some of the most complex areas of the industry. I’m now looking ahead to studying for a Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) qualification and taking up all the other opportunities that come my way.