Fifty-eight percent of insurance companies plan to increase staff during the next 12 months, in part due to an expected increase in business and new markets, according to the Semi-Annual U.S. Insurance Labor Outlook Study conducted by The Jacobson Group and Ward Group.

A year ago, 64.1 percent of carriers said they planned to add staff.

Thirty-two percent say they will maintain their current staff this year while more than 10 percent plan to reduce staff. A year ago, 29 percent planned to maintain staff size while only 6 percent planned cutbacks.

“We are seeing staffing and hiring expectations level out as the industry continues to stabilize,” said Gregory P. Jacobson, co-chief executive officer of Jacobson. “Anticipated increases in business volume and expansion into new markets continue to drive hiring demands.”

Since April 2011, insurance carriers have added 105,500 new jobs—a 7.4 percent boost, according to the report.

Qualified Employees Still Hard to Find

Finding qualified employees remains a challenge for the industry, the report notes. Of 12 job categories, all are rated as moderate or higher in difficulty to fill. Technology, actuarial, analytics and executive positions are rated the most difficult to fill.

The report identifies several reasons for the recruiting challenge, including “increased staffing demands, a growing midlevel talent gap, impending retirements, virtually nonexistent industry unemployment and a shallowing talent pool.”

Technology, claims and analytics roles are expected to grow the most during the next 12 months. Sales/marketing is the greatest need for life/health companies while technology is for property/casualty companies.

Companies that say they will be reducing staff over the next 12 months cite automation as the main reason.

While only 58 percent of carriers expect to be hiring, 79 percent expect an increase in revenue growth, down two points from the July 2017 survey. Large companies are the most optimistic about increased revenue as 86 percent expect growth compared to 80 percent for medium-sized and 72 percent for small companies.

Life/health insurers are more optimistic about business growth than their property/casualty counterparts. Ninety-four percent of L/H carriers said they are optimistic about revenue growth, up 13 points from the last semi-annual report from July 2017, while optimism among P/C companies fell three points to 77 percent.

The study collects revenue and hiring projections from all sectors of the industry.

The Jacobson Group is an executive search, recruiting and temporary staffing company serving the insurance industry. Ward Group, a division of Aon, produces benchmarking and best practices studies for insurance companies.

Source: Jacobson Ward Insurance Labor Study Summary 2018 Q1