When Oliver Waterman left school, he knew already that he wanted to be a loss adjuster.
“It sounded to me like a varied job, where no two days are the same,” he said. Having family in the insurance business meant he already had a window into that world. He decided to try work experience at Woodgate & Clark aged 18 to test it out for himself – and never left.
Fast forward nearly 10 years, and Oliver is an experienced loss adjuster for the firm. He has advanced diplomas from the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) and Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters (CILA), and now has a year of the prestigious New Generation Programme under his belt, too.
The CII accepts just 40 applicants every year for the annual programme. They must be under 35, and a rising star in their field. Along with attending interactive sessions with key figures in the industry, the group works on a project every year with the aim of making industry-changing progress.
Competition is tough when you consider that there are only 10 people accepted onto the programme from the claims sector. As part of the application process, all applicants must submit their idea for the group project. Oliver was inspired by his own unusual route into the profession to suggest a plan to attract young people and those from more diverse backgrounds into insurance. “Why was I one of the only people in my school who ever said, I want to be in insurance?” he said, explaining his inspiration for the idea. The judges liked it, and Oliver was chosen to join the programme.
As well as the group project, finalised once the successful applicants have been picked and had a chance to meet, the programme consists of a series of events. They included a trip to Westminster to meet MP Craig Tracey (Chairman of the All Party Insurance Group), and interactive sessions with key personnel from regulatory bodies.
However, shortly after Oliver began the programme, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Some sessions, including media training, now had to take place remotely, and group tasks were conducted over video links.
The project idea which was chosen by the group was on floods and flood resilience. “I have a lot of first-hand experience in it, so they nominated me to be the project leader,” Oliver explained. He drew on his time handling claims after extensive floods hit the UK in 2015 – but the biggest obstacle was getting everyone to work as a team while they were dialling in from home.
“Getting 10 people together that don’t know each other well is fine when you can meet up now and again, but over Teams or Zoom is another matter. I am pleased with the results however,” Oliver said.
The finished product is a leaflet explaining to policyholders how they can make their property more resilient against flooding. It mentions a government scheme which provides funding for improvements such as flood barriers, and other useful measures, such as replacing wood floors with tiles, and setting electric sockets higher in the walls.
“With climate change, rising sea levels and more extreme weather, we are going to have more flood events,” Oliver said. “If people can make their homes more resilient that can only be a good thing.”
Now that the programme is over, Oliver has been reflecting on what he learned from it.
“My project management skills have definitely improved,” he said. “This is the first project I have managed involving that many external companies and people. I’ve also learned a lot about the interaction between different stakeholders, such as consumer champions, to the CII, and government agencies, including the Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Environment Agency.”
And it hasn’t stopped there. Oliver is now on a CILA committee known as the Future Focus Committee, whose purpose is to look at advancing the careers of younger people from diverse backgrounds, a subject he is passionate about.
“The programme has given me more confidence and I am now taking on more projects. I would definitely recommend it,” he said.