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In-Depth Jobs


Issue no 25, 18-24 September, 2021

Career as Assistant Administrative Officer in Public Sector Insurance Companies

Arti S

 

A country's economy comprises various components or sectors, one of which is BFSI (Banking, Financial Services, and Insurance). BFSI extensively contribute in keeping an economy going and at the same time offer large number of employment opportunities.

In India, services sector is moving faster than the manufacturing sector. Insurance is a part of the services sector. While in past few years banking has reached far and wide, insurance has still to cover a long distance. It is said that India is an underinsured country, which simply means that penetration of insurance is at a less than desired level and has to extend to more people, households, businesses and activities. The available data shows that the penetration level of insurance is just 3.76% (life insurance at 2.82% and non-life insurance at 0.94%). As of now, the overall market size of India's insurance sector is nearly Rs. 21 lakh crore. Amid COVID-19 surge, demand for health insurance increased by 41%.

 As financial awareness increases and incomes grow, demand for insurance products will go higher. A number of steps have been taken in our country to boost the insurance business. In the Union Budget 2021, FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) limit in insurance sector has been increased from 49% to 74%. A fund of Rs. 16,000 crore for crop insurance has also been allocated under the budget. An insurance coverage was introduced in February 2021 to cover healthcare workers for the next one year. Along with this, the Finance Ministry has announced to infuse Rs. 3000 crore in government general insurance companies to improve their financial health.

 India has 57 insurance companies of which 24 are in the life insurance business and 34 are in non-life insurance business. Life insurance covers death whereas general insurance comprises cover for household (theft, burglary, etc.), motor vehicle, health and travel insurance, among others. As far as public sector companies in the insurance business are concerned, Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India is the sole company offering life insurance and it is going to issue its equity shares to the public in the coming months. There are four public sector companies in the non-life insurance segment viz New India Assurance Company Limited, United India Insurance Company Limited, National Insurance Company Limited, and The Oriental Insurance Companies Limited. In addition to these, there is a sole national re-insurer, namely General Insurance Corporation of India (GIC Re). Two other specialized Insurance companies in the market include ECGC Ltd, and Agricultural Insurance Companies Ltd.

Career Opportunities in Insurance Companies

Assistant Administrative Officer (AAO) is the entry level officers' position in the public sector life and general insurance companies. It is similar to probationary officers' position in public sector banks. For recruitment to probationary officers' position, a common selection process is conducted. However in case of insurance companies, each company conducts its own examination with more or less a similar pattern. Assistant Administrative Officer is a generalist position in insurance organizations. These companies also recruit officers in specialist categories like finance, marketing, actuarial science, law, official language etc. Specialist categories require specialised qualification from the related field. But for generalists' positions, graduates or postgraduates (with prescribed percentage of marks) from all disciplines can apply.

The job of an AAO with public sector insurers offers good pay, excellent facilities and adequate growth opportunities. Application process is now online like in case of most of the recruitments in public sector companies. Eligible candidates on successful submission of application are required to first appear in the preliminary examination which will have three sections comprising English language, reasoning ability, and quantitative aptitude. Each segment will have a time of 20 minutes with 30 marks for English language and 35 marks each for reasoning ability and quantitative aptitude. Thus, this examination, comprising objective type questions, has to be attempted in a period of one hour. Candidates, based on their ranking in preliminary examination, shall be called for the main examination which is divided into two segments. The first segment is of objective type questions divided into reasoning, English language, general awareness, and quantitative aptitude. There are fifty marks for each of these sections, totalling 200 marks. Combined time for this objective part is 150 minutes in which 30 minutes can be ideally taken for general awareness and 40 minutes each for the remaining three sections.

English Language: The English language test is designed to check the candidate's ability to comprehend, make correct use of terms, finding mistakes in sentences, fill in the blanks, completion of sentences, etc. Having a rich vocabulary helps. In comprehension, the questions may relate to inferences, agree/disagree statements, paraphrasing the given line or statement including synonyms/ antonyms. Reading the passage attentively to understand key points of the passage is necessary. To excel in the English language section, reading newspaper editorials may help. A book on General English of 10th/12th standard may work as a guide. In addition to working on vocabulary, you should have clear concept of parts of speech, voices, narrations and articles.

Reasoning Ability: In this section you will find questions on analytical reasoning and logical reasoning. Analytical reasoning questions are designed to assess your ability to consider a group of facts and rules, and, given those facts and rules, determine what could or must be true. You might then be asked to answer questions about the implications of the rules as they apply to the particular scenario. Under logical reasoning, candidate has to logically work through concepts and problems expressed in the form of images, diagrams, etc. It evaluates the ability to extract and work with the meaning, information, and implications from the given images or diagrams. Expect questions from syllogism, inputoutput, sense of direction, blood relations, logical inequalities and ranking, etc. and of course puzzle based questions. Extra care is needed in reading questions of reasoning ability.

General Awareness: Like any general awareness paper, the canvas is larger here. Questions will be asked from recent events in India and the world from the areas of banking, finance, insurance, political system, economy, culture, history, technology, sports and tourism, etc. Banking, general science, and general knowledge may also be covered. The focus will be mainly on current affairs of national and international news; important dates and days have to be remembered. Remembering names of well-known and recently published books and their authors, states/nations' capital, currencies will help. Reading national newspapers on a daily basis is required for keeping your knowledge up to date to do well in this section. Also, you should refer to business newspapers/magazines and a general knowledge guide.

Quantitative Aptitude: The questions under quantitative aptitude section will be dealing with numbers. A few questions may be graph-based in which candidates will be asked to find answers related to comparative performance or situation. For example, in which year the production was maximum, or the average of which two years' performance is higher than performance in another years. There would be few mathematical calculations combining multiple operations. Other questions may relate to area, perimeter, series, quadratic equations, square root, ratio, proportions, mixture, time and work, time, speed and distance, probability, etc. sharing of loss/profit in partnership. A 10th standard book on mathematics can be the base of your preparation. You should remember the important formulae and be clear about BODMAS.

Subjective Test: In the main examination, the objective test is followed by a subjective paper of 30 minutes duration in which the candidate has to write an essay and a letter in English on the given topics. The minimum qualifying mark is 15 in which some concession is given to prescribed categories of candidates. Though candidates have to qualify in the objective test, its marks are not added in preparing the merit list of candidates to be called for interview. Unless one is fully prepared, it would be difficult to produce a good output of essay and letter. The topic of the essay may relate to a general, social or economic issue. Usually, two topics are given for essay of which one has to be chosen. In case of letters, there can be a choice between formal or informal letter. Not only you have to write correct English, content too should speak for itself. Go through sample essays and letters to understand the basic principles and structure to be kept in mind while writing these. Also you need to be good in typing on computer as you will be required to type and submit your essay and letter on the computer provided to you. Doing well in this section will be instrumental in making you qualify for the interview.

Interview: Interview for the position of AAO is comprehensive and needs serious preparation. Even though you may be a fresher or inexperienced in insurance business, you may be asked generic questions relating to basics of insurance and insurance scenario in the country. Questions common to most of the interviews like 'tell us about yourself', 'describe your strengths and weaknesses', 'why should you be selected?' may also be put forth. Avoid giving routine answers, be modest and honest. Enough guidance is available for doing well in interviews which you may use to your advantage.

Managing time during the test

Not only your knowledge, your time management skills too will play a crucial role in qualifying in both preliminary and main examination. At every stage in solving the test, you have to find how you may save time without compromising with finding the correct answer. You have to read the questions fast without missing any relevant point. You have to train your eyes to move faster over the screen. Also, avoid any time lag between deciding the answer and clicking the related option. You should be in all readiness to start the test the moment you get an indication for this. Moving from one question to the next should take least possible time. The test is designed in a way to create pressure on the candidates to solve large number of questions in lesser time. Do not consider this pressure to be negative. Use this pressure to demonstrate your efficiency and preparedness. Those who qualify the objective test are not necessarily the ones who attempted all the questions but the ones who correctly answered maximum number of questions.

Level of competition

As the entry barrier is low, the competition is high as large number of candidates compete for limited number of positions. But here, generally at least there are a few hundred vacancies which keeps one in good stead than when there are 8-10 or even lesser vacancies. To get finally selected you have to first qualify in the preliminary examination. For main examination, candidates about 15 times of the number of vacancies are called. You have to be in this list for the further process. After qualifying in the main examination, your chances for success usually become one in 3 or 4 based on the number of candidates called for interview in relation to vacancies.

Practice, practice and practice

Diligent practice should pave the way for your success in the AAO examination. Understanding the test pattern is not difficult as it is similar to many other examinations as that of a probationary officer or management trainee. More important is to master the tests and the best way to do this is to practice as much as you can. There are guides for each segment of the test which contain hints to tackle questions, solved examples and sample papers to be solved. Also, work books can be found containing test questions. There are many online coaching providers for such examinations. Though they do charge a fee for joining the courses, in many cases sample questions/papers and mock tests can be freely accessed from their websites. Exclusive preparation guides for AAO examination can also be found in offline and online market.

 

To know about insurance business, insurance education and insurance regulations, you may visit the websites of above insurance companies and that of Insurance Institute of India and Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) which is the insurance regulator in our country.

 

 

The author is a career counsellor and can be reached at artmumb98@ gmail.com.

Views expressed are personal