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Opportunities in the Insurance Sector
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Insurance business has a positive correlation with economic development in an economy. As an economy develops over the years, insurance sector starts making inroads into the interiors of the system. Most of the times, insurance begins with the life insurance and gradually spreads to the field of general insurance. Every forward looking person would invariably have his/her life insurance done. Even in a country like India, it is hard to believe that any adult person living in towns would not have life insurance done and the concept is picking up even in the rural areas. In other words, the life insurance market in India is as large as its population.

 
Expanding Horizons

During the past several years, the business of life insurance has flourished so much that the insurance business is being considered to be one of the most rapidly developing area in the financial sector. Keeping the large potential of growth of this sector in mind, the Government set up a special committee, known as Malhotra Committee, to recommend reforms in insurance sector to enable it to meet the challenge of globalisation. Most of the recommendations of the Committee have not yet been implemented but the time is not far when majority of the recommendations would be given effect.

Just like banks, the branches of Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) have now reached most parts of the country. The physical absence of its branches has been overcome by the presence of a large network of its agents. LIC agents have spread even to the remote villages today. The expanding sector offers challenging and remunerative jobs, with several attractive benefits linked with good achievements in terms of business. The promotion and personal development benefits are plenty and a hard-working candidate can hope to go quite high up in the ladder of promotion. With the entry of private business groups into the field of insurance round the corner, the opportunities offered by the insurance sector are going to increase manifold.

 
Assistant Administrative Officers

As a direct entry to the officer cadre, Assistant Administrative Officer (AAO) is considered to be a prestigious direct entry to the Insurance Sector. AAOs are recruited through a competitive examination and anyone recruited as a direct AAO can hope to reach the highest level, provided his/her performance in the profession is very good. AAOs are normally appointed as Branch Managers in smaller branches and, as the name of the post indicates, are responsible for overall general administration of the branch. Even in the bigger branches and, higher offices, AAOs are assigned important tasks and assist not only in better administration of the branch/said office but also help achieving the financial targets.

 

Eligibility

Examination for AAOs in GIC and LIC are conducted separately, generally every year by both the corporations. Every graduate/post graduate in any discipline including Arts, Science, Commerce, Engineering or law with 50 per cent marks is eligible to take this examination. The Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) candidates are eligible with 40 per cent marks. A candidate is required to have qualifying marks either in the graduate or post graduate examination. The candidates must be more than 21 years of age and the upper age limit is 28 years. Relaxation in the upper age limit is available to the concerned categories as per rules. Reservation of vacancies to the SC, ST, OBC (Other Backward Classes) and ECO/SSRCO (Emergency Commissioned Officers/Short Service Retrenched Commissioned Officers) is available as per rules. Serving confirmed employees of LIC/GIC can appear in the competitive examination upto 40 years of age.

 

Scheme of Examination

There is a two tier system of examination which includes a written examination and personal interview. The written examination consists of two tests. The first test is objective-type multiple choice and the second one is descriptive in nature. The objective test i.e. Paper-I has four parts viz (a) Reasoning Ability (b) Numerical Ability (c) General Knowledge and Current Affairs and (d) English Language with special emphasis on grammar and vocabulary. First three tests in Paper-I are bilingual and can be attempted either in English or Hindi, while the fourth test i.e. the Language test is for English Language. Paper-II is descriptive in nature and consists of Essay writing in English or Hindi and Precis and comprehension in English Language.

The Competitive examination is conducted by the respective corporations, usually every year, and the advertisment of the examination appears in almost all the leading daily newspapers. Detailed advertisement, along with specimen of examination/application form, is published in the concerned issue of the Employment News. The number of examination centres keep on changing, usually increasing, with the number of aspiring candidates. At present for LIC there are 34 centres at places like Agra, Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Bombay, Calcutta, Chandigarh, Coimbatore, Cuttack, Dharwad, Gangtok, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Indore, Jabalpur, Jaipur, Jalpaiguri, Jammu, Kanpur, Kozhikode, Lucknow, Madras, Madurai, Nagpur, New Delhi, Panaji, Patna, Pune, Ranchi, Shillong, Silchar, Trivandrum, Varanasi and Vishakhapatnam.

All the candidates who qualify the written examination are called for the personal interview. The personal interview is aimed at judging the suitability of the candidates for the post of AAOs. Selection is made on the basis of overall performance of the candidates in the written test and interview. The selected candidates, after the prescribed training, are absorbed as AAOs in the pay scale of Rs 2100-4260. (The pay scale is due for revision w.e.f. 1993 following the recent settlement).

 
Other Posts

In addition to the AAOs, both the Insurance Companies recruit other categories of employees by way of direct recruitment. For example, Chartered Accountants are recruited directly as AAOs in the LIC without written examination. Similarly, GIC recruits Assistants through a competitive examination called Assistants' Examination and LIC conducts clerical Assistants' Examination for recruitment to these posts. The minimum qualification for these two exams is Matriculation with 60 per cent marks and the written examination also consists of objective type Tests of Reasoning, Numerical Ability, Clerical Aptitude, English Language and General Knowledge. In addition, descriptive test for Essay, Letter and Precis writing is also held. The standard of this competitive examination is lower than that for the AAOs. Age relaxations and reservation of vacancies is also as per the rules. The Candidates who qualify the written test are then interviewed and the combined merit is considered while making the final selection. It is, however, pertinent to add that the minimum age required is 18 years and the upper age limit is 25 to 26 years.

 
How to Prepare

Every competitive examination requires systematic and prolonged preparations. Even to get into any of the jobs offered by the insurance sector, the candidates have to prepare hard. The examination aims at judging the knowledge as well as speed of the candidates, particularly in the objective type paper. At the same time, the descriptive test judges the analytical ability, depth of knowledge, expression and understanding of the languages and needs different type of preparations. The objective tests require knowledge and speed to solve the problems correctly and thorough practice. GK and current affairs need special knowledge of these subjects and cannot be mastered in a short period of time. It is a long-term process and the aspiring candidates have to begin early. A good book on the basics of General Knowledge, supported by reading a good national newspaper and competitive magazine can greatly assist a candidate to do well in this part. For mastering the reasoning, numerical ability and English language, special efforts are required to solve the objective type questions correctly. The Competition Master is an ideal magazine to prepare for the objective type tests, supported by a standard GK-book like "General Knowledge Refresher" by O.P. Khanna, published by Khanna Brothers (Publishers) Chandigarh. Other books like 'Test of Reasoning', 'Current Affairs and Backgrounders', 'Topical Essays', 'How to Study and Take Exams' etc are some other books which can immensely assist the aspiring candidates. A standard grammar and comprehension book for the descriptive tests is of good help.

For the objective tests, in addition to the knowledge, practice is also very important. More particularly for the Reasoning and Numerical Ability tests practice pays rich dividends. It not only enables a candidate to solve the problems correctly by indicating the methods to be used but also by achieving the required speed to solve the questions correctly. Regular practice also generates a lot of confidence in the mind of the candidate to attempt the paper. The descriptive questions, on the other hand, need more of knowledge and analytical input. In-depth knowledge and correct expression are two important ingredients of essay writing. In addition style of writing also determines the marks to be obtained by the candidates. Similarly, precis writing is an art unto itself and needs to be mastered. It is not just summary but an attempt towards precision in own language, without loosing sight of the content and its meaning. A good understanding, rich vocabulary and regular practice usually helps a candidate to do well in Essay and Precis. A candidate who is fully prepared as per the above guidelines can hope to score over other candidates and do well in the competition.

The preparations for the personal interview also have to be elaborate, particularly for the post of AAO. All those who qualify the written test are usually a cut above the rest of the candidates and offer tough competition. Hence, an aspiring candidate has to do well both in the written examination as well as the personal interview. Normally, not much of differnce in the written score is there and it is the personal interview which finally determines the selection or otherwise of a candidate. A candidate, therefore, must be well versed with the General Knowledge, and current affairs and should be able to discuss and analyse the topic of current importance and general interest. In addition to reading good newspapers, magazines and other books, the candidate should also have a good understanding, assimilation and expression. Any knowledge is useless if the candidate is unable to express himself/herself while replying to any question. While brushing up of knowledge is essential before the personal interview, more important is the capability to express clearly. The candidate should also identify strong and weak point and should be able to guide the direction of the interview away from the weak points towards the strengths. If the preparation is made as per the guidelines and the candidates put in the required hard work, there is no reason why the candidate should not succeed.

 
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