FOUR factors that motivate people to change insurance careers over and above a salary raise

In today’s dynamic insurance job market, it’s easy to make the assumption the primary driver for changing insurance careers is financial gain.

The reality, however, is far more nuanced.
While salary certainly plays a crucial role in people’s decision-making, it is more often than not just one piece of the puzzle.


Insurance careers


Understanding the multifaceted nature of why people transition in their insurance careers is essential for both employers seeking to find the best insurance talent and for employees navigating the modern workplace.

So what are the various factors that influence people to switch insurance careers?

And in which situations might individuals consider a lateral or even a downward shift in remuneration for the right opportunity?

By examining and understanding motivations, we can gain deeper insights into what truly drives professionals in their insurance careers and how employers can attract and retain the very best leaders.

  1. A Lack of Career Progression in their Current Role

One of the most significant factors that drives people’s decision to change insurance careers, is a lack or perceived lack of career progression opportunities.

This can manifest in various ways:

  • In smaller insurance organizations, the organizational structure may be relatively flat, offering limited opportunities for advancement.

As a result, insurance executives with ambitions to progress, may find themselves hitting a ceiling, unable to take on more senior roles simply because they don’t exist within the company.

  • Even in larger insurance companies, a stable and long-tenured management team can create bottlenecks for rising talent.

If senior or upper management positions rarely become available, middle managers and employees may feel like their insurance careers are stagnating, regardless of their performance or potential.

  • Some insurance businesses centralize their senior positions in specific locations or mandate that senior leaders need to be in the office for a prescribed amount of time each week.

Employees who might be excelling in their current hybrid or remote role, may be faced with the prospect of relocation to progress further in their insurance careers.

If personal circumstances make such a move unfeasible, they may look elsewhere to take their insurance careers to the next level.

  • Mergers, acquisitions, or downsizing can all impact and alter the trajectory of people’s insurance careers. Uncertainty, changes in leadership, company culture and a potential loss of previously promised progression opportunities can drive individuals to seek more stable environments, even if it means sacrificing short-term financial gains.

In these types of scenarios, insurance professionals can often end up sacrificing immediate financial rewards over long term growth in their insurance careers.

A lateral move to a company with a clearer path to advancement or a more dynamic structure can be incredibly appealing, even if it doesn’t come with an immediate increase in pay.


  1. Personal Reasons

Personal circumstances and work-life balance play an increasingly important role in people’s decision-making when it comes to their insurance careers

  • While frequent travel might seem glamorous initially, it can take a toll on personal life and well-being. An employee who spends more time in airports or on the road than at home may gladly accept a position with less travel, even if it comes with a modest pay cut.
  • Life events and family commitments, such as starting a family, children’s educational needs, or caring for elderly relatives can prompt insurance career changes. A position closer to home or in a specific location might take precedence over salary considerations.
  • Many insurance executives are cognizant of the impact of work on their physical and mental health. A high-stress, high-paying job might be exchanged for a role that offers a better work-life balance.
  • Some people may choose to align their insurance careers more closely with their personal interests or values, even if it means making a financial sacrifice. This could involve moving to a company whose mission resonates more deeply.

Weighing up personal factors as part of changing insurance careers, underscore how people are making career decisions through a more holistic lens.

While financial stability is important, quality of life and personal fulfillment often take precedence as professionals progress in their insurance careers.


  1. A Desire to Take on a Fresh Challenge

The hunger for growth and new experiences is a powerful motivator when people are looking to making a transition in their insurance career:

  • Over time, roles can become routine and lack stimulation. Even high-performing insurance executives can sometimes feel they’re going through the motions. A desire to drive change and innovation can push individuals to seek new challenges, even if they come with similar or slightly lower compensation.
  • Many parts of the insurance ecosystem are rapidly evolving. The chance to work in businesses that are at the forefront of Gen-AI adoption or using cutting-edge technologies to address changing global risks, for example, can be more appealing and valuable than a pay rise.

Insurance executives may view such opportunities as an investment in their own marketability and as more beneficial to their insurance career further in to the future.

  • Sometimes, a lateral move in terms of pay can offer significantly more responsibility or a broader scope of work. The opportunity to manage a larger or more diverse team can be particularly appealing for those looking to build their leadership experience or to expand their professional skill set as part of their insurance career development.
  • Having the opportunity to apply one’s skills in a different insurance market segment or niche can be extremely appealing.

Moving from a more traditional, insurance incumbent to a faster-paced insurtech might not always come with immediate financial rewards, but it does offer the potential for substantial growth and a new insurance career trajectory.

  • Some insurance professionals may also choose to step away from traditional corporate roles.

The chance to pursue their own entrepreneurial journey or join an early-stage startup, intent on disrupting the insurance market or solve a long-standing industry challenge, often offers the excitement to build something new.

The potential for equity and can outweigh short-term salary considerations.

The common thread in these scenarios is the pull of both personal and professional growth.

For many, the opportunity to learn, innovate, and make a meaningful impact in their insurance career trumps incremental salary increases.


  1. The Desire to Experience a Different Company Culture or Workplace Environment

Company culture and workplace environments feature highly when it comes to decision-making around insurance careers.

The desire for strong employee value propositions, flexibility, unlimited PTO, hybrid and remote-working models has all been accelerated by the pandemic and continue to influence job satisfaction and performance.

  • As mentioned above, there has been a ‘corporate to start-up’ transition, as more challenger businesses have entered the insurance market.

Insurance professionals from traditional, large corporations are being drawn to the nimble, energetic, ‘roll-your-sleeves-up’ culture of start-ups.

The opportunity to wear multiple hats and have a more direct impact on business growth and direction, as well as the potential of equity can be highly appealing, even if it means a lower base salary.

A move away from a traditional, hierarchical management structure to a more innovative, flat-structured one can be rejuvenating factor in someone’s insurance career, even without a significant pay increase.

  • Many insurance professionals seek an alignment between their professional insurance careers and their personal values.

People are seeking businesses with robust ESG policies and active employee resource groups as part of an active CSR agenda.

This may result in an insurance career move to an organization focused on sustainability, social impact, or other mission-driven goals, over and above a salary increase.

  • The Covid pandemic altered people’s work style preferences.

The rise of remote and hybrid working arrangements have shown that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to productivity. Some people will seek to develop their insurance careers in a company with more flexible work arrangements, over and above a higher salary package.

The rise of more collaborative working environments and cultures, recognizes that different personalities thrive in different settings.

Some people might choose to reignite their insurance career away from a more competitive environment or a full-timer in-office work patterns.

Cultural fit plays a hugely important role when it comes to an insurance career move.


A work environment that aligns with an individual’s values, working style, and personality can lead to greater fulfillment and long-term insurance career success.

While financial considerations remain a significant aspect of insurance career decision-making, it’s clear that money alone is not the sole motivating factor for people considering a new opportunity.

Today’s insurance professionals weigh up an array of factors when seeking to advance in their insurance careers. From seeking growth opportunities and new challenges to aligning work with personal values and lifestyle needs, the motivations for changing jobs are as diverse as the workforce itself.

It is crucial for employers to understand people’s wide-ranging motivations when seeking to attract and retain the very best insurance talent.

Have a read of ‘How you can find transformational Insurance Talent’  

Offering an attractive compensation package is important, but so is creating an environment that fosters growth, values work-life balance, and provides meaningful work.

For employees or candidates, it’s important to recognize all the factors that contribute to meaningful and fulfilling insurance careers.

Sometimes, the most rewarding career moves aren’t those that offer the highest salaries, but those that align most closely with personal goals, values, and aspirations.


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