An occupational hazard

In anticipation of buying a car, I recently went about obtaining quotes for car insurance.

Most of the questions that I was asked were simple to answer: my name, address, date of birth, marital status, driving history, yada-yada.

But there’s one question that nowadays I struggle with: occupation. In the past, it was slightly more straightforward. As an employee, I could usually pigeon-hole myself into one of a couple of the entries presented to me. And I picked the one that I felt most closely matched my employment at the time. (Often the occupations on offer were somewhat bizarre and irrelevant, but I could generally find one that had something to do with what I did.)

But more recently, I lead many lives. I am a proofreader, a company director, a business analyst, a project manager and a spreadsheet modeller. And I expect that many of my friends will struggle similarly to select from the Occupation dropdown. Particularly among my consulting friends, I struggle to think of one that exclusively fulfils a single role.

In these austere times, is it time to rethink the Occupation dropdown? Is it still valid for everyone? I expect that more people than ever are working two jobs to make ends meet, turning to secondary skillsets to pay the bills.

So how should they respond to such a question? Should it become a multiple choice question? Or does it need to become something altogether less discrete?


One Response to “An occupational hazard”

  1. Robert Dallison on December 9th, 2011 17:37

    I just went through this same process. The options they offer are a strange mix, resulting in a list of non-exhaustive list of mutually exclusive answers. My decision process for answering this question was basically an exercise in minimising the quoted premium. Q: Why is this information important to the insurer? A: Input for automated underwriting/risk assessment. Q: Which occupations are likely to carry lowest perceived risk in their system? A: Those which suggest stable employment (I’m more likely to pay my premium), and minimal road travel (I’m less likely to have an accident). Q: Of these, which can I reasonably demonstrate to be my activity if challenged? A: As it happens I selected Company Director (which I am) over Consultant (which I also am), based on the criteria above. I should probably go back and run comparative quotes with different occupations, to see if there really would have been a difference…

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