Meet the world's largest insurance firm | Other finance on The Gateway

Meet the world's largest insurance firm

The key facts about AIG, the largest insurance company in the world, plus insights from a senior figure at the organisation

Introducing AIG

Based in London, Ian Campbell joined the firm in 2009 and has quickly risen to become a Senior Underwriter in the Financial Lines division at AIG

How would you introduce AIG to students?

AIG is quite simply the largest insurance company in the world and is one of the most diversified and well-respected names in its field. The firm has a huge geographical footprint and currently has operations across more than 130 different jurisdictions. 

Where and when did AIG start life, and what would you say are the key milestones in its history?

Despite its name, AIG actually began life in Shanghai, China as American Asiatic Underwriters. It wasn’t until 1926 that the firm opened its first US office in New York.

Having expanded worldwide, the various strands of the business were incorporated under the American Insurance Group (AIG) umbrella in 1967, with the group’s headquarters located in Delaware, USA.

In 1969 the company went public after being listed on the New York Stock Exchange. This provided the platform for AIG to go on to become the world’s largest insurance company. 

What are the main areas of AIG's business today?

AIG is something of an all-rounder – it has capacity across a wide range of different insurance lines.

The Financial Lines division, which is where I work, is a significant global operation in its own right. The products we offer include employment practices liability, pension and trustees liability as well as public offering and securities insurance.

Multinational insurance (providing insurance for a company across multiple countries it operates in) is another important area for us and is becoming an increasingly important arm of our business as our clients go global and enter new markets.

AIG has the world’s largest owned global network of insurance companies of any major provider. This allows us to underwrite risks for major multinational groups who operate across different jurisdictions and to make sure they’re fully covered irrespective of where they’re domiciled.

Meanwhile, we remain one of the leading global providers of personal insurance lines. We’re consistently among the most popular brands when it comes to everyday consumer covers such as car, health and property insurance.

What makes AIG stand out as a graduate employer in financial services?

You don’t realise just how big and broad the insurance sector is until you’ve worked in the industry. Pretty much anything these days can be insured; what makes AIG unique is that it’s been able to establish itself as the leading underwriter in so many of these markets. 

The financial insurance market, in particular, is a fascinating place to work for anyone who, like me, has an interest in current affairs and in what’s going on in the global economy. 

We also work with an extremely broad range of clients, which, for a graduate coming into the industry, means gaining exposure to an incredible variety of different industries. 

You could be working with a major energy group with interests in the Middle East one minute; the next you might be learning about the finer details of the pharmaceutical industry. 

As an underwriter you have to be able to understand your client’s business almost as well as they do.

Why did you choose to work for AIG and what keeps you there?

I joined AIG as a trainee underwriter through the firm’s graduate programme in Dubai.

I’d been living in the Middle East for two years at that stage and I came across the opportunity pretty much by chance while reading the Arabian Business magazine. I moved back to London with the firm on completing the programme and I’ve been working here ever since. 

The thing that’s kept me here is the variety of the work I do and the fact that, since joining, there have always been options to progress and to gain exposure to different sides of the business. 

You have to work for these opportunities and AIG is not an organisation where things are handed to you on a plate. However, if you’re proactive and willing to push yourself, you’ll find that responsibility comes very quickly. 

Can you give a surprising fact about AIG?

We have customers in more countries than McDonalds, which is a pretty amazing achievement!

Working at AIG

Visit the AIG student site for more information on their graduate programmes and internships and to apply.

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