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TIA | The Insurance Apprentice

Meet the Contestant

Nicolene Claassen

Portfolio Manager: Partnerships

Itoo Special Risks  

Did you choose a career in insurance or did you fall into the industry like so many others? Briefly share your story.

Insurance runs in my blood – both my mother and father have dedicated many years to the industry. My affinity for insurance developed from a young age, as I was immersed in the world of insurance from childhood. Through school and university, every academic endeavour I pursued was closely tied to the insurance sector.

While my father introduced me to the nuances of life insurance, my true passion and academic focus cantered on short-term insurance. My formal journey into the insurance realm began with an internship at Hollard Travel during the holiday break of my final year at Tuks. Following this, I embarked on a two-year adventure as an International Air Hostess in the UAE.

Upon my return, I assumed the role of International Relationship Manager at Hollard Travel. Seeking personal and professional growth, I decided to challenge myself by delving into a new domain, Liability and Niche Insurance. Itoo Special Risks has allowed me to continuously learn and expand my expertise in this dynamic field over the last 6 years taking on multiple roles, in different territories. I currently work as the Portfolio Manager for existing and new partnerships across the business.

Why did you choose to enter The Insurance Apprentice?

As a dynamic and career driven person I continuously look for ways to further grow and learn. Two of my colleagues that entered the previous season just gave me that little extra confidence to finally enter and put myself to the test. It is definitely out of my comfort zone, however, strongly believe that these moments, mould and shape us, to become better versions of ourselves irrespective of the outcome. I also believe that this creates an opportunity to put myself out in the industry and meet like-minder people who can further inspire me or help create the exciting future I see for myself.

In your mind, what qualities should an ambassador of The Insurance Apprentice have?

An Ambassador of the Insurance Apprentice should have all of the below qualities in my view:

  • Passionate about Insurance and the Industry itself,
  • Good relationship management and communication skills
  • Strong general industry knowledge
  • Authentic
  • Energetic and dynamic personality

Who has been the biggest influencer on your career and why?

My career has been profoundly shaped by the significant influence of my mother. She is a highly successful and career-driven woman who never backed down for anyone or anything. Despite the sacrifices and challenges that came with her career, she remains the most positive person I know. Her guiding principle has always been to live by the belief that what you envision or believe will ultimately come to you if you keep working hard, never giving up and always trying to find the solution for yourself.

In a tweet of 140 characters explain why insurance ROCKS!!!

Insurance rocks because there are so many opportunities within this industry to challenge, excel and excite you. I have never felt like I had an 8-5 job, I have a passion, and a passion for people, and that is what the industry does, it brings passionate people together, whether like minded solution driven people whom finds Insurance solutions, or people passionate about their lives and the things in it which needs security or a solution to cherish and protect it for longer. It is also the industry where I have met some of the smartest, experienced, and amazing people always willing to share their story and empower others around them.

What would be your dream Apprentice task and why?

To take a new product and train and sell it to the judges. Going into how it works, why it’s the best in the market, showcasing our communication skills, presentation skills, and ability to explain a product compressively.

What song would you choose for your Insurance Apprentice victory dance?

Rise by Calum Scott

A message to all the TIA sponsors?


The interest you show in dedicating your time, outside the office, or when it could be spent on other things like family, to facilitate the growth and leadership in other individuals, just showcases the impactful and amazing people this industry has to offer. We look up to you, and hope we make it worth it.

How important is winning for you?

No one ever did something to lose and thus being as competitive as I am and my eagerness to do everything I do to the best of my abilities, winning would be a very personal achievement at a time in my career where I am awaiting the next big thing.

Advice to yourself about what you should remember and focus on as you are going into the competition.

Do not overthink it but go in and fight for what you believe in, embrace other strength to strengthen you instead of feeling threatened, and enjoy the challenge because when we enjoy something, we do it to the best of our abilities.