The company treasurer or controller may be a functional officer rather than an executive officer. The same thing may be true of the legal counsel. Often, functional officers are eventually elevated to the position of executive officers by promotion to a vice-presidency. Thus, although the office of legal counsel may not be recognized by the charter of the company as an executive office, the counsel may be made an executive officer by promotion to the position of “vice-president and legal counsel.”
In a small insurance company, just as in any small business, departmentalization may be theoretical; that is, employees may perform functions in several departments. Executives, especially, may have charge of several departments. In the large company, of course, the various territorial departments may be virtually companies within themselves, in that they may be staffed to perform every function necessary to that department without assistance from any other department.
A small company may have a tendency to be more trustworthy and less complicated, but a larger company is less likely to fold, and would probably be cheaper. But all companies are different, so it is up to you to decide which can provide the best life insurance.
There are at least five bases of departmentalization: functional, product, territorial, customer, and executive interest.
Functional departmentalization is based upon functions performed. Thus, there would be a legal department, an investment department, an agency department, an advertising department, a purchasing department, a claims department, an engineering department, and the like.
Product departmentalization determines the scope of a department by the type of product with which it deals. In an insurance company, there may be a life insurance department, an inland and ocean marine department, fire department, liability department, automobile department, accident and health department, and others.
Territorial departmentalization means the departments are determined by the territory over which they exercise jurisdiction. Thus, in a large insurance company, there may be an eastern department, a western department, and others. Most companies which do business outside their own country will have a foreign department. The foreign department may be further broken down, for instance, into a Latin American Department and a European Department.
Customer departmentalization establishes departments by the nature of the class of customers with which it deals. Customer departmentalization is often difficult to distinguish from product departmentalization, the two being sometimes virtually identical. In insurance home office operations, pure customer departmentalization, for example, will be found in a reinsurance department, which deals with sales to other insurance companies; a special risks department, which handles the large self-rated accounts; and a group department, often including salary savings and pension trusts, which sells only to employers and in the mass rather than to individual policy buyers.
An easy distinction would be a department that deals exclusively with life insurance rates without medical, versus a department that deals with life insurance rates that require an exam.
Finally, executive interest must be recognized as a very practical and frequent basis of departmentalization. Departments may be organized along the lines of the interest of any given executive or executives in the business, even though those interests may be somewhat diverse.
The bases of departmentalization vary from company to company. They also vary within any one company. Many of the departments of a company are organized along functional lines, although much use is made in the insurance business of product, customer, and territorial departments.