All posts by Maria Sassian

Insurance labor market growth continues; Automation cited as top reason for staff decreases

The unemployment rate for the insurance industry in January 2018 was 2.2 percent, significantly lower than the national average of 4.1 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  A study recently released by the Jacobson Group and Ward Group takes a closer look at the insurance industry labor trends.

 “Anticipated increases in business volume and expansion into new markets continue to drive hiring demands,” said Gregory P. Jacobson, co-chief executive officer of Jacobson.

Highlights from the study include:

  • 58 percent of insurance companies plan to increase staff during the next 12 months.
  • Technology, actuarial and analytic positions are the most difficult to fill.
  • The top 3 reasons for increasing staff were cited as: Expansion of business/new markets (51 percent); Anticipated increase in business volume (47 percent); And areas currently understaffed (41 percent).
  • Companies that are decreasing staff sited automation improvement (23 percent) as the top reason, followed by reorganization (17 percent) and areas currently overstaffed (8 percent).
  • Companies are requiring more temporary staff. Twelve percent of companies are planning to increase their use, up from 11 percent in January 2017.

The Insurance Information Institute tracks insurance industry employment statistics here

Dr. Bob’s Dos and Don’ts for Successful College Recruiting

By Robert P. Hartwig, PhD, CPCU 

As part of our Insurance Careers Month series, guest blogger Dr. Robert Hartwig gives us his best tips for successful college recruiting.



    1.  Articulate a Career Path

  • Students want to see opportunities for career advancement and that you’re planning to make an investment in them.
  • Suggestion: Include an experienced employee on recruiting trips (5-15 years of experience, though not necessarily all with the recruiting company), not just HR people.  Students can identify better with these individuals and experienced employees can share their personal experiences and career paths.  Students love this.

    2. Get an Early Start

  • With the unemployment rate hovering around 4 percent (2.6 percent for college graduates), the best students are getting jobs sooner and sooner.  Top students now have multiple strong offers in September of their senior year. By December, the “cream of the crop” has been recruited.
  • Get into classrooms!  Career fairs can be a zoo.  Getting into the classroom, usually when students are juniors and first-semester seniors can be very effective for recruitment of new grads as well as interns.

    3. Institute a Formal Training Program for New Hires

  • Students want to hit the ground running and a formal training program after hiring is one of the best ways to quickly acclimate new hires to their new work environment while also making them feel welcome and comfortable with their new duties as co-workers.

    4. Institute an Internship Program

  • Many employers today have internship programs, but not all.  An internship program—even if very small—gives you a leg up on recruiting and many of the top students accept positions with a company with whom they interned.

     5. Support RMI Education—Consistently

  • Students who major in RMI are already indicating an interest in an RMI career.
  • Support RMI programs and education through scholarships, internships, targeted contributions to a university’s RMI program, executive visits to classrooms, participation by industry executives in courses taught partly by faculty and partly by the executive (e.g., one week).  A larger step would include endowing a faculty chair or professorship dedicated to the study of RMI, which would then bear the name of that company.
  • Get to know a professor or two!  Nobody knows these students better.  This will give you an edge in recruiting new hires and interns.  This relationship can also help you get into classrooms when students are making key decisions related to careers and employers.


    1.  Don’t Fail to Recognize that Students Will Hedge Their Bets with RMI-Industry Recruiters

  • You’re not recruiting in a vacuum. Most business school students double major and will have had two internships.  In today’s tight job market, understand that you’re not just in competition with other insurers and brokers, you’re in competition with banks, investment banks, accounting and consulting firms, pension funds, investment advisory firms and increasingly technology firms—and many more.     

2. Don’t Pigeon Hole Students

  • Limiting entry level hires to a claims and underwriting track is costing you quality talent.  Consider more direct hiring into Accounting, Finance, Marketing, Data Analytics and other functions.  Exposing students to the core underwriting and claims functions is critical to learning the business, but if the student’s major (or second major or minor) was in another discipline, the attraction of a competing offer from a bank, investment firm, accounting firm or consulting firm may be too much to resist.  Help them apply and channel their skills, talents and interests while also training them in the “art” of insurance.

    3.  Don’t Be Parochial

  • An astounding number of insurers—even large ones—don’t look too far beyond their headquarters or primary bases of operation for talent.  This is true both for internships and entry level positions.  There is sometimes a bias to recruit at local universities (perhaps because it is easier and less expensive to do so) which can lead (inadvertently) to a bias against hiring quality talent from other institutions.


Dr. Robert Hartwig is special consultant to the Insurance Information Institute and is Clinical Associate Professor of Finance and Director of the Risk and Uncertainty Management Center at the Darla Moore School of Business, University of South Carolina.

The Week in a Minute, 02/16/18

The III’s Michael Barry briefs our membership every week on key insurance related stories. Here are some highlights. 

A snow system billed as Winter Storm Mateo by The Weather Channel, brought significant snowfall to the Great Plains, Midwest, and New England between Thursday, February 8, and Sunday, February 11.

Three people died after a helicopter crashed in Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park on Saturday, February 10.

Florida’s insured losses from Hurricane Irma stood at $7.95 billion as of Friday, February 9, according to state’s Office of Insurance Regulation.  More than 900,000 Irma-related claims have been filed, and almost two-thirds of them were from homeowners (592,833).


Open call for Fundación MAPFRE Awards for Those That Make the World a Better Place

The Fundación MAPFRE has issued an open call for awards designed to appreciate and recognize the work being carried out by people and institutions around the world that seek to improve society through outstanding actions across a number of fields.

Each prize is worth 30,000 euros so that the recipients can continue with their important work. The call for submissions is global and applications can be submitted in English, Spanish and Portuguese by candidates themselves or by other people or institutions, both private and public.

Here are the categories:

    A recognition granted to a person who has led an exemplary professional lifetime career in the service of society and people.
    Further information
    This recognition goes to a person or institution that has undertaken an outstanding and effective social initiative for the benefit of those who are most disadvantaged.
    Further information
    This award recognizes an action taken by an individual or entity to promote good health and improve people’s quality of life.
    Further information
    This award recognizes a significant contribution by individuals or institutions towards preventing and reducing accidents.
    Further information
    This recognizes those initiatives and projects that have fostered economic stability and solidarity through Insurance and/or Social Protection.
    Further information


The Fundación MAPFRE is a non-profit institution created by MAPFRE, a member company of the Insurance Information Institute.

The Kids Are Alright: Top Performers Born, Made and Real

By guest blogger Lynne McChristian

Within mere weeks of joining the faculty at Florida State University in 2015, I chaperoned a student group to Gamma Iota Sigma’s annual conference. With my more than two decades of deep experience with millennials (having raised two of them), I had personal insight on the misplaced labels pinned on this generation. There’s nothing like going on a trip with a group of people you don’t know to break down stereotypes altogether.

Here’s something you don’t often hear about millennials: They are smart, polished, professional, savvy – and driven. That was my take-away from my first GIS conference, attended by hundreds of students from risk management and insurance programs, including actuarial science programs. My positive first impression gets reinforced each semester, and it is a good sign for the industry.

Collegiate RMI programs are focusing on curriculum – and much more. Faculty are practical folks and fully understand the need to integrate the textbook and the tactical with interpersonal skills. And, we do what we tell our students to do: keep learning, keep thinking, keep improving. Greater emphasis is placed on building a well-rounded individual; in other words, helping a student think of not only how they look on paper, with a solid GPA and a slate of internships, but also how they come across.

Florida State University was listed among the Top Performers in a Best’s Review research study on the College Standouts for undergraduate RMI programs. Illinois State University, Temple University and University of Georgia were also in the top tier.

At FSU, we encourage RMI students to do more than show up for class. Getting involved in things that appear optional, I tell them, is a test in which you give yourself the grade. For example, we have a mentor program that pairs students with industry professionals for a weekly phone conversation. It’s a guided conversation with a weekly topic list. Students connect with industry insiders, and the emphasis is on developing interview skills and pursuing professional designations. Additionally, nearly every RMI graduate has completed an internship by the time they graduate. They get class credit for this and so much more, such as a solid job offer months before graduation. Participating in the professional business fraternity, Gamma Iota Sigma, is another option that we tout as building your network on campus because your network is portable and travels well.

Integration and collaboration with the industry remains an imperative. In fact, FSU established a Center for Risk Management Education & Research with a mission to link constituencies.
Stereotypes get busted all the time, including the one about academics being in a bubble. Those of us teaching in RMI busted the bubble years ago. Partnerships and close ties with the insurance industry continue to help keep it real and make it work.

Lynne McChristian is a consultant with the Insurance Information Institute and a faculty member at Florida State University. She is also the executive director of FSU’s Center for Risk Management Education & Research.

Millennials in insurance: filling the talent gap

On February 8 I had the pleasure of attending the Insurance Business America’s Millennials in Insurance Conference in New York where I learned from some of the most engaging industry experts and the Millennials themselves about what the industry is doing to attract and retain new employees.  Here is the list of panelists and agenda.

Millennials are often described as entitled, selfish and apathetic. But these stereotypes often prove to be just that. A Deloitte survey of over 8 thousand millennials found that they feel accountable for many issues in both the workplace and the wider world. They feel most able to make an impact on societal issues via the workplace.

What Millennials and Generation Z want from employers:

  • Stability ­­‑‑ it’s a myth that young people want to job hop every few years
  • Flexibility
  • A clearly defined career path
  • Works that is engaging and sparks curiosity
  • Autonomy, culture and meaning

Advice from the panelists to insurers on recruitment

  • Make use of social media and sites like GlassDoor and LinkedIn
  • Focus on transparency
  • Don’t forget to engage students at the high school level
  • Stress the numerous opportunities for technology jobs in insurance such as big data analytics and predictive modeling
  • Have “swagger” to show that the industry is cool and cutting edge
  • “Be loud about loving insurance” — talk to your neighbors’ kids or a local school
  • Go local with the specific examples of what the industry does for communities
  • Stress that the industry offers a work life balance not found elsewhere
  • Have ‘a day in the life’ examples to dispel myth of boring routine jobs
  • Have year-round recruiting and showcase a variety of roles
  • Promote the brand and culture of the company


Advice from the panelists on how to retain young talent once you have them

  • Know the difference between a teacher and a coach, and be prepared to serve as coach to young employees
  • Look at employees as a long-term investment – provide mentoring and job-sharing opportunities
  • Get orientation right – map out job progression and define a path
  • Non-compensation benefits are important, people have been known to switch companies if the dress code is not flexible
  • Student loan repayment assistance is a great benefit to give to employees of all ages
  • Include young employees in the decision-making process and create an inclusive and open environment
  • The happiest employees believe their company cares about them, that care is best expressed through flexibility offered, not necessarily through compensation
  • Promote from within
  • Millennials like lots and lots of feedback, keep the lines of communication open (check out the performance feedback research done by the Neuroleadership Institute)
  • Once you hire for diversity you need to commit to keep that diverse workforce by providing a community within the company



The I.I.I. lists many resources on its careers in insurance page.


The Week in a Minute, 02/09/18

The III’s Michael Barry briefs our membership every week on key insurance related stories. Here are some highlights. 

  • U.S. House Representative Mark Takano (D-California) wants the Federal Insurance Office (FIO) to explore the issues raised in ProPublica’s 2017 investigative story.
  • and The Columbus Dispatch in Ohio posted stories on the Consumer Federation of America’s (CFA) call for a five percent reduction in the cost of property/casualty insurance because of federal tax reform.
  • The Sunday, February 4, Amtrak accident in South Carolina occurred soon after deadly Amtrak accidents in Virginia (January 2018) and Washington (December 2017).




A new report sheds light on increasing auto loss costs

In the second half of 2013 personal auto insurers began noticing an increase in auto collision losses. Crash rates had been falling for more than 25 years due to improvements in safety awareness, technology and enforcement, and the reasons for the sudden uptick were subject to much speculation.

In response, the Casualty Actuarial Society, the Society of Actuaries and the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America joined forces to analyze these trends.  The product is a paper containing some of the findings around collision frequency. Further analysis is being conducted on frequency trends for other coverages and for severity.

Findings include:

  • Increase in congestion, as measured by drivers per lane mile and commute times among others, positively correlates to collision frequency.
  • Mobile broadband access (used as a proxy for the likelihood that a driver may have a mobile device while driving) appears to have no impact on collision frequency.
  • The system (no-fault vs. tort) doesn’t appear to impact the expected collision frequency, but has a big impact on the variance of the frequency.

The group’s goal is to provide an analytical basis for discussing and understanding auto insurance loss cost drivers that ultimately affect premiums. Subsequent reports are expected to be released.

Source: Auto Loss Costs Trends Report, January 2018

The Week in a Minute, 02/02/18

The III’s Michael Barry briefs our membership every week on key insurance related stories. Here are some highlights. 

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) says three of the five-costliest U.S. hurricanes in history occurred in 2017.  The top five, in order, are Katrina (2005), Harvey (2017), Maria (2017), Sandy (2012), and Irma (2017).

U.S. property/casualty insurers’ overall profit and underwriting performance between January-September 2017 produced the second-worst nine-month profit result since the Great Recession ended.

California’s insurers received nearly 45,000 claims and will pay out $11.8 billion in insured losses from the October and December 2017 wildfires, the state’s Department of Insurance announced.

How to be a responsible Super Bowl party host

Super Bowl Sunday is fast approaching and you may be planning a party to cheer on the Eagles or the Patriots.  If you’re serving alcohol you may want to familiarize yourself with social host liability laws in your state.

Auto accidents spike following Super Bowl games but they’re not all alcohol related.  A study conducted in 2003 by the University of Toronto found that fans of the losing team were much more likely to get into an accident than fans of the winning team. In the losing state the number of crashes increased 68 percent after the game, and only 6 percent in the winning state. Accidents climbed 46 percent in the “neutral” states.

Here are some helpful tips on how you can protect yourself and your guests:

  • Encourage guests to pick a designated driver who will refrain from drinking alcoholic beverages so that they can drive other guests home.
  • Limit your own alcohol intake as a responsible host/hostess, so that you will be better able to judge your guests’ sobriety.
  • Offer non-alcoholic beverages and always serve food. Eating and drinking plenty of water, or other non-alcoholic beverages, can help counter the effects of alcohol.
  • Do not pressure guests to drink or rush to refill their glasses when empty. And never serve alcohol to guests who are visibly intoxicated.
  • Stop serving liquor toward the end of the evening. Switch to coffee, tea and soft drinks.
  • If guests drink too much or seem too tired to drive home, call a cab, arrange a ride with a sober guest or have them sleep at your home.
  • Encourage all your guests to wear seatbelts as they drive home. Studies show that seatbelts save lives.


This I.I.I. article has more helpful suggestions about responsible social hosting.