Category Archives: Careers and Employment

A Spring Break Insurance Tale

Turns out it’s hard to escape insurance, even on spring break.

A visit to Singer Island, Florida led to an interesting discovery.

We were taking a walking tour in John D. MacArthur Beach State Park. This 438-acre park is the only state park in Palm Beach County and located between the Atlantic Ocean and Lake Worth Lagoon.

Think nature trails, hammocks (the forested kind), tropical trees with names like strangler fig, beach, sand dunes, rare turtles, and birds, lots of birds: osprey, cormorants, gulls and pelicans.

Right outside the nature center is a bust of the previous property owner, John D. MacArthur. Our tour guide happened to mention that Mr. MacArthur made his fortune in the insurance business.


Apparently, in 1935 Mr. MacArthur acquired the Bankers Life and Casualty Company of Chicago for $2,500 ($44,000 in today’s dollars).

As our tour guide explained, during the Great Depression people didn’t have the money to buy insurance. So Mr. MacArthur came up with a plan to make it affordable. He would charge them $1 (that’s $17.65 in today’s dollars) for a life insurance policy.

There was just one caveat: for the policy to pay out, a person had to die of unnatural causes.

Needless to say, Mr. MacArthur was very successful. Five years later, Bankers had more than $1 million in assets and by 1977 more than $1 billion.

At the time of his death in 1978, Mr. MacArthur’s insurance companies had more than 3 million policyholders, with $5.5 billion of insurance in force and a sales staff of more than 5,000 agents and brokers.

In addition to insurance, Mr. MacArthur had an interest in real estate and development and his holdings included 100,000 acres of land in Florida, mostly in the Palm Beach and Sarasota areas.

Mr. MacArthur later donated a section of his Palm Beach property for use as a public park after a university study convinced him it was a biological treasure.

The MacArthur Foundation (established in 1970 so that his money would go to good use after he was gone) contributed additional funds to help develop the park and nature center. The John D. MacArthur Beach State Park opened to the public in 1989.

Another great story of philanthropy in insurance.

Women and Insurance

Today marks International Women’s Day so it’s appropriate we take a look at the contribution made by women to the insurance industry.

The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) reports  that women have comprised about 61 percent of the insurance industry workforce in each year from 2006 to 2015, according to the Current Population Survey (CPS), an annual survey of business establishments in private industry conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

In 2015, there were 1.6 million women employed in the insurance sector, accounting for 59.4 percent of the 2.7 million workers in the insurance industry, according to the BLS.

The percentage of women in selected insurance occupations varies, ranging from 51 percent of insurance sales agents to 77 percent of insurance claims and policy clerks in 2015. In 2015, women accounted for 47 percent of all workers, based on households in the CPS survey.

Female Workforce in U.S. Insurance Occupations

An ever-increasing percentage of small businesses in the United States are owned by women. In recognition of Women’s History Month, the I.I.I. recommends six key strategies to ensure your business is financially protected.

Also check out the I.I.I’s Pinterest Board that looks at the great strides women have made in the insurance field, including profiles of some of the most influential insurance doyens today.

The Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) today announced the fourth year of its Women in Insurance Conference Series.

Dates and locations of the next four installments of the series are as follows:

-June 9, Northeast Regional Forum: New York City

-June 13, Midwest Regional Forum: Chicago

-June 21, Texas/Southeast Regional Forum: Dallas

-June 23, Western Regional Forum: Los Angeles

The IICF Women in Insurance Conference Series is designed to provide an environment for insightful discussions surrounding gender diversity in insurance, industry leadership, and the changing world and future of the insurance industry.

Primary sponsors of this year’s conference series include CNA, XL Catlin, The Hartford, FM Global, WillisTowersWatson, GenRe, Farmers Insurance, and Munich Re.

Women Good for Insurance

We spend a lot of time explaining why insurance is good for individuals, society and the economy as a whole, but a new report reverses that equation.

It focuses on the current and anticipated impact of women on the global insurance market.

Conducted by the International Financial Corporation (IFC), AXA and Accenture, the report estimates that women’s individual spending on insurance premiums will grow to between $1.45 trillion and $1.7 trillion by 2030–half of it in just 10 emerging economies.

That represents a doubling from the current annual premium value of the women’s global market of $770 billion.

The report cites an increased level of education, income, improved socioeconomic status, and a greater need for protection as key reasons that make women a big opportunity for insurers.

This is strongly reflected in a very simple yet telling number: women across the world are willing to invest 90 percent of their income into their households.”

Furthermore, women entrepreneurs now represent one-third of the world’s business owners, and they need protection for their businesses. Just 31 percent of women entrepreneurs surveyed held protection or savings-oriented life insurance, for example.


The report also highlights that women’s attitudes to fraud, claims and loyalty, their roles as a trusted source of recommendations, and their relational rather than transactional approach to networks make them a valuable customer and inexpensive brand ambassador for insurers.

Women can act as strong advocates or social marketers for insurers and financial services firms, and are more likely than men to recommend a product or service to their friends and family, the report finds. They are also greatly influenced by the advice of their female peers.

Therefore, women can play a key role in explaining and selling insurance products across customer segments, and especially to other women.

What women want and need from insurance varies by age, income level and lifecycle events, however.

The report urges insurers to abandon the one-size-fits-all approach and instead identify and target segments of women who share common needs and constraints in order to take advantage of this growth opportunity.

Check out I.I.I. facts and statistics on careers and employment to discover what percentage of the insurance industry workforce comprises women.

Love, Actuarially…

Actuaries have the top-rated job in America, which gives I.I.I.  chief actuary James Lynch a chance to crow.

Actuaries — the number crunchers of the insurance industry — have the best jobs in the United States, according to the latest annual analysis by Newspaper reporters have the worst.

This has a personal resonance, because I am an actuary and I used to be a newspaper reporter. I wrote personal finance stories for the Miami Herald in the late 1980s. Before that I was a general assignment reporter for the Washington Missourian.

I think I’m the only person who can make this claim, and the fact continually sparks conversations, the most recent being April 14 after I spoke at the AIPSO Residual Market Forum in Warwick, Rhode Island.

This time the questioner was Karen Furtado, a partner at Strategy Meets Action, a Boston consultant to insurers. She asked: “That’s such an interesting change of careers. How did that happen?”

My response is a practiced tale:

I worked nearly a decade in journalism and had many reasons for leaving. You have to have lots of reasons to change careers. If there’s only one thing wrong with your job, that’s a good job and you shouldn’t leave it.

Before I left, I made some lists, as career guides urge. One list was of the things I wanted to do but never found time to do, because of the constraints of my career. One item on the list was “Take Math Classes.” (I had always gotten good math grades.)

So I quit my job and enrolled at Florida International University, near where I lived then. This was about three months before my wedding. I was 29.

At first I wanted to become a computer programmer because I had enjoyed writing the code that generated charts in the newspaper.

I quickly learned that programming is an art governed by a muse, and much of a programmer’s job is to stare at a screen  until the muse whispers the correct code to write. This muse might alight in an hour, or in a week or maybe three weeks. In the meantime you faced a blinking cursor and ate Snickers.

That was not the career for me.

I had loved my math classes, though, and decided to change my major. I walked into the math department offices, and — serendipity! — the admin handed me a brand new brochure touting the university’s brand new certificate program in actuarial science.

You need to be curious about a lot of subjects: mathematics, statistics, economics, law. You need to be able to explain complex ideas in a simple way. Actuaries surely need those skills — but reporters need them, too.

This I can do, I thought. I got the university’s first certificate in actuarial science and picked up a bachelor’s in statistics along the way. After a mere decade of brutal exams, I was a fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS).

My I.I.I. job combines my two careers. I work closely with the CAS, for which I write press releases and the occasional article. And I write research papers for the I.I.I., like this one on alternative capital, or the occasional magazine article, like this one on autonomous vehicles.

In fairness, I’ve never thought newspaper reporter was the worst job in the world, even back when I was so disenchanted a quarter century ago. Much of its poor rating today comes from future of newspapers, more bleak today than when I worked for one.

And the job that one person hates another may love. The journalist who can barely add (I’ve met them) would be an unhappy actuary, as would the actuary who struggles to write.

I feel lucky to have a job that blends my unique skills, and I always hope that others can find their own way as well.