The Financial Times reports on two shareholder lawsuits
relating to coronavirus that have already been launched in the United States,
one against Norwegian Cruise Lines, the other against a pharmaceutical company
(Miami) report highlights actions that some major
insurers are taking to provide relief to their customers who are facing
financial difficulties due to the coronavirus pandemic. Said Sean Kevelighan,
CEO of Triple-I, “In the insurance community, we refer to ourselves often as
financial first responders and you’re really starting to see that kick in right
now.” Some companies are allowing customers to delay payments without penalties
or initiate a personal payment plan. A few are offering relief in the form of
paybacks to customers.
Other recent articles related to coronavirus from a property and casualty insurance perspective:
A New York Daily News
article describes the rebates auto Insurers are offering to their customers due
to coronavirus-induced driving lull. Liberty Mutual, American Family and
Allstate are among the companies offering refunds.
A Winknews report
discusses the assistance available to customers during the coronavirus pandemic
and includes an anecdote from a policyholder who was told by his insurer that
he couldn’t get an extension. Triple-I’s Mark Friedlander says this customer’s experience
is not the norm.
As local, state and federal agencies scramble to react to
the public health needs of COVID-19, cities and towns must also keep one eye on
the weather forecast and river levels, according to this
Chicago Tribune article.
We’ve been following the initiatives launched by insurance companies to alleviate the impact of the coronavirus crisis (see Insurers Respond to COVID-19). Here are several more examples of insurers’ commitment to helping their agents, employees, customers, and the broader community weather the pandemic.
taken several steps to help ease the burden for customers, including:
Considering a covered premise as
“occupied” while mandatory closures are in effect
Extending rental car days if a
policyholder’s vehicle is in the shop and cannot be repaired or returned
Paying additional living expenses to
homeowners who are forced from their homes following a covered loss
Offering flexibility on bill payment
options for those experiencing financial hardship
A 60-day hold on cancellations and
non-renewals for non-payment
Permitting business use of hired,
non-owned autos for delivery purposes at no additional charge and extending
personal auto coverage to individuals delivering food, medicine, and other
essential goods at no additional charge
is also investing in relief efforts,
including $500,000 to local non-profits to
provide pandemic-related assistance to people and organizations across the
country; donating critical medical supplies and masks to health professionals;
and collaborating with corporate teambuilding company Cheeriodicals to deliver
“cheer-up” gift packages to local hospitals to show appreciation for health care providers.
Liberty Mutual has created a $4
million fund offering low-threshold, immediate grants of up to $10,000 for 450
community partners – with priority given to groups providing healthcare or
serving the homeless, elderly, and other populations deemed at highest-risk.
Liberty Mutual employees continue to be able
to make online charitable donations that are supported further by company
The company has also enabled employees to work
remotely and reports no impact to normal customer
The MetLife Foundationannounced on March 31 that it is committing
$25 million to the global response to COVID-19 in support of communities
impacted by the pandemic.
The grant funding from MetLife Foundation will span all regions where MetLife
operates and address both short- and longer-term relief efforts.
“Supporting and protecting
people is at the core of who we are and what MetLife stands for – in our
business and in the Foundation’s giving,” said MetLife President and CEO Michel
Initial grants will
support communities and people with urgent needs for food, healthcare,
childcare, and direct financial support.
As part of this
commitment, MetLife Foundation and other MetLife entities have already pledged
$4 million to relief efforts in Asia, EMEA, Latin America, and the United
States, including $1 million to U.S. food banks to help them deal with
increased demand for their services as a result of coronavirus.
Farm is donating
relief efforts, including Feeding America, American Red Cross, and the Illinois
COVID-19 Response Fund. Additionally, the company has also donated hundreds of
masks and other supplies to local hospitals and teamed up with the Atlanta
Hawks to help provide meals to vulnerable populations and healthcare workers in
State Farm has also transitioned most
employess to work from home arrangements and has set-up a matching-gift program
in which employees donations to qualified nonprofits can be matched by the
State Farm Foundation.
State Farm customers who are experiencing
financial hardships are encouraged to call their agents to discuss assistance
Westfield Insuranceis providing billing
options for financial hardships and suspending all policyholder cancellations
until May 31, 2020, or as directed by each state. Extended payment plan may be offered to those
policyholders. As of March 20, 2020, late fees also will be waived through May
31, 2020, or as directed by each state.
Westfield will contribute nearly a million
dollars toward nonprofit partners, including the Akron Canton Foodbank,
Cleveland Foodbank, United Way of Cleveland, Feeding Medina County, and Feeding
Westfield’s foundation is matching employee
donations to their local foodbank or United Way dollar for dollar up to $50. The
company is also working with agency partners across the country to distribute
Legacy of Caring grant dollars for them to donate to nonprofits in their
community who are challenged because of COVID-19.
As a regulatory/government solution, trade
groups representing insurers have voiced support for the
proposed COVID-19 Business and Employee Continuity and Recovery Fund. It would
be financed by the federal government and provide essential funds to impacted
employers and employees.
Tell us how your company is contributing to the
pandemic relief efforts: email@example.com.
Insurance companies are working to alleviate the impact of
the COVID-19 crisis by supporting their employees and distribution partners,
donating money to global relief efforts and easing the financial burden on
Triple-I has published a fact sheet, Insurers Offer
Forward-Looking Solutions for COVID-19 Recovery, which
outlines how the industry is easing its customers’ financial burdens, working
with government to create a COVID-19 Recovery Fund, and making sure it has the
resources to pay future claims from events such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and
Here are a few examples of what individual companies are
will automatically cover customers who
use their personal vehicles to deliver food, medicine and other goods for a
commercial purpose. Standard personal auto policies typically exclude such
coverage. This change will allow customers to serve those who depend on their
services and support.
Allstate also announced a special
payment plan to provide customers financial relief. The plan gives auto and homeowners
policyholders the choice to delay two consecutive premium payments with no
penalty. In addition, Allstate is pausing policy cancellations due to
nonpayment during the declared COVID-19 state of emergency. This includes
Allstate Business Insurance policies.
Ninety percent of Allstate’s global
workforce is working remotely. Allstate will continue to pay employees (full or
part time) who can’t work remotely and have shelter-in-place orders during
their normal work hours. Well-being services like telemedicine, prescription
home delivery, and emotional and financial support lines are available to
Allstate’s U.S. employees.
Family Insurance along
with the American Family Insurance Dreams Foundation, announced more than $4 million in support for
COVID-19 pandemic relief and other non-profit efforts. Additional support from
the Steve Stricker American Family Insurance Foundation is expected to push the
total support to more than $6.8 million.
has left many struggling to meet basic needs while at the same time adapting to
a new and unsettling normal,” said Maggie Pascaly, American Family community
investment manager. “We want to help meet short-term needs of individuals,
families and communities, while also addressing longer-term effects.”
The company’s employees and agency owners can support local organizations of
their choice by using a 2:1 foundation match offered during a six-week time
period beginning March 31. The foundation will match donations totaling up to
$250,000, for a maximum additional investment of $500,000. Organizations that
provide pandemic relief will be suggested for consideration.
Chubbannounced that it is committing $10 million to
pandemic relief efforts globally. The support will go to people and
programs providing emergency frontline services and for assistance to the most
financially vulnerable members of the community who have been impacted the
hardest by the pandemic.
The company also announced that it will not conduct any layoffs of its employees while in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic health crisis, and has added employee benefits such as additional sick days.
committed to supporting people, business and communities most impacted by this
global crisis,” said Evan G. Greenberg, chairman and chief executive officer.
“Our $10 million commitment will add to the urgent efforts required to meet the
immediate health and nutrition needs of those most affected. Concerning
our no-layoff pledge, we want our 33,000 employees around the globe to be
assured that their jobs are secure at this difficult time.”
Travelers has initiated a distribution support plan to
accelerate more than $100 million in commission payments to eligible
“As so many are
facing a significant financial burden due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we want to
show our agent and broker partners, many of whom are small business owners, our
support at this challenging time,” said Alan Schnitzer, chairman and chief executive
officer of Travelers. “Independent agents and brokers not only provide
invaluable counsel and care to our customers but also play a critical role in
the U.S. economy, and we are committed to standing by them.”
Bob Rusbuldt, president
and chief executive officer of the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers
of America, said: “Travelers has always been the premier supporter of
independent agents and brokers, and the Travelers Distribution Support Plan
takes that support to a whole new level. We want to thank Travelers for their
continued industry leadership.”
being accelerated were accrued in the ordinary course of business during the
quarter ended March 31, 2020, and accordingly, this program will not have a
significant impact on the company’s results.
insurance company based in Spain, is allocating 54 million euros to support
customers and suppliers. This is in addition to 5
million euros recently donated to accelerate COVID-19 research in Spain.
More than 90 percent of
MAPFRE’s 34,000 employees worldwide are working remotely to reduce the
risk of contagion and to guarantee service to customers, who in Spain are being
offered a free advisory service to learn how they can take advantage of the
support that is on offer.
us how your company is contributing to the pandemic relief efforts: firstname.lastname@example.org.
U.S. insurers are meeting the challenges faced by their customers, communities, and employees amid the COVID-19 crisis, according to a fact sheet released April 3 by the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I).
“The nation’s insurers continue to work actively on immediate and forward-looking solutions that will assist its customers and communities in recovering from COVID-19,” said Sean Kevelighan, CEO, Triple-I.
The fact sheet, Insurers Offer Forward-Looking Solutions for COVID-19 Recovery, outlines how the industry is easing its customers’ financial burdens, working with government to create a COVID-19 Recovery Fund, and making sure it has the resources to pay future claims from events such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and wildfires.
Solutions: Insurers are offering payment relief and extending coverage to
customers who are in financial distress while at the same time keeping its employees
on the job to serve these same customers, the Triple-I notes.
Solutions: Trade groups representing insurers have voiced support for the
proposed COVID-19 Business and Employee Continuity and Recovery Fund. It
would be financed by the federal government and provide essential funds to
impacted employers and employees.
Facing Challenges Head-On: Workers
compensation insurers in multiple states are covering the healthcare workers
and first responders who face exposure to COVID-19 while auto, home, and
business insurers are setting aside the resources needed to pay the claims
arising out of future natural disasters even as insurer investment portfolios
have faced their own headwinds. A Triple-I non-resident scholar predicted
yesterday the likelihood of an ‘above-normal’ Atlantic hurricane
While insurance policies might not cover the mitigation or
cleanup costs related to commercial facility exposure to the coronavirus, preserving
a healthy and safe place of business remains a critical risk management issue.
As the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread rapidly around
the world, it’s important to know what to do if someone carrying the highly
contagious virus comes in contact with any of your facilities or those of your
customers. Even the potential of your business premises being exposed to
COVID-19 can create a possible need to engage risk mitigation efforts.
Understanding the importance of utilizing a professional, credentialed
decontamination contractor both before and after facility exposure is crucial
to protecting your business.
“COVID-19 has presented new challenges for businesses around the
world, and it’s necessary to understand the importance of ensuring the safety
of all employees and customers,” said Larry Thomas, global president of
Crawford Specialty Solutions, a division of Crawford & Company that
includes Contractor Connection. Contractor Connection, an industry
leader in managed repair services, provides insurance carriers, brokers and
consumers a global network of more than 6,000 contractors vetted and managed
for performance in residential and commercial work, including specialists in
technical areas like cleanup after a biological event.
“Experts have warned that we have just begun to feel the impact of the
virus in the U.S., and it is expected to continue to affect lives for the
With that in mind, it’s essential you ensure you are
utilizing a decontamination contractor who is rigorously vetted, held to the
highest standards, and professionally equipped to restore affected sites
through proper remediation and containment procedures. Here are some best
practices for how to approach this critical work while reducing risk for you
and your customers.
Prevention protects you, your customers and others
Prevention is the first step toward reducing exposure to the
virus. Even before an incident occurs, a decontamination contractor can work
with your business to provide cleaning and disinfecting services designed to
reduce the opportunity for infection and keep facilities operating longer. When
administered by a trusted, licensed and insured provider, preventative cleaning
provides a cleaner, safer work environment and enhances employee and customer
Decontamination services limit business interruption
If you or your customers’ facilities are exposed to
coronavirus, legitimate decontamination services using proper techniques,
equipment and materials, and following CDC, state and local protocols should be
employed to restore your places of business back to operation as quickly as
possible, limiting business interruption. Time is critical, so you should
engage with a service that provides 24/7 assignment processing and emergency
“Providing access to a rapid-response decontamination
service can help reduce the potential impact of contamination in the workplace
and return the environment to full operational status as quickly as possible,”
said Lance Malcolm, U.S. president of Contractor Connection. “The focus must be
on helping companies limit business interruptions and ensure that the affected
facilities are completely safe for those who use them.”
Safe biohazard waste disposal reduces future risk of
As part of decontamination services, it’s also important to
utilize contractors trained to handle and properly dispose of biohazard waste,
safely removing any affected materials from the facility. Services that provide
quality assurance review and project monitoring ensure speedy completion and
provide peace of mind knowing exposure to the virus has been properly reduced
Through this interactive online
session and its accompanying digital resources, GIS is stepping up in support
of insurers’ efforts to conduct internships remotely at a time when physical
workspaces are shuttered to facilitate social distancing.
The companion guidebook to this event, Virtual Internships A Guide for Employers, explains the tremendous value of remote internships and offers tactical guidance on how to rethink and rework internship programs to better suit today’s candidates for tomorrow’s workforce. The accompanying sample internship syllabus gives a practical framework for how to effectively and efficiently organize and administer remote internships.
GIS developed this campaign in response to disruption and
dislocation created by the Covid-19 pandemic. By retaining and enhancing
internship programs while college and corporate campuses are closed,
organizations can get a head start in:
Entering an expanded talent pool that’s
optimized to succeed
Finding candidates that can work independently,
face a wide range of challenges and “think on their feet”
Building increased flexibility into existing
programs to attract highly qualified candidates who otherwise would not be able
Reducing costs associated with on-site
Positioning their brand and corporate values for
future success in on-campus recruitment
But perhaps most the most important
reason to do this: The 18-25 age cohort already learns, works, socializes and
lives primarily online. Teens and young adults are a workforce prepared for the
challenges of life during and after the COVID-19 crisis. Remote internships not
only help students stay focused on their goals; they offer insurers an
invaluable opportunity to adjust on the fly to the realities of our culture in
the 2020s and beyond.
Today’s students are ready for
this. Organizations like Gamma Iota Sigma are working to ensure that insurance
businesses and our industry are ready for them.
The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season activity is projected to be “above normal,” according to Triple-I non-resident scholar Dr. Phil Klotzbach.
Dr. Klotzbach, an atmospheric scientist at Colorado State
University (CSU), and his team have issued an early forecast of 16 named
storms, eight hurricanes, and four major hurricanes for the year, with above-average
probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the continental United
States coastline and in the Caribbean.
A typical year has 12 named
storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes. Major hurricanes are
defined as Category 3, 4, and 5 storms, where wind speeds reach at least 111
miles per hour.
The forecast is based partly on the fact that El Niño conditions are
unlikely this summer and fall.
is warmer-than-normal water in the Central and Eastern Tropical Pacific,” Dr.
Klotzbach said. “When it occurs, it tends to increase upper-level westerly
winds that tear apart hurricanes when the try to develop.”
The chart below shows 2020 hurricane probabilities for 18 coastal states.
A lot can change between now and the peak of the season
though, so an updated forecast will be issued on June 4.
As is the case with all hurricane seasons, coastal
residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make
it an active season for them. They should prepare the same for every season,
regardless of how much activity is predicted.
Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced
it is extending the grace period to renew flood insurance policies from 30 days
to 120 days to help policyholders who may be experiencing financial
difficulties due to the coronavirus pandemic. The extension applies to National
Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policies with an expiration date between
February 13 and June 15, 2020.
Maurstad, the FEMA administrator who oversees the NFIP, “We want to make sure
that policyholders don’t have to worry that their policy will lapse during the
spring flood season or into the start of hurricane season.”
The COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented in many ways. The human toll is first and foremost on our
minds (as it should be), but as an insurance professional, I’ll stay in my lane
and address one of the economic impacts – business interruption.
Businesses Looking to Mitigate Losses
Among the ways in which we are in uncharted territory is the
scale of how businesses are impacted. Unsurprisingly,
in reaction to slow-downs and shut-downs in many business sectors, businesses
are looking for ways to mitigate their losses or recover lost revenue. One avenue that businesses are exploring is
the availability of business interruption coverage under their property
insurance policies. Other potential
claims include communicable disease coverage found in some policies purchased
by hotels or event cancellation insurance, but those claims are beyond the
scope of this article.
Property insurance was designed originally to cover fire losses
and similar losses of physical property following the Great
London Fire of 1666. Of course,
property policies have evolved since then to cover additional risks including,
in many instances, business interruption losses caused by physical damage to property. A property policy may, for example, pay to
repair the damage caused by a fire and may cover the loss of business during
the reconstruction period. But here’s
the rub. Are the business interruptions related
to COVID-19 caused by physical damage to property?
Policy Language Will Control
The language of an insured’s policy will control whether
COVID-19 interruptions are covered. Unfortunately,
much of the media commentary on business interruption claims related to
COVID-19 has inappropriately treated all insurance policies as though they are identical. Policyholders have a wide array of different
policies they can purchase. For example,
some policyholders have purchased an ISO Businessowners Policy (BOP) with
standard terms and exclusions, others have purchased all-risk policies, and
others have purchased a variation of these types.
This commentary does not try to provide sweeping
pronouncements or give the impression that a single outcome will apply equally
to all situations. Instead, the
following is a starting point for a more detailed analysis under individual
circumstances. Details matter and the
analysis for a particular claim must start with the policy terms and facts
specific to that policyholder.
Is Coverage Triggered?
There have already been a handful of lawsuits filed related
to business interruption claims, some of which suits were filed before the
insurers even denied a claim. For
example, the Oceana suit filed by a restaurant in NOLA
and a suit filed by chef Thomas
Keller, owner of The French Laundry in California. Also, a group of tribal
nations that own casinos filed a lawsuit in Oklahoma and the owner of a
restaurant/movie chain filed suit in Illinois. Policyholders in these lawsuits are seeking a
ruling that they are entitled to coverage for losses sustained during their current
shutdowns. A review of the policies at
issues underscores the point made above – the outcomes in these suits and others
may not all be the same because different policies are at issue.
Nonetheless, there are some overall issues to consider. While the scope of business shutdowns is
unprecedented, we do have similar experiences as a guide, albeit on a smaller
scale, that may indicate how the current COVID-19 business interruption claims
may play out.
The threshold issue will be whether the insureds can prove
that their business losses are caused by “physical damage to property,” which
is the standard language in many business interruption policies. While the concept of causation focuses on
assigning blame for an accident in some legal contexts, it is important to
realize that in the insurance context the issue of causation is different.
In insurance, the concept of causation addresses whether
a particular loss triggers coverage, not who is responsible for causing the
loss. In this regard, we can replace
the word “causation” with “trigger.” So,
the question with the COVID-19 losses becomes, can these policyholders prove
that their business interruption losses were triggered by physical damage to
property akin to the fire loss damage mentioned above?
A series of cases from Minnesota demonstrates how the
COVID-19 business interruption claims might be resolved.
Where there is direct physical loss to property, such as
contaminated oats that could not be sold or a building rendered useless because
of asbestos contamination, the courts have found that business interruption coverage
was triggered. That is, these losses fit
the definition of direct physical loss to property. General Mills, Inc. v. Gold Medal Ins. Co.,
622 N.W. 2d 147 (Minn. Ct. App. 2001); Sentinel Mgmt. Co. v. New Hampshire Ins.
Co., 563 N.W. 2d 296, 300 (Minn. Ct. App. 1997).
But, where an earthquake caused a power loss in two
Taiwanese factories, and as a result, those factories could not supply products
to the Minnesota insured, the court found that the outages caused no injury to
the Taiwanese factories other than a shutdown of manufacturing operations, and
that this did not constitute “direct physical loss or damage.” Pentair, Inc. v. Am. Guar. & Liab. Ins.
Co., 400. F.3d 613 (8th Cir. 2005).
More recently, a federal appellate court considered a claim
related to mad cow disease. Source Food was
a company that sold products containing beef tallow. The USDA prohibited the importation of the
tallow from Canada in 2003 after a cow in Canada tested positive for mad cow
disease. The border was closed to Source Food’s sole supplier of beef product
in Canada. There was no evidence that the beef product specifically destined
for Source Foods was contaminated by mad cow disease, but after the border was
closed to the importation of beef products, Source Food was unable to fill
orders and lost business as a result. Source
Food submitted a business interruption claim.
It argued that the closing of the border caused direct physical loss to
its beef product because the beef product was treated as though it were
physically contaminated by mad cow disease and lost its function. But, the court held that to characterize
Source Food’s inability to transport its truckload of beef product across the
border and sell the beef product in the United States as direct physical loss
to property would render the word “physical” meaningless. Additionally, the
policy’s use of the word “to” in the term “direct physical loss to
property” was significant. The court explained
that the policy did not cover loss “of” property, it covered loss “to”
property. As a result, the cause of Source
Food’s business interruption was the government shutdown of the border, not
direct physical loss to its property. Source
Food Tech., Inc. v. U.S. Fid. & Guar. Co., 465 F.3d 834 (8th Cir. 2006).
What About the Current Claims?
Here, are the business interruptions related to COVID-19 the
direct result of the government restrictions on businesses or are they due to
the physical loss to their property?
Under the reasoning of the Source Food case, much of the current
business interruption claims would seem not to trigger the standard business
interruption coverage in a commercial business interruption policy or BOP. As cautioned above, this is not a universal
outcome under all policies. For example,
an all-risk policy would generally not distinguish between business
interruption losses due to government action or direct physical loss because
all-risk policies cover all losses except those specifically excluded. While it is possible that an all-risk policy
could specifically exclude losses due to civil authority orders, that is not a
standard exclusion in all-risk policies.
With regard to business interruption policy exclusions,
there are exclusions to consider even if a policyholder can meet its burden to
trigger coverage under the standard business interruption policy. For example, some policies have an exclusion
that precludes coverage for losses that result from mold, fungi or bacteria. However, because COVID-19 is a virus, that
exclusion may not apply. But, other
policies have exclusions for viruses, diseases or pandemics. That type of exclusion appears problematic
for policyholders, even those who satisfy the initial question of
The result may not be all-or-nothing. Might claims be partially covered? It is possible. For example, if a restaurant were shut down
because it had been contaminated by COVID-19 and needed to be cleaned and closed
for a two-week period to ensure no lingering virus remained, that period of
shutdown might be considered direct loss to property even though the shut-down
period after the cleaning period was not covered because the following shutdown
period was attributable to a government order.
Likewise, there may be a different analysis applied to some business
interruption claims that result from supply chain impacts. However, claims related to supply chain
disruptions are beyond the scope of this article.
Legislation and Duties of Insureds
It is notable that legislators in several states recently
proposed bills that would retroactively void the exclusions that would apply to
COVID-19 business interruption claims. Although
well-intentioned, these bills are deeply troubling because, among other things,
they could severely impact the financial stability of the insurance market,
which took in premiums based on such claims being excluded. And, because the legislation would not help
the 60 percent of businesses that do not purchase business interruption
coverage, the risk of crippling the insurance market is even more questionable.
Moreover, these bills would address only
the exclusions and do nothing to impact the initial question of whether
policyholders can trigger coverage.
Nevertheless, if a policyholder believes it may have a claim under its insurance policy(ies), it should provide prompt notice to its insurer(s) so that it does not risk a denial based on late notice. Likewise, once the claim has been made, it is essential that the insured cooperate with the insurer, including providing timely proof of loss.
Michael Menapace is a Triple-I Non-Resident Scholar, a partner at Wiggin and Dana LLP, and a professor of Insurance Law at the Quinnipiac University School of Law.
Triple-I has created an “Insurance Careers Corner” series to highlight trailblazers in insurance and to spread awareness of the career opportunities within the industry.
month we interviewed Emily Viner at Guardian Life Insurance, who provided us
with insights about her career trajectory, how she’s working to build a more
inclusive workplace, and her advocacy work helping more women reach management
roles at agencies.
Name: Emily Viner
Current Role: VP of Agency Growth & Development
Guardian Life Insurance:
Tell us about your current role at Guardian Life. What does a typical day look like for you in this role?
As VP of Agency Growth & Development, I make sure that we hire enough of the right people to serve our communities and that our leadership bench is growing. We’re committed to growing future leaders from within the company.
In a typical
day, I act as a bridge between what our field needs–our general agents who own
and operate their businesses as partners of the Guardian network–and the home office. A typical day depends on what’s
going on in the community. In the last three weeks that’s changed dramatically
in what we need to provide to our partners.
As VP of Agency Growth & Development, what is top of mind for you?
Top of mind
for me is making sure that we have the capacity to hire enough of the right
people, and we’re equipped to hire people from diverse backgrounds–creating
workplaces that are inclusive where people feel that they want to be part of
One of my
colleagues years ago called it the greenhouse. Is the greenhouse set to make
sure that someone can grow and thrive, and if not, then you’ve got to fix that
began your career as a financial advisor before moving on to the corporate side
of the business. What advice would you give to women looking to make a shift in
that first year was so hard. As an advisor, I was in complete control and in a
different environment I didn’t always have that. I would tell all women to say
‘yes’ when you don’t know how. That’s a scary thing, but once you do it, you
realize ‘I made it and I’m fine.’
trusting that you’re competent and that you’ll figure it out.
I read an
article years ago that stated women spend a lot of time being competent but not
confident. That’s why saying yes when you don’t know how is so important. If
you’re taking on a project where you only know 20%–if you fall, you’ll learn,
and you’ll move on–that’s how you build confidence.
did you get that confidence to follow through knowing that you had that
I spoke at
an industry meeting years ago, and during that time, two companies had asked me
to join them. At the time my children were young [three and four], and the
companies weren’t being flexible. One of the companies offered the idea of me
consulting three days a week to help with recruiting and building field
leaders, so I just jumped in to do what was best for my family and my children.
I did that
for two years before joining Guardian Life. In looking back–the two years I
spent consulting–the knowledge that I gained helped me accelerate in the role
once I arrived at Guardian. It’s having faith in your ability and what works
for the current situation and what you’re looking to build. The perspective of
having patience is important. It’s knowing that maybe this is the time that you
need to learn something more or different for that next role.
we celebrate Women’s History Month, what are some ways that Guardian Life addresses
topics such as equal pay, leadership opportunities, and inclusion efforts?
We have an
amazing executive leadership team that leads by example [CEO Deanna Mulligan
and President, Andrew McMahon]. They live our values every day through their
actions. We hold ourselves to very high standards, we seek to do the right
thing and people count. That transcends to equal pay, equal opportunities, and all
our inclusion efforts around hiring to ensure that there’s a diverse pool of
candidates for open positions as well as opportunities for internal moves. I’ve
seen inclusion programs really accelerate over the last ten years.
living in an uncertain time. Your CEO Deanna Mulligan and President Andrew
McMahon have made a public commitment to minimizing business interruptions
during COVID-19 and maintain response during the crisis. How has this type of
leadership impacted your role directly, and how is it impacting the company
feels proud of the communication. There was a work-from-home strategy starting
March 10th. The safety of our employees is a priority, as is client
communication and services. We were built for this. We got through the 1918
Spanish flu pandemic. We got through the great recession. We payed our
obligations and still paid the dividends. We’re in the same position to be able
to do that today–not just for our employees but for all our clients and
consumers across the country.
are in good hands. We updated our website and communications to clients to let
them know they can update their policies and get answers to questions through all
our digital platforms. We’ve also provided our field partners with information
they can share with their clients on market volatility and what they can do to
help calm their fears. With the stock market volatility, the cash value in life
insurance is not going to change, [it’s not subject to the same volatility] so
there is also reassurance with those decisions.
are your goals for the future in terms of where you want to take your career?
about how I’m positioning the firm for the future and building up our bench–
ultimately grooming my successor. I’d also like to continue to help young women
in male dominated industries. I’ve been working towards this for the past 30
years, but there is so much more to do whether it’s in my company or
philanthropic/volunteer. It’s important to me to continue this work.
Loretta Worters, Triple-I’s Vice President of Media Relations, contributed this installment of our Women’s History Month series.
When Linda Goldstein joined CSAA Insurance Group in 2013,
it was very different from the typical male-controlled companies. What drew her
to the insurer was Paula Downey, the first female president and CEO in the
organization’s then 100-year history.
Goldstein, who is the executive vice president of
customer experience and marketing for CSAA Insurance Group, noted that when she
came on board she was impressed with the number of women in leadership
“It provided a slightly different perspective than a public
company led by mostly men,” she said.
Part of that different perspective was how women were
compensated in the organization. “I’m proud to
say the gender pay gap is not an issue at our organization. I hope more
companies do an extensive pay equity analysis, the same way we did here, so
they can finally close the pay gap,” she said.
companies like CSAA Insurance Group engage in pay equity analysis to ensure
equal pay between employees in similar roles. The objective is to determine
that pay inequities are justified by compensable factors, like location and
tenure, and not by unjustified factors, like gender or race and it has been a
success at the firm.
Goldstein acknowledged that women have been
underrepresented in certain areas of the insurance industry. “There are different functions where you tend
to see more men versus women, particularly in leadership roles,” she said,
adding, “the insurance industry needs to do a better job of making sure woman are
aware of the great opportunities across all of the functions. There is a
plethora of jobs out there including innovation, actuary, underwriting, service,
claims and marketing. But the insurance
industry needs to promote those opportunities and support women who seek them
out,” she said.
As people retire, Goldstein hopes more women will be
offered these roles. “Not just from a diversity perspective,” she said, “but
from the ability to bring diversity of thought and focus to the business to
drive profitable and sustainable growth.”
When asked what she liked best about the insurance
industry, Goldstein smiled broadly, “It’s the fact that I know I’m doing
something that helps people. It helps
them either be prepared and protect what’s most important to them or to be able
to recover from a situation,” she said.
“Being in California and having seen the devastation of the wildfires
over the past several years and understanding the stories of our policyholders
who have lost everything,” she paused.
“It really does make a difference.”
to read the other stories in our Women’s History Month series.