Category Archives: Careers and Employment

SO, HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT THE FUTURE…? The Coming Golden Age of Insurance

By Sean M. Kevelighan, CEO, Insurance Information Institute

“What does the future of insurance look like?” It’s the question that’s launched a thousand publications and panel discussions. And it’s an essential one that covers a lot of ground. In my case, literally.

The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) partnered recently with InsureTech Connect (ITC) and Gamma Iota Sigma (GIS) at the two organizations’ flagship events, InsureTech Connect 2019 in Las Vegas, and Gamma Iota Sigma’s 48th annual International Conference in Dallas. What we came away with from these back-to-back events were two distinct but nevertheless complimentary visions of how things are now and what’s to come.

Briefly put, the future of insurance will be largely to make good on past promises. And this is not because we’ve been remiss in our duties but because people now are able to build and implement the right tools for the job. Speaking before thousands of InsureTech Connect 2019 attendees, Glenn Shapiro, president of Allstate Personal Lines, was blunt.

He noted making policyholders wait several days for an auto repair estimate that takes only a few hours to complete is: “[N]ot a service experience that you would accept in any other part of your life!” Embracing Insurtech and the power of innovation enables insurers like Allstate to automate processes and replace outmoded legacy systems to make insurance a truly customer-driven business. Insurers are now able to provide security and empowerment to their customers.

Which brings us to … resilience.

Early in 2019, ITC selected the I.I.I. to co-host its Resiliency Innovation Challenge, a four-month-long competition for Insurtech start-ups whose businesses are focused on catastrophe resilience. Fast forward to the final day of InsureTech Connect 2019, and an impressive field of 22 Insurtechs was pared down to three outstanding finalists: WeatherCheckTrue Flood Risk and Cowbell Cyber, whose CEOs presented their products and businesses to a panel of experts. The group included Susan Holliday, senior adviser to the International Finance Corporation in Washington, D.C.; Arlene Kern, a strategic innovation scout at Munich Reinsurance Co.; Lee Ng, vice president, Innovation, at Travelers Cos. Inc.; and Kevin Pray, vice president, Innovation, at The Hanover Insurance Group.

The finalists come at the problem of catastrophe risk from markedly different angles—preparedness, risk assessment, and risk management, respectively. The beauty of this diversity of thought was that we had disparate applications of data coalescing around the power of resilience. Congratulations to Demetrius Gray, CEO of WeatherCheck, who walked away with the first-place trophy, as well as to all the competitors who made the inaugural Resiliency Innovation Challenge a huge success.

One of the key takeaways from the Challenge was how resilience is benefiting and inspiring people in ways other functions of our industry cannot. Innovation and, more important, awareness of new solutions to manage risk makes the goal of creating safer homes, businesses and communities an attainable one. Young men and women embrace this philosophy.

We saw this first-hand in students who’ve chosen to study risk management and insurance at the Gamma Iota Sigma International Conference in Dallas, TX. There, I was honored to moderate a panel discussion titled, “Plan. Respond. Recover: The Power of Resilience,” with Dr. Nidia Martinez, director of Climate Risk Analytics/Capital, Science & Policy Practice at Willis Towers Watson; Dr. Roger Grenier, senior vice president, Global Resilience, at Verisk’s AIR Worldwide, and Alessa Quane, executive vice president, Chief Risk Officer at AIG.

The panelists shared their perspectives on topics ranging from the value of public/private partnerships in closing insurance coverage gaps; the sometimes overlooked but nevertheless consequential challenges posed to insurers by climate change (e.g., the need to guide energy businesses through “transition risk” while they retool to meet rising market demand for renewable resources); and how insurers are succeeding in building resilience.

Suffice it to say, putting two intensely forward-thinking and forward-looking events like ITC 2019 and GIS’s International Conference into perspective is a tall order. Given the dizzying array of people, places and presentations that blew past us in a single week, it was reassuring to be reminded again of a few key facts. The Insurance Information Institute represents an industry that’s going all-in on reinventing itself to serve customers and make our communities safer and more prosperous. And that many are eager to join the insurance industry in bringing this vision to life. Or to borrow the words of Jay Weintraub, co-founder of InsureTech Connect: “People really care about insurance.”

Sean Kevelighan is chief executive officer of the Insurance Information Institute, a non-profit research, education and communications organization dedicated to improving public understanding of insurance — what it does and how it works. 

Interview with Darla Finchum, Head of MetLife Auto & Home

Darla Finchum

As part of our series of profiles of insurance professionals, we interviewed Darla Finchum, Head of MetLife Auto & Home. She is responsible for growth and management of the company’s personal and small commercial lines, as well as transforming the business to meet the needs of today’s technology-focused consumers. Finchum is also an active member of MetLife’s U.S. Business Diversity & Inclusion Task Force.

I.I.I.: Please tell us a little about your professional background. How did you end up working in insurance and what has your career trajectory been like at MetLife?

Darla Finchum: I’ve spent my career in personal insurance in the property and casualty industry. I started right out of college in the claims organization of an insurance carrier. Claims is where we put people’s lives back together in some of the most devastating moments. I developed a passion for what insurance does for people and for society. It is such a noble profession.

Once I knew that I had a passion and intellectual curiosity for insurance and what the industry stood for, I sought out roles and opportunities in various parts of the insurance business—from underwriting to sales to operations to services. I really began to understand the customer, the back end and front end, the business operations, and why it’s important for us to be a partner in the lifetime of our customers.

I came to MetLife Auto & Home through an acquisition in 2000 and have held various leadership roles including chief claims officer, prior to my current role as head of the business. It’s a real privilege to lead MetLife Auto & Home, drive our business growth and ultimately be there for our customers.

In your early career, has there been a mentor or boss who particularly encouraged and inspired you? If so, is there anything they said or did that you still draw on in your role as leader?

DF: I have been fortunate to meet, connect, and build mentor relationships with many individuals in both my professional and personal lives. My network and group of trusted advisors include former bosses, colleagues both inside and outside my organization, as well as individuals I’ve connected with outside of work, people I have met in life. I believe it’s essential to have a network you can call on, who will tell you what you need to hear and be there in pivotal moments to help in making those big decisions.

Most organizations agree that a diverse workforce is a good thing. Sometimes overshadowed by discussions about diversity is the topic of inclusion. One HR consultant described diversity as the “who” and inclusion as the “how”. How is MetLife promoting inclusion?

DF: MetLife has developed initiatives designed to strengthen an inclusive work environment. Designed in collaboration with human resources partners, business leaders, and external resources, the initiatives focus on three pillars: Attraction, Development/Advancement, and Retention. We define inclusion as a commitment to recognizing and appreciating the variety of characteristics that make individuals unique in an atmosphere that promotes and celebrates individual and collective achievement aligned to our values. We promote a culture where we respect others and listen for both facts and feelings to show respect for others’ perspectives. We focus on commonalities and value differences by identifying areas of agreement and shared goals.

Diversity, inclusion, and associate engagement are top priorities for me as a leader. Our Enterprise Local Inclusion Action Teams and Americas U.S. Diversity Task Force are two programs I’m involved in to promote and create inclusion across MetLife. Understanding employee values not only supports and helps them to thrive; it also has a positive impact on the business. Being involved in these enterprise teams gives me the opportunity to implement best practices across the broader organization, starting at the top with my senior leadership team.

How does MetLife go about recruiting employees from non-insurance backgrounds?

DF: It’s important for businesses to have look outside their industry to not only hire people with great experience but also individuals with intellectual curiosity, an ownership mindset, and who are willing to challenge the status quo, take risks, and experiment. MetLife leverages our recruitment marketing platform to promote jobs on our career site and various diverse job boards.  In addition to job boards, our recruitment teams leverage several tools and channels to meet prospective candidates where they are and promote our employer brand, such as social media, Glassdoor, Indeed, job fairs, AI tools, community-based organizations, and employee referrals.  MetLife is focused on targeting candidates who align with our core behaviors and values from a variety of industries.

What steps is MetLife taking/has taken to build a consumer-centric culture?

DF: Today’s consumers are aware of what’s possible and expect to engage with businesses on their own terms and in their preferred channels. At MetLife Auto & Home, we are focused on putting the customer at the center of our business to ensure we are delivering products and coverage our customers need, as well as quality service and experience they want.

We provide a personalized experience in which our customers can engage with us whenever, wherever, and however they chose. Whether that’s over the phone, through our website and apps, or in-person, we are a trusted advisor ensuring we provide the right types of guidance and advice to our customers.

In today’s world of emerging technologies, it’s important to have a balance of leveraging the latest technology like artificial intelligence, aerial imagery, and drones with the human connection. While digitalization and speed are core to today’s customer experience, the human connection is important in insurance. Immediately after an auto accident a customer may want to speak with a person at their carrier to verbally explain what happen, ask questions, and receive reassurance the claim will be handled. Once the initial claim has been submitted, a customer may choose to only receive updates via email and/or the app as they have the confidence in us that the claim will be properly handled.

And finally – What are you passionate about outside of work?

DF: While I’m passionate about insurance and my career, I’m just as (if not more!) passionate about my family – I strive for work-life balance. Whether it’s watching my grandson play baseball, a girl’s trip with my daughters or our annual family vacations, spending time with my family is a top priority and joy of my life. The balance of work and life is something I encourage for all our associates to make a priority. I remind them they can have it all, but they can’t do it all, so surround yourself with people who will help you along the way.

 

Passion Pays Off

 

People who work at our member companies are passionate about their jobs, and sometimes they tell us why. Here’s a story from Hadie Bartholomew who works at I.I.I. member Westfield Insurance as a Media Relations Manager.

Hadie Bartholomew

Everyone loves a good story. But what makes a great story? As a communication professional, I have found storytelling with a purpose always adds value. A few chapters ago, before I started a career in insurance, I worked in the non-profit world to help save and heal lives through organ and tissue donation. Easy peasy! How could I not be passionate about telling captivating stories about people getting a second chance at life?! This set the bar high and, as I moved on, it was a challenge telling equally compelling stories across various industries.  At times, it was tough to connect personally. So, how could I promote content if my heart wasn’t that into it?

What I learned from working at that non-profit is that I need to care about and connect to the content I am publishing and promoting. What’s more, I need to truly believe the industry I’m working in matters and is making a difference.  I’ve worked in local television news, manufacturing, and technology and it was difficult to keep the fire of my passion burning bright. It was time for a change, and when I accepted a position at an insurance carrier, I’ll admit, I was a little skeptical. I bought into all those insurance stereotypes. But I was optimistic and came into my position with an open mind.

Two weeks after I started my new communications career in the insurance industry, Hurricane Irma came barreling across the Caribbean, Florida and up the coast. I quickly discovered how the insurance industry is truly a noble profession.  I saw first-hand how insurance professionals put lives and communities back together and stay in the area long after the storm has passed through community giving campaigns. I travelled to Florida in the days following the storm and rode along with our catastrophic claims team. What a memorable, eye-opening experience. Watching our Claims team in action, making sure customers were safe and feeling cared for, answering their questions and providing support and guidance – it was incredibly moving.  It was my ah-ha moment. I was fortunate to have this experience so quickly after starting a new job. This was a GREAT story and one that I wanted to shout from the rooftops. Seeing the compassion from the field lit my fuse. I found my passion in insurance. It’s more than insurance policies. We offer protection and help people when they need it the most.  These are stories worth telling and inspire my passion.

I know I am not the first person to feel energized by what our industry means to people, families and communities.  So let’s continue uncovering and discovering the stories that paint the true picture of this noble profession. Every agent, underwriter or risk manager can most likely tell dozens of stories of the customers’ lives they helped or homes and business that were restored. This industry isn’t boring, it’s life changing. We help people during some of their most difficult times, provide roadmaps to protect them and that’s a gratifying experience. For me, the key to being happy and fulfilled is seeing the positive impact a job has on my life and the lives of other people. As a content creator for Westfield, I found happiness telling the stories of how insurance makes a big difference in everyday life.

So, when I’m asked, “What do you do?” I ignore the eye rolls (or sighs) and am proud to say I work in the insurance industry. I share all my stories in my short tenure of how as insurance professionals we protect dreams and rebuild lives. It doesn’t get any better than that.

An open letter to college graduates from I.I.I. CEO Sean Kevelighan

 

June 2019

Dear College Graduate:

Congratulations! You made it!

Graduation isn’t an end, but a beginning. As you embark on your career path, please allow me to offer a few observations and some valuable guidance that others have shared with me:

  • Have an upward vision. Know where you want to go in life but understand that worthwhile journeys seldom follow a straight path; sometimes moving sideways creates a clearer route to the top.
  • Remember that what got you “here” won’t necessarily get you to “there.” Take stock of what’s around you and look for new skills and points of view that can contribute to success.
  • Be open to new challenges. You may find new perspectives on—and outlets for—your passions.

The last bit of advice is kind of familiar to those of us in the insurance industry. “I never considered a career in insurance when I was a student” is a pretty familiar refrain. Our team at the Insurance Information Institute includes an actuary who studied journalism, an economist who studied literature, and other dedicated professionals who’ve come to insurance from a wide variety of educational and professional backgrounds. Why did we all end up choosing insurance as a career? Because we have discovered what more than 2.5 million folks currently working in our industry already knew: That insurance careers offer virtually limitless opportunities to earn, learn, grow and make lasting contributions to your community every day.

So, if you haven’t yet considered a career in insurance, then you’re in good company. Because for 350 years, our industry has been driving innovation, embracing change and building a safer, more prosperous world. That’s why the I.I.I. and our member companies are proudly leading the charge to build a workforce that’s responsive to the needs of the people we serve.

We wish you all the best and hope you will choose insurance as a career.

 

Sincerely,

Sean M. Kevelighan

CEO

The Insurance Information Institute

 

Making sense of the dip in property/casualty carrier employment

By Dr. Steven Weisbart, Chief Economist, Insurance Information Institute

 

On a seasonally-adjusted basis, the number of people working for property/casualty (p/c) insurers has been dropping continually for two years (since February 2017), from 551,200 to 520,700 (the preliminary estimate for February 2019).

Seasonal adjustment plays a small part in determining these numbers. The not-seasonally-adjusted p/c carrier employment for February 2017 was 549,500, and the February 2019 preliminary estimate was 518,600.

What’s going on? Is this a trend? Based on the numbers alone, it’s hard to tell. Consider the following graph of seasonally-adjusted p/c carrier employment since January 2011 — 18 months after the official end of the Great Recession:

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Don’t be misled by the spike in March 2015-March 2016. This is how the Bureau of Labor Statistics incorporates a change in classification—that is, in this case, some people who were previously not considered employed by p/c carriers were, as of March 2015, now considered as employed in this industry. Rather than an instant change, the adjustment is made over twelve months beginning and ending in March.

Since the data that begin in March 2016 also show a downtrend, it is easy to infer that, if there had been no reclassification in 2015-16, the downward trend that started (on the graph) in 2011 would in 2019 probably show p/c carrier employment at or below 500,000.

Although we don’t readily have policy counts over that span, it is reasonable to assume that, with growth in the population and the economy, p/c carriers are growing, and doing so with fewer employees. It is likely that at least some of this is due to the use of digital methods for activities that humans previously did. P/C carriers are becoming more productive.

Ask a life insurance agent

photo courtesy of Robert Stevenson

 

The Triple-I blog received the terrific opportunity to ask State Farm life insurance agent, Robert Stevenson, a few questions about getting the most out of the often-misunderstood financial product.

What is your educational background and what was the path that led you to become a life insurance agent?

Robert Stevenson: I grew up in Savannah, Georgia and attended Hampton University in Virginia. I was working on my master’s degree when I accepted an opportunity with State Farm Insurance Corporate Headquarters. My job was to help the company expand its presence on the east and west coast. During that time, I learned about becoming a State Farm agent, and fell in love with it. I worked hard, and in December of 2000, opened my agency in New York, New York. As a State Farm agent, I’m a small business owner – I get to know people on a personal level. Helping them manage the risks of everyday life, recover from the unexpected, and realize their dreams is truly rewarding. I’ve never looked back.

What advice would you give students that are considering becoming life insurance agents?

RS: You have to listen and you have to care. This is more than a job. It’s helping people protect what’s most important to them. People don’t always want to talk about life insurance. It’s uncomfortable. But, let’s be honest. Someday you will die. No one in the history of the world has ever cheated it. That’s why, you have to make sure people are protected, and that they understand the bigger picture. You’re taking care of families and protecting the lifestyle they spent years building. While nothing can bring someone back, a family’s dreams can still be achieved because their loved one had life insurance. It’s truly a gift of love. You need to help people understand this.

What is the most common misconception that your clients have about life insurance?

RS: That they don’t need it. That they have enough. Often, I’ll hear the response, “I have it through my employer.” But, there’s a chance that benefit can be taken away. Also, if you have life insurance though an employer, and you get a new job, you might not receive the same coverage in your new position. Or, if you retire, it’s likely you won’t receive the same amount you once had. It’s wise to be proactive and read the fine print. Health and age also play a role in life insurance. I often hear, “I’ll wait till I’m married or have kids to get it.” Problem is, as we get older, our health tends to decline. Therefore, if you wait to get life insurance, you’ll likely end up paying more for it.

How do you help a client determine how much insurance they need and what type of policy is best for them?

RS: I start by forecasting. I ask customers questions like, “Where do you want to be in five, 10, 20, 30 years? Do you want to be married? Own a business? Have children? Travel? What’s your dream?” It’s vital for people to understand the importance of investing so they can generate more income as the years go by. Life insurance is not an afterthought. It’s the foundation of an investment strategy. You can’t invest in mutual funds, or stocks, or your child’s college, or buy rental properties, etc., if you don’t have the income. If something happens to you – your family is able to replace your income and still achieve their dreams.

It’s also important to help customers understand the difference between term life and whole life. Term does exactly what it sounds like – it covers you for a period of time. If you die within that period of time, your family is covered. But, think about this. Let’s say you’re 35, and you want to buy 20 or 30 years of term life insurance. Do you think you’ll be living 20 or 30 years from now? When I ask people that question, most answer, “Yes.” That’s when I remind them, when 20/30 years goes by and they’re still living, they won’t receive this payout.  Whole life covers you for the entire length of your life. No matter what. It guarantees your family will get paid. It’s more expensive up front, but you’re guaranteeing a payment – it builds value you can cash out.

How does one make sure that their life insurance policy does not get lost and that their beneficiaries get paid as quickly as possible after their death?

RS: When we sell a life policy, we tell our clients, “Make sure your loved ones are aware of the policy and each of you know where important documents are located.” For example, the safe in your house. Also, as life changes, periodic updates with your State Farm agent or financial planner are a smart idea to ensure everyone is on the same page.

What professional achievement are you most proud of?

RS: That’s a tough one. I’d say, when I got my securities license. It allows you to sell packaged investment products like mutual funds and variable annuities. Getting this takes a lot of work and involves rigorous testing. I had one opportunity to pass it. That was a lot of pressure. But it was worth it. Getting my securities license gave me the opportunity to open my office and help people.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

RS: I enjoy reading and golf. Having activities like these lets me to unwind. But more so, I love spending time with my family. I have a son and a daughter who keep me busy. Family time is important. All things in equal parts. That’s what keeps life joyful.

I.I.I./ICM Presents Recruitment and Retention: Best Practices and Paths Not Taken

 

Presentation Date
February 20, 2018 at 12:00 p.m. est

Synopsis

In this hour-long live session, part of February Insurance Careers Month, a panel of experts shared insights and best-practices for engaging top young talent from non-RMI backgrounds and optimizing recruitment, onboarding and retention to better contend with emerging disruptive forces (Insurtech, virtual workspaces).

Speakers

  • Tony Cañas, CPCU, MBA, of Jacobson Group and Insurance Nerds (InsNerds.com)
  • Tara N. Spain, Vice President of the Travelers Foundation and Second Vice President of Community Relations at Travelers
  • Bruce Soltys, Second Vice President, Strategic Sourcing and Talent Acquisition at Travelers
  • Dr. Steven N. Weisbart, CLU, Chief Economist and SVP Research and Education, I.I.I.
  • Noelle Codispoti, CEO, Gamma Iota Sigma

Following are links to resources that were mentioned during the session.

Videos

Websites

Jacobson Group Whitepaper

Travelers/Diversity and Inclusion programs

Travelers Roadtrip Nation campaign

I.I.I. Economics and Employment reports by Dr. Steven Weisbart

Click to download the presenters’ slides

Insurance Careers Month: Show some love

By Lynne McChristian, I.I.I. Non-resident Scholar and Media Spokesperson

The first slide of my presentation to a group of college students on Valentine’s Day last week was an image of an “I Love Insurance” button. Absent the foresight to bring such buttons for all, Plan B involved bringing heart-shaped chocolates. It fit in a way many of us in this profession would understand, as pathways into insurance are often a Plan B. Many universities are interested in helping students make a career in insurance their A-Game Plan, and that is exactly the type of student group I met with last week at the Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC).

More than 20 students are participating this semester in the University of Illinois’ AXIS Risk Management Academy. In a partnership with global specialty insurer/reinsurer AXIS Global Holdings, UIUC established the Academy to interest students from various disciplines in the myriad of career paths available in the insurance industry. Students in this year’s Academy are studying actuarial science, math and finance, financial planning and atmospheric science. Bringing professionals into their meetings to discuss jobs and career paths helps them see the opportunities, and it demonstrates how someone with a degree outside of insurance and risk management can put those skills to work within the insurance field.

I typically start a presentation to insurance newbies with the negative perceptions of the industry. It’s the “elephant in the room” that needs to get out of the way. Using images from various recent natural disasters, I talk about what happened, who was affected, how much it cost, what we learned – and spend time pointing out what is obvious to many of us but not so much to neophytes; simply, that too often people are surprised by the devastation because they are in denial about their risks. With that message conveyed, I can show that insurance is a people business, in which we help people recover from whatever disaster befalls them.

Insurance is personal, and that is a theme that resonates with Gen Z. How do I know? It’s not deep research on my part, but when students come up after a presentation with spark of light in their eyes that shows you’ve got their interest? That’s proof enough.

 

Lynne McChristian is the director of the Office of Risk Management & Insurance Research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she is also a senior instructor teaching insurance and enterprise risk management classes. 

Careers Insured Charts a Bold (Obstacle) Course at Kansas State U.

By James Ballot, Senior Advisor, Strategic Messaging, Insurance Information Institute  

 

 

On September 12, the I.I.I. unfurled its Careers Insured banner for the first time outside the K-State Student Union at Kansas State University in Manhattan, KS. The call went out to all via live onsite campus radio broadcasts (and a full complement of social media updates) for everyone to drop by, have some fun, see a few amusing face-plants … but most of all to see and experience insurance and the insurance profession in a whole new light.

There amid perfect weather, things got “risky” as hundreds of KSU students ran a giant inflatable obstacle course and engaged with representatives from I.I.I. member companies, Lockton and Farmers, to learn about internships and job openings, collect free swag and enter for a chance to win prizes.

The obstacle course created a sensation. But what really brought people back was the desire to learn more about insurance careers and internships and the amazing possibilities they can unlock. If one anecdote could best summarize the day, it would be the following exchange:

I.I.I. staffer: “Hi! Run the obstacle course; sign up for the raffle; learn about insurance!?”

KSU student: “No time. I’m here to talk to these guys about an internship.”

Don’t want to miss out on the next Careers Insured event? visit the website for more news and information.

University of Pennsylvania Hackathon Recap

Brent Carris, Research Assistant at the Insurance Information Institute, files this report from the PennApps hackathon.

The Policy Incubator and the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I) teamed up to sponsor a “hack-for-resilience” route at this year’s PennApps, the nation’s first student-run college hackathon which took place on September 7-9.

Presentations were given by: Howard Kunreuther, Carolyn Kousky, and Brett Lingle of the Risk Center at the Wharton School; and the I.I.I.’s Brent Carris. Presenters discussed innovative tech-driven, insurance and disaster-relief/preparedness solutions. Student interest exceeded expectations, with 44 teams entering the hack-for-resilience.

First place was awarded to a hack called Babble.  This team created a mesh network that can be used when Wi-Fi is down to facilitate post-disaster communications, coordinate help, triage assistance, and give better information to first responders. Second place was awarded to a hack called Eleos that would match disaster victims’ needs directly with those who have resources to help. Eleos along with many other hacks were created in response to recent events, such as the California wildfires, and inspired by students whose family and friends survived disasters. You can see all other entries and winners here.

The I.I.I. is proud to partner with universities across the country to recruit the next generation of insurance professionals. Stay tuned for next week’s post from Kansas State University’s career event.