Category Archives: Insurance Industry

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Triple-I at 60: New World, Same Powerful Mission

Sixty, many say, is the new 40. People living longer and in better health than ever before have opportunities for work, leisure, travel, and self-expression that previous generations could only dream of or regret not having seized.

Insurance has played a critical role in these improved circumstances by absorbing and distributing risks that otherwise would have made many types of investment prohibitively expensive — investment that directly affects everyone’s quality of life. And for the past 60 years, the Insurance Information Institute has supported the property/casualty insurance industry by helping the public understand risks and the products that help mitigate them.

“Property insurance is an integral part of our national economy. It is vital to business enterprise and to the establishment of credit. Nearly every individual American is directly affected by it.”

These words, from a 1959 announcement of the establishment of Triple-I, are as true and relevant now as they were then. But where that announcement referenced “fire, automobile…fidelity and surety, and inland marine insurance,” we would need to mention “cyber, terrorism, business interruption, supply chain, workers compensation, professional and management liability,” along with numerous other products and features that keep emerging to address the changing risk landscape.

The industry’s history of developing forms of coverage to meet businesses’ and individuals’ changing needs is evocatively illustrated in the following, from a 1962 Triple-I ad:

“During the same year that America’s property and casualty insurance companies provided special coverage for the first Telstar communications satellite, they also wrote more than $100,000 in horse and wagon policies. This year will also see a brisk business in false teeth coverage, rain protection, wedding gifts floaters and other unusual forms of insurance.”

As we continue to support the industry by advancing public awareness and understanding, we’re taking advantage of new tools and technologies to do so.  Sixty years ago, print, telephone, and face-to-face communication were the only games in town. Today, we reach broader and more targeted audiences through social media, webinars, blogs, conferences, and more.

A great example is the recent launch of a Risk and Resilience Hub in partnership with Aon and the Colorado State University Department of Atmospheric Science.  The Hub uses data visualization to help people understand natural catastrophe risks and make data-driven decisions when it comes to managing their exposures.

Far from slowing down and feeling creaky at 60, Triple-I is maintaining its strong pace and going where the industry and consumers need us to be.

The 1959 announcement I cited above invited “written or telephone inquiries” from “researchers, editors, writers, educators, students, librarians, civic groups, and the general public.”

Today, you can follow and engage with us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. #TripleI60 

A Marketing and Communications Journey with Triple-I: The AIMU Story

“It’s been a pleasure to deal with Triple- I.  They understand the insurance business.  They are responsive to our needs and our questions and beyond raising the profile of AIMU, Triple-I gives us access to their tremendous body of statistics and research. They provide us with a much more cost-effective solution than other public relations firms could.”

John Miklus, president, American Institute of Marine Underwriters

When John Miklus joined the American Institute of Marine Underwriters (AIMU) as president six years ago, he discovered the association had been in partnership with the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I) for more than 20 years. But he wasn’t quite sure just what Triple-I did for their organizations.  He understood that Triple-I provided marketing and communications services – such as writing speeches and talking points on marine insurance issues for past presidents Walter Kramer and James Craig. But what Miklus soon came to realize and appreciate, was Triple-I’s profound understanding of the insurance business that no other marketing and communications firm provided, and the powerful partnership they had forged. 

In years past, AIMU had been hesitant, if not reluctant, to engage the media, according to Miklus.  “Working with the Triple-I changed all that. With adequate coaching and introductions to targeted media outlets, Triple-I facilitated a process that was comfortable and thoughtfully prepared. As a result, we got placement in high level media like the Wall Street Journal, and insurance trade press like Reactions magazine and AM Best-TV: taking us places we’d never been before and never thought we’d go.”  The partnership has not only heightened awareness of AIMU in the insurance industry, but with the public, making them more fully aware of the challenges facing the shipping industry and insuring marine risks.”

Miklus says that partnership with the Triple-I provides unique advantages his organization can’t get anywhere else.  “It not only raises the visibility and credibility of AIMU, but also the importance and relevance of the marine insurance industry, in general,” he said.  “It’s never been more vital for a smaller niche product line to be connected to the rest of the insurance industry; our partnership with the Triple-I secures that connection,” he said.

“This industry is much more complex than most people understand, but it’s our job to help translate subject matter into accessible information that’s easy to comprehend,” said Sean Kevelighan, president & CEO of Triple-I.  “Working with our partners, we can quickly eliminate any learning curve and immediately provide marketing and communications services to meet their needs. We know this industry; we know how to communicate effectively; it’s what we do.”

The Triple-I Network

Triple-I serves approximately 70 percent of the U.S. property/casualty market (members) as well as industries that support the Triple-I mission such as trade associations, academia and think tanks (clients). We are the trusted source of unique, data-driven insights on insurance to inform and empower our clients. Another value Triple-I brings is access to distribution channels that tie clients to key industry stakeholders such as the carrier, broker and agency communities.

For 60 years, the Triple-I has been a trusted source of actionable, timely insight for consumers and professionals seeking insurance information.  We are the number one online source for insurance information. Our website, blog and social media channels offer a wealth of data-driven research, studies, whitepapers, videos, articles, infographics and other resources solely dedicated to explaining insurance and enhancing knowledge.

The Client/Triple-I Partnership provides the following marketing and communication services to help elevate your brand:

If you have interest in marketing or communications services for your non-profit or insurance trade association, please contact Michael Barry, Senior Vice President, Media Relations & Public Affairs at michaelb@iii.org.

A Better Tool to Predict Impact of Hurricanes? 


Minimum sea level pressure can predict the scope of a storm’s  damage — including from storm surge, not just wind — and be more accurately measured in real time.

The more accurately experts can predict an impending storm’s impact, the better prepared individuals, communities, and businesses can be to soften the blow and bounce back. A recent paper published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society suggests an underutilized tool may be better at predicting hurricane damage than the traditionally used “maximum sustained wind speed.”

Atlantic hurricanes have a long history of financial impact. During 2017-18, hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, Florence, and Michael combined to cause more than $345 billion (U.S.) in direct economic damage.  The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale categorizes only the hurricane wind threat – not the totality of impacts, including storm surge and rainfall.

According to the paper,  several scales have been proposed to replace Saffir-Simpson, but most aren’t easily calculated in real time, nor can they be reliably calculated historically. For example, “storm wind radius” datasets extend back only about 30 years. 

Minimum sea level pressure (MSLP), the paper finds, is a better predictor of the scope of a storm’s  damage and can be more accurately measured in real time, “making it an ideal quantity for evaluating a hurricane’s potential damage.”

MSLP is the lowest pressure recorded in a hurricane.  It occurs at the center of the storm and is part of the large-scale structure of a hurricane’s vortex. Because winds are generated by differences in  barometric pressure between the hurricane’s eye and its perimeter, lower pressure is typically associated with stronger winds.  Also, if two hurricanes have the same wind speed, the one with the lower pressure typically will cover a greater area, potentially posing greater storm surge risk.

“With aircraft reconnaissance, MSLP can be reliably calculated,” the paper says. It’s also much easier to measure at landfall than is maximum sustained wind speed.

“Barometers are among the simplest meteorological instruments and will usually operate in a wide range of conditions,” the report says. Anemometers, which measure wind speed, “are prone to mechanical failure…precisely when they matter most.”

The paper was authored by Colorado State University atmospheric scientist Dr. Philip J. Klotzbach — a Triple-I non-resident scholar — along with scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), North Carolina State University, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, and insurance broker Aon.


Generational Differences in the Workplace: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt Your Bottom Line

By Max Dorfman, Research Writer, Insurance Information Institute

Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with Jennifer J. Deal, Ph.D., Senior Research Scientist with the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), who helped provide insights into generational differences, leadership, and the insurance industry.

Deal will be speaking on many of these points at her upcoming talk at the WCRI’s 36 Annual Issues & Research Conference, March 5 and 6, 2020, in Boston, MA. She points to WCRI’s data-driven model as a mission she shares – and pushing for a greater understanding of the employees they both study. Deal also notes the importance of generating this data-driven understanding for the insurance business, which is tackling how to best engage and retain Millennial and Gen Z employees, groups that hold the future of the industry.

Why is studying Millennial engagement important?

Organizations want employees to be engaged and are deeply concerned that young people aren’t engaged at work. In general, when new cohorts come into an organization, it’s important to understand if anything is meaningfully different about them. If there is, then the organization can address it and hopefully continue to be effective as it integrates the new employees into the larger organization. 

How can a company use your insights to create a more cohesive, inclusive environment?

A company can use my work to help staff better understand the perspectives of the different generations.  Part of what my work does is provide data-based information about generations to clarify where there is a difference between stereotypes and reality.  This helps both leaders and people throughout organizations understand the perspectives of people from other generations who may or may not think like them.

How do generational differences affect the bottom line?

When people feel disengaged because they feel pushed aside or ignored simply because they’re from a particular generation, that’s a cost. When a company feels the need to implement very expensive training programs that aren’t necessarily going to improve how people work together because they don’t move the needle on the real issues, that’s a cost. When people leave because of unmet needs, that’s a cost. Unnecessary tension, conflict, and disengagement that arises because of generational stereotypes is a drag on the organization – and the bottom line.

Do you see all this affecting the insurance industry?

Definitely. I’ve had numerous conversations with leaders in the insurance industry about issues related to attraction and retention of the next generation of employees. One of the conversations we’ve had is about the desire of young people to have stability in their careers. Young people are much more interested in stability and long-term careers than people think they are. If that’s something the insurance industry can offer, it will likely be of great interest to young people.

Uncertainty Clouds Business Risks Related
to Covid-19 Coronavirus


Supply-chain disruptions due to Covid-19 could affect health care worldwide and lead to health, travel, life, workers comp, business interruption, and other claims. 


The Covid-19 coronavirus death toll has passed 1,300 and will likely continue to climb, with more than 60,000 cases reported worldwide. The loss of life and costs of identifying and caring for the sick are compounded by the following considerations:

China, where the virus originated and remains most prevalent, is the world’s largest producer of active pharmaceutical ingredients. In 2018, Politico reports, citing U.S. Commerce Department data, the country accounted for:

  • 95 percent of ibuprofen imports
  • 91 percent of hydrocortisone imports
  • 70 percent of acetaminophen imports
  • 40-45 percent of penicillin imports, and
  • 40 percent of heparin imports. 

China also is a major supplier of disposable medical devices like syringes and gloves, as well as surgical equipment. Michael Alkire, president of healthcare supply chain consultant Premier, told Modern Healthcare it’s hard to estimate how many of these goods come from China.

“There are critical pieces of upstream supply chain information that are unknown, including raw material suppliers, third party and contract manufacturers, sterilizers and more,” Alkire said. “Because reporting of this information is completely voluntary, most won’t do so until it becomes an industry-wide expectation and best practice.”

Any supply-chain disruptions could affect health care worldwide and lead to liability claims. 

“The good news is that most of the people dealing with China tend to have inventory,” said James Bruno, president of consulting firm Chemical and Pharmaceutical Solutions. “But if this doesn’t straighten out in the next three months, we could have some real problems with supply disruption.”

Health-care facilities and other business can become points of infection. Illnesses contracted in such locations can lead to workers comp claims, as well as claims alleging insufficient care was taken to protect customers and vendors from infection. Health workers who contract the virus on the job would likely be eligible for workers comp benefits, though compensability will be determined by the individual situation, policy wording, and laws of the relevant jurisdictions.

U.S. manufacturers rely on China to supply many industrial components and as a market for their own products. If the virus leads to closures of major ports, businesses in the affected countries could cancel contracts with or default on payments to their foreign counterparties. Contract frustration insurance may cover costs associated with such cancellations, depending on circumstances and the terms of their policies

Auto manufacturing could be an early industry to suffer. China shipped nearly $35 billion of auto parts in 2018, according to United Nations data. About $20 billion of Chinese parts were exported to the United States alone in 2018, according to the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration. Supply disruptions lasting more than a few months could add momentum to rising auto repair costs.

Event and travel cancellations hurt local and national economies. Concerts and other public events in China have been cancelled over the virus, but its impact on tourism isn’t confined to that country. The contagion emerged right before Lunar New Year – when many Chinese typically travel in China and abroad.

China accounts for more than 10 percent of global tourism, Wolfgang Arlt, founder of the China Outbound Research Institute, said in an interview with National Public Radio. While the most popular destinations for Chinese visitors are in Asia, Arlt said, Paris, Sydney, and New York City also are favorites. That helped make China the biggest international tourism spender in 2018, pumping $277 billion into the travel industry, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization.

Due to China’s outsized role in global tourism, Covid-19 could affect travel, hospitality, and tourism-dependent businesses around the world. With cruise ships quarantined after the disease was detected, cruise lines may have to deal with longer-term impacts on their businesses, as well as immediate ones related to passenger care and vessel decontamination.

Past outbreaks, such as SARS, Ebola, and Zika, have led many insurers to exclude infectious diseases from coverage in their policies. While specific policies for infectious diseases have been developed, companies reportedly have been slow to purchase them.

Infectious Disease:
A Good Reason to Buy Medical Travel Insurance – But Check the Terms

Faced with Covid-19 coronavirus, people – as they tend to during infectious outbreaks – have become concerned about whether and to what extent their insurance will cover costs associated with the event. In the case of travel insurance, there’s good, bad, and ambiguous news.

If you contract coronavirus before you travel or while you’re traveling and have a standard policy that includes coverage for medical treatment and medical evacuation, your care probably will be covered. The “probably” is due to the fact that many insurers set a deadline – a date before which you might be covered but after which you won’t be. That’s because Covid-19 is now a “foreseen circumstance” — people now know about it.

Trip cancellation can be more complicated. Many policies exclude losses caused by disease outbreaks. Cancelling a trip simply because you don’t want to risk infection likely won’t be covered by a standard policy. 

What if you get sick and need to cancel your trip? You might be covered, depending on the insurer and a long list of conditions. For example, an illness that would be covered often requires a medical professional to confirm that the policyholder was, in fact, too sick to travel.

A cancel for any reason (CFAR) policy can help you recoup part  of your expense, but they’re pricey: usually around 10 percent of the cost of your trip, compared with four to six percent for a standard policy.

Do these exclusions and uncertainties mean medical travel insurance is a waste of money?

Not at all.

As I’ve written before, there are many ways one can be injured, fall ill, or die abroad – and your regular medical coverage may not work the same way abroad as it does at home. Since we’re talking about infectious diseases, take a look at the recent snippet below from the CDC website for a glimpse at some areas of concern. The list is always changing.

With travel policies – as with all other forms of insurance – it’s important to understand what’s covered and what isn’t and talk with your agent to be sure you’re getting the coverage you need. You also should thoroughly research your destinations and planned activities for possible exclusions.

Proposing on Valentine’s Day? Get Insurance for That Ring and You’ll Be a Cut above the Rest

Nothing is more romantic than a marriage proposal on Valentine’s Day! The first step after giving a valuable engagement ring—well, maybe the second, after the “Yes!”—should be a practical one: call your insurance agent.

While you can’t insure the sentimental value of such a gift, having the right amount of insurance will provide financial protection.

Jewelry losses are among the most frequent of all homeowners insurance claims. Taking these four steps will ensure adequate protection for your new ring:

1. Contact your insurance agent immediately.

Find out whether you will need additional insurance. Most standard homeowners and renters insurance policies include coverage for personal property such as jewelry; however, many limit the dollar amount on jewelry to $1,000 to $2,000. With the average engagement ring costing nearly $6,000, according to The Knot, that’s unlikely to be enough.   

To properly insure jewelry, consider purchasing a floater or an endorsement policy. In most cases, these add-ons to a homeowners or renters policy would also cover you for “mysterious disappearance.” This means that if a ring falls off a finger, is flushed down a drain, or is lost, you would be financially protected. And, unlike a homeowners policy, floaters and endorsements carry no deductibles, so there is no out-of-pocket expense to replace the item.

2. Obtain a copy of the store receipt.

Forward a copy of the receipt to your insurer—so your company has a record of the ring’s current retail value —and keep a copy for your own records. It’s also a good idea to get a copy of the item’s appraised value.

3. If you received an heirloom piece, have it appraised.

Antique jewelry will need to be appraised for its dollar value. You can ask your insurance agent to recommend a reputable appraiser.

4. Create a home inventory list

A home inventory is a list detailing information about personal property and items like jewelry. An up-to-date inventory can speed up the claims process in the event of loss.

For jewelry, we recommend including the following information in your list:

  • Item description (include metal type, stones, carats etc.)
  • Evaluations and appraisal information
  • Date of purchase
  • Location of purchase

More information on homeowners coverage: What is covered by standard homeowners insurance?

Advisen Event Panelists Proclaim Hard Market
in Property Insurance

 

In a hard market, demand for coverage is strong, supply weak. Insurers impose strict underwriting standards, and buyers pay higher premiums.

For those still tiptoeing around whether the property insurance market is yet officially “hard,” two speakers at Advisen’s Property Insights Conference last week unabashedly used the “H-word,” and none of the 300-plus insurance and risk-management professionals attending seemed to disagree.

Gary Marchitello, head of property broking for Willis Towers Watson, was first to say it in an on-stage conversation with Michael Andler, executive vice president/U.S. property practice leader at Lockton Cos.

Andler concurred: “If it walks like a hard market and talks like a hard market, it’s a hard market.”

Some presenters during the daylong event quibbled over when pricing went from merely “hardening” to “hard”.  Some said the hard market is eight quarters old, while others said it began as recently as the second quarter of 2019 – but no one piped up to deny it’s here.

Hard, soft, and why it matters

In a hard market, demand for coverage is strong, supply weak. Insurers impose strict underwriting standards and issue fewer policies. Consequently, buyers pay higher premiums. During soft markets, customers can negotiate lower prices as insurers compete for business. When the market hardens again, prices rise as insurers adjust rates at renewal.

Marchitello, with four decades’ experience, said this hard market is different: “With prices rising, you’d expect new entrants to the market. That is absolutely not happening.”

“It’s going to get worse before it gets better,” he added. “Two years of combined ratios above 100 have forced underwriters to drive profitability” rather than pursue market share, as many did during the soft market.

 We brought it on ourselves

In a room packed with insurers, brokers, and buyers, one might expect some finger pointing for the dramatic price increases. I heard little to none.

“We as underwriters allowed it to happen,” said Erik Nikodem, senior vice president at Everest Insurance.

“We lost the script during the soft market,” said Michal Nardiello, senior vice president at CNA. “We pushed deals that weren’t sustainable in the long haul.”

And it wasn’t only underwriters accepting responsibility.

“I never turned down a lower rate” when the market was soft, said Lori Seidenberg, global director of real assets insurance for BlackRock. Not that she should have – but professional risk managers know a soft market isn’t going to last forever and need to plan accordingly.

Despite this admirable accountability, it’s important to remember larger forces have been at work. As CNA’s Nardiello put it: “There’s been a massive shift of wealth and people into areas prone to fire, tornados, hail, and flood” – perils that are themselves changing in frequency and intensity.

Also a factor is “social inflation” – rising litigation costs that drive up insurers’ claim payouts, loss ratios, and, ultimately, policyholder premiums. It’s been estimated that social inflation “could ultimately blow a $200 billion hole in global reserves.”

 What’s next?

 Carriers, customers, and brokers all acknowledged the need to do things differently. While much was said about using technology, data, and analytics to improve underwriting and reduce expenses, the dominant theme was communication. All parties recognized they must communicate early and often.

As Duncan Ellis, head of retail property, North America for AIG, put it: “Bad news doesn’t get better with time.”

“It’s important for brokers to get a handle on the data,” said Theresa Purcell, director of risk management for real estate giant Kushner. She also recommended that brokers “get creative. Suggest different structures. Educate us about other services” that might better suit individual customer needs.

Stephanie Hyde, executive director at P-E Risk, an insurance and risk management consultancy, echoed Purcell, adding that brokers need to “educate yourselves about all lines of coverage your clients need so you can understand what they’re going through.”

Maria Grace, vice president and chief underwriting officer for property and inland marine at Everest, urged brokers to “put us [underwriters] in front of your clients” to help them understand why prices are increasing and, where possible, offer more appropriate solutions.

 

The Rise of Alternative Capital

A new Insurance Information Institute white paper examines the impact of alternative capital on reinsurance, says I.I.I. chief actuary and paper co-author Jim Lynch.

What sounds like a dry topic actually may in the long run significantly affect the entire insurance industry, right down to the humble buyer of a homeowners policy.

It’s a dry phrase, so let’s parse the phrase alternative capital on reinsurance by starting at its back end. Reinsurance is the insurance that insurance companies buy. Insurance companies accept risk with every policy. They work hard to ensure they don’t have too much risk in one area, like too many homes along Florida’s Atlantic coast.

When they do, they protect themselves by buying reinsurance. Instead of buying a policy that covers one risk, the insurance company enters into a treaty that can cover thousands in case of a catastrophe like a hurricane.

Catastrophes are a big deal for lines of business like homeowners. More than 30 percent of homeowners claim payments over a 17-year stretch came from catastrophes, according to a recent Insurance Research Council study, and many of those claims were paid by money that ultimately came from reinsurers.

Legally, the insurance company is obligated to pay all claims, regardless of any reinsurance it has. After Hurricane Awful, a homeowner files a claim with his or her insurer, and that insurer is responsible for payment, regardless of any reinsurance it may have purchased.

While reinsurance doesn’t affect the insurer’s obligations, the financial health of the insurer depends on the quality of its reinsurance arrangements. Insurance companies are careful to spread risk across many reinsurance companies, so the plight of one will not devastate their own affairs.

To the average person, a traditional reinsurance company looks a lot like an insurance company, run by professionals who underwrite risk and administer claims. The pool of money to cover extraordinary losses — capital — had been built from contributions by an original set of investors and augmented by earnings retained over decades.

Here’s where the word alternative comes in. The new arrangements feature two twists on traditional reinsurance.

First, the capital to protect against big losses doesn’t come from within the reinsurance company. It comes from outside investors like hedge funds, pensions and sovereign wealth funds.

Second, the reinsurance doesn’t sit within the confines of the traditional reinsurance company. Companies called collateralized reinsurers and sidecars let investors pop in and out of the reinsurance world relatively quickly. Some reinsurance is placed in the financial markets through structures known as catastrophe bonds.

The new investors don’t use the traditional structure, but they do use traditional tools. Most ally with traditional reinsurers to tap those companies’ underwriting acumen, and they use sophisticated models to price risks, just as reinsurers do. Deals are structured so to be as safe as placing a treaty with a traditional reinsurer.

Such deals have grown; their share of global reinsurance capital has doubled since the end of 2010, according to Aon Benfield Analytics.

The amount of capital in the reinsurance market drives prices in classic supply-demand fashion. As capital grows, reinsurance prices fall, and alternative capital has driven reinsurance rates lower, particularly for catastrophe reinsurance.

If insurers pay less for reinsurance, they pass along the savings to customers. Citizens Property Insurance, Florida’s largest homeowners writer, reduced rates 3.7 percent last year, in part because of lower reinsurance costs.

If, as some experts argue, alternative capital is the new normal, consumers will continue to benefit from lower rates. If, as others contend, it is akin to an investment fad, rates could creep higher as the fad recedes.

The I.I.I. white paper looks at the types of alternative capital, its growth and its future.

In Memorium: Gordon C. Stewart 1939-2014

I.I.I. president Dr. Robert Hartwig shares his thoughts on the passing of his predecessor Gordon Stewart:

The Insurance Information Institute lost one of its own last week with the passing of its former president, Gordon Stewart, at the age of 75. Like many, I was deeply saddened to hear of his passing when his wife, Zanne, called me the day before Thanksgiving. That said, there is no question that his was a life that was very well and very fully lived.

I had known Gordon since 1998 when he hired me as the Institute’s economist and was privileged to work alongside him until his retirement in 2006, handing over the reins to me at that time. From my very first meeting with him–my interview–I knew that Gordon was different. During that first meeting we must have spoken for nearly two hours–during only a fraction of which did we discuss nitty gritty insurance issues. The conversation leapt from insurance to domestic and global economic concerns of the day to politics to fine art, to theater and classical music and back again. Gordon could manage to segue with ease between incredibly diverse topics and in the process always leave you a little smarter than you were before the conversation. He could also leave you scratching your head. How does this man know all this stuff? Why didn’t I see those same connections? These were just a few of the questions I often had to ask myself. But I learned from those experiences–and that’s exactly what Gordon would have wanted.

Gordon’s passion for the arts, literature, language and history transcended his professional life. He named our servers and printers after composers. The I.I.I. offices in lower Manhattan showcased his enormous and eclectic art collection, which included everything from ancient Chinese pottery to 20th-century pop art icons like Andy Warhol. His office wall was festooned with pictures of him with presidents (all of them–dating back to Nixon), popes and potentates of every sort from every corner of the globe. Once while accompanying Gordon on a business trip to Boston he met up for dinner with the famous “French Chef,” Julia Child. On another trip, this time to Washington, he gave a free piano concert to passersby in the lobby of the Mayflower Hotel. Yes, he was a classically trained pianist, and I was spellbound by the performance (he insisted that he was merely practicing!).

ph_gordonstewartcarter

Gordon’s formal education at various institutions in the U.S. and Europe focused on history, music, art and literature. He was a master of the written and spoken word–and spoke German fluently. His intellect and passion for what he believed in made him a formidable debater and in the final analysis, a very persuasive individual. These traits served him well in his years writing speeches for President Jimmy Carter and while working in the administrations of two New York City mayors, John Lindsay and David Dinkins.

Gordon’s deep political experience prepared him well for his time in the private sector, first with the American Stock Exchange and then with the I.I.I. Gordon was keenly aware of the power of public perception. When he became president of the Institute in 1991, the insurance industry’s approval rating was just 35 percent. By the time he retired in 2006 it exceeded 60 percent.

Retirement didn’t slow Gordon down. The fact that he remained active in the insurance world through the International Insurance Society, the Geneva Association was a great benefit to the industry. And in many ways, the pace at which he lived his life quickened. He founded an online newspaper and was able to fully indulge his passion for art, music and theater–including teaching his young daughter, Katy, to play piano.

Gordon also returned to his love of 18th century music and last fall recruited top musicians playing period instruments to perform his own arrangement of Handel’s Messiah, conducting the concert just before Christmas. He was planning to conduct this challenging piece once again this Christmas as well as Beethoven’s Eroica next June.

It is impossible to summarize the full 75 years of such an extraordinary man. Despite having known him for 16 years, my words cannot possibly do him justice. When he died he was in the midst of writing his memoirs. How I would have enjoyed reading them, end-to-end.

Gordon was an utterly extraordinary man and I had the good fortune to call him a colleague, a mentor and friend. He was someone I deeply admired and respected for so many reasons and I, as well as everyone who knew him, will miss him dearly.