Tag Archives: Insurance Careers Corner

Insurance Careers Corner: Q&A With Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly

By Marielle Rodriguez, Social Media and Brand Design Coordinator

Janthana Kaenprakhamroy

Triple-I’s “Insurance Careers Corner” series was created to highlight trailblazers in insurance and to spread awareness of the career opportunities within the industry.

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and this month we interviewed Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO of London-based insurtech, Tapoly. Although Janthana lives in the UK, we believe that Asian heritage should be celebrated no matter where you live. 

Founded in 2016, and backed by Lloyd’s of London, Tapoly is Europe’s first and fastest growing insurtech, providing on-demand flexible commercial insurance products for SMEs, freelancers, the self-employed and the gig economy. Recognized as Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards in 2018, Tapoly’s mission is to make insurance simple, accessible, and flexible.

We spoke with Kaenprakhamroy to discuss the role of AI and technology in her business, the boom of the sharing economy, and what the traditional insurance industry can learn from insurtech.

Tell us about your background and your interest in building a business. What led you to your current position and what inspired you to found your company, Tapoly?

I was born in and come from a small part of Thailand, grew up in Sweden, and have lived in London for the last 20 years. I have roots in different parts of the world, which has shaped my international way of thinking. I feel like I don’t fit a specific stereotype and can blend into different cultures.

I’m an accountant by trade and have worked in investment banking for almost my entire career. In late 2016, I decided to quit my job and build Tapoly. We provide technology solutions and insurance products locally in the UK as well as in Asia. 

I was never sure what I wanted to do until I came across a problem in 2016 when I was trying to buy insurance for my short letting over the summer, which you can only do for about 90 days a year. In 2016, no insurance companies were serving the types of products for the short letting space. Ever since then, we’ve been developing technology solutions and products to cover this massively underserved market within the micro, SME, and freelancing space. 

What is your organization’s mission? What role does tech and AI play in your platform? 

Our mission is very simple – we want to able to provide an insurance solution online that is quick and easy for people, in the most convenient way, which is one thing in the commercial lines space that’s not very well-developed. Most companies are buying insurance through their brokers, rather than online directly. We wanted to make commercial lines products easier and less time-consuming for customers to access, without making them answer several questions that they may or may not know how to answer. 

If you offer insurance online directly, then the underwriting decision must be prompt and that can only be achieved when you have data on your customers. There is data that traditional insurance companies aren’t using, for example, social media data, which can be cross-referenced with [the customer’s] profile. It’s all about augmenting data to amplify or make customers profiles more prominent for underwriting decisions – it’s something insurtech is doing well. Insurtech would allow data to flow from the point of the customer buying insurance to the point of the underwriter making the decision – this makes the process more seamless and transparent.

A lot of what we do at Tapoly is data analytics. It’s not only for risk selection and underwriting alone it’s also for customer acquisition and marketing. Customer segmentation is very important, and you can only do it with a certain level of good-quality data on your customers.

What do you see as the biggest pain points for customers within traditional insurance that insurtech can better solve?

Customers in the market segment that we serve, which is microbusinesses and freelancers, have three main pain points. One is the price, especially for customers who do ad-hoc jobs which are not part of their core competency or core activity. Second is the convenience – the ability to fill in a simple questionnaire and get insurance quickly. Third is the availability – some products are not available for some freelancers.  For example, a group of freelancers doing construction work in a certain environment are less likely to get certain insurance products due to their high risk profile.

Within the gig economy, there are job titles that are outside the norm and that don’t fall inside traditional insurance categories. We need to revamp the list of professions. In insurtech, we see gaps in coverage [in certain industries]. For example, marketplaces where the underlying risks may be different depending on what level of services and products the platform is providing. Another example may be the evolution of some professions, e.g. “virtual assistants”, where they may in some cases provide basic accounting services, which would previously be performed by certified professionals, because accounting is also moving online. There’s a lot of mismatch between the way insurers categorize their customers and the profession that customers recognize themselves as, and the ability to buy insurance automatically in the most convenient way.

Do you see innovation and transformation happening in the traditional insurance space?

I think the insurance industry is well-aware of the need for innovation and many companies are at the beginning of innovating, but innovation takes time. While we recognize the need, it will take time to implement. As a startup, we don’t have a hierarchical structure or have as many constraints. We can build anything we want without waiting for the approval of senior management. What insurtech can bring is the speed to market, the ability to adapt, and to implement changes and help insurers prove the concept in the most cost-effective way. 

In what ways has COVID-19 impacted the sharing economy and your business? What are your predictions for the growth and trajectory of the sharing economy?

A 2015 PWC report showed that revenue from the sharing economy was $15 billion in 2013 and would reach $335 billion in 2025. That’s a phenomenal increase in the market within 12 years. I think the COVID-19 pandemic really accelerated the sharing economy. There are so many businesses that did fantastically well during the pandemic, including businesses in logistics and delivery, and the insurtechs that are operating in that space. From the product delivery, customer-facing side, we didn’t have a problem because we were already set up to operate online. However, it did impact our customers and some of them didn’t renew their insurance or either postponed or changed their policy.

In terms of opportunities, there are many insurance companies or intermediaries that have started to think about innovation. COVID-19 has really accelerated that thinking because tech has become a big hurdle. There are a lot of operational challenges among larger insurance companies that are not set up to sell insurance digitally. That is something insurtech can take advantage of because we are already set up to do this.

Let’s talk about diversity in VC funding and entrepreneurship. A 2019 Diversity VC report showed that ethnic minorities are under-represented in venture capital and women are under-represented in senior roles. Another 2020 Extend Ventures report shows that female entrepreneurs receive just a fraction of available funding that male founders do. Were there any initial challenges in founding your company and attaining funding, and how did you overcome these obstacles? Are there any present challenges of being an Asian- and woman-owned business and founder?

In the beginning, not raising enough funding can cause a slowdown in your growth. Even with the best ideas, it’s hard to scale your business without capital. I certainly think that the confidence in a woman in running a business could be improved in the VC space. There are a lot of stereotypes and unconscious biases that people apply to their decisions. The VC space needs to work on being self-aware and educate themselves around these issues especially when judging a first-time entrepreneur. There is also uncertainty and a lack of data on startups that make it difficult for VCs to validate and invest in, on top of gender stereotypes.

My biggest daily challenge is finding enough capital to be able to grow my business. The difficulty for early-stage founders is balancing your own interests with the investor’s interests and figuring out how much you want to raise versus how much you can raise. To overcome this problem, we usually find strategic investors that can add a lot of value.


What are your goals for 2021 and beyond? Where do you see the traditional industry heading in the next few years given the pandemic?

We’re preparing for hockey stick growth in 2021 and want to exponentially grow our company in 2022. My aim is to raise enough money to be a larger team and to have the capacity to manage that level of volume and growth.

I think the traditional insurance industry will evolve slowly in the next couple of years. A lot of insurers have been badly hit due to COVID-19 because of claim costs and loss of investments. It would take a couple of years before we recover fully, and hopefully insurtech will still be relevant within this space. At least if anything, insurance companies will be spending more on innovation to reduce their claims and operating costs.

Insurance Careers Corner: Q&A with Annette Martinez, Senior Vice President, State Farm

By Kris Maccini, Social Media Director, Triple-I

Triple-I’s “Insurance Careers Corner” series was created to highlight trailblazers in insurance and to spread awareness of the career opportunities within the industry. This month, we interviewed, Annette Martinez, senior vice president, State Farm, who discusses her 33-year career in insurance, growing diversity and inclusion at her company, and the significance of Jake from State Farm.

Annette Martinez

Tell us about your role at State Farm and the work that you do. What attracted you to work in the insurance industry?

I’m currently a senior vice president at State Farm and that includes oversight of what I call the “people areas” – human resources, learning and development, public affairs, and the executive succession and development team. I’ve been with State Farm for over 33 years.

My degree is in Biology and Chemistry, and I was working for an R&D facility early in my career. My husband started with State Farm as an auto underwriter, and he encouraged me to come over because of the opportunities.

I began my insurance career in health underwriting. Every two to three years, I was able to recreate myself into new roles. I spent five years in life/health operations before moving to human resources. Within human resources, I was able to work in early succession efforts and then move into leadership in human resources. In 2002, I started the diversity and inclusion initiative and the trajectory of being able to move the organization forward. Like many in the insurance industry, I came in thinking I’d get great experience for a couple of years and now here we are 33 years later, and it’s been an amazing journey.

You launched the first office of diversity and inclusion at State Farm, initiated its diversity council, and started its affinity group program. You’ve also been recognized and awarded on numerous occasions for your work in diversity and inclusion. What inspired you to become a champion of diversity and inclusion?

From the time that I was young, fairness was always important to me, which may be in part because I was raised in an environment where I didn’t see people like me. However, for a long time I have and still believe that everyone should be treated with respect and dignity and have the same opportunities. Opportunity should be open to anyone who has the desire and the capability.

When I began the diversity initiative, I was already conducting diversity training in the organization. State Farm is a fantastic company and has been progressive in programming over the years. We started one of the first minority summer intern programs, but I knew there was more that we could do. My focus was on improving opportunity and bringing people into the organization who had a different pattern of thinking and could positively impact the company. That’s what diversity does. It’s not only a social imperative – we all get to benefit from that – it’s a business imperative about how we treat and gain new customers and how we move forward.

You mentioned that not a lot of people looked like you throughout your career. As a Latinx woman, what obstacles have you faced and overcome?

That’s correct, early on in my career, very few people looked like me. It was isolating. I had to understand that my voice mattered and that I had the opportunity to speak on behalf of many others. There was a lot of pressure with that.

I’ve had some amazing mentors over the years of all genders and races. There was a retired senior vice president, Dave Gonzales, who was the first Hispanic executive that took me under his wing. Dave told me it was going to be a difficult road, but he was and has always been a great support system for me.

We’ve always had mentorship programs at State Farm, but several years ago we started a more formal matching program for people who want to mentor or be mentored. It’s blossomed into a way of life and become part of the culture. I’m active as a mentor and a mentee. I’ve had senior leaders throughout my career who have coached me on to the next level. I’ve also had people [early in their careers] who have guided me into what’s happening at all levels. As a senior leader, it gives me insight into how our actions impact every employee.

How can we foster an honest and open culture at the workplace that welcomes and encourages employees to have conversations around race, discrimination, and equity?

In 2019, we decided to get bold in our conversations. State Farm started working with CEO Act!on For Diversity & Inclusion and implemented a program called “Conversations Worth Having.” In February 2020, we had our first session on racism. We knew that it was going to be a difficult and honest conversation. We had a panel that shared their stories about their lives, their children, and what they experienced.

We had no idea that COVID-19 would happen a month later. The social unrest throughout 2020 was foundational for what we needed to address last year and will continue to address this year. These open conversation forums have continued and are important in allowing people to express their frustration and allowing us to be part of the solution.

We learn every session. Setting ground rules is also important – trust that people’s intentions are honest, listen before you react – some basics in conversations that we talk about each session. If someone responds negatively to a session, we take the time to speak with them one on one to have conversations on a personal level as well.

How has State Farm addressed the current social and racial climate of this past year? Are there any actions or initiatives that State Farm has taken to support Black and Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities inside and outside the workplace?

State Farm named a Chief Diversity Officer in 2020, which was an important step for us. We also realized that we needed to be quicker with our communications and the acknowledgment that we stand against racism. In the past, we may have addressed it internally at a more moderate level, but we took the stand that State Farm is against racism and the hatred that leads to racism. This is who we are. We respect people – everyone should be treated with respect and dignity, and there is no place for racism in our organization.

There is more work to go into this. It’s an ever-evolving journey, and I think we’re learning as we communicate. We are the Good Neighbor organization. We care about all our neighbors, and we aren’t exclusive to anyone.

Our CEO, Chief Administrative Officer, and Chief Diversity Officer have also been involved in listening sessions to allow employees the opportunity to talk about an experience that they have had, even at State Farm, to better understand the work ahead of us. We want to be an organization that’s part of the healing process.

Jake from State Farm was recently recast as an African American man, actor Kevin Miles. How do you think this change has made an impact on diversity and representation in insurance and has it helped State Farm reach out to more people of color?

The first Jake from State Farm was an actual employee. We pivoted away to some other campaigns for a while, but then we did some research and realized that Jake from State Farm was still very relevant. We knew the needs in a marketing and advertising world today would require more than what we could ask of an employee, so State Farm began an external talent search. We are typically very intentional about diversity in our marketing and advertisements, but ultimately what we did was pick the right actor for the right role.

The actor [Kevin Miles] is from Chicago. One of my favorite stories involves an event early on in his role as Jake from State Farm. We invited him to do a meet and greet at headquarters. It was a big deal, and he brought his parents to the event. The atrium was packed with employees waiting to meet him. He was humbled, kind, and genuine, he spent hours talking to and taking pictures with employees. His success is not only impressive externally – it’s impressive internally as well. The traits you can see and feel from Jake from State Farm are also traits Kevin embodies. And because of that, we intentionally let a lot of Kevin come through in his role as Jake from State Farm.

Can you speak about any upcoming or future diversity and inclusion initiatives for State Farm that you’re excited about? What are your goals for 2021 and beyond?

We’re proud of the intentionality that we put behind diversity and inclusion. State Farm just kicked off a governance council in January, which is a group of senior leaders in the organization who will drive the future strategy of diversity and inclusion.

One focus area that we are looking at is more transparency. How do we tell our story internally so that our associates feel comfortable? How do we tell the story greater from an external perspective? We’re working on deliberate performance goals for all associates around diversity and inclusion, which will be part of their performance assessment and how they actively engage in that work. We are continuing to define our metrics and tangible ways to measure the progress that we are making as an organization. The “Conversations Worth Having” sessions are scheduled throughout the year as well as the listening sessions with our executive leadership. We’re excited about the continuation of programming and leaning into the opportunities ahead of us.

Insurance Careers Corner: Q&A with Susan Holliday, Senior Advisor, International Finance Corporation and Triple-I Non-Resident Scholar

By Marielle Rodriguez, Social Media and Brand Design Coordinator, Triple-I

Triple-I’s “Insurance Careers Corner” series was created to highlight trailblazers in insurance and to spread awareness of the career opportunities within the industry.

Susan Holliday

March is Women’s History Month, and this month we interviewed Susan Holliday, a Senior Advisor at the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the World Bank where she focuses on insurtech and insurance for SMEs and women. She is also a non-resident scholar at the Triple-I. Holliday sat down with us to discuss developing trends in insurtech, how technology and innovation can help close the protection gap, and the importance of collaboration in tackling climate risk.

Tell us about your current role at the International Finance Corporation (IFC). How did you fall into a career as an advisor and an investor in insurance?

IFC is the private sector arm of the World Bank. We focus on making investments and advisory work in emerging markets in sectors ranging from infrastructure to banking and insurance and healthcare. I’ve had a 33-year career in the financial services industry, particularly focusing on insurance and more recently fintech. I joined IFC to work on insurance and fintech. I’m currently working within different departments at IFC and at the World Bank and building a board portfolio. I’m also a non-resident scholar for the Triple-I. 

A lot of your work is focused on insurance for women and SMEs. What do you hope to achieve in investing in insurance for women?

Before I joined the IFC in 2015, the company completed research in conjunction with Accenture and AXA about the insurance market for  women. The study found that the insurance market for women could be USD 1.3 trillion globally by 2030 and half of that would be in emerging markets. The research also indicated that women have a better understanding of risk, are very open to insurance, and can be loyal customers and excellent employees in the industry.

After the She for Shield report was published, IFC started advising insurance companies in emerging markets on how to successfully serve women. IFC already had a program called ‘Banking on Women,’ which provided financing for banks to lend to women and women-led SMEs. Whenever we make investments in emerging markets, we are interested in taking an angle that better supports women. 

Can you elaborate on the protection gap between women and men and between people with different financial backgrounds?

If you think about it, the insurance industry has a great history and is hundreds of years old. A lot of products were developed a long time ago when society and family structures were very different from what they’re like now. For example, today there are lots of single women and single parents, and most women work, which was not the case when the products were developed. We also have gig economy workers. The default option has always been to continue to offer products that have been offered for 50-100 years, but they do not necessarily meet the needs of today’s customers, whether they are women or men. 

This is the reason why I like technology and innovation. To close the protection gap, we need to protect the things that people care about and that need to be protected. There has been a mismatch between traditional products and the actual risks people are facing. 

There’s been a report by the Chartered Insurance Institute called “Insuring Women’s Futures” which looked at different times over a lifetime of one person, and it shows where a woman can be treated differently than a man. For example, having time off for maternity leave, having less pension, and living longer. It pointed out all these things that could accumulate and leave a woman being in a much worse position [than men]. Families are no longer a guy who’s working, a stay-at-home woman, and kids. Insurance needs to catch up to reality, and this not only applies to women but all underserved communities. This will not only be a challenge for the industry but also an opportunity to grow. 

As an advisor to insurtech start-ups, what impact do you see these companies making? Are there any recent trends or developments in insurtech and fintech that excite you?

I think insurtech, digital, and innovation are critical. There is no insurance without insurtech. We’re never going to close the protection gap unless we use and utilize new technologies to do it. 

One of the trends is bite-size insurance on demand. For example, instead of buying an insurance policy for a year, you would be able to turn it on and off, which is relevant to gig economy workers, and is popular in developing countries. Some people would rather access [insurance] when they need it.

Another trend is using alternative data to close the protection gap and get insurance to more people. If we just rely on the old sources of data, a lot of people get excluded from the market or get priced out. It may have built-in biases, which were not intended, but may disadvantage women or certain racial groups. The combination of alternative data sources and artificial intelligence is exciting. 

You’re part of the leadership team for Triple-I’s Resilience Accelerator. Tell us about your work with the initiative and why you chose to join the team.

An area where the protection gap is big in the U.S. is in natural disasters and climate-related risks. We’ve seen so many things happen in recent years, such as Hurricane Harvey, and most recently, the very cold snowstorms in Texas and the wildfires on the U.S. West Coast. I think this is an extremely important area. It’s something that impacts everybody, regardless of gender, income level, or political identity. 

I particularly like Accelerator, because I think insurance has a bigger role to play in prevention and mitigation, not just about compensation, and I like the approach of bringing different stakeholders together.  

2020 was a historic year for natural catastrophe losses. What is the insurance industry doing to mitigate future losses and to prepare for a world impacted by climate change? What are the industry’s biggest challenges in creating resilience?

First and foremost, making insurance more available and more affordable. For example, there is parametric, index-based insurance, which can be provided at a micro-level and is used in some developing countries.

We need to get involved in longer-term thinking about how we can be more resilient against these risks in the first place. We must think about building towns, cities, and farmland in a way that they will be more resilient against weather losses. It has to do with planning, infrastructure, and it may have to do with changing certain industries.

I would like to see the insurance industry at the table in these discussions with regulators, local and state governments, and with private sectors so that all sides are working together. The industry needs to have a voice and be taken seriously. We need to think about how different parts of society can share the risk of climate-related losses.

Insurance Careers Corner: Q&A with Suzanne Meraz, External Affairs Executive, CSAA Insurance Group

By Kris Maccini, Social Media Director, Triple-I

Triple-I’s “Insurance Careers Corner” series was created to highlight trailblazers in  insurance and to spread awareness of the career opportunities within the industry.

February is Insurance Careers Month, and this month we interviewed Suzanne Meraz, an external affairs executive at CSAA Insurance Group. Suzanne discusses why she chose a career in insurance, the impacts of the pandemic, and the importance of racial equity in the industry.

Suzanne Meraz

Tell me about your current role at CSAA.

As external affairs executive for a AAA insurer, I’m fortunate to work with a talented team that manages PR, social media, thought leadership, executive visibility, reputation management, and relationships with industry associations (like Triple-I, The Institutes). Our team works to promote CSAA Insurance Group and its associated companies, such as Mobilitas, our commercial insurance company, and Avanta Ventures, our venture capital arm.

You’ve worked in PR and Corporate Communications for many years. What led you into insurance and to make a career in the industry?

I’ve been fortunate to have worked in PR my whole career, and in insurance for about 15 years. Hewitt Associates, a consulting firm later acquired by Aon, is where I started working with insurance. I was responsible for promoting the healthcare practice, helping companies with their healthcare benefit programs.

Working in insurance has provided me the opportunity to promote and learn about innovative products and services, such as green and entertainment insurance, as well as multiple lines, including P&C, healthcare and medical malpractice. I’ve truly enjoyed these experiences and working with many talented and smart people, but I am also proud to be part of this noble profession. As society’s financial first responders, we’re making and delivering on a promise to people to be there for people in their time of need. It feels good to be working in an industry that is doing something positive for the economy, for people, and for communities.

2020 was a rough year for the insurance industry. Can you talk about some of the challenges that you’ve faced?

2020 was challenging on many levels, but I’m very proud of what we’ve done at our company and overall as an industry. At CSAA, we quickly transitioned employees to work from home while continuing to serve our customers well. Our industry wasn’t known for having a work-from-home culture, and we all surprised ourselves in a good way.

The pandemic also spurred a lot of innovation which allowed us to think about ways to do things differently. For example, CSAA created efficiencies that allowed us to introduce a touchless claims system, which enabled customers to share pictures and videos of auto damage claims versus handling in person. We have received a lot of positive feedback for this enhancement, since it saves a lot of time and makes the entire process much more convenient for customers.

As an industry, insurance has assisted customers and communities throughout the pandemic with donations and community service. The industry also took a stand on racial equity issues. There is so much more to do, but it’s important that we start to use our voice as an industry to support important issues that we are facing. Our industry needs to become more diverse and better reflect the communities that we’re serving.

Let’s talk about Diversity & Inclusion. It is the topic that’s front of mind in the industry, particularly lack of representation for women and people of color. What challenges have you faced and overcome during your career?  What is CSAA’s commitment to D&I?

As a mixed race female (half Japanese and half Polish), I feel that I bring a unique perspective to the table. While the communications field has strong female representation overall, that doesn’t mean that we can’t improve or don’t face other challenges. Women in leadership positions and people-of-color still remain very under-represented.

During my career, I have encountered sexism and discrimination. It’s a challenge many of us face, but I’ve been fortunate enough to not allow it to derail my goals and aspirations. To this day, I am often asked “What are you?” in terms of my ethnicity. In time, I’ve learned that it’s not my problem that people can’t put me in a box or easily categorize me.

The insurance industry has traditionally been tight-lipped on many social issues, but one of my proudest moments was when our CEO, Tom Troy, publicly supported Black Lives Matter. Coming from a mixed family, it meant so much for my company to take that stand on this important issue and to say those words. I’m grateful to be a part of a company that cares about our employees, customers and communities, and isn’t afraid to speak out on injustice.

You’ve just been honored as part of the 2021 APCIA Class of Emerging Leaders for your work in 2020 and helping to navigate CSAA with challenges through the pandemic as well as promoting diversity and equity. What are your goals for 2021 and beyond?

It was such an honor to be recognized along with my other CSAA colleagues who are so deserving: Briana Clifford, Beti Cung, Jachyn Davis, Christian Myers, and Maureen Parish. We need more events that bring the insurance industry together, whether it’s by function or discipline, to keep the industry engaged and share the stories of how we’re making a difference.

I’m proud of CSAA’s inclusion and belonging work. Over the past year, we’ve explored diversity training around unconscious bias and micro-aggressions. We also have a CEO that is truly supportive in addressing racial inequity and providing the space, budget, and support to launch programs that address these issues. Just acknowledging that these are serious and important issues is a big deal, yet we’re taking the necessary steps that will help us move forward and take real action. We’re on a journey with this, and we are not perfect, but we are committed to increasing the diversity of our workforce and advocating for representation at every level of our organization.

There’s so much work to be done in this area that it sometimes can feel overwhelming, but our team is committed to advocating for real change that can make a difference for our company and the communities we serve. For us, this is not a bandwagon moment and ‘Black Lives Matter’ wasn’t just for 2020. Inclusion and belonging is now and forever, and we will continue to move forward with action and purpose. We are working on a CSR report that will document transparency about where we are, what we are doing, where we have work to do and where we are headed. This is an exciting, important and pivotal time for the insurance industry and the world, and I am grateful for the role we can play in influencing a positive and long overdue outcome.

Insurance Careers Corner: A few minutes with Kristian Ottesen, intern, CNA Brokerage Strategy team

By James Ballot, Senior Advisor, Strategic Communications, Triple-I

It’s an understatement to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected all areas of our personal and professional lives. Amid widespread disruption, however, people are finding ways to overcome the distance of “social distancing” and to make remote work seem less, well, remote.

Insurance business summer internships are a vital path for educating students about the industry, and for businesses to evaluate promising recruits. However, lockdowns and other measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus forced many companies to re-evaluate their internship programs. Several organizations have stepped in to ensure continuity of internship programs, including insurance businesses, industry trade groups, and in particular, Gamma Iota Sigma (GIS), a student society with 94 chapters serving more than 5,000 members across North America.

Through their Virtual Internships program GIS worked with dozens of companies to offer essential training and education opportunities through project-based or defined duration remote work. And what these businesses have discovered is that remote internships offer some built-in advantages over on-site work, including access to people who are ready-made to succeed amid disruption, as well as the ability to engage with recruits from a greater diversity of geographic locations, talents and backgrounds.

As part of the Triple-I Blog’s “Insurance Careers Corner” features series, we spoke with student interns about their experiences during summer 2020 and their insurance career journey so far.

Next up is Kristian Ottesen, a senior at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he’s studying underwriting in excess and surplus lines at that institution’s School of Business’s Risk and Insurance Studies Center.

Kristian spent part of the summer of 2020 as part of a three-person team consulting on the impact of COVID-19 for CNA, a major commercial lines carrier.

Triple-I Blog (III): You had an internship lined up before Summer 2020? What happened?

Kristian Ottesen (KO): I was a part-time intern with Allianz Partners in the Spring, which was cancelled after the first day. Other internship opportunities—including one with a regional broker in Richmond were cancelled or put “on hold.”

(III): You’re on track for a career in insurance. When did you decide this was what you wanted, and what are some factors that contributed to this decision?

(KO): I was majoring in Management and Entrepreneurship at VCU’s School of Business. I was urged by some GIS members and alumni to follow my interest into studying RMI (Risk Management/Insurance). I have to say that it’s been the best decision I’ve made in college so far.

(III): How long was your internship with CNA? Tell us a bit about the work you were doing there.

(KO): My internship ran from June through the first week of August. A lot of what I did involved independent research and reading, with the goal of finding data, news and reporting that fed into charting CNA’s strategy for interacting with broker clients during the COVID-19 pandemic. My team [of three interns] submitted research analysis for feedback from our project supervisor.

(III): What skills and knowledge did you pick up along the way—and what insights do you most want to share with others [who are looking into remote internships]?

(KO): Teamwork, of course. Problem-solving and flexibility [learning in the workflow]. My team and I met weekly via Skype; I encountered some unanticipated advantages to remote work, as well as a few serious drawbacks. Perhaps most important was honing my time management and organizational skills: In addition to working with CNA [via the GIS remote internship program], I was doing coursework in financial modeling at VCU and working landscaping to help pay tuition. 

(III): Any key takeaways or advice from this experience that you’d like to share? 

(KO): There’s no substitute for working directly with and learning from people in the industry rather than from textbooks or in a classroom. If you get the opportunity, take it!

Insurance Careers Corner: Q&A with Tasha Fuller, FloodFrame USA

By Kris Maccini, Social Media Director, Triple-I

Triple-I’s “Insurance Careers Corner” series was created to highlight trailblazers in the insurance industry and to spread awareness on the career opportunities within the industry.

This month we interviewed, Tasha Fuller, CEO & Co-Founder, FloodFrame USA, a Houston-based company that provides homes and businesses with a waterproof cloth barrier against damage from flooding. Tasha shared her insights as a woman entrepreneur in STEM and how past flooding experiences and a background in civil engineering inspired her business.

Tasha Fuller, CEO & Co-Founder, FloodFrame USA

You started your career as a civil engineer. What led you to eventually build your own business, FloodFrame USA?

As an engineer, I wanted to do more for the community. I was designing big projects around Houston, oftentimes office buildings or huge industrial buildings, but I got into engineering to help the world in some way. It was always in the back of my mind to figure out how to best use my talents for this.

My primary focus was hydraulics and hydrology – how water works and how storms work. Then flooding happened in Houston. My family and I went to Denmark about six months after [Hurricane] Harvey to visit family, and we were introduced to FloodFrame on the news. Immediately, I knew this was something that needed to be in Houston. I contacted the Danish engineers, who developed the technology, to discuss how to bring it to the U.S. This led to six months of conversations with the engineers, myself, and my Dad, who is also my business partner. Initially, we were pursuing this [opportunity] on the side, and it was a huge leap of faith when we realized this company needed a full-time champion in order to work in the U.S.

What was the transition like from engineer to entrepreneur?

It was a huge risk, and it was scary. I’d wake up in the morning and wonder if I made the right decision. I left a corporate environment where everything was lined up for me, and I had colleagues to ask questions. The pattern of the day was figured out. As an entrepreneur, each day you ask yourself what’s the best thing for your company. Not having colleagues, it’s all on you, and it can feel like you never turn off.  I’ve been doing this for almost two years now, and I’ve most recently learned to find the balance.

What advice would you give to aspiring women entrepreneurs looking to build a STEM business?

On the days where you feel like giving up, just don’t. You are going to have days when you doubt if you have the potential. I read a quote the other day that resonated with me, ‘when you’re tired, learn to rest not quit.’ I’ve been using that for myself because I have tough days too. I recommend going for a walk or doing something that you enjoy. Go back to the challenge after that rest. Things will look a lot brighter than when you were in the moment.

In my previous job, I was the only woman and the only person under 40 in the room. I had to learn to stand my ground and feel comfortable in that situation. I would say to view that situation as an advantage to stand out and have your message heard versus blending into the room.

As a resident of Houston, you’ve experienced several severe storms including Harvey. How did you these experiences influence the business?

We wouldn’t have started this company if we didn’t see the impact of water on our community and how destructive flooding can be. During Hurricane Harvey, I remember watching the water inch towards my parents’ house. It was such a hopeless feeling, because we couldn’t stop this force of nature at the time. I remember thinking that there must be some solution out there for people who want to protect their homes. That’s really where the seed was planted and why meeting the FloodFrame engineers clicked during our trip to Denmark. My family would have been in a different position if we had the protection on our house.

2020 is expected to be one of the worst hurricane seasons on record and the pandemic will bring about new challenges in disaster prep. How have these challenges impacted your business?

We have installations already in the ground in the Greater Houston area. Our primary goal is to educate as many people as possible [in the area] about risk mitigation and property protection. The biggest hurdles have been reaching the people that really need it and educating the community overall. Pre-disaster mitigation is important. Floods will continue to happen, but protection can help people spend a fraction of cost to rebuild a flooded house. I’ve been leveraging digital platforms and accelerator programs like the Resilience Accelerator to find the right partners and get the word out on risk mitigation. We’re in this unusual time, but people realize that their homes are important and need the tools to protect themselves. Even though we are in a pandemic, that doesn’t mean the flooding will stop.

Insurance Careers Corner: A Few Minutes with Anisha Navendra, Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) intern

By James Ballot, Senior Advisor, Strategic Communications, Triple-I

It’s an understatement to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected all areas of our personal and professional lives. Amid widespread disruption, however, people are stepping up with innovative ways to overcome the distance of “social distancing.”

For insurance businesses, summer internships have long provided a vital path for educating students about the industry, and for insurance businesses to evaluate promising recruits. However, with lockdowns and other measures to contain the spread of Coronavirus extending through and beyond the summer months, many businesses were forced re-evaluate internship programs, with some considering suspension of 2020 summer internships. 

Several organizations have stepped in to fill this gap, including insurance businesses, industry trade groups, and in particular, Gamma Iota Sigma (GIS), a student society with 77 chapters serving more than 5,000 members across North America that’s recognized by many as “the insurance industry’s premier collegiate talent pipeline.”  Earlier this year GIS launched their Virtual Internships program. Despite getting a somewhat late start, the program placed more than 65 students on 30 projects at 14 insurance businesses.

As part of the Triple-I Blog’s “Insurance Careers Corner” features series, we spoke with student interns about their experiences during summer 2020 and their insurance career journey so far. We also reached out to internship program directors to get a fuller sense of how their organizations benefit from expanding outreach to students even in the midst of a pandemic.

First up is Anisha Navendra, who is a rising sophomore at University of Texas, Austin. Anisha spent part of the summer of 2020 interning at the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation’s (IICF) Southeast Division. She’s double majoring in Mathematics with a concentration in Actuarial Science and Finance—and has “a keen interest in the insurance industry.”

Name: Anisha Navendra

Current Status: Rising Sophomore, The University of Texas at Austin

Internship: IICF

Triple-I: Tell us a bit about your experience as an intern. Did you have an internship lined up before schools and offices went into COVID-19 isolation?

Anisha: I was looking into internships earlier this year, but by the time classes went remote many programs were either suspended or cancelled. Gamma Iota Sigma stepped in to find ways to connect students with insurers and insurance businesses. My internship with IICF is an opportunity to learn more about the unique philanthropic side of the insurance industry by allowing me to spend time working closely with industry professionals.

How long is your internship with IICF and what sort of work are you doing there? 

My internship runs through August. I’m assisting with a wide variety of projects, including pulling and researching financial reports for insights into how a charitable foundation works.  

What skills and knowledge are you picking up along the way?

I’m learning more about teamwork, communications, doing due-diligence, time management and research skills, as well as how to use tools of the trade, like Microsoft Office. Also, I’m meeting and networking (virtually) with a lot of insurance professionals from different backgrounds and getting exposure to a wide range of business areas–marketing, finance, operations.

I plan to use these skills and the knowledge gained about insurance and the insurance industry to help me in my future endeavors as an actuary, or financial consultant.

When did you first consider insurance as a career path?

I became more aware of insurance as a member of my high school debate club (the topic was health insurance). Entering college, I discovered how actuarial sciences aligned with my other interests.

Any “surprises”; things you did not expect to learn or do?

Working with IICF has shown me a unique and more creative side of the business and how the industry’s charitable activities are helping to redefine the narrative about insurance. I’m also learning how companies are reacting to the pandemic—and that insurance is nimble and responsive.  It’s exciting to be behind the scenes at a non-profit.

How will this experience affect you going forward—both in your studies and in preparation for life after college?

Working with IICF has encouraged me to be more innovative and team oriented. The experience has made me want to learn more about non-profits and has gotten me interested in marketing and brand strategies. I plan take more classes in business law and ethics to round out my knowledge.

Insurance Careers Corner: Q&A with Rahel Abraham, ClimaGuard

By Kris Maccini, Social Media Director, Triple-I

Triple-I’s “Insurance Careers Corner” series was created to highlight trailblazers in the insurance industry and to spread awareness on the career opportunities within the industry.

This month we interviewed Rahel Abraham, CEO of ClimaGuard, a Houston-based start-up that provides protective coverings for cars (and personal belongings) to prevent valuable losses from flood damage. Rahel shared her inspiration for creating ClimaGuard, her experiences as a first-time entrepreneur, and how she prepped her business for hurricane season, amid a pandemic.

Name: Rahel Abraham

Current Role: Founder & CEO, ClimaGuard

Years at Company: 2 years

Tell me about ClimaGuard. What led you to start the company in 2018?

The idea of ClimaGuard came about a month after Hurricane Harvey. This event was a historical devastation – not only were residential homes flooded, but many businesses and vehicles were flooded also. I lost my car, and there was a shortage of rental vehicles. Living in Houston, I depend on my mobility – being vulnerable post the hurricane was a challenge. I realized that I needed help, and so did many of my neighbors.

Shortly after the storm, a friend and I thought of an idea to produce a protective covering. As more hurricanes hit, we realized that flood mitigation wasn’t going to be solved overnight, but that we could come up with a way to help people safeguard themselves in real time. My background prior to ClimaGuard was in Engineering, so I knew that I had the background to create a product that would work.

ClimaGuard protective coverings can be used for other purposes outside of automobiles. I have a client who used it to protect a grandfather clock that was passed down through generations. I wanted the covering to be large enough to fit a car, but easy enough to use for quickly packing other valuable items in the home – sofas, electronics, tables, etc.

As CEO, what’s top of mind as you look to grow your business?

There are two goals that are top of mind: 1.) Spread awareness about flood risks, and 2.) Encourage and empower at-risk communities to proactively mitigate. Education in creating awareness for disaster planning and mitigation is vital to the growth of ClimaGuard. Whatever life looks like post-event – whether it’s running for home supplies, shopping for groceries, or accessing temporary living (hotel) – you need mobility, and, more importantly, peace of mind throughout the event.

It wasn’t until I got flooded that I understood the challenges post-flooding, and the financial costs to recover. I was fortunate to have a support system, but I know individuals who are still trying to recover three years after Harvey. I’m focused on preparing individuals and communities to get back up and running as soon as possible.

Being a woman and Black-owned business, what challenges have you faced in growing the company?

I didn’t know anyone personally who ran a successful product-based company, or any start-up, in general. I quit my job to pursue my business, so my cash flow was limited. I relied on my savings in the beginning, because I didn’t know how to seek funding. I was concerned that I would lock my business into a situation that would prevent it from thriving, if I didn’t partner with the right people. Because I didn’t have the network here, I went overseas to build partnerships, understand manufacturing, and learn how to create opportunities.

What activities have you been involved in to help build networking and partnerships?

Prior to COVID-19, I was part of an accelerator program called DivInc out of Austin, Texas. Austin is a great community for start-ups, and I wanted to be in the mix among entrepreneurs who were also starting from the ground up. After completing that program, I began outreach specifically to dealerships and the insurance industry. These two markets have proven to be good partnership opportunities for ClimaGuard. With insurance, my goal is to touch on the fleet business, the rental car space, and the commercial and residential customer base. With the dealerships, I am seeking access to the residential and commercial buyers who are invested in protecting their assets.

[ClimaGuard is currently a participant in Triple-I’s Resilience Accelerator]

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs in seeking opportunities and overcoming challenges? 

Just like your ingenuity led to an idea that solves a real problem, that same creative thinking will lead you to solutions to overcome your challenges. Your path is your own, and you don’t need millions of dollars to make your start-up successful. You do not need a proven track record to show you are capable. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon, so don’t burn yourself out.

2020 is expected to be one of the worst hurricane seasons on record and the pandemic will bring about new challenges in disaster prep. How have these challenges impacted your business? How are you preparing for the season?

Currently, the nation is highly focused on COVID-19. The lack of attention to this hurricane season concerns me, however we are living in very unusual and uncertain times. Many of us, myself included, are taking things day by day. I’m trying to be observant of the climate and the emotional health of our communities. In terms of preparedness during hurricane season, I know that hurricanes and flash flooding only allow a few days of notice before hitting an area. I’ve ensured that ClimaGuard inventory is ready, and I’m prepared to ship units (with the available supply) through a local fulfillment business in Houston. ClimaGuard’s mission is to prevent loss from natural disasters, and we’re ready this season and preparing for next season. Our goal is increase inventory next year as we develop more opportunities with partners and retailers.

Insurance Careers Corner: Q&A with Mary Jo Hudson, Squire Patton Boggs

Triple-I’s “Insurance Careers Corner” series was created to highlight trailblazers in the insurance industry and to spread awareness on the career opportunities within the industry.

This month, Kris Maccini, director, social media, Triple-I, interviewed Mary Jo Hudson, Partner, Squire Patton Boggs who provided insights about her career trajectory, LGBTQ+ support in the workplace, and implications for LGBTQ+ professionals following the recent Supreme Court ruling that the Civil Rights Act protects gay and transgender Americans from workplace discrimination.

Name: Mary Jo Hudson

Current Role: Partner, Squire Patton Boggs

Years at Firm: 3 years

Tell me about your current role and work at the law firm Squire Patton Boggs

I’ve been at Squire just over three years, and I lead the U.S. Regulatory practice as part of our Global Financial Services Practice Group. Our group includes several former senior insurance regulators [including myself] and several former insurance company general counsel and experienced litigators. We represent insurance companies in transactional market product issues, provide strategic advice on regulatory matters, and work with trade associations and professional associations on top regulatory issues. I particularly enjoy our thought leadership efforts – writing content as litigation experts on insurance regulations.

Prior to your time at Squire Patton Boggs, you served at the Ohio Dept of Insurance. What was your role there and what attracted you to the regulatory side of the industry?

I did two ‘tours of duty’ at the Ohio Department of Insurance. During my first ‘tour of duty,’ I was a staff attorney and then a general counsel of the Ohio Liquidation Office. We had several liquidation estates, and I was the only attorney in that office. Eventually, I went back to private practice and got involved in local politics – returning for my second “tour” as the Director and a member of the Governor’s cabinet. I’ve been out of the Department of Insurance for about 10 years now.

When I was Insurance Director – it was just prior to the Affordable Care Act – my governor had all his administration’s health reform efforts based at the Insurance Department. I was an officer of the Insurance Compact all four years of my service, and I also worked actively on numerous National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) committees and task forces, including serving on the Executive Committee and EX-1.

It was a great learning experience. Insurance regulation brings together a mix of legal and public policy together with complex financial services issues. I find the multi-jurisdictional structure to be unique and fascinating.

We’re in a time where it’s still challenging for women to make ‘Partner’ at leading firms. What has led to your success and what advice can you give to other women looking to achieve similar goals?

I love what I do. I work with great clients and try to deliver the best services that I can. Law practice – especially at a larger firm – is always a challenge, and I try to learn and grow. When I talk to younger lawyers, I tell them that when doors seem to close there are a lot of windows that open. Don’t try to force things that aren’t meant for you – continue to work hard and watch for those opportunities to come as a result of that work.

It’s still a challenging profession and industry to be a woman – particularly the higher up that you go. I’ve been an open member of the LGBTQ+ community for 30 years.  I’ve found that it’s sometimes easier to be a member of the LGBTQ+ community than it is being a woman. The gender issues are somehow larger.

I remember as a young lawyer a partner once told me ‘Don’t go into regulatory work. That’s women’s work and it’s not valued.’ Regulatory is where I excel – but that work is not always valued – unless you remind colleagues about its foundational value with respect to transactions and litigation. You learn to pick your battles wisely and push where it’s needed.

Your firm has a commitment to diversity & inclusion – recognized in 2019 as one of the ‘Best law Firms for Women’ and in 2017 as a ‘Top Firm in Diversity’. Can you talk about some of the programs Squire Patton Boggs has in place to create opportunities and foster inclusion for LGBTQ+, women, and minorities?

There is a dedication at the top on diversity & inclusion, and it permeates throughout the office. The firm has worked hard to elevate women into leadership roles. Squire continues to do the work to be self-reflective and improve on our efforts.

Efforts are also focused on connections and relationships. These relationships generate business development. Our LGBTQ+ programs allow for connections with colleagues at other offices, which has led to new work for us all.

Squire has a 100% rating for the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index. It’s important and a good leadership statement – involving employment policies, benefits, and a concerted effort on hiring a diverse mix of candidates. I’ve been involved in the hiring process to ensure that our next generation of lawyers is even more diverse.

As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, what challenges have you faced throughout your career?

I’ve always found that I had to work hard to get to advance, but I’ve always tried to be my authentic self. I was never good at being closeted. I’ve been out since the early 90s. I did find job mobility difficult, and it was tough to move from state to private practice. I had to be patient. I took a winding route professionally, instead of a direct route, combining public service, social justice service and private practice. During that time, I was very active nationally in the LGBTQ+ movement. I served on a several boards and in leadership for the Human Rights Campaign national board. This work helped me develop personally and professionally, including some great board experience.

In public service and local board service, I had a lot of what I called ‘Lady Godiva moments’ where I was often the only openly LGBTQ+ person in the room. I remember going to community events as an elected official and people [in the room] had never met anyone who was gay. I spent time listening and learning about what was going on in their neighborhoods and lives. I developed a reputation for being hard-working, and it was all about being a good public official and a good human being – less about sexual orientation.

Has recent support [for LGBTQ+] in the financial services, legal, and insurance industries eased any challenges for the community?

I do see a lot more support. Some businesses struggle with how to translate support that into the workplace. It’s an interesting perspective to work with different companies. Some do a good job at ‘getting’ diversity and inclusion. We’re still in a very conservative industry. Some companies don’t have any diversity at all. I see it growing, but there’s a gap between large companies and companies based in metropolitan areas and some companies that are smaller or mid-range. It may be a resource limitation or location. These companies need to make a concerted effort to build diversity.

The insurance industry needs to take the lead on making a multi-year commitment to getting diversity right, or they won’t be in touch with the next generation of customers.

What are your thoughts on the landmark Supreme Court decision protecting LGBTQ+ professionals from job discrimination? What do you think are the broader implications for this ruling and how it will impact the workplace?

I did not think I would see a ruling like Bostock in my lifetime. Over the years, I would read court decisions and employment discrimination cases on LGBTQ+ and the logic was so twisted against the plaintiffs. I didn’t know how we would get past that intolerance. The Bostock decision is a signal that the social justice and education work of the last 30+ years has made a difference – but we’re not done. It is a turning point to make changes for workplace and public policies on sexual orientation and gender identity.

It’s a groundbreaking decision around gender identity discrimination, which has not been discussed nearly as much as discrimination based on sexual orientation. The issues of the trans community [historically] have been treated separately. It took education and a couple of generations to help define and integrate the movements. I think it’s terrific that of the cases in Bostock, the claims of discrimination based on gender identity and the claims based on the sexual orientation discrimination were so both addressed rather than split.

Where we will still have challenges – the next generation is more gender fluid. The decision  breaks down some barriers, but now we’ll need to address those issues around gender fluidity as well. Ultimately, we’ll have to work on how the individuals of our next generation can be their best authentic selves to work and to the community.

Insurance Careers Corner: Q&A with Demetrius Gray, WeatherCheck

Triple-I’s “Insurance Careers Corner” series was created to highlight trailblazers in insurance and to spread awareness of the career opportunities within the industry. This month Kris Maccini, director, social media, Triple-I, interviewed Demetrius Gray, Founder & CEO of WeatherCheck.

WeatherCheck, an insurtech that analyzes weather data to help insurers predict severe weather impact to properties, was a finalist in 2019’s Resiliency Innovation Challenge.

Demetrius shared insights for building and growing his innovative business, and how he’s advising on severe weather prep amid the pandemic.

Demetrius Gray

Name: Demetrius Gray

Current Role: Founder & CEO

Years at WeatherCheck: 3.5

Tell us about WeatherCheck? What led you to found this company and build your career in insurance?

I was a storm contractor. I chased hailstorms across the continental United States. Most of my work was around understanding insurance losses, and it gave me an intimate knowledge, which I used to create WeatherCheck. While there are numerous weather-related sources, there wasn’t a great place to assess whether something was damaged or not. For example, would an event at a particular property rise to the level that the insured should file a claim?

The insurance industry today is already thinking about creating efficiencies in the claims process. We allow property owners to sign up on WeatherCheck, type in any address in the country, and it exposes severe weather loss associated with that property. We work from the premise that informed people make informed decisions. At our core, WeatherCheck works to give people quality information so that they can make the right decision at the right time.

We’re in the middle of a significant global catastrophe. How has this impacted your business and conversations around severe weather?

When the shutdown started happening [throughout the stay at home orders], we had conversations with emergency managers around the country on what does emergency management look like for people at home. Normally, they would be at their office and those structures are built and fortified better than the average single-family home in the country. What we have seen is an increase in overall hazard-related deaths this year. The 2020 tornado season has killed more people than it has in the past few years because people are sheltering in place at home and risk is greater. We are preparing for these insights now, and we expect to see even greater risks heading into summer heat waves.

There is also an infinite question about the current infrastructure. Normally, people are placed into shelters post event, but that infrastructure has been displaced largely because the volunteers have been displaced. The inverse of that conversation is that the risk has been shifted to commercial enterprises and hotels. If the hotels are closed, then it’s where do we shelter people who have been displaced? We’re encouraging community partners to have conversations with stakeholders around planning, including reopening hotels for evacuations quickly.

Over the next year, what is top of mind as you grow your business?

Partnerships are important. We have been working with partners across all sectors to continue to grow the product itself. How do we help individuals who don’t necessarily understand their risks or the policies that they’ve purchased to get what they need? The way we’ll do that well over the next 12-24 months is by partnering with stakeholders who also have interest in that same asset. Whether that’s mortgage companies, cities, or banks–that’s where we’ll be focused while continuing to represent the interests of the insurers.

What setbacks have you faced in building your business and how did you move past them?

We’re the only black-owned meteorology company in the entire country. You get a whole lot more ‘no’s’ than ‘yes’s’ and those answers are based on unconscious biases. We had to be very honest with ourselves about what are bias characteristics–whether it’s race, gender, location–and we had to decide in the business plan how we were going to overcome those biases. For us, it meant that maybe venture capital (VC) wasn’t going to be a strong path for us because the data doesn’t prove out that they would invest in a woman or minority-run company. We built a profitable business with strategy based on data and that also influenced what the product looked like.

Through this process, we decided to go direct to policyholders. The data showed us that policyholders are largely unbiased and that they want what they want when they want it. If you have what they want, they will forgo internal biases to make their buying decisions. By focusing on the data and taking out the emotion, it allowed us to see viable prospects up front.

What are your goals for the future in terms of where you want to take your career and your business?

In the future, I could see WeatherCheck offering other products and services to get the insured at a place of homeostasis that is far better than what it is today. If we look at the number of individuals who are underinsured for flood or underinsured for fire–the system really sits at the nexus of being able to drive some of that. We’ll probably see some unique boutique offerings come out of selling new insurance products geared at solving those challenges. We’ll be driving better data to continue to inform decisions. We’d like to empower agents and brokers throughout the country to do an even better job of keeping the insured better informed. Agents and brokers will play an impactful role in continuing to drive value. It is very personal when people have a loss from an event and that personal pipeline is a far better approach than a chatbot or AI.