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Written by Susan Preston
Insurance does not attract innovation, excitement or glamour. Ours is an industry that changes very little over time. Other industries and businesses that do not change and reinvent themselves become obsolete yet the insurance business plugs along year after year. Recently I attended a conference of insurance wholesale owners and managers and many were lamenting the fact young people don’t want to get into insurance. Most of the attendees felt if there was more glamour and excitement, maybe insurance would be more attractive as a career.
Let’s discuss the ways that the insurance industry stays static. For as long as I can remember, the insurance industry uses Acord applications for both new businesses and endorsements. Carriers seem to prefer a standard way of doing business that has worked from time immemorial. There is certainly nothing wrong with this, but static ways of doing business do not attract young people. In program business and fields that deal with ever changing industries, you generally need to design your own applications as the standardized ones that are available will not likely work for unique programs. If our industry is to attract people who want to make a difference, there needs to be some innovation.
There are many standardized policy forms and endorsements for BOP programs, general liability, business property, and for many other categories of coverage. These forms can be purchased from companies that have been putting them out for many years. Carriers will use them and only take updates when the forms-issuing company says that they should. In program business, the program administrator may choose to issue their own policy endorsements to meet the needs of the industries they insurance. This is not done by the general insurance industry, as most companies prefer to have standardized forms that don’t require individual carrier or broker input. There is nothing wrong with this, but again it does not seem very attractive to dynamic people who prefer to attach themselves to much more exciting, ever changing industries.
There are services that analyze industries and determine underwriting issues and what should be considered. Carriers seem to treat these companies as the “bible.” For instance, we recently talked to a company manager who was looking at getting into the tanning salon industry something we know about. He was concerned about skin cancer. We said to him, that based on our 30 years of experience in this industry cancer has never been an issue in the world of global warming and climate change. He really didn’t care about our opinion and experience because the upper management had been reading these standardized bibles that said this was a possible complication. We proceeded to point out the issue in this industry is pricing and competition, and again he didn’t seem to want to hear it. The program they would put together is doomed from the beginning when he doesn’t really pay attention to the people who have experience with this field. This does preclude young people getting into the industry and attempting to study and come up with their opinions as to what could be successful.
There is now this huge push to take away underwriting from real people and let computers do it. Good luck with that one. So many new, interesting programs require someone somewhere along the line to decide to jump in and give it a go. Relying on computers to determine the bottom line is another process that leads to a static, not very exciting industry. This might or might not work, but I doubt many people find that way of doing business interesting or exciting.
Insurance does still have many exciting possibilities yet this message seems to be lost in our industry. There are very few careers where so many paths can be taken. Insurance companies require many different job skills and personalities, as do brokers, claims departments and insurance departments. Somehow our industry is not getting the message out what a variety of opportunities there are. There are innovative paths such as finding clients who shoot pyrotechnics, working with insurance companies to design cannabis programs, underwriting sexual abuse policies during the #MeToo movement, or covering personal insurance for dog bites. The possibilities are endless yet the industry as a whole does not talk about career options with glamour and unique opportunities in mind.
Our agency is a program manager so we grow most of our people from scratch. Being a program manager requires both underwriting and sales skills. Usually we find these two job skills are mutually exclusive if a person has been in the industry 7 years or more. This is why we train people from the ground up how to both think like a carrier and sell. What is a critical part of our business mantra is promoting how unique our programs and agency is. Due to the type of industries we insure, we have an easier time promoting glamour and excitement than most insurance businesses. Yet to be a viable employer for young people and those of any age looking for an interesting career, every insurance employer should seek to promote their uniqueness and get the word out to their employees and to the business community. It can be done!