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Preparing for Innovation and Great Careers

February 5th, 2018


On January 26, 2018, the IIRC hosted several conversations as the premier sponsor at the Gamma Iota Sigma Ohio Regional Conference at The Ohio State University. Gamma Iota Sigma is an international business fraternity for students of insurance, risk management and actuarial science, with over 75 chapters across North America.

At the Ohio Regional Conference, students from Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania met with many of Ohio’s top insurance executives and spoke with corporate recruiters at the event’s career fair.

On behalf of the IIRC, President and CEO of State Auto Insurance Companies, Mike LaRocco spoke to students about the many changes impacting the insurance industry including technological advancements, the image of the industry and the widening talent gap.

“The real issue is the perception of this industry,” LaRocco noted. “The insurance industry is dynamic, changing, creative, innovative and incredibly important. That’s not the perception, and it has to change.”

In addition to offering advice for students as they join the workforce, LaRocco touched on an aspect of insurance that seems to be a strong driving factor for many millennials’ career decisions: having an impact on others. “For all the change that’s coming, this fact doesn’t change: we take care of people,” he said. “I want people who are passionate about that.”

Following the keynote address, an IIRC industry panel discussed transformations in the insurance industry and how students can position themselves for success in an ever-changing industry. The panel included Casie Grau (Ohio Mutual Insurance Group), Erik Ross (Nationwide Insurance), Doreen DeLaney Crawley (Grange Insurance), and Meg Allwein (Assurex Global).

“Disruption and change have always been a part of insurance,” said Allwein, SVP and chief quality officer at Assurex Global. “The difference is the pace at which it’s happening now. Companies need to be nimble, willing to take risks, and willing to fail so that they can learn from it.”

The panelists also shared what their companies are doing to foster growth and innovation.

“We’ve held nine innovation education sessions where our employees work in teams to perform tech activities and competitions, like making their own chat boxes,” said Doreen DeLaney Crawley, chief operating officer at Grange Insurance. “These investments have opened our eyes as well as our employees’ eyes about innovation and changes. Some of the people that you’d least expect come up with the best ideas.”

Following the industry panel, students headed to the career fair where 14 top insurance companies hosted booths, including many IIRC members like Nationwide Insurance, Ohio Mutual Insurance Group, Westfield Insurance and Hylant. With more than 80 insurance and risk management specific students from around the country, the Gamma Iota Sigma Ohio Regional Conference was a tremendous success in connecting IIRC members with knowledgeable students who are ready to lead the new wave of innovation for Ohio’s insurance industry.   

Is Insurance for You?

September 25th, 2017


On September 14, 2017, ceremonies were held at the University of Akron to launch both its Risk Management and Insurance degree and its Gamma Iota Sigma chapter. Ohio’s Director of Insurance, Jillian Froment, captured the importance of these events in the wake of recent catastrophic events (Hurricanes Harvey and Irma) by focusing on what insurance means to communities. Director Froment noted that the insurance industry is one that truly touches Ohioans and shapes communities.

During her remarks, Director Froment asked an important question, “Do you want to change the world? If so, the insurance industry may be the place for you.”

To illustrate her thoughts, Froment told the story of an airline that regularly chartered flights to a very dangerous area of the world. One day, one of the airline’s planes was shot down, and all passengers were lost. Despite the tragic incident, the airline resumed its flights into the dangerous territory the next week! The insurance carrier, though, determined the risk was too great and canceled the airline’s insurance policy. Finally, the airline had to discontinue its dangerous flights. This is one example of how insurance can change businesses and communities.

Froment provided a few other examples:

After the recent hurricanes hit Texas and Florida, insurers sent in water trucks and supplies and distributed cash cards so those affected could purchase needed items like food, water, generators and diapers. Soon after, huge numbers of drones swooped into the areas to survey the damage, followed by the insurance adjusters, inspectors and specialists.

Froment also noted the industry’s history of advocating for change. Parts of Ohio face tornadoes and heavy winds that damage rooftops. Insurers were and are a major force in funding the testing of building parts, like shingles, and then lobbying Ohio’s legislature to establish relevant building codes.

Today, insurers are involved in working to reduce distracted driving and drug addiction while increasing financial literacy in high schools.

So, is insurance for you? Do you want to change the world?

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The Business of Insurance

August 10th, 2017

Columbus CEO recently ran a profile on the IIRC’s co-chair, Dave Kaufman, who is also the CEO of Motorists Insurance. (See Dave talked about a lot of great things happening at Motorists and in the industry. He also mentioned things like circular dialogue, diverse thinking and culture over strategy.  What does that all mean, and why would you want it in your job?


We asked a few folks at Motorists to help us understand.

Jenni Stapleton, commercial lines underwriter, notes that for Motorists circular dialogue “is how meetings are conducted, in person and over the phone. It means that everyone has the opportunity to speak without interruption and everyone has an equal opportunity to voice their opinions and spark conversations.” For Jenni, it has driven her to show up to meetings prepared – to participate and to really listen to others.

Cameron Ruffer, assistant to the CEO, explains that diverse thinking happens when people bring their different perspectives to the discussion. He says that, “When we have this group of people who don’t all approach a problem the same way, we come up with a really great set of solutions.”  

Andrew Pfingstler, risk management assistant, adds that at Motorists, he and his colleagues know that they matter. “It’s like playing soccer,” he says, “I play better when I trust my teammates. We’re in it together, and that makes a difference.” That’s what culture over strategy is – it’s about the people.

The business of insurance is about helping people; protecting people, their businesses and their property. Many in the industry compare it to “putting a warm blanket over their clients’ shoulders when they need it most” – after a home fire or when they require medical attention, for instance.