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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. 

What's it like to work in insurance? Three profiles

June 13th, 2017

Several weeks ago, three insurance professionals spent the day at Owens Community College in Toledo, Ohio, speaking with students about what they really do at their jobs and how they got there. All three hold different positions in the industry. Their unique career paths reflect their interests and skills as well as the opportunities in the insurance industry.


From teaching children to helping adults

While in college, Mary thought that she wanted to work with autistic children, and she did. After majoring in psychology, Mary worked at a residential facility. The work was tough, but rewarding.

Mary decided to pursue other interests and soon after, a friend’s mother told her about an opening at a local insurance company (Lancer Insurance) as a claims assistant. Mary took it and spent time learning about how accidents occur, noting that causes of accidents vary widely, but that insurance always mitigates the harm.

Soon enough, Mary took a job at Allstate as a claims adjuster, advancing quickly and specializing as a moderate bodily injury adjuster in the automotive area. She evaluates injury claims, damages and determines compensations. She likes the challenge – like accidents, every claim is different and every person involved in a claim is different. Mary reviews police reports, talks to witnesses and conducts research to get a better understanding of the claim. Most of her time, though, is spent talking with people, and learning a lot about them in the process. This is the best part of the job for her because most people are nice and interesting – she loves knowing that she has helped them.

Mary told the students at Owens that no matter what career area they’re interested in, they will find a job in that area in the insurance industry. Mary has worked at Allstate for two years, and plans to stay because she loves the atmosphere and the opportunities she has to advance, learn and grow.

Math, unpredictability and pricing

Kaley loves math. That’s why she majored in actuarial science at college. She was going to pursue teaching, but did a little research and discovered that actuary was a top job. Kaley works at Grange Insurance as a pricing analyst. She uses countrywide data and looks at commercial areas, stores and even weather patterns to recommend pricing on insurance policies for business owners and for contract programs.

Her favorite part of the job? The data – it is always changing. She uses a statistical data program to run scenarios to test pricing, determining what is profitable and what is unprofitable based on the various factors that could come into play. As we all know, life is oftentimes unpredictable, and many things can affect the pricing of insurance. Kaley says that when major weather events occur, her office is abuzz as colleagues are discussing how pricing is affected. For Kaley, there’s always something new to learn – it’s never boring and always energizing!

A detective at heart

Javier also works at Grange Insurance. He is a special investigator, part of Grange’s Special Investigations Unit, where he says that no two days are ever the same. He conducts investigations on cases of suspected staged accidents, auto thefts, commercial arson and burglaries.

If a claim comes in for a house fire, for example, and certain factors are flagged as suspicious, Javier is sent to the site to check it out. He spends a lot of his time on the road, traveling to accident sites. Like a detective, he reviews the details of what happened. In this example, Javier would work alongside the fire department to determine how the fire started. He performs a background check and looks for a motive by running a credit or financial report. Although most claims check out as valid, some are not, and it’s Javier’s job to find those and present them back to the company. Insurance companies can deny claims that they deem not valid, but they do not prosecute – that’s the job of the Ohio Department of Insurance and the local authorities.

Javier loves his job – he loves building a case and investigating the details. He started out by studying to be a police officer, and his work is a lot like that of a police officer. He found his way to insurance through starting with the claims department. He worked hard to become part of the Special Investigations Unit, and enjoys great support at Grange. He says that he is expected to advance, to learn and to grow. His company invests in him and encourages that growth.

The IIRC Story

May 7th, 2017


Here at the IIRC, we often get questions about how our unique coalition began. We tell our story often. The story starts with a problem that needed to be solved. In 2011, the problem was clear – if the insurance industry was to continue to grow, it needed to attract more skilled workers. At the heart of our story was the realization that no insurance company could have solved the problem alone. It took a coordinated approach focused on a common goal.

Building a coalition to solve a problem is not new. In fact, in 1840 French researcher Alexis de Tocqueville noted that “ ... Americans are a peculiar people. If, in a local community, a citizen becomes aware of a human need that is not met, he thereupon discusses the situation with his neighbors. Suddenly a committee comes into existence. The committee thereupon begins to operate on behalf of the need, and a new community function is established. It is like watching a miracle.”

Read more about the coalition that became the IIRC and forged a partnership with higher education in the latest edition of the Ohio Department of Higher Education’s newsletter at: