Caryn Siebert, VP, Carrier Practice, and Amy Cooper, VP Sales, Carrier Practice, sat down to discuss their recent National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies Management Conference highlights.
Caryn Siebert: What a terrific experience. I’m not sure what I enjoyed more, Amy—the discussion regarding our economy, the conversations after the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) roundtable breakfast, or the whale watching (despite seeing dolphins but no whales).
Amy Cooper: I’m with you, Caryn. There was no shortage of productive dialogue, big ideas, or positivity at the conference as well as around town when we had time to catch up more informally with our networks.
CS: The economist we heard speak, Elliot Eisenberg, brought so much energy to an 8:30 a.m. session. His thought-provoking issues around the stock market, previous recessions, the supply chain challenges, and the yin and yang between the values of homes versus the increased price of gas and inflation were fast-paced and fun. Together with the increased cost of cars, the delays in receiving parts for repairs, and increased weather catastrophes, it’s no wonder that the market is seeing an increase in insurance costs and severity. Blending that with the discussions from the day before around the need for new and diverse professionals in our great insurance industry really provided food for thought.
A few of us actually went on a tour of Little Italy in San Diego after that presentation and discussed how many years we’ve been in the industry and how we were transported by bus, walked into the restaurants to enjoy unique foods and drinks, and then returned to the wonderful hotel knowing that had anything happened we would have been protected by insurance. Some of us discussed the DE&I programs at our companies, unconscious bias, and developing diverse, high-potential talent, including the challenges some face as small rural companies and working in offices again.
AC: Yes, it is a great industry, and when I go to a NAMIC event, it feels like family. I really enjoyed the discussion around succession planning, the panel of mutual insurance company board members, and the beautiful views as we golfed (a sea lion was actually on the course the week before!). The balance between learning and relationship-building leisure time is such a refreshing tradition at this event. It’s part of what I look forward to most and why Gallagher Bassett (GB) is a proud sponsor.
CS: I agree. The “off-campus” time was just as important. We were able to have a lot of candid discussions about how our partners around the mutual insurance carrier industry are tackling growth challenges and, of course, the hot topic of talent attraction and retention.
AC: You know, succession planning has been a hot topic, too, for many mutual insurance companies as well as those in the mid-market space for a few years now. A large portion of the webinar that I conducted last year on Talent, Technology, and Transformation dealt with finding the next generation of talent for our industry. This is even more accentuated in the mutual insurance community, where often it is members of the family being groomed for executive positions, and not all of them want to follow in their parents’ footsteps. I’m so glad that the group was transparent in their talk.
The discussion between the board members was interesting in that it emphasized the need for board members to be advisers and bring their expertise to the table as opposed to rolling their sleeves up and diving into the day-to-day details of the business. Also, the observation of the need for a balance of skills, knowledge, and diverse backgrounds reinforced what we have been discussing and implementing at GB.
CS: All great topics. And speaking of family, I’m glad that we had our GB colleagues Matt Schauer and Mike Stogsdill there with us to hear so much good information. I was chatting with Matt after the event, and he loved the engaging and insightful sessions on a wide array of topics. He learned so much about the unique challenges discussed at NAMIC, really enjoyed the innovation showcase, met some terrific people, and is already looking forward to attending the NAMIC Annual Convention this September in Texas.
AC: Matt’s right—that innovation showcase and awards ceremony was fabulous. It was great seeing Acuity win the award for overall innovation and how their secret sauce, so to speak, has helped drive their combined ratio down the past few years while also attracting great talent as they have grown. It reminded me of GB and how we have used innovation in predictive analytics, benchmarking, and claim intake all the way through resolution to yield superior claim outcomes and bring down the total cost of risk for our clients. The others recognized as “best in category” were Red River Mutual (mutuality), Farm Bureau Financial Services (creativity), and Union Mutual (adaptability). We even made a new friend from the Farm Bureau’s Crisis Therapy Dog Program, where employee-owned, trained therapy dogs offer emotional support and comfort to clients/members while the Catastrophe Team goes to work assessing damage and processing claims.
CS: GB recently released a downloadable eBook that delves into how mutual and mid-market insurance carriers are facing a variety of disruptive trends and market challenges, with constant pressure to balance capital constraints and an urgent need to grow and transform their business. Add in hard market trends, complex claimant requirements, and the focus on adapting to the evolving demand for talent, and it’s clear that carriers need to be strategic about how they meet these challenges. Time and time again, at the conference, I heard the participants discussing talent, technology, fixed versus variable costs, regulatory issues, and their need for market differentiation. All of these are reviewed in our eBook.
AC: Absolutely, which is why within a dynamic insurance marketplace, the ability to continuously develop products, expand in markets, attract and retain talent, delight customers, and keep pace with technology is vital to long-term success. I conducted several meetings with executives at these mutual insurance carriers about capitalizing on opportunities aligned to these priorities through strategic claim outsourcing partnerships with GB. We discussed how our Carrier Practice is a boutique business segment within our industry-leading third-party administrator founded by a couple of creative friends, Jim Gallagher and Sterling Bassett, back in 1962. We partner with mutual carriers to help them grow, access industry-leading technology, and position their business to compete in a crowded marketplace. We had great discussions as to how our flexible approach is tailored to their needs and delivers a superior customer experience. I’m looking forward to continuing those discussions, developing deeper relationships at future NAMIC events, and being a resource to the NAMIC community.