When Ben Walter took the helm of Hiscox USA last year, he didn’t have decades of underwriting experience on his résumé, nor did he have the intention of recruiting teams of specialty underwriters from other insurers to build his operation.

Executive Summary

Hiscox USA CEO Ben Walter is not a veteran of the insurance industry, but general management skills and a background in 10 other industries have given him the courage to trust people who know what he doesn't in some situations and to rely on his own intellect and intuition in others. Walter shared some of the decisions he's made about hiring, marketing and an online insurance platform during a recent interview.

“We’ve gone the other way. We have hired almost all recent college grads,” says Walter, whose experience in the insurance industry before becoming chief executive officer in April 2012 was limited to the prior year he served as chief operating officer at the same company.

A hiring jolt—which saw the insurer’s workforce ranks swell to 250 from 175 employees since Walter joined Hiscox USA in March 2011—is one of the drivers of 30-plus percent revenue jumps in 2012 and 2013, he believes.

Brand development and an online direct-sales initiative launched in 2010 are other contributors to recent premium growth spurts that are favorably out of sync with the rest of the industry, Walter revealed during an interview with Carrier Management earlier this year.

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