What does it take to lead innovation efforts in the property/casualty insurance industry?
Carrier Management reached out to executives of P/C insurance companies and service providers, asking them to respond to questions about innovation, including one about how they support innovation in their individual companies. Here, we publish the responses from 10 of them:
Q7: Describe your role in leading innovation at your company.
Colberg (Assurant): Championing innovation at Assurant is one of my most important roles. As an organization we need to adapt to changing conditions or we risk becoming irrelevant. We need to harness different perspectives, skills and experiences to serve and innovate for our customers around the world.
Sometimes, however, there can be a sense that innovation is somebody else’s job. The reality is everybody needs to innovate—it is everybody’s job. I encourage employees to go outside of their comfort zone, let them know that they can try and that it is okay to fail in pursuit of success. There may be things that we should not do, that are not appropriate for us to do, or we do not have the right resources to do, but it will not hurt you to share your ideas, and it does not hurt us to listen. There really is no such thing as a bad idea.
Rios (American Modern): My role in leading innovation involves inspiring people to stay uncomfortable with the status quo, encouraging them to always be in student mode and asking them to question everything.
Sciolla (Gen Re): The insurance “pie” in North America has not grown much over the past 10 years. As the marketing leader for Gen Re’s Treaty business in North America, my role is to encourage finding “new new” opportunities to provide reinsurance.
As a direct writer, we are differentiated from our competitors by sharing our underwriting and claims expertise directly with our customer’s risk decision-makers. One of our greatest successes is with customers with whom we work to launch a new product, providing the expertise and reinsurance capacity they need when they are less familiar with exposures. Then over time they assume more of the risks themselves and increase their profitable income.
A cycle is created with the customer continually working with Gen Re to identify new risks to insure, and over time they assume them on their own.
Watson (Argo): At Argo Group, we really pride ourselves on fostering an environment of innovation. Like many CEOs, I wear a number of hats. Part of my mission is to ensure the spirit of innovation is cultivated so it can thrive.
As chief entrepreneur, I have the privilege of setting the tone of innovation throughout the organization. Anyone who knows me knows that I am passionate about innovation and I try to make that known. I assume the task of setting the example, so my leadership team can follow and do likewise. In this light, it is important to convey to others that some disruption is not only okay but is encouraged. We need different perspectives to grow. We need to execute well and remember that failure is just part of the learning process. We need change agents that will champion our cause and keep our business evolving. It all comes down to collaboration, commitment and communication. These are the parts of our innovation engine that fuel success and keep the wheels spinning.
Kelley (Ironshore): Dedication and commitment to innovation comprises the ethos of my job at Ironshore. My role is to listen to the market, motivate new thinking and build a culture to innovate.
Wurzler (OneBeacon Technology): As a business leader, I view my role as responsible for both inspiring and fostering a culture of innovation. Some of that comes from continually offering ideas, and some of it comes from continuously demonstrating that we value innovation. That’s particularly important to us, given our focus on the technology sector.
Lightfoot (Guy Carpenter): I’m fortunate to lead GC Analytics for the U.S., Canada and Latin America at a time when expectations are high to deliver best-in-class analytics to our clients. Consequently, I spend a lot of time talking to our broking, analytics and specialty practice colleagues, as well as our clients, about how to increase the value we provide. I recently heard the term “balanced excellence,” and I think this phrase accurately describes what we are striving to achieve.
McGavick (XL): At XL Catlin, innovation is part of everyone’s responsibilities. Leading innovation happens at all levels. I’m in more of a position of support, making sure my colleagues have what they need to support development of their ideas.
Hendrick (XL Catlin): I say my role is an advocate. It takes time and resources to see if ideas are viable, and if they are, if they can be successfully implemented. To make that happen, leadership support is important to assure that innovators can tap into the necessary resources and expertise that’s required to take an actionable idea into a working solution.
Lupica (ACE): Innovations and innovators need sponsors because they present change that not everyone is comfortable with. I make sure the most promising developments have a chance to progress and that they have support and buy-in at all levels.
I also demand bottom-line results. Ultimately, innovation has to make business sense at ACE and contribute to our success.
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