THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY SEEMS TO SUFFER FROM A VARIETY OF ILLS RIGHT NOW,
not the least of which is the claim that it lacks the ability to keep pace with technology best practices. Repeatedly compared to the successes seen by the banking industry, insurers are thought to
quietly plod along, focused on a methodical, risk-averse approach to using technology to foster
both organic and acquisitive growth.
To make matters worse, the term “innovation” isn’t typically used in the same sentence with
words such as underwriting, actuarial or mortality tables. Instead, the term usually describes pioneers, specifically in technology.
And for good reason. Consider the role technology has historically played in innovation. From
the conduction of electricity, to the invention of the telephone, to our space program and beyond,
technology has helped shape our present day existence.
Or has it? If we consider the brilliant minds that work individually and collectively to create
innovation, we see that technology is but an enabler.
So where does that leave the insurance industry, already battling a bad rap as it struggles to use
various forms of innovation to compete against overwhelming challenges?
Consider the first known formal “fire” insurance company, known as “The Insurance Office,”
established in 1667 just a year after the Great Fire of London. According to the International Risk
Management Institute Inc., Nicholas Barbon M.D., was one of the earliest proponents of free trade
and instrumental in establishing the firm.
Barbon’s innovation had nothing to do with technology; rather, it was part of a larger business
strategy. Instead of relying on the city’s inadequate fire-fighting support, the company employed
actual fire-fighting teams to put out fires in the buildings it insured. Granted, the company’s initiative may be viewed as scurrilous held up against today’s business practices, but the result of this
“strategy” represents one our readers would appreciate even today. Increased revenue enabled the
company to diversify beyond insurance, and grow by employing other business-strategic innovations designed for the future, such as investing in commercial and residential real estate development, something sorely needed after the Great Fire.
So, when innovation represents a technology that enables corporate-wide strategy, the result is
a perfect fit designed to breed innovation for the future.
The article highlighting a corporate-wide initiative underway at Farmers’ Insurance (Insurance
Networking News’ INNovator of the Year, p. 21), is evidence of such success, and puts a new perspective on the creative thinking that drives individuals and organizations to best practices.
Congratulations to Farmers, and to their team of innovators.
4709 Golf Rd., 7th Floor
Skokie, IL 60076
Editor-in-Chief: Patricia Speer 847.933.5183
Senior Managing Editor: Carrie Burns 847.933.5174
Senior Editor: William Kenealy 847.933.5179
Senior Editor: Alex Vorro 847.933.5184
Art Director: Mike Vella
Associate Art Director: Javier Samaniego
Group Editorial Director: John McCormick
SVP & Group Publisher: Rob Whitaker 212.803.8844
Associate Publisher: Holli Gronset 847.428.0627
VP Business Development: Adam Reinebach 212.803.6555
Sales Coordinator : Michelle Vega 847.933.5185
Customer Service: 800.221.1809
Reprint Services: Joylyn Yaw 212.803.8368
Marketing Manager: Katherine Isacsson 212.803.8713
Circulation Manager: George Ortiz 212.803.8544
Executive Director of Manufacturing: Stacy Ferrara 212.803.8293
Group Production Director: Elina Shnayder 212.803.8210
Distribution Manager: Carmen Meledez 212.803.8827
BOARD OF ADVISERS:
Eric Bulis, SVP and CIO, SBLI USA Mutual Life
Ursuline Foley, SVP and CIO, XLRe at XL Capital
Dick Mucci, Chairman and CEO of International, New York Life
Dennis Mehmen, CIO, VP, Business Information Services,
Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Co.
Mike Murray, VP of Finance, OneBeacon Insurance Co.
Michael Romano, SVP, Risk & Administrative Services, Highmark Inc.
Anthony Sisti, Information Systems Director, Travelers
INVESTMENT ADVISOR AND TECHNOLOGY GROUPS
EVP & Managing Director: Bruce Morris
Chairman & CEO: James M. Malkin
CFO: William Johnston
VP, Sales & Customer Service: Steve Andreazza
SVP, Finance & Accounting: Richard Antoneck
SVP, Operations: Celie Baussan
EVP & Chief Content Officer: David Longobardi
EVP, Marketing & Strategic Planning: Anne O’Brien
Senior Director, Human Resources: Ying Wong