Risk Management Education

Butler’s Risk Business

A university risk management program establishes a student-run captive; and in the process succeeds in impressing incumbent risk management professionals.
By: | July 27, 2017 • 7 min read

Butler University’s bomb-sniffing dog Marcus is being insured by a student-run captive.

Butler University’s Zach Finn possesses such a passion for risk management that steam practically emanates from the top of his head when he talks about it.

So when the former J.M. Smucker Co. risk manager got the chance to work with a university risk management program, he jumped at the chance to begin teaching and innovating.

And one of his dreams was to guide his students in developing a student-run captive.


“One of the reasons I wanted to set up a student-run captive at Butler was to show not only students what they could do with a risk management degree but show the industry what students could do with a risk management degree,” said Finn, the director of the Davey Risk Management & Insurance Program at Butler.

The program was launched with funding from 1947 Butler graduate William Davey, who enjoyed a long career with the Indiana Department of Insurance, including being appointed Insurance Commissioner in 1955.

The captive, which underwrites risks for Butler University’s liberal arts college, came into being in April, is licensed in Bermuda, and will become operational this month.

But the direct roots of the program date back to 2015, when Finn sat down with Michael M. Bill, the founder of MJ Insurance, to begin planning.

“I spent a lot of time in my career sitting down with people saying, ‘This is what this means, this is how this could be a benefit to the organization,’ ” Finn said.

Finn built a class within Butler’s risk management curriculum charged with putting together a feasibility study on the captive formation. He then hand-selected students from the risk management program to work on the study.

Zach Finn, director, Davey Risk Management & Insurance Program, Butler University

One recruit was Kentucky native Brad Weber, who was brought to Butler to play football and is now a risk professional, having landed a job as a risk analyst with the Moog Corporation after graduating from Butler’s risk management program in May.

“Butler University as a whole is all about experiential learning and it sounded like a great way to learn about insurance and not just from a textbook,” Weber said.

“Plus there was the opportunity to take a trip to whatever domicile was selected,” Weber said.

“That ended up being Bermuda, which was a really cool trip.”

After the class wrote its feasibility study and vetted it with the captive program’s professional advisory board, Finn and his students sent out inquiries to 10 domiciles.

“To their credit, Vermont and Bermuda were the only domiciles that responded,” Finn said.

Akilah Wilson, an assistant director of the Bermuda Monetary Authority, recalls her department being contacted by Butler University in September.

“Their original e-mail provided an Insurance Captive Brochure which outlined their initial proposal and demonstrated their commitment to establishing a captive. It was very well constructed from the outset,” she said.

“From what I gathered during the initial conversation, the students were very independent in producing their feasibility study on domiciles,” she said.

“They also led the first question and answer session. This demonstrated that they were leading the charge, with the help of their professors, of course.”

“One of the reasons I wanted to set up a student-run captive at Butler was to show not only students what they could do with a risk management degree but show the industry what students could do with a risk management degree.” — Zach Finn, director, Davey Risk Management & Insurance Program, Butler University

Don Ortegel, Aon Chicago managing director and a member of the school’s advisory board, also recalls being impressed with the Butler students when his team presented their RFP in the effort to win the job of captive manager.

“It was very clear from the process that the students were very engaged, very thoughtful,” he said.


“They not only reviewed the RFP we had to present to them, they made the recommendation for the final decision,” Ortegel said.

What is now known as the MJ Student-Run Insurance Company Ltd. was established with a cross-class aggregate limit of $265,000 and will insure science equipment, books and fine arts collections in Butler University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“We are insuring the first $150,000 of all of the scheduled fine arts and inland marine. Travelers will sit in excess,” Finn said.

Part of the students’ risk management work is performing loss control tours of the college’s library and its observatory.

As part of their analysis they determined that the college’s 38-inch Cassegrain reflector telescope was underinsured, by about $1 million. They also found out that they could automate closure of the observatory’s dome to close it remotely in the event of inclement weather.

Butler University’s student-run captive is insuring the university’s telescope; and conducting observatory safety evaluations.

“If the power goes out [in a storm] and somebody has to go over and manually shut the dome and it doesn’t happen, we’re out $2 million,” Finn said.

“That’s a $2,000 fix,” he said.

The captive is also insuring the university’s bomb-sniffing dog, Marcus. In an era when the alarming threat of terror attacks is on almost everyone’s minds, Finn thinks he has hit on a way to not only teach students about terrorism, but use risk management to fight it.

Finn and his Butler student team are developing a line of duty endorsement to the policy covering Marcus. The endorsement will allow for two dogs to rise up and take Marcus’ place should he ever be lost in the line of duty.

“Once we have developed this endorsement, we are going to float it out to the entire insurance industry. We’re going to ask that any carrier that insures a police dog or a bomb-sniffing dog include this line of duty endorsement.”

Butler grad Brad Weber said the experience he picked up in establishing a student-run captive in Bermuda proved invaluable in the job interview process.

Don Ortegel, managing director, Aon

“I would say what was really valuable about the class, more than what we learned which was specific to the captive industry, were project management skills,” Weber said.

“I think my education did a lot for me,” he said.

The position Weber is in at Moog required two to three years’ experience.

“Which I didn’t have coming right out of school,” Weber said.

“I was able to write a cover letter talking about how I would be able to handle all of the other requirements,” he said.

“And why my education gave me the experience required for a job like this,” he said.

Aon’s Ortegel said the Butler University accomplishment of establishing a student-run captive is a game changer.

“This isn’t necessarily about education,” he said.

“This is about the way we bring students or talent to the industry.”

As a result of the experience of helping to develop a captive at Butler, Ortegel said he and his teammates at Aon have been approached by other university risk management programs.

“We have had multiple inquiries and multiple conversations as a result of this,” he said.


Given that only the domiciles of Vermont and Bermuda responded to the initial inquiries from the Butler team — although other domiciles later entered discussions — one might surmise that many didn’t take the Butler students seriously.

One who had no problem taking the Butler risk management students seriously was Bermuda’s Akilah Wilson, who holds a risk management degree from Philadelphia’s Temple University.

“Being a graduate of Temple and a member of the Fox School of Business & Management’s Gamma Iota Sigma Chapter, I understood that there is a level of real world experience that you are exposed to during one of these programs,” she said.

“It actually did give me a greater appreciation for their initiative. I thought it was a great, practical hands-on experience for students to embark on.” &

Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He can be reached at [email protected]

More from Risk & Insurance

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Employment Practices


Sexual harassment is a growing concern for corporate America. Risk managers can pave the way to top-down culture change.
By: | March 5, 2018 • 12 min read

The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements opened up Pandora’s Box, launching countless public scandals and accusations. The stories that continue to emerge paint an unflattering picture of corporate America and the culture of sexual harassment that has permeated it for decades.


“The clock has run out on sexual assault, harassment and inequality in the workplace. It’s time to do something about it,” reads the official tagline of Time’s Up, one of the most vocal groups demanding change.

The GoFundMe campaign that supports the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund raised more than $16.7 million in less than a month, making it the most successful GoFundMe initiative on record.

Funds will be used to help victims of sexual harassment and assault bring legal action against harassers, as well as provide public relations consultation to manage any media attention such suits might attract.

The problem was never really a secret.

In surveys conducted since 1980 by the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, 40 percent of women and 15 percent of men consistently reported being sexually harassed at work.

In a sweeping meta-analysis of 25 years’ worth of research data, published in “Personnel Psychology,” an average of 25 percent of women reported experiencing sexual harassment at work. When respondents were given clear definitions of harassing behavior, that figure shot up to 60 percent.

The current climate is just now pushing awareness to the forefront. It was reported last November that law firms in the nation’s capital are seeing a spike in inquiries about sexual harassment cases.

Laura Coppola, regional head of commercial management liability in North America, Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty

In addition, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) website is seeing visits to its harassment web page double.

There’s no question the costs to businesses can be staggering. Twenty-First Century Fox reportedly incurred $50 million in costs tied to the settlement of sexual harassment and discrimination allegations in its Fox News division, as well as a $90 million settlement of shareholder claims arising from sexual harassment scandals.

In June, the company disclosed in a regulatory filing that it had $224 million in costs during the fiscal year related to “management and employee transitions and restructuring” at business units, including the group that houses Fox News.

If time is indeed up, it won’t just impact Hollywood, Silicon Valley or Capitol Hill. It will impact every workplace, in every industry.

“It affects everybody,” said Marie-France Gelot, senior vice president and insurance & claims counsel for Lockton’s Northeast Claims Advisory Group.

“I think anybody in corporate America — at some point — has seen it or been aware of it or been around it.”

“This particular phenomenon is certainly at a much wider scope than we’ve seen in the last decade or so,” said Laura Coppola, regional head of commercial management liability in North America, Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty.

“This is going to touch many industries, many segments, and many people.”

Employers are beginning to wonder if their workplace could be next.

“I think if you’d been asking [insureds] a year ago, ‘Are you interested in hearing about sexual harassment prevention?’ I think the answer would have been, ‘No, we’re good, we’ve got it,’ ” said Bob Graham, vice president, HUB International Limited.

“But I think now everyone’s saying ‘Sure, yes, we’d like to hear something.’ ”

Leading the Conversation

As American workplaces come under increasing scrutiny, the time is ripe for a large-scale pivot in the way employers manage risks related to sexual harassment.

The co-chairs of the EEOC’s select task force on the study of harassment in the workplace expressed it aptly in 2016:

“With legal liability long ago established, with reputational harm from harassment well known, with an entire cottage industry of workplace compliance and training adopted and encouraged for 30 years, why does so much harassment persist and take place in so many of our workplaces? And, most important of all, what can be done to prevent it? After 30 years — is there something we’ve been missing?”

Experts in the management liability field unanimously told Risk & Insurance® these issues should be elevated to the board level and the C-suite.

“Just as cyber liability shifted rapidly from an IT discussion to a board level discussion, so too will the harassment and discrimination discussion go beyond HR and be elevated to the highest levels,” said Coppola. It will become a corporate-wide, enterprise-wide conversation.

“It’s going to take some time to get to that board level, but it’s going to have to happen,” said Paul King, national practice leader, management and professional services, USI Insurance Services.

“Risk management and HR cannot go down parallel paths, not understanding one another. Not anymore. There’s too much at stake.” — Paul King, national practice leader, management and professional services, USI Insurance Services

Risk managers, said Kelly Thoerig, U.S. employment practices liability coverage leader, Marsh, are well suited to lead this conversation, which means actively partnering with human resources, the legal department, the general counsel’s office and outside counsel.


“Just like the quarterback depends on the offensive line, on receivers, on the running backs, it’s not a one-man show,” said King. “This can’t be the risk manager operating in a vacuum; they have to be liaising with multiple parts of the organization.”

Added King, “Risk management and HR cannot go down parallel paths, not understanding one another. Not anymore. There’s too much at stake.”

Connecting with outside counsel can also be of great benefit to risk managers, said Coppola.

“[They can] provide a very independent objective view of what they see in the overall market and how their knowledge of the individual client’s best practices can be improved and enhanced to ensure that they are protecting employees and the organization.”

Brokers and carriers also may be able to offer insights and services. Unfortunately, that piece is often lost because risk management and HR are siloed.

“The [knowledge of the] services that come with the insurance policy end up with the policy — in a drawer in the risk manager’s office,” said Tom Hams, employment practice liability insurance leader, Aon.

“HR doesn’t know that they exist. Even if they’re just online blogs or something like that, they could be more meaningful to the HR department than they are to risk management.

“So it’s important to make sure that companies are aware they’ve got those tools and — more importantly — to share them internally.”

Expediting Cultural Change

The X factor that underpins every aspect of these efforts is culture, experts agreed.

“It’s not so much ‘does the company have best-in-class policies and procedures in place;’ I think many of them do. I think that a significant change needed is doing a full overhaul of corporate culture, and that’s no small feat,” said Gelot.

Paul King, national practice leader, management and professional services, USI Insurance Services

True culture change can only come from the top level. But that isn’t likely to happen unless everyone at the top understands what the scope of the exposure could be if it’s not addressed appropriately on the front end. And for that, money talks, said Thoerig, who will be presenting on the topic at RIMS 2018 in San Antonio.

“Nothing is more instructive than real tangible claims examples and settlement amounts. Arm yourself with … recent, relevant claims examples specific to the industry and the jurisdictions the company operates in.”

In addition, said King, HR and legal should be regularly feeding claims information to risk managers to share at quarterly meetings of the board and give specific updates around these issues.

Armed with that level of intelligence, top brass can set the goals that will drive all anti-harassment efforts, said experts, putting an emphasis on identifying and correcting behavior that could potentially expose a company to liability.

Better Training and Reporting 

The best anti-harassment programs are multilayered, said Hams, with each facet carefully tailored to suit the employee population, the industry and the organization’s goals. A clearly defined policy is essential, stating that harassment will not be tolerated and neither will retaliation against those who report it.

The policy should be clear that employees are expected to report harassment or unacceptable behavior. Hams said he’s seen companies go so far as to state employees who don’t speak up are in violation of the policy.

“At least it should give them pause to stop and think about what they might have seen before they click the button or sign the document,” he said.

Companies should consider how uncomfortable employees may be about speaking up. An open-door policy is a start.

But there should also be multiple reporting points throughout the organization, said Hams, and an anonymous hotline for those reluctant to bring the matter up with anyone in their chain of command, and a multilingual hotline as well.

An effective training plan will have multiple moving parts and should touch every level of the organization from the executive suite to managers and supervisors to the rank and file. Comprehensive training is especially critical for the managers and supervisors who might receive or investigate complaints.

Many large employers already have training programs that can be considered best-in-class. Small to midsized employers, however, may still be using the cookie-cutter compliance-centric training that has dominated the field for decades.

The goal of this training is to hit all the bases related to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, ticking off a list of acts or speech that would be considered illegal and affirming the company will not tolerate illegal behavior.

Overwhelmingly though, this type of training misses the mark. Studies have shown that this one-size-fits-all training is ineffective, especially when it’s a rote check-the-box exercise. Employees get the message their employer doesn’t take the subject too seriously.

Worse, it can even aggravate tensions, creating more discriminatory behavior from men who avoid working with women just to eliminate the chance of being accused of anything.

One study even found that men were more likely to place blame on the victim of sexual abuse after they’d received that type of anti-harassment training.

Even at best, compliance-centric training will still fail, because it only addresses behaviors that violate the law. But there is a broad array of behavior that — while not quite illegal — shouldn’t be tolerated.

When this kind of activity is allowed to flourish unchecked, the environment becomes increasingly toxic for those on the receiving end. It also tells employees that the company will tolerate harassment as long as it’s not overly egregious. In that case, it’s just a matter of time before the company is faced with a serious claim.

“Nothing is more instructive than real tangible claims examples and settlement amounts. Arm yourself with … recent, relevant claims examples specific to the industry and the jurisdictions the company operates in.” — Kelly Thoerig, U.S. employment practices liability coverage leader, Marsh

In its 2016 report, the EEOC’s harassment task force recommended changing tactics, exploring alternative training models such as respect-based civility training — what some call professionalism training.


The theory is “if you train them to act in a professional manner, these things tend not to happen at all,” said Hams.

The EEOC also suggested bystander intervention training, which is designed to empower employees to intervene when they witness harassing behavior.

Experts agreed whatever training programs or modules a company chooses, it’s important the training material reflect the workforce and be continuous and regularly refreshed.

A certification scheme also should be put in place to ensure the training is hitting the mark. While the law does not yet require companies to prove the effectiveness of their programs, some suggest it’s only a matter of time before the courts catch up to the problem.

What’s more, said Coppola, it’s simply the right thing to do for companies that want to confirm they’ve created a culture where all employees can expect to be treated professionally.

Zero Tolerance

Gelot and others believe a zero-tolerance policy should be a key component of an effective anti-harassment program.

“There are many companies that have Harvey Weinsteins and Matt Lauers and Kevin Spaceys working in their midst and those people are tolerated. Employees know about them — it’s not a secret.”

Bob Graham, vice president, HUB International Limited

Particularly when the harasser is a high-level executive, companies may wrestle with the decision to look the other way or lose a key rainmaker. In a zero-tolerance environment — one that starts at the top — the decision would be clear.

“What we saw with Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose — they were terminated immediately as the accusations came out. That’s zero tolerance. That’s sending a message to all of the employees within the company that this is completely unacceptable, we won’t tolerate it, and [it] clearly sends a message to the public at large.”

Employers should promote a workplace culture where all forms of harassment and discrimination are unacceptable and reportable, said Gelot. That’s the only way to take the fear and the stigma out of reporting.

That said, the EEOC offers a word of caution on zero-tolerance policies applied militantly without regard for common sense. Employers should hash out the specifics of which acts merit immediate termination versus a warning.

Overzealous application of the zero-tolerance doctrine can backfire if an employee fears her coworker’s children will go hungry if she reports his lewd or sexist jokes.

Creating a Dialogue

As with managing any other exposure that touches everyone, robust sharing of ideas and best practices has the power to improve the risk profile of entire industry sectors.

Facebook raised eyebrows in December, making public its sexual harassment policy in full.

“I hope in sharing it we will start a discussion, both to help smaller companies thinking about this for the first time, and to improve our own practices by learning from other companies,” wrote Lori Goler, Facebook’s global VP of people, about the company’s bold move.


That level of disclosure is making some risk professionals uncomfortable. But others acknowledge the wisdom of it.

“Any time you can share best practices that’s probably a great idea, because no one has all the answers … or at least not all the right answers,” said Graham.

“There’s a reason they did that, and I think it’s for all the right, positive reasons. They want to drive the momentum that is going to reduce or even eliminate what we have seen in corporate America over the last 50-plus years. They want to lead by example, they want to be the model and rightly so,” added Coppola.

“I think we are at a perfect time in our economic environment that allows the evolution of equality in our workplace.”

Part of that should involve making the workplace more egalitarian, said Gelot, and figuring out “how to make female employees not feel ostracized by a ‘boys’ club’ atmosphere, and actively championing the ascension of women into senior rolls.”

“We can’t focus on the past,” said Coppola. “But we can work very hard collectively as a community, and within the insurance industry specifically, to move forward.” &

Michelle Kerr is associate editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]