Risk Insider: Mary Ann Cook

Exceeding Expectations

By: | January 16, 2018 • 2 min read
Mary Ann Cook is SVP of Knowledge Resources and Content Development for The Institutes. Her team designs the curriculum that guides many of The Institutes’ designation programs and custom products. She writes about and presents on a variety of topics including insurance coverages and the agent and broker marketplace. She can be reached at [email protected]

The risk management and insurance (RMI) industry has been talking about it for years: there simply are too few qualified college graduates to fill job openings.

Employers spend considerable resources on recruitment, only to settle on new hires who have some industry knowledge and experience but are often unprepared for the day-to-day work the positions require. Employers get stuck in a cycle of excessive (and expensive) onboarding and immediate training to get young employees up to speed.


Students at most universities today feel the pull between scholarly learning and gaining on-the-job skills to land positions and pay off student loans after graduation. While universities have made efforts to prepare graduates for the working world, business graduates, even those with RMI degrees, don’t always know what employers’ expectations will be.

That’s where we, as an industry, must come in. We’ve already made strides. Today, RMI students at nearly 60 schools can take college courses providing partial credit toward the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU®) designation through The Institutes’ Collegiate Studies for CPCU program, which embeds key industry learning into class curriculum.

Insurance organizations are driving outreach efforts too. Many employers partner with groups like MyPath and Gamma Iota Sigma (GIS) to provide background about the insurance business and put students and recent grads on a sound career path.

Faculty can bring in insurance industry employees to expand the discussion beyond “Here’s what I do” to include “Here’s what we need you to do.”

But the lingering gap between open positions and work-ready graduates is a clear sign greater collaboration between employers and universities is needed.

Apprenticeships, essentially internships updated for today’s job market, are one growing way to forge connections between industry and academia. Employers play a significant role designing the curriculum, supported by colleges. Student apprentices are paid for their work and are guaranteed a job after graduation.

Faculty can build on partnerships in the classroom, typically by bringing in insurance industry employees and ensuring they expand the discussion beyond “Here’s what I do” to include “Here’s what we need you to do.”

Additionally, faculty and industry can partner in research projects to enhance understanding of the business environment and how colleges and universities can work with employers to better meet those needs.

But acquiring new knowledge must continue once an employee starts on the job. Employers that continue to develop the skills of the employees they recruited will see greater loyalty and that culture of learning will result in more innovation and happier teams.


Of course, this training should be tied to strategic objectives with demonstrable results. But organizations can start with informal initiatives, such as lunch-and-learn sessions, which get employees excited about sharing knowledge and learning new things.

Being motivated by learning is one of the great thrills and privileges of a college education. As an industry, it’s our job to foster that enthusiasm in our students and future leaders while providing a framework to help them learn the skills they’ll need to be successful risk and insurance professionals.

If we can do that, there’s no doubt we’ll all benefit from a return on that investment through their continued engagement and commitment.

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

2018 Most Dangerous Emerging Risks

Emerging Multipliers

It’s not that these risks are new; it’s that they’re coming at you at a volume and rate you never imagined before.
By: | April 9, 2018 • 3 min read

Underwriters have plenty to worry about, but there is one word that perhaps rattles them more than any other word. That word is aggregation.


Aggregation, in the transferred or covered risk usage, represents the multiplying potential of a risk. For examples, we can look back to the asbestos claims that did so much damage to Lloyds’ of London names and syndicates in the mid-1990s.

More recently, underwriters expressed fears about the aggregation of risk from lawsuits by football players at various levels of the sport. Players, from Pee Wee on up to the NFL, claim to have suffered irreversible brain damage from hits to the head.

That risk scenario has yet to fully play out — it will be decades in doing so — but it is already producing claims in the billions.

This year’s edition of our national-award winning coverage of the Most Dangerous Emerging Risks focuses on risks that have always existed. The emergent — and more dangerous — piece to the puzzle is that these risks are now super-charged with risk multipliers.

Take reputational risk, for example. Businesses and individuals that were sharply managed have always protected their reputations fiercely. In days past, a lapse in ethics or morals could be extremely damaging to one’s reputation, but it might take days, weeks, even years of work by newspaper reporters, idle gossips or political enemies to dig it out and make it public.

Brand new technologies, brand new commercial covers. It all works well; until it doesn’t.

These days, the speed at which Internet connectedness and social media can spread information makes reputational risk an existential threat. Information that can stop a glittering career dead in its tracks can be shared by millions with a casual, thoughtless tap or swipe on their smartphones.

Aggregation of uninsured risk is another area of focus of our Most Dangerous Emerging Risks (MDER) coverage.

The beauty of the insurance model is that the business expands to cover personal and commercial risks as the world expands. The more cars on the planet, the more car insurance to sell.

The more people, the more life insurance. Brand new technologies, brand new commercial covers. It all works well; until it doesn’t.

As Risk & Insurance® associate editor Michelle Kerr and her sources point out, growing populations and rising property values, combined with an increase in high-severity catastrophes, threaten to push the insurance coverage gap to critical levels.

This aggregation of uninsured value got a recent proof in CAT-filled 2017. The global tally for natural disaster losses in 2017 was $330 billion; 60 percent of it was uninsured.


This uninsured gap threatens to place unsustainable pressure on public resources and hamstring society’s ability to respond to natural disasters, which show no sign of slowing down or tempering.

A related threat, the combination of a failing infrastructure and increasing storm severity, marks our third MDER. This MDER looks at the largely uninsurable risk of business interruption that results not from damage to your property or your suppliers’ property, but to publicly maintained infrastructure that provides ingress and egress to your property. It’s a danger coming into shape more and more frequently.

As always, our goal in writing about these threats is not to engage in fear mongering. It’s to initiate and expand a dialogue that can hopefully result in better planning and mitigation, saving the lives and limbs of businesses here and around the world.

2018 Most Dangerous Emerging Risks

Critical Coverage Gap

Growing populations and rising property values, combined with an increase in high-severity catastrophes, are pushing the insurance protection gap to a critical level.

Climate Change as a Business Interruption Multiplier

Crumbling roads and bridges isolate companies and trigger business interruption losses.


Reputation’s Existential Threat

Social media — the very tool used to connect people in an instant — can threaten a business’s reputation just as quickly.


AI as a Risk Multiplier

AI has potential, but it comes with risks. Mitigating these risks helps insurers and insureds alike, enabling advances in almost every field.


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