From War Zones to Artificial Intelligence, Kalepa’s Daniel Hillman Knows the Power of Decision Making

Decision-making under pressure in the the emergency medicine and military fields prepared Daniel Hillman to excel in risk management.
By: | September 8, 2020

Every action can have unintended consequences, just like every decision we make has embedded risks. Daniel Hillman understands this very well.

Between serving in the military and volunteering as an emergency medical technician, he experienced many moments in which decision making saved or cost a life.

His risk management journey began approximately 20 years ago, during his military service.

“We were operating in a volatile and uncertain environment that required a clear-eyed assessment of exposures and a careful balancing of the potential benefits and losses. Operations had to proceed, as a matter of national security, and it was incumbent upon us to be relentless about risk mitigation efforts,” said Hillman, co-founder of Kalepa, an artificial intelligence platform that offers decision support for commercial underwriters.

“I learned to appreciate the fragility of human life and the importance of not taking anything for granted.”

This experience, along with his involvement in emergency medicine, translated surprisingly well to his career in risk management.

Hillman’s passions now lie in developing ways to use technology to advance the insurance industry and further its essential role in helping individuals and businesses remain protected.

“I became passionate about applying novel technologies to solve fundamental business challenges within the industry and to achieve better outcomes,” said Hillman.

“There are foundational changes underway within the industry, including the emergence of new perils and coverage needs as well as a surge in the availability of data about insureds and associated exposures. These jointly provide a tremendous opportunity to improve not only the way we quantify risk but also the way we manage and mitigate it.”

Delivering on Kalepa’s Mission

Daniel Hillman, co-founder, Kalepa

At Kalepa, Hillman knows that optimal outcomes for underwriting risk come from listening; not talking.

“My focus is on helping our carrier and MGA clients drive profitable premium growth. This involves a great deal of listening: to the strategic priorities of LOB owners and underwriting leaders and to the day-to-day needs of underwriters,” he said.

“Our copilot software empowers underwriters to focus on the highest ROI opportunities and to rapidly select high quality risks. As a company, we are observing opportunities to structure increasingly effective processes to manage both renewal business and new submissions … I am most excited about the opportunity to take part in shaping the future of how risk is underwritten.”

COVID-19 has undoubtedly accelerated the need for digitization in the insurance and risk management industries.

It has also heightened the need for effective ways to communicate and collaborate remotely among risk professionals. Kalepa is partnering closely with its clients to help them adapt to this new environment.

What sets Hillman apart from other risk management professionals is his ability to see insurance for what it is: A multi-faceted business that relies on people as much as numbers, science and data.

“Risk management and insurance are unique in that they require two disparate skill sets that are rarely found together: a highly rational and quantitative approach, coupled with strong interpersonal skills.

“Many professions draw talent that is skewed towards one direction or the other. The reality is that insurance is a people business. Every insured, whether an individual or a firm, needs to be understood and served well. Of course, those insureds also need to mitigate risk, and that is the quintessential application of applied math and actuarial science to business,” he said.

Moving the Industry Forward

There is a growing need for new talent in the insurance and risk management industries as seasoned veterans pursue their well-deserved retirements. Fortunately, the industry does an excellent job of nurturing the young professionals they do have.

“I am constantly amazed by the dedication of industry titans who have painstakingly developed and groomed the next generation of industry leaders over decades,” Hillman said.

“The investment in formal education, on-the-job training and accreditation, and career growth has fostered a very high degree of loyalty among career insurance professionals.”

According to Hillman, the industry is sometimes loyal to a fault, staying true to methods that are less applicable in a technology-rich era. True innovation and impact comes from pushing the envelope, not playing it safe.

“The industry would be well served by being more perceptive to overall trends and disruptions that are taking hold of other industries. There is a lot that can be learned from the experiences of banks, manufacturers and even internet companies along with some painful mistakes that can be avoided,” he said.

What about the industry excites Hillman the most? The opportunity to take part in shaping the future of how risk is underwritten in insurance.

“Every action we take in life involves a degree of risk,” he said. “Pursuing our goals while managing that risk is the essence of how we find purpose and navigate through life’s obstacles. Whether we know it or not, risk management is central to our existence.” &

Emily Spennato is a former staff writer with Risk & Insurance.

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