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The Four Pillars of an Insurance Culture that Retains Top Talent

Specialized underwriting and claims expertise set carriers apart, but competition for top talent is fierce. To attract and retain the best candidates for the job, insurers need to create a culture that makes their staff feel supported, fulfilled and empowered to keep growing.
By: | February 29, 2024

In 2023, The U.S. insurance industry added 39,500 jobs, growing its numbers by 1.4%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to another labor market study, more than 60% of carriers intend to hire more staff this year. Primarily, insurers are looking for talent with specialized underwriting and claims expertise so that they can deliver a superior experience for clients.

Specialized, industry-specific knowledge yields policies that are tailored to a client’s unique exposures, support optimal claims outcomes, and generate better financial results for everyone. But this expertise takes time to find and develop.

Insurers face the challenge of attracting and retaining top talent in order to keep delivering world class results for their customers. That challenge has been exacerbated in recent years by a hot job market. Across the board, employers have to work harder to find and hold on to the best talent.

In insurance and everywhere else, workplace culture plays a big role in recruitment and retention efforts.  Nationwide is no exception.

“Our E&S Brokerage Casualty team is hiring at a pretty aggressive pace this year. We’re in the midst of a lot of recruiting and interviewing,” said Ashley Moffatt, SVP Nationwide E&S Brokerage Primary Casualty. “The culture is something that’s very palpable here. The saying ‘a workplace that works for you’ isn’t just a slogan for us. It’s just our commitment to creating a flexible, supportive environment.”

Moffatt highlighted four pillars of a workplace culture that Nationwide consciously builds for employees:

1. Flexibility that supports work-life balance.

Ashley Moffatt, SVP Nationwide E&S Brokerage Primary Casualty

The shift to remote work took hold during the COVID-19 pandemic and for many companies has proven to be a boon for productivity and employee satisfaction. Workplaces that offer a mix of fully remote, in-office and hybrid positions give employees the flexibility they need to balance work and home commitments.

Flexible work options also signify trust in employees’ ability to manage and prioritize their time effectively.

“We understand that the conventional 9-to-5 model may not fit everyone’s needs. We believe in trusting our employees’ ability to choose what works best for them. It’s rooted in an understanding that a happy, balanced, empowered workforce is more productive and engaged,” Moffatt said.

“By offering that mix of remote, hybrid, and in-office options, we cater to a diverse set of preferences and life circumstances, and ensure that each team member can work in a way that best suits their needs and contributes most effectively to our strategic objectives.”

Offering the option to work remotely also broadens the talent pool, allowing employers to consider candidates anywhere in the country, not just in their own backyard.

2. Access to the latest technological tools.

Investing in technological advancement – including modern underwriting and claims management platforms, customer portals, and analytical tools – ensures carriers continue to maximize efficiency and deliver a modern customer experience that insureds value. But access to top-tier technology also attracts workers who understand how these tools help them do their jobs.

“In today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape, candidates are increasingly tech-savvy and expect their employers to provide advanced technological tools to enhance efficiency and effectiveness. One of the most common questions I get asked during interviews is about our underwriting platform and technology in general,” Moffatt said.

“We pride ourselves on being an early adopter of innovation in the insurance sector, from AI-driven analytics to modern underwriting platforms. We ensure our team is equipped with the best tools to excel in their roles. This not only improves service and delivery, but also provides a stimulating work environment.”

At Nationwide, those tools include an AI-driven research platform which has helped both new and experienced underwriters to triage new business, easily reference the insurer’s guidelines and determine if risks are within their appetite. It continues to evolve based on underwriter feedback.

“The system touts the ability to potentially reduce underwriting time by up to 60% because of its deep web search capabilities, crime and location data, loss run analysis, and risk scoring. It’s been pretty fantastic,” Moffatt said.

3. Opportunities for professional development.

Providing opportunities to expand knowledge, hone skills, explore interests, and move into other roles is critical to retention. It gives employees the chance to build the career they want and that best suits their strengths. Younger candidates especially don’t want to be pigeonholed to one role. They need room to learn and grow.

Insurers can provide those opportunities in a number of ways. Formal training sessions and mentorship programs facilitate transfer of knowledge. But leaders who listen are also critical. It’s important for mentors to recognize their employees’ interests and provide the right resources and opportunities for them to explore those interests.

“Of equal importance is upskilling and cross-training of our tenured professionals. Within our specialty casualty verticals, we’re launching an upskilling project led by various subject matter experts to dive into specific appetite areas to improve our alignment, consistency, and technical acumen,” Moffatt said.

4. Opportunities for personal fulfillment.

Perhaps today more than ever, employees value employers who are good social stewards, who give back to their communities and demonstrate a commitment to bettering the world around them. Being a part of those efforts gives employees a chance to connect with their communities and each other, and to feel connected to a greater purpose.

“Nationwide partners with organizations that create lasting change in our communities by focusing on four strategic impact areas. Those are food security, crisis stability, social and economic empowerment, and children’s wellbeing. Throughout the year, employees get the opportunity to give back to organizations that support these important pillars through various engagement efforts,” Moffatt said.

“Recently, many of us local Scottsdale associates got to participate in a volunteer outing and team building at St. Mary’s Food Bank. Providing these opportunities for our people to connect, giving them the time off to do so, and having our leadership walk the walk continues to be one of the most impactful parts of our culture.”

How Retention of Top Talent Serves Clients and Carriers

All of these factors can create an environment in which employees feel supported and empowered to do their best work, which is what will keep top talent on board for years to come.

“Starting in late 2023 and continuing into 2024, Nationwide is looking to add nine new specialty casualty underwriters within its primary and excess verticals, furthering a commitment to specialized service that we’ve built over 40 years in the E&S/Specialty sector,” Moffatt said.

“Specialized talent is one of the core pillars of our strategy, which is based on verticalization. We’ve been very purposeful in hiring respectable industry talent to address talent gaps so we can continue to grow in our chosen industry segments,” she added.

The underwriting team is supported by equally skilled and experienced in-house claims professionals.

“Our claims teams have the expertise and certifications required to support claims of all sizes ranging from small to potentially full-limit losses. Since we have that dedicated in-house claims team, our underwriters can easily access them for questions, concerns, or to provide coverage intent,” Moffatt said.

“The claims team also engages the underwriters when they round table losses or set large loss reserves so that we’re looped in and can offer our feedback on the claim intent. That level of connectivity with our claims and underwriting professionals has a huge advantage for us and really resonates well in the marketplace,” she added.

That level of collaboration and communication is another factor that creates a supportive and efficient work environment. Ultimately, retention of expertise in the underwriting and claims departments supports consistent service for clients, and long-term profitability.

To learn more, visit nationwide.com/brokers.

About Nationwide
Standard & Poor’s A+1 | AM Best Rated A2 | Fortune 100 Company
Products underwritten by Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company and Affiliated Companies. Not all Nationwide affiliated companies are mutual companies, and not all Nationwide members are insured by a mutual company. Home Office: One Nationwide Plaza, Columbus, OH. Nationwide, the Nationwide N and Eagle, and other marks displayed on this page are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, unless otherwise disclosed.
1The fifth highest of 21 ratings. The outlook for this rating is stable. Received: 12/22/08. Affirmed: 05/16/23
2The third highest of 16 ratings. The outlook for this rating is stable. Received: 12/7/23. © 2024 Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.


This article was produced by the R&I Brand Studio, a unit of the advertising department of Risk & Insurance, in collaboration with Nationwide. The editorial staff of Risk & Insurance had no role in its preparation.

Nationwide, a Fortune 100 company, is one of the largest and strongest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the U.S. and is rated A by A.M. Best and A+ by Standard & Poor’s.

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