The 2020 Insurance Executives to Watch: The Hanover’s Bryan Salvatore

The Hanover's Bryan Salvatore talks the importance of sustainable business models, customer relationships, and attracting young people to the industry.
By: | January 24, 2020

Bryan Salvatore wants young people to hear a message that many others in the industry are championing: Insurance is an exciting business.

He has 25 years of fulfillment and experience in specialty lines to show for it.

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Most recently, Salvatore joined The Hanover as executive vice president and president of domestic specialty after 20 years at Zurich North America. There, he served as president of their specialty products business.

Salvatore has garnered experience across many different lines of insurance. His diverse background, willingness to focus on experience instead of climbing the ladder, and emphasis on business sustainability are just some of the reasons he was designated a 2020 Executive to Watch.

Rolling With Changes

Salvatore entered his new role within The Hanover in stride and welcomed the change. Part of the reason for the smooth transition in 2017 was the clear vision he felt within the company.

“The distribution model is so important,” he explained of the business culture he immediately felt when he joined The Hanover.

We are focused on the middle market, small commercial account segments, and really driving solutions. Those are very important issues in specialty… Instead of working on very large accounts, my focus is on ‘how do we best serve our relatively new businesses and  get them more deeply engaged with our agents?’ That’s so important to our franchise.”

Most recently, Salvatore has been focusing on financial institutions in specialty with the November launch of Hanover Financial Institutions Advantage, which aims to better serve small to mid-sized asset managers and depository institutions with coordinated coverage.

Properly engaging agents and brokers to be aware of the unique risk exposure of niche markets is one of the biggest challenges in specialty.

“A lot of agents, frankly, aren’t very good at trying to create that account-centric solution for the customer and for the agent,” said Salvatore of the unique requirements of coverage.

To find solutions that work for clients, Salvatore is focused on sustainability and knowing how to identify weaknesses within a business model.

“We want to grow this business in the places that we think make the most sense right now. To be sustainable in specialty, sometimes you have to slow down and make sure you feel good about the book of business you have and then there are times you have the opportunity to grow,” Salvatore explained.

“It’s about continuing to move our specialty business up to that next level, continuing to drive growth, and doing it in a smart way.”

Knowledge Is Power

Being smart — or using knowledge to predict and or prevent future events — is precisely what the insurance industry derived from.

“Cyber is a great example of an emerging risk that has demonstrated it has real severity,” explained Salvatore as an example. “It has demonstrated that losses develop in a way that is different from other professional lines and coverages that we, as an industry, have been providing for a long time. We didn’t walk away from it though, did we?”

Knowledge is something Salvatore thinks the industry utilizes well, especially when it comes to finding solutions for unprecedented risks. Protection against these risks lies in the hands of insurers.

“Of course, it’s never perfect, but the industry evolves its products and evolves its thinking. Our ability to jump into emerging risks, provide a solution, learn and adjust has really helped businesses,” said Salvatore of effectiveness within the industry.

Leveraging Relationships to Build Experience

Looking back on the years behind him in the industry and the ones to come, Salvatore credits two major things to his successes: relationships and experience.

He is an insurance exec who builds partnerships to last and isn’t afraid of the leg work.

“In order to be effective and successful, you have to build trust and confidence with a customer so they feel they can rely on you in moments of need. You build relationships by delivering on your promises and working through challenges together. The relationships that you build can last years.”

In fact, some of the proudest moments in Salvatore’s career were the ones where he helped his colleagues advance in theirs.

“I moved someone I knew within the financial institutions space to the head of a property and casualty group, [which] included environmental, excess and rail business, among other businesses … in one of my other past roles, I appointed a woman who previously was lead pricing actuary to head of environmental and she excelled in that.

“When you see people demonstrate and communicate that they are looking for better challenges and then they earn it and you are successful in helping them achieve it, that to me is a real accomplishment.”

Climbing the Ladder… Sideways

Salvatore measures personal success by it’s positive impact on others. He often asks himself, “As a leader, am I able to have a positive, sustainable impact, whether it’s on a team that works with me or one of our businesses?”

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He emulates the values of a true team player.

“I had many different roles in my last company and sometimes that meant a lot of movement. In these niches, if you want to move up, at some point you’re at the peak of a very narrow triangle,” he said.

“That’s the type of advice I offer young professionals. Take some risks. Don’t always focus on moving up, focus on moving laterally to learn; be patient, and that’s how you become proficient at it.”

And proficient Salvatore is. Now that he’s found his footing at The Hanover, Salvatore is focused on advancing existing products to become even more relevant to their agents. After almost three decades in the industry, he has climbed — and is still climbing — his fair distance on the horizontal ladder of success.

When asked what makes him most proud, Salvatore said it’s helping others accomplish that horizontal distance as well.

“I get more of a sense of accomplishment from working with people who have real potential, helping them understand and work through their career opportunities, and how to achieve that; that’s where I find the most pride.” &

Emily Spennato is a staff writer with Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]

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The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]