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Assurance Agency Ltd.
Liz Smith has had a transformative effect on Assurance Agency Ltd.'s employee benefits practice since being named its president in 2008.
Under Ms. Smith's direction, the Schaumburg, Illinois-based employee benefits practice has grown its sales volume by more than 350%. Last year, the practice generated approximately $35 million in measurable value for its clients, including $11 million in savings from potential taxes and fees assessed under the federal health care reform law, according to information supplied by Assurance. In August, she was named co-president of the agency.
“She's put together a very impressive and responsive group,” Alan Becker, a Chicago-based managing partner at Litchfield Cavo L.L.P. said of Ms. Smith and her team of more than 75 benefits professionals. “They're very good at understanding the nuances of our needs, and that's really important to us.”
Mr. Becker said Ms. Smith and her team were instrumental in Litchfield Cavo's transition in 2012 from a fully insured group health benefits program to a self-funded program.
“It involves a lot more work in making judgments about risk and expenses and premiums, as well as a lot more thought going into the structure and packaging of the benefits themselves,” Mr. Becker said. “We really relied on Liz and her team to help us with that.”
Acutely aware of the rapid shifts in strategies and economics in the employee benefits industry, Ms. Smith said she envisions further changes to Assurance's benefits practice in the near- and mid-term, including — she hopes — a more collaborative relationship with her firm's commercial casualty risk units.
“There's a lot of opportunity in the integration of casualty risk and employee benefits,” Ms. Smith said. “A large portion of the companies we work with are Assurance clients on both sides of the house, but there's not necessarily a lot of collaboration between our service platforms or strategies geared towards combating the challenges of a company on the whole. That's going to be a big push for us, that more holistic approach.”
Where will the insurance industry find the leaders of tomorrow? That's been an ever-more-urgent question as baby boomers retire in increasing numbers. The insurance industry has to compete with other industries, some of which appear to be considerably more interesting and glamorous in the public eye, for the talent without which no industry can prosper or even survive.