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Armed with her own patent, Ingrid Cook wasn’t nervous about leaving the only employer she had ever had, Progressive Corp., after more than 19 years to start her own firm in 2016.
Ms. Cook, who joined Progressive right after college, had worked her way up to a claims management position. “I had reached a glass ceiling,” she said. “If you reach your max” you either stay in place or “you create a new venture for yourself,” which is the path she took.
On her own time, she had invented and patented “Snap A Pic. Get A Quote,” a computer-based method for obtaining vehicle repair estimates for minor fender-benders that is now licensed by major auto insurers.
Her small insurtech company focuses on the convergence of auto-related risks, internet technologies, machine learning and automotive repairs. The company has recently introduced a fleet crash management system.
Ms. Cook grew up in Monessen, a small town about 50 miles south of Pittsburgh. Her mother worked for the U.S. Postal Service and her father in the gas pipeline industry. Ms. Cook was Miss Black Teenager of Western Pennsylvania in 1991 and graduated from Spelman College in Atlanta with a bachelor’s degree in English.
Often finding herself the only woman of color in a room, Ms. Cook said she has learned to connect with others “from the inside out,” discovering commonalities as human beings. “It’s a skill that I’ve worked on for many years,” she said.
Ms. Cook said her firm has been active in the community, including partnering with the Pittsburgh Technology Council in a mentoring program working with high school girls of color who plan to attend college.
Her personal interests include playing alto saxophone. She was featured in a 2007 book, Pittsburgh Jazz, and has worked as a part-time deejay at a jazz station.
Ms. Cook said her fiancé, Ben, who works in finance and whom she plans to marry next year, is her biggest cheerleader and supporter. “He is one of a kind. We make a great team,” Ms. Cook said.
The Business Insurance Women to Watch awards program highlights the achievements of female leaders in the insurance sector to celebrate their success and promote gender diversity in the industry.