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Insurance sector steps up recruitment efforts


From corporate headquarters to college campuses, the insurance industry is reaching out and collaborating to attract talent.

Meanwhile, those involved in talent acquisition are contending with a remote working environment that has created new challenges to recruiting.

The Insurance Information Institute’s collaboration with HBCU Impact, a group dedicated to informing the Historically Black College and University community about the benefits of a career in insurance, is the product of a year’s planning, said Sean Kevelighan, CEO of the I.I.I. in New York.

The I.I.I. has produced a series of seven video profiles of leading insurance industry executives and regulators to be used by HBCU Impact in its classroom outreach activities, Mr. Kevelighan said, adding he expects to expand the collaboration between the two groups. “We’re just getting started. We’ve got ideas already that we’re working on,” he said.

The I.I.I. also collaborates with the Wharton Risk Center at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia to host the university’s Hackathon, which most recently focused on climate risk. Mr. Kevelighan said the program saw “significant” participation with some 40 teams of students charged with developing and presenting innovative solutions to address climate change.

Zurich North America in January launched its Zurich Fellows Scholarship, created to help “diverse talent” pursue advanced degrees in insurance fields, said Jessica Aguilar, head of talent acquisition in Schaumburg, Illinois, for the insurer.

Zurich is also in the process of recruiting its largest Apprenticeship Program class ever, some 70 apprentices to be spread across at least nine cities, Ms. Aguilar said.

Launched in the U.S in 2016 and initially focused on claims and underwriting, the program now includes 16 different business units and functions. Zurich has hired close to 150 apprentices since 2016, Ms. Aguilar said.

The American Property Casualty Insurance Association and its members helped launch the Insurance Careers Movement in 2015 to focus on workforce development and diversity as key industry priorities, said Tamra Johnson, APCIA assistant vice president for public affairs in Washington.

APCIA co-hosts the industry’s annual Emerging Leaders Conference with the Insurance Careers Movement team, Ms. Johnson said, “to identify and retain fresh and diverse talent in the insurance industry by providing accelerated professional development from C-Suite executives and networking opportunities.”

February is Insurance Careers Month, created by the Insurance Careers Movement founders, including APCIA, Hamilton Insurance Group Ltd., American International Group Inc., Marsh & McLennan Cos., Lloyd’s of London and The Institutes.

“Expanding career opportunities and accelerating work on diversity, equity and inclusion in insurance is a collaborative space for the industry,” said Marguerite Tortorello, managing director of the Insurance Careers Movement. She added that more than 1,000 insurers, agents and brokers, trade associations, regulators, media organizations, and others are working together on Insurance Careers Month.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced stakeholders to take a fresh look at their recruiting efforts.

What COVID did, Mr. Kevelighan said, was “change the way we look at the workforce. There’s more flexibility and more openness to being less attached to the physical location of an individual.”

“With the move to more remote working, it certainly has shifted the way we connect and interact with talent. We always had a digital presence, but in the past we had participated in a lot more in-person interactions,” such as hosting students at Zurich’s Schaumberg headquarters, Ms. Aguilar said.

Robert Benvenuto, chief sales officer, Midwest region, in Chicago for Hub International Ltd., said, “The shift to remote has had a big impact because as new employees come on board they don’t have that connectivity to peers.”

Mr. Benvenuto said he spends 25% of his time recruiting people. He sits on the board of the Chicago chapter of the Risk and Insurance Management Society Inc. and is co-chair of the board’s annual main event, the Chicagoland Risk Forum.

The insurance industry, including the health insurance sector,  employs approximately 2.8 million people, Mr. Kevelighan said.

Nearly 400,000 employees, however, are expected to retire from the finance and insurance industry within the next few years, Ms. Johnson said, citing U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates.