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    • Protect the environment. Think before you print.

Property Insights Conference covers pressing market issues

December 4, 2019

The theme was property insurance, but the annual gathering in New York addressed a broad range of topics—from climate change to attracting new employees.

Advisen’s annual Property Insights Conference in New York City delivered on the ambitious agenda promised, with presentations on a variety of issues facing the U.S. property market, from flood, cyber and building codes to capacity, competition and coverage.

Zurich North America was a sponsor and participated in two panel discussions during the full-day event, offering insights on the impact of climate change on the property market, a broad “view from the top” about where the industry is heading and why insurance is a great career choice.

Jay DeVincentis, East Region Property Leader for Zurich North America, sat on a panel with other insurance providers as well as experts in risk modeling to discuss the impact of climate change on property insurance.

DeVincentis spoke about climate trends, such as extreme heat waves and extended droughts, and how these trends are leading to more frequent and more intense wildfires.

“The problem is climate change,” he said. “We can adapt our buildings, society, community to protect ourselves from it, but we really have to, as insurance companies, brokers and insureds, do everything we can to limit the change in temperatures.”

DeVincentis explained to the audience that he lives just a few blocks from the conference venue in downtown New York, and, therefore, has a heightened awareness of how rising global temperatures can lead to a disastrous rise in sea levels.

“My apartment is right there, right on the water,” he said. “I just want to make sure we understand that fixing the problem is fixing global warming. We can do everything we can to fix buildings so that they sustain the changes better, but we need to commit our companies to what they can do to solve the real problem.”

Paul Horgan, Head of U.S. Commercial Insurance, Zurich North America, took part in the final event of the day, a “View from the Top,” which featured insurance company and broker leaders offering insights into the insurance market, with an emphasis on balancing insurance company profitability with customer needs and expectations.

The panelists also addressed the need to attract new talent to the industry.

“As we’re trying to expand the pool of talent and the diversity of the talent that we’re getting, we’re starting to think much more broadly about our talent pool,” Horgan said. “We used to look at select schools and GPAs and things like that. Now, we’ve eliminated some of those barriers. We have an apprenticeship program. We’ve eliminated the requirement of a four-year college degree. We’re looking at life experiences. We’ve really tried to take a fresh look at this, both to attract talent and create that next generation of insurance professionals.”

Horgan added that younger generations expect to use technology to facilitate their work and are looking for potential employers who can meet their needs. “Rather than being pushed technology, they’re actually going to pull it,” he said. “They going to start asking, ‘Why am I doing this? Why aren’t we using our apps or our capabilities this way?’”

Horgan, a 33-year insurance industry veteran, said property underwriting is one of the best areas for those seeking an exciting and challenging career. “From understanding risk to capacity deployment to parametrics to green endorsements and the coverage and the complexity, I find it to be one of the most dynamic parts of the marketplace as an underwriter and solution provider.”

In the 30-second video below, Horgan discusses how a career in insurance can allow people to follow their passions.