Study trip exposes insurance and risk management students to London market, surplus lines

April 5, 2007

IMAGE GALLERY

Although only 13 percent of the commercial insurance market is written on a surplus lines basis, it is of great interest to students and to Indiana State University, as an institution that’s nationally known for its quality preparation of future insurance professionals.

That’s what took eight insurance and risk management students and two faculty members to Europe over spring break (March 2-11) for a full-immersion experience into the high-profile London and Zurich insurance markets.

The learning experience was part of Mary Ann Boose's Insurance 449 course. This marked the third London class for Boose, professor and coordinator of the insurance and risk management program at ISU. She organizes the trips to give students a taste of the surplus lines industry from an international perspective. Accompanying Boose and the students on the trip was IRM colleague Terrie Troxel, executive director of the Gongaware Center at ISU.

This year's adventure was overflowing with opportunities and information, as students visited and networked with executives from Lloyd's of London, the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), Lockton, Crawford & Company, Price Forbes & Partners Limited, Jardine Lloyd Thompson (JLT), Beazley, AIRMIC (the Association of Insurance and Risk Managers for the U.K.), and Zurich Financial Services.

“Our industry hosts generously shared their expertise and enthusiasm for their work,” Boose said, “and our students had the unique opportunity to see, first-hand, the global nature of the industry."

Students in Boose's class include some of the best and brightest at Indiana State: President’s, Gongaware, and Networks Scholars, and other scholarship recipients. In addition, almost all are members of the Insurance and Risk Management Honors Corps (3.6 grade point level or above).

In preparation for the trip, Boose and guest presenters from industry worked with the students to fine tune their insurance knowledge and skills, and Boose familiarized them with the industry sites they would be visiting while in London and Zurich. In addition, students prepared for a national industry examination that could eventually lead to their designation as Associate in Surplus Lines Insurance (ASLI).

The sessions at the insurance locations around London were almost as varied as the host sites themselves.

Students were exposed to in-depth presentations and had multiple opportunities to network with top executives in the insurance market throughout the trip. At the CII visit, they heard about its founding and local institutes, learned about competency certification and toured their historic building, Aldermanbury. While at Lockton, they discussed the unique relationship between the world’s largest privately held insurance brokerage office and their new relationship with their London colleagues. Stewart McCulloch, CEO of Lockton International hosted a lunch, and one of Lockton’s Lloyd’s brokers, Richard Della, walked the students through Lloyd’s and discussed the market from a broker’s perspective. Crawford and Company’s senior vice president of its corporate multinational risks division shared his experience in international loss adjusting.

Janet Copping, Price Forbes (PF) provided an in-depth presentation on the workings of Lloyd’s and shared some stories from her work insuring nuclear risks. She hosted the students at a luncheon with PF professionals who then allowed the students to shadow them as they presented cases to underwriters at Lloyd’s. At JLT, Galen Brislane hosted a discussion of some of the unique risks he has insured and the role of JLT in the Lloyd’s market. The culminating experience for the students was to spend time with Beazley underwriters in their boxes at Lloyd’s. An informal lunch with Jonathan Matthews, Beazley underwriting risk manager, gave them insights into the economics of the market.

During the second stage of the trip, the students were guests of Roland Betschart at the Zurich Development Center, a state-of-the-art corporate retreat and education center. At Zurich, they were introduced to the issues addressed by the major international insurance company and the opportunities that they might have as young professionals to participate in the global insurance market.

“The opportunity to network and meet with our hosts was the greatest,” said Nikki Lindstrom, a junior insurance and risk management major from Indianapolis. “I value their knowledge and experience and appreciated the opportunity to meet with so many respected professionals in the industry.”

Since tours of Lloyd's are not open to the public and are restricted primarily to small groups associated with the international insurance and finance industries, the opportunity to get a single tour of Lloyd’s is rare. So, for ISU’s group to spend three days shadowing the professionals who work there was unusual - and that much more appreciated by the students.

“One of my favorite aspects of the trip was the history represented by the Adam Room (in the executive suites) and the Lutine bell at Lloyd’s,” said Amanda Sunbury, a junior insurance and risk management major from Seymour. For more than a century, the Lutine bell has been synonymous with Lloyd's. It is rung traditionally to herald important announcements to underwriters and brokers in the trading room - one stroke for bad news and two for good. Today, the ringing of the bell is generally limited to ceremonial occasions. Nonetheless, it is recognized throughout the world as the symbol of an organization whose fortunes are linked with natural and man-made catastrophes.

This world-renowned institution known as Lloyd’s is recognized globally as the world's leading specialist insurance market (not an insurance company but a society of members). Lloyd's is home to more than 44 managing agents and 62 syndicates (source: Lloyd's Members' Services Unit, January 2005), which offer an immense concentration of specialist underwriting expertise and talent. Most of Lloyd's business is transacted in the underwriting room, and trading takes place on the ground floor and galleries where underwriters sit at 'boxes' and negotiate with brokers who bring business into the market.

The opportunity to sit in the boxes alongside the staffers who make things happen at Lloyd’s day after day was the most memorable experience for Todd Byram, a sophomore Gongaware Scholar from Clinton.

“I want to pursue a career in the surplus lines sector of insurance, and by having this experience I feel I will be way ahead of others entering the industry,” said Byram. “I will have an insider’s view of how business gets accepted and written at Lloyd’s.”

That insider’s view is one that very few people get, and Boose knows that this international exposure and hands-on experience with surplus lines will be what puts ISU’s students head and shoulders above the rest.

"I hope our students have gained a better understanding of this sector of the industry by participating fully in this international experience," Boose said. "Exposure to global markets such as these truly complements the lessons we provide in the classroom. This is our goal, after all - to provide a world-class learning experience for our students."

Insurance and risk management majors and minors participating in the learning experience were:

Student NameMajorMinorYearHometown
Courtney BurnsideIRM SophomoreFreetown, IN
Todd ByramIRM SophomoreClinton, IN
Brock FortnerIRM and Bus. Admin. SeniorClinton, IN
Kimberley GrahamAerospace Admin.IRMSeniorOssian, IN
Courtney HullMathIRMSeniorIndianapolis, IN
Nicole LindstromIRM JuniorIndianapolis, IN
Jonathan LoughIRM SophomoreFt. Wayne, IN
Amanda SunburyIRM and Bus. Admin. JuniorSeymour, IN

-30-

CONTACT: Mary Ann Boose, professor and program coordinator, Insurance and Risk Management Program, Indiana State University, (812) 237-2106 or mboose@indstate.edu

WRITER: Maria Greninger, associate director, Communications & Marketing, Indiana State University, (812) 237-4357 or (812) 237-7972 (Tuesdays) or mgreninger@indstate.edu

Story Highlights

Although only 13 percent of the commercial insurance market is written on a surplus lines basis, it is of great interest to students and to Indiana State University, as an institution that's nationally known for its quality preparation of future insurance professionals.

See Also:

Indiana State professors research growth of genomic development

Brazilian MBA students study U.S. financial system during trip to Indiana State

Operations and supply chain management unveils online center of excellence

Former prof follows Indiana State teaching grad’s success

MBA students learn role of business consultants through work in community

Students look for ways to improve performance of processes at recycling center