Nature-based solutions, green jobs, and resilient infrastructure are at the core of Liberty Mutual Foundation’s approach to helping marginalized communities that are most vulnerable to climate-related perils.
“We believe investing philanthropically in communities to help them mitigate and adapt to the impact of climate change is a natural extension that we do as a property-casualty insurer and an area where we can offer a lot of expertise,” Foundation President Melissa MacDonnell told Triple-I CEO Sean Kevelighan in a recent Triple-I Executive Exchange.
MacDonnell described the foundation’s three-pronged approach to community giving, which consists of:
Nature-based solutions, such as increasing access to locally grown food and green space to protect communities from sea-level rise or flooding;
Green jobs that provide training and skill development in the green economy for low-income and underrepresented youth and young adults; and
Resilient infrastructure for low-income neighborhoods and communities of color.
The foundation also supports existing partners in advancing their climate resiliency goals.
“Any organization in our philanthropic portfolio is eligible for these grants, so they can step back and consider how climate is impacting them,” MacDonnell said. “This includes homelessness shelters and job programs. This is our way of acknowledging that climate affects all of us.”
Kevelighan noted that this holistic approach is particularly important for residents of vulnerable communities.
“We’ve been talking at Triple-I about the role everyone plays in climate,” he said. “It’s encouraging that you’re bringing risk management into communities – particularly those that can’t provide themselves enough resources.”
Kevelighan and MacDonnell discussed how other insurers can become more involved in helping vulnerable communities.
“Insurers should carve out the time to listen to the communities” MacDonnell said. “Partnering with communities and public officials is also important. We are at an incredible moment in time where federal funding is available for climate projects” as a result of measures like the Community Disaster Resilience Zones Act of 2022, which aims to build disaster resilience by identifying disadvantaged communities that are most at risk to natural disasters and providing funding for projects that mitigate those risks.
By Loretta L. Worters, Vice President, Media Relations, Triple-I
Remote work, while providing a respite to many from long commutes and surging gas prices, can increase the vulnerability of domestic violence victims. Heightened risks involve not only emotional and physical but also financial abuse – often one of the main reasons victims are unable to leave or have to return to the abusive relationship.
Domestic violence cases increased between 25 percent to 35 percent globally with the start of the pandemic in 2020 and show few signs of abating, according to the American Journal of Emergency Medicine. Financial dependency is a common tool abusers use to gain power and control in a relationship. Victims continue to be isolated, exploited, and prevented from developing the resilience needed to break free and achieve independence.
Without financial or insurance literacy, renting an apartment or purchasing a car to escape an abuser can be almost impossible for victims – particularly for Black women, who are disproportionately affected.
Securing financial records, including insurance policies;
Knowing where the victim stands financially;
Building a financial safety net;
Making necessary changes to insurance policies; and
Maintaining good credit, which can also affect access to insurance.
Credit-based insurance scores are confidential numerical ratings based, in whole or in part, on a consumer’s credit information. Many insurers use these scores – in conjunction with other factors – to help underwrite and price policies, especially for homeowners’ and personal automobile insurance. Actuarial studies find a strong correlation between how people manage their financial affairs and the likelihood of their submitting insurance claims.
Abuse victims often have bad credit for a variety of reasons. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) reports that victims of intimate partner violence lose a total of 8.0 million days of paid work each year, with a cost exceeding $8.3 billion annually. As many as 60 percent of victims lose their jobs for reasons stemming from the abuse, and how much abuse women will endure correlates statistically with their degree of economic dependence.
“Manipulating money and other economic resources is one of the most prominent forms of coercive control and yet many victims don’t even realize they are being controlled,” said Ruth Glenn, president and CEO of the NCADV and author of the memoir, Everything I Never Dreamed, which chronicles her battle against abuse, violence, and attempted murder. “That’s why it’s so important for victims to keep their checks, bank cards, and insurance policies in a safe spot that only they know – and, when leaving that abusive relationship, that they take precautions to keep themselves protected through an address confidentiality program.”
Those in crisis and needing immediate assistance, please call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
“The financial education provided by the Insurance Information Institute can be life-saving and will make a real difference for many, many people,” Glenn said.
“The insurance industry has a longstanding legacy of philanthropic giving, locally and globally, in times of acute need. Throughout the pandemic – and now, as we raise funds in support of Ukrainian refugees – our industry strives to respond quickly and with impact,” said Hank Watkins, regional director and president of Lloyd’s, Americas and chair of the IICF International Board of Governors. “As an industry founded with the purpose of facilitating progress and responding during times of need, we appreciate the opportunity IICF provides for collaborating on philanthropic and volunteering initiatives, enabling us to continue sharing the very best of our industry with the world.”
Betsy Myatt, vice president and chief program officer, executive director of the IICF’s Northeast Division, noted that the organization “stands with the world and our industry in calling for peace in Ukraine.
With humanitarian efforts underway to address the needs of millions of refugees fleeing the violence – mostly women, children, and the elderly – IICF will join with our industry and many other companies and individuals throughout the world in this support through the IICF: Ukrainian Humanitarian Relief Fund.”
“Proceeds will benefit BeHumanKindness, CARE (Ukrainian Crisis Fund), Red Cross and Save the Children (Children’s Emergency Fund),” she said. “These nonprofit organizations are delivering immediate assistance in the region to the women, children, and families made refugees by the war. “
Insurers and foundations have already contributed millions of dollars toward Ukraine emergency response. The private sector is demonstrating its generosity and solidarity through direct contributions, while also launching creative initiatives to help engage stakeholders, such as employee match funding.
The Allstate Foundation, for example, created a $1 million dedicated Ukrainian Relief Fund that will support the American Red Cross, Razom, UNICEF and World Central Kitchen. Employee donations to the fund will receive a 100 percent match. “Allstate stands with the people of Ukraine and against Russia’s morally reprehensible attacks,” their statement read. “We set up a $1 million Ukrainian Relief fund and are matching employee donations as we support freedom, civility, and compassion for victims of this war.”
Allianz SE announced that it would make available 10 million euros to support humanitarian efforts along with up to 2.5 million euros to match employee donations. RLI Insurance Co. is matching its employees’ donations to the IICF: Ukrainian Humanitarian Relief Fund.
AXA has taken several initiatives to support the humanitarian crisis triggered by the war, with a donation of 6 million euros to NGOs working in Ukraine and the neighboring countries to support civil populations and refugees. AXA’s global philanthropic employee volunteering initiative, AXA Hearts in Action, initiated multiple local projects that will be supported by a group donation.
Munich Re said it is contributing to alleviate the hardship of the hundreds of thousands of war refugees. “As people are now primarily fleeing the battle zone via the Polish border, Munich Re is currently concentrating its aid on this region.”
Zurich Insurance Group CEO Mario Greco said, “Zurich is strongly committed to helping alleviate suffering in Ukraine. To that end, the Z Zurich Foundation announced a major fundraising effort to mobilize support across our businesses globally for humanitarian relief efforts. The safety and well-being of people across the region are a key concern in these sad times.”
“Insurance pricing is a high-wire act,” CAS says. Actuaries have to quantify and differentiate among a massive variety of risk variables while avoiding unfair discrimination. “As regulation and society’s understanding of discrimination evolve, however, it is necessary for us to keep abreast of changes in the manner in which discrimination is defined and adjudicated.”
The CAS research has generated four papers – two published this week, two more to be published on March 31 – that define, quantify, and propose methods for addressing unfair discrimination where it is found to exist.
Confusion around insurance rating is understandable, given the complex predictive models being used today, which can lead to inappropriate comparisons and inaccurate conclusions. Algorithms and machine learning hold great promise for helping to ensure equitable pricing. However, research has shown these tools also can amplify biases that manage to creep into their programming.
Recent Colorado legislation requires insurers to show that their use of external data and complex algorithms don’t discriminate against protected classes, as well as other state and federal efforts to address perceived bias in pricing.
The actuarial discipline and the insurance industry are well positioned to continue helping policymakers and corporate decisionmakers understand and address these inequities.
Three little letters – ESG – can strike business decision makers with anxiety as they strive to incorporate nonfinancial factors into their strategic analysis and planning.
Shorthand for “environmental, social, and governance” these factors, which seek to capture the environmental and social impacts of operations and investment practices, have become more pressing in recent years due to:
Concerns about climate and extreme weather, and
Inequity and injustice becoming more visible in real time, thanks to social media.
This visibility can affect purchasing choices, spur consumer and shareholder activism, and even spark civil unrest, leading to physical injuries, property damage, and business disruptions.
Fortunately, the insurance industry has ESG hardwired into its DNA. While ESG priorities may seem new to many industries, insurers have long been involved in understanding and addressing these and other risk factors as a fundamental part of doing business. As a result, they are well prepared to meet ESG-related demands and are ideal partners for businesses, communities, and nonprofits seeking to navigate this “new” area of risk and opportunity.
And, far from being an impediment to profitable performance, research increasingly demonstrates an ROI advantage for companies that include ESG in their business strategies and operational practices.
Click here to learn more about the role ESG plays in insurance and that insurance plays in ESG.
Triple-I’s “Insurance Careers Corner” series was created to highlight trailblazers in insurance and to spread awareness of the career opportunities within the industry. This month, we interviewed, Annette Martinez, senior vice president, State Farm, who discusses her 33-year career in insurance, growing diversity and inclusion at her company, and the significance of Jake from State Farm.
Tell us about your role at State Farm and the work that you do. What attracted you to work in the insurance industry?
I’m currently a senior vice president at State Farm and that includes oversight of what I call the “people areas” – human resources, learning and development, public affairs, and the executive succession and development team. I’ve been with State Farm for over 33 years.
My degree is in Biology and Chemistry, and I was working for an R&D facility early in my career. My husband started with State Farm as an auto underwriter, and he encouraged me to come over because of the opportunities.
I began my insurance career in health underwriting. Every two to three years, I was able to recreate myself into new roles. I spent five years in life/health operations before moving to human resources. Within human resources, I was able to work in early succession efforts and then move into leadership in human resources. In 2002, I started the diversity and inclusion initiative and the trajectory of being able to move the organization forward. Like many in the insurance industry, I came in thinking I’d get great experience for a couple of years and now here we are 33 years later, and it’s been an amazing journey.
You launched the first office of diversity and inclusion at State Farm, initiated its diversity council, and started its affinity group program. You’ve also been recognized and awarded on numerous occasions for your work in diversity and inclusion. What inspired you to become a champion of diversity and inclusion?
From the time that I was young, fairness was always important to me, which may be in part because I was raised in an environment where I didn’t see people like me. However, for a long time I have and still believe that everyone should be treated with respect and dignity and have the same opportunities. Opportunity should be open to anyone who has the desire and the capability.
When I began the diversity initiative, I was already conducting diversity training in the organization. State Farm is a fantastic company and has been progressive in programming over the years. We started one of the first minority summer intern programs, but I knew there was more that we could do. My focus was on improving opportunity and bringing people into the organization who had a different pattern of thinking and could positively impact the company. That’s what diversity does. It’s not only a social imperative – we all get to benefit from that – it’s a business imperative about how we treat and gain new customers and how we move forward.
You mentioned that not a lot of people looked like you throughout your career. As a Latinx woman, what obstacles have you faced and overcome?
That’s correct, early on in my career, very few people looked like me. It was isolating. I had to understand that my voice mattered and that I had the opportunity to speak on behalf of many others. There was a lot of pressure with that.
I’ve had some amazing mentors over the years of all genders and races. There was a retired senior vice president, Dave Gonzales, who was the first Hispanic executive that took me under his wing. Dave told me it was going to be a difficult road, but he was and has always been a great support system for me.
We’ve always had mentorship programs at State Farm, but several years ago we started a more formal matching program for people who want to mentor or be mentored. It’s blossomed into a way of life and become part of the culture. I’m active as a mentor and a mentee. I’ve had senior leaders throughout my career who have coached me on to the next level. I’ve also had people [early in their careers] who have guided me into what’s happening at all levels. As a senior leader, it gives me insight into how our actions impact every employee.
How can we foster an honest and open culture at the workplace that welcomes and encourages employees to have conversations around race, discrimination, and equity?
In 2019, we decided to get bold in our conversations. State Farm started working with CEO Act!on For Diversity & Inclusion and implemented a program called “Conversations Worth Having.” In February 2020, we had our first session on racism. We knew that it was going to be a difficult and honest conversation. We had a panel that shared their stories about their lives, their children, and what they experienced.
We had no idea that COVID-19 would happen a month later. The social unrest throughout 2020 was foundational for what we needed to address last year and will continue to address this year. These open conversation forums have continued and are important in allowing people to express their frustration and allowing us to be part of the solution.
We learn every session. Setting ground rules is also important – trust that people’s intentions are honest, listen before you react – some basics in conversations that we talk about each session. If someone responds negatively to a session, we take the time to speak with them one on one to have conversations on a personal level as well.
How has State Farm addressed the current social and racial climate of this past year? Are there any actions or initiatives that State Farm has taken to support Black and Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities inside and outside the workplace?
State Farm named a Chief Diversity Officer in 2020, which was an important step for us. We also realized that we needed to be quicker with our communications and the acknowledgment that we stand against racism. In the past, we may have addressed it internally at a more moderate level, but we took the stand that State Farm is against racism and the hatred that leads to racism. This is who we are. We respect people – everyone should be treated with respect and dignity, and there is no place for racism in our organization.
There is more work to go into this. It’s an ever-evolving journey, and I think we’re learning as we communicate. We are the Good Neighbor organization. We care about all our neighbors, and we aren’t exclusive to anyone.
Our CEO, Chief Administrative Officer, and Chief Diversity Officer have also been involved in listening sessions to allow employees the opportunity to talk about an experience that they have had, even at State Farm, to better understand the work ahead of us. We want to be an organization that’s part of the healing process.
Jake from State Farm was recently recast as an African American man, actor Kevin Miles. How do you think this change has made an impact on diversity and representation in insurance and has it helped State Farm reach out to more people of color?
The first Jake from State Farm was an actual employee. We pivoted away to some other campaigns for a while, but then we did some research and realized that Jake from State Farm was still very relevant. We knew the needs in a marketing and advertising world today would require more than what we could ask of an employee, so State Farm began an external talent search. We are typically very intentional about diversity in our marketing and advertisements, but ultimately what we did was pick the right actor for the right role.
The actor [Kevin Miles] is from Chicago. One of my favorite stories involves an event early on in his role as Jake from State Farm. We invited him to do a meet and greet at headquarters. It was a big deal, and he brought his parents to the event. The atrium was packed with employees waiting to meet him. He was humbled, kind, and genuine, he spent hours talking to and taking pictures with employees. His success is not only impressive externally – it’s impressive internally as well. The traits you can see and feel from Jake from State Farm are also traits Kevin embodies. And because of that, we intentionally let a lot of Kevin come through in his role as Jake from State Farm.
Can you speak about any upcoming or future diversity and inclusion initiatives for State Farm that you’re excited about? What are your goals for 2021 and beyond?
We’re proud of the intentionality that we put behind diversity and inclusion. State Farm just kicked off a governance council in January, which is a group of senior leaders in the organization who will drive the future strategy of diversity and inclusion.
One focus area that we are looking at is more transparency. How do we tell our story internally so that our associates feel comfortable? How do we tell the story greater from an external perspective? We’re working on deliberate performance goals for all associates around diversity and inclusion, which will be part of their performance assessment and how they actively engage in that work. We are continuing to define our metrics and tangible ways to measure the progress that we are making as an organization. The “Conversations Worth Having” sessions are scheduled throughout the year as well as the listening sessions with our executive leadership. We’re excited about the continuation of programming and leaning into the opportunities ahead of us.
As we celebrate Earth Day, it’s important to remember that every day is Earth Day in the re/insurance industry. Our industry plays a critical role in developing innovative adaptation solutions, in measuring and pricing climate risks to inform risk management, and in providing economic support to people and communities when disasters strike.
Climate risk is a priority for member companies of the Association of Bermuda Insurers & Reinsurers (ABIR). They bring their expertise, innovation, commitment and claims paying capacity to secure a more resilient world.
With partners from government, our internationally recognized consolidated regulator the Bermuda Monetary Authority (BMA), and the re/insurance industry with its historic legacy of leadership in responding to global natural catastrophes, Bermuda has the foundational elements to become a leader in climate risk finance.
The recently announced BMA climate sandbox will give Bermuda’s financial services ecosystem the requisite regulatory and supervisory guidance, support and parameters to pursue innovative solutions to climate change risk. When Bermuda innovation and entrepreneurship prevails, consumers around the world benefit.
Over the past 20 years. Bermuda’s re/insurers have paid more than quarter of a trillion dollars in claims from natural and man-made disasters in the United States and European Union alone. All told, Bermuda represents over one-third of the global property & casualty reinsurance market and has a history of taking risks in some of the world’s most disaster-prone regions. At the heart of this commitment is talent. The people who work for our ABIR member companies are second to none when it comes to modeling, analytics and underwriting risk.
Underpinning this risk assessment is scientific research. Because of its location, Bermuda is a ready-made climate lab, surrounded by an ocean that serves as a real-life classroom for studying the forces behind our changing climate. The Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences, or BIOS, observes and analyzes oceanographic and atmospheric conditions from a research vessel in the Sargasso Sea, which is one of the world’s most diverse open-ocean ecosystems.
The Bermuda market joins insurers and reinsurers across the world committed to activating the global sustainable agenda by fostering new mitigation technologies through their assumption of risk and by investing in sustainable assets.
Armed and informed with the latest research and data, Bermuda is working diligently to close the world’s protection gap of $113 billion in 2020 – the difference between natural catastrophe and man-made economic losses and insured losses.
Most of that gap exists in emerging economies, so ABIR member companies join with the Insurance Development Forum (IDF) in committing $5 billion of re/insurance capacity to developing nations by 2025. In addition, IDF and its affiliates are developing an accessible, open modeling platform – with Bermuda leadership – that will greatly improve predictive capabilities in some of the world’s most disaster-prone regions.
ABIR is proud to join its industry partners from around the world in these efforts. Championed by the Global Federation of Insurance Associations (GFIA), which represents nearly 90% of the global insurance market, we are contributing to the effort to build a sustainable planet. Leveraging their tools, talent and capital, all stakeholders will work together toward resilient and sustainable recovery. As an industry, we are strongly committed to this critical joint effort to #RestoreOurEarth.
On behalf of ABIR and its member companies, Happy Earth Day.
John M. Huff is President and CEO of the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers (ABIR) and a former president of the U.S. National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).
When disaster strikes the insurance industry is a financial first responder. Millions of dollars are on the way to policyholders to cover claims related to the severe winter weather that pummeled the United States in February. But the industry is also staffed by individuals who care deeply about their communities and contribute above and beyond what their jobs require.
Below are just a few examples of donations companies and organizations have made to help their neighbors in need.
Several insurers including Liberty Mutual and Northwestern Mutual are part of the American Red Cross Disaster Responder Program. The Red Cross works with government and community partners to coordinate food and water distribution to where it is most needed.
The Hanover Insurance Group, Inc. raised $1.5 million for United Way and hundreds of other nonprofit organizations across the country through an employee giving campaign. The contribution represents the largest donation the company’s charitable foundation and its employees have ever made through the annual giving program.
The Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation’s (IICF) Southeast division has raised more than $560,000 to support 21 nonprofit beneficiaries who are facing challenging times due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent winter storms. The IICF is also raising funds to help feed children and families that are facing hunger because of the pandemic.
New York Life donated $100,000 to Feeding Texas in response to the winter storm to support immediate food shortage needs in the most vulnerable communities in the state. The New York Life Foundation will match donations made by employees and agents up to an additional $100,000 to both Feeding Texas and the New York Life Emergency Assistance Fund, which provides financial assistance to employees and agents impacted by catastrophic events.
Texas Mutual Insurance Company donated $100,000 to six organizations on the frontlines providing Texans with basic needs like food, water and shelter. The Coalition for the Homeless in Houston was one of the recipients.
The USAA Foundation, Inc. has announced a $350,000 commitment to help Texas residents recover from February’s storm.
While the insurance industry acknowledges the importance of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), has it become part of the core values and culture? The short answer: there has been progress, but more action is needed. Triple-I met with Dr. Leroy Nunery II, author of The Journey of African-American Insurance Professionals and Triple-I non-resident scholar, to discuss how the industry has advanced in DEI since his 2018 study.
Nunery describes Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as interoperable, noting that each is often defined separately but can’t stand alone. “Diversity is the practice of considering differences from whatever the norm is at a company. Equity is about access to opportunities that people might not have. Inclusion is bringing people together at the same table and the concern that they have for each other,” he explains.
According to S&P Global research, the number of Black professionals in the insurance industry increased to 12.4 percent of the workforce from 9 percent in the last 10 years, with the number of Asians and people in the Other category increasing to 6.2 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively. While the numbers are rising, the pace of change is lagging.
One of the primary challenges to DEI within insurance is the barrier to entry. Nunery explains, “Insurance is largely nepotistic and driven by family connection. It’s challenging to succeed without that group connection or network.” He believes that people of color can shift these numbers and take advantage of that momentum. “We can be exclusive at times. We say, ‘We’re all in,’ but we do everything we can so only a small group can get in. We need to do a better job of transferring knowledge,” he says.
Companies are realizing that commitment to DEI is more than hiring more people of color. There are markets to develop, business alliances to form, and investments in training and advocacy. Nunery is working with a client on a six-month job shadowing program that partners people of color with senior executives – granting C-suite exposure and access to meetings that were previously out of reach. “It’s important to coach up talent to perform at a greater level,” Nunery says of these programs. “It’s a tightrope to walk, but I tell people not to worry about failure. Worry about how successful you’re going to be.”
Camaraderie and mentorship can only go so far. A September 2020 survey by Business Insurance showed that 63 percent of respondents believe that the CEO bears the greatest responsibility in making DEI work. Nunery agrees and adds that the CEO not only needs to say that DEI is important but also puts it into action.
“When you ask companies to prove DEI, they come up short,” Nunery says. “Managers are not evaluated for it. There are no key performance indicators. Boards ask about it but don’t make it mandatory. To make DEI successful, let’s be more honest with our exchanges.”
Trevor Project: Trevor Chat/TrevorText volunteers are trained to answer chat messages or texts online from young people who are struggling with issues such as coming out, LGBTQ identity, depression, and suicide.
Read more about IICF volunteerism during COVID-19 here.
The IICF also provides volunteering opportunities throughout the year. It has hosted the Week of Giving since 1998, generating over 300,000 hours of volunteer service, and contributing $40 million in community grants since its founding in 1994.