The insurance industry is under mounting pressure to recruit young talent into their organizations, as carriers adapt to pricing new forms of risk associated with an increasingly digital and connected world.

That was the consensus of panel discussion at the Insurance Information Institute’s Property/Casualty Joint Insurance Forum, in New York, which included the CEOs of AIG, EMC Insurance and Argo Group.

According to the panel, insurance carriers have traditionally struggled to acquire new talent due to the public perception that the industry is “boring.” Making matters worse, more than 400,000 claims and underwriting professionals are set to retire by 2020, placing greater importance on insurers’ efforts to replace much-needed skillsets.

“Those working in insurance know it’s a cool industry, and that it clicks all of the boxes you can think of. But no one knows about it,” says Brian Duperreault, president & CEO of AIG, adding that millennials offer a talent base that best understands new forms risk. ”They are the digital natives, not us.”

Duperreault and his peers also acknowledged the role geography plays in recruiting new personnel. As an example, EMC Insurance currently has 110 technology-related openings at its Des Moines, Iowa, office, according to CEO Bruce Kelley. But for perspective employees more acclimated to larger metropolitan areas, the town may not support the lifestyle they are after.

From left to right: Mike Morrisey, Internaitonal Insurance Society; Brian Duperreault, AIG; Mark Watson, Argot Group; Bruce Kelley, EMC Insurance.
From left to right: Mike Morrisey, Internaitonal Insurance Society; Brian Duperreault, AIG; Mark Watson, Argot Group; Bruce Kelley, EMC Insurance.

Panelists additionally discussed the insurance industry’s use of insurtech, and its relationship with startups. Argo Group CEO Mark Watson, views insurtech as more of an opportunity than a daunting challenge.

“Insurtechs want to help us across the value chain,” said Watson. “We partner [with] and invest in a lot of them.”

The insurer began its push to hire more data scientists and software engineers a couple of years ago for claims and underwriting purposes. Its digital team now makes up the bulk of its New York City-based office, as the insurer works to move the majority of its businesses onto digital platforms by the end of 2018.

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