Women in Insurance Leadership 2019--Stephanie Lloyd, Farmers
She may have studied math and statistics, looking towards a future in R&D, but it was Stephanie Lloyd’s ability to talk to people and translate statistical models to the business that would propel her into insurtech leadership — as head of new ventures at Farmers Insurance and president of its innovative insurtech brand Toggle Insurance. However, early on in her new role, Lloyd found herself facing a bout of imposter syndrome, wondering if she could find the confidence she needed to succeed.
The best advice she received at that time, she says, flew in the face of her math and statistics background. “Some great feedback was that there is no right answer and the only wrong answer is inaction,” she says. “That was very liberating for me and helped me orient my team around that mentality in order to move quickly.”
In her role as Toggle’s “head honcho” (as it says on the company’s website), Lloyd is responsible for driving product innovation, expanding existing products into new markets, and finding new business opportunities while navigating the complex waters of channel conflict and insurance regulation. Toggle, a digital, affordable, customizable renters insurance subscription designed to meet the unique needs and budget of today’s renters, launched in 2018 in Illinois and Wisconsin.
This past March it expanded to nine additional states: Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Utah and Virginia. It's now available in 23.
Toggle required a big shift in mindset and perspective from her previous roles at Farmers, including, most recently, chief underwriting officer for personal lines. “In March of 2018 I was basically told to go figure out what I wanted to build and who I needed,” she recalls. “The only rules were that I couldn’t build any of the products or services on legacy IT systems — I had to go find a technology partner.” Seven months later, Toggle was in market.
The backing, security and stability of Farmers makes a big difference in the company’s success, she emphasizes. “I honestly believe I have the best job in insurance because I have Farmers, with its 90-plus years of experience and credit and financial support,” she says. “But I get to run a startup where my team is a self-governed, empowered team where we don’t have to ask for permission to make decisions.”
Working in insurtech is also an exciting part of the industry, she adds. “For so many years insurance was insulated from changes in consumer preferences,” she says. “It wasn’t a priority and no one forced our hand, but now the hype and excitement of insurtech has helped awaken the sleeping giant and the winners are the customers.”
Seeing the role of women change has also been exciting over the course of her career, Lloyd says. “It’s really important how it has risen in consciousness, with more honesty around how to improve inclusiveness,” she explains. “I used to sit in meetings and count the number of women in attendance, with perhaps two in a room of 50 men. Now I see more energy around trying to address the gap, which I think has helped the business — it’s not just an altruistic endeavor.”
In terms of her own career trajectory, Lloyd says she now knows you can never predict when opportunities will happen and when is the right time for the next step.
“I had booked an African vacation to Tanzania and Uganda months before I ever was offered the role at Toggle, and it turned out it was over Toggle’s launch week,” she says. “There was no getting out of it or changing it, so I’m in the Serengeti on my work phone, with a lion to my left and an elephant to my right, asking how QA testing is going. It just shows you never know what will happen and you just have to go for it.”