Women in Insurance - March 31 2021
In this interview series, we profile women who are shaping the future of insurance. This week, we’re pleased to connect with Allison D. Elzer, Senior Director, Risk Solution Services for Markel Specialty. Prior to joining Markel in 2019, Allison worked in various capacities in insurance, risk management, environmental consulting and market research for Chubb, Gallagher Bassett, and others. She has experience in a variety of areas including environmental, construction, professional, cyber, products liability, general liability, worker’s compensation, property, auto/fleet, oil & gas, medical, retail, real estate and more. Allison shares her career journey in insurance and discusses what the industry can do to ensure that women not only stay in the profession but advance in their careers.
Allison, tell us about your path to insurance. What attracted you to the profession?
My exposure to the insurance industry started when I was quite young. We moved across the country in my younger years and I watched as my father climbed through the ranks. My impression was that it was a challenging industry that rewards integrity and good decision-making. However, when I was old enough to decide on a career, my teenage self also saw it as a place where you had to “work in an office,” and this was not appealing to me. My path was one where I could “be outside,” so I went to school for Environmental Science at Delaware Valley University (Delaware Valley College of Science and Agriculture at the time). I spent five years after graduation working for a small environmental consulting firm where I honed my analytical skills for regulations and procedures. I enjoyed working on Philadelphia construction and demolition sites performing oversight, reviewing contracts, and performing related environmental reviews and activities.
At this time, we started a family and decided that it was better for one of us to have a more reliable schedule when my son was born. This spurred a series of years where I spent time working in a variety of areas finally landing in a market research firm where I got a healthy dose of data and analytics. It wasn’t in my chosen field, but at the time it was the best choice for my growing family. Finally, about five years later I had the pleasure of sharing a flight with a fascinating gentleman with whom I shared my thoughts on common-sense risk management consulting for corporations. He suggested I reach out to some of his contacts at Gallagher-Bassett Services and after two phone interviews, I was hired to be a Loss Control Specialist as an independent contractor. I was a full-time Sr. Loss Control Specialist after about a year – and from there my insurance career blossomed, taking me to Chubb, and finally landing at Markel as the Director of Risk Solution Services (RSS).
Loss control/risk management is such an interesting field. The variability of my day-to-day was most attractive to me. Because “everyone” needs insurance, I get to feed my curiosity every day with learning something new about the people and businesses that I work with. I describe it as my own personal “How It’s Made,” because to truly do the job well, you have to know what the client’s product is, how and why they produce it, as well as the personalities surrounding the work itself.