Women in Insurance: Q&A with Carey Anne Nadeau, CEO and Founder, Ometry

Digital Transformation - May 21 2020

In this interview series, we profile women who are shaping the future of insurance. By highlighting their achievements and sharing their insights, we aim to have an open dialogue about what carriers, brokers and insurtechs can do to promote greater gender parity and diversity in the world of insurance and increase the number of women in leadership positions. This week, we chat with Carey Anne Nadeau, CEO and Founder, Ometry. Carey Anne sits on the Advisory Board for Women in Insurance Leadership conference and is the podcast host of the Golfcour.se, a modern forum for business conversations in insurance, distributed by Insurance Nerds.

Carey Anne, tell us about your path to insurance. What attracted you to the industry/profession?

I was born in Cromwell, Connecticut, just south of Hartford, so I joke that insurance was in my blood. But seriously, it took me working professionally outside of insurance for 15 years before I saw an opportunity to build a startup company that could solve real insurance problems. I think my expertise from outside the industry helps to bring a fresh perspective and helps to show carriers, from non-insurance examples, how to modernize and launch new products.

What do you find most fulfilling about the work you do?

Two things I find most fulfilling. First, that I get to bring together a group of brilliant and charismatic people to work alongside me and who motivate me to try my best. Second, that I get to help our entire team manifest a future vision of insurance, where we expand the known universe of risk measurement. Every day we have the privilege to develop products that deliver safety benefits to drivers and more data into insurance and risk management to do price segmentation and improve road safety.

The insurance industry is in the midst of massive change. What do you think the insurance business will look like in five years?

The biggest change I see is a shift in the comfort level when it comes to using AI. I think carriers are waking up to the potential for growth and efficiency through automation and data-driven risk management. Ometry, a risk technology company, is a good example. Ometry uses AI to predict where it is unsafe to drive. We then help carriers do more accurate pricing segmentation and design products to increase sales and reduce costs associated with acquiring and retaining location-enabled consumers. In our case, AI is used to increase the accuracy of prices and acquire more customers profitably.

If you had to pick one technology trend that will fundamentally transform insurance over the next 5-10 years, what would it be?

Telematics. Telematics is a slow-moving cyclone that is gaining speed over warm waters. Telematics is a rich, real-time source for information about the location, usage, and behaviors of drivers. I think there will be a derivative market of new products built from these data that help carriers realize more value from their telematics investments.

The insurance industry faces a recruitment challenge with millennials choosing professions they deem to be more progressive, challenging and fun. What can the industry do to entice new talent?

I think the recruitment challenge is not as big in data science / analytics roles within insurance. We get nearly a thousand applicants per semester for our internship and fellowship programs, because analyzing insurance data and improving the measurement and detection capabilities is novel, creative, and meaningful work. I think younger people are taking on roles that didn’t exist before and will ascend to leadership as insurance inevitably, as insurance becomes more data and AI-driven.

According to a 2017 study, just 12 percent of insurance companies’ top corporate officers are women. Why do you think there are so few women in senior leadership roles in the insurance industry?

It’s hard to be what you can’t see. I don’t believe that many women had the privilege to be exposed to or learned how to effectively navigate the corporate board rooms of insurance, and it takes those early examples to demonstrate to the next generation what is possible and how to pursue that role. I think it is inevitable that women will surpass men in professional success in insurance. We are more highly educated and societally trained to personify values consistent with insurance such as compassion, empathy, and trust. I have no doubt that women-led companies, like women-led startups overall, will be more profitable long-term. 

What can insurance companies do to ensure that women not only stay in the profession but advance in their careers?

  1. Offer paid parental leave for all
  2. Continue to promote women into positions of leadership, early and often, and pay them accordingly
  3. Encourage women to create new products or pursue entrepreneurial roles

As an inventor and trail blazer, what recommendations do you have for young female professionals launching their career in insurance on how to find a mentor and develop a fulfilling relationship?

The best inventors ask fearlessly. Sometimes people say no. If they don’t already know this, they learn quick when they cultivate and lose a potential customer. Mentors (as well as customers) do not prioritize your success simply because you want them to.

For those, like myself, who also mentor, I offer two hours on Saturday morning to those who reach out to me during the week. Making time for a few wildcard phone calls, I’ve found a lot of unexpected opportunities to help others and practice communicating what we do. Those who decline my Saturday time frame, I decline to meet with, and this also helps to preserve my time. 

What positive changes have you seen since you began in your career?

To be honest, I’ve seen very few positive changes in insurance. Insurance transforms on a long time horizon, so we’re making use of our talent, in this moment to build a sustainable startup company. We’re hoping we can outrun traditional wisdom by demonstrating how data is transforming the business, especially when brought together with exceptional talent to build new products.

What advice would you give the next generation of women considering a career in insurance and technology?

The best advice I’ve heard is ‘advice is cheap, get the money.’ To do this, I’d suggest becoming insurance savvy as quickly as possible. Find a confidante who can succinctly explain the importance and dynamics of things that are complicated or unrelatable, like re-insurance. Also, broaden your network by deepening your relationships with advisors, customers, and experts you meet along the way. Author Dale Carnegie once said something like, ‘You make more friends taking an interest in others than you will asking them to take an interest in you’ and I try to live by that.


Nadeau Headshot

Carey Anne Nadeau is a MIT-trained entrepreneur, focused on modernizing the measurement of risk. Formerly a Researcher at the Brookings Institution and Urban Institute, Carey Anne went on to found Ometry, which uses location-based driving data and open data to predict where car crashes are likely and help auto insurance carriers and smart city initiatives to prevent crashes and save lives. She sits on the Advisory Board for Women in Insurance Leadership conference and is the podcast host of the Golfcour.se, a modern forum for business conversations in insurance, distributed by Insurance Nerds.

 

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