Women in Insurance: Stephanie J. Dunstan, Regional VP, National Accounts Casualty, Arch Insurance Group Inc.

Women in Insurance - February 17 2021

In this interview series, we profile women who are shaping the future of insurance. This week, we speak with Stephanie J. Dunstan, CPCU, ARM, Are, Regional Vice President, National Accounts Casualty, Arch Insurance Group Inc. Stephanie discusses the career journey that led her to insurance, what the industry can do to attract new talent and ensure inclusivity and diversity in insurance leadership, and how insurance carriers are working with their clients to address the challenges of COVID-19.

Stephanie, tell us about your path to insurance. What attracted you to the profession?

Like many others, I fell into insurance. I was fortunate to receive several job offers upon graduating from Penn State, but none of them felt right for me. As an INROADS intern, a program preparing diverse college students to have successful corporate careers, my advisor introduced me to underwriting, and then I started my career at what is now called Chubb Risk Management. I was excited about the profession because I immediately noticed the vast opportunities to command and advance my career. Being an insurance underwriter allowed me to lean into my strengths: being detailed oriented and working with numbers.

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

What fulfills me is problem-solving for clients, developing my team, and being a partner to brokers. Our clients are facing a challenging and rapidly changing risk landscape. It is important to understand their needs and help to develop timely solutions. As an executive responsible for talent management, especially during a global crisis, it is crucial to develop my team members to their full potential to advance and provide them with resources to thrive.

The insurance industry is in the midst of massive change, and the pace of change is accelerating. If you had to pick one technology trend that will fundamentally transform insurance over the next 5-10 years, what would it be?

Transitioning to working remotely during a global pandemic will forever impact our industry. We have proved that our industry, which is considered archaic, can rapidly change operations and technology when forced. The drastic change has affected how we communicate, build relationships, recruit talent, and manage risk profiles.

The pandemic has disrupted the entire insurance value chain including traditional distribution channels and producers – and some of the changes are likely to be permanent. How are insurance carriers coping with the ongoing impact of COVID-19 and a hardening market?

These are trying times for all sectors. Insurance carriers are actively working with their clients to ensure that they have the right safety protocols to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and respond to those impacted. Claims departments are staying on top of the changing presumption state laws as some states deem the illness to be covered as a compensable work related injury.

As it relates to the hardening market, insurance carriers are pushing for rates across the board. Most carriers experienced loss from paying out COVID-19 claims and reduced premiums from those clients impacted by the stay-at-home orders. Carriers are meeting with clients in advance to communicate potential changes to the programs. We are doing all things possible to stay on top of the latest news and delivering high quality service to clients.

Insurance carriers and brokers collect mountains of data, but they still struggle to gain the insights needed to accurately assess and price complex risks. If you had to give the industry a report card, how well do insurers manage risk today?

Data-based decisions are great, but let’s not underestimate the art of underwriting. Hindsight is 20/20; while it’s easy to point out the problems, we also must reflect on how far the industry has come. Yes, there’s always room for continuous improvement, and the market is showing an influx of Insurtech and innovative products to solve for this. It is important to remember that we understand, predict, price, and respond to catastrophic events. Every generation improves the process through insights and technology.

I’m looking forward to seeing and participating in this change.

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

While insurance is necessary, many do not understand the career potential. Further, the industry is viewed as dated and lacking race, gender, and age diversity. If we want to attract top talent, we must talk about the challenging and fun work that we do.

The change will start with recruitment. We need to recruit at the high school and early college level to entice interest. Further, we need to explain the different paths within insurance and highlight career success. It is crucial we also begin to target those from non-insurance families to increase the diversity of thoughts.

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

The companies need to ensure that they target a diverse pool of candidates for leadership positions and not revert to the industry norm. Further, since women lack representation at the senior level, companies need to ensure that women are afforded sponsors to support their advancement. Women should be exposed to other training and development opportunities to make sure that they are considered equal to their male counterparts.

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

My advice to the next generation of women considering insurance is to stay strong and take ownership of their career. Networking will be the key to your success. Find mentors and sponsors (even outside of the industry) and be genuine with your relationships. Don’t worry so much; you got this!

Also, serve others – so consider being a member of organizations such as Gamma Iota Sigma.

 


Stephanie Dunstan Large FileStephanie Dunstan, MBA, CPCU, ARM, ARe is the Regional Vice President of the Southeast Region at Arch Insurance, managing the primary casualty division and has 14 years’ experience managing talent and driving profitability. Her current role and responsibilities include recruiting and retaining top talent, managing a profitable portfolio, and building and maintaining client and broker relationships. Stephanie is a 2020 Insurance Business America Rising Star and 2019 Business Insurance Break Out award winner. She is the Founder of Mavis Scarlett Foundation and a Board of Director for Gamma Iota Sigma. Stephanie completed her undergrad at Penn State and earned an MBA from LaSalle University.

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