Justin Trifari is an intern at CRC Group and serves as the President of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Alpha Tau chapter of Gamma Iota Sigma, a professional fraternity focused in risk management, insurance and actuarial science. Justin was interviewed by Michael Fiedel, a Managing Director at InsurTech Ohio and Co-Founder at PolicyFly, Inc.
Justin, what do you enjoy most about the insurance industry?
“I love the relationship aspect of the industry, making connections with people and being able to understand different perspectives and backgrounds. In my role as a broker, my job is to not only foster relationships with both my retail agents and carriers, but also make sure that all my clients are happy. What's great about the insurance industry is that it allows me to do something that I enjoy, which is meeting new people.
I also like the focus on education. In a lot of other industries, you get into it, learn your specific job tasks and do a normal, routine nine-to-five. Insurance is not really like that; there's always a new challenge. There's always something that can be learned and a lot of professional designations that you can earn to further your education.
The financial security the industry provides is another thing I love. It's a recession-proof industry, so for job stability, it's really solid. In some regards, it’s an entrepreneurial industry where you're kind of in control of what you make, and you can therefore, be in control of your own financial wealth.
Those three things are probably what I love most about the industry, but number one would definitely be the relationship aspect.”
How strongly do you feel like insurance will be a career?
“When I graduate, I plan to be a broker, become an expert, get my designations and really focus on helping people. I think something that a lot of people don't realize about insurance is that at the end of the day, we are helping others. We're protecting their assets in a time of need. Although, upfront, it may look like you're paying a lot of money, when that catastrophe happens, we're here to help you. For me to be that middleman and understand somebody's risk, that's really rewarding. So, I know for a fact that this is definitely the industry and the career that I want to be in, and I'm excited for it.”
Do you feel like insurance is an under appreciated opportunity for students coming out of college?
“A hundred percent. I think it goes back to our education in general. Look back to grade school and even some colleges. I wasn’t really exposed to insurance, and whatever insurance you are exposed to, it's probably from the news and can be spun in a negative light. Also, most people only know about insurance from what they see on commercials. They don't even really know about the E&S market. The insurance industry is a big industry, and I think with little exposure, nobody really knows about it unless you grew up with insurance or you've actively looked for something different. Overall, with the lack of exposure and knowledge of the industry, a lot of students just don't know about it.
If you couple that with the negative connotation surrounding insurance, where companies are trying to take your money, it's expensive, it lacks creativity and it's boring. All of those things couldn't be further from the truth. It all just circles back to not really understanding what the industry does. I like to explain to people that it does take a lot of creativity to be in insurance, especially from the brokerage side. Everybody's different, everybody has different sets of challenges, so you have to be creative in your thinking, yet be able to think critically and be a problem solver. You're kind of always on the clock doing something different in insurance, which keeps it from getting stale.”
In the time that you've been studying and interning within the insurance industry, what have you learned about how it’s evolving?
“I think one of the biggest challenges a lot of companies are facing is hiring new talent and bridging an aging workforce. In the industry, there's going to be millions of jobs that are available in the next couple of years. That's mainly due to the lack of exposure. There's a lot of older people, so I think a lot of companies now are facing that gap between needing new talent and getting them in before all of the experts retire. I also believe data and technology are being utilized by a lot of companies and will be a continuing trend in the future.
As there's exposure to the industry, it’ll bring more young talent, turning it into a continuous pipeline instead of having this big gap to bridge. A big risk that's coming about is cyber. I think a lot of companies are trying to figure out how to write that for profitability because it's very hard to distinguish an individual cyber risk as there's a lot of exposure with ransomware data leaks and things like that. With technology in general, insurance companies are also trying to find ways to write cyber for profitability and use data that's been collected over years to really drive performance and increase efficiencies.”
Have you seen insurtech companies get involved in outreach to college students?
“Not too much. I believe with insurtech, because it's a newer idea, a lot of students who weren't exposed to insurance on their own, only really see what we get on campus. For the most part, I think a lot of campus partners are well-known companies. When it comes to insurtech, it's becoming more and more prevalent, which is amazing as more people get exposed to insurance and really understand it. I think as people learn more about insurance, insurtech companies will have more opportunities on campus.
From an insurtech company perspective, I think it's hard to invest time and money into coming to these campuses, reaching out to students who may not even understand what it is. I do think it's becoming more and more prevalent on our campuses. It's just a matter of when and really increasing that exposure to insurance as a whole.”
Coming into the industry, do you have an expectation of what some of the other skill sets that are going to be valuable might be?
“That's the beautiful thing about insurance a lot of people don't think about. You don't have to be an insurance major to go into a career in insurance. I mean, we need accountants, we need actuaries and we need engineers because we work with all industries. Let's just take an engineering student and let's say, they go to school for engineering. They then want to move to insurance. They can be a casualty broker and really understand builder's risk, right? You don't necessarily have to go to school for insurance to get into insurance. I think again, the lack of exposure to really understanding, ‘Hey, insurance works with all industries’. You don't have to be super outgoing to be in insurance. You don't have to be an extrovert to be in insurance. Another misconception is that you have to be a sales person. I don't think that's the case. I think as long as you can think critically and are dedicated to learning, then you can be successful in the industry.”