InsurTech Ohio Spotlight with Lauren Winchester
Lauren Winchester is the VP, Risk + Response at Corvus Insurance, the leading provider of commercial insurance products built on advanced data science, with an AI-driven approach to empowering brokers and policyholders to better predict and prevent loss. Lauren was interviewed by Michael Fiedel, a Managing Director at InsurTech Ohio and Co-Founder at PolicyFly, Inc.
Lauren, can you define Corvus’ Safer World mission for me?
“Our CEO, Phil Edmundson, started Corvus with our Safer World mission in mind — to make the world a safer place by helping organizations mitigate or eliminate negative impacts when adverse events happen. He was also frustrated with how insurance wasn't embracing technology and wanted technology that could help companies mitigate risk to be at the core of the company that he was forming.
While insurance can't eliminate one hundred percent of risk, we can use technology to eliminate more of it. We can also build a team of good people to make policyholders feel safer. This leaves businesses with more room to do what they do best and have some of that risk transfer taken off of them. Phil felt very passionate that insurance helps people, which in turn, leads to a safer world, and he took that to mean we could have a mission where we focus on a safer world in a couple of different ways.”
How is the Safer World agenda and mission growing with Corvus?
“We look at the Safer World mission in terms of three pillars: community, policyholders and Corvus employees. From a community standpoint, we want to live out our mission by bringing tools, processes and remediation tactics to the market in a meaningful way. We can make the community as a whole safer by introducing some of this technology.
For policyholders, we look at it from an advocacy perspective. How can we use our security and risk-focused approach to make policyholders safer? Can we bring them a helpful claims process that gets them running faster and further mitigates risk? Can we bring them consulting from our own team or use that trust to get them to the right kind of vendors?
Lastly, we're very passionate about making sure Corvus is a safe place for our employees. From there, it's determining what our employees need to feel safe. We send out culture surveys and have programming throughout the year related to our Safer World mission with a focus on the inclusion, belonging and safety that can help our employees feel like they can bring their authentic selves to work.”
How does the Safer World mission relate to diversity, equity and inclusion?
“We make sure that we're fostering strong initiatives around diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) by hiring in such a way that brings a more equitable workforce and adds to the diversity of the team. Our workforce should be as diverse as the communities we serve. That's super important — making sure that our employees feel a sense of belonging and can do their best work because they feel safe and motivated.
From the community perspective, being able to put ourselves out there as a company that's working toward this great goal is helpful for those that interact with us. Be it business partners like brokerages or our policyholders themselves, they understand that DE&I is something that really is driven at the core of our mission here at Corvus. It’s critical that we are out talking about these issues and trying to come up with solutions, so we can try and make an impact within the insurance community and the community at large.”
Speaking on behalf of insurtechs in general, how do you feel they're positioned to drive at diversity, equity and inclusion, particularly as newcomers to the industry?
“Insurtechs are all about taking a centuries-old industry and propelling it into the future, but that innovation shouldn't stop with technological developments. We have an opportunity to drive change in how employees and those entering the workforce perceive and experience the insurance industry. As Corvus and other insurance entities focus on inclusion, belonging and safety, the industry can make sure that the differences among employees are celebrated. Insurtechs are nimble, so we're well positioned to make these changes. As insurtechs, we don't have as much infrastructure to hold us back from making fast, meaningful changes.
It's really important to note that today's initiatives aren’t going to reflect tomorrow's, since DE&I goals should be as dynamic as your growing employee count. The dynamic nature of the initiatives that we're taking on as a company go hand in hand with our constant need for learning when it comes to DE&I. I think a lot of us who are starting to undertake this learning can see just how much needs to be done to understand the challenges that employees face in order to feel a true sense of belonging at their organization.
At Corvus, we formed an Employee Resources Group (ERG), All Wings, and it's being driven by our employees — what they feel are key needs and what they want to see within our organization overall. We make sure that they feel supported to follow through with whatever ideas they have. For example, we had employees who were passionate about holding a pronouns workshop, so everyone who wanted to attend within Corvus could better understand: why it's important to use preferred pronouns for colleagues, what impact that level of respect has on relationships, how to avoid certain pitfalls and how to deal with and learn when someone makes an honest mistake.
We also had Corvus’s CEO and senior leaders attend the workshop. Leadership buy-in and participation is key to fulfilling this mission. Employees need to feel that leadership supports all of the great activities in the ERG and that leadership truly believes in our mission of creating a sense of belonging and improving safety for our employees.”
Are these initiatives being promoted in a way that Corvus’ clients are able to understand the impact that Corvus is making?
“We send communications to brokers about our Safer World mission and engage them in different work streams that we have which even go beyond DE&I initiatives. A lot of that messaging can also go from the broker to their client, so we want to empower the brokers to understand what we're doing. For example, we offered free Corvus scans to healthcare organizations on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic and to organizations supplying water, electricity, oil, gas and other critical resources in the United States after the Colonial Pipeline cyber attack.
We also have information about our Safer World mission on our website, so if clients look us up, they're going to see more context at corvusinsurance.com. In addition, from the end of 2020 into 2021, any time a policy was bound in the CrowBar, a broker had the option of donating a portion of the bind to charities with which Corvus partnered that represented our Safer World mission. Those charities were Per Scholas, Re:Wild and the Boys and Girls Club. Going forward, we could potentially put out a message to our policyholders about it or put a call-out section in our tech that they could see as well. I think we're just starting to explore what's the right way. We don't want to broadcast this just for the sake of it, but it’s important that our customers are able to understand that this is something important we're doing.
One way we're living out our Safer World mission with our policyholders is by actively engaging with them via our scan findings to identify vulnerabilities. We have a virtual CISO (Chief Information Security Officer) experience where we're able to ask questions and provide clients with feedback on what should be prioritized within their cybersecurity framework. As we continue to learn about our policyholders, we’re able to engage with them in more meaningful ways.
I would encourage anyone within the insurtech community to really know their audience. Overall, DE&I is something that we all need to focus on together. I think we all are going to benefit from incorporating the principles of inclusion, belonging and safety. We're going to attract so many great minds to our organizations by focusing on those crucial themes, and we're going to be able to retain those minds because they're going to feel great coming to work and supporting the mission. It’s a vital way to move your company forward and to serve your employees and customers better.”