After Hurricane Sandy tore along the East Coast in the fall of 2012, employees at Lacher & Associates in Souderton, Pennsylvania, went into overdrive to assist clients whose homes and property were damaged by the destructive storm.
“People want to feel heard and valued, especially navigating insurance in times of loss,” says Erin Price ’05, a personal insurance account executive with Lacher & Associates, an individual and commercial insurance company. “[After the hurricane], we were able to shine for our clients.”
People filing claims after destructive storms usually have more pressing things on their to-do lists than telling the world about how great their insurance company is, though, and in some ways, working in insurance can feel a bit like being a referee. People don’t generally stand up to cheer a job well done, and are quick to lambast perceived faults. This has led to a misperception of the industry as a heartless, money-grubbing one, say alumni who work in the field.
“For every claim that may not go as a client thinks it should, there are many clients that are satisfied with the insurance coverage that they have received,” says Kevin Lehman ’88, co-owner of Kooman Agencies, Ltd. in Red Deer, Alberta.
Chad Lacher ’97, partner at Lacher & Associates, describes the “powerful calling” of working in insurance as one that prevents injuries, saves lives and helps communities, families and businesses avoid financial hardship.
“Insurance carriers are good at covering large groups but not effective at understanding the individual,” Lacher says. “As an insurance advisor, one of the best parts of my job is to be a real voice and advocate for clients in [difficult] situations.”
Like Price, Lehman and Lacher, numerous alumni have entered the field with a sense of service and practical skills developed during their time at EMU.
M. Trevor Parmer ’94, vice-president for employee benefits at BB&T Insurance Services in Harrisonburg, Virginia, says lessons about diversity in culture, belief systems and ways of forming opinions have been invaluable in his interactions with clients, colleagues and insurance carriers.
“Communication, mediation and creativity in problem solving are all skills I use every day and ones that were in many ways shaped or learned at EMU,” Parmer says.
Julie Mumaw Lambert ’75 did a work-study job as a keypuncher in the science center, which gave her early, practical experience in data entry, a skill central to her job now as an underwriter assistant for Westfield Insurance in West Salem, Ohio. An appreciation for life-long learning has also been important for Lambert, who had to learn to speak the quirky language of insurance when she began with the company in 2001.
“The focus at EMU on integrating service throughout your life was really important to me,” says Price, who was surprised to find a calling in the insurance industry. “The biggest thing for me has been finding a job where I can serve people and feel like I’ve done something to lighten someone’s load … Working for a company that shares these same beliefs as I do is invaluable.” — Andrew Jenner ’04