women in financial services

More than 70% of women in insurance believe the industry is making progress toward gender equality and, for the second year in a row, over two-thirds think their company is working to promote gender diversity, according to a new survey from the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation.

After the IICF Women in Insurance Global Conference, which brought together 650 insurance professionals, senior executive speakers, and CEOs to discuss how the industry can increase gender diversity in the workplace, the foundation polled attendees on the current reality of gender diversity and its evolution across the insurance industry.

Almost half of attendees agree that their company is working to promote gender diversity with another 19% strongly agreeing, but 24.5% disagreed, and 7.1% disagreed strongly. Biases in advancement (51%) and lack of opportunities for professional advancement (24.6%) remain the biggest barriers for women seeking leadership positions in their companies, respondents said. The industry may be making some progress on those issues, however, as the percentage of women who named “biases in advancement” and “lack of opportunities for professional advancement” as the chief barriers fell to 68% from 76% last year.

“As evidenced by the tremendous turnout of the 2015 Women in Insurance Global Conference and the engaging discussions it created, companies are clearly recognizing the need for a more gender inclusive workplace,” said Betsy Myatt, executive director of IICF’s Northeast Division.

But the findings make clear that insurance still lags far behind other sectors of the financial services industry in terms of support for women. Those surveyed – who were all there because they work in the insurance industry – said that insurance was the least supportive of advancing women to senior leadership, compared to accounting (47.8%), banking (26.1%) and investment services (14.1%).

“While there is still progress to be made toward achieving gender equality, the vast majority of survey respondents who have found a positive shift in corporate culture is certainly telling of the strides the insurance industry has made thus far,” said Bill Ross, CEO of IICF.

Some of the survey’s key insights include:

Which of the following is the greatest challenge women face in is ascending to positions of leadership within the insurance industry?

  1. Inflexible workplace standards: 7.4%
  2. Women don’t promote themselves enough or effectively: 30.1%
  3. Limited opportunities mobility up the corporate ladder: 39.4%
  4. Lack of C-suite sponsorship: 23.0%

Which of the following financial services sectors is the most supportive of the advancement of women to senior leadership.

  1. Banking: 26.1%
  2. Insurance: 12.0%
  3. Accounting: 47.8%
  4. Investment Services: 14.1%

Which of the following is the biggest barrier to entry (perceived or actual) for women seeking leadership positions in their company.

  1. Lack of opportunities for professional advancement: 24.6%
  2. Lack of desire from company leadership to appoint women to senior leadership roles: 17.0%
  3. Biases in advancement: 51.1%
  4. Desire to start a family: 14.1%

In what way do you believe gender equality has been most improved across the insurance industry?

  1. The establishment of mentorship programs: 14.2%
  2. Sponsoring executive networking opportunities: 24.0%
  3. More active recruitment of a gender-diverse workforce: 26.2%
  4. Shift in corporate culture: 35.6%


Favorable loss records and low claims in the aerospace industry has led to steadily falling premiums of about 5% for the past eight years and jumping to 8% in 2014, according a report by Aon Risk Solutions.

Aon’s Aerospace Insurance Market Report 2015 found that the industry’s improved risk profile is the result of enhancements in technology and security as well as better working practices. Claims have averaged about $200 million, while annual premium is more than $700 million, which could suggest “that despite the price of lead premium falling for eight consecutive years, there is still a long way for the sector to fall,” Aon said, noting that the reality is that the premium level reflects the potential for massive, exceptionally complicated claims. “As a result, while the price of premium could continue to decline gradually in the absence of major claims, the soft market conditions are unlikely to accelerate.”

While an improved risk profile plays an important role, another major factor is that the insurance industry “has become a haven for global investment capital, offering enhanced returns in comparison with other financial markets,” according to the study. This has increased capacity in the market and created competition that has driven down prices. “This could mean that current levels of competition in the market for aerospace business will decline and the pace of reduction in the aerospace insurance markets will slow. There is little evidence that this process is taking place at this stage, but it is a factor that could change during the next couple of years,” the study said.

According to Aon:


On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in Obergefell, et al. v. Hodges, Director, Ohio Department Of Health; Tanco, et al. v. Haslam, Governor Of Tennesee, et al.; DeBoer, et al. v. Snyder, Governor of Michigan, et al.; and Bourke, et al. v. Bershear, Governor of Kentucky, and ruled five to four that the equal protection guarantee provided by the 14th Amendment to opposite-sex marriages extends to same-sex marriages. The SCOTUS opinion, authored by Justice Kennedy, holds that “same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry in all States [and] that there is no lawful basis for a State to refuse to recognize a lawful same-sex marriage performed in another State on the ground of its same-sex character.”

With same-sex couples now having the same rights as opposite-sex couples, how will the decision affect employers and what can employers expect as an outcome?

More Lawsuits?

With the new decision, much of what employers provide and are mandated to provide to employees, such as those rights granted by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and other employee benefits, may change to include same-sex couples. Although the U.S. Department of Labor modified its definition of “spouse” in the FMLA back in March 2015, employers must verify they are granting all eligible employees in same-sex marriages their FMLA rights. Speaking of the U.S. Department of Labor, we expect that there will be guidance from it soon.

Employers can also expect more lawsuits under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Although Obergefell, Tanco, DeBoer, and Bourke are not employment cases, the Supreme Court’s decision implicates employment laws. Claims of transgender, sexual orientation, and/or gender discrimination may increase as gender identity and expression continue to be a topic of discussion. Likewise, discrimination based on marital status may give rise to lawsuits in certain states under state anti-discrimination laws.

Health and Welfare Plans Update

One of the biggest impacts the U.S. Supreme Court decision will have on employment is on employee benefits. Medical insurance coverage and taxes will change, so employers should be prepared to accommodate such changes in its policies and contracts. We expect the Internal Revenue Service will provide guidance soon.

Employee Handbook and Company Policies Update

Employers are also well-served to update their employee handbooks to reflect and extend the rights given to the opposite-sex spouses to same-sex spouses to minimize litigation risks. Employers must also revised its enrollment processes, such as updating its consent and eligibility forms, to ensure that they comply with the new rule.

We will continue to update you on the impact of the decision on employee benefits in greater detail soon.

This article previously appeared on the Seyfarth Shaw website.


The cybersecurity insurance industry is booming, with demand for this specialty coverage vastly outpacing any other emerging risk line, according to a new survey by London-based broker RKH Specialty. In fact, 70% of the insurance professionals surveyed listed cyber as the top casualty exposure.

The brokers, agents, insurers and risk managers RKH queried after April’s RIMS 2015 conference said their top casualty concerns after cyber are product recall and drones (11% each), with others including e-cigarettes, autonomous vehicles and telematics totaling only eight percent.

RKH Specialty Study Graph

“Losses stemming from cyber-related attacks and business interruption can be catastrophic for individual businesses,” said Barnaby Rugge-Price, RKH Specialty’s CEO. “Healthcare and retail have been the major buyers in the cyber space to date but we are seeing an increasing conversion rate across the whole of our portfolio. After a number of years of looking at the offering, clients are increasingly deciding to purchase the cover as the product has improved and the frequency of attacks has continued to increase. There has also been a heightened focus on the business interruption aspect, where cyber attacks can cause whole facilities to shut down. But whether cyber related or not, any interruption to the supply chain can cause a disproportionate loss. The survey highlights the importance of specialist insurance for a whole host of emerging risks.”

Turning specifically to property exposures, supply chain disruption was identified by 61% as the top risk, followed by flood (30%) and tornadoes (9%). The findings reflect a growing recognition of the potential exposures that longer and more complex supply chains introduce, the firm said.

The brokerage also asked insurance professionals what they think clients are and will be most concerned about when evaluating a broker’s service, and in turn, what brokers will need to focus on to stay competitive. They predict:

RKH Specialty broker service