Non-profit organizations give their employees the opportunity to contribute to a cause that is close to their hearts. Those who are in the insurance industry have the same opportunity.
Most of us should agree that those who work in nonprofits are heroes. From nonprofit founders to young professionals, they find themselves in this important work because it fuels a personal passion. This passion can include an overarching urge and desire to express kindness and serve those causes and communities that need that compassion most.
Whatever the driver, we can say with confidence that nonprofits represent the very best of us.
But what about those who work behind the scenes, who aren’t always noticed by the public? The ones who keep the nonprofit running smoothly, the ones who are there to pick up the pieces should something go wrong? Those who literally insure charities every day.
These professionals, from insurers to brokers to sponsorship chiefs, are just as important to nonprofits as those who work directly toward the organization’s mission.
A heart for the non-profit world
It’s a common story – most industry professionals got into the commercial insurance career. But for many of those who worked in the nonprofit sector, they found it to be a perfect match.
For Allied World’s Kim Delaney, senior vice president of the airline’s private health care division, the draw came from a lifelong interest in health and social services.
“I’ve had a career as a recreational therapist, working in a hospital, nursing home, and adult day care center,” Delaney said. “My background was previously in healthcare [transitioning] to an insurance career. But I’ve always had a penchant for the nonprofit side of things.”
In fact, Delaney noted that her previous work experience at non-profit organizations got her foot in the door as a commercial insurance insurer: “The company I interviewed and hired with wanted someone who would work in the facilities and understand how they work. It was a great fit.”
For Scott Konrad, head of HUB International’s North American nonprofit practice, his career in insurance for nonprofits is rooted in his personal interest in arts and culture.
“I worked in Wilmington, Delaware, in the claims section of the business, [but] I wanted to get out of the claims and be more in the lifeblood of our industry,” said Konrad. “[I switched] sales and relationship management, and if you know Wilmington, there are a lot of arts and cultural organizations.”
When he had chosen his starting point, Konrad was enthusiastic: “It [was] very gratifying to help them [organizations] solve their challenges.”
“It started there and just snowed,” he said.
For some, this personal passion for nonprofits and their work has enabled them to build their own organizations. Pamela Davis, CEO and founder of the Nonprofits Insurance Alliance, is a shining example.
The Nonprofits Insurance Alliance, a group of 501(c)(3) nonprofit insurers, was founded by Davis in the mid-1980s at a particularly challenging time for the nonprofit sector. During this time, insurers were reluctant to offer liability insurance to nonprofits because of the high risk involved.
“I was a graduate student at UC Berkeley in the 1980s and had done some nonprofit work before going there,” Davis said. “I learned from my nonprofit organization [contacts] that they couldn’t get insurance, and that crisis coincided with my need to write a thesis.”
Davis’ thesis covered the reasons for the then current crisis and possible remedies. A charitable foundation published 5,000 copies of the dissertation, giving it what it called “immediate, perhaps undeserved, credibility.”
Soon after, she founded the Nonprofits Insurance Alliance.
Regardless of the details surrounding an insurance professional’s introduction to the not-for-profit sector, the drive remains the same: an interest in helping non-profits carry out their mission. Through a career in the insurance industry, these professionals have found a way to satisfy their personal passions.
The risks observed nationally and globally, including inflation, increased cyber risk and job vacancies, hit nonprofit organizations harder than a for-profit corporation. This is caused by the vulnerability of community work combined with funding issues that the sector has been feeling since the pandemic began.
“Inflation and recession are the most immediate concerns,” said Parvathy Sree, vice president of underwriting for the nonprofit unit at AmTrust.
She continued: “Inflation is increasing [both] Real estate values and premium values as well as the damage costs.”
Davis echoed these views, particularly when it comes to real estate coverage.
“Property insurance is under pressure almost everywhere,” she said. “There is an urgent need for reliable real estate coverage in a form that meets the basic real estate needs of nonprofit organizations everywhere.”
Davis also noted the lack of liability coverage for nonprofits, as an organization’s risk profile can discourage an insurer from offering a policy. This is a particularly relevant risk when nonprofit organizations face sexual abuse and harassment claims.
“And of course, cyber is a problem for everyone,” Davis concluded.
Financial challenges being felt across society are also weighing on the nonprofit sector, according to Delaney: “Funding in the nonprofit sector has been hit very hard over the past three years, not only by COVID but from a social perspective. Donors who used to give larger amounts are pulling out because of restrictions or simply because they don’t have the funds.”
approach to work
While there is never a shortage of challenges in the nonprofit sector, insurance professionals are always eager to approach the work with their own unique approaches.
For Konrad, his approach to clients starts with understanding the cultural differences between for-profit and not-for-profit companies.
“One thing I’m hypersensitive to in our industry is that nonprofit people don’t want to be sold [on product],” he said. “It requires a much more consultative approach and knowing the business from the ground up.”
On the underwriting side, Sree also takes on the role of advisor: “We are a resource and a partner for non-profit organizations.”
From discussing limits with insurers to providing organizations with loss control and risk management resources, Sree believes collaboration is key to providing nonprofits with the best possible policies at an affordable price.
Delaney’s approach relies on training her team of underwriters to understand not only the sector but also the risk:
“By doing that, it gives us the level of comfort that expands [the client’s] cover and give them a better policy.”
As a nonprofit insurer, Davis recognizes that every single decision she makes for an organization impacts “how we can create a more stable, affordable nonprofit marketplace.” NIA looks at “nonprofit insurance, but also the type of environment in which nonprofits operate and how we can improve that.”
The proudest moments
For these professionals, it can be difficult to pinpoint a single proudest moment of their career. But many answered similarly.
“Being able to combine my love for the nonprofit sector and human health services and helping people with my career — that’s a proud moment,” Delaney said.
“What makes this fun,” said Konrad, “is the challenge, which I take very seriously, of leaving someone in a better place [than before we] met.”
And for Konrad, he’s proud that although he’s been in his career insuring non-profit organizations for 45 years, he feels he’s just getting started. &
Emma Brenner is an Associate at Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]