My first 100 days

As a CEO of a captive, you are bound to find yourself in unexpected situations, so you’ll need to prepare for uncertainty. The importance of this became clear to me as not one, but two 500-year mega-storms came barrelling down on the properties of our members during my first 100 days as president and CEO of HAI Group. With several more potentially damaging storms on the horizon, I quickly appreciated the value of being prepared, learning one of my first lessons as CEO.

HAI Group is a member-owned insurance company, controlled by housing authorities, providing solutions to public and affordable housing agencies across the nation. Like most insurance companies, we strive to predict the risk and mitigate it, and during these recent catastrophes, our preparedness served us well. Our risk mitigation and management programmes were more valuable than ever, as were the measures we take to ensure strong underwriting discipline.

Risk management has always been an integral part of the services we provide to support our members, and we had a plan of action ready to be rolled out as necessary. Members in harm’s way were proactively sent communications with tips and resources to begin preparation and to ready themselves for the impending storms, as we confirmed the readiness and capacity levels of our adjusting teams within the areas anticipating impact.

Our employees continuously monitored the storms, keeping a close eye on the path and projection as they unfolded. In the aftermath of each storm, we began calling members in affected areas to check in and see what they might need, but most importantly to make sure they were safe. It is unusual for a nation-wide insurance company to follow up with their members personally rather than wait for a claim to come in, but this is one of the many unique ways we build personal connections with our members. We work hard to ensure we have a positive impact because we understand our members count on us most when situations are worst. These catastrophes served to remind me that insurance has an impact on people’s lives, and this leads to the next lesson I’ve learned, about the value of building relationships.

HAI Group has a unique culture. It’s one of the things that sets us apart from traditional insurers. The community engagement and grass-roots participation of our members, committees, and board of directors have always provided us with an advantage of having a deeper understanding of the issues our industry faces.
Our company as a whole has built lasting connections with its members, which extend well beyond the typical policyholder relationship with an insurance provider, deepening our understanding of our customers’ needs.

Our members have a vested interest in the success of our company and by extension share an interest in supporting my success. I had the chance to experience this firsthand as members reached out to ask me what they could do to support me in my new role. Being an employee of the captive before my appointment also gave me a unique opportunity to establish professional connections and robust networks in the public and affordable housing industry. The portfolio here at HAI Group is diverse, and each organisation has its own specific needs depending on its size, structures, units and resident populations. Taking all of this into consideration helps us keep our coverages relevant and allows us to remain a steadfast and trusted partner in developing solutions to address these changing needs.

Finally, I would say the most important lesson I have taken away from my nearly 30 years in the captive insurance industry is the value of building trust. It is an integral part of the insurance business, particularly in a niche market where customers depend on you as much as you depend on them. I believe that insurance is a transaction of trust. As captives, we don’t sell a product; we sell a promise. Members will not invest in something or someone that they do not trust.

For me, this means the relationship we establish with our members includes a commitment on our part to ensure they understand what they are buying, their options, and any trade-offs that may exist. HAI Group has a solid history of assessing insurance needs and in developing creative programmes that meet those needs. Our staff members spend a considerable amount of time learning about and understanding emerging issues and sharing these trends. For more than three decades, when members and the industry faced turmoil or challenges, HAI Group is the place they can go to find help.

At HAI Group the values of our company aren’t just something we display on our walls, they’re a reflection of our commitment to the service and respect we provide to our members and each other as employees. I’ve learned that building lasting relationships, and the trust gained by cultivating these relationships, is a key to long-term success, and what sets HAI Group apart from the rest.
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