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The next generation of Inland Marine underwriting is here
Meet Allison Rolsing
February 11, 2020
A freshly minted college graduate looking for work in today’s market often faces a grueling job search. Not Allison Rolsing – thanks to a job she took in high school!
As a receptionist in an insurance broker’s office while she was still in high school, Allison learned insurance basics like limits, deductibles, endorsements, and more. That turned out to be advantageous when she began the search for work. As a finance major and information systems minor at Loyola University in Maryland, Allison wasn’t sure what she wanted to do once she earned her degree. But an advertisement on her college’s website caught her eye. That posting was for a marine underwriting intern position with what was then XL Group.
Fast forward nearly five years. Rolsing, Assistant Underwriter for AXA XL, is doing what she loves in an industry that gives her both challenges and opportunity to grow professionally.
How did you get here?
Rolsing: I’d interviewed for the internship with Jon Mosby, a regional inland marine underwriting manager, and underwriting manager Dustin Jones. I got it! And interned in the Baltimore office for about a year. After college, I wasn’t sure what to do. I wanted to stay with XL, but I wasn’t sure that underwriting was it for me yet. I wasn’t as confident as I am now with insurance.
Still, after graduation, I was offered a position with the inland marine division in the Summit, New Jersey office. I worked there for two years. Then a year and a half ago, I transferred to the New York City office.
Last April, I became a senior underwriting assistant. In October, I became an assistant underwriter, working closely with Dustin and Jon as my manager.
Why marine underwriting?
While I sort of just fell into it, I really do love how niche and unique it is. It’s very interesting. Each risk that comes across my desk is completely different. Currently, I’m underwriting a lot of builder’s risk, contractor’s equipment and inland marine property coverages. With construction activity and the logistics industry currently booming, the need for inland marine insurance is not going away.
Has working in inland marine provided extra opportunities to grow?
Definitely. It’s been good for me because since I was an intern, I was focused on inland marine. I’m glad to have been able to work in this specialized environment and worked with a team that has been developing new products to meet client demands. For instance, we developed a new contractor’s equipment insurance policy that is very comprehensive to address contractors greater use of technology, like drones.
I was fortunate to have a comprehensive introduction to marine insurance. Before I began my inland marine focus, I also got to see a lot of ocean marine and marine-related auto risks. Working in a global company like AXA XL has its advantages too. And I’ve gained leadership and mentoring experience helping train colleagues in Poland and India, and last summer I managed an intern. I’m happy with the steps I took to get here because I progressed along the way.
Plus, I’m able to obtain a certification that will help me advance in my career that much faster. In these past five years, I have attended a few IMUA (Inland Marine Underwriters Association) classes, and I’m working toward my CPCU. But I have my AMIM and my AIS, and those tests count toward CPCU, so I have just four tests left to earn the CPCU designation.
AXA XL’s North America Marine team is led by Anne Marie Elder. What does it mean to have a fellow female leading the team?
Anne Marie’s been great. She’s offered me a lot of support and encouragement. For instance, I’m applying for the Harold Jackson Scholarship through the American Institute of Marine Underwriters (AIMU). She was willing to read my essays and help me out with anything. I very much look up to her and admire her and how she’s gotten to where she is.
Why was insurance underwriting the right career for you?
There’s a misconception that insurance is boring. It’s not! I see some interesting situations and get to look at all sorts of businesses to help them buy the right insurance to protect their assets and liabilities. Compared to different finance jobs, insurance offers a great work-life balance and there’s plenty of opportunity to advance.
There are many opportunities for young people in business. In the insurance industry as a whole, there aren’t that many young people. Even within my friends and people I graduated with, I don’t know anyone else who went into the insurance industry. In underwriting, that leaves a lot of possibility for new graduates who want to fast track their careers, who want to get involved with helping business’ address risk concerns right away.
Why is it important for the inland marine market to attract new talent like you?
Some of my underwriting colleagues are looking ahead to retiring. They are not alone in this industry. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly 10,000 baby boomers retire each day in the U.S. It’s estimated that about 25% of them leave positions in the insurance and financial services sector. In 2020 alone, an estimated 400,000 positions are expected to open up.
I’m fortunate to be able to work with Jon, Dustin and Anne Marie, who are teaching me what they’ve learned during their decades in the industry. Somewhere in the future, I might be the one passing that knowledge on to a new generation. But for now, there’s a need for new underwriters like me to learn and soak up as much knowledge and know-how from veteran underwriters like them.
Any advice for someone thinking about a career in marine underwriting?
It’s a lot of work, but it’s so rewarding. People who say they get bored with their jobs doing redundant things should consider insurance. Every day is different in what you're handling and what you're looking at. I think insurance is a great path to go down because, like I said, it's not disappearing, it's not going away. It's always going to be here and the need for underwriters is always going to be there.
And the challenges will be there, which makes the job exciting. So much could change in the future – self-driving trucks and other new technologies. I’m sure throughout my career insurance is going to change dramatically. There are so many new issues always cropping up and looking at it from an underwriting perspective there will be things people my age will find exciting. To be on the forefront of those issues makes for a rewarding career.