Insurance Immersion: Acadia Visit!

July 23, 2018

Last Wednesday, July 18th, Kelton and I had the privilege of visiting Acadia Insurance Company at their headquarters in Westbrook, Maine. Previously, we had visited both Patrons Oxford and MEMIC; making us eager to see how Acadia would compare. It would prove to be a very eventful and resourceful day, as we had the opportunity to sit with fourteen different members of the Acadia team to learn more about their backgrounds, and what they bring to the company. Each of the individuals we spoke with provided us with a wealth of information and served as a great resource in gaining a better understanding of insurance company operations as a whole.

 

Kimberly Farquhar, Marketing Director

We were welcomed with open arms by Kim Farquhar, who had put together this great day for us. In fact, Kim was the first person out of the fourteen that we spent time with. As we sat and spoke with Kim, Kelton and I learned more about the company and her role as a marketing director. She started her career at Acadia 18 years ago in personal lines underwriting, and then moving to commercial lines shortly after Acadia sold their personal lines division. Kim was a member of Project INVEST at Sacopee Valley High School. The Invest program is designed to introduce insurance to a younger audience. Interestingly enough, she went through this program with our very own Chalmers’ Randy Wentworth and Mary Pingree. It was great learning about Kim’s role as a marketing director, where she works closely on agency relationships. Kim told us – “My three favorite things about Acadia are that it is local, they are community based, and they provide a great work-life balance.”

 

Jonathan Becker, Regional Vice President

Jonathan works as the Regional Vice President for Acadia, within that position he wears various hats and has many responsibilities. Jonathan’s region is Maine and he works on everything from company strategy and planning to managing day-to-day activities and hiring. Jonathan went to the University of Maine and studied history before going into the insurance industry. Jonathan’s favorite part of his work is getting to collaborate with local businesses. He is particularly looking forward to the increasing number of craft breweries in Maine as it is a very interesting and an emerging industry in Maine. Another benefit that Jonathan enjoys is the relationships he gets to maintain within and outside of the office. Jonathan gave us a good idea of what a higher level manager’s day looks like and a better understanding of the scope of his responsibilities. We were both surprised by how much one person can accomplish in a day!

 

Douglas Freeman, Director of Underwriting

As the director of underwriting, Doug is responsible for account reviews and giving guidance to all Underwriters in the Maine Branch. Doug provided us with a structural overview he created that went into detail about the four underwriting teams they have at Acadia, and how they use each team for different scopes of business. This overview was very helpful for someone like me, as I am a visual learner and this made it easy to understand the teams they have. Doug has been with Acadia for 5 years.

 

Barbara Taylor, Director of Claims

Having the chance to speak with Barbara was very exciting to me because in my opinion, claims are very interesting. Barbara has worked at Acadia for 18 years, and her entire career here has been in the claims department. She has found a liking for the auto claims the best. She expressed to us that people who work in claims need to have thick skin, and be able to deal with individuals who are upset, and those who are not so honest. Believe it or not, getting into a car accident was the reason why Barbara became so intrigued into insurance. Barbara tells us – “Claims are crazy, fast-paced, and fun. I enjoy that every single one of my days is different.”

 

Julie Clement, Human Resources Generalist

Julie has been working at Acadia for 12 years. She told us – “The thing that drew me in to apply was the stability of insurance, the concept, and that you are always here to help someone.” We spent most of our time with Julie talking about the training program Acadia offers to professionals of any age interested in an insurance career. The people who participate in the training program are often promoted and hired as full-time employees of the company at the end of the courses. Being a student, I enjoyed hearing about this opportunity that Acadia has to offer.

 

Bruce Fitzpatrick, Rachel Derosier, Lisa Provost - Underwriting

We spoke to three senior underwriters who each lead their own team. Bruce leads a small business underwriting team, Rachel leads a middle market underwriting team, and Lisa leads Acadia’s specialty underwriting team. We got to discuss the differences between the functions of their respective teams. The small business team usually produces around five quotes a day, while the middle market team can spend a few days quoting one larger company. Lisa handles all wood product accounts for all the Maine branches.

 

Danielle McCarraher, Rating Supervisor

The rating department is the largest department in terms of headcount. They are a support staff for underwriting, as well as claims. Danielle explained to us that there are three levels of raters – a trainee (12-18 month training), rater (2-3 years), and a senior (3+ years). The rating department is a stepping stone to many other roles within the company.

 

Jessica Sanborn, Loss Control Director

The time we spent with Jess was very important because Kelton and I have not had much exposure to Loss Control. Jess surveys camps for Chalmers’, as well as many other things with her territory being all of Maine. Jess graduated from the University of Maine and started at Acadia as a Loss Control Representative, moving her way up to a Loss Control Team Leader, and to her current position now as a Loss Control Director. She tells us – “Insurance is a great career to get into because the job possibilities are endless.”

 

Jennifer Towne, AVP Marketing & Strategic Markets

Jennifer has been with Acadia for 8 years where she started as their Home Office Marketing Director and got promoted to her current position, AVP Marketing. Our conversation with her was interesting because she brought along Acadia’s intern who has been working in their marketing department. It was exciting for Kelton and I to converse with another intern to compare how our summers are going. Jennifer told us – “I moved from a larger company to Acadia, and I thoroughly enjoy being able to make an impact on a smaller company.”

 

Karl Legasse, Information Technology Department

Karl works on a team that is responsible for web and portal development. His main goal is to eliminate any easy or common questions that agents and clients may have while using Acadia web portals. Karl took us through both the agent and client portals that are used to conduct business, pointing out the areas that his team has been able to combine and simplify though further development. It was interesting to see the behind the scenes work of the IT Department because as Karl said – “We don’t just fix computers.” Karl helped us better understand the IT role in an insurance industry.

 

Ryan Caponni, Actuarial Director

Ryan is one of only four property and casualty actuaries in the State of Maine. As an actuary in the insurance world, Ryan must apply a wide range of disciplines, including but not limited to; statistics, finance, advanced mathematics to analyze and assign financial value to risks, etc. He expressed to us that becoming an actuary is very difficult, and to become certified, one must pass ten exams that require hundreds of study hours. However, Ryan did stress that the study time is well worth it because the job as an actuarial is very interesting and well compensated, as well as having endless opportunities. Ryan’s love for his job helped us gain a better understanding of a career we knew little about.

 

Chelsea Clark, Specialty Marine Underwriter

Kelton and I were both wondering what a Specialty Marine Underwriter does when we saw this on the agenda. It was great to have the opportunity to talk with Chelsea since we had not seen this side of insurance before. The Inland Marine Targeted Market Coverage is motor truck cargo, antique dealers, auctioneers coverage, solar energy, etc.

 

Kelton and I most certainly benefitted from our visit to Acadia. It was truly a pleasure to be exposed to so many wonderful people and professionals, and their willingness to welcome, teach and share their experiences provided a world a benefit to two young developing business students. It was great to experience such detailed exposure to the company side of the insurance industry. We are both very appreciative to those who set up our visits and to those who took the time to speak with us. We could not be more thankful for the experience we have had this summer.

 

-Summer Intern, Sarah Giggey

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