Insurance Immersion: Our Day at Patrons Oxford Insurance Company

June 14, 2019

Taylor and I spent last Friday over at Patrons Oxford Insurance Company. We had no idea what to expect but we left impressed by all they have to offer. Everyone one was very welcoming and actually wanted to talk with us. Patrons Oxford moved into a new building in Portland a few years ago and it was nothing like we have seen before. It is open all the way around and has many features that make this place special. They have a gym, large open kitchen, and instead of cubicles they have work stations in groups designated to each function of the company. And the details around this office were incredible. They has an insurance policy from the 1800’s, local art and the history of Patrons on display. They take great pride in where they came from and use that to propel themselves forward.  We took a tour and were greeted and introduced by many of the people there so we would like to thank everyone for being so welcoming.

We began the day by meeting with Rachel Bannister, one of their marketing reps. She showed us around and helped explain the history of the company. Many pieces of art around the office pay respect to their long standing tradition of insurance in Maine. Like everyone at Patrons, she is passionate about what she does, Patrons, and helping young people enter the insurance industry. We had a productive talk about marketing in the world of social media and how anyone can put anything online for people to easily see. She took lead on the project of redesigning their logo. She walked us through why they wanted to change and how it positively affects them. And next time you see her make sure to congratulate her on completing her degree from USM!

As we were heading to the claims department, we were fortunate enough talk with Patrons’ CEO and President Mark Pettingil. He was generous enough to take the time to introduce himself and even sit down and field some of our questions. This goes to show that Patrons cares about young people in insurance and Chalmers.

Eric Swanson is the VP of claims at Patrons and is passionate about what he does. He showed Taylor and me the process of claims from receiving notice of a possible claim to the actual fulfillment of it. We found it interesting to see how they all work together and how the claim goes through the process. He was kind enough to walk us through the steps and showed us what they look for in a claim. The interesting part was seeing the different tools they use to assess a claim. Whether it is an appraiser or an expert in the subject matter, some critical thinking is required.   Every claim is different so every day is unique to them which sounds appealing to me.  They are always learning new things to help aid the claims process because some claims are not clean cut.  A claim can be at the hardest moments of someone’s life and they stress how important it is to be there for their clients. They are always attentive and handle claims with exceptional service to provide for Maine residents. 

We finished off our visit by learning about underwriting. George MacKinnon created a whole presentation to explain the process and what is required from and underwriter. While studying for his CPCU, he learned the history of insurance which many of us might not know about but is worth sharing. Sailing goods in the second and third millennia could be risky. So instead of each individual sailor risking all the goods they had, they each put a share of their goods on each others ships. In the event of a ship sinking, only a fraction of everyone’s goods would be lost. This began the long process of people trying to minimize risk and the insurance industry today.  Like many underwriters, he did not go straight into that job. It takes lots of time training to learn how to evaluate risk properly. Taylor and I both think this could be a career for us. We enjoyed how it is a mix between analytics, interpersonal skills and judgment.

We would like to thank everyone at Patrons Oxford for opening their doors to us and taking a day to show us the company side of insurance. We left with a better understanding of the different jobs that go into running a successful insurance company. We also left with a better appreciation for how every function in insurance works together because it takes a lot of people with different skills to successfully minimize risk.

Remi Leblanc

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