Insurance Nerds Stands With Black Lives Matter

First, I must apologize for my silence over the past week. Insurance Nerds was created as a place to share career advice and shape the discussion around culture and education within insurance organizations. But, we have grown into a community of insurance professionals, and we have a platform that reaches many in our industry. Tony, Taryn, Rob, and I have been in contact over the past week, and we are all heartbroken by the state of our nation. I, personally, am in St. Paul, Minnesota. I have watched my community struggle with the murder of George Floyd in our “Twin City”, Minneapolis, and I have watched as civil unrest broke out in our cities, and one of our police precincts was burnt to the ground. The National Guard was activated and occupied our cities. I listened as Blackhawk helicopters flew over my apartment building to monitor from the sky. Finding the words to say to our Insurance Nerds community has not been easy. I sat in front of my computer staring at a blank page for longer than I care to admit.

But, this is not about me. It is not about the difficulties I have faced this past week. I am safe. I am privileged, and this discomfort and fear that I’m feeling is nothing compared to the fear Black Americans live with on a daily basis. I realize that I will never understand that experience, and I will not pretend to speak for them. Additionally, it is not even about the Twin Cities in Minnesota, as our country is built on the backs of slavery and has continued to be a racist country. For some time, violence against Black Americans has been in the news regularly. Immediately prior to the murder of George Floyd, the United States was already reeling from the murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the weaponization of police against Christina Cooper. Even today, the list of people injured or killed in officer-related events continues to grow.

Insurance Nerds has never commented on these matters in the past. We will no longer hold our tongues about racism in any form. To start the conversation, I will share some resources at the end of this post for those of us who do not have lived experience as the subject of racism, and I would love if all of our readers, specifically those of our readers who are not black, would read and watch these materials. Conversations, difficult and uncomfortable ones, are necessary to work toward rectifying the situation our country is in. We must work together to overcome systemic racism.

This week, we have also seen incredible police brutality in our streets. Police are human, and as individuals, they almost certainly were not prepared for the chaos that erupted in our streets (though they likely should have been), so I’m not going to pretend to understand how they or their families are feeling either. What I do know is that the system that is in place that allows police to treat citizens as enemy combatants is not the system I want to live under. We must begin to evaluate what we have built and determine how all Americans can truly be free and safe.

Insurance Nerds will be looking to engage with these topics on two levels as we move forward. First, solely as humans, we want to acknowledge the history of our nation and actively work to open our readers’ eyes to systemic racism. We believe that individual stories and actions can make a difference and can lead to lasting change. Second, as insurance professionals, we want to consider how our industry can play a role in breaking down systemic racism. We have seen ideas such as adding exclusions to liability policies, requiring anti-racism trainings before issuing commercial policies, and improving diversity and inclusion within our organizations. We hope that our community will engage with us on these topics, and we hope that along with these conversations, we find ways to work in our local communities to enact the changes we envision. Find time to volunteer, donate funds, and be vocal at home, on social media, and at work when you see something that ought to change.

We stand with Black Lives Matter.



About Carly Burnham

Carly Burnham began her insurance career in 2004 as an office assistant at an agency in her hometown of Duluth, MN. She got licensed as a producer while working at that agency and progressed to serve as an office manager. Working in the agency is how she fell in love with the industry. She saw firsthand the good that insurance consumers experienced by having the proper protection. When Carly moved to Des Moines in 2010, she decided to commit to the industry, and she completed her CPCU in one year finishing it in 2012 and attending commencement in New Orleans. She completed her MBA at Iowa State University in 2014. During this time, she and Tony founded a Gen Y Associate Resource Group at Nationwide in Des Moines. After they had both left Nationwide, Tony recruited Carly to co-author and manage She has the difficult task of keeping his constant flow of crazy ideas focused and helping to flesh them out into useful articles. Carly enjoys sharing knowledge and ideas about the future of the industry and finds the website a good outlet for this passion. Carly is involved in the the CPCU Society Underwriting Interest Group. She also writes "Next Wave" a monthly column in the "Perspectives" section of Best's Review.

4 thoughts on “Insurance Nerds Stands With Black Lives Matter”

  1. Very disappointed with my inbox this morning. In the insurance industry we protect against loss. We indemnify. We shore up economies and build communities. Even the idea of exclusions to liability policies that attempt to punish personal beliefs in any form are corrosive and just as biased as the ideas they attempt to correct. Generalized statements against any group, either in support or offense, promote ideas of hate, violence, class distinction and elitism. Insurance trade associations are not the platform to promulgate such ignorance. It was a bad decision today Carly, to chase the emotionally charged “topic of the day” that is dividing our country and I hope to see a genuine return to supporting our industry.

    • Hi Mike, I appreciate you sharing your opinion. While I agree that we protect against loss and indemnify, the insurance industry has also been an industry that creates pro-social change. Similar to Sexual Misconduct exclusions, the wording of the various exclusions created by insurers may serve as an additional check on business practices to change hiring practices. My explanation of what this exclusion may look like was potentially not very clear in this statement; but I don’t believe the intent of such an exclusion would be to punish “personal beliefs.” In my mind, the intent of such an exclusion would be to prevent insurers paying damages on behalf of someone who has knowingly and intentionally caused harm through a racist action – just as insurers exclude intentional acts today; it is likely this exclusion would not even change a policy’s response to a claim that was caused in this manner.

      All of that being said, on a human level, if you are surprised that I am writing about this topic, I have done a poor job of sharing my beliefs in the past, and I do not intend to do so any longer. We have published articles about the importance of diversity and inclusion within the industry in the past. As an organization that aims to modernize the insurance industry both through technology and culture, we believe that systemic racism is a problem, and we are certainly not looking to chase an emotionally charged topic. We are looking to improve our industry’s discourse and shape the future of how we can solve the issues of our country’s past that affect our industry.

      We will continue to publish many articles that are solely about technical education, insurtech, and individual’s careers. I hope that you will continue to find value in those articles and podcasts, and I hope that you are open to civil discussion on anything that we publish.

  2. “the intent of such an exclusion would be to prevent insurers paying damages on behalf of someone who has knowingly and intentionally caused harm through a racist action”

    I think one of the problems with an insurance policy exclusion for this is the question of proof. What determines whether someone “knowingly and intentionally” caused harm? Is an allegation enough? Is a criminal indictment required? Is a criminal conviction required? We all know there are people in prison, especially black men, who are innocent.

    Also, what constitutes a “racist” action? Most CGL and HO policies have a self-defense exception for the intentional loss exclusions in the policies. If someone is sued because they shot someone during a convenience story robbery or home invasion, is coverage different if the alleged perp is white or black? Again, how is knowledge and intent determined?

    For liability coverage, keep in mind that the beneficiary is the injured party. If you exclude coverage for racist acts that injure another party, then you’re removing coverage if a black person is injured but compensating the injuries of a white person. That seems discriminatory that a white person can recover under a liability policy but not a black person.

    Another potentially discriminatory issue is whether a “racist” act is ONLY white against black. Is it possible for the opposite to be deemed “racist”? Opinions vary about whether racism can only originate within the majority.

    I would not want to be the adjuster in one of these cases if racism is an insurance policy exclusion.

  3. One of the last events I attended prior to the quarantine was the Southern Pacific Conference for Parents & Friends of Lesbians & Gays (PFLAG). One of the speakers (Stephanie Battaglino) was the first transgender person to publicly come out in the 160 year history of New York Life insurance company (in the 1980s). She is now retired from her role as Corporate VP and has a successful speaking career. Her keynote address made me proud to work in an industry that was among the first to embrace and value diversity and inclusion. I am committed to see us do better for all communities, particularly LGBTQ and BIPOC.

    Organizations (corporations, universities, associations) are made stronger when they include, reach out to and listen to the voices of a diversity of races, ages, genders, and abilities. I’m glad to see Insurance Nerds stand up and speak out. Silence, after all, is complicity. #BLM


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