A former environmental engineer, Fireman's Fund Assistant Vice President of Services and Solutions Scott Steinmetz took the time to speak to Insurance Business about his unique background and view of the industry.
Q. How did you get into the insurance industry?
A. By mistake. My background is in environmental engineering, and that led me to trying to get business for my company from Fireman’s Fund. In the end, they hired me.
I didn’t know what I was doing getting into it, but I built a practice towards educating our adjusters and attorneys on the granular details of forensics to help them make better decisions on claims practices, settlement amounts and litigation positions.
After that, I went into catastrophe management, where of course all the models are built by engineers. Then, I ended up going into product for six months before the chief claims and risk services officers gave me an opportunity to meld my engineering and product management background together in risk services.
Q. What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given in your career?
A. In grad school, I was thinking about quitting because I didn’t feel I was smart enough to accomplish that. My dad said, “Quit. It’s okay.” He gave me enough peace about it to allow me to breathe and finish my graduate work, and that really stuck with me.
What I found was the more I was in environments where I didn’t know something or was forced to think about things that were beyond me, in the midst of all that struggle, my friends would say, “You’re doing okay.” That really helped.
Q. Describe the ideal insurance professional.
A. Emotional intelligence. Being able to stick to it. Not being arrogant. Being available to learn. These are qualities that are sustainable for a long time.
Q. If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?
A. I’m interested as a practicing Christian in understanding and listening to other prophets or great philosophers of the world, like Gandhi. They would all have a welcome contribution in my life.
Q. What is your funniest insurance story?
A. I spent a bit of time recently crawling through chicken coops in the Midwest. There are a lot of them suffering fire damages, so we were investigating to see if any of them might be fraudulent. It’s a tough economic climate out there.
Q. If you weren’t in insurance, where would you be?
A. I would probably be in education—mentoring and helping young people in mathematics and science. If I could afford to, I would choose to teach.
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