Interviewer’s Note: Heather Posner recently took her seat as the associate vice president and director of high net worth in Los Angeles at insurer Burns &Wilcox. Here she answers a few questions about her new job and her plan for making it work in her new office.
Why did you choose a career in insurance?
I started working in insurance to earn money while putting myself through college. After graduating with a degree in marketing I decided that I loved working in insurance. Making this industry my career was one of the best choices I have ever made.
What was your dream profession when you were a kid?
My life’s dream as a child was to be a professional photographer for National Geographic. An uncle gave me a subscription and from then on I was intrigued by the photos of people, places, animals, and food. This led to my first camera – a Polaroid – and I even took a few photography classes in college. Now, I am starting to get back into photography as a hobby.
What would make you effective in your new posting in Burns & Wilcox?
We are strategically setting the company up for continued success in the high net worth arena. One of the ways we are doing this is by recruiting strong talent to build out a larger high net worth team to support both brokers and company partners. In addition, I’ll be conducting training internally across our 50 global offices to drive growth across the specialty. Externally, we will be conducting training for brokers and agents to understand the needs of clients and coverage, further building relationships and teaching brokers how to grow their book of business in the high net worth arena.
What specific challenges do you foresee in insuring high net worth individuals?
One of the biggest challenges faced is helping people understand that they are high net worth individuals. Nearly 70% of the high net worth market is not with a specialty carrier that has the coverage and levels of service that they need. We have specific methods to reach, engage, and educate this audience. Specialized coverage is needed to protect their assets, and I have a plan to continue to grow this niche.
What comes to mind for you when you hear the term “high net worth individual?”
I see the term “high net worth individual” a bit differently than the average person. Most individuals simply do not consider themselves high net worth. Many grow up modestly and build wealth slowly in savings and assets. When I think of someone who is high net worth, I think about the person who is working hard day after day and has not stopped to see what they have built. While certain people think every high net worth individual needs to have a $1 million home, I see it as a lifetime of living the American dream in wealth built and collections gathered over time.
What is the thing about your job that you were glad you were wrong about (insurance myths, biases, etc.)?
When entering the insurance industry, I had heard that it was not a very exciting career – even billed as boring by some of my critics. That clearly was not the case. I am intrigued by all of the people I meet. High net worth is a very interesting niche, allowing me the opportunity to learn on a daily basis. One thing I think about is how when the world changes, insurance needs change too. It is a constantly developing space and it is very rewarding to me.
What would be the first thing you’d insure if you become a high net worth individual, if you aren’t one already?
The first thing I would think about insuring is collections, such as art, jewelry, and wine. The obvious items to insure in are home and auto. However, collections tend to either be underinsured or not insured at all. Many high net worth individuals assume that their collections are already insured through a homeowners’ policy and they do not realize there are sub-limits. When a loss occurs, many people become extremely disappointed to find out that is not the case. In addition, high net worth individuals are vastly underinsured when it comes to umbrella or excess liability policies. This is a reasonable and cost effective policy that should be an important part of every high net worth individual’s portfolio to make sure that they have the right coverage in place to protect all of their personal assets.
Burns & Wilcox reveals plans to double state operations
Burns & Wilcox sponsors golf pros