Hot 100

INSURANCE’S BEST AND BRIGHTEST

After surviving a tumultuous 2020, the US insurance industry has enjoyed slightly calmer seas in 2021. Still, uncertainty abounds, and in an always competitive landscape, fortune rewards the bold. From rising stars who are helping transform the industry with innovative solutions to seasoned veterans who are helping steer large organizations through turbulent times, the 100 professionals who made IBA’s annual Hot 100 list for 2022 have no shortage of boldness.

While their industry experience may vary, all of this year’s Hot 100 honorees have at least three things in common: a can-do attitude in the face of adversity, a solid understanding of themselves and the industry, and a willingness to extend a helping hand to the next generation of insurance professionals.

Rising to the challenge
For Hot 100 winner Tony McIntosh, a managing partner at The Liberty Company Insurance Brokers and president of Liberty's MGA facility, Aura Risk Management & Insurance Services, resilience has been key to building his career. Ten years ago, he made the leap from a family-owned MGA into a marketing role on the retail side of the industry with Barney & Barney (now Marsh McLennan Agency). McIntosh says he initially struggled in his new role, where he was responsible for helping producers and service teams negotiate coverage and position clients with carrier partners. However, he trusted in his mentor and boss and realized how important it was to learn new things each day.

“I leveraged this time and previous entrepreneurial, sales, and leadership experience into founding a property & casualty division at a publicly traded bank and then acquiring that business under private ownership years later,” he says. “That brief difficult period of transition provided the opportunity for me to advance my career further and gain new partnerships and opportunities in this beautiful insurance business. All of this has led me to where I am today, of which I could not be happier.”

Fellow Hot 100 honoree Eden Hancock, an area senior vice president for Risk Placement Services (RPS), faced similar challenges when deciding to change employers earlier in her career.

“I honestly did not understand the roller coaster of a journey I was about to embark on when I made the switch,” she says. “When a decision is great, it will inevitably create some controversy, and oftentimes there can be sore points. To have peace, you must stay true to yourself. Avoid the distraction others may create – rise to the occasion and challenge yourself to show your worth and value. You, as I did, will come out better, stronger and happier.”

Hancock’s book of business is now 50% larger than it was when she started at RPS three years ago. What’s more, she’s led her fleet/transportation department to 50% year-over-year growth to become the fastest-growing segment in her branch.

Hancock says she has a few attributes that set her apart from the competition. The first is her ability to “read the room”; she acknowledges that there can’t be a one-size-fits-all approach to personal interactions. She also has a knack for working diligently and not making a lot of noise, and she believes it’s important to dress up and show up to the office – a real office – each day.

For RPS’ Adam Wood, who began his career as a tennis pro before moving into insurance in 2014, success has been the result of taking accountability.

“Early in my career, we lost out to a market that we had access to,” Wood says. “This is hard news to give an agent, but I am a firm believer in holding your hand up and not making excuses. [The agent and I] had a candid conversation about what happened and cleared the air. We still work with each other today, and he passed my contact along to his colleagues. Today, those referrals are my largest clients.”

Wood says he differentiates himself from his peers through his ability to establish trust and facilitate business processes, helping agents to sell and exhibiting due diligence and quote options for the insured. In 2021, he achieved 100% growth of his book of business and was promoted to assistant vice president and Southeast casualty manager at RPS. For the past two years, he’s written more than $400,000 in new business each year and landed an exclusive trucking program with Crum & Forster.

Nurturing new talent
They’ve built their own stellar careers by persevering through difficult times – so what do the members of this year’s Hot 100 list think insurance companies can do to better cultivate talent?

“Be mindful of creating joy in your staff – success sparks joy, and joy fuels further success,” McIntosh says. “If everyone is doing something they love to do and it brings joy throughout their day, you will inevitably see better results from your team. Wellness is vital to incorporate into your business philosophy and culture.

Be completely transparent with your teams on strategy objectives, goals and opportunities.”

Hancock, meanwhile, says she’s “a true believer that people want to grow. They want to be a part of something bigger. Create a team that wants to ‘put a man on the moon while mopping floors.’ Promote from within, listen to your employees’ ideas and advocate for those employees. Be flexible and movable.”

Wood believes insurance companies can and should do more to train their producers. “Insurance hires great talent and often fails to teach them the ropes,” he says. “The sink-or-swim mentality for new hires is not what young people today are looking for, in my opinion. I personally take great pride in developing talent within RPS.”

For those just starting out in insurance, McIntosh’s advice is to “push yourself to the edge. Find out what stretches you and what you want to work on to improve in business and life. Find a good work-life balance that allows you to stay healthy. A good way to think about it throughout the year is what figurative leaves can you shed this season to allow you to clear the path towards your objectives? Try and focus on one thing at a time to accomplish more throughout your day. The insurance business moves very quickly. [Staying] on top of current events and how those may implicate carriers’ results and their eventual pivots with rates/limits/capacity adjustments, along with your clients’ buying decisions, is crucial to becoming remarkable.

“The other thing I would strongly encourage is to build a personal community of interest [COI] network that can help tell your story to others within your focused business segments. I can’t stress the power of this effort and the results that come with it. The insurance business is a long play, not a get-rich-quick career.

The more investment you put into yourself, your COI network and your clients, the greater the return will be for you and your family.”

Along those same lines, Hancock’s advice for those just starting out is to be there when no one else is. “Soak in every bit of it as it comes,” she says. “My definition of ‘it’ is everything. Take advantage of every opportunity to take notes, to listen in, to get the drinks, to share an Uber, to pick a brain, to ask the question you are afraid to ask. Put yourself out there, and people will notice. Finally, be the person your clients trust.”

Wood echoes the advice he received from an old tennis coach. “Be default aggressive,” he says. “If things don’t go your way, be aggressive with marketing efforts. If you lose a renewal, aggressively make more cold calls. When I am on the offense, it helps my mood and focuses my mind on the positives.”

Hot 100

  • Alex Bovicelli
    Tokio Marine HCC
  • Amir Farid
    Westfield
  • Amy Stepnowski
    The Hartford/Hartford Investment Management Company
  • Andy MacFarlane
    AXA XL
  • Angela Noble
    EMC Insurance Companies
  • Anthony J. (Tony) Kuczinski
    Munich Re US Holding
  • Anton Rosandic
    ALKEME
  • Barbara Ingraham
    Verisk
  • Belen Tokarski
    Mylo
  • Beth Carter-Drury
    Eagan Insurance Agency
  • Billy Grossmiller
    AssuredPartners
  • Bob Hitchcock
    Brightway Insurance
  • Brian Schneider
    Higginbotham
  • Candace Rhea
    The Hartford
  • Carrie O’Neil
    CAC Specialty
  • Chaya Cooperberg
    AmTrust Financial
  • Chetan Kandhari
    Nationwide
  • Chris Zoidis
    H.W. Kaufman Group
  • Christiaan Durdaller
    INSUREtrust
  • Christine Rogers
    Robertson Ryan & Associates
  • Dr. Claire Muselman
    North American Risk Services
  • Clinton Anderson
    HUB International
  • Curtis Barton
    ALKEME
  • Cyndi Doragh
    Iron Ridge Insurance Services
  • Dameion Baker
    CAC Specialty
  • Daniel Ginden
    Scottish American Insurance
  • David Boren
    Synapse Services
  • David Lewison
    Amwins
  • Davis Moore
    Amwins
  • Debbie Brackeen
    CSAA Insurance Group
  • Denise Lloyd
    D.H. Lloyd & Associates
  • Denise Perlman
    Marsh McLennan Agency
  • Elizabeth Davies
    Stonemark
  • G. Greg Gunn
    Gunn-Mowery
  • Garrett Droege
    IMA Financial
  • George (Chip) Atkins
    RH Clarkson Insurance Group
  • George Rusu
    Captive Resources
  • Grace Grant
    Gamma Iota Sigma
  • Jeff Kroeger
    Insureon
  • Jeffrey T. Benson Jr.
    Prominent Insurance Agency
  • Jennifer Wilson
    HUB International
  • Jeffrey T. Benson Jr.
    Prominent Insurance Agency
  • Jessica Kearney
    Travelers
  • John Lupica
    Chubb
  • Jonathan Charak
    Zurich North America
  • Jose Suarez
    Assurance, a Marsh McLennan Agency company
  • Justin Goodman
    AssuredPartners
  • Justin Kesner
    Amity Insurance, a division of Brown & Brown of Massachusetts
  • Karl Henley
    SeibertKeck Insurance Partners
  • Kelly Augspurger
    Steadfast Insurance
  • Kerri Roberts
    TIG Advisors
  • Kevin Gazitua
    JAG Insurance Group
  • Krishna Lynch
    Zurich North America
  • Lael Chappell
    Attune
  • Laurna Castillo
    CSAA Insurance Group
  • Leslie Wright
    Brightway Insurance
  • Linda Merenguelli
    HUB International Northeast
  • Mark Walls
    Safety National
  • Marty Sansone
    The Zebra
  • Matthew Cooper
    Inner-City Underwriting Agency
  • Meredith Frick
    Marsh McLennan
  • Michael Sicard
    USI Insurance Services 
  • Miles Wuller
    RSG Underwriting Managers
  • Misty Kuckelman
    Travelers
  • Montrae Williams
    The Hartford
  • Nick Kohal
    American Risk Management Resources Brokerage
  • Patrick G. Ryan
    Founder, Chairman and CEO Ryan Specialty Group
  • Paul Gaglioti III
    Harbor.ai
  • Paul Roberts
    Word & Brown General Agency
  • Peter R. Taffae
    Executive Perils
  • Rebekah Ratliff
    JAMS
  • Robert Wiest
    MS Amlin
  • Sara Kane
    CAC Specialty
  • Scott Purviance
    Amwins
  • Shannell Chibueze
    Woodruff Sawyer
  • Sonji Grandy
    Alliant Insurance Services
  • Sydney Hedberg
    Marsh McLennan
  • Ted Dimitry
    Higginbotham
  • Thomas Orabona
    Synapse Services
  • Thomas Schaedel
    RT Specialty
  • Tony McIntosh
    The Liberty Company Insurance Brokers
  • Travis Pearson
    CMR Risk & Insurance Services
  • Xiaolin Gong
    Coalition
  • Yafit Cohn
    Travelers
  • Yelena Dunaevsky
    Woodruff Sawyer
  • Zak Fanberg
    Eagan Insurance Agency

Methodology

Starting in August, Insurance Business America invited insurance professionals from across the country to nominate their most exceptional leaders for the seventh annual Hot 100 list. After receiving hundreds of nominations, IBA narrowed the list down to 100 movers and shakers whose contributions have helped shape the insurance industry over the past 12 months.

From innovators at the forefront of change to leaders who are transforming the way the industry does business, this year’s Hot 100  list represents the best the industry has to offer.