'Never underestimate the power of a mentor'

'Never underestimate the power of a mentor'

An open mind and a thirst for knowledge can take you a long way in the insurance industry, IF you’re willing to listen and learn from others. Award-winning broker, Jeffrey Hubbard (pictured), learned that lesson the right way, taking the knowledge and advice of his mentors to build a successful 25-year career in environmental insurance. 

Hubbard began his career in risk management with a Fortune 1000 building products manufacturer, where he focused on the company’s environmental risk issues. In 1993, he joined AIG Environmental as an environmental risk analyst and rose to the level of regional manager.

Since that time, Hubbard has held roles with Zurich, where he was instrumental in creating Zurich Environmental’s underwriting approach for oil & gas exposures, and XL Environmental, where he developed the underwriting and rating approach within the energy sector. Today, Hubbard is vice president and expert environmental broker at Brown & Riding.

Outside of his day-to-day duties, Hubbard has served as a member of the University of North Texas’s Finance Insurance Real Estate and Law Curriculum Advisory Board, and as the insurance editor of the Brownfield News. Insurance Business caught up with him to find out more about his insurance journey.

How did you get started in the insurance industry?

I have a degree in insurance and finance, which I chose because my father worked in insurance on the corporate side. My first job out of college was in risk management at a building products company. I had to deal with environmental issues at the company’s foundries, and that’s where I really developed an appreciation for environmental risk management and insurance. I started learning about environmental policies, what they did and didn’t cover, and where they filled gaps left by commercial general liability policies. I’ve been working in environmental insurance for 25 years.

What are the best parts of your job as an environmental insurance broker?

Absolutely the best thing by far is solving problems for clients. People come to us with a sensitive situation where they’re worried about harming the environment or harming people, and solving that environmental issue is very satisfying.

What key challenges does an environmental broker face?

The biggest challenge is quickly digesting all the environmental data in order to do the best job that I can for my clients. Submissions can have thousands of pages of data to review and digest so that you can truly understand the risk you are brokering and the impact of the exclusions that the underwriter may want to put on the policy. Once you understand the ins-and-outs of a risk, then you can craft a solution, but the biggest challenge is meeting the various complex regulations in different states.

A second challenge the industry faces is over-capacity. It’s great for the consumer because prices are fairly soft, but is a day of reckoning coming? And if so, what does that mean for the industry? We want long-term relationships and we want longevity in the marketplace. We don’t want a massive contraction where we go from 20 markets writing environmental insurance, or any type of insurance, down to five markets. That would have a huge impact.

You’re quite new to Brown & Riding. What are your career goals there?

At Brown & Riding, our primary objective is to grow the environmental practice and make it world class. It sounds cliché, but we really want to become the go-to wholesaler when an agent has a need for environmental insurance. Right now, we’re focused on building product, expertise and relationships in the marketplace in order to meet the positive need for environmental insurance.

What advice do you have for someone hoping to work their way up the insurance ladder?

Never underestimate the value of a mentor. The best thing you can do for your career is find a mentor – somebody that has a real interest in helping you develop – and have patience. Some people try to run before they can walk, and they don’t realize they’re not ready for certain things before a problem comes crashing down on them. I had a fantastic mentor, who I owe my whole career too.

What do you enjoy doing in your downtime?

I love spending time with my family, going to the theater, music, and I enjoy all kinds of sports!

 

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