New & Noteworthy

Risk Management and Insurance Capstone Spring 2020

May 11, 2020


The Ferris State University Risk Management and Insurance program offers students a well rounded and customizable business education. The risk management program covers insurance law, risk management principles, property and casualty insurance, employee benefits, and many other topics essential to the business. For the seniors who took their capstone class during the spring 2020 semester, the knowledge they learned during their education was invaluable for completing the class.

Part of the RMIN 489 capstone class involves an independent research project. For these projects students researched topics such as Michigan’s upcoming automobile no-fault insurance reforms, Autonomous Vehicle Technology and Insurance, How Predictive Analytics is Changing the Insurance Industry, Artificial Intelligence in the Insurance Industry and Minimizing Risk in Manufacturing. After their research was complete, they presented their findings virtually to their classmates.

The RMIN 489 students concluded their semester with a presentation of their team-oriented underwriting submission project. The project was facilitated by representatives from the Grand Rapids office of international insurance brokerage firm, Aon. The teams were given information on Target, their project client, and were responsible for developing an underwriting submission. This included analyzing historical loss data, identifying risk exposures, recommending insurance coverages and loss control methods. The teams presented their projects to the team of underwriters, who were roleplayed by the Aon professionals.

Throughout the semester, the students got to interact with professionals in the field. Working with professionals from different parts of the industry gave students a better look at what they can do with their degree, and what might interest them the most. The guest speakers included:

  • Steve Allen, Senior Loss Control Specialist at Travelers Insurance Company
  • Dustin Boss, Business Insurance & Risk Advisor at Ottawa Kent Insurance
  • Martha Ducharme, Senior Professional-Client Analytics Services at CoreLogic
  • Blair Entenmann, Adjunct Instructor, Ferris State Marketing Department
  • Ruth Goodell, Senior Vice President of Insurance and Risk Management Services at Trinity Health
  • Kerry Hilligus, Senior Executive at Monarch (provider of risk management technology to the transportation industry)
  • Derek Lodholtz, Benefits Director at Lerner, Csernai & Fath Financial Group
  • Tim Mann, Vice President & Head of Property Claims at Conifer Holdings, Inc.
  • Mike McKay, Director of Safety, Health, Environment, and Risk Management at Ferris State University
  • Scot Schwarting, Director Enterprise Risk Management at R1 RCM Inc.

Amongst all of these activities and guest speakers, Dr. David A. Brown (instructor and coordinator of Ferris State’s Risk Management and Insurance academic program) reported that considerable virtual classroom time was devoted to discussions regarding pandemic-related risks.  Students considered the pandemic’s implications for business interruption insurance coverages, as well as its likely effects on many other coverage lines and future risk management practices.  The possibility of a federal backstop for future pandemic-related risks, similar to the “Terrorism Risk Insurance Act” (TRIA) passed in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, was also a topic of discussion in the virtual classroom.

Overall, and despite the pandemic-induced disruption, students in the spring 2020 RMIN 489 capstone course were successful. Learning continued unabated, and was perhaps even enhanced to some extent by the unfortunate appearance of such a major risk management issue. Dr. Brown stated, “I am extremely grateful to all of the industry guest speakers who adjusted their own schedules to talk with our students. And I am very proud of the professionalism and determination of these students. They adapted to the virtual classroom and fulfilled the course obligations admirably during very difficult times.”

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Risk Management and Insurance