Ethan Henderson: Amerisure Commercial Marketing Underwriter

The [Risk Management] program does a fantastic job relating the material to real world application.

Amerisure Insurance Company is an organization dedicated to reducing business risks and maintaining the health and safety of employees. Since graduating last spring, Risk Management and Insurance alumnus Ethan Henderson has found his place as a Commercial Marketing Underwriter for Amerisure. In our interview, Ethan told COB about the opportunities he took advantage of during his time at Ferris, including switching into the RMI program, and how it all set him up for success in his current career…

Could you please tell us about your current job?

My job is a hybrid position using sales and marketing techniques as well as the technicalities and strategy of underwriting. Basically I work exclusively with one or two Amerisure partner insurance agencies. When one of my partner agents receives an opportunity for new business, it is up to them to decide which company they want to underwrite and quote that submission with. Amerisure specializes in construction, manufacturing, and healthcare accounts. If one of my partner agents finds an opportunity for an appealing construction, manufacturing, or healthcare account they will send me the submission with all the required information for me to look over. If I decide it is a business that fits within Amerisure’s target market segments, and looks appealing from a loss control and profitability stance, it is at this point I begin the quoting process. This is the underwriting side of what I do.

Taking into account all of the numbers (loss ratio, premium size, loss frequency, future potential, etc…) as well as my feelings towards the account, I try to price the account accordingly. Riskier and larger accounts will also be looked at by my superiors in order to reassure the risk of taking on the new business. There is usually some back and forth negotiations between the underwriter and the agent to get the best possible selling price as well as keeping the most profitability potential. This is where the marketing and sales comes into play. It is not uncommon to meet with the agent, the applicant’s safety director, and the account manager to discuss what Amerisure has to offer and how we set ourselves apart from the competition.

If we do get the new business, it is now our policyholders that we will service. If there are any claims or any requests for safety training we provide that, as well as fielding any insurance questions, or making account changes.

What made you decide to study Risk Management and Insurance at Ferris State University?

It was a mixture of being unhappy in my current major, as well as wanting to find work in a good field upon graduation. I was a declared finance major, and doing well in my courses through two years at FSU. However I was becoming bored with the material and the potential jobs after graduation did not fit my personality. It was at that time Ferris State decided to bring back the RMI program. After much research and contemplation, I decided to make the switch.

How did RMI prepare you for work in the field?

The program does a fantastic job relating the material to real world application. Although the RMI program seems like it is extremely content specific, it is really well balanced. You get the in depth courses specifically focused on insurance concepts, but also the marketing, sales, and business classes to round out your business education. The RMI courses taught me the language, law, and concepts of multiple positions within the insurance industry including sales, claims, underwriting, and management.

What did you do outside the classroom to prepare yourself for your career?

The first thing I did when I entered the insurance program was look for internships. Not only because it helped towards my degree, but to also get a feel for what the industry is like outside of the classroom. I found a sales internship in Big Rapids at State Farm. During my internship I studied and took my property, casualty, life, accident, and health producing exams, and became licensed in all.

I spent the evenings after class cold calling at State Farm, and learning how to sell personal insurance products. For the most part I focused my sales on students, looking for auto and renters insurance. State Farm gave me the tools to be successful but it was up to me to find my way as a salesman, and learn the art of professional selling. This experience was irreplaceable.

The other opportunity I had was to go to the national RIMS conference in Denver with Dr. Brown. It was fantastic, almost overwhelming at times. To see this giant group of insurance professionals being passionate about what they do, and looking for opportunities to teach and share was very inspiring. It was so diverse, from students who have yet to graduate to 35-year industry veterans. To see what the industry has to offer and how happy people were with what they were doing was a great motivator for me to look for opportunities to enter into the industry upon graduation.

What advice do you have for students in or considering the major?

Sadly, today jobs are no longer readily available, even with a degree. In fact I can count on one hand the number of friends who have found work post-graduation that utilizes their degree. I’m not saying RMI is the right fit for everyone, or that by completing the program you will obtain a job and be happy. It takes work, and it is up to you to create your own success. The RMI program gives you the opportunity to use your education for a career in a thriving field, it comes down to whether or not you will take advantage of it.