Sheri Singer is is founder and president of Singer Communications and vice chair of the ASAE Research Foundation’s Development Committee.
The Casualty Actuarial Society worked through obstacles to create a series of DEI reports that not only acknowledged past biased industry practices but also provided a roadmap for a more inclusive way forward.
When the Casualty Actuarial Society launched its series of diversity, equity, and inclusion research papers in 2022, DEI wasn’t a new concept to the professional association. Like many associations, CAS had DEI policies and initiatives and a staff position dedicated to DEI.
But the lofty goal of positioning itself as a DEI thought leader to change the way the insurance industry viewed DEI as it related to the pricing of insurance products was a massive undertaking. Especially considering that the association is a traditional, risk-averse organization that sets the rates for insurance and other financial services.
CAS is a professional society of actuaries, whose skills and credentials attest to their ability to analyze and quantify insurance risks. During its 100-year history, CAS has experienced an increased demand for actuaries to quantify the many emerging risks faced by homeowners, business owners, and other insurance customers.
By lending member expertise to ongoing DEI discussions, CAS realized it could proactively engage with the insurance industry as it addresses potential racial-bias challenges in insurance pricing. CAS also wanted to encourage the industry to explore DEI issues more quantitatively.
To this end, CAS wrote and released four reports under the umbrella of the CAS Research Paper Series on Race and Insurance Pricing. Each report addresses a different aspect of DEI—defining discrimination, understanding potential racial bias, addressing racial bias in financial services, and quantifying discriminatory effects on protected classes in insurance.
While these papers focused on race/ethnicity as a protected class and personal lines (e.g., homeowners and auto insurance) in the U.S., what CAS learned from conducting its research could be relevant to other protected classes in many lines of business.When delving into this highly sensitive topic area, CAS faced obstacles challenging to the project. These included having to delay the launch seven times due to timing and calendar conflict issues—obtaining multiple and new layers of approvals along the way, having project contributors decline to participate in a news briefing due to company restrictions, and addressing pushback from a tiny but vocal cohort of members who disagreed with this effort.
“We learned some valuable lessons,” said CAS CEO Victor Carter-Bey, DM. “Lay a solid foundation and get buy-in; but even then, recognize you may not be able to achieve all goals. It’s all about taking even the smallest steps forward.”
Overall, the research reports garnered positive results. Among them:
Even with these successes, the question remained whether CAS achieved its larger goal of positioning the organization as a DEI thought leader in the insurance industry.
“Our overarching objective was to start an ongoing, deeper, and meaningful conversation around DEI,” Carter-Bey said. “We believe CAS achieved that goal, as indicated by phase two of the research we’re kicking off now.”