The Wholesale & Specialty Insurance Association (WSIA) is a world-class member service organization representing the entirety of the wholesale, specialty and surplus lines industry – and also offers one of the most prestigious internship programs in the nation for insurance and risk management (IRM) students. Seniors Jenna Benvenuti, Alexander Lehman and Madeline Maxwell each landed a spot in the internship program, making up three of the 18 slots offered to applicants across the nation. In addition, Olivet College is the only school to be represented by three students and Michigan college to have students selected.
The WSIA Internship Program annually awards paid summer internships to college students interested in an insurance career. The nine-week opportunity offers students experience in both the underwriting and brokerage sides of the surplus lines marketplace by working with actual risks and learning alongside leaders in the industry. Interns will spend time in a variety of roles and departments including claims, data processing, accounting, operations, brokerage, human resources, marketing, and reinsurance and underwriting.
“The WSIA Internship Program is one of the most coveted and selective in the insurance industry,” said Tom Humphreys, CPCU, CLU, ChFC, CIC, director of Olivet College risk management and insurance program and assistant professor of insurance, risk management and financial planning. “Not only do interns experience both underwriting and brokerage aspects of insurance, they are well compensated and housing is provided. The WSIA chose only 18 students for this opportunity from institutions around the country. We are so pleased that three of our outstanding insurance and risk management students were selected for this elite group.”
Students will begin the program with an orientation in Kansas City. Housing costs are fully covered and a stipend is provided to cover incidental expenses, on top of pay at $18/per hour. Interns also have complimentary access to the WSIA Surplus Lines Fundamentals course, and compete for the chance to attend the WSIA Annual Marketplace in September in Atlanta, and for additional scholarships to study the London market.
“My initial interest in the WSIA Internship Program began when I started to learn about the excess and surplus lines side of the insurance industry,” Jenna explained. “When one of my best friends was selected for the internship last year, I knew I needed to apply. I got to visit her while she was placed in Chicago, learn about her experience and see how much she was learning and enjoying the opportunity. Through my internship, I am hoping to gain more knowledge in the industry from working at both a brokerage and a company. My goal is to understand how each side operates and the different positions at each.”
Beginning in June, Jenna is moving to Alpharetta, Georgia to work with Markel, Alexander will join Risk Placement Services in Fort Lauderdale, and Madeline is taking on a role with Nationwide E&S/Specialty in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Often called the “safety valve” of the insurance industry, surplus lines insurers fill the need for coverage in the marketplace by insuring those risks that are declined by the standard underwriting and pricing processes of admitted insurance carriers. With the ability to accommodate a wide variety of risks, the wholesale, specialty and surplus lines market acts as an effective supplement to the admitted market.
According to A.M. Best, 2016 surplus lines premium volume was nearly $42.4 billion and represents a vast number of insureds who, without the surplus lines market, would have a difficult time obtaining insurance, if they were able to secure it at all. Needless to say, the industry offers a unique number of career options, and the WSIA Internship Program is helping students build their skills, network at a national level and much more.
“This program will dynamically expose me to excess and surplus lines, interning with both a carrier and a broker, as well as the opportunity to live in a different state while interning,” Madeline said. “I am excited to understand how a brokerage operates and see first-hand what a broker’s day in the life looks like. I am most nervous to live in the heat of Arizona in July. The average temperature in the month is 105 degrees!”
Transitioning in July, James River Insurance Company in Richmond, Virginia is hosting Alexander, while Jenna and Maddie each head west to intern at companies in California. The two are excited to stay connected during the experience at R.E. Chaix Associates in Irvine, California where Madeline will be stationed, and AmWins, a brokerage with offices in Los Angeles and Manhattan Beach that Jenna will split her time between.
“I hope to learn more about the ins and outs of the industry,” Alexander explained, who plans to shape his career around excess and surplus lines. “I want to get the perspective of everyone that I work with and learn the technical skills needed for the job. I am most excited to network and meet new people, and learning something new is always exciting.”
In addition to sharing the excitement, Jenna, Alexander and Madeline also all agree their Olivet education helped them develop a strong foundation and confidence that prepared them to take on opportunities like the WSIA Internship Program. “High school students should study IRM at Olivet College because of all the opportunities the program has to offer,” Jenna emphasized. “They help you seek out different opportunities and the professors are there for you every step of the way through your journey in the program. It is an established program that has many resources, and employers specifically want to hire IRM graduates from OC. It has everything from a social aspect with fun events, to networking events held right on campus, and the ability to travel, going to conferences across the United States and throughout Michigan.”
Stay tuned to learn more about Jenna’s, Alexander’s and Madeline’s internship experience, and learn about opportunities for insurance and risk management students at OC. Schedule a campus visit or contact the Office of Admissions at 800.456.7189 or email@example.com for questions.