Bouvier Insurance President Rob Bouvier spoke with MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price about what makes Hartford “the Insurance Capital of The World,” how the industry is innovating, and how to continue telling our region’s story.
NAN PRICE: Why is Hartford the Insurance Capital of The World?
ROB BOUVIER: Consider the contribution of $13.9 billion dollars that the insurance industry has on the state domestic product and the rich history of insurance dating back to the early 1800s. Now Connecticut and Hartford are home to some of the most iconic brands in the industry including Aetna, Cigna, ConnectiCare, The Hartford, and Travelers. We have a capable and educated workforce that’s a terrific resource for companies looking to fill positions. In fact, Hartford is number one in the country for the number of insurance professionals per capita.
The industry has its headwinds, not the least of which is the greying out of workers across the industry. One in four employees are going to be retiring in the next few years. That’s a profound number that needs attention and that’s why I think Hartford has an advantage in that we have insurance professionals who can fill those positions.
NAN: With regard to the greying out you mentioned, how can insurance become appealing to younger generations as they’re seeking careers?
ROB: I think the industry has done quite a bit; however, we need to do even more if we want to attract graduates right out of school and remain attractive long term. Insurance carriers have invested a tremendous amount to create more welcoming, intuitive, and user-friendly environments with collaborative space.
You have to keep it fresh, exciting, and interesting. But also, you’ve got to get to the colleges because that’s where it starts. Some folks may view insurance as a steppingstone in their professional development, but they may not view it as a long-term career. They’re usually more focused on finance—investments or banking. That’s where we need to bring the resources to demonstrate the opportunity. Insurance is kind of the “diamond in the rough” in terms of career opportunities. And the opportunity has never been better.
ROB: Well, there is so much going on. Think about InsurTech’s influence on the industry. That catches a lot of the millennials’ interest because they’re predisposed toward technology and when you integrate that into the insurance offering it makes for a more dynamic, robust experience.
NAN: Let’s talk about how innovation is changing the landscape for insurance.
ROB: We’ve evolved into a digital world where you have to make sure your offerings are available 24/7 as well as for mobile applications. I think millennials identify with that and it piques their interest. The last thing we want is to convey the image that working within the insurance industry is being tied to a cubicle. This is not your father’s insurance industry anymore!
NAN: In what ways does Bouvier Insurance support the continued growth of the insurance sector in Connecticut’s economy?
ROB: Bouvier has about 140 employees with 10 offices, seven of which are in Connecticut. The others are in Westerly, RI; Atlanta, GA; and Nashville, TN. We recently made an acquisition in Fairfield, Conn., to further grow our footprint here. And we’re hiring. In fact, we recently hired a pre-apprenticeship position from Goodwin College, which has a new “incubator” that creates opportunities for those who are looking to become fast tracked in the insurance industry.
NAN: Do you think having additional locations throughout the country helps us tell our story outside of Hartford?
ROB: Absolutely! It serves to reinforce the fact that Hartford is the Insurance Capital across the country. And people readily identify with Hartford. They think: You’re from Hartford, so you know insurance and it gives you instant credibility.
NAN: Bouvier Insurance was established by your father, Robert Bouvier, in 1959.
ROB: Yes, he set the vision, tone, and culture of who we are as a company today. He started at the Aetna “bullpen" at 111 Pearl Street in Hartford and eventually relocated to West Hartford Center, where we are today.
NAN: With 60 years of evolution—including you taking over and running the business in 2007—what are you most proud of?
ROB: We are family-built and have always been family-focused. Even though we’ve grown nationally, we still maintain our small business feel. We pride ourselves on taking a personal approach with our clients and listening to and implementing feedback from our employees.
Giving back to the communities we serve has always been a priority. More than just writing a check, Bouvier Brigade has “boots on the ground,” supporting various non-profits with their charitable initiatives.
I’m most proud of our insurance professionals who have voted us to The Hartford Courant’s list of Top Work Place five years in a row. To me, that speaks volumes.