Progressive CEO: Insurance Industry Needs Proven Risk Rating Metrics and More-Affordable Products
Tricia Griffith also said risk-based pricing should be bifurcated from discussions about affordability.
- Renée Kiriluk-Hill
- May 2021
The insurance industry needs to offer more-affordable products, rather than jettison factors that have long been successful in assessing risk, Tricia Griffith, Progressive Corp. president and chief executive officer, said during the virtual Emerging Leaders Conference.
“Risk-based pricing is data-based” and should be bifurcated from discussions about affordability, she said when asked about social justice and pricing, adding that she's also an advocate for raising the minimum wage. Lower minimum limits could be one path to broadening access, Griffith said.
We do our best to reflect the people we’re leading. You have to be intentional … so everyone has more opportunities.
Credit Scoring Debate
The industry has largely opposed moves to bar the use of credit scoring in property/casualty underwriting. Among the arguments, opponents have said higher credit scores bring discounts that the majority of consumers would not want to lose.
Supporters of such bans have said that since people of color have been discriminated against in housing, jobs and access to credit for years, their credit scores will be lower, driving up their insurance costs. The Washington state insurance commissioner in March issued an emergency rule prohibiting insurers from using credit scoring to set rates for automobile, homeowners and other personal property lines for three years. Griffith, a mother of six, stressed the need to rate to the risk, using her family as an example. Her family's auto rates rose when there were four teenagers on the policy, even before the losses and speeding tickets started, she said.
“It was clear our risk profile had changed dramatically. ... You get accurate rates through data.”
Griffith said she has always been “passionate about diversity and inclusion.” When she was chief human resources officer at Progressive in the 2000s, the company started its first two of what are now nine employee resources groups that offer personal and professional support.
The groups include Asian American; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender plus; military; African American; and disabilities awareness.
The company says the groups are key to leveraging differences to support an inclusive culture and to offer insight into customers. They also help employees who aren't part of a particular demographic to expand points of view, Griffith said.
Her company has set goals to expand diversity and inclusion, including doubling the number of people of color in the top 3% of management over five years, Griffith said.
“We know it's a goal, not a quota. We do our best to reflect the people we're leading,” she said. “You have to be intentional ... so everyone has more opportunities.”
She also noted that more than half of employees are female, saying challenges she has faced during her career have been generally external. For instance, she said, men and women working in claims 30 years ago were sometimes greeted differently in auto body shops.
More recently, Griffith said, she attended an event for CEOs and spouses and was routinely assumed to be the spouse.
She offered advice to the conference's emerging leaders to build and believe in their skills. As Teddy Roosevelt asserted, Griffith said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
The conference was co-sponsored by the American Property Casualty Insurance Association, the Insurance Careers Movement, and AM Best.