Insurance industry internships, broader career development opportunities and bringing better health care to underserved communities are all interwoven into the workers’ compensation carrier’s mission.
Jeremiah Bentley gets it. The vice president of marketing and community affairs at Texas Mutual Insurance Company is a big believer in the workers’ compensation carrier’s efforts to bring more talent into the insurance industry, while at the same time being an active benefactor in the communities where the Austin, Texas -based company conducts business.
“A lot of companies can give money,” Bentley said.
“The fact that not only are we giving money back to the community, but we’re investing our own time and talent to build things for ourselves and others in the industry [also]that makes me feel like it’s real,” Bentley said.
The capability of workers’ compensation carriers to serve the communities they work in beyond risk transfer is a growing area of focus for the National Comp conference and a topic we’re pleased to include on this year’s agenda.
Bentley will share his insights on corporate community building on Oct. 19, 2022. He shared some of this thoughts with Risk & Insurance in advance of the presentation.
1) Training for the Job
Some of Texas Mutual’s industry and community development efforts are more recent, and some have been in place for years.
A longstanding program that has helped Texas Mutual bolster its ranks, including its leadership ranks, can be characterized as a robust job training program.
“We take kids out of risk management academies across the state and train them to be underwriters or claims adjustors or whatever it might be and give them that exposure and experience with Texas Mutual,” Bentley said.
“It’s been a really successful program,” he said.
“A fair amount of our underwriting leadership at the supervisor level are people who came through that program,” he added.
2) Looking Local
A second approach is being implemented with Houston Community College and some local nonprofits.
The idea is to capture job candidates who find themselves in a job with limited growth and income prospects and help them shift career tracks — right into insurance.
This approach comes under the heading of apprenticeships, in which Texas Mutual pays the worker full-time hours to work a 20-hour week while at the same time paying for their continued education.
The candidates might work as claims associates, handling paperwork, returning phone calls and monitoring regulatory filings.
“They are basically part-time claims assistants. They’ll transition to full-time work in that job, too, but they’re earning and learning at the same time. That was important to us, because these are people with lives that need full-time wages,” Bentley said.
Working in collaboration with the Greater Houston Apprenticeship Network, Texas Mutual has already hired its first wave of apprentices through the program.
3) Retraining Opportunities
Another initiative that is already in the books was Texas Mutual’s creation and funding of the Trade Up Texas program.
The six-month effort enabled more than 2,000 residents of the state to be retrained and given opportunities to work in well-paid positions in the trades.
“We were telling people, ‘Hey, do you realize that you can be making $80,000 in a year or in two years being an electrician or a carpenter?’ ” Bentley said.
4) Connecting Young Professionals with Passion
Yet another trade development pipeline project that Texas Mutual is involved in is the Make it Movement.
The brainchild of Texas advertising impresario Roy Spence identifies 18- to 25 year-olds who are looking for meaningful work and connecting them to a career in the trades.
5) Grants for the Community
In addition to the above, and certainly not the least of Texas Mutual’s efforts, is the $7 million in grants Texas Mutual will donate to various community development issues in 2022.
One of those is funding occupational medicine residents at The University of Texas, Tyler for his work in bringing occupational medicine services to underserved parts of the state.
“There is almost no access to occupational specialty care in rural Texas,” Bentley said. “Hopefully this will create more access to this kind of health care for individuals in those areas.”
Giving Back Is the Best Reward
Bentley wasn’t born into money. His dad worked in a factory and his mom was a teacher.
Now, with Texas Mutual, he is appreciating not only the value of a career in insurance. He is also getting a charge out of helping others advance their career and prospects, not only in insurance but also in other fields as well.
“I think it’s exciting to be able to come to work every day and be in a position in my career where I can help make a difference for others,” he said. “I think this is a great industry because you are helping to raise people up.
“You’re creating opportunity for future generations,” he said.
Referring the to the economic cycles that Texas Mutual is trying to re-engineer, Bentley said, “Some of these things are generational. People in East Austin are living in generational poverty and they don’t see a way out of it.
“If we can expose them to either a trade career or an insurance career, that will make a difference for them and their families. That’s the thing that most excites me about it,” he said. &
Hear more from Jeremiah Bentley and other workers’ comp industry leaders at National Comp 2022 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Oct. 19-21.