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Inspirational Leaders

Reimagining the Insurance Industry for a Digital World

Deborah S. Morris, Senior Vice President, Commercial Lines, Verisk Underwriting Solutions

Deborah Morris hosting Verisk's International Women's Day Event in 2019.

Deborah Morris hosted Verisk's International Women's Day event in 2019.

What's your role at Verisk? How would you describe a typical day? 

I’m a Senior Vice President in the Commercial Lines division of Verisk ISO and I’m responsible for core line services, data products, ISO Electronic Rating Content™ (ERC), Mozart®, and other products and services that surround our participation services. I’m thrilled to be accountable for so many solutions that benefit our customers.

We leverage our deep domain expertise and robust data sets to help new and existing insurers launch products, improve their actuarial analysis, and enhance their strategic decision-making. The suite of products that I look after are complementary and help insurers along various stages of the insurance lifecycle, including adding greatly to their innovation cycle. For example, our forms management and analytics solution, Mozart®, helps our customers increase speed to market for new products and coverage updates.

Thankfully there is no typical day, as I thrive on a bit of stress and appreciate being able to lend my thoughts and expertise to a host of different issues. My favorite days, however, are the ones when I’m meeting clients. 

What initially attracted you to Verisk? 

I was recruited by Maroun Mourad, President of Global Underwriting, with whom I used to work at a former employer. He’s someone who I always found to be a great leader—he stood for things that really resonated with me.

Admittedly, I wasn’t sure about coming to a data and analytics company from the mainstream insurance market, but I was fortunate to meet a few senior leaders, and I left those interviews with a fantastic impression of Verisk. I could tell that leadership is focused on employee well-being and empowerment. I knew right away that this was an innovative company that cared deeply about its employees and its customers. And this has proven to be true.

Teamwork and leadership at Verisk.

The company is so vested, not just in our customers but also in our employees: their health, well-being, and happiness. Even from just sitting in the waiting room before my interview and seeing how people interacted around me, it was obvious how happy people were, how respectful they were of one another, and how collaborative they were. That was very important to me.

Verisk has more than lived up to its truth over the years, especially with all the effort they place on health and wellness—from Wellness Days to how they’ve approached the health and safety of employees during the pandemic. This is a great place to work.

How did you begin your career in insurance? 

Pure luck!  Ha! Ha! My dad was an insurance broker. I originally wanted to be a banker, but he explained that nothing could happen without insurance: people can't drive their cars, planes can't fly, commerce would fail. To him, insurance was a more reliable career choice than banking. For me, it was the right decision! 

What's the coolest project you're working on right now, and why?

Reimagine! Verisk is undergoing a multi-year journey to reimagine our core line services by leveraging cutting-edge technology, bringing in more data from the marketplace, and innovating in the ways we deliver value to customers.

Reimagine involves a whole host of projects. There’s a team of people thinking far outside the box by interviewing customers and other stakeholders, whiteboarding ideas, and prioritizing projects—among other things. What’s so exciting about the initiative is that we’ve got the chance to make our core product more valuable and impactful for our customers. And it’s a great time to be working on this because of where technology has brought us—to digitization and the push to digitize everything in the marketplace. The excitement that Reimagine has produced in our teams is real, and the energy and enthusiasm with which we’re working on Reimagine are breathtaking!

Deborah leads an enthusiastic team on the forefront of digitization in the insurance industry.

What has you most excited about the future of your profession? What do you think your field will look like five years from now?   

Widespread digitization! The insurance industry has historically moved slowly when it comes to technology and analytic insights. We’ve been talking about greater digitization for well over a decade – in fact, the digital journey for insurers began with Personal Lines insurance around 20 years ago. Now, there’s a rush for broad digitization of products, claims, and distribution.

These next few years are going to be very exciting in the marketplace as insurers push forward to use low code and no code technologies, coupled with modern analytic methods like AI and ML in order to improve results, transaction timing, innovation, and the customer experience. And Verisk is and will continue to be a critical partner to our customers along this journey.

What advice would you give to someone looking to start a career in your field? 

Get experience in different areas of the insurance value chain— underwriting, claims, distribution, and so on. I had the opportunity to work in different divisions of a large insurance company and in different geographies. These experiences kept me challenged throughout my career, and were a lot of fun! 

What's the most rewarding part of your job and Verisk as an organization? 

Being able to make a difference for our customers. My previous employer was a customer of Verisk’s and joining the company from the industry side gave me a unique perspective. I started with Verisk in 2018, and shortly after I started, I met Scott Stephenson, our CEO at the time. He said to me, “You were the customer for so long. Do me a favor: please don’t take off your customer hat.”

Incorporating the needs of the customer and taking into account the state of the customer relationship impacts the way my team and I work and make for better, more meaningful decisions—whether it involves a product we’re developing or someone we’re hiring. Keeping the customer’s voice at the center of everything we do ensures a better experience for everyone.

Verisk is a company with an excellent culture where employees are truly valued. Collaboration across teams is integral to who we are, and there are many opportunities to learn and expand one’s horizons. And importantly, work/life balance is encouraged by leadership.

What was your best moment at Verisk? 

There have been so many great moments, but one that really stands out is being at NASDAQ on the 10th year anniversary of Verisk’s IPO. Everyone there was so proud of what we had achieved. 

The future is bright here at Verisk!

What most excites you about the future of Verisk? 

The future is so bright here at Verisk!  For me, partnering with our customers on product development is truly exciting because it enables a deep understanding of clients’ challenges. Our success depends on our understanding of our customers’ problems and discovering solutions with them, so these insights are tremendously helpful.

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