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'I cannot stress enough the importance of authenticity in insurance'

Kevin Daley serves as president of PURE’s Western Zone, overseeing the growth and profitability of the Midwest, Western, Northern California and Southern California Regions. Insurance Business caught up with him to find out more about his insurance journey.

Insurance Business America
Bethan Moorcraft

Kevin Daley always wanted to play third base for the Chicago Cubs. It’s a dream many have shared but few have reached. Knocking that young boy’s dream out of the park, Daley has gone on to score many home runs as a parent and in the insurance industry.

After what started as an “intriguing [post-college] opportunity at Chubb,” Daley worked stints at AIG and Marsh before joining PURE Insurance, a policyholder-owned (member-owned) insurer for high net-worth individuals.

Today, Daley serves as president of PURE’s Western Zone, overseeing the growth and profitability of the Midwest, Western, Northern California and Southern California Regions. Insurance Business caught up with him to find out more about his insurance journey:

How did you get started in the industry?
My father and several relatives worked in the insurance industry, so it has always been a part of my life. After graduating from Indiana University, an intriguing opportunity at Chubb presented itself, so even though I had minimal knowledge about personal line underwriting, I started my career with them in Atlanta. It was there that I met future PURE Insurance CEO and president Ross Buchmueller.
The industry is very mobile, and, as the years progressed, I found myself bouncing around the southeast before landing in Georgia with AIG in 2001. After spending a couple of years in personal line underwriting, I shifted to commercial lines and eventually left AIG to pursue the broker side as managing director at Marsh Risk and Insurance Services in 2007. I was responsible for most of their southwest operations until Ross called me in the summer of 2015 asking me to help grow his company, PURE Insurance.
 
What are the best parts of your job?
I don’t suspect that many six- and seven-year-olds respond “insurance broker” when their teachers ask them about their future career goals; at that age, I aspired to play third base for the Chicago Cubs. However, as my insurance career evolved, I became enthralled with its core altruistic approach. This job is both rewarding and exciting and continues to provide unique opportunities to help our members during their time of need.
 
What challenges have you faced in your role?
The day-to-day challenges in this role are constantly changing. High net worth individuals have complex risk profiles that continually evolve, so we are always trying to remain ahead of the trends to ensure their needs are properly met. After noticing our members were at a greater risk of being targeted for fraud due to their wealth and unique lifestyles, we debuted PURE Starling™, our innovative fraud and cyber fraud coverage – and the only offering of its kind in the personal insurance space. When torrential rain was set to hit California, we noticed the burn scars created by the wildfires had left an unobstructed path for devastating mudslides. We had to ensure the safety of our members and be prepared for a problem that previously was not of major concern. 
Providing top-notch, bespoke service to our members through risk management and strategic problem solving in times of crisis is an essential part of our business. We would be hard-pressed to deliver anything without the ability to attract and retain highly qualified and smart employees. In this industry, there is a war for great talent, and it is certainly one of the biggest challenges we face on a regular basis. However, we are confident in our ability to provide an innovative and stimulating environment that entices individuals who are empathetic and dedicated, which are necessary skills to thrive in this industry. PURE is also committed to offering job opportunities and competitive benefits to recent graduates; we find that the talent and passion these young employees bring to our organization encourages everyone to grow and succeed. 
 
What have you learned from your current place of work?
In this role, I’ve come to fully understand the impact of workplace culture on overall success. Every PURE employee has an innate curiosity and an unwavering commitment to providing exceptional service. 
PURE is dedicated to being transparent to all members but also to employees. A strong dialogue between upper management and employees instills the confidence to achieve every goal, and good ideas are shared directly with decision makers, which I’ve personally witnessed motivates employees further.
I’ve never seen a company with a culture like PURE’s, where everyone is committed to moving the company forward, and each employee understands the importance of breaking free from their comfort zone and finding new ways to improve and challenge themselves. I’ve learned a successful employee must not fear failure but instead face it head on, get back up quickly and apply what they have learned immediately.
 
What advice would you give to someone working their way up the insurance ladder?
Embrace every opportunity to learn something new. A vital stepping stone in my career was learning early on that, from top to bottom, every person within a company plays an important role. Always make sincere relationships and seek out different perspectives. The more interactions you have, the better, but remember to talk less and listen more.
There is no straightforward path to success, particularly in the rapidly-evolving insurance landscape, so you must be willing and able to adapt to growing needs and demands. Your openness to criticism and accepting new opportunities will go a long way in advancing your career. If you truly embrace the culture and are dedicated to becoming your best possible self, you will succeed.
But, I cannot stress enough the importance of authenticity, because without it, you will certainly struggle to reach your goals.
 
If you weren’t working in insurance, what would you be doing?
If I wasn’t in insurance, I am certain I would be involved with sports in some way. My opportunity to play third base for the Chicago Cubs has most likely passed, but I believe I can follow my passion for coaching. The opportunity to play a pivotal role in children’s cognitive development and interact with kids who have both potential and ambition is invigorating.
After retiring from the insurance industry, I can see myself teaching at a local school while coaching one of their teams – most likely soccer – in my spare time.
 
What is your favorite hobby?
Coaching youth sports is definitely my favorite hobby, and I’ve already started my pseudo-retirement plan mentioned earlier. I love coaching my daughter and two sons; I take great pride in spending time with them and being a positive influence for them. In my spare time, if I’m not on a field coaching, you’ll probably find me on the links polishing up my golf swing.