Setting the tone for your higher education institution 

Risk managers need to be mindful of both internal and external communications. Today, with many new and unique challenges that we had not contemplated at the beginning of the year, we want to consider the use of storytelling in support of your risk management agenda outside your institution.

Telling the story of your institution and your risk management program to your insurance brokers and underwriters sets the tone for the market’s perception of your operations and risk management brand. You need to overcome the perceptions that are created in the news regarding financial and operational challenges affecting higher education institutions.

Crafting an Unique Story for your Insurance Portfolio 

The benefit of having a great brand in risk management is that the institution is more likely to be treated favorably in the current market downturn. Consider these points and how best answers can be communicated to external parties who can use them in underwriting your insurance portfolio.

  • Why does your risk management operation exist?
  • What differentiates your risk management program from other institutions?
  • What ROI do you provide to the institution?
  • Why should insurance underwriters care?

At Gallagher, we encourage our clients to engage positively with their underwriters at all points of contact. Consider adding an addendum or sidebars to your insurance renewal applications that supports the positive efforts of your operations. Metrics are great, of course, but the stories will resonate. Collect positive stories about your successes throughout the year and share them liberally with your insurance broker and underwriter.

For example, one higher education institution’s risk management office discovered that an online textbook/service was not accessible for sight impaired students. Even though only one student was known to be affected, risk management was able to muster a task force to address the problem before the start of the semester and avoid a probable claim of discrimination.  This success story and others that were shared with underwriters helped to keep the school’s premium increases low, in spite of a hardening market.

A last thought for the final quarter of this challenging year: risk managers may also want to consider their “brand” within the institution and how it is managed. Annual reports with metrics and stories can be powerful tools for generating financial support for the department while providing a solid resource for the insurance market support of the risk management program. 

Author Information:


5 Essential Tips for Business Storytelling. Mike Kappel, Forbes Magazine 2018. 

11 Simple Steps for a Successful Brand Building Process Sonia Gregory, 12/2019. While this is directed at consumer businesses, it offers may useful insights into brand-building. A google search on “creating successful brand” will produce dozens of resources.