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A history of women and insurance

Stacia Cook: Women have come a long way in the industry

Stacia Cook//Special to The Daily Record//December 11, 2015

A history of women and insurance

Stacia Cook: Women have come a long way in the industry

By Stacia Cook

//Special to The Daily Record

//December 11, 2015

Did you know that married women in the 1840s could not buy life insurance policies on themselves?

Did you know that in 1910, out of 9,386 managers in insurance, only four were African-American women?

There is much we can be proud of as women in the insurance industry and what we have accomplished since those early days.

In fact, women have comprised about two-thirds of the insurance industry workforce in each year from 2002 to 2011, according to the Current Employment Statistics Survey (CES).

In 2011, there were 1.5 million women employed in the insurance sector, accounting for 66.1 percent of the 2.3 million workers in the insurance industry.

There have been a lot of firsts for women in the insurance industry.

The first woman insurance commissioner in the U.S. was Virginia Mae Brown in West Virginia in 1961 .

The first recorded women’s insurance industry organization was the Women Leaders Round Table founded in 1936

While women have come a long way in the insurance industry, in 2010, less than 25,000 women were insurance actuaries, and the ratio of women to men’s earnings was 81.2 percent for all insurance occupations; for insurance sales agents it was just 66.7 percent.

Today, it doesn’t seem as if there is a lack of women in the insurance industry. Women have comprised about 60 percent of the insurance industry workforce in each year from 2005 to 2014, according to the Current Population Survey (CPS), an annual survey of business establishments in private industry conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In 2014, there were 1.6 million women employed in the insurance sector — comprising 59.5 percent of the 2.7 million workers in the insurance industry, according to the BLS.

The percentage of women varies widely by occupation, according to the CPS. The percentage of women workers in selected insurance occupations ranges from 47.0 percent of insurance sales agents to 82.8 percent of insurance claims and policy clerks in 2014. In 2014, women accounted for 47 percent of all workers, based on households in the CPS survey. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2011 data, women make up 83 percent of “insurance claims and policy processing clerks

Today, at agencies, industry meetings, among underwriters and carrier personnel — the ratio of women to men seems more than equal. But appearances are deceiving. Although there are plenty of women in insurance, very few are in corporation’s most important senior executive positions.. Statistically speaking, the industry has more women than men; however, more men than women occupy leadership positions.

At the largest insurers and reinsurers, women hold only 6 percent of top executive positions, 12.5 percent of board seats, and 8 percent of inside business, legal or actuarial officer roles, such as chief actuary or division president, according to a recent industry study by St. Joseph’s University Academy of Risk Management and Insurance.

As the number of women business owners continually increases the truth is many times women in business often express, they are not quite sure of the details as no one has given the time to explain it. The insurance policy is reluctantly paid without really understanding what they are and are not covered for. This is where women insurance agents have made a huge difference in the industry. Women agents are more detail oriented, more emotional about protection and are better educators then men.

Stacia Cook is an independent property and casualty associate in Owings Mills. Find out more at


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