Vaughan Institute of Risk Management and Insurance Henry B. Tippie College of Business
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The University of Iowa

Insurance Highlighted on London Trip

by Ruth Paarmann

Students in a London phoneboothInsurance and risk management were in the spotlight during the recent UI Tippie College of Business Winter Session in London. From December 27, 2009 to January 10, 2010, 20 students "hopped the pond" with Ty Leverty, assistant professor of finance who teaches in the Vaughan Institute of Risk Management and Insurance (RMI) program.

During the trip, Ty taught Topics in Finance II: Risk Management and Insurance in a Global Economy. The course included basic knowledge of insurance and how insurance markets are structured in the U.S. and internationally. Ty also addressed what makes London special in the global insurance complex.

The trip was as much about experiencing a different culture as it was about the insurance world.

“For many students, it was their first time out of the country,” says Ty. “To get the cultural value as well as course credit, we experienced London as a group. This made it easier to take that first leap into an international experience.”

Everyone stayed in apartments and received an orientation to London’s local transit systems and lingo. Sightseeing tours included a London bus tour and a visit to St. Paul Cathedral. The group saw the play “Billy Eliot” and ate Ethiopian, Indian, and other cuisines. Excursions to Bath and Stonehenge were also available.

“The program was great, because there was a sensible range of freedom. We had ample time to do things without the group,” says Carolyn Gerver, an accounting and finance major who plans to graduate this May with an RMI certificate. This was Carolyn’s first trip outside North America, and the experience was a good one. She even tacked on a personal trip to Italy.

Touring London Insurers & Markets

Attendees met in the classroom for three hours per day, and also spent time visiting global insurance powerhouses, including new and established institutions such as:

  • Aspen Insurance UK—a reinsurance company founded in 2005
  • Aviva—the fifth largest insurance company in the world and the largest in the U.K.
  • Lloyd’s of London—the world’s leading insurance market, established in 1688
  • Lockton, Inc.—an insurance, risk management, and employee benefits company

“At Aspen, Aviva, and Lockton, we sat down with staff and they told us what they do and about their segment of the insurance market. For many students, this was their first exposure to the insurance industry,” says Ty.

“The whole trip was geared to what I want to do,” says Kayla Lopata, a senior finance major and RMI certificate candidate. “Aspen taught us about reinsurance. One of the coolest site visits was Lloyd’s of London. The companies were really awesome and good to us.”

Carolyn learned that you can insure anything at a cost and that London’s “claims farming” problem doesn’t happen in the U.S. due to regulation of insurance. She is applying for positions with companies that they visited.

Kayla and Carolyn both appreciated the opportunity to get to know the other students as well as Ty, who taught many of their courses.

Special Connections

Ty LevertyAccording to Ty, members of the Vaughan Institute’s advisory board were instrumental in arranging the visits for the London group.

Terri Vaughan, BBA79, daughter of Emmett J. Vaughan, the institute’s founder, arranged for the group to meet two regulatory affairs representatives from Lloyd’s of London.

“That was above and beyond the typical Lloyd’s tour,” says Ty.

In addition, Steve Eginoire, BGS76, CEO of Lockton Affinity in Kansas City, arranged visits to Lockton International Ltd and Aviva. At Lockton, the students met and learned from the CEO and a head broker.

“They talked about London as a specialized high-risk insurance hub and about Lockton’s investments in China,” explains Ty, who says it was an honor to have a high-level executive talk to the group.

“Connecting University of Iowa students with our London office was a natural,” Steve says. “It was a chance to broaden the perspectives of the students while allowing us to showcase our global reach.”

“I’m amazed at the quality of the Vaughan Institute students,” Steve says. “This was a unique opportunity to connect tomorrow’s leaders with people who are engaged in the business today at its highest levels. Who knows? Perhaps one of them will end up joining us!”