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Vicki Villarreal

Team Insurance Simulation Leverages Collective Knowledge

by Vicki Villarreal Thursday, March 16, 2017

On March 3rd and 4th, 2017 students studying actuarial science and risk management and insurance at the University of Wisconsin-Madison participated in Gen Re’s PRIME insurance company simulation as a competition across 10 teams of 7 students each. The simulation itself is designed for boards of directors and chief officers of insurance companies, making this an incredible and unusual learning opportunity for university students. The opportunity was made possible through efforts by members of our Co-Curricular Learning Board, a collection of five companies who support student development beyond the classroom.

As a first-year MBA student studying risk management and insurance (RMI), I have taken a variety of courses including leading and working with teams, strategy, economics, accounting, finance, marketing, and an introductory specialization course in RMI. This event allowed me to take what I have been learning in the classroom and apply it in a real-world type setting. The simulation offers an opportunity to experience first-hand the types of business decisions executive teams must make to manage a successful insurance company. Throughout the simulation, my team and I continuously evaluated our firm’s financial performance against our competitor’s and made decisions regarding staffing, pricing, commission, and reinsurance coverages. The simulation then provided our team with instant feedback about the results of our actions and allowed us the opportunity to improve after each round, creating a fast paced learning environment.

One of the fascinating aspects of the experience was the development of team dynamics. Students were unfamiliar with one another prior to the weekend. We needed to develop rapport and trust quickly. We soon discovered how to leverage our team’s collective knowledge to identify potential actions that would improve our firm’s performance.

Overall, it was a great experience and exposed us to the inherent challenges in managing an insurance organization. It was also a great opportunity to gain experience working in a team environment making challenging business decisions, acknowledging our strengths and weaknesses, and appreciating one another’s contributions. Now that the official exercise is complete, I am seeking ways to continue to learn from it. The MBAs have decided to follow up with deeper dives into some of the topics, such as loss development, reinsurance, and regulation. On Wisconsin!