In honor of the Insurance Library’s annual fete honoring an outstanding member of the Massachusetts insurance industry, we thought it only appropriate to introduce you to the Library’s new Executive Director Glenn Cryan. Originally hailing from Massachusetts, Mr. Cryan returned to take over the helm of the 125-year old Library this past August. He spoke with Agency Checklists about what he sees as his main role at the Library as well as his main mission to help the Massachusetts insurance industry see why the Library is still a vital resource even in the age of the internet.
You joined the Insurance Library as its new Executive Director this past August, how are things going now that you have been there for two months?
Great. I still have a lot to learn but I have a great team behind me. Presently, I am familiarizing myself with the inner workings of the whole of The [Insurance] Library Association of Boston, in particular Membership, Research, Educational Offerings/Programs and Community Outreach initiatives. The main focus for me right now, however, has been on developing our quality insurance education offerings. Much time has been devoted to understanding industry educational needs, what is and what is not available, and discussing with organizations how the Library may address these needs. This will be an ongoing process to remain current as well as look to the future.
Give us a little background into your history in insurance?
I started back in 1978 with Liberty Mutual as a Claims Adjuster. Over the last 35 years, I have held various claim positions at companies like the Electric Mutual Insurance Company, where I received a lot of multi-state experience; the former Lumber Mutual Insurance Company; Commercial Union; and One Beacon at which I was a VP of claims.
In 2008, I made the shift over to the education side of insurance when I was contacted by a recruiter about a position at the National Alliance for Insurance Education and Research in Austin, Texas. This organization provides insurance educational programs and designations such as Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC). I eventually joined the organization as their Chief Operations Officer. I think working there the past 5 years as their COO helped to better prepare me for this position.
What about the Executive Director role and the Insurance Library attracted you to the position?
I was familiar with the Library having taken various courses here throughout my career. When I heard about the Executive Director position being available, I was at a point in my career where I was looking to return to the Boston-area. During the initial stages of discussions, I was immediately impressed with the desired future direction and goals of the Library. These were to expand the educational reach of the Library, to meet the professional needs of an aging, mature industry and to re-introduce the unique research benefits that the Library offers the industry as a whole. Overall, I thought it was a good fit with my background in insurance, marketing and education.
What are your goals for the Library over the coming year? The next several years?
After working in the insurance education field for several years, I realized that you really have to market yourself. Right now, I don’t think that many people really know who we are at the Library, what we do, and the benefits we offer to insurance professionals, agencies and carriers. Of utmost importance to me, is getting the Insurance Library Association and its offerings out in the forefront.
To successfully do this, we need to rebrand the Library and re-launch its image and website. We believe this will be the best way we can demonstrate what the Library has to offer to the Massachusetts insurance industry and beyond.
In addition, another immediate goal is to enhance and expand our quality insurance educational programs such as CPCU and Institutes programs to the industry. This will involve increasing the number of our course offerings and expanding our reach beyond the Boston area, by having a greater presence in all of Massachusetts and the New England states.
We also have community outreach programs where insurance education is provided with strategic partners to introduce underrepresented segments of the population to careers in the insurance industry. We also plan to work more closely with our membership and the industry to find ways on improving upon the services provided by the Library and how these services are delivered to the industry.
We need to try some new things and to expand some of the programs that we have and that work well while we get back out into the forefront of the industry.
What do see as the biggest challenges for the Insurance Library?
Quickly responding and adapting to the ever changing needs and demands of the internet culture. While we have vast amounts of information, policies, historical collections, etc., when people in the Massachusetts insurance industry think of us, they usually associate us with seminars and a few educational programs. Our offerings, however, are much greater than that. We have courses such as CPCU and Institutes programs/designations. I think expanding our internet presence will be helpful in showing the industry what we have to offer.
That said we presently are not in a position to make this information available via an online catalog. We are developing plans to address this issue in order to provide for an online catalog at some point in the future.
Are there any new programs or offerings that the Library will be working on for its members?
We are exploring our educational offerings and in order to that right, we need to understand all available resources we currently have by way of faculty and time availability. Before we expand our educational offerings, we want to make sure that any educational offering we presently have remains of the highest quality.
The Library is always searching for new programs and offerings for its members, the industry and the general public. We will be continuously meeting with various industry groups and organizations to discuss both current and future needs of the industry to develop a plan on how best to address these needs.
One of the ideas we are currently working on is reaching out and meeting with the community colleges to create an Introduction to Property/Casualty Insurance Program. Essentially, it would allow a student to graduate with an Associate Business Degree with a concentration in insurance. One goal of the program would be to offer an internship for students to work with agents, brokers and carriers to help get more young people interested in the insurance industry.
Another goal is to sponsor more events and educational programs outside of the Library itself. Essentially this would involve taking the Library on the road to the insurance professionals throughout the state. We believe there is a demand but we don’t yet know the size of that demand. We would like to get feedback from professionals, agents, brokers and carriers from all parts of the state as to what types of programs and events would be of interest them if the Library came out there way. As we go forward, another goal would be to expand further into New England.
What about offering webinars?
We have to be careful with webinars. We would love to do some webinars, focusing on a current event or topic but we are not in a position to do that now. In the near future we will be offering webinars once we can present them with the educational quality our members and students have come to expect.
We currently cannot compete with other institutions that have an online classroom, so instead, we are choosing to focus on and promote what we do well, which is doing classes live. When you attend a live class, you get a chance to really interact with the faculty and students. For me, personally, I have taken classes both online and in the classroom – and truthfully, I get a lot more out of it when I am physically present in the classroom versus watching a class online.
What services can the Library offer specifically to Massachusetts insurance agents?
Well, aside from the educational and continuing education classes, if an agent was looking to research a specific carrier that he or she was thinking of representing, or the agent was researching to expand into a different product line, the Library has resources to assist them with that research.
What about social media and the Library’s online presence?
We need to get more involved in social media as a way to further expand our reach. Social media is one part of our plan to “re-introduce” the many benefits of the Insurance Library Association to individuals and industry groups.
Right now, we are working on upgrading our website. Our goal is to create a more user friendly site with more offerings and educational information. We don’t really want to engage in social media until the site is updated, but once accomplished, we will definitely focus on using social media to help promote our image and programs.
Why should a Massachusetts insurance professional think about membership with the Insurance Library?
The Insurance Library Association offers a wide variety of resources, services and research materials to its membership. Massachusetts members would greatly benefit from discounts of Library educational course offerings, borrowing privileges (check out or have sent) circulating materials, and reserved use of the library conference room and classrooms.
Insurance professionals’ research may include such areas as product line expansion, competitive ranking, accounting, prior losses and case law, historical mergers and acquisitions, specialty markets and simplified coverage definitions.
Legal and Financial professionals may use the Library for case law, current and historical standard insurance forms, statistical information both national and international and industry’s background information.
If anyone, such as agent, producer, agency or carrier is interested in joining what is the cost and what are the benefits?
Memberships are available for individuals and groups. An annual Individual Membership is $200 per year and annual Group Memberships range from $430 per year for 20 or fewer people to $1310 for 101 and more people. Group Memberships entitle employees to the use the Library, including borrowing privileges. The website provides the specifics of the various membership levels and the ability to join online.
As mentioned earlier, benefits include access to the Library without pre-paying for research, priority on research requests, discounts on research and educational offerings and use of the Library conference rooms and classrooms.
Anything else the Massachusetts insurance industry should know?
The Insurance Library Association welcomes any input as to how we may better provide all of our services to our membership. We want to know what they require or need so we may research and develop offerings to reflect those needs. Our approach is how can we help you? We need to focus on asking that question and so our membership and the industry are better served.
The Insurance Library Association of Boston is a hidden gem that has a lot to offer the insurance industry and we want to expand upon that.
On that point my contact information is:Glenn J. Cryan 156 State St., 2nd Floor Boston, MA 02109 firstname.lastname@example.org 617-227-2087, ext.201