Lifestyle Personal Lines the December 2013 issue

Elizabeth Demaret

An AIG Starr Scholar, I came out of college and went to work at Cigna’s training program. I am truly a child of insurance.
By Chris Hann Posted on December 1, 2011
Q
What was it like to be the first woman to be named to lead the World Federation of Insurance Intermediaries?
A
It’s actually quite an honor. It is additionally an honor since I am the first female chair and am now the first person to be asked to serve two terms as chair.
Q
Tell me about your work with the group.
A
The WFII is a global body that rolls up all the regional and, in turn, national insurance associations in the world. So you have The Council and the IIABA of the U.S. Other members include IBAC (Canada), BIPAR (Europe), COPRAPOSE (Latin America) and FIA (South Africa). All of these bodies come together. We provide global leadership, develop solutions and coordinate actions to promote the insurance intermediary industry at a global level.
Q
How did you get involved?
A
I’ve been doing international or multinational for all but six months of my career. I started with international underwriting with Ace, or Cigna at the time. I have been a multinational broker for more than 15 years. The Council was looking for representatives to WFII, and I was asked to join about six or seven years ago.
Q
Most people say they got into insurance by accident. That doesn’t sound like the case with you.
A
Oh, it’s even worse. I started with AIG at 16 as a summer job. My mother worked for 32 years at AIG. My first summer job was in AIG’s Wall Street office in its Single Cashier Unit. I helped get expense checks signed. I worked with AIG all through college and went through university as an AIG Starr Scholar. I came out of college and went to work at Cigna in its training program. I am truly a child of insurance.
Q
What’s the most unusual insurance placement you’ve been involved in?
A
I’ve insured a 50th birthday party for a client, including event cancellation insurance. He took 50 couples on a cruise around the Mediterranean, and they finished with a birthday concert by Diana Ross in a plaza in Venice.
Q
What do you do when you’re not working?
A
I have four kids. I am preparing myself to have four teenagers in the next four years. I do a fair amount of volunteer work between Boy Scouts, sports leagues, school and charity work. I’ve gotten involved with a group called First Step through Marsh’s Social Responsibility Initiatives. It is a job-training program for women re-entering the workforce after domestic violence, homelessness and other life-altering events. I’m also an amateur photographer. I do nature photography. I do portraits for family and friends. I’ve done a couple weddings. I like to use my photography as a gift, not a job, but I enjoy it.
Q
What kind of camera do you use?
A
I’m a Canon baby. I only went digital about four years ago. I still bring out my black-and-white film on a regular basis.
Q
Do you have favorite sports teams?
A
Much to my son’s dismay, I am a Giants and Mets fan raising a Cubs and Bears fan. So it gets ugly in this house.
Q
But you’re moving to New Jersey soon. What’s he going to do?
A
My son turned 12 in November. He has been able to identify Cubs players from their names on the back of their jerseys since he was 3, so I don’t think I could beat it out of him.
Q
What’s the best advice you ever got?
A
You can’t truly know that you know something until you’re able to teach it to someone else and make them understand. My daughter’s advice lately is, “Mom, stop sounding like a fortune cookie.”
Q
What have you learned that you could pass on to others?
A
The best-prepared organization is the one looking 20 years ahead to who’s going to run the company and be the senior leaders. You can’t underestimate the value of a good training program and good planning for employees.
Q
If you could change the industry, what would you do?
A
I’d change our acceptance of the industry’s image in the world. We help the world run, and we help the world recover. This is a pretty dynamic industry. The power of insurance is looking at the difference between Haiti’s recovery and New Zealand’s.
Q
Last Question: What gives you your leader’s edge in this industry?
A
My passion for what I do gives me an edge. Twenty-plus years later, I really enjoy what I do every single day. I spent this past week talking with 10 to 20 clients—that’s fun.

Profile Box:

Age: 45

Hometown: Middletown, N.J.

Kids: Madelyn, 14; Catherine, 13; Thomas, 12; Delaney, 10

Wheels: “A minivan—what else? A Toyota Sienna. It’s just like a Porsche.”

Last Family Vacation: Niagara Falls (“the Canadian side”)

Chris Hann Associate Editor Read More

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