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Alumni Spotlight: Zach Whitmer

Zach Whitmer

Hard to believe I’ve already been graduated for several months - hasn’t quite sunk in that I’m ACTUALLY done with school.

I was hired full-time with Gray Construction, same company I was interning for all of last year. They hired me on as “Insurance Compliance Coordinator” just to give me a title but I deal with all things pertaining to risk management and insurance.

My every day task is contacting our subcontractors to receive their insurance and make sure it follows all of our set requirements. Very rarely does it match what we want so I have to call agents and sometimes even underwriters and argue about insurance coverage and why what they supplied isn’t sufficient or acceptable. Endorsements are the most fun to argue about. The grey area every endorsement has with the verbiage and how its interpreted is always a fun one to debate. I’ve grown quite good at reading endorsements and determining if they provide the coverages we require.

I also help a lot with claims - reaching out to the claimant, other parties, and the insurers/adjustors to get things resolved. This is what I enjoy doing most. I currently only help with workers comp and auto claims as they are typically lower dollar values. I just got asked to help on my first GL claim which could potentially be a multimillion dollar case and there are several parties involved so it’s going to be interesting. I am also currently helping our Risk Manager with policy renewal, so I’m getting all the necessary information compiled and cleaned up to send to our brokers to bind coverage for the new policy term.

I recently got my first designation, Certified Risk and Insurance Specialist (CRIS), so I’m proud of that. Took several online courses and passed all of the tests with nothing lower than an A. The classes I took at EKU and my year at Gray made getting that designation a breeze. I was able to get it in before our Risk Manager could, so that felt good. I still hold that over her head!

Coming into the RMI program at EKU, I really had no idea what I was getting into, if I’d enjoy it, what work would be like. I chose RMI simply because my advisor said it was an up and coming program and the future outlook was very promising. I wasn’t good at Finance and Accounting so I jumped on the RMI bandwagon. I assumed I was going to get a job working with the likes of a Liberty or State Farm. I thought for sure my first job would be doing something with them helping with claims or underwriting. I didn’t imagine working for a construction company and doing virtually the same work, but being the insured instead of the insurer. The classes I took at EKU focused so much on getting us prepared to work for an insurance company, so to be able to take that knowledge and skill set and flip it to apply to being the customer was something unique. I was taught to think like the underwriters, so I understand what they do and look for, and I get to turn that on them and use that to Gray's advantage.

I love that I was able to learn the ins and outs of the industry with you all at EKU, then be able to apply that in the real world here at Gray. I highly recommend that you point out these types of job positions as well to students. Every company has its own set of risks and needs people to analyze and control them. I continue to grow and learn everyday as I'm given more and entrusted with more and truly see myself becoming a Risk Manager one day. I know I'm on the right path.

I moved back towards Louisville (yet driving to Lexington every day!), but I promise to stop by and say hi when I move back closer - which is hopefully sooner rather than later. Hope you and the professors have a great start to the new school term!

Published on August 14, 2017

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