Wynne Nowland heads Bradley & Parker, a Melville-based insurance, risk management, and financial services company. We spoke with the CEO about trans activities as well as developments in the insurance industry, including the management of Covid.
What was it like when a trans person came out? My personal experience was probably a lot simpler than most. It was a pretty easy transition. I have been very well received by my colleagues, not just the people who work in my company, but also our customer base, insurance company partners and suppliers.
How did you inform the people in your life? I picked a date and then made sure they were made aware of what I was doing. Nobody likes such big surprises! I sent out a series of emails to people letting them know what was going on. I sent snail mail to people like my butcher and dry cleaner and even some favorite restaurants telling them what was going on. The next time I walked in, they knew what to expect.
Was that something you had wanted for many years or more recently? When I return to my childhood, I always felt uncomfortable about my gender and was confused about why I felt the way I did. When I was 5 years old this was not an issue. Over time, I’ve always felt the same way. There didn’t seem to be any way I could do anything about it. As time passed and this became more public and the internet made it easier to get information, I went through a step-by-step process.
What do you attribute the longevity of your company to? We just celebrated our 80th anniversary last year. We believe that doing the best we can for our customers and our team is a core belief. We have tried to adapt to times with technology and customer loyalty.
Why are people usually not affected by the pandemic? When they take out insurance policies, they make actuarial tables listing the interest rates. Like most of us who didn’t think about it, neither could they. If the insurance industry paid all claims related to Covid, the industry could go bankrupt.
Is the insurance industry recession-proof? I want to say that the insurance business is not recession-proof, but it is recession-resistant. Most of the insurance companies take out cannot be abolished for reasons of cost. As companies stay in business, they still need insurance. With payroll and sales falling for some customers, it could lower insurance premiums.
What can individuals or companies do to lower premiums? Working with a qualified insurance advisor allows companies to work more safely, which can ultimately reduce premium costs. For example, if they hire an employee who will be driving, they will review their driving records. There are risk management techniques, steps companies can take to reduce their risks.
What are some other examples? If you are a manufacturer, make sure that any machinery that could injure workers is properly monitored and has the correct interlocking devices. If a contractor uses a subcontractor, make sure that the subcontractor has the appropriate insurance. If you own a building, make sure a sprinkler is installed and working.
How do you and the insurance companies work with individuals and businesses in the midst of Covid? There was a mandatory component: we won’t cancel your insurance even if you don’t pay. Then there were voluntary things that the industry and many brokers did to help customers. Many personal insurance companies lowered car insurance premiums and reimbursed some of the premiums. People didn’t drive that much so there was less risk. That was pretty common. We reached out to customers to see how they are doing. In cases where their businesses have slowed or been temporarily closed, we have hired insurance carriers to voluntarily lower some of these premiums.
Do you think the insurance industry could cover future pandemics? I think at some point, and probably more so with the new administration in Washington, they will come back to the question of how this can be dealt with in the future. They did that in 2001 after September 11th. Many of the 9/11 claims were also not covered. They developed a new form of reporting, terrorism reporting, which was partially adopted by the federal government. We’ll probably see something like this.
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