A class titled “Studies in Insurance” may not sound bells and whistles for many students, but what if that class traveled across Europe, stopping in to visit insurance icons in London and Zurich? That’s exactly what a class offered during The University of Olivet’s Intensive Learning Term, a session of classes tacked onto the end of each spring semester. A select number of unique courses are available to students, each just three weeks long or less, and often include global-learning opportunities. These courses give students an attainable opportunity to immerse themselves in another culture, providing a diverse and innovative, and often life-changing, educational experience.
After completing spring semester exams and packing their bags, 12 students led by Tom Humphreys, CPCU, CLU, ChFC, CIC, director of The University of Olivet risk management and insurance center and assistant professor of insurance, risk management and financial planning, set off for London. “The class was designed to provide students a strong overview of international insurance,” Humphreys explained. “While we have an exceptional program at Olivet, this opportunity provides a different aspect of insurance, broadening students’ perspectives and giving them a well-rounded education.”
The first excursion was a visit to the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) of London, the world’s largest professional organization for those in insurance and risk management careers. Students had the opportunity to learn about the standards of membership and how professionalism is promoted. CII counts nearly 120,000 members from 150 countries, including the U.S. The group next arrived at the Lockton Brokerage, honing in on the risk management area.
In addition, the group spent time at the famed Lloyd’s of London, a nontraditional insurance marketplace that is a collection of underwriters from both corporations and private individuals. Founded in 1688, Lloyd’s gained notoriety over the years for writing a largely diverse and unusual range of surplus lines, including a number of body parts. Some of the most unusual include actress America Ferrara’s smile, Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richard’s fingers, and a grain of rice engraved with a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II.
Megan Keathley, an insurance and risk management major who will begin her senior year in the fall, said the time spent at Lloyd’s was the high point of her trip. “I was able to learn more about the surplus lines insurance industry and was very interested in the different ways that certain countries do business. I enjoyed learning about different cultures and the history in Europe was fascinating to learn about. I would absolutely encourage others to take advantage of study abroad opportunities because it allows students to see more of the world and learn new things. It changes your perspectives on other people and cultures and changes you as a person.”
In between business, the students enjoyed sightseeing, soaking up local culture and eating traditional foods. Highlights included a performance of Romeo and Juliet at the Globe Theatre and historical art and architecture at Oxford University, Warwick Castle and the town of Stratford-upon-Avon.
The trip capped off with a day spent at the Zurich Insurance headquarters, the Swiss company founded in 1872 and renowned as one of the largest in the world. The company opened their doors to the class, inviting them to presentations and workshops by some of the most experienced professionals.
“We really got to dive into the fun side of insurance,” Humphreys said. “Students also honed team building skills, stayed very active, gained a perspective on other cultures and enjoyed a learning experience that benefited them both professionally and personally. The trip truly was an all-encompassing experience that will aid students in their studies and future careers for their entire lifetime.” Preparations for a similar trip in the near future are already underway.
As part of the Olivet ADVANTAGE, students are offered global learning opportunities, in addition to three other core values: service learning projects, with hands-on experiences at the core of each program; industry-leading internship and research opportunities; and graduation in four years or the fifth year is tuition free (when an agreed upon schedule is followed). Learn more about all the advantages of a The University of Olivet education by applying now or scheduling a visit.