Insurance Community University’s Zangwill-Infantino Looks Back on the Last 10 Years in Insurance Education

April 5, 2021

The past 10 years in insurance education have seen quite a change, with more and more continuing education being done online in an increasingly diverse and complex insurance marketplace.

Laurie Zangwill-Infantino WCIP, PLIC, CCIP, CLIC, AFIS, CIC, CISC, CISR, ACSR, CRIS, president of Insurance Community University, has been ahead of the curve on many of these changes.

Zangwill-Infantino has been in the business of insurance education for quite some time, and she is currently celebrating 10 years since the founding of Insurance Community University (ICU).

She got into insurance education a long time ago. She and fellow insurance expert Patty Carlson created a company in 1977 called Insurance Skills Center, originally operated out of their homes. Both were well established in the insurance industry, and then both had babies and decided to focus on their families.

However, agents the two had worked with knew of their insurance acumen and asked them to help train new hires.

Things built up from there. They eventually opened a small office in Sherman Oaks, Calif., and they developed relationships with the Big I, formally IIA of CA, and also did work with the PIA.

The pair sold Insurance Skills Center to IIABCA, and Zangwill-Infantino served as president until 2010 when she retired from the operation and began ICU with the mission of making the school “a center for learning and a community for sharing.”

When Zangwill-Infantino started ICU, online training was in its infancy.

ICU classes are taught via live webinar where students can pose questions in real-time and have the teachers answer them. ICU has more than 100 classes ranging from introductory to advanced in personal and commercial lines, which are filed for continuing education in multiple states. It has developed four online designations for: construction, commercial lines, personal lines and workers’ compensation. In addition, the ICU site has a repository of resources and archived webinars.

Zangwill-Infantino spoke with Insurance Journal’s Don Jergler about the last 10 years in insurance education.

Insurance Journal: What attracted you to the business of educating insurance professionals in the first place?

Zangwill-Infantino: I had worked in the insurance industry since 1969, where I started processing insurance for a bank in their mortgage department. I did this while I was completing my education at UCLA. I then branched out into the independent agency system and became a commercial lines producer.

Part of my role way back when was to train new producers and support staff. I have always loved insurance with all

its nuances and complexities. When I retired in 1977 to have my first child, I was approached by insurance agencies that knew me to help them train their new hires. And from that, my education companies began.

Insurance Journal: Can you pick a few words to describe how the process of educating the insurance community has changed over the last 10 years and then explain that to us?

Zangwill-Infantino: Complex and Challenging. “Complex” was the first word that came to mind because insurance has changed so much over the last five decades I have been in the field.

Evolving insurance issues, new insurance forms, diversity from one company to the next, all play into the challenges of teaching a new person or up-training existing staff and producers.

The word “challenging” because people in the industry are so busy maneuvering to get the job done that they don’t have the time, or sometimes the interest, in devoting the time it takes to understand the issues and stay current.

Insurance Journal: What is an area that needs or even demands more education?

Zangwill-Infantino: I think the one area that needs the most attention is for insurance people to take the time to understand what their customers need and then design insurance programs for them that fit those needs.

Whether it is a business client or personal lines customer, to take the time to know what they need and provide it with the best carrier at a cost that makes sense. That is the major reason we designed the four designations, so that insurance staff could identify exposures and solutions.

Insurance Journal: How does teaching the subject of insurance differ from teaching other subjects?

Zangwill-Infantino: Not sure how to answer this other than there is no “textbook” per se that can really be used as a teaching source. It is all about individual company forms, individual client needs and tailoring solutions.

Insurance Journal: Do you think the insurance community is well-educated compared with other sectors?

Zangwill-Infantino: Because people in the insurance industry are mandated to be licensed, they have to take training before they can work in the industry and also have continuing education requirements. From that perspective, the mandatory training forces a higher level of education for the insurance industry.