The Future of Insurance Podcast – Abel Travis

VP & Head of Fundamental Underwriters, AF Group

Season 3, Episode 1, June 7, 2022

Guest Bio

Abel Travis is currently the Vice President and Head of Fundamental Underwriters at AF Group, located in Lansing MI.  Abel Travis has deep subject matter expertise in the insurance Industry, with over 17 years of experience. Travis is an expert in innovation, designing new products and business models to drive growth and transformation. Travis has provided leadership and guidance in all aspects of the insurance industry from technology, underwriting, product management, innovation, strategy and product development.

Travis is an award winning, international keynote speaker at events including InsurTech Insights, InsurTech Connect, Dig In, InsurTech Rising, ACORD Conference, Society of Insurance Research, NAAIA Conference, Women in Insurance, and is a featured industry contributor to Reuters, The Economist, Carrier Management, Digital Insurance, Insurance CIO Magazine, etc. Travis has also contributed to numerous industry white papers including the most recently published “Reinsurance That Connects.”

Travis has a deep affinity for Insurance Innovation and seeing the proliferation of innovation change this Industry. He hosts the Insurance Innovators Unscripted podcast ( to provide and engage in thought leadership with #insurtech innovators, influencers, and executives in insurance. Travis serves as an advisor to regional insurtech startups, provides consultation for private equity firms investing in the insurance sector and mentor’s future industry leaders and innovators.

Travis has been the recipient of many industry awards, including the 40 under 40 from the WBJ, and a top 50 Executive Leader by DiversityMBA. He was named to Digital Insurance’s top Innovators to Watch, was named a Hot 100 by Insurance Business America, and was awarded the Diverse Leader of Change in Insurance recognition.

Travis earned an M.B.A. from Long Island University (Brookville, NY) and a B.A. in Finance from Clarkson University (Potsdam, NY).

Highlights from the Show

  • Abel runs Fundamental Underwriters, which is the diversification unit within AF Group to help bring non-correlated risk to complement the group’s Workers Comp business
  • Innovation isn’t just about new tools, but thinking about what the customer of the future will need from an experience and preferences standpoint, and then building things to speak to that
  • That means having the analytics tools to see the trends developing and then having ways to interact with prospects and insureds to deliver the insights from those trends.
  • Innovation, in Abel’s eyes, must be looked at holistically, including the business, its need and the business model.
  • To overcome the negative inertia for change, you need to see where people are on the journey and help them move forward
    • For Abel, that meant recognizing that people in the business didn’t necessarily know what InsurTech was when he joined, so he needed to find ways to expose them to new solutions and ideas that could support the business in achieving its long-term aspirations and vision
    • He launched something called InsurTech Day, where he brought in new solutions to do presentations and demos so people in the business could get exposure and understanding of new solutions available in the market
    • They did this in two tracks, one with the executive team to be sure the leadership was getting deep understanding and exposure to InsurTechs, and one for the broader organization to get exposure
  • Thinking about what the future looks like for the industry, Abel starts by taking insurance out of the equation, and just understanding what’s happening with the economy and the world more broadly, for example
    • Socioeconomic and geopolitical shifts
    • Economic and work-related shifts like the gig economy
  • Then he looks at what we need to enable to compete in that changed context, in terms of tools, distribution solutions, etc

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