Donna Galer, Author at Insurance Thought Leadership



Donna Galer

Donna Galer

Donna Galer is a consultant, author and lecturer. Galer is the author of two top selling ERM books, “Enterprise Risk Management – Straight To The Point” and “Enterprise Risk Management – Straight To The Value.” She is also a senior adviser for Hanover Stone Solutions.

She served as the chairwoman of the Spencer Educational Foundation from 2006-2010, following retirement from Zurich Insurance. This foundation awards scholarships to students studying risk management and insurance. She held a number of positions at Zurich from 1989 to 2006. Her last was chief administrative officer for Zurich’s world-wide general insurance business ($36 billion gross written premium, or GWP), with responsibility for strategic planning, among other areas.

She began her insurance career at Crum & Forster Insurance after a brief time at JPMorgan Chase (Chase Manhattan).

She has served on numerous industry and academic boards, published many articles on ERM and strategy and was named among the Top 100 Insurance Women by Business Insurance in 2000.

Recent Articles by Donna Galer

The Human Risks in Insurer/Broker M&A

Insurers, brokers and all businesses, for that matter, already know there will be people issues to deal with during and post any merger or acquisition. These issues pose real risks for companies, yet they are not always identified or addressed. With an uptick in M&A in the industry, it is timely to consider some of the most […]

Transformation of the Risk Landscape

There is little doubt that the risk landscape has changed in the past few years. Natural catastrophes are increasing in number and severity, low probability risks are coming to fruition, higher probability risks (such as cyber) are looming larger and new risks are emerging. Here are some of the ways insurers can address the changing risk landscape. […]

ERM Shows Its Worth in Pandemic

Although some say COVID-19 is a black swan event, it really is not. Pandemics have occurred in the recent as well as the remote past. A clearly articulated description of pandemic risk can be found in the World Economic Forum’s, The Global Risks Report 2019. “The spread of infectious disease” was among the top 10 risks […]

Key Indicators of Weak ERM Programs

Almost every insurer has an official list of risks, often referred to as a risk register. Maintaining a risk register is a basic step in managing risks, following risk identification, prioritization, assignment of risk owners and creation of mitigation plans.  One problem with many risk registers is that they are filled with generic risks. Although […]

Risk Culture Revisited: A Case In Point

True, a great deal has been written about the importance of inculcating a positive risk culture if an organization is serious about managing its enterprise risk. Yet, when it comes to discussions about organizational culture, many executives’ eyes glaze over because the topic is too nebulous or because they have no idea how to influence […]

Top Emerging Risks for Insurers

Over the past two decades, enterprise risk management (ERM) has evolved from a novel concept to an accepted and mature business practice. As such, insurers have significantly improved their identification and mitigation of risks, especially in the areas of underwriting aggregation, capital inefficiencies, dominance of legacy systems and others. Certain emerging risk areas are definitely […]

Formula for Creating a Positive Risk Culture

The insurance industry is all about understanding and taking risk prudently. In other words, it is about assuming risk from individuals or organizations for the right return. Thus, it makes sense that insurers should be excellent at managing their own strategic, financial and operational risk. But is that always the case? Regulators and rating agencies […]

4 Keys on Cyber-Risk Accumulation

As the sale of cyber policies grows and other types of policies are extended to include cyber coverage, the industry is taking on a massive amount of new risk. Although it is true that auto, workers compensation, environmental policies and so many others were all new offerings at one time, there are some things about […]

Is There Risk in Embracing Insurtech?

As insurers rush headlong into the digital scramble, they should keep in mind the proverbial iceberg. Not all the risks involved are strictly tied to the innovation itself. Certain ones are below the water level. Insurers actively participating in the digital revolution have done so in a variety of ways: 1) innovation labs, 2) insurtech […]

Next Generation of Insurance Services

Insurers have not been noted for offering innovative services or for the quality of the product and service they do offer. Contrary to this general perception, insurers have, indeed, consistently innovated new service offerings, especially in the personal insurance space. This would include everything from on-line quoting to competitive rate comparisons, from 24-hour call centers […]

New Risks Coming From Innovation

The triggers that have induced the insurance industry to innovate have dramatically changed in this millennium. Up until the 21st century, little innovation occurred, because insurers were looking to create products for emerging risks or underinsured risks. Innovation occurred most often as a reaction to claims made by policyholders and their lawyers for losses that […]

An Underestimated Source of Risk

When directors or CEOs or senior managers think about risk, they generally envision risks associated with the company’s finances, manufacturing, data, supply chain and customers. Human resource risk is often underappreciated, and that can be a serious misjudgment. Recent events, lawsuits and settlements prove this point. It is true that the risk associated with talent […]

Moving Past ERM: New Focus Is ERRM

No, the title does not have a typo. ERRM refers to Enterprise Risk and Resiliency Management. And, no, it is not necessarily new. When ERM is practiced in a mature and robust fashion, it should add to an organization’s resiliency. Resilience refers to both the ability to rebound after a loss has occurred due to […]

How to Measure the Value of ERM

When the question of whether ERM is a success or failure comes up, it raises a further question: Why aren’t companies doing a better job of measuring the value it generates? The reasons that the value of ERM is not quantified by companies include: It is extremely hard to know when a loss did not […]

3 Criticisms of ERM: Justified?

A large retailer gets hacked, and customer data is taken, which costs millions in expense and lost revenues. A product recall is perceived to be badly handled, which tarnishes a manufacturer’s reputation and seriously erodes revenue, as well as margins. An acquisition fails to produce the expected profit lift and hurts a technology company’s share […]

3 Keys to Achieving Sound Governance

Of the many definitions of governance, the simplest ones tend to have the most clarity. For the purpose of this piece, governance is a set of processes that enable an organization to operate in a fashion consistent with its goals and values and the reasonable expectations of those with vested interests in its success, such […]

10 Questions Boards Should Be Asking on Risk Management

Although most boards of directors are aware of risk and the need to manage it, many board members do not actually know much about risk management or how to oversee it. This article reviews a list of questions that may help board members execute their mandate. The list is not comprehensive but is illustrative of […]

3 Reasons Why Risks Are Mismanaged

ERM can bring great benefits. By managing risk, it helps to minimize loss as well as maximize strategic profitability, optimize opportunities and enhance culture and reputation. Thus, when a loss occurs in a company that has been practicing ERM, the reaction is to be disappointed in ERM as a practice or to blame the ERM leader […]

What Insurers Can Teach Others on ERM

The risk management practices of insurance companies have been scrutinized by rating agencies, regulators, analysts and others for years because insurers are financial institutions that deal with high levels of risk that, improperly managed, could not only hurt their creditworthiness but damage the financial well-being of their customers. As a result of this scrutiny, insurers […]

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