Meet Mari Lunsford
My career in insurance began in personal lines auto claims. Like many of my current and former colleagues, I fell into insurance quite by chance, when I responded to an ad for a job in claims. I’m so glad I did, as I was hooked almost immediately. I felt I was helping our insureds respond to unhappy and sometimes catastrophic events in their lives that caused them to file claims and I could be there to help guide them through it. I loved the fast pace of the claims environment from the start.
Cultivating a Work Ethic
By way of background, my parents immigrated to the United States from Mexico to provide my siblings and me with the opportunity to live the American dream. A better life. As a first-generation American growing up in a large family, I had to learn how to listen, to respond in many situations with empathy, to be flexible, be a “team player” and be a problem solver. I saw firsthand what a strong work ethic looked like and it was both challenging and wonderful.
Making use of that work ethic, I held a variety of roles while working in personal lines claims including bodily injury specialist, special investigations examiner and litigation specialist. After a time, I chose to broaden my knowledge and experience, so I moved into commercial lines claims, where I worked for a couple of large national insurance companies, gaining experience in a variety of roles, including construction defect claims specialist and manager of a liability claims team in national accounts.
At one point, a former manager introduced me to the world of a Third-Party Claim Administrator (TPA). While working there, life interfered and I experienced a personal tragedy.
Rebooting Her Career
I paused my career and went back to school, majoring in organizational communication. I also earned a green belt in six sigma, a methodology for making business processes more effective and efficient.
When the time was right, I jumped back into insurance and it was my role as Account Manager at the TPA that connected me to Arch, leading to me to join Arch in 2011 as a Claims Account Manager (CAM) in our National Accounts Division.
In my role as a CAM, I saw immediately how Arch was different. We worked closely with our underwriting partners, which had not been my experience at prior companies. We were passionate about the voice of the customer even back then, but didn’t call it that yet. We worked as a team, and were committed to evolving with the changing needs of the business as we grew. And I loved it.
Life Goes On
A few years ago, life interfered again, which required me to leave Arch for a time. Throughout my career, I had the opportunity to work for other organizations which, frankly, didn’t have Arch’s culture. I knew working at Arch was unique and special. The people at Arch cared about what they did, their work and each other. When I was ready to return to the workforce, I was fortunate enough to rejoin Arch in National Accounts Claims as a Liability Director. It was an exciting new role and allowed me to see things from a broader perspective and take the idea of teamwork to a whole new level.
Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to hold the position of Vice President, Major Case Unit, where we managed high exposure TPA claims. In my current role, I am Vice President in the Technical Claims Office, where our team has responsibility for claims across the United States and Canada. I am proud to be part of the Technical Claims Office, where technical excellence, continuous improvement and identifying solutions that lead to improved outcomes are top of mind each and every day.
I was, and am, blessed to be a first-generation American.
Exciting Times Ahead
It is an exciting time at Arch as we are in an evolutionary period of growth. I get energized thinking about the possibilities and the journey ahead! I’m committed to continuous improvement efforts even on the smallest things, as those too can compound and help us meet the demands of our growing organization and changing business needs.
“I’m proud to see more women in leadership roles, but I think we can do more.”
Anyone who is passionate about what they do and wants to make a difference would thrive at Arch, where the work is both interesting and challenging; those who seek growth, stability and a great career in Insurance should join our team! By thinking creatively, exploring what is possible and working in collaboration, we can forge a new path and impact the entire claims organization. It’s pretty awesome to think about.
When I think of excellence in customer service, I think of Amazon. Their business model has changed our culture. They recognized what customers wanted, which was an easy way to purchase whatever they needed 24 hours a day and have it delivered in timeframes not seen before. They recognized the value of the online shopping experience and made it unbelievably easy.
In focusing on service, in our own way, and by thinking progressively and pushing boundaries, Arch, like Amazon, can change the business of insurance. I’m not satisfied with the status quo and always ask, “Can we do better, and if so, how?” In my team specifically, we are building something new. We are combining technical excellence with process improvements that we believe improve service and provide better experiences to our customers, both internal and external.
Improving Over Time
Continuous improvement also means looking at the diversity of our colleagues. I’m proud of the work Arch is doing in the area of diversity and inclusion (D&I). Arch has highlighted the importance of D&I in various ways, such as providing training and launching a number of Employee Networks, which is great. I’m proud to see more women in leadership roles, but I think we can do more, including ensuring diversity exists at the highest levels within Arch, which will benefit both the organization and the industry as a whole.
The promise of Pursuing Better Together has always existed at Arch. What we’ve done with Pursuing Better Together is that we have given it a name and identified specific qualities and values we are all committed to and can be reminded of daily. Our team is mindful each and every day of these values, we talk about them and live them each time we engage by remaining customer focused, sharing insights, challenging the status quo, seeking to drive innovation and improving process and outcomes across the claims organization, which benefits all our customers.
VP, Technical Claims
Arch Insurance | San Francisco, Calif.