PLUS would like to congratulate Diane Parker on her retirement and thank her for her many years of membership and involvement in the organization.
Diane Parker recently retired from her position as Vice President of the North American Claims Group at Allied World Insurance Company. She has extensive experience with a wide range of Professional Liability claims, including Directors & Officers Liability, Transactional Insurance, healthcare, financial institution, employment, and fiduciary liability claims. She spoke and wrote frequently on D&O and Transactional Insurance issues and has been an active member of PLUS since 1998. She is a Texas licensed attorney and does consulting work in insurance while being a full-time writer.
What drew you to a career in the professional liability industry?
It was unplanned! After law school I went to work for a law firm, expecting to do various kinds of civil litigation. To my surprise I discovered that a lot of their work was insurance related, which probably would have turned me off, but it actually turned out to be so fascinating that I’ve never wanted to leave that field. I really found it to be a wonderful career that I probably never would have ventured into deliberately.
When did you first become a member of PLUS?
I first became a member of PLUS at my first insurance job. I worked for this law firm for a little while and decided I wanted to move to an in-house position. I went to work for one of our clients, which was a small insurance company then called Executive Risk, and Executive Risk was a big sponsor of PLUS—that’s really how I first became involved.
Early on, it was a way for me to become better educated about insurance. This was a relatively new field for me, so at the outset of my career that was the primary advantage of PLUS—it gave me a chance to learn about my specific field of insurance, which at the time was Directors and Officers liability, and also get a broader view of the industry as a whole that I never would have gotten otherwise.
Favorite vacation spot: Greece. It is so beautiful, and has so much history and wonderful people.
What was your favorite part about being a member of PLUS?
Early in my career the biggest thing I got out of PLUS was just educational, but when I began to work on committees, taking leadership roles and all that involves, is when I really began to develop relationships with people. I think that’s important to give back at some point in your career. You should be the one giving back, but the truth is, every time you try to give back, you find that you are the one getting the most out of it.
Was there a specific PLUS committee that you served on that you really enjoyed or had a great impact?
There were two. For several years I served on the content committee for the PLUS Conference. That was fantastic—I met so many great people, and because we were developing topics for the conference, I got to learn so much about what’s going on in the industry.
The other thing that I did for a number of years was serve on the steering committee for the Texas Chapter, and again, it gave me a chance get to know a lot of people that I ordinarily wouldn’t have had much contact with, so that was really rewarding.
What advice can you give to young professionals just starting out in the field?
I think one of the most important things that young people should do is—and this is how PLUS can be so helpful—to spend some time getting to know people outside of their own companies or firms. I didn’t realize that for a long time myself. I was kind of a worker bee; I kept my head down, I did my job. I certainly got to know people within my own company, but when I began getting more involved in PLUS and developing good relationships with people outside my own company, not only was it helpful to my career in a practical way, but it made my career so much more fun and enjoyable. Now I have all these relationships with people all across the country, in different parts of the professional liability world.
You were on the board for Empowering Women as Leaders for many years. Could you talk a little bit about the organization and what it means to you?
Empowering Women as Leaders is a Dallas-based nonprofit, and the mission of the organization is to raise money for college scholarships for nontraditionally aged women students. It was founded by a woman who got married at a very early age, and when her marriage ended after a few years, her parents offered to support her going back to college in her mid-20s. She felt so profoundly grateful that she had parents to give her that second chance, so she founded this organization because she knew that for people who started going in one direction then decided in their mid-20s or later to go to college, there’s less scholarship money available. Often these people have other obligations; they may have children to support, and a lot of reasons why it’s difficult for them to make that shift at that age. So that’s really the purpose of the organization, to provide support for women who, for whatever reason, didn’t start college at a traditional age.
Another thing that’s nice about the organization is that it’s business women who run it and serve on the board. It’s not just about raising scholarships either—there’s a lot of mentoring provided to scholarship recipients, and it’s really designed to support these women as they not only go through college but launch themselves into their own careers.
Last book you read: I’m reading Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead trilogy, which is amazing—I can’t recommend it highly enough.
What are you currently working on after retiring?
I’m working on a novel—it’s something that I had wanted to do for a long time. I had started and worked on it at different points in time, and I just reached the point where I decided I needed big blocks of time and the mental space to really get into it. I’m really excited about it.
What are you most proud of as you look back on your career?
What I’m most proud of is the relationships with people that I developed and maintained over time. And not only with people who were friends—I worked in claims, and when you work in claims there are people who are not happy with what you’re doing or how you’re doing it. I think one of the things that I’m most proud of are the challenging relationships that I had— or, I should say, good relationships that I had with people under difficult circumstances. Some of those were challenging, but I feel good about the way that I worked through those. It’s important to me to always try to treat people as human beings and treat them respectfully.
DIANE PARKER’S WORK HISTORY:
- 1991-1992: Judicial Law Clerk to Hon. Wendell P. Gardner, Jr. at Superior Court of the District of Columbia
- 1992-1994: Attorney at Ross, Dixon & Masback
- 1995-1999 Claim Attorney/Manager, Executive Risk
- 1999-2009: Assistant Vice President, Specialty Claims at Chubb Group of Insurance Companies
- 2009-2014: Assistant Vice President, Professional Liability Claims at Allied World Assurance Company
- 2014-2018: Vice President, North American Claims Group at Allied World Insurance Company