March is Women in Insurance Month

Ruth_SalzmanAs the first chief actuary of the Insurance Information Institute – an organization designed to help everyone understand insurance better – I was keenly interested in having I.I.I.’s Pinterest board celebrating  Women in Insurance Month include perhaps the most famous female actuary, Ruth Salzmann, FCAS.

Ms. Salzmann’s actuarial career began in the 1940s. She was the first female officer at Insurance Company of North America (INA), a company whose founding preceded the American Revolution. INA was the forerunner of CIGNA, and its property-casualty operations live on at Ace Insurance.

In Ms. Salzmann’s early days, the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) held its meetings at Union Leagues, some of which lacked any accommodations for ladies, even a restroom. She became the first female president of any North American actuarial association when she took the helm of the CAS in 1978. Read more about Ms. Salzmann’s illustrious actuarial career in the feature article in the May 2005 issue of the Actuarial Review.

Ms. Salzmann may be best known for the Salzmann curves – mathematical tables that for more than 40 years served as the basis for pricing property insurance. Her 1963 paper, “Rating by Layer of Insurance,” remained required reading for actuarial students into the 21st century.

Any celebration of historical women in insurance should certainly include Ruth Salzmann. But in order to include her on I.I.I.’s Pinterest board, we first had to have a webpage and photo to pin on our board, hence this blog post.


About Jim Lynch

Jim Lynch, FCAS is chief actuary and director of research and information services for the Insurance Information Institute.

4 Responses to March is Women in Insurance Month

  1. avatar Pat Teufel says:

    Ruth has served as a role model for me — and thousands of other women — for my entire career. She was President of the Casualty Actuarial Society when I became a Fellow in 1979. Ruth broke the gender barrier for the actuarial profession, and I am proud to acknowledge that we boast a number of highly qualified women in leadership positions of our Society. Thank you, Ruth, for all that you have done for me, for the CAS and for the actuarial profession!

  2. avatar Alice Gannon says:

    Ruth was also a role model and inspiration for me. Not only did she have a long and outstanding career working as a company actuary and serving selflessly in leadership positions in the CAS, she continued to add value to the profession long after her retirement. I remember seeing a number of insightful comments from her on exposure drafts of proposed standards of practice. All actuaries owe her a debt of gratitude, both men and women.

    • avatar Joanne Spalla says:

      I agree whole-heartedly. Ruth opened doors for women leaders in the insurance industry in general and the actuarial profession in particular. Having spent a large portion of my career in loss reserving, I was particularly influenced by her contributions in this area, particularly her book on Liabilities for Loss and Loss Adjustment Expense. It was a thrill for me as a young actuary when I had the chance to ride an elevator with her at a Casualty Loss Reserve Seminar.

  3. avatar Jerry Tuttle says:

    I think Ruth goes beyond historical women in insurance. I would include her in historical women in math. I only met her once, at a CAS meeting when I was a young actuary, and I remember her generously spending a little time with me who was a nobody to her. I hope someone writes the definitive biography of her.

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