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Martin J. Frappolli

Martin J. Frappolli


Insurance & Risk Management Thought Leader | Training & Development | Insurance Innovation | Keynote Speaker | Author | Insurtech | Research, Writing, & Editing | Align Your Organization with Stakeholders

Services for insurers and producers to help them understand how Insurtech affects the book of business and close knowledge gaps by aligning employees’ knowledge, skills, and attitudes with the mission.

Mr. Frappolli is a writer, trainer, and futurist for risk management and insurance education with a broad knowledge of insurance operations, technology, regulation, and soft skills. His areas of expertise include Instructional Writing │Insurtech Research │Employee Technical Training | IoT | Autonomous Cars | Blockchain | Cyber Risk | Data Management | Live and Virtual Presentations | Instructional Design | Distance Learning | Content Management Systems (CMS).

What attracted you to data management or IT, and why did you choose to pursue this career?

Like most liberal arts new college graduates who enter the insurance profession, I was attracted to the idea of having a regular paycheck. I landed a temporary job in the “Statistical” department of a large insurer in Philadelphia. I came for the money, but I stayed because the exposure to data served as an ideal intro to so many key insurer functions – underwriting, rating, claims, actuarial, and finance – with that essential link to IT.

What has been your greatest career accomplishment so far, and why has it been important to your career?

Well, I am tempted to cite my term as President of the Insurance Data Management Association, because that was the most fulfilling. But one thing stands out because it draws on my own experience in IT and data management as well as the knowledge of many amazing colleagues. I have seen that almost no one understands what blockchain means to the insurance business, including executives spending millions on it. So, I set out to first understand the technology and then to see where, if at all, it fits into risk management and insurance. I feel that my white paper on the topic (and my webinar this coming fall) has the information that almost every insurance executive still has not grasped. I am not a guru or visionary, I was simply optimally positioned to peel the onion on blockchain based on my experience in data management and as an educator in risk management. As the principal of Longhorn Knowledge Resources LLC, I feel that this kind of breakthrough is important for thought leadership in an industry that often has its head in the sand.

What are the two or three biggest challenges you face as a data management professional / CDO and how can we address them?

I have been directly or indirectly engaged in data management for a very long time, but the one constant challenge has been that too few people outside the data management profession understand or care about the value of data. So, education/awareness remains the top concern. No surprise that right behind it is data security. It is not that complicated. It is a risk management issue, yet so many organizations neglect the fundamentals. Even giant corporations often focus on damage control or “how can we insure that” instead of practicing basic risk mitigation. Data security is a concept closely tied to cyber risk. Cyber risk is scary and complicated, so decision makers are befuddled or (once again) hoping “it won’t happen here.” But less than 200 years ago, fire was a risk so big and scary that it was considered uninsurable. It became insurable after adoption of basic fire safety hygiene, like building codes, fire hydrants, etc. Today, we all practice good fire safety hygiene, and then buy fire insurance as the final layer of protection. We do not wait for the fire to start before we go buy an extinguisher. Data security and cyber security can be managed the same way, mitigate the risk by good cyber security hygiene habits, then buy insurance for that final layer.

How do you see data management / the role of the CDO / IT changing in the next 2 – 3 years?

What I would like to see and what I expect to see are a little different. I would like for people in the C-suites to stop reading tech magazine articles on airplanes and then trying to implement the latest hot idea. Master the fundamentals, and do not treat data management as an expense. What I expect to see in the next 2-3 years is slow gradual improvement and a growing appreciation for the value of data, but also a lot of short-term decision-making and continued miscommunication between the tech teams and the business executives. The silver lining is that no one is better able to bridge the IT/business communication gap than the data management professional.

Do you have any planned next steps for your career?

Well, I am less than one year into a major career transition, from being an employee to being an entrepreneur. I love answering to no one but my customers and partners. My challenge is that while I can wield a lifetime of experience in risk management and insurance writing, teaching, and presenting, I have very little marketing experience. But if I can figure out blockchain, marketing seems like a hill not too steep.

What is the single best piece of advice you have received in your data management / IT career so far?  Why has it been so important to you?

Great question. Early in my career, I made a mistake in a data filing to an external ratemaking bureau, and it resulted in a significant dollar fine for my employer. My boss was not happy, but he took a constructive approach. He required me to explain what went wrong, how I was going to fix it, and most importantly, what I was changing so that the same mistake would not happen again. It seems so simple, but I repeated this approach as a mantra to dozens of newbies over the years. It taught me to follow data controls, and to create them if needed.

Can you share something about yourself as a person that people wouldn’t know about you?

Folks that know me well are aware of my love for pizza ( and that I am always seeking out new food adventures. But early in my life, I was a picky eater. I lost a lot of weight when I went to college because I did not like the cafeteria food. But one day, I arrived at the cafeteria late, hungry, and tired. I can still see the cafeteria server in her pale blue uniform and hairnet, holding out a huge scoop of lima beans. Lima beans, yuck! But I was too weary to tell her (as I always did) “No thanks!”  Well, I ate those lima beans, and they were great! I realized at that moment that if lima beans could taste good, anything could. And truly, from that moment on, I have rarely found a new food that I didn’t like.

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