HSI Instructor Bill Senecal
Bill Senecal teaches a variety of in-person and virtual Property and Casualty programs for Hartford School of Insurance (HSI), including Commercial Lines Producer School, Commercial Lines CSR/Account Manager School, and Virtual Commercial Line School.
A more than 30-year veteran of the insurance industry, Senecal joined HSI in 2004. He previously held numerous roles at leading carriers including underwriter, underwriting manager, production manager, product change loss manager and more. His certifications include Certified Insurance Counselors (CIC) from the National Alliance for Insurance (NAI) and Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) from the Institute for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters.
One of the things he enjoys most about teaching at HSI is interacting with the mentors and students, and he encounters students of all career levels and experience.
“It used to be that 75% of students were right out of college,” said Senecal. “Now, only 33% are recent college grads. Another 33% have been in the agency but are now moving to commercial lines, and 33% are folks embarking on a second career.”
Giving Students the Tools to Succeed
The biggest change Senecal witnesses in a student going through the HSI program is confidence. While the information can be daunting in the beginning, students soon realize that they already know the logic and concepts.
“You can really see it during role playing workshops in the first week,” said Senecal. “As they start to prep in groups, you can see them start to gel and the confidence grows. The second week when they role play again, it’s like they are entirely different people.”
Senecal isn’t the only one teaching the students - others help in their development as well. For instance, local offices often send people in to talk with the students during the programs, and the students teach each other.
“It’s great to see the interaction between the students when we put them in groups,” said Senecal. “They really learn a lot from each other.”
He enjoys sending occasional notes to check in with former students and mentors, and has even witnessed HSI graduates progress in their careers and in turn mentor new students who enter HSI programs.
Staying on Top of His Game
Throughout the year, Senecal divides his time up between teaching (about 20 weeks a year spent in the classroom) and curriculum development, researching and re-sharpening. And while many underlying principles have stayed the same during the decade he has taught courses at HSI, new topics require him to stay abreast of the hot-button issues of the day.
“In some ways, the forms change but the principles stay the same,” said Senecal. “However, topics like data breach and cyber security are issues we didn’t talk about 5 years ago.”
Another current major point of focus is workers compensation, according to Senecal. With an aging workforce, outsourcing, and movement towards a service economy, issues like loss control are becoming more crucial.
Senecal trains throughout the year to stay on top of current issues in the industry. For example, CIC requires a yearly update, so he takes an annual 2.5-day class. He also takes ½ day courses on state advisory issues offered by The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI). Staying on top of ISO, state-level, and country-level hot-button issues in the industry keep him busy.
A self-described history nut, Senecal currently resides in Putnam, CT, where he lives with his family in a more than 200-year-old renovated farmhouse. Active in community politics, he once served as a two-term councilman for a small town in Ohio. He is also a toastmaster, which affords him the opportunity to talk about something other than insurance.
“You can’t talk insurance all the time,” said Senecal. “It really helps me re-sharpen and refocus.”