Canadian Underwriter

Crawford exec John Sharoun reflects on his 49-year-long insurance journey

May 18, 2022   by Alyssa DiSabatino

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After a 49-year-long tenure in the insurance industry, John Sharoun, executive general adjuster and senior consultant at Crawford and Company Canada, is retiring on June 30, 2022.  

Sharoun fell into the industry between finishing school and looking for a career. After returning home from a backpacking trip across Europe, he bought a vehicle and needed insurance. His broker at the time asked him what he wanted to do with his career.

“I don’t know,” Sharoun replied, “looking for a job.” Upon getting his insurance quote, his broker scheduled Sharoun for an interview at Hartford Insurance the next day. “The rest is history,” Sharoun says.  

After a career in the P&C industry that spans almost five decades, Sharoun has seen some notable changes to the claims industry, including advances in technology and customer service. But in some aspects, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

“[But] one thing that has never changed — and I don’t think will ever change — is, at the end of the day, claims is still a people business,” he says. “A claim is never a pleasant thing to have to endure, whether it’s a car accident, or whether it’s a home fire or something like that. It’s a very traumatic time in the policyholder’s life.

“Our role, really, is to restore life back to normal, as much as possible, within the confines of the insurance policy,” he says. “There’s a lot of empathy…and guidance and those kinds of things that take place in the claims process.”  

Technological advancement has been, perhaps expectedly, among the biggest changes Sharoun has seen throughout his time in the industry. 

“Technology has been the enabler to shorten the process and to make things easier, particularly in the way of communicating,” he says, whether it be communication with the policyholder or other stakeholders in the claims process.  

The industry’s focus on customer experience has also seen notable changes, he observes.  

“When I first started, I don’t think many insurers believed that claims was the product,” he says. “I think that many of them thought claims was an afterthought.

“In those days, it was very much a broker-dominated distribution system. Most insurers focused on the broker as the customer, as opposed to the ultimate consumer as the customer.”

Today, however, there’s a tremendous focus on the customer’s journey through the claims process, Sharoun says, and technology has played a large part in making the process easier.  

Regarding recruitment, Sharoun also notices a trend in those who are now entering the industry. “The young people that are entering the industry today…they’re coming to the industry much more well-educated than we did in those days,” he observes. 

A mentor to many, Sharoun notes a high level of business awareness from young insurance professionals. 

“I think there’s a lot of bright young people in our industry and we should be proud that we’ve been able to attract them,” he says. “But we should also be proud of providing them with a landscape in which they can continue to be innovative, and they can continue to change the process for the better.”  

Although a 49-year career in the P&C industry is “probably not going to happen as much as it would’ve in my day,” Sharoun recognizes people in the industry now have an opportunity to migrate between departments and roles within the industry more often, and learn the business more holistically.  

Between underwriting, loss control, claims, marketing or sales and more, “anybody that is coming into the business today would have the ability to explore the totality of the insurance business and experience the entire product, understand it,” before deciding on a career path, he says.  

“Claims doesn’t need to be the end destination; it can be just part of the journey.”  

See also: Right Place, Right Time