Bart Catmull Answers the Higher Call

Bart Catmull was the chief operations officer (COO) of Sagicor Life Insurance Company for nine years, before becoming its president three years ago. He deals with death on a daily basis. The company’s mission is to help policy holders’ loved ones pick up the pieces and continue on once the inevitable happens—a cause he considers to be a higher calling.

Bart Catmull, Sagicor Life Insurance
Bart Catmull, Sagicor Life Insurance

“I began to truly appreciate what we do when I had a good friend of mine pass away unexpectedly and he left behind a wife and five kids with basically nothing,” Catmull says. “Then their world was flipped upside down.”

In the insurance industry, sometimes this higher call goes unanswered. Catmull  acknowledges that there is a tendency to look at everything as claims and policy numbers, while ignoring that the claimant is going through a difficult time, because the person they are calling about is someone they had a deep, personal connection with. Since assuming his current duties at Sagicor, Catmull has helped the company to buck this trend and truly help those claimants navigate through the insurance industry by utilizing a personalized approach.

At Sagicor, that begins with understanding why they do what they do. “Everybody that we talk with is somebody’s friend or family member,” Catmull says. “It’s in the company’s DNA, and that’s what I wanted to instill in all our employees.” As president and COO, Catmull circulates monthly messages to his employees reinforcing Sagicor’s goals and values. More importantly, he says, “I have to live and breathe it.” And he does—spending most of his time being an advocate for the company, talking to employees, and setting an example.

He believes what when Sagicor’s employees view their clients as family, friends, and neighbors, they can personalize their services and provide better assistance that aligns with their mission of helping people. “The other day, one of our managers was dealing with a policyholder who had an issue, and he was really frazzled and clearly going through a lot,” Catmull says. “Normally company policy is to not accept faxed signatures, but based on this particular individual’s situation, we allowed it.”

Catmull is obviously aware that Sagicor cannot always afford to make exceptions such as this, especially with increased legal regulations throughout the industry. Yet, he recognizes that each day employees are presented with a choice: do they place their emphasis on how they can maximize profits, or on how they treat their customers? This occurs at every level of the business, he says, from product development and pricing, to accounting and customer service. Within the confines of the law and responsible judgment, he encourages the latter—a type of personalized care and service that he hopes can permeate every facet of Sagicor’s operations. And permeate it has.

Not only do Sagicor employees strive to make a positive difference in the lives of their claimants, but they do so for the greater community as well. By getting involved in service efforts, like at the local children’s hospital, they hope to reach as many of their neighbors as they can. “We’re trying to bless the lives of the people in our communities, not just with our service, but with how our employees act,” Catmull says.

As president and COO, Catmull leads by example and sees it as his responsibility to ensure that Sagicor accomplishes its personalized mission. “On a daily basis I meet with employees, independent agents, decision makers within the community—civic leaders and corporate leaders—to make sure everything we do is in line with our goal of helping family, friends, and neighbors,” he says.

This approach to life insurance, Catmull believes, is beneficial to Sagicor’s operations as well. Already having grown from being valued at $500 million in assets to its current $1.2 billion, Sagicor is expected to double its value over the next five years. In 2014, this growth helped the company implement an automated underwriting life insurance policy and develop products around this platform that take advantage of today’s technological capabilities. Since then, Sagicor has developed three products and expects to roll out two more by next year.