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Risk management and insurance students visit highway safety institute and nation’s capital

BOONE—A 50-mph test crash of a Volkswagen Jetta and discussions with U.S. legislators provided Appalachian State University students with an in-depth look at the multi-faceted risk and insurance industry.

View larger imageRisk management and insurance majors from Appalachian State University visited the Vehicle Research Center in Virginia en route to the IABA legislative conference in Washington, D.C. While at the center, they witnessed a test crash of a 2013 Volkswagen Jetta. Pictured are, front row from left, Melissa Dicus, Morgan Rouse, Jason Capps, Zach Yllanes and Matt Frein. Pictured on the back row are Kim Hazelbaker from the Highway Loss Data Institute, Grant Jared and Dr. David Marlett.View larger imageStudents from the Department of Finance, Banking and Insurance take time out from attending the IABA legislative conference in Washington, D.C., to pose for a photo in front of the Library of Congress.

Student majors within Appalachian’s Department of Finance, Banking and Insurance visited the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Vehicle Research Center in Ruckersville, Va. in April, where they witnessed the test car crash and heard a historical overview of highway safety and automobile crash testing from Kim Hazelbaker, senior vice president of the Highway Loss Data Institute.

“The students were very engaged and asked lots of good questions. The VRC is an excellent example of the positive things done by the insurance industry to save lives and reduces injuries in car crashes,” said Kim Hazelbaker, senior vice president of the institute.

“The tour and presentation covered not only insurance issues, but also provide a lesson on physics, regulation and law. Witnessing the actual test crash test firsthand was a memorable experience,” said Dr. David Marlett, chair of Appalachian’s Department of Finance, Banking and Insurance.

After visiting the institute, the students and Marlett attended the Independent Agents and Brokers Association Legislative Conference in Washington D.C.

During the conference, the students learned about issues before Congress that are critical to the insurance industry, including the Affordable Care Act, Terrorism Risk and Insurance Act (TRIA) and the National Flood Insurance Program. Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia) spoke to the group about fiscal issues.

Students also accompanied independent agents from North Carolina during their visits to members of Congress.

“The D.C. trip was a great experience to network with industry professionals and some of our representatives,” said junior Jason Capps from Appalachian.

The visit to Capitol Hill gave me a greater respect for what the independent agents are doing in order to protect their industry from restrictive legislation. I was also impressed with the hospitality of the agents and their willingness to interact with the students from the N.C. universities,” he said.

During their last day in Washington, the students heard a panel session that included Fox News analysts Dana Perino and Juan Williams as they debated terrorism insurance, health care and the national political climate.

“The legislative conference was full of great experiences and exciting events,” said Grant Jared, a risk management and insurance major from Appalachian. “Whether it was meeting with members of Congress or watching political roundtables, there was always something to take away. This trip showed me the vast opportunities within the risk management and insurance field and made me even more excited to graduate and get right to work.”

The travel opportunity was made possible by financial support from the Independent Agents of North Carolina.

“I really liked the opportunities I had to meet with all the different independent agents. Because this is the field I one day hope to work in, I found it extremely beneficial to not only practice networking with these agents but to be able to get a feel for what they do on an everyday basis,” said Appalachian junior Matt Frein. “I came away from this trip feeling more confident than ever that this is the industry I one day want to work in.”