The toughest part about running an insurance agency? Making so many decisions — about staffing, sales, customer service, and more — says senior Darren Drolsbaugh. He is one of six Risk Management and Insurance (RMI) students who recently created an imaginary business to compete in a computer simulation sponsored by Selective Insurance. 

Drolsbaugh, along with Yazeed Al-Khatib, Franco Bippus, Jack Gray, Nevan Graves, and Elisha Spinosi, founded The Bison Agency, which faced off against rival imaginary agencies through four weeks of competition. Each week focused on a different aspect of starting an insurance agency, and forced students to consider how to stay profitable while juggling other demands.

It was an honor for Gallaudet to be selected to participate, says James H. Bruner, Executive Director of Gallaudet’s Maguire Academy of Risk Management and Insurance, who was impressed by the seven other schools involved: the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Appalachian State University, Middle Tennessee State University, Illinois State University, Le Moyne College, Temple University, and Indiana State University. “These are schools with established RMI programs that have been around for years,” he explains. “At Gallaudet, we’re the new kid on the block.”

The fact that The Bison Agency performed well, and even placed ahead of the team from Temple University, sends a signal to the insurance industry that they should keep an eye on Gallaudet students, he adds.

“I decided to take this opportunity because I knew there was something to learn,” Drolsbaugh says. “I’d never operated a business before.” He and his teammates worked together to set goals, which included a low employee turnover rate and high rates of customer satisfaction. Their strategy focused on prioritizing mid-sized accounts that could bring in enough money without frustrating their brokers.

Bruner was impressed that the team came up with the idea of reducing accounts receivable from 45 days to 30 days. That boosted the amount of cash they had on hand, which opened up the possibility of buying out another broker to increase their business. “As you go through this, you realize it’s all connected,” he says.

Selective Insurance has already asked Gallaudet to return to the competition next year.

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