Carrier Executives
Panel Discussion

Hear from company executives on how the insurance industry was affected by the pandemic and how their companies are responding. The executives will also discuss changes in the way agencies do business as a result of COVID-19 and the rapid transition to remote and hybrid work environments.

IIA of IL Chairman of the Board, George Daly, will moderate the discussion with the following carrier executives:

Dan Connell

Chairman of the Board & Chief Executive Officer
Pekin Insurance

Dan Connell, CPA, serves as Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer for Pekin Insurance which includes both property/casualty and life companies. Connell joined Pekin Insurance as Controller in 1998, and subsequently held the following positions: Vice President - Treasurer, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, and Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. Connell has also served as Corporate Secretary from February 2005 through February 2019 and has served on the Pekin Insurance Board of Directors since 2006. Connell has 33 years of experience within the property, casualty, life, and health insurance industries. He earned the CPA designation and began his career with the accounting firm, KPMG LLP, in Chicago, Illinois, and Omaha, Nebraska. 

Jim Schwalen

Senior Vice-President of Marketing & Personal Lines
West Bend Mutual Insurance

Jim has over 30 years of experience in the insurance industry. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh with a degree in business administration and also obtained a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Lakeland College.   

Jim began his career in underwriting then went on to responsibilities on the technology side of the business. His current role is Sr. Vice President of Personal Lines and Marketing where his responsibilities include oversight of the personal lines profit center, corporate marketing, service center, customer experience and corporate strategic planning.

Jim enjoys reading, guitar playing and woodworking and serves on various community nonprofit boards. 

Rich Meuret

Regional Field Executive for the Midwest
Liberty Mutual

Rich Meuret recently assumed the role as Field Executive for the Midwest, where he will oversee growth and profit for the nine-state region – helping more than 3,500+ independent agent & broker partners grow their businesses. Meuret is based out of the regional office in Indianapolis, IN.     

Meuret has over 25 year of experience in the insurance industry, holding a variety of executive leadership positions. Over 14 years of his experience has been with Liberty Mutual, where he held roles as chief actuary of America First Insurance, vice president of field operations for Agency Markets, regional general manager for Safeco Insurance and regional president of Liberty Mutual Business Insurance, Southwest Region. Meuret spent the earlier years of his career in various actuarial and product positions.   

Meuret is a proud Husker, receiving a bachelor’s degree in actuarial science from the University of Nebraska. He also holds a Fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society accreditation. Meuret is passionate about serving in local and international organizations making regular trips to help families in Mexico through Engage Hope Ministries. Everything aside, he is most grateful for the incredible support of his wife Debi and there three wonderful daughters.  

Jamie Whisnant

Executive Vice President
Auto-Owners Insurance

Jamie began his career with Auto-Owners in 1996, after graduating from Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina.  He has held many claims and marketing positions over his 24+ year career.  Jamie has been in a leadership role for over 17 years in both divisions, and has been an officer of Auto-Owners since 2010 including Regional Vice President in Georgia, Assistant Vice President of Claims, Vice President of Claims, and Senior Vice President of Claims.  Jamie was named Executive Vice President, and to the Board of Directors, at Auto-Owners Insurance Group in February 2021.   


Jamie resides in East Lansing, Michigan with his wife and their 2 teenagers.  In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family, traveling, and watching college sports.