A milestone in the insurance world was recently celebrated as W. Harold Petersen, RHU, DFP, an acknowledged leader in the industry celebrated his 60th year in the insurance industry and his 80th birthday. Friends, associates, and industry notables gathered at the Hyatt Valencia Hotel, Valencia, Calif., for a black tie gala including aquavit toasts and a Danish dinner under the theme of “Dancing With a Star.”
Mr. Petersen completed his Political Science curriculum at UCLA in 1948 and joined Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company as an Underwriter. He subsequently served as Policy Design and Approval Administrator and negotiated the first policies to be approved under the sweeping 1950 “Minimum Benefits Law of California.” For this accomplishment he was recognized by “Who’s Who in Insurance,” the youngest person ever listed in that publication. He was then appointed to create and manage the Special Risks and Association Group Department using Lloyd’s of London as a reinsurer.
Mr. Petersen abandoned corporate life to pursue a successful sales career. He was subsequently enticed to enter into a four year agreement with American United Life Insurance Company, to organize a disability division for that company. He next led a group in the formation of a new disability company, Underwriters National Assurance Company. In 1967, Mr. Petersen formed a marketing and management company that was the genesis of the professional underwriting firm that is known today as Petersen International Underwriters.
Mr. Petersen has written, produced, and taught a number of study courses for insurance agents and brokers, financial planners, and insurance company personnel. He is the author of several books on personal economics to include “Life Is Just a Cash Flow,” “The Tax Advantage Digest” and “Future Income as an Asset.” He founded the Advance Disability Insurance Underwriting Seminars at Purdue University, Florida State University, Michigan State University, Notre Dame, Tulane, and other established universities.
Throughout his career, Mr. Petersen has been actively involved in professional insurance associations. He served as the first Managing Director of the Disability Insurance Training Council, and served on the Contents and Techniques committee of the Life Underwriters Training Council. He has served on the local, state, and national boards of the National Association of Health Underwriters, and the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors. He served as Founding President of the International DI Society and was instrumental in getting this organization recognized as a qualifying star in the galaxy of professional insurance organizations including the Million Dollar Round Table.
W. Harold Petersen was the recipient of the Harold R. Gordon Memorial Award — Person of the Year 1985, by the National Association of Health Underwriters, the Will G. Farrell Award 2002, by the Los Angeles chapter of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, and the Lifetime Achievement Award by the International DI Society in 2005. The International DI Society subsequently renamed the Lifetime Achievement Award the “W. Harold Petersen Lifetime Achievement Award” in his honor.
Mr. Petersen is a principal of Petersen International Underwriters along with three sons, Michael B., Mark S., and Thomas R. Petersen. Also on staff are three grandsons whose names are well known to the many producers who do business with the firm. His enthusiasm for his life’s work is evident in his innovative approach to the insurance marketplace, and his inspirational efforts on behalf of the industry.