Chloe Williams

Catastrophe Risk Analyst , Gallagher Re

Chloe works in Gallagher Re’s Ipswich office, but we catch up with her at the coffee shop next to Lloyd’s on a day she is down working with her London team.

What did you want to be at school?

I was not all too sure, but I was definitely interested in environmental sciences and that’s why I chose my degree in Oceanography.  I felt if I followed studies that I knew I was passionate about, then I would be able to narrow down a career pathway over time. I was based at the National Oceanography centre in Southampton and we studied everything from large scale ocean processes and sustainability of fisheries to our changing climate.

Why did you choose a career in the London Insurance Market?

I was very interested in the environment and sustainability but I knew that I wanted a commercial career rather than a career in scientific research. A family friend recommended catastrophe modelling in the London market.  It seemed a perfect combination – working in the City but still being involved in environmental science.

I applied for several firms and was lucky enough to be offered a job in Gallagher Re’s Ipswich office which was close to home but which supports the global reinsurance placements in London.

What does the job of a catastrophe risk analyst entail?

I work with the reinsurance broking team whose role is to help insurance companies understand the potential financial impact of claims which result from natural catastrophes such as windstorm, flood and earthquake.

For instance, we might have an Italian insurance company who insures the risk of property damage to buildings throughout Italy.  They will want to understand what the impact on their profitability and solvency position will be if there is a flood in a certain area of Italy.

Once I have all their data on all the buildings they have insured, I will analyse it to see how and why it is changed since the year before – perhaps they are insuring more buildings over four stories or more buildings in a vulnerable area.  Once I have “cleaned the data” (ensured it is correct and in the right format) we model it using catastrophe models (statistical models based on historic weather data).  The output of the models will show us whether, for instance, the losses the insurer might expect from a flood in a specific area have increased or decreased since the year before.

I will then explain to the insurance company why their exposure has changed.  If they believe they have too much exposure to a flood in that area they may change their future underwriting strategy e.g. insure fewer buildings or charge higher premiums.  Our reinsurance broking team will also use the information to design and place the best reinsurance programme for them. Other catastrophe risk analysts in the team will model the impact of other weather risks, earthquake and terrorism in all parts of the world.  We also have a research team which researches the potential impact of climate change.

 What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love doing the analysis and what we call “bridging” – explaining to our client why their exposure is changing then discussing with them and our reinsurance broking team what business decisions they can make following my analysis. I have also been lucky enough to be part of Gallagher’s Reinsurance Achievement Programme which means I have had the opportunity to work closely with more experienced colleagues to learn more about how to interact with our clients and their reinsurers.

What skills do you need to do your job?

To get a job in catastrophe risk analysis you usually need to have a related degree such as Geography, Geology, Meteorology and Oceanography although I do know some reinsurance brokers who have ended up as catastrophe modellers and indeed some catastrophe modellers who have become reinsurance brokers.

You need to be comfortable managing data and systems (including some coding) but you also need to work well with people whether it’s the other catastrophe modellers, the reinsurance broking team or our clients.

Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to join the London Market?

Well firstly, realise that it’s a great opportunity if you want to combine your interest in environmental science with a job in the City.

Once you have a job, dive in with confidence.  Ask lots of questions so you can improve and learn.  Study for your CII examinations as that gives you an understanding of how the insurance and reinsurance market works and helps you work more effectively with the broking team.

Fun fact about you

I love scuba diving – another reason why I am passionate about understanding and protecting the oceans.