Gregor Vagg

attracted by catastrophe

Gregor describes his route into specialty insurance as “a bit random”. In his second year of studying Applied Maths at St Andrew’s, an ad for an internship as a “catastrophe risk modeller” caught his eye and, while not really understanding it, he thought it sounded “very cool”.

He got the internship at Willis Re, an insurance broker, and enjoyed both the work and the industry – although it was all done remotely because of the pandemic. “Essentially you are trying to work out what it is going to cost in terms of damage if there is some terrible natural disaster like a windstorm, flood, earthquake. We analyse the data on what happened in the past, add what we know now and then apply different scenarios. It all goes towards either deciding how homes and businesses can be protected”.

Much as he enjoyed what he did, he decided that he wanted to be more client facing so he moved to be a claims advocate at Gallagher Re, another broker. “When a client has a claim, that is the moment that insurance becomes important to them” explains Gregor. “I help across a whole range of cases and clients. What I love is that any big event, something you would read about in the news, I am more than likely to be involved; earthquake in Japan, ships being attacked in the Red Sea, we are helping people recover financially from what they have lost”.

Unlike being a broker or an underwriter who often specialise quite early, claims tends to be broader and give you a much wider overview of the whole market. Being a great claims advocate takes both technical skills and the ability to work with people. “Insurance is a contract and you need to know what it means, so there is a level of understanding involved so you can help the clients” says Gregor. “But as well as that, you have to build relationships: with the buyers, with the insurers who are taking the risk and with other experts in the market”. It’s the face to face interaction that Gregor thinks sets the London insurance market apart. “Right from the very beginning I have met buyers, networked with my peers in other firms and been to events. Not only is it quicker and more efficient to discuss things in person than ping emails back and forward, but it’s a lot more fun”.