Climate Change, Parametric Solutions and Employee Buy-in: How Katie McGrath Leads Swiss Re North America

Battling climate change and building an agile, connected workforce that serves its customers with vigor are priorities for Swiss Re’s Katie McGrath.
By: | November 14, 2022

Katie McGrath and her colleagues at Swiss Re Corporate Solutions are crystal clear on the biggest threat we face: climate change.

“Climate is the most pervasive threat we see, not only to the economy but also to the planet and society,” she said.

She cited increases of 5 to 7% annually in insured losses due to more intense storms, wildfires and other manifestations of a warming planet.

“When you start at a baseline of approximately $80 billion in losses for North America in 2021, certainly this is something that we’re going to have to track,” McGrath said.

Swiss Re Corporate Solutions, like other carriers, is placing more emphasis these days on parametric solutions. These risk transfer options cover the probability of a pre-defined event – such as a tropical cyclone – occurring. They provide a pre-agreed pay-out if the associated parameter threshold – such as windspeed – is exceeded, regardless of actual physical loss sustained.

“It allows us to get the claim adjudicated more quickly and to put our corporate clients on the path to recovery much sooner,” McGrath said.

Earth’s climate isn’t the only factor McGrath has her eye on, however.

Since she was appointed CEO for North America in July, she has been intensely focused on building a team that works well together and stays open to ideas that might benefit not only her company but also her company’s clients.

As a leader of leaders, McGrath said, she thinks hard about how to articulate her vision and communicate it to her teammates to create joint movement.

“Our people are our biggest asset,” she continued. “If we can get the buy-in — and I mean buy-in all the way from an underwriter to a line manager and up through our global leadership — then we will be successful,” she said.

McGrath also wants her team to remember to have fun.

“We’re tackling such serious issues, and I think we take them at the level of severity that we should,” McGrath said.

“However, challenges of this scale require creativity and ‘out of the box’ thinking and such ideas grow best in a space that is built on trust and connection,” she said.

She is clear that she wants that connection and unity to benefit Swiss Re Corporate Solution’s customers. Sometimes, that means challenging the status quo.

“I want our team members to wake up every day and ask, ‘How can I become a more trusted advisor to our customer and ‘How can I make our customers feel like they are our only customer?'” &

Katie McGrath has been selected as a 2023 Risk & Insurance® Executive to Watch. To see the other executives selected this year, visit here.

Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He can be reached at [email protected].

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