From English Degree to Power Broker: Willis Towers Watson’s Clare McCarrick Shares Her Insurance Story

Clare McCarrick thought she'd be a journalist, but after an internship in insurance, she switched gears and the rest was history.
By: | November 16, 2020

When Clare McCarrick, senior associate at Willis Towers Watson, graduated with a degree in English literature from Georgetown University, she had envisioned pursuing a career in journalism. But after experiencing her first internship in insurance, McCarrick decided to switch gears — and the rest, as they say, is history.

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“My father is an attorney who works in the insurance space, so I had vaguely known about the industry growing up,” McCarrick said.

“However, after interning, I realized how dynamic a career in insurance could be, with many multi-faceted roles that required a unique combination of analytical and social skills.”

Getting a Start in a New Industry

McCarrick, who was named a 2020 Risk & Insurance Power Broker® in the Financial Services category, began her career as an underwriter at Arch Insurance Group, spending a little over four years working on management liability placements for large commercial risks.

She joined Willis Towers Watson in 2017 with the goal of expanding her skillset and trying the brokerage side of the business.

Currently serving as associate director at Willis Towers Watson (WTW), McCarrick is a broker on the large accounts portion of the Financial Institutions Team within the financial and executive (FINEX) practice. As a member of this team, McCarrick exclusively works with large financial institutions on their management liability lines of coverage.

“Because of the specialized focus of my team, I’m charged with serving as an expert for a diverse range of financial institutions and their bespoke insurance needs,” McCarrick said.

“I serve as both an advisory and placement contact for a portfolio of diverse financial institutions clients, placing insurance programs for D&O, E&O, employment practices liability, and fiduciary lines of coverage.”

She also co-lead the real estate industry vertical within the broader FINEX practice.

Within her role at WTW, McCarrick is motivated to get the best results for her clients each day and to continue to develop her knowledge in the space.

“One of my favorite parts of the job is coming up with solutions for emerging or complex issues. Each new placement or renewal presents a new opportunity — expanding coverage and evaluating program structures with innovation at the forefront,” McCarrick said.

A Go-Getter Approach

McCarrick’s personal approach to client service is largely holistic.

She is quick to point out that the hard D&O marketplace presented some really tough placement challenges this year, and she’s incredibly proud of her whole team for the combined effort and remote collaboration to get deals done for Willis Towers Watson clients.

Recently, McCarrick designed and executed a D&O POSI (public offerings of securities insurance) policy for a global transactional risk exposure that was a first domestic placement of its type with a U.S.-led insurance carrier.

After the WTW team was approached by client’s outside counsel, McCarrick was involved in both the design and placement execution of a custom solution for a global parent company involved in an IPO for a U.S. subsidiary of its business.

The manuscript policy placed was an incredibly broad wording that ring-fenced the liability for the IPO, debt offering, and all follow-on offerings.

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“Our team was intimately involved in the drafting and adjustment of the contract so that it responded to the unique transaction triggers,” McCarrick said.

“The policy went through several evolutions, until it was finally approved by the various stakeholders at the client, their outside counsel, and the primary and excess insurers after an exhaustive process.”

A Deep Understanding

For McCarrick’s clients, she serves as a year-round advisor rather than placement at renewal: “I seek to animate the Jesuit concept of ‘cura personalis,’ which translates as ‘care for the whole person,’ ” McCarrick said.

“By committing to a deep understanding of my clients’ businesses, including their motivations and risk priorities, I’m able to provide solutions that serve the entire business rather than restricted to my specialized segment of financial lines.”

“Anyone with a successful insurance career is a perpetual student of the industry. Keeping learning at the forefront, staying informed and asking questions has definitely been helpful in career progression.” — Clare McCarrick, senior associate, Willis Towers Watson

Rather than accepting “this is the way things are done,” McCarrick strives to push boundaries on risk transfer — something she said can only be accomplished once you’ve gained the trust of your clients and established a relationship.

“My client-base consists of large financial institutions [that] are incredibly complex, and our clients are sophisticated buyers with a keen grasp of their and their companies’ risk appetites,” McCarrick said.

“By adapting the ‘cura personalis’ suggestion of individual needs of the other and applying a critical lens to their industry and unique risk exposures, I work to build tailored program options that align with their risk tolerance and challenge the market beyond the status quo,” she said.

Overcoming the Hurdles of Pandemic

For McCarrick, the combination of a hard financial lines marketplace and the remote working environment has been incredibly challenging and required significant adjustment in the way of working.

“The level of uncertainty around the pandemic and the resulting macro-economic and claims implications has upended our industry,” McCarrick said.

“We’ve had to change the way we work with clients and markets. We approach each placement differently, with a firm strategy in place to combat the hard market. We rely on technological platforms like video conferencing to replace traditional in-person meetings. I’ve been overall impressed with the adaptability, but I definitely miss the personal interactions.”

An Intellectual Curiosity That Shines

One of McCarrick’s core strengths is her intellectual curiosity, which exists outside the contours of any actual deal.

“This intellectual curiosity has led me to develop a broad range of relationships outside WTW, including transactional lawyers, defense lawyers, plaintiff lawyers, mediators, coverage lawyers, investment bankers, entrepreneurs and others through which I’ve assembled a knowledge and thought leadership base far beyond the confines of my own underwriting and broking experience,” McCarrick said.

“And that allows me to tap into a vast reservoir of talent and experience in aid of creative solutions to thorny broking challenges.”

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McCarrick attributes any success she’s had in her career to the people around her and to the opportunities that she’s been provided. She’s had great managers, mentors and teammates alike who’ve pushed her towards her best work product every day.

“I’ve had exposure to excellent technical training, both on the underwriting and broking side. And I’ve had really wonderful opportunities, like participating in the Lloyd’s Broker Academy, or working a three-month secondment in London,” McCarrick said.

“Anyone with a successful insurance career is a perpetual student of the industry. Keeping learning at the forefront, staying informed and asking questions has definitely been helpful in career progression.” &

Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Maura Keller is a writer, editor and published book author with more than 20 years of experience. She has written about business, design, marketing, health care, and a wealth of other topics for dozens of regional and national publications. She can be reached at [email protected]

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