Rising Star Ashley Walker on the ‘Hot Button’ Trends in Environmental Risk Brokering

Ashley Walker first found the insurance industry through a Google search. Now, she's an environmental broker with Aon.
By: | September 14, 2021



Come see the Stars! As part of our ongoing coverage of the best brokers in the commercial insurance space, Risk & Insurance®, with the sponsorship of Philadelphia Insurance, is expanding its coverage of the Rising Stars, those brokers who represent the next wave of insurance brokering talent.

Look for these expanded profiles on the Risk & Insurance website and in your social media feeds now and continuing into 2022.

Here, we talk to Ashley Walker, director at Aon, a 2021 Environmental Power Broker and Rising Star.

Risk & Insurance: What initially drew you to a career in insurance?

Ashley Walker: It’s actually a funny story.

My background from undergrad is in environmental science. College was coming to an end, and I needed to find a job.

I was Googling environmental jobs one day and AIG came up. I like to say I kind of fell into this career. I’d say it was a good Google search!

R&I: What about the environmental sector excites you? What are the sector’s biggest challenges?

AW: What’s exciting and challenging about the sector now is how fluid it is. We’re seeing so many changes so quickly, and with environmental insurance lines, we don’t have the pleasure of history with us.

The fluidity allows a lot of opportunity for innovation, which continuously challenges and excites me.

Everything we’re doing now is changing the trajectory for environmental risk transfer solutions in future years.

R&I: Looking at the environmental sector, what are some top trends to keep an eye on?

AW: The “hot button” issue is PFAS/PFOAS.

There is intense regulatory scrutiny on these contaminants, and there are no firm standards within Phase I/Phase II assessments to test/monitor for them. This juxtaposition has resulted in staggering losses for insurers, and we are seeing carriers pull back terms and conditions accordingly.

Our challenge as brokers is to secure broadest terms and conditions to protect clients against potential unknown exposures surrounding these contaminants, but until a firm standard for testing/monitoring is established, this exposure is becoming increasingly uninsurable.

Definitely something to keep an eye on as proceedings continue to develop with the new administration.

R&I: What advice would you give a young professional who is interested in a career in insurance?

AW: Find a good mentor and ask a lot of questions. We are in a niche industry that has many layers to it that can be hard to explain, even beyond the technical nuances of environmental insurance.

I’d also say stick with it, because it can feel really overwhelming at first, but if you ask questions, you’ll find people are willing to help, and before you know it, you will be thriving.

R&I: How can the industry better attract new talent?

AW: The best way is getting into colleges/universities and speaking with students.

Although colleges/universities are getting better, there is still a lot of mystery about careers within an insurance brokerage.

As I mentioned earlier, I fell into this industry through a Google search, which means we have work to do as an industry when it comes to getting the word out there to attract best possible talent. &

Emma Brenner is a staff writer with Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected].

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