Rising Star Caroline St. Clair Talks Mentors, Predictive Analytics in Real Estate and More

A Power Broker in the Real Estate category, Caroline St. Clair shares insight on her broking philosophy.
By: | March 3, 2022

Come see the Stars!  As part of our expanded coverage of our Rising Stars designation, Risk & Insurance, with the support of Philadelphia Insurance Companies, is publishing brief question and answer pieces with some of our 2021 class of Rising Stars.

In this instance, we’re talking with Caroline St. Clair, a Rising Star and a 2021 Power Broker in the Real Estate category.

St. Clair, a vice president and account executive with Aon, discusses her career influences and various market dynamics.

Risk & Insurance: If you could name two people who had the biggest effect on your life or career, who would they be and why?

Caroline St. Clair: I have been fortunate to have many colleagues, clients, friends and family members mentor and support me throughout my life and career.

Specifically thinking about two of the most impactful, I would say my long-time manager and friend, Angela Byrd, and my parents.

I have been working with Angela for over a decade now; she has really been instrumental in helping me forge my own path at Aon and truly leads by example in delivering meaningful results to clients. She is extremely talented and has been a great mentor to me.

My parents instilled the values of hard work, dedication, integrity and loyalty in me at a young age. To this day, I am lucky enough to be able to call them for advice in all facets of life, including my career. I wouldn’t be where I am today without their unwavering support!

R&I: What’s been the biggest change the pandemic created in the way you work and/or communicate with clients?

CSC: Switching to a mostly virtual environment has created challenges and opportunities. To the extent it was safe and possible, I have continued seeing clients, colleagues and markets in-person.

Nothing replaces face-to-face interactions, and with insurance being driven on relationships, I prioritized getting out and meeting people as much as I could.

That being said, I certainly did not escape more than my fair share of virtual meetings and have witnessed our industry seemingly shift to a more hybrid working model going forward.

Making time to intentionally touch base with clients, colleagues and markets outside of the endless barrage of meetings has been critical to making sure the lines of communication stay open.

R&I: Which carrier has really impressed you in the way it crafts coverage and manages claims and why?

CSC: It has been great to see AIG strategically get back into the mix on the property and casualty side the last couple years on both the wholesale and retail side.

It has been doing a lot of creative things and is consistently coming to the table where it makes sense. AIG is also efficient and easy to work with on the claims side, which is the most important thing to many clients.

I have also been very impressed with Zurich’s ability to build and support competitive and effective global programs while not trying to manage the client’s business for them.

Organizationally, it is doing a great job thinking about clients holistically versus by specific line of coverage, which is very impactful for clients overall. They also are great to work with on the claims side.

R&I: What’s been the most useful application of predictive analytics in the work that you do?

CSC: On a day-to-day basis for real estate clients, I see the property data and analytics resources Aon provides enabling clients to make data-based decisions on program structures and risk appetite making the largest impact.

Many clients are seeing rapid growth trajectories currently, and to make sure their insurance programs are keeping up, it is crucial we provide them tools to quantify their risks and exposures and strategically craft programs based on their risk appetite to enable resiliency in their organizations.

R&I: What do you see as an emerging or growing risk in the Real Estate sector?

CSC: With the current macro environment of inflation and increasing costs of construction, I think the issue of appropriate property valuation is likely top of mind for every client in the real estate space this year.

The markets have seen several recent losses come in with reported values that are very misaligned to the total loss amounts.

I think a broad-brush approach from markets to remedy this is innately unfair to many clients that been reporting appropriate values.

It is going to take markets, brokers and clients working together on long-term plans to correct the issue while not causing too much disruption to clients’ businesses and creating massive swings in the overall market. &

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

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