Rising Star Kate Simons Delmedico Details the Changing Industry, Ag’s Most Critical Risks and More
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 throughout 2023.
We recently spoke with Kate Simons Delmedico, managing director from Aon, and a 2023 Agriculture Power Broker and Rising Star.
Risk & Insurance: What led you to a career in insurance?
Kate Simons Delmedico: I know, these days, there’s a lot more insurance programs at colleges, but like a lot of people, I stumbled into insurance, rather fortuitously.
I was a political science major, and I was looking for a summer internship. I wanted something business-related. I ended up at Aon, and that spiraled into a job offer after I graduated.
And the rest is history. It’s been a great place and a great industry to work in, so I never saw a need to make a change.
R&I: How has the insurance industry changed since you began your career?
KSD: A lot has changed; it’s funny to think about this and look back.
First, I work in the property insurance space, and the last five years have been a difficult market for us. In the first decade of my career, it was really a soft market. It’s fun and challenging, but we really do have to be very strategic in how we approach things and look very specifically at every single risk.
A soft market didn’t require such a level of detail. So, that’s been fun.
There’s also been a lot of change in the industry, just from a talent perspective. There’s been a lot of retirements across the industry, and it’s been a challenging labor market. It’s still important for the industry to keep focusing on the talent pipeline.
And then, certainly, technology. It’s not only created new efficiencies and ways of working, but also just in terms of harnessing data and pulling that together and thinking of where we were 15 years ago to where we are now. Being able to pull together more relevant and real-time insights for clients has been huge.
R&I: What about the agriculture sector excites you? What challenges you?
KSD: The agriculture sector is a big industry class, and while there’s similarities across a lot of the clients I work with, each has their own spectrum of risks.
What is both exciting and challenging at the same time is that the clients are very different. We could have a farming client, but we could also have a food manufacturing client.
So figuring out how to differentiate each risk and help clients solve the challenges that they’re facing with their insurance needs is the exciting part, but also the challenging part.
R&I: What are the most pressing risks for the agriculture sector currently?
KSD: A couple of things come to mind, like climate change — which is a challenge for everybody, but particularly in this space, when we look at the supply chain and where crops are grown, climate change is a huge risk. Can you still grow certain crops in certain places? Do you need to start thinking about building a pipeline somewhere else?
Also, we’ve been looking at the impact of extreme weather events. So, if we come across an issue where suddenly we have frequent flooding in an area, do operations need to be moved? There’s a lot of foresight and planning needed across the industry in order to have resilient supply chains in the face of climate change.
And specifically in the property insurance space, we still see a significant frequency of losses within this sector, which has put a lot of pressure on the available capacity in the marketplace, as well as pricing.
R&I: What advice would you give to a young professional just beginning their career in this industry?
KSD: The biggest things are networking and seizing every opportunity, especially opportunities to learn from people who’ve been in the business a long time.
There’s a lot of opportunities across the industry right now, but as someone who’s just starting out, be very thoughtful about picking opportunities where you can really be surrounded by a lot of people who’ve been in the business a long time and who can mentor you and help you grow in that critical, early stage of your career.
It’s so important to build a strong technical foundation in your early years to set you up for success and for when you can take on different opportunities later in your career. &