Rising Star Kristin Hanson on Working with Tech Firms, Brainstorming with Clients, and Her Broking Philosophy

This Aon broker shares her foray into technology brokering and the ways she keeps both herself and her clients in the know.
By: | February 13, 2024
Portrait of Kristin Hanson

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 the year.

We caught up with Kristin Hanson, assistant vice president, account executive at Aon, and a 2023 Technology Power Broker winner.

Risk & Insurance: Tell us about how your career trajectory led you to focus on the technology space.

KH: Being based in San Francisco, the nature of my clients just trended toward technology-based companies, since that’s primarily what’s here in the Bay Area.

As I started to progress in my career, I felt myself really drawn to the large and complex technology risk. From there, I was always just the first person to raise my hand when an opportunity would come up.

Working with these types of companies, I’m constantly able to grow both on my own and with my clients as new risks emerge and products are developed so that I can be on the forefront of the insurance industry. I’m then able to apply this knowledge to similar situations in the future with my other clients.

R&I: What special challenges do tech firms present in terms of regulation and legislation, and how do you rise to meet them with your clients?

KH: We’re constantly dealing with new regulations, and the best way to deal with that is to be proactive with our clients, rather than reactive.

When I become aware of a new regulation or legislative effort being introduced, it’s important that we discuss it with our clients almost immediately, and definitely before anything is passed or becomes a law.

Being an insurance professional, one of my primary concerns, of course, is whether a new regulation is already incorporated into their policy, or whether we would need to put something new in place. But it’s also important to look at how a potential new law could affect the client’s overall business. We can find creative and adaptable solutions that can not only ensure they’re in compliance but also put them in the best position from a business standpoint.

Working with some of these clients, they’re really innovative. They’re releasing products and services that have never been done before, so we do run into legislative reviews fairly frequently. But once you’ve done the legwork, it really takes the stress and pressure off the client, from an insurance standpoint, while they wait to see if the law passes.

R&I: What is your brokerage philosophy?

KH: My biggest takeaway, as I started growing and building relationships with my clients and insurer partners, is understanding the importance of being responsive.

To me, being responsive isn’t always having the answer to every single question that’s ever been asked, but it’s building a relationship of trust so that my clients know they can come to me about a variety of different topics and I’ll be there to brainstorm and help solve their problems. I also strive to be transparent and communicate effectively internally.

I was just a few years into my career when COVID-19 happened, and that caused a lot of hardship for my clients. With what they had to deal with, insurance was the last thing they needed to be focused on. Being able to be an advocate to them then and create cost savings at such a critical time was really instrumental in building strong relationships.

R&I: How do you stay informed about happenings in the market in your areas of expertise? Do you share your knowledge with your clients in a particular way?

KH: I typically stay up-to-date by listening to webinars and other practice leaders present on emerging risks. Once I have time to take all of that in and I have the time to digest it myself, I’ll speak with thought leaders in my company and externally about how this could affect the marketplace and what we’re already doing to help clients, or brainstorm ways we can help.

As for sharing, I encourage my clients to attend webinars and read publications I think might be beneficial to their operations, and then just being there to answer questions later or set up a meeting to discuss is always really helpful for them. I’m lucky to have such a large amount of data available to me, so sending that to clients is always helpful for them to review and share internally.

R&I: What is the biggest challenge facing the market right now, and how can we meet it as an industry?

KH: A lot of the challenges vary based on my clients, and I then can take that back and say, how can insurance solve my clients’ largest issues? And then I think, how can I limit the variable costs that a loss could bring to a client’s balance sheet, and are there ways to utilize insurance as a profit-generating operation for them?

Working with technology companies, cyber is obviously a main focus for all of my clients, and I think we’ve really grown as an industry with analyzing the risk for our clients, which helps them be better informed on what to purchase, as well as helping improve overall cybersecurity.

The one thing I’ve really learned working in the insurance industry is that there are constantly new challenges that come up, and something that might be a major focal point today could wind up never being discussed again just a few weeks later. So being really thoughtful and flexible with finding new solutions for our clients is the best way to make sure everyone is successful. &

Nina Luckman is a business journalist based in New Orleans, focusing primarily on the workers' compensation industry. Over the last several years, Nina has served as Editor of Louisiana Comp Blog, a news site she started in 2014 under the auspices of a group self-insurance fund. She can be reached at [email protected].

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