The 2022 Executives to Watch: Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty’s Cristina Schoen

Few sectors were as debilitated by the pandemic as the aviation industry.
By: | November 5, 2021

Many professionals can relate to the abrupt shift to an all-remote work environment at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. For Cristina Schoen, global head of aviation claims at Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty, this proved to be one of the most prominent challenges.

“One of the key challenges that we faced was supporting the health and well-being of our employees, while still being productive and providing best-in-class service for our customers, essentially on a global scale,” she said.

Unsurprisingly, the pandemic served as a challenge no professional had ever encountered.

“Specifically, the aviation sector was hit very hard by the pandemic, maybe more so than a number of other sectors,” Schoen said. As many sectors were able to still produce revenue by pivoting tactics, the airline industry could not transition as successfully as it relied on in-person interaction.

Despite the challenges, Schoen remains proud of the work she and her team executed throughout the last 18 months and credits two qualities: flexibility and resiliency.

“Everyone within the risk management and claims teams rose to meet each challenge to basically ensure that air travel remained safe and secure,” she said. “There were various operational challenges brought on by the pandemic, and now we’re seeing our bigger customers transitioning to address a somewhat different set of challenges as the industry attempts to recover from COVID-19.”

As Schoen looks toward 2022 and beyond, challenges and opportunities that will remain top priorities include unruly airline passenger behavior and a rise in maintenance and repair costs for aircrafts. “We’re keeping a close watch as the number of unruly passenger incidents increases, especially as many of these incidents are being filmed and, at times, making the news,” she said.

In terms of increased maintenance and repair costs, Schoen noted that this is due to newer and “next generation” aircrafts being more widely utilized for commercial flights.

“There’s a clear benefit to have state-of-the-art aircrafts, especially when it comes to safety improvements and environmental impact,”

Schoen noted. “But, because they’re more technologically advanced, they’re more costly and complex.”

She continued, “There is a higher price for the aircraft as well as the individual components. That will potentially have an impact on insurance policies and coverage limits.”

Despite current and upcoming challenges, Schoen still finds an array of optimism within the aviation sector. “It has been very fulfilling and encouraging to see how the aviation sector, from service vendors to partners, adapted so well in this time of crisis and unprecedented change,” she said. “I think the industry will only become stronger and safer, and I’m excited to be a part of that as an insurer.” &

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

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