Canadian Underwriter

How this industry leader has seen the industry evolve

November 8, 2022   by Alyssa DiSabatino

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Carol Jardine, winner of a national leadership award from the Insurance Institute of Canada, started her career in the insurance industry while she was studying chemical engineering technology at college.

She was working at an insurance company while finishing her studies and intended to pursue a career in chemical engineering, but fell in love with insurance and value that it has for its customers, she told Canadian Underwriter. 

Jardine, who is also president of Canadian P&C Operations at Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company, compares her background in chemical engineering technology to her experience in business, where different lessons and strategies can be applied to create various outcomes. 

“Chemical engineering is about taking different elements such as a metal or a liquid, combining it with other substances and applying heat or pressure,  and creating different outcomes,” she said.

“I’m always looking at the different factors in the economy, or factors in consumer behaviour, and asking, ‘what can I combine to make a successful outcome?… How do you work the elements that you have available to create the best outcome for the business and for its customers?”  

While Jardine’s seen the industry evolve in more ways than one since she first entered it as a student, insurance is still a people business. 

“We’ve changed how we use technology, the way that we use data, and the way that we transact business,” she said. “But at the same time, what hasn’t changed is insurance is still the economic engine for Canada—for the world.”

However, she finds the complexity of issues that insurers are dealing with have “never been greater,” and the magnitude of risk is getting higher.  

“We have changed from underwriting primarily physical risks, like automobile collisions and fires, which were our primary cause of losses  two decades ago. Fast forward to today and the risks we underwrite have changed dramatically,” she said

“Today we are concerned with wildfire risk, where forest fires can wipe out whole communities in hours. We’re looking at flood risk, where communities are faced with rising water challenges that we’ve never seen before. And this year, Canada’s been subjected to significant wind risk through the Prairie provinces and with Hurricane Fiona, as well as the derecho in Ontario,” she said. 

“The industry is still underwriting individual risk however risk modelling has matured with concerns moving to a broader spectrum of risks as a result of climate change. Catastrophic risk has transformed the financial impact to insurers and the way we manage our underwriting portfolios” she said. “I feel like the complexity of issues that insurers are dealing with has never been greater, and it is all happening at once.”