Karen Clark scored a bonafide first when she launched catastrophe modeling company Applied Insurance Research (AIR) in 1987. With a focus on computer simulations, it was the only operation of its kind at the time. But property/casualty insurers didn’t initially embrace the concept.

Executive Summary

As catastrophe modeling pioneer Karen Clark moves into new territory with the launch of an open platform called RiskInsight at Karen Clark & Co., the former leader of AIR says a passion to give the industry better tools for pricing, underwriting and overall catastrophe risk management keeps her moving forward. Here, she looks back on career milestones and provides leadership insight into the qualities of an innovator.

Back then, the United States had been in a low activity weather period after no major hurricanes hit a major metropolitan area in quite a while. Catastrophe insurers were centered in London at Lloyds, heavily reluctant to change. They weren’t even using computers to do their jobs and resisted the idea that they needed new tools.

“The last thing they thought they needed was a newfangled computer simulation model,” Clark recalls today. “When I think back on it, with my first presentation at Lloyd’s in 1987, I was the only woman in the room, I was American and seven months pregnant. Many of those guys probably thought it was some kind of joke.”

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