Meet Hiral Shah – Senior Vice President, Environmental
What is your backstory? Tell us about your path to Sompo International.
I am a lawyer and an environmental insurance specialist. I started out as an environmental claims attorney at AIG before moving on to Marsh as an environmental broker. After a short career break, I became an environmental enforcement attorney at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), working on Superfund enforcement during the Obama Administration. I came back to insurance to run the largest region at AXA XL – Environmental. This path led me to Sompo International, where I lead the Environmental product team within Sompo Global Risk Solutions (GRS).
What many people do not know is that in 2006, I took a career break to backpack solo around the world. It was an epic journey that lasted one year and led me to explore all seven continents including Antarctica. This experience helped me to grow as a person and become more confident in my choices. In addition, when I returned from traveling, I pursued my personal interest in filmmaking and produced an award-nominated independent television series. Upon completing this venture, I returned to the traditional workplace and accepted a position at the U.S. EPA.
What do you think makes Sompo International unique?
The energy of every person at every level of the organization is phenomenal, creating a culture that is extremely collaborative, driven and team oriented, which often results in solutions for our clients. There is also a lot of information sharing and mutual respect between colleagues. I really enjoy working here because of this environment.
Can you shed light on a current project / initiative you / your business unit is working on?
Our team is finalizing an environmental policy for middle market commercial real estate buyers that require environmental coverage but may not necessarily need the broader coverage provided within our Site Environmental Impairment Liability product. Our product that is in development can provide specific environmental liability coverage for bodily injury and property damage arising from pollution conditions, which addresses the buyer’s concerns, but at a lower minimum premium.
What is a trend you feel is impacting the industry at the moment?
A current trend impacting the environmental insurance industry is related to emerging contaminants, specifically forever chemicals which have been found in the municipal drinking water supply throughout the U.S. We are also seeing a hardening of terms and conditions throughout the market as a result of COVID-19, emerging contaminants and increased claims activity resulting from severe weather.
Any advice to your younger self?
Be confident in your choices because there are so many right decisions and no wrong decisions.
What do you do when you’re not working?
I love Bikram Yoga, spending time with my family, preferably outdoors, and also hosting big dinners with friends and family. Hopefully we can start doing this again soon.
Last words – anything else you’d like us to know?
I am a huge believer in networking at all levels, staying in touch with people that have been there throughout your career –and life– and being kind to everyone. I think it is a strong factor in your success professionally and personally.