Meet Jeffrey Higel, Claims Counsel – Aviation
What is your backstory? Tell us about your path to Sompo International.
I’ve always had a passion for aviation and started flying when I was in high school. I studied aviation management at Purdue University and worked as a flight instructor before going to law school at Emory in Atlanta.
After school, I was looking for a career path that would keep me involved with aviation in a more hands-on way than working for a law firm, and several lawyers recommended I look into insurance. I took a job out in Southern California working as a claims attorney for another insurance company. I took on a variety of other odds and ends in addition to aviation, handling Cyber, Media, Tech E&O, and Ocean Marine. After a few years there and a stopover for a year at the headquarters in Kansas City, I reconnected with my current manager who I had networked with during school and took a job with Sompo International with our newly formed aviation team back in Atlanta.
Give us three words to describe Sompo International.
Ambitious, Flexible, and Independent.
What is a trend you feel is impacting the industry and more specifically, your role at the moment?
The aviation market was hit by Covid-19 as hard, or harder, than any other industry in the world. However, this has led to new opportunities and we’re seeing an increase in private aviation and fractional ownership operations. There has been a long push for more affordable personal aviation for a while, but Covid seems to have accelerated some of that demand. The industry has been forced to adapt, and insurance will have to adopt along with it.
What advice do you have for prospective Sompo International candidates?
If you get the opportunity to work here, get as much exposure to every business line as you can. We’re still working in relatively small claims teams and you’ll get more exposure to high level management than in most other places. Those opportunities are a big boost towards a successful career.
Think back to your college graduation day. What is one thing you would tell yourself then?
You won’t learn how to do a job without making mistakes along the way. Don’t harp on the mistakes – focus on not repeating them.
What would you do for a career if you weren’t doing this?
I’d be working in Airport Management somewhere. It was my concentration in undergrad and I always enjoyed the non-tradition aspect of having your office be an airport terminal.
Tell us something about yourself that would surprise us.
I’m afraid of heights and hate rollercoasters, but I love acrobatic flying… there is zero logic to how that works.