Meet Valerie McDonald, Senior Vice President, Sompo Pro
What is your backstory? Tell us about your path to Sompo International.
I have worked in the insurance industry for more than 24 years. Prior to joining Sompo International, I served as Miscellaneous Professional Liability (MPL) Manager at AXIS Insurance where I was responsible for setting the product vision and strategy of the Miscellaneous Professional Liability product. In addition to the product manager role, I managed the Small to Middle Market business team for many years, creating many of the operational processes for both new and renewal business. Prior to AXIS, I was Chief Underwriting Officer at Target Insurance Services where I managed the new and renewal underwriting for the multimillion-dollar Staffing Firms and Tax Preparers programs. Prior to Target Insurance Services, I served as Director of Program underwriting at Chubb/Executive Risk and was responsible for managing a $50 million-dollar book of Errors and Omission (E&O), Directors and Officers (D&O) and Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI). I have published articles in several publications including the American Society of Home Inspectors ASHI reporter, the National Association of Mortgage Brokers magazine and Associations Now magazine. I have taught continuing education courses on professional liability for the American Association of Managing General Agents and presented and participated on panel discussions at numerous conferences and conventions.
What do you think makes Sompo International unique?
I think the people and legacy of Sompo International are what makes it unique and awesome! Everyone is willing to learn and listen. My colleagues are some of the most knowledgeable, respectful and professional people I have ever worked with.
Can you shed light on a current project / initiative you / your business unit is working on?
Sompo Pro has many important initiatives taking place right now. I am working to create a library of MPL class-specific underwriting forms and endorsements which will greatly enhance our underwriting approach to the product. There are over 256 recognized classes in the product, so I really have my work cut out for me! We are also building out several operational processes that will greatly enhance our day-to-day.
What is a trend you feel is impacting the industry at the moment?
Cyber has been a major focus of professional liability carriers for the past decade, while traditional E&O underwriting (MPL, Tech E&O, Insurance Agents Business, etc.) has taken a secondary role in most carriers’ growth initiatives due to the higher level of complexity and significant underwriting training required. Sompo Pro has taken a unique approach as the book is well-balanced for growth between E&O and Cyber. This creates an unparalleled opportunity for us to capitalize on our E&O underwriting expertise and experience to push greater growth in areas not impacted by ransomware issues, including MPL, Insurance Agents, Design Professionals, and others.
Any advice to your younger self?
If you want to succeed you have to give it your all every single day. Treat people how you would like to be treated and own the problem. Be part of the solution, not the problem.
What do you do when you’re not working?
I have been married to my husband Matt for 37 years. We have 2 children and 5 grandchildren ranging from 3 to 19 years old. We are very active with our family and, during the spring, summer, and early fall we camp in our 5th wheel as much as we can – as much as a few times a month. We also have a second home in Summerville, South Carolina where we spend as much time as we can during holidays and during the winter months, when it is cold in Connecticut.