"Insurance is my destiny"

This professional's life has been closely intertwined with the industry

"Insurance is my destiny"

Insurance News

By Gabriel Olano

Vivian Chow (pictured) has been close to insurance for most of her life. Her father worked in the industry for many years; she took up insurance studies in university; she has worked for several big-name insurers in Asia; and she married a fellow insurance professional.

“I checked off insurance studies as my first choice on my JUPAS [Hong Kong’s Joint University Programmes Admissions System] application,” Chow, regional construction PI manager at AIG Asia-Pacific, told Insurance Business. “After three years of intense studying, I had insurance knowledge coursing through my veins.  My head was filled with insurance principles ­­– uberrimae fidei, insurable interest, causa proxima and many others.”

After graduating in 1997, Chow shared that she had difficulty finding a job in the insurance industry.

“Am I below par on qualification or is it just bad timing because of the financial crisis?” she asked herself.

A few months later, she spotted a newspaper advertisement for an underwriting assistant at Allianz Cornhill and was quickly hired for the post.

“One of my first tasks at Allianz was writing fax letters to brokers,” she said. “I needed to call my Dad for help on what to write. I was worried about making any mistake that might cost me my first job on my first working day! But step by step, I have gained my confidence as I started learning many insurance practices and subjects in global programs, motor insurance, employee’s compensation, TPL, product liability, property and engineering. After I was exposed to multiple business lines, I began focusing on PI and D&O insurance which back then were nascent insurance products in the Hong Kong market.”

After a few years, Chow joined the expanding financial lines team at QBE, where she handled mostly specialty lines claims, which she said places emphasis on wording accuracy and coverage intention. This inspired her to take up a three-year law degree course even while working in insurance.

“More surprises and delights followed in subsequent years – the job interviewer who offered me my first job became my husband in 2005,” she said. “Insurance is my destiny!”

And indeed it was her destiny. Chow said that in her youth, she once thought of becoming a cop because of her dislike of bad people and desire to maintain justice. However, a failed eye test meant she couldn’t join the police force and she went down the path of insurance instead.

Chow later moved to Zurich Insurance, where she was tasked with building a new financial lines department.

“I and two other pioneers started this greenfield project from scratch – collecting data from other branches, planning, budgeting, forming strategies, drafting policy wordings, proposal forms, marketing materials, and product launching,” she said.

After two years, Chow was hired as facultative casualty underwriter at Swiss Re - a job that she had yearned for, for quite some time.

“I learnt the magic of the reinsurance industry, had amazing opportunities to work with different insurance cedants and was introduced to various approaches in delivering client centric solutions,” she said of her eight years at Swiss Re.

Since 2015, Chow has been part of the financial lines team at AIG as regional construction PI manager.

“It is such a golden opportunity for me,” she said. “In this post, I have broadened my geographical horizon working in multiple regions from Greater China, Korea, Japan, Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. I am currently heading the construction PI team for AIG Asia-Pacific working with teams from 13 countries.”

Working with such multicultural teams, Chow believes that insurance is very relationship-driven and that insurance professionals should take that to heart.

“Maintaining strong relationships with business partners, colleagues, or your schoolmates is a key success factor,” she says. “You must also strive to communicate well with internal and external stakeholders. Communication is a big part of delivering results and managing expectations. And most of all, always be a team player whether you are in a leading or a supporting role in any given situation.

Finally, she gave one more piece of advice: “Invest in yourself. There is no better return than investing in one self. Spend time on developing a professional career, sharpen your skillset with solid insurance knowledge and become an expert in your chosen field. Keep yourself informed of market developments, news, trends, new products, and more. Possess an insatiable appetite for learning – learning from your own and others’ successes and failures.”



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