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Cyber Savvy Broker: Karishma Gabriel

Cyber Savvy Broker: Karishma Gabriel

As technology transforms the economy, businesses of all sizes have to navigate a new kind of risk: digital risk.

The most successful brokers will need to be prepared to help their clients navigate these complex risks. Our "Cyber Savvy Broker" series highlights forward-thinking brokers with the knowledge and skills to help their clients navigate this digital transformation.

We were pleased to catch up with Karishma Gabriel, Account Manager, HUB International Ontario. Karishma discusses how she approaches her broker/client relationships and uses mentorship to stay on top of the shifting cyber insurance market.

How did you become an insurance specialist?

I fell into insurance, which I think is the experience for most people of my generation. I started out selling property & casualty (P&C) insurance and was doing that for a number of years.

About five years ago, I moved into the complex risk unit at HUB because they needed account managers to help with a few of their cyber and executive lines accounts. That's how I became aligned with the cyber team. 

I had a great mentor there, Patrick, who was the practice leader and the knowledge base for all of cyber across our firm. It was exciting to work with him and learn from the best in our business.

What advice would you give a broker starting out?

Absorb as much as you can from mentors and others you can learn from. The biggest tool I had was access to a good, broad base of professionals I could go to with questions. It wasn't just on the broker side—it included underwriters, marketers, and partners. 

I know that it has become harder to have these interactions since COVID. I find value in one-on-one video calls, even though many of us are tired of them. However, reaching out to those who can help you build your expertise is proactive. 

In addition, you can gain experience attending events that are aligned with your business and make sure that you're tuned into marketing material that is significant in what you're doing. 

How do you achieve success in your role?

I'm able to retain a client and have a relationship with them over a long period of time, which I consider to be a great indicator of success. I'm also very transparent, honest, and realistic when it comes to things like premiums and coverages and what they're going to get. 

I never want to overpromise and under-deliver. I'll start a renewal 120 days out to ensure we're all on the same page to give the client enough time to process what's coming down the pipeline. It helps me be a professional, maintain integrity, and always be able to make time for my clients and address their concerns as quickly and as effectively as possible. 

What is the most challenging aspect of being a cyber insurance broker?

The markets right now are challenging for brokers. We're seeing the market harden like our P&C markets did from 2018 to 2021. As a result, I have to inform my clients that their premium is going to increase anywhere from 20-50%, and that would be considered a good outcome

Getting in front of those conversations early in the renewal cycle has been important for my team. There have been challenges in gathering information because we're usually speaking with the CFO or the controller rather than the IT or security teams. That's our real challenge—going back and forth with our clients, which is why it's so essential for us to start early.

Who is your ideal client to work with?

I like someone who is not 100% convinced that they need cyber. I like the opportunity to explain it to them and break down a scenario. 

There's a light bulb moment with these clients because they'll say, "Oh, I didn't think about that. This really could happen." Even if I don't get them to purchase it right away, it's always in the back of their head. So, when they hear about a new breach, they're thinking, "Karishma did mention this; she brought it to my attention. This is something I need to consider."

Improve your cyber knowledge with Coalition

Cyber insurance is one of the fastest-growing insurance products and a huge opportunity for brokers to grow their book of business. Coalition's Cyber Savvy program equips you with the tools and knowledge you need to deepen your cyber risk expertise and advise (and protect!) your clients. 

You can access more free Cyber Savvy Broker resources to continue your learning journey.