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Head of cyber and professional lines underwriting
Zurich North America
When Yosha DeLong mapped out a career plan in college, the math major first gravitated toward actuarial sciences.
But after interning at an actuarial firm in Seattle, she found the work antisocial and repetitive, and decided to interview with a small managing general agent and a startup online book seller.
“I thought insurance sounded like a more stable career,” she said. “The other company was Amazon.”
That’s how she entered the insurance industry, and she said she’s never regretted choosing insurance over Amazon.com Inc.
Nearly a decade into her career, working at the MGA and later in wholesale insurance, she set out to distinguish herself by learning about a new product coming out in the marketplace — cyber coverage.
“I taught myself everything I could learn about it and sat down with carriers writing at the time,” she said. “At that time, it was very privacy breach-focused.”
As the cyber sector evolved, so did Ms. DeLong’s role. She went from being a broker, focused on talking to clients and working with insurers to tweak policies to better respond to the evolving market and clients’ changing needs, to leader of the cyber division for Zurich North America.
“Yosha has been able to balance the transition to increased reliance on data and analytics with the human element to underwrite organizations,” said Kevin Kalinich, global cyber practice leader for intangible assets at Aon PLC, who met Ms. DeLong in 2006 when they first worked together on some large, complex media liability accounts. “She combines that data analytics with the personal element of trying to understand what does differentiate each insured, each prospect and each client.”
Several very effective mentors helped Ms. DeLong succeed by giving her the confidence to believe in herself, she said. However, one of those career influencers first told her she was being “set up to fail” when she was promoted to an executive position at a male-dominated insurer while in her early 30s.
“Two years later, he and I ended up having a really good relationship,” she said. “When he retired, he told me that he would want his daughters to be like me.”
The 2019 Business Insurance Women to Watch Awards showcase another outstanding group of female executives in the insurance and risk management sector.