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2019 Women to Watch EMEA: Emma Karhan

Emma Karhan

Emma Karhan
Head of terrorism and public sector partnerships, U.K.
Age: 44

When Emma Karhan first got into the insurance industry in Sydney, it was more by chance than by design.

“I’m one of those clichés. I answered a job advertisement for a business analyst role in a reinsurance company … and I had to go and ask someone what reinsurance was. I got the job,” said Ms. Karhan.

When the Australian reinsurance industry went under in the late 1990s, Ms. Karhan moved into consulting, taking up a role in 2000 at KPMG in New York.

But after a few years, she realized she wanted to be back in the industry. She took a position with Guy Carpenter & Co. LLC, eventually moving to London to work in its Europe, Middle East and Africa practice and its property specialty team.

It was in broking that her interest in terrorism insurance took off.

“I was fascinated by this whole world of terrorism. My father grew up into communism, and he was a political asylum refugee, so there were so many ties to it, because it is such a politically motivated field,” she said.

After her March 2017 hire by Aon PLC to lead the public private enterprise specialty practice for the U.K., Ms. Karhan led the Motor Insurance Bureau’s reinsurance placement — the first-ever terrorism placement for auto-related losses in the U.K. covering bodily injury losses.

“To win and successfully place a brand new piece of business into the market that’s never been done before, I was really proud of that,” she said.

Being the first female chair of the under-35s group at Lloyd’s of London was another big accomplishment along the way.

“That was pretty special,” she said.

“She’s doing something to change the industry,” said Kathleen Reardon, CEO of Hamilton Re Ltd., part of Bermuda-based Hamilton Insurance Group Ltd. Ms. Karhan was a sourcing broker for the department at Ace (now Chubb Ltd.), where Ms. Reardon worked in the mid-2000s.

“There is a role for government and private industry to partner on new products and close the protection gap. She’s not just following behind someone on a well-traversed path, she’s on a unique path,” Ms. Reardon said.

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