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LAURA JOHNSON Underwriting manager for E&S general liability

Axa XL, a unit of Axa SA


Laura Johnson never considered a job in insurance until Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. recruiters announced internship opportunities at a job fair at Illinois State University. She scored a coveted internship and has been in the industry ever since, beginning as a broker at Gallagher-owned Risk Placement Services Inc. and joining XL Catlin as an underwriter in 2014. Although the avid traveler has been grounded due to the pandemic, she says working from home has given her more time to spend with her 1-year-old son.

What’s your advice on navigating the current insurance market?

The excess market has definitely been pretty difficult. Especially in the E&S world, you have to be at the forefront of dissecting … these new and emerging risks while also protecting the bottom line at the same time.

How will your work change going forward?

I definitely think there is not going to be as much travel. A lot of companies have found they can get just as much done working remote. I also feel like we’re going to have more collaboration on accounts going forward. Now that we are remote and things are happening over videoconference, I find that we’re collaborating more with other offices outside just Chicago.

What is something about you that would surprise people?

I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie. I’ve been bungee jumping five times.

What’s one habit or hobby you adopted during the pandemic?

Pelotoning — and does my baby count as my hobby? I feel like my whole world has revolved around him in this past year.

What is your favorite meal?

Definitely my mom’s lasagna. You can’t beat it; it’s the best dish I’ve had in my life and now the go-to dish when someone gets engaged, has a baby, passes away. A lot of love goes into that meal.