In September of 2020, the RMI MBAs were encouraged by our Program Director to participate in the inaugural AM Best Student Challenge. Students participating in the challenge were to submit proposals for innovative risk financing for catastrophic events. We had no idea that this would be the beginning of a six-month journey ending with us becoming the national winners.
Because we share an interest in socially conscious business practices, we decided to pair up to begin thinking about what our proposal would be. After a few weeks of research and brainstorming, we settled on the idea of creating a parametric insurance product aimed at providing immediate financial assistance to families being forced to evacuate their homes in response to an incoming catastrophic event. We determined that our proposed product, which we called Emergency Evacuation Assistance (EEA), would be a first of its kind, providing money to people in disaster areas that would allow them to get out before disaster strikes, allowing them to afford transportation and food to escape a catastrophic situation. Upon making a few refinements, we submitted our 500-word abstract for initial judging and hoped for the best.
We were thrilled to learn that we had made it through the first round and we knew that now the real work would begin. We started with gathering more information on the industry and existing similar products. The UW RMI alumni network was a huge resource to us during this stage of development. We were able to connect with alumni from all areas of the insurance industry: carriers, brokers, and private and government institutions. Every alumni member was excited to speak with us and allowed us to pick their brains; and following our discussions, they would offer to contact at least three other colleagues within their network. We found ourselves having no shortage of seasoned professionals to talk with. After meeting with these professionals and conducting our supplemental research, we created a 25-minute presentation outline for our newly refined proposed product.
We got the word in January that we were one of 3 finalists, along with our UW colleagues Kohta Kumazaki and Colin Lane. We submitted a final presentation of our idea, and this was voted on at the AM Best Conference in March. After much time, we found out that we were selected as the winners of the AM Best Student Challenge. This experience has been so amazing; having the opportunity to create something that can help so many people while also getting to connect with industry professionals across the US has been extremely rewarding and valuable.