Few insurance professionals begin to think about a career in insurance as undergraduates. Siddharth Virkud was no different. He had an aptitude for math and science and plotted a course in civil engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. It wasn’t long before he realized he didn’t want to spend his life designing roads and bridges but was drawn to learning about how and why structures might fail. That curiosity led him to a class in Societal Risk Management where he learned about the causes of failure at an extreme level – natural disasters – and what can be done to prevent failure. Siddharth was not only interested in structural failure, but the financial and economic impact of extreme damage from hurricanes, earthquakes and flood.
Siddharth’s interest in Societal Risk Management took a natural turn into Insurance Risk Management. After a few insurance related internships, he landed a job with Velocity Risk Underwriters in 2016, shortly after graduating with a master’s degree. Velocity offered a sense of adventure. Born and raised in Boston and fluent in Marathi, Siddharth travelled frequently with his family, including India before opting for a university away from home. Headquartered in Nashville, Velocity was another new city longing to be explored.
The biggest appeal of Velocity was that it was a different type of start up, and Siddharth, Sr. Data Analyst, was one of the first employees hired. His focus was on catastrophe modeling and business analytics, but when you’re employee #23, you get involved in many aspects of the business, meaning no two days were alike. Siddharth especially enjoyed modeling or predicting what and how storms might impact coastal communities based on thousands of years of simulated history, compared to a few dozen years of actual insurance history for an average home in middle America. As he learned more about data analytics, his projects included direct recommendations on pricing for homes and later, large and small commercial risks. Today Siddharth helps manage VRU’s portfolios across all lines of business to ensure capital efficiency, assists in claims analytics, and has been getting more involved in capital exploration and reinsurance work.
“Sidd may have been new to insurance,” explains Piya Gidwani, Director of Catastrophe Modeling, “but he is keen to learn from others, strives for efficiency improvements, and provides valuable feedback across multiple projects that span different teams.”
Siddharth recalls one of his favorite days at Velocity was right before a large storm made landfall in the U.S. There were non-stop meetings and phone calls from leadership at Velocity’s parent company, investors and claims. They all needed financial and economic simulations based on the path of the storm. What are the potential losses? Did estimates meet reality? If not, what pricing tweaks need to be made to improve future outcomes?
Velocity’s Chief Claims Officer, Rod Harden, remembers that storm when Velocity was less than a year old, “Sidd played a key role in building out the claims event modeling platform, helping us better understand how to respond in the most efficient way to catastrophic events.”
When customers began to submit Business Interruption claims due to COVID-19, Siddharth began to analyze the data. Even with a virus exclusion, customers file claims which still requires that the claim be handled by an adjustor and an attorney, meaning that Loss Adjustment Expenses could be extremely high, even if no claim payments are awarded. The data collected from these claims will help Velocity better plan for the future.
Although Nashville provided many years of enjoyment for Siddharth, he was happy when Velocity opened an office in Chicago, which he calls home and where he has many close friends. The move to Chicago also meant learning more about Velocity’s large commercial unit. He enjoys getting back to Nashville often and looks forward to the next opportunity when travel resumes.