When Helen Campbell was growing up in Southampton, England, she loved reading mysteries so much she decided to go to law school.
“Even from a young age, I used to love the whodunit mysteries, the courtroom thrillers,” she says. “I had these ideas of swishing around a courtroom in a wig and gown, very dramatic and pinning down the criminal.”
It wasn’t until after studying the law that Campbell, VP of property contract wordings for Argo Insurance Bermuda, discovered the legal profession wasn’t a good fit for her personality. She was working as a manager at a movie theater when she learned of an opening at an insurance broking company for someone with a legal background. She got the job.
“I suddenly found my niche in a world of contract wording, which was utilizing my legal skills in a host of different ways,” she says of her role drafting contract wording for third-party liability insurance for a variety of insureds.
In her role now, Campbell primarily reviews commercial property insurance contract wordings on the insurance underwriting side of the business.
“The ultimate goal for an insurance policy from an underwriter isn’t to deny a claim,” she says. “It’s to make sure both parties know what they are signing up to.”
Finding an insurance career
Although insurance didn’t figure into her favorite books growing up, Campbell discovered that the industry offers her the challenge and stimulation she craves.
“A career in insurance isn’t necessarily planned out from inception,” she says. “It’s something that people with a little bit of curiosity look into and end up finding out it’s an interesting profession.”
Campbell, who joined Argo in 2017, appreciates the variety of her work and the caliber of her team of six underwriters in Bermuda. She loves learning firsthand during site visits, such as trips to an underground mine and a steel mill in Pennsylvania.
Staying on top of how legal developments can affect the interpretation of contract wordings is a fun challenge, she says. The wording of an insurance contract hinges on precision of language, with enormous consequences potentially resulting from a mere handful of words.
“The existence or absence of five or six words can completely change how much insurance coverage you have,” Campbell says. “Being the one to spot that before it does any damage – that’s really gratifying.”
Pursue certifications, ask questions and network
Campbell urges those just starting their careers to study for professional qualifications, something she is glad she did.
“Every day I am applying those basic principles of insurance,” she says. “Without that strong foundation, the job would be really challenging.”
Networking with peers also is key, she says, noting that she makes a point of connecting with colleagues in contract wordings when she has the chance. And she is a big fan of asking questions.
“Don’t be afraid to ask what something means, and you will probably be surprised at the number of other people who don’t know, either.”
A love for language, mountains and the sea
When a previous employer offered to pay for her to attend SOAS University of London to learn Hindi, Campbell leapt at the opportunity. The skill came in handy several years later when she lived in Mumbai for six months while training a team of policy wording technicians. Although she delivered the training in English, she immersed herself in Hindi during her off time, watching Bollywood films and interacting with people at every opportunity.
While in Egypt in 2005, Campbell learned to SCUBA dive in the Red Sea, and – having lived in Bermuda for the last 12 years – diving is something she continues to enjoy. Campbell has also traveled the world to hike mountains, including the Himalayas, the Inca Trail in Peru, and the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina. She took up long-distance running to stay fit for those pursuits and ran in the London Marathon in 2006 – the same year she hiked Mount Kilimanjaro.
“We were trudging micro-foot by micro-foot,” she says of the trek to the summit. “It was so rewarding when we got to the top, when the sun was coming up.”
Campbell and her husband also enjoy traveling to wine regions, including Oregon, California, Italy and South Africa. And Campbell still finds inspiration in books – particularly biographies. In an all-time favorite, Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China, author Jung Chang shares her life story, and those of her grandmother and mother, spanning the decades before, during and after China’s Cultural Revolution.
Campbell’s takeaway from the book?
“How the generations of women got through those times and endured and flourished nonetheless.”
Learn more about Argo Insurance Bermuda.