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Employee Spotlight: Elaine Gascon

King & Neel Account Executive Elaine Gascon's Spotlight

How would you describe your role at K&N?

My primary role is to service our clients and help them with their insurance needs and overall risk management program. I also am charged with identifying new clients that would benefit from our service and expertise.

How did you start a career in risk management?

I usually tell people I fell into insurance. Right out of college, my first job offer was an entry-level administrative position with an insurance carrier. After about two years in the industry, I decided I would make a career out of it and went ahead to pursue my MBA. I was there for about three years and worked my way up before moving to an insurance agency. At my previous employer, I was able to work my way up and eventually became an account executive specializing in the AOAO industry (Association of Apartment Owners, or condominium and community associations).  

I found that a career in risk management was a great fit for me – it is challenging and rewarding, with a lot of opportunities.   

King & Neel Account Executive Elaine Gascon's family

Where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in Ewa Beach. It’s on the west side of Oahu, where most people refuse to live due to the commute/traffic; but for me, this place will always be home. For nearly 10 years, I moved out and lived in Honolulu where my commute was only five minutes. As I was expecting to start my own little family, I realized living in my small apartment in the city was not the best idea and decided to move back to my hometown. Although it comes with some sacrifice (traffic and the heat), it was a great decision. I am just a short drive away from my parents and family, which has made all the difference and is something I definitely missed.

Do you volunteer at all?

A few years ago, I hit a moment in my life where I felt like I could be doing more and impacting more people. From that point on, it was my goal to get involved with different organizations and find ways to give back and serve others.

First, it started off with me joining organizations that focused on my specialty industry, AOAOs. I am heavily involved on the Board for the Moilili Resident Managers Association (MRMA), serving as a director and recently the editor-in-chief piloting their newsletter. I also work with the Community Council of Maui (CCM), where I have focused my time on their newsletter efforts. Then last year, I decided to give back to the community that raised me and joined the Rotary Club of Ewa Beach. I am currently serving on the board and also as chair of our public relations efforts.

Giving back to my community is really important to me. Sometimes other people ask me how I am able to volunteer my time between my career and a baby at home; it’s all about balance.

King & Neel Account Executive Elaine Gascon's family

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

I really value my family, so I try to spend my free time together with them. I come from a huge and very close-knit family…my dad is one of 9 children, so we have nearly 30 cousins, and many of us have started families of our own. But now, I also have a 17-month-old son that takes up almost all of my time and energy outside of work. Any time I have to myself, I use to rest (laughs). Most weekends we take him out to explore…but honestly my favorite weekends are the lazy ones.

What’s something interesting happening in Hawaii’s insurance industry?

We’re going from an already hard market into an even tougher one, especially in Hawaii and the AOAO market. Within the last year or two, the condominium associations in Hawaii have been hit hard – many have experienced increased deductibles, higher premiums/rates, non-renewals in coverage, and more.

Hawaii, and mainly Oahu, has a large inventory of older, high-rise buildings. They’re passing a mandate for fire-sprinklers in high-rise buildings, and some of the buildings here don’t have the capital to make the upgrades needed to comply – especially taking into account other critical building updates, such as updates to plumbing, spalling, etc. Of course, there are buildings with capital to put in the work required by the mandate, but there are also those that are barely getting by as it is. Funding these projects is one thing – I also wonder if there will be enough time and manpower to complete the projects on schedule as well.    

On top of that, many carriers no longer want to write excess for buildings that allow short-term rentals…which, as you can imagine, is a huge portion of Hawaii’s inventory. We are also seeing specialized AOAO directors’ and officers’ liability markets slowly pulling out of Hawaii, which is another major red flag that could lead to AOAOs scrambling to find coverage and, even worse, seeing huge spikes in premium with potentially less coverage in the replacement markets. There was a time where insurance coverage for AOAOs was affordable and extremely competitive, but a lot has changed in just the last few years.

Thankfully we’ve been able to help our clients navigate in this tough market. However, I am curious to see how this progresses in the next five to ten years.  

King & Neel Account Executive Elaine Gascon's family

What is something your co-workers would be surprised to learn about you?

I’m not a fan of the ocean, especially the deep water. People often laugh or think I am joking, considering the fact that I’m from Hawaii, but it’s true. I used to love the ocean as a child and spent most of my time at the beach growing up, so I don’t really know what happened. I usually blame watching the Jaws movies at a young age. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the beach, but you will probably find me sunbathing on the sand or in the shallow parts of the ocean.

What is the quality you admire most in other people?

My parents are my inspiration, so I want to say resilience. Now that I’m a parent, I think back to my own parents and all that they did for my brother and I so that we could have a good life. I think that parenting is hard today, and they made it happen with fewer resources than I have. My parents started off with very little, but you would never know that based on the lives we live today. I remember a time when they were working multiple jobs, helping their siblings with babysitting, took the bus everywhere, and still managed to take care of us and cook dinner for us every night. They even made it a priority to take us to Disneyland or Disneyworld almost every other year. That kind of hard work and resilience blows my mind and is what I admire most in them.

PROFILE:

Where are you from? Ewa Beach, Oahu

Family? Erieck, partner; Eason Isaiah, son

Favorite vacation spot? Disneyland and Disneyworld; Atlanta

Favorite food? Yakiniku (Korean BBQ)

Hawaii favorites? Driving around the island playing tourist – visiting Famous Kahuku Shrimp and Matsumotos Shave Ice, enjoying scenic points and spending time at the beaches. It can be challenging living in Hawaii, so I make it a point to get out and enjoy the island as a reminder that we live in paradise.

Parker, Smith & Feek Communications Specialist, Copy Editor, Sara Brauchla
Interviewed and edited by Sara Brauchla, Parker, Smith & Feek’s Communications Specialist and Copy Editor. She is responsible for editing all published materials, including spotlights, which offer a peek at who our hardworking employees really are when not consulting on our clients’ insurance programs. Stay tuned for her next installment, and refer to our blog or articles page for more of her work.

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