AM Best Names Three Finalists in Student Challenge Competition

AM Best has selected students from St. John’s University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison as finalists for its 2021 Student Challenge competition, which tasked risk management and insurance students with creating innovative solutions for catastrophe risks. The three finalists will present their risk solutions at the 28th Review & Preview Conference on March 15-17. Conference attendees will vote for the winner.

The University of Wisconsin distinguished itself by having two teams selected as finalists. Colin Lane and Kohta Kumazaki were chosen for their submission, “Localized Parametric Insurance Technology,” which proposes using highly localized weather data readers to accurately assess basis risk for parametric crop insurance. Andrew Shaw and Madison Wescott, also of UW-Madison, developed “Emergency Evacuation Assistance,” a parametric insurance product that helps families pay expenses related to emergency evacuation.

Mohammad Soltani-Nejad of St. John’s University also earned a spot among the finalists for his submission, “Contingent Pandemic-Response Investment Instrument,” a capital markets solution for pandemic risk. This financial instrument uses tradable securities and contingent capital to fund the development of pandemic vaccines and therapies.

Each finalist has been paired with a senior member of AM Best’s analytical team to mentor them through the final phase of the competition. They will present their submissions next month at Review & Preview, AM Best’s invitation-only gathering of top-tier insurance executives.

“There is a lot of young talent out there. We saw that in this competition,” said Matthew C. Mosher, president and CEO of AM Best Rating Services. “Risk management programs have really done a lot for the professional development of their students and their understanding of the industry. They’re prepared for the business world.”

The Student Challenge was open to undergraduate and graduate students, who were invited to submit as individuals or in teams of two.

For this inaugural competition, AM Best sought catastrophe risk solutions to insure against natural and man-made catastrophes (e.g., pandemics, industrial catastrophe, wildfire, hurricane, flood, nuclear). Solutions could take any form—from new products to public-private partnerships or alternative risk transfer instruments.

AM Best will announce the winner on March 17. The Student Challenge is sponsored by the AM Best Foundation, which financially supports charitable organizations that encourage education and thought leadership in insurance and risk management.

AM Best is a global credit rating agency, news publisher and data analytics provider specializing in the insurance industry. Headquartered in the United States, the company does business in over 100 countries with regional offices in London, Amsterdam, Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore and Mexico City. For more information, visit

Copyright © 2021 by A.M. Best Company, Inc. and/or its affiliates.



Kate Smith
Associate Director, Public Relations
+1 908 439 2200, ext. 5817

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