2014 Power Broker

Gaming and Hospitality

The Show Must Go On

Marlene Benoit Vice President Marsh, Las Vegas

Marlene Benoit
Vice President
Marsh, Las Vegas

Events and promotions usually fall outside the scope of general liability policies and can demand some very unique coverage.

Marlene Benoit, a vice president at Marsh, has helped clients hold weekend-long concerts with overnight camping, sponsor death-defying stunts at the Indy 500, and host a Survivor-esque competition on a tropical island.

Policies for event cancellation, weather and prize indemnity insurance are all necessary to ensure smooth sailing.

“She really helps me a lot with weather insurance, group sales and pyrotechnics with group shows,” said Veronica Fuentes, risk manager at the M Resort in Las Vegas. “I look to her for help with special shows including tightrope walkers, pyrotechnics and other liabilities including ‘act of God’ possibilities. She’ll send me three bids for everything I ask for.”

Sixteen years in the events and promotions space, including marketing experience, have helped Benoit identify what coverage terms are crucial and how organizations can best plan events for increased revenue and minimized risk.

Timeliness also matters should an event encounter any last-minute changes. Holly Delinski, vice president of the corporate executive financial department at Edelman, called Benoit’s responsiveness “reassuring.”

“Marlene is always willing to find the best solution possible to our insurance-related situations in the timeliest manner possible,” Delinski said.

Going the Extra Mile

Reiner Braun, CPCU Managing Director Marsh, Los Angeles

Reiner Braun, CPCU
Managing Director
Marsh, Los Angeles

It’s easy to be proactive when business is going well, but digging out of a hole can box brokers into survival mode, fighting against premium increases rather than searching for better, more cost-efficient solutions.

Reiner Braun, managing director and senior client advisor at Marsh, had to be creative for a client with an adverse loss history, broadening coverage for minimum cost. He did so by creating two separately sized primary layers and a larger excess program, allowing the client to take advantage of increased competition in the excess market.

Braun has also helped clients expand, sometimes changing the company’s risk profile dramatically. One hotel chain, for example, added a new coastal property to the program right at the beginning of windstorm season. On short notice, Braun had to attract a large number of underwriters to accept the heightened risk.

Finding underwriter support is not always easy. The hospitality sector faces unique insurance challenges, such as a transactional business model, dependency on lenders, and exposure to natural catastrophes such as windstorm, earthquake and flood.

Lisa Campanaro, COO and executive vice president of Raleigh Enterprises, praised Braun’s willingness to go the extra mile. Other clients also praised his availability and work ethic.

“He’s on everybody’s speed dial,” Campanaro said.

Gourmet Service for Gourmet Food

Denton Christner, CIC Vice President BayRisk, Alameda, Calif.

Denton Christner, CIC
Vice President
BayRisk, Alameda, Calif.

Gourmet food trucks have been rising in popularity, giving hopeful restaurateurs a chance to get into the business without the cost and risk of opening a storefront location. But the niche is chronically underinsured. Denton Christner, vice president of BayRisk Insurance Brokers and founder of InsureMyFoodTruck.com, sought to fill the gap.

By mid-2012, he helped build a program addressing risks specific to food truck operations, incorporating loss of business income coverage, equipment breakdown and spoilage. Christner and his team now serve more than 400 mobile food vendors in multiple states. His website receives between 60 and 125 quote requests per month and has so far attracted almost 8,000 unique visitors.

Much of the site’s success grew from social media promotion and interaction. Christner connected with clients on Facebook or Twitter before meeting them in person to learn about them socially, which builds a stronger bond. Clients also were served quickly — getting full policies, certificates and identification cards within 48 hours — thanks to the company’s digital platform.

“On his website, he has a spot where you sign in and fill in the blanks and within 24 hours you get a certificate for endorsing another insurance for the day, which some locations require,” said Alan Jong, president of Slightly Skewed, a food truck in Sacramento, Calif. “The 24-hour turnaround is a great solution because sometimes I’ll get a call asking me to bring my truck down to a location in two days.”

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Bringing a Fresh Take on Client Service

There may be no better example of the innovation and fresh air the insurance industry craves than the work Denny Christner has done with BayRisk. By insuring hundreds of gourmet food trucks, Christner has not only displayed a sharp eye for new business, but has helped to cover a sector of the economy that speaks to new generations. If insurance is an enabler of commerce, then Christner is an enabler of good taste.

He also breaks the mold by using modern channels of communication with his clients: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Promoting and advocating for his always-on-the-go customers via social media speaks to his ability to adapt traditional business models to modern demands. That demonstrates a level of media savvy not typically seen from seasoned brokers.

And Christner is also serving the insurance industry and the economy in other ways. He has served on the Young Brokers & Agents Committee of Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of California and chaired that committee in 2011. In that leadership position, he hosted events geared to younger agents that encouraged them to discuss their progress and offer mutual support. Christner has also accepted a board position with the IIABCal in 2014.

“I continually engage young professionals and those entering the workforce to consider an insurance profession,” Christner said, calling the field personally rewarding, but often overlooked by young talent.

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Dominating D&O Challenges

Anne Corona Managing Director Aon, San Francisco

Anne Corona
Managing Director
Aon, San Francisco

Renewal time can often weigh down the workload and demand extra creativity from brokers, but completely restructuring a program with new insurers within 60 days is quite a unique challenge. That’s what Anne Corona, managing director at Aon, did for one Fortune 100 company.

The client wanted to overhaul its D&O program to eliminate some coverages and increase its total limits by more than 20 percent, while switching to insurers with better credit quality.

In a challenging marketplace, she was able to create a more efficient program with fewer insurers and reduce the company’s premium by 20 percent despite that significant increase in total limits. The new program was also more tax compliant and included an improved international risk transfer strategy.

“Anne partnered effectively with our team to rethink the program in the context of our unique goals and objectives. The result was outstanding,” said Robert Gordan, assistant treasurer, Insurance division, at Chevron Corp.

Other clients also value her knowledge of the D&O marketplace and high level of honest, open communication.

“I’ve worked with her for about a year and a half now, and I find her very professional. There are a lot of brokers who can do the wining and dining, but she’s always been very professional and very knowledgeable about the coverages,” said Maila Aganon, director, Risk and Insurance, for Caesars Entertainment Corp.

Thinking Ahead and Enabling Growth

Angela Giunto Senior Vice President Aon, Denver

Angela Giunto
Senior Vice President
Aon, Denver

Growth is good. But it also presents risk management challenges in terms of taking on greater assets and more liability. In the past year, Diamond Resorts International Inc. increased its portfolio by 30 percent, acquired two companies, and went public.

Angela Giunto, senior vice president and AE leader for Aon, was there to make sure every transition went smoothly. By working with the companies prior to them being acquired, she was able to roll policies into Diamond’s existing programs with no gaps, and ensured a seamless renewal as the company went public.

That kind of diligence allows businesses to take advantage of opportunities and flourish.

The hospitality industry can be daunting to insurers, one client said, but Giunto has educated the marketplace about the exposures.

“She has to creatively market our program to entice carriers to work with us so we’re not at the mercy of their prices,” the client said. “Carriers are glad they stuck with us. They price us differently now.”

Giunto’s legal background also works to her advantage when it comes to client service. She will ask to see major contracts in early draft stages, which allows her to proactively make suggestions on coverage or indemnification.

“She’s very forward-thinking” said Nusrat Andersen, vice president, enterprise risk management for Diamond Resorts. “The creativity and solutions she offers us are for needs today, which she had identified and brought to our attention over 24 months ago.”

Keeping Costs Down

Sean Murphy, AAI, ARM Account Executive Arthur J. Gallagher, Houston

Sean Murphy, AAI, ARM
Account Executive
Arthur J. Gallagher, Houston

When a hotel with more than 10,000 rooms wanted to reduce their liability exposure at the property level, Sean Murphy came up with a creative approach. He and his team put together an “Accident Investigation Briefcase” consisting of a camera, standardized forms, a ruler and caution tape, among other items. The kit was distributed to 50 locations and helped to reduce the company’s exposure through consistent use.

Drawing on underwriter relationships built over a career solely devoted to the hospitality sector has also given Murphy an advantage in negotiating better deals for his customers.

“We had a large loss at one of our properties and it was occurring around the same time as our property insurance renewal, so understandably some of the underwriters from our insurance providers were a little skittish about what that could potentially do to their ratios,” said Matt Partridge, vice president of finance for Pebblebrook Hotel Trust.

“Sean and his team came up with a creative structure that allowed us to complete the renewal with only a nominal increase, when we otherwise would have experienced a 10 to 15 percent year-over-year increase,” he said.

“We’re a demanding company. We call all hours of the day, on weekends,” said Bob Provost, president for Murphy’s client, Provost & Associates. “And he’s always been responsive. He’s very customer service oriented.”

Despite having clients on both coasts, Murphy makes it a priority to respond to any issues or questions within 24 hours.

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

2018 Risk All Stars

Stop Mitigating Risk. Start Conquering It Like These 2018 Risk All Stars

The concept of risk mastery and ownership, as displayed by the 2018 Risk All Stars, includes not simply seeking to control outcomes but taking full responsibility for them.
By: | September 14, 2018 • 3 min read

People talk a lot about how risk managers can get a seat at the table. The discussion implies that the risk manager is an outsider, striving to get the ear or the attention of an insider, the CEO or CFO.

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But there are risk managers who go about things in a different way. And the 2018 Risk All Stars are prime examples of that.

These risk managers put in gear their passion, creativity and perseverance to become masters of a situation, pushing aside any notion that they are anything other than key players.

Goodyear’s Craig Melnick had only been with the global tire maker a few months when Hurricane Harvey dumped a record amount of rainfall on Houston.

Brilliant communication between Melnick and his new teammates gave him timely and valuable updates on the condition of manufacturing locations. Melnick remained in Akron, mastering the situation by moving inventory out of the storm’s path and making sure remediation crews were lined up ahead of time to give Goodyear its best leg up once the storm passed and the flood waters receded.

Goodyear’s resiliency in the face of the storm gave it credibility when it went to the insurance markets later that year for renewals. And here is where we hear a key phrase, produced by Kevin Garvey, one of Goodyear’s brokers at Aon.

“The markets always appreciate a risk manager who demonstrates ownership,” Garvey said, in what may be something of an understatement.

These risk managers put in gear their passion, creativity and perseverance to become masters of a situation, pushing aside any notion that they are anything other than key players.

Dianne Howard, a 2018 Risk All Star and the director of benefits and risk management for the Palm Beach County School District, achieved ownership of $50 million in property storm exposures for the district.

With FEMA saying it wouldn’t pay again for district storm losses it had already paid for, Howard went to the London markets and was successful in getting coverage. She also hammered out a deal in London that would partially reimburse the district if it suffered a mass shooting and needed to demolish a building, like what happened at Sandy Hook in Connecticut.

2018 Risk All Star Jim Cunningham was well-versed enough to know what traditional risk management theories would say when hospitality workers were suffering too many kitchen cuts. “Put a cut-prevention plan in place,” is the traditional wisdom.

But Cunningham, the vice president of risk management for the gaming company Pinnacle Entertainment, wasn’t satisfied with what looked to him like a Band-Aid approach.

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Instead, he used predictive analytics, depending on his own team to assemble company-specific data, to determine which safety measures should be used company wide. The result? Claims frequency at the company dropped 60 percent in the first year of his program.

Alumine Bellone, a 2018 Risk All Star and the vice president of risk management for Ardent Health Services, faced an overwhelming task: Create a uniform risk management program when her hospital group grew from 14 hospitals in three states to 31 hospitals in seven.

Bellone owned the situation by visiting each facility right before the acquisition and again right after, to make sure each caregiving population was ready to integrate into a standardized risk management system.

After consolidating insurance policies, Bellone achieved $893,000 in synergies.

In each of these cases, and in more on the following pages, we see examples of risk managers who weren’t just knocking on the door; they were owning the room. &

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Risk All Stars stand out from their peers by overcoming challenges through exceptional problem solving, creativity, clarity of vision and passion.

See the complete list of 2018 Risk All Stars.

Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He can be reached at dreynolds@lrp.com.