2017 Power Broker

Ahead of the Curve

If a given industry sector is facing challenges, you can bet a 2017 Power Broker® is already well on their way to a solution.
By: | February 20, 2017 • 4 min read

Looking for the Power Broker Winners? Click Here.

Talk to a health care risk manager from the Midwest and they will tell you we face a crisis in mental health. In many areas of the country, access to quality psychological counseling is severely limited, with some patients needing to travel hundreds of miles to get help.

Telemedicine — a practitioner videoconferencing with a patient — is a viable solution, but regulation of telemedicine service providers is done on a state by state basis, making the arrangement of malpractice insurance very complicated.

Enter Larry Hansard, a Dallas-based regional managing director with Arthur J. Gallagher and a 2017 Power Broker® in the health care category.

Hansard developed a comprehensive telemedicine medical professional liability program that allows practitioners to provide telemedicine services not only anywhere in the United States but anywhere in the world.

Hansard not only saved the day for thousands of individuals in need of help, he saved the day for Doctor on Demand, a telemedicine startup that was struggling to obtain affordable insurance coverage.

“I don’t worry about insurance, he really owns the insurance process,” said Matt Scalo, head of finance at Doctor on Demand.

Everywhere we turned in judging the 2017 edition of Power Broker®, in this 12th consecutive installment of the program, we found insurance brokers like Hansard whose creativity, industry knowledge and customer service made a difference not only for their clients but for the economy at large.

“My approach to client service would best be described as creative customer concentration,” Hansard wrote in his 2017 Power Broker® application.

Aon’s Paul Finnett, a 2017 Power Broker® in the traditional energy category, services an oil and gas industry that is facing a severe downturn.

One of his offshore drilling clients was forced into Chapter 11 bankruptcy when idled rigs left it with a heavy debt load and sharply reduced revenues.

Finnett was able to create competition between U.S. and international insurance markets to get the bankrupt drilling company coverage as it scrambled to regain its financial footing. He got the company an additional $100 million in third-party liability coverage and achieved year-over-year premium savings of 40 percent.

“Truly understanding a client’s needs builds trust and respect,” Finnett wrote in his 2017 Power Broker® application.

“Once you have that trust and confidence from your client, you end up having a mutually beneficial long-term relationship and become a valued extension to their team,” wrote Finnett.

Yet another crisis produced yet another 2017 Power Broker®.  A budget crisis in the State of Illinois led to drastic cuts in education funding.

Arthur J. Gallagher’s Rockford, Ill.-based Area Senior Vice President Laurie Miller jumped into the fray and set up a health care insurance purchasing pool for financially struggling rural Illinois schools. What is now known as the Illinois Scholastic Cooperative launched in September 2016. The cooperative started with seven districts as members and now covers more than 1,000 employees.

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Other cash-strapped schools in Illinois are taking note of the savings gained by ISC members. Those amount to 5 percent overall in health care coverage premium costs. One rural district was able to avoid an 18 percent premium increase by joining the pool.

“We treat our clients like extended members of our family and we are relentless in pursuing claims resolution for people who often have no one to fight for them,” Miller wrote in her 2017 Power Broker® application.

Yet another 2017 Power Broker® stepped in to provide an insurance and risk mitigation solution to an industry badly in need of one.

Take the threat of a cyber attack and the risk that such an attack could derail a train and you have the makings of a catastrophic loss.

Tricia Piccinini, a Baltimore-based vice president of property brokerage with Aon, worked with markets in London, Bermuda and the U.S. to include coverage for collision and derailment in the case of a cyber event.

“I do not beat around the bush when it comes to my clients,” Piccinini said.

“I am always available to take a call, whether it is in the middle of the evening or vacation,” she wrote in her 2017 Power Broker® application.

Devoted customer service, dedication to learning as much as you can about the industry you serve, and driven creativity in finding solutions. Those are the hallmarks of a Power Broker® as expressed so clearly by Aon’s Tricia Piccinini.

Congratulations to her and to all of the 2017 Power Brokers. Click here to begin reading profiles of all of this year’s winners.

Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He can be reached at [email protected]

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

Insurtech

Kiss Your Annual Renewal Goodbye; On-Demand Insurance Challenges the Traditional Policy

Gig workers' unique insurance needs drive delivery of on-demand coverage.
By: | September 14, 2018 • 6 min read

The gig economy is growing. Nearly six million Americans, or 3.8 percent of the U.S. workforce, now have “contingent” work arrangements, with a further 10.6 million in categories such as independent contractors, on-call workers or temporary help agency staff and for-contract firms, often with well-known names such as Uber, Lyft and Airbnb.

Scott Walchek, founding chairman and CEO, Trōv

The number of Americans owning a drone is also increasing — one recent survey suggested as much as one in 12 of the population — sparking vigorous debate on how regulation should apply to where and when the devices operate.

Add to this other 21st century societal changes, such as consumers’ appetite for other electronic gadgets and the advent of autonomous vehicles. It’s clear that the cover offered by the annually renewable traditional insurance policy is often not fit for purpose. Helped by the sophistication of insurance technology, the response has been an expanding range of ‘on-demand’ covers.

The term ‘on-demand’ is open to various interpretations. For Scott Walchek, founding chairman and CEO of pioneering on-demand insurance platform Trōv, it’s about “giving people agency over the items they own and enabling them to turn on insurance cover whenever they want for whatever they want — often for just a single item.”

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“On-demand represents a whole new behavior and attitude towards insurance, which for years has very much been a case of ‘get it and forget it,’ ” said Walchek.

Trōv’s mobile app enables users to insure just a single item, such as a laptop, whenever they wish and to also select the period of cover required. When ready to buy insurance, they then snap a picture of the sales receipt or product code of the item they want covered.

Welcoming Trōv: A New On-Demand Arrival

While Walchek, who set up Trōv in 2012, stressed it’s a technology company and not an insurance company, it has attracted industry giants such as AXA and Munich Re as partners. Trōv began the U.S. roll-out of its on-demand personal property products this summer by launching in Arizona, having already established itself in Australia and the United Kingdom.

“Australia and the UK were great testing grounds, thanks to their single regulatory authorities,” said Walchek. “Trōv is already approved in 45 states, and we expect to complete the process in all by November.

“On-demand products have a particular appeal to millennials who love the idea of having control via their smart devices and have embraced the concept of an unbundling of experiences: 75 percent of our users are in the 18 to 35 age group.” – Scott Walchek, founding chairman and CEO, Trōv

“On-demand products have a particular appeal to millennials who love the idea of having control via their smart devices and have embraced the concept of an unbundling of experiences: 75 percent of our users are in the 18 to 35 age group,” he added.

“But a mass of tectonic societal shifts is also impacting older generations — on-demand cover fits the new ways in which they work, particularly the ‘untethered’ who aren’t always in the same workplace or using the same device. So we see on-demand going into societal lifestyle changes.”

Wooing Baby Boomers

In addition to its backing for Trōv, across the Atlantic, AXA has partnered with Insurtech start-up By Miles, launching a pay-as-you-go car insurance policy in the UK. The product is promoted as low-cost car insurance for drivers who travel no more than 140 miles per week, or 7,000 miles annually.

“Due to the growing need for these products, companies such as Marmalade — cover for learner drivers — and Cuvva — cover for part-time drivers — have also increased in popularity, and we expect to see more enter the market in the near future,” said AXA UK’s head of telematics, Katy Simpson.

Simpson confirmed that the new products’ initial appeal is to younger motorists, who are more regular users of new technology, while older drivers are warier about sharing too much personal information. However, she expects this to change as on-demand products become more prevalent.

“Looking at mileage-based insurance, such as By Miles specifically, it’s actually older generations who are most likely to save money, as the use of their vehicles tends to decline. Our job is therefore to not only create more customer-centric products but also highlight their benefits to everyone.”

Another Insurtech ready to partner with long-established names is New York-based Slice Labs, which in the UK is working with Legal & General to enter the homeshare insurance market, recently announcing that XL Catlin will use its insurance cloud services platform to create the world’s first on-demand cyber insurance solution.

“For our cyber product, we were looking for a partner on the fintech side, which dovetailed perfectly with what Slice was trying to do,” said John Coletti, head of XL Catlin’s cyber insurance team.

“The premise of selling cyber insurance to small businesses needs a platform such as that provided by Slice — we can get to customers in a discrete, seamless manner, and the partnership offers potential to open up other products.”

Slice Labs’ CEO Tim Attia added: “You can roll up on-demand cover in many different areas, ranging from contract workers to vacation rentals.

“The next leap forward will be provided by the new economy, which will create a range of new risks for on-demand insurance to respond to. McKinsey forecasts that by 2025, ecosystems will account for 30 percent of global premium revenue.

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“When you’re a start-up, you can innovate and question long-held assumptions, but you don’t have the scale that an insurer can provide,” said Attia. “Our platform works well in getting new products out to the market and is scalable.”

Slice Labs is now reviewing the emerging markets, which aren’t hampered by “old, outdated infrastructures,” and plans to test the water via a hackathon in southeast Asia.

Collaboration Vs Competition

Insurtech-insurer collaborations suggest that the industry noted the banking sector’s experience, which names the tech disruptors before deciding partnerships, made greater sense commercially.

“It’s an interesting correlation,” said Slice’s managing director for marketing, Emily Kosick.

“I believe the trend worth calling out is that the window for insurers to innovate is much shorter, thanks to the banking sector’s efforts to offer omni-channel banking, incorporating mobile devices and, more recently, intelligent assistants like Alexa for personal banking.

“Banks have bought into the value of these technology partnerships but had the benefit of consumer expectations changing slowly with them. This compares to insurers who are in an ever-increasing on-demand world where the risk is high for laggards to be left behind.”

As with fintechs in banking, Insurtechs initially focused on the retail segment, with 75 percent of business in personal lines and the remainder in the commercial segment.

“Banks have bought into the value of these technology partnerships but had the benefit of consumer expectations changing slowly with them. This compares to insurers who are in an ever-increasing on-demand world where the risk is high for laggards to be left behind.” — Emily Kosick, managing director, marketing, Slice

Those proportions may be set to change, with innovations such as digital commercial insurance brokerage Embroker’s recent launch of the first digital D&O liability insurance policy, designed for venture capital-backed tech start-ups and reinsured by Munich Re.

Embroker said coverage that formerly took weeks to obtain is now available instantly.

“We focus on three main issues in developing new digital business — what is the customer’s pain point, what is the expense ratio and does it lend itself to algorithmic underwriting?” said CEO Matt Miller. “Workers’ compensation is another obvious class of insurance that can benefit from this approach.”

Jason Griswold, co-founder and chief operating officer of Insurtech REIN, highlighted further opportunities: “I’d add a third category to personal and business lines and that’s business-to-business-to-consumer. It’s there we see the biggest opportunities for partnering with major ecosystems generating large numbers of insureds and also big volumes of data.”

For now, insurers are accommodating Insurtech disruption. Will that change?

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“Insurtechs have focused on products that regulators can understand easily and for which there is clear existing legislation, with consumer protection and insurer solvency the two issues of paramount importance,” noted Shawn Hanson, litigation partner at law firm Akin Gump.

“In time, we could see the disruptors partner with reinsurers rather than primary carriers. Another possibility is the likes of Amazon, Alphabet, Facebook and Apple, with their massive balance sheets, deciding to link up with a reinsurer,” he said.

“You can imagine one of them finding a good Insurtech and buying it, much as Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods gave it entry into the retail sector.” &

Graham Buck is a UK-based writer and has contributed to Risk & Insurance® since 1998. He can be reached at riskletters.com.