2017 Power Broker

Entertainment

Setting the Bar for Brokers

Seth Cohen, ARM, CPCU
Vice President
HUB, Encino, Calif.

No project is too challenging for Seth Cohen and his team to insure, as his clients can attest to.

“One of our clients was producing the ‘Heaven Sent’ jump, in which Luke Aikins jumped out of a plane at 25,000 feet without a parachute or a wing suit. The only thing catching him was a net the size of a football field,” said Marcia Jacobson, president, The Jacobson Group.

“We were not covering Luke, but cameramen who were perched on a ledge on the side of a mountain and sound guys located on the ground. There was concern for their safety, and it was a potential workers’ comp nightmare. Seth, as usual, was able to make the coverage work for our client and the jump went off without a hitch.”

Another client, the producer of a television series, described how Cohen worked through ongoing negotiations with insurers after an injury to an actor caused setbacks in the schedule. Coverage had to be adjusted last-minute, and Cohen figured out the most cost-effective way to make the changes and get all of the necessary coverage in place.

“He’s set the bar for other brokers I work with as well. And those other brokers often don’t meet the expectations that I have because of Seth,” the producer said.
Casey Spira, executive in charge, Irwin Entertainment, said the time and care that Cohen and his team take with each client is not commonly found.

“They’re available 24/7, and that’s not something you can get with everyone,” Spira said.

Minimizing Risk to Enable Growth

John Galanis, ARM
Account Executive
Aon, New York

John Galanis spent time in both the Los Angeles and the New York offices of Aon subsidiary Albert G. Ruben Insurance Services. He’s worked on everything from television and film to magazine publishing and advertising. As a result, he can create solutions best suited to each unique scenario that arises.

Christine Busch, senior risk manager for the Hearst Corp., said, “I have thrown multiple projects at him over the past year and he is always quick to respond, quick to provide quotes, and great with explaining, following up, and getting the job done. We have had odd situations come up that have involved unusual locations, stunts or race cars, and nothing seems to faze John. He listens and then goes out to the market to find creative solutions.”

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“It’s a very last-minute, seat-of-the-pants industry,” said Nancy Perkins, director, insurance risk management at AOL, which started to create more original content in-house in 2016. “John and his team worked with me as our program grew from a small package policy to more of a production program that a larger size company would need.”

Similarly, Danielle Zubriksi, director of business affairs for advertising agency 22Squared, said, “John’s knowledge and willingness to talk me through insurance concerns has been key to our growth. He has been instrumental in helping my agency — a small, independent shop — institute production wrap-up policies that were previously only available to holding company agencies.”

A True Client Advocate

Robert Jellen
Managing Director
HUB, Encino, Calif.

For a recent movie production, HUB’s Robert Jellen recognized that the mere threat of bad weather could halt filming for days at a time, so he arranged for a policy enhancement that covered delays in production due to a threat of damage, even if no physical damage was sustained.

The enhancement proved critical. The movie lost production time due to threat of lightning on 27 days, resulting in a claim in excess of $1 million.

For Steve Burkow, a partner with Ziffren Brittenham LLP, Jellen came through with a life insurance policy that helped to seal an endorsement deal.

“We were working with an advertiser that wanted life insurance for the client, but was concerned about privacy. Bob created a structure under which the client could take over the policy on favorable terms. He does this consistently — advocates for the client to find a solution that works for everyone and either adds value or saves costs.”

Peter Oillataguerre, executive in charge of production for MGM Studios, said Jellen will answer a phone call at any time of day.

“We’ve had more than a few conversations at extremely inappropriate hours and he has always accommodated me,” he said.

“His knowledge of the industry is unparalleled. I’ve been working in this industry for 20 years and have had the pleasure of working with several different brokers, and Bob has more industry knowledge than anyone I’ve come across.”

Keeping Coverage on Pace with Production

Daniel R’bibo, ARM
Area Senior Vice President
Arthur J. Gallagher, Glendale, Calif.

Daniel R’bibo can conjure up innovative solutions in no time flat.

“As a production company, things are always changing. We don’t need him once a year for renewal; we need his services 50 times a year,” said Gretchen Stockdale, COO and general counsel for Pilgrim Media Group. “It’s important for him to really know our business and form relationships in the industry.”

“Daniel knows all the key players and is aware of all the different approaches that we need to take on each project,” said Ellen Schwartz, head of production at Black Label Media.

The insurance needs of each project are highly dependent on the actors involved and the production locations, and schedules are always subject to change.

“He was amazing in helping us come up with creative solutions for obtaining insurance on a movie with an actor who was also committed to another project at the time,” which made his travel and schedule hectic and presented coverage challenges, Schwartz said.

R’bibo sometimes acts as an educator to other brokers. Stockdale described one project in which a co-producing company was receiving inaccurate information from their broker, and R’bibo stepped in to get everyone on the same page and move the project forward.

On another show involving more than two dozen stunts, R’bibo proactively involved the loss control team and created a streamlined process for submitting information on each stunt first to loss control and then to the carrier, which expedited clearance of the stunts and made the carrier more comfortable providing coverage.

Behind the Scenes of the Big Game

Amy Walters, ARM
Senior Vice President
Marsh, San Francisco

Amy Walters knows that insuring a high-profile event like the Super Bowl means planning for every contingency and then some.

John Mitchell, COO at Future Fires and a member of the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee in San Francisco, said, “Amy and her team helped the Host Committee understand the risks involved in producing an event that saw more than a million visitors in 9 days. It was also taking place right around a number of unrelated national and international security incidents that made us want to make sure we were totally prepared.”

Danielle DeLancey, chief of staff for the San Francisco Super Bowl 50 Host Committee, also cited the challenges in creating “Super Bowl City” — a free-to-the-public, open access area in downtown San Francisco created to celebrate the big game.

“Insurers were either declining coverage or offering quotes beyond the budget,” she said. “Amy and her team worked tirelessly over the holiday season with their underwriters across the globe to secure coverage for our events. The result was a successful, safe event.”

A host committee member for a different Super Bowl echoed Mitchell’s and DeLancey’s sentiments. In need of event cancellation insurance, he turned to Walters to get carriers, the bank requiring the insurance, and a state reimbursement program on the same page.

“Amy and her team negotiated unique terms, communicated to underwriters the uniqueness of our event and our funding, and got insurance bound without delaying our loan closing,” he said.

Blazing His Own Trail

Paul Jones
Director
Aon, Sherman Oaks, Calif.

A production company client of Paul Jones was concerned that it would not receive a sizable tax credit it relied on to help fund its budget. Jones and his team with Aon subsidiary Albert G. Ruben Insurance Services set out to build a product that insured 85 percent of the multimillion dollar credit if the state couldn’t pay.

While difficult to bring together — the policy required several carriers to get on board even after a few rejections —the new product removed a lot of guesswork over the final budget and provided much needed peace of mind.

Kevin Drozdowski, vice president, treasury and risk management, AMC Networks, also relies on Jones for more than standard production coverage.

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“In addition to covering our production needs, he also places all of our cyber and events coverage. If I could use him for all of my insurance needs, I would. He’s the best broker I’ve worked with and I’ve worked with all the major brokerage houses.

“On a scale of one to 10, I’d rate his customer service a 15 and his industry knowledge a 20,” said the risk manager of another major production company. “He comes up with out-of-the-box solutions — not the expected standard policy — to handle complex problems.”

Kumi Maemura, director, production, BBC Worldwide Productions, also lauded Jones for his availability and quick responses, as well as his ability to put himself in his clients’ shoes.

“He brings creative ways to make sure we have the coverage we need for the exposure while being conscious of what we want to get on camera.”

Finalists:

Lorrie McNaught
Senior Vice President, Aon/Albert G. Ruben Insurance Services
Sherman Oaks, Calif.

George Walden
Resident Managing Director, Aon/ Albert G. Ruben Insurance Services
New York

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

The Profession

For This Pharmaceutical Risk Director, Managing Risk Means Being Part of the Mission to Save Lives

Meet Eric Dobkin, director, insurance and risk management, for Merck & Co. Inc.
By: | September 28, 2018 • 5 min read

R&I: What was your first job?
My first job out of undergrad was as an actuarial trainee at Chubb.I was a math major in school, and I think the options for a math major coming out are either a teacher or an actuary, right? Anyway, I was really happy when the opportunity at Chubb presented itself. Fantastic company. I learned a lot there.

R&I: How did you come to work in risk management?
After I went back to get my MBA, I decided I wanted to work in corporate finance. When I was interviewing, one of the opportunities was with Merck. I really liked their mission, and things worked out. Given my background, they thought a good starting job would be in Merck’s risk management group. I started there, rotated through other areas within Merck finance but ultimately came back to the Insurance & Risk Management group. I guess I’m just one of those people who enjoy this type of work.

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R&I: What is risk management doing right?
I think the community is doing a good job of promoting education, sharing ideas and advancing knowledge. Opportunities like this help make us all better business partners. We can take these ideas and translate them into actionable solutions to help our companies.

R&I: What could the risk management community be doing a better job of?
I think we have made good advancements in articulating the value proposition of investing in risk management, but much more can be done. Sometimes there is such a focus on delivering immediate value, such as cost savings, that risk management does not get appropriate attention (until something happens). We need to develop better tools that can reinforce that risk management is value-creating and good for operational efficiency, customers and shareholders.

R&I: What’s been the biggest change in the risk management and insurance industry since you’ve been in it?
I’d actually say there hasn’t been as much change as I would have hoped. I think the industry speaks about innovation more often than it does it. To be fair, at Merck we do have key partners that are innovators, but some in the industry are less enthusiastic to consider new approaches. I think there is a real need to find new and relevant solutions for large, complex risks.

R&I: What emerging commercial risk most concerns you?
Cyber risk. While it’s not emerging anymore, it’s evolving, dynamic and deserves the attention it gets. Merck was an early adopter of risk transfer solutions for cyber risk, and we continue to see insurance as an important component of the overall cyber risk management framework. From my perspective, this risk, more than any other, demands continuous forward-thinking to ensure we evolve solutions.

R&I: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career?
Sticking with the cyber theme, I’d say navigating through a cyber incident is right up there. In June 2017, Merck experienced a network cyber attack that led to a disruption of its worldwide operations, including manufacturing, research and sales. It was a very challenging environment. And managing the insurance claim that resulted has been extremely complex. But at the same time, I have learned a tremendous amount in terms of how to think about the risk, enterprise resiliency and how to manage through a cyber incident.

R&I: What advice might you give to students or other aspiring risk managers?
Have strong intellectual curiosity. Always be willing to listen and learn. Ask “why?” We deal with a lot of ambiguity in our business, and the more you seek to understand, the better you will be able to apply those learnings toward developing solutions that meet the evolving risk landscape and needs of the business.

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R&I: What role does technology play in your company’s approach to risk management?
We’re continuing to look for ways to apply technology. For example, being able to extract and leverage data that resides in our systems to evaluate risk, drive efficiencies and make things like property-value reporting easier. We’re also looking to utilize data visualization tools to help gain insights into our risks.

R&I: What are your goals for the next five to 10 years of your career?
I think, at this time, I would like to continue to learn and grow in the type of work I do and broaden my scope of responsibilities. There are many opportunities to deliver value. I want to continue to focus on becoming a stronger business partner and help enable growth.

R&I: What is your favorite book or movie?
I’d say right now Star Wars is top on my list. It has been magical re-watching and re-living the series I watched as a kid through the eyes of my children.

R&I: What is the riskiest activity you ever engaged in? When I was about 15, I went to a New York Rangers versus Philadelphia Flyers game at the Philadelphia Spectrum. I wore my Rangers jersey. I would not do that again.

Eric Dobkin, director, insurance & risk management, Merck & Co. Inc

R&I: What is it about this work you find most fulfilling or rewarding?
I am passionate about Merck’s mission of saving and improving lives. “Inventing for Life” is Merck’s tagline. It’s funny, but most people don’t associate “inventing” with medicine. But Merck has been inventing medicines and vaccines for many of the world’s most challenging diseases for a long time. It’s amazing to think the products we make can help people fight terrible diseases like cancer. Whatever little bit I can do to help advance that mission is very fulfilling and rewarding.

R&I: What do your friends and family think you do?
Ha! My kids think I make medicine. I guess they think that because I work for Merck. I suppose if even in a small way I can contribute to Merck’s mission of saving and improving lives, I am good with that. &




Katie Dwyer is an associate editor at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]