2017 Power Broker

Nonprofit

Keeping Schools’ Missions at the Forefront

Brandon Cole, CPCU, CRM, CIC, ARM-P, RPLU, CISR, AINS
Area Vice President
Arthur J. Gallagher, Irvine, Calif.

School clients count on Brandon Cole to provide them the risk management education they need to perform their missions.

Oakland, Calif.-based Thrival World Academies, a new nonprofit, was designing a program to provide publicly subsidized education abroad to racially and socio-economically diverse students. “Since we were in our design phase, many aspects of our program shifted during this period, and Brandon supported us through all of these shifts,” said Executive Director Emma W. Hiza.

“He helped us to understand our insurance needs, to get quotes and ultimately bind all of the liability — domestic and foreign,” she said.  Cole also “has participated in meetings with the school district where we are working to help us discuss shared risk and negotiate with their insurance officials,” Hiza said.

“Without the insurance coverages that Brandon supported us in obtaining, we would not have been able to launch this fall.” she said. “His consistently quick response time has been critical to our success.”

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At the Brooklyn Prospect Charter School in Brooklyn, N.Y.,  Cole not only  provided guidance on travel insurance options when students studied abroad but also ensured that the institution managed the risk of taking students outside the country, said Hillary Prince, director of finance. “We’ve since had three international trips, and everyone came home safely, so that’s priceless,” she said.

Streamlining Coverage on a Budget

Jason Helfert
Vice President
The Horton Group, Orland Park, Ill.

Nonprofit organizations count on Jason Helfert for much more than placing insurance.

CSF Illinois, an agency that supports children and adults with disabilities, tapped Helfert for help completing a merger with another organization.

“As one would suspect, the merger process is complicated, especially in our industry,” said Chief Executive Officer Mary Pat Ambrosino. “We must deal with private business factors, state issues and family issues, sometimes concurrently. While our organization went through a complicated, lengthy process, Jason Helfert helped us navigate every insurance issue that needed to be addressed with ease.

“Knowing that our organization did not have to worry about a lapse in coverage put our minds at ease, smoothing the transition period,” Ambrosino said, “Further, our costs remained relatively the same, and Jason had no monetary incentive for consolidating two existing coverages into one.”

Another nonprofit faced climbing workers’ compensation claims and costs. Helfert aided the agency in establishing a board that meets regularly to review accidents and recommend changes in policies and procedures to prevent future accidents. The board consists of agency staff and experts from Horton and the agency’s insurer.

“In the last fiscal year, our costs were almost 20 percent lower than the previous year, when we did not have the review board,” an agency official said.

Finding an Insurance Structure That Works

Ken Porter, ARM
Principal
Porter & Curtis, Media, Pa.

Ken Porter’s church clients depend on his sophisticated approach to their insurance needs.

An independent consultant noted that a mutual client was not confident in the claims information a third-party administrator provided, largely because the client had a “less-than-centralized approach” in managing its various entities, including schools, churches and charities.

Porter worked with the client’s legal team to jettison the disjointed insurance arrangement and beef up its general insurance and misconduct insurance trust. “He arranged for excess insurance of varying amounts, depending on the exposures presented, and utilized an independent casualty actuary to set up appropriate funding for losses and expenses of the trust,” the consultant said.

“The trust structure should also help to keep the client’s other assets from being subject to attachment in the event of lawsuits. There should be savings in the future due to reinsurers potentially becoming involved because of the more formal trust structure.”

The client’s risk manager noted that the trust arrangement means the client no longer needs to purchase costly misconduct coverage and can direct the savings of several hundred thousand dollars to the trust. “We have been able to now conduct actuarial studies on the program as well as to have clearly defined financial accountings of each trust account” that is distinguishable from the general operations, the risk manager said.

Focusing on Cost Control

Bill Powell, ARM
Area Executive Vice President
Arthur J. Gallagher, Itasca, Ill.

Nonprofits count on Bill Powell to help rein in overhead costs.

A large social services agency with a stratospheric 140 percent workers’ compensation loss ratio faced skyrocketing insurance premiums. Powell took over the account and first ensured that the agency’s claims were reserved and handled properly. Then he initiated loss-projection studies and an experience modifier analysis.

Facing a nonrenewal from the incumbent carrier, Powell marketed the program to more than a dozen insurers, investigating first-dollar as well as self-insured options.

After the agency selected United Heartland as the insurer, Powell worked with the carrier to provide the agency enhanced loss control assistance. That included monthly safety meetings and disseminating regular safety and loss control flyers to employees. In 2016, when it faced budget problems because of its state’s own budget woes, the agency’s loss ratio plummeted to 25 percent, resulting in a 25 percent premium reduction.

“We were getting priced out of the traditional insurance market and were facing the possibility of being forced into a risk pool,” an agency official said. “Once we were able to partner with United Heartland, the impact to our risk management program and claims was almost immediate.”

Another client, a Midwestern university, realized a 2 percent reduction in overall premiums. That “was testament to Bill’s [marketing] strategy,” one school official said.

No Project Too Big or Deadline Too Tight

Chris Schwyter
Senior Vice President
Willis Towers Watson, Radnor, Pa.

Chris Schwyter handles issues large and small for clients.

As Villanova University began a $300 million expansion project, it faced risks related to its proximity to the community and a major roadway. Risk management also inherited professional liabilities for design architects and engineering work and other risks stipulated in the contract of the appointed general contractor. Plus, the local township also had collateral requirements for site improvements, said Director of Insurance and Risk Management Ashlie Docktor.

Schwyter’s team “secured protection for Villanova with project-specific coverage for professional liability and environmental liability,” Docktor said. He also assisted in negotiations with the contractor to set worksite safety protocols and transfer some risks back to the contractor or subcontractors. In addition, he placed site-improvement bonds to meet the township’s requirements, Docktor said.

“We increased our protection for the construction project for professional and environmental liabilities and saved considerable money in the switch from letter-of-credit collateral to the surety bond,” Docktor said, “More importantly, the solutions allowed Villanova to proceed on schedule without delay.”

Schwyter helped another university client update its enterprise risk management program by providing resources that helped risk management engage senior management, the client said.

Proactively Tackling Liability Risk

Derek Symer, CPCU
Principal
AHT Insurance, Leesburg, Va.

When a federal jury determined The Hotchkiss School in Connecticut must pay a $41.5 million damage award to a former student who contracted a debilitating tick-borne disease on a school trip to China,  the ruling caught the attention of The Alexandria Country Day School five states away in Alexandria, Va.

Alexandria’s business manager, Robert Powers, was concerned that the case might mean his private day school’s own liability coverage was insufficient. Powers immediately contacted his broker Derek Symer for a solution.

Symer negotiated a “sufficient coverage increase that did not substantially impact [the school’s] budget,” Powers said.  For the next fiscal year, Symer found “more robust coverage — at a cost reduction,” he said, providing much needed relief to a stressed budget.

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With all of their school clients, Symer and his team at AHT Insurance have made a priority of discussing duty of care — both in terms of buying insurance and running workshops on how to mitigate the risk.

Another client, the Maret School in Washington, D.C., wanted to help parents with student-busing assistance without shouldering additional liability.

“Derek’s guidance was quite helpful,” said Darwin Walker, Maret’s assistant head of finance and operations. “Derek’s solid advice enabled the parents and the school to find a workable solution” that relieved the parents of a huge logistical burden while avoiding additional school liability.

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

Exclusive | Hank Greenberg on China Trade, Starr’s Rapid Growth and 100th, Spitzer, Schneiderman and More

In a robust and frank conversation, the insurance legend provides unique insights into global trade, his past battles and what the future holds for the industry and his company.
By: | October 12, 2018 • 12 min read

In 1960, Maurice “Hank” Greenberg was hired as a vice president of C.V. Starr & Co. At age 35, he had already accomplished a great deal.

He served his country as part of the Allied Forces that stormed the beaches at Normandy and liberated the Nazi death camps. He fought again during the Korean War, earning a Bronze Star. He held a law degree from New York Law School.

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Now he was ready to make his mark on the business world.

Even C.V. Starr himself — who hired Mr. Greenberg and later hand-picked him as the successor to the company he founded in Shanghai in 1919 — could not have imagined what a mark it would be.

Mr. Greenberg began to build AIG as a Starr subsidiary, then in 1969, he took it public. The company would, at its peak, achieve a market cap of some $180 billion and cement its place as the largest insurance and financial services company in history.

This month, Mr. Greenberg travels to China to celebrate the 100th anniversary of C.V. Starr & Co. That visit occurs at a prickly time in U.S.-Sino relations, as the Trump administration levies tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars in Chinese goods and China retaliates.

In September, Risk & Insurance® sat down with Mr. Greenberg in his Park Avenue office to hear his thoughts on the centennial of C.V. Starr, the dynamics of U.S. trade relationships with China and the future of the U.S. insurance industry as it faces the challenges of technology development and talent recruitment and retention, among many others. What follows is an edited transcript of that discussion.


R&I: One hundred years is quite an impressive milestone for any company. Celebrating the anniversary in China signifies the importance and longevity of that relationship. Can you tell us more about C.V. Starr’s history with China?

Hank Greenberg: We have a long history in China. I first went there in 1975. There was little there, but I had business throughout Asia, and I stopped there all the time. I’d stop there a couple of times a year and build relationships.

When I first started visiting China, there was only one state-owned insurance company there, PICC (the People’s Insurance Company of China); it was tiny at the time. We helped them to grow.

I also received the first foreign life insurance license in China, for AIA (The American International Assurance Co.). To date, there has been no other foreign life insurance company in China. It took me 20 years of hard work to get that license.

We also introduced an agency system in China. They had none. Their life company employees would get a salary whether they sold something or not. With the agency system of course you get paid a commission if you sell something. Once that agency system was installed, it went on to create more than a million jobs.

R&I: So Starr’s success has meant success for the Chinese insurance industry as well.

Hank Greenberg: That’s partly why we’re going to be celebrating that anniversary there next month. That celebration will occur alongside that of IBLAC (International Business Leaders’ Advisory Council), an international business advisory group that was put together when Zhu Rongji was the mayor of Shanghai [Zhu is since retired from public life]. He asked me to start that to attract foreign companies to invest in Shanghai.

“It turns out that it is harder [for China] to change, because they have one leader. My guess is that we’ll work it out sooner or later. Trump and Xi have to meet. That will result in some agreement that will get to them and they will have to finish the rest of the negotiations. I believe that will happen.” — Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, chairman and CEO, C.V. Starr & Co. Inc.

Shanghai and China in general were just coming out of the doldrums then; there was a lack of foreign investment. Zhu asked me to chair IBLAC and to help get it started, which I did. I served as chairman of that group for a couple of terms. I am still a part of that board, and it will be celebrating its 30th anniversary along with our 100th anniversary.

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We have a good relationship with China, and we’re candid as you can tell from the op-ed I published in the Wall Street Journal. I’m told that my op-ed was received quite well in China, by both Chinese companies and foreign companies doing business there.

On August 29, Mr. Greenberg published an opinion piece in the WSJ reminding Chinese leaders of the productive history of U.S.-Sino relations and suggesting that Chinese leaders take pragmatic steps to ease trade tensions with the U.S.

R&I: What’s your outlook on current trade relations between the U.S. and China?

Hank Greenberg: As to the current environment, when you are in negotiations, every leader negotiates differently.

President Trump is negotiating based on his well-known approach. What’s different now is that President Xi (Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China) made himself the emperor. All the past presidents in China before the revolution had two terms. He’s there for life, which makes things much more difficult.

R&I: Sure does. You’ve got a one- or two-term president talking to somebody who can wait it out. It’s definitely unique.

Hank Greenberg: So, clearly a lot of change is going on in China. Some of it is good. But as I said in the op-ed, China needs to be treated like the second largest economy in the world, which it is. And it will be the number one economy in the world in not too many years. That means that you can’t use the same terms of trade that you did 25 or 30 years ago.

They want to have access to our market and other markets. Fine, but you have to have reciprocity, and they have not been very good at that.

R&I: What stands in the way of that happening?

Hank Greenberg: I think there are several substantial challenges. One, their structure makes it very difficult. They have a senior official, a regulator, who runs a division within the government for insurance. He keeps that job as long as he does what leadership wants him to do. He may not be sure what they want him to do.

For example, the president made a speech many months ago saying they are going to open up banking, insurance and a couple of additional sectors to foreign investment; nothing happened.

The reason was that the head of that division got changed. A new administrator came in who was not sure what the president wanted so he did nothing. Time went on and the international community said, “Wait a minute, you promised that you were going to do that and you didn’t do that.”

So the structure is such that it is very difficult. China can’t react as fast as it should. That will change, but it is going to take time.

R&I: That’s interesting, because during the financial crisis in 2008 there was talk that China, given their more centralized authority, could react more quickly, not less quickly.

Hank Greenberg: It turns out that it is harder to change, because they have one leader. My guess is that we’ll work it out sooner or later. Trump and Xi have to meet. That will result in some agreement that will get to them and they will have to finish the rest of the negotiations. I believe that will happen.

R&I: Obviously, you have a very unique perspective and experience in China. For American companies coming to China, what are some of the current challenges?

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Hank Greenberg: Well, they very much want to do business in China. That’s due to the sheer size of the country, at 1.4 billion people. It’s a very big market and not just for insurance companies. It’s a whole range of companies that would like to have access to China as easily as Chinese companies have access to the United States. As I said previously, that has to be resolved.

It’s not going to be easy, because China has a history of not being treated well by other countries. The U.S. has been pretty good in that way. We haven’t taken advantage of China.

R&I: Your op-ed was very enlightening on that topic.

Hank Greenberg: President Xi wants to rebuild the “middle kingdom,” to what China was, a great country. Part of that was his takeover of the South China Sea rock islands during the Obama Administration; we did nothing. It’s a little late now to try and do something. They promised they would never militarize those islands. Then they did. That’s a real problem in Southern Asia. The other countries in that region are not happy about that.

R&I: One thing that has differentiated your company is that it is not a public company, and it is not a mutual company. We think you’re the only large insurance company with that structure at that scale. What advantages does that give you?

Hank Greenberg: Two things. First of all, we’re more than an insurance company. We have the traditional investment unit with the insurance company. Then we have a separate investment unit that we started, which is very successful. So we have a source of income that is diverse. We don’t have to underwrite business that is going to lose a lot of money. Not knowingly anyway.

R&I: And that’s because you are a private company?

Hank Greenberg: Yes. We attract a different type of person in a private company.

R&I: Do you think that enables you to react more quickly?

Hank Greenberg: Absolutely. When we left AIG there were three of us. Myself, Howie Smith and Ed Matthews. Howie used to run the internal financials and Ed Matthews was the investment guy coming out of Morgan Stanley when I was putting AIG together. We started with three people and now we have 3,500 and growing.

“I think technology can play a role in reducing operating expenses. In the last 70 years, you have seen the expense ratio of the industry rise, and I’m not sure the industry can afford a 35 percent expense ratio. But while technology can help, some additional fundamental changes will also be required.” — Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, chairman and CEO, C.V. Starr & Co. Inc.

R&I:  You being forced to leave AIG in 2005 really was an injustice, by the way. AIG wouldn’t have been in the position it was in 2008 if you had still been there.

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Hank Greenberg: Absolutely not. We had all the right things in place. We met with the financial services division once a day every day to make sure they stuck to what they were supposed to do. Even Hank Paulson, the Secretary of Treasury, sat on the stand during my trial and said that if I’d been at the company, it would not have imploded the way it did.

R&I: And that fateful decision the AIG board made really affected the course of the country.

Hank Greenberg: So many people lost all of their net worth. The new management was taking on billions of dollars’ worth of risk with no collateral. They had decimated the internal risk management controls. And the government takeover of the company when the financial crisis blew up was grossly unfair.

From the time it went public, AIG’s value had increased from $300 million to $180 billion. Thanks to Eliot Spitzer, it’s now worth a fraction of that. His was a gross misuse of the Martin Act. It gives the Attorney General the power to investigate without probable cause and bring fraud charges without having to prove intent. Only in New York does the law grant the AG that much power.

R&I: It’s especially frustrating when you consider the quality of his own character, and the scandal he was involved in.

In early 2008, Spitzer was caught on a federal wiretap arranging a meeting with a prostitute at a Washington Hotel and resigned shortly thereafter.

Hank Greenberg: Yes. And it’s been successive. Look at Eric Schneiderman. He resigned earlier this year when it came out that he had abused several women. And this was after he came out so strongly against other men accused of the same thing. To me it demonstrates hypocrisy and abuse of power.

Schneiderman followed in Spitzer’s footsteps in leveraging the Martin Act against numerous corporations to generate multi-billion dollar settlements.

R&I: Starr, however, continues to thrive. You said you’re at 3,500 people and still growing. As you continue to expand, how do you deal with the challenge of attracting talent?

Hank Greenberg: We did something last week.

On September 16th, St. John’s University announced the largest gift in its 148-year history. The Starr Foundation donated $15 million to the school, establishing the Maurice R. Greenberg Leadership Initiative at St. John’s School of Risk Management, Insurance and Actuarial Science.

Hank Greenberg: We have recruited from St. John’s for many, many years. These are young people who want to be in the insurance industry. They don’t get into it by accident. They study to become proficient in this and we have recruited some very qualified individuals from that school. But we also recruit from many other universities. On the investment side, outside of the insurance industry, we also recruit from Wall Street.

R&I: We’re very interested in how you and other leaders in this industry view technology and how they’re going to use it.

Hank Greenberg: I think technology can play a role in reducing operating expenses. In the last 70 years, you have seen the expense ratio of the industry rise, and I’m not sure the industry can afford a 35 percent expense ratio. But while technology can help, some additional fundamental changes will also be required.

R&I: So as the pre-eminent leader of the insurance industry, what do you see in terms of where insurance is now an where it’s going?

Hank Greenberg: The country and the world will always need insurance. That doesn’t mean that what we have today is what we’re going to have 25 years from now.

How quickly the change comes and how far it will go will depend on individual companies and individual countries. Some will be more brave than others. But change will take place, there is no doubt about it.

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More will go on in space, there is no question about that. We’re involved in it right now as an insurance company, and it will get broader.

One of the things you have to worry about is it’s now a nuclear world. It’s a more dangerous world. And again, we have to find some way to deal with that.

So, change is inevitable. You need people who can deal with change.

R&I:  Is there anything else, Mr. Greenberg, you want to comment on?

Hank Greenberg: I think I’ve covered it. &

The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]