2017 Power Broker

Private Client

A Fast Mover

Jay Brancaleone
Senior Account Executive
Aon
Boston

When one of Jay Brancaleone’s clients sees something they like, they tend to buy it and pay cash. Whether it’s a car or an investment property, the clients move quickly and they ask a lot of Brancaleone in making sure the correct coverages are in place.

“Off the charts,” is how the client described Brancaleone’s professionalism.

“I’d give him a 10,” said another client of Brancaleone’s level of customer service.

For one particular client, Brancaleone came through in a big way. The client’s wife discovered a crack in her 3-karat, $75,000 engagement ring. The problem was the ring wasn’t covered under the client’s jewelry policy.

Undeterred, Brancaleone researched the client’s high net worth homeowner’s policy. Catching his eye was the phrase “special limits of insurance.” Brancaleone filed a claim under that policy. The claim was initially denied, but Brancaleone wasn’t done.

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He escalated the claim to the vice president of claims at the carrier and got it paid in full as a contents loss. Adding to the client’s delight was the fact that the $5,000 deductible was waived because the size of the loss exceeded $50,000.

Yet another client benefited when Brancaleone went to bat for him and resolved a water leak claim in excess of $150,000.

This client to tends to buy and sell things at a quick pace.

“He can stop and start as I require him to do so,” the client said.

Proven Skills

Steve Kent
Managing Director
Crystal & Company
New York

When the situation demands it, Steve Kent can vault back and forth between private client and commercial work and deliver great service in both disciplines.

Witness what happened when Kent’s high net worth client, who also owns a music festival, experienced a business loss when poor weather punched a hole in the festival revenues.

An initial look from a commercial broker pegged the losses at around $200,000. The client thought her loss was higher than that but wasn’t sure; then Kent jumped in.

Using his Crystal & Company colleagues as resources, Kent engaged a forensic accountant and helped the client recoup more than $1 million.

“I would rate him extremely highly,” said a family office risk manager who has authoritative knowledge of the high net worth insurance carriers and the brokers that work with them. “He has been instrumental in managing our accounts,” the risk manager said.

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“I would say that we are very reliant on him,” said a client. Kent provided excellent service to the client’s wife in managing insurance considerations after the death of an in-law as well as with an unrelated incident, a residential fire.

“He is very attentive and responsive,” said yet another client.

That same client said that Kent displays an in-depth knowledge of the insurance carriers and their products.

Data Driven

Kelly Nash, CISCR, CIC
Managing Director
Marsh
Chicago

Using data to determine the likelihood of loss and to properly price coverage makes perfect sense. So why not use data to benchmark high net worth exposures and programs, reasoned an executive with a large family office.

Executives at Marsh asked themselves the same question and put Kelly Nash on the job. She brought in Marsh Global Analytics to create CAT modeling for the family’s multiple property locations. She also pioneered a family office benchmarking study, which provided her clients with the first-ever comparisons of family office insurance coverages, claims and standards.

Rate her customer service on a scale of one to 10, we asked a senior risk analyst.

“It is probably a 20,” responded the analyst, who in a former life worked on the agency side. “She is always willing to try things even though the request may be untouchable,” the analyst went on. “She is one of the main reasons we are with [Marsh],” she said.

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“I have always been impressed by what she does and am confident that my customers will be taken care of the way I would like to be taken care of,” said an executive with a wealth management firm who never hesitates to put Nash in touch with her clients.

A businessman who has seen his company and his wealth expand over the years trusts Nash to identify coverage gaps and bring him up to speed on the latest products.

He also knows she is there when he needs her.

“She is immediate,” he said.

A Winner, Twice Over

Laura Sherman
Founding Partner
Baldwin, Krystyn, Sherman
Tampa, Fla.

This is our second year naming Power Brokers from the ranks of private client brokers, and it’s Laura Sherman who’s hit the winners’ circle twice.

Sherman, a founding partner of Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners, is revered not only by her clients, but also by her peers.

A client who knows just enough about insurance to be dangerous thought he was doing the right thing by canceling the flood insurance on his mother’s Long Island, N.Y., property 30 days in advance of selling it.

You can guess what happened after he canceled the policy, can’t you? Superstorm Sandy and massive flood damage to the house.

Sherman talked the panicked client off of the ledge by letting him know that the federal flood insurance program has a 30-day grace period. Just reinstate the policy and cut your premium check and you’ll be good, she counseled. And so it was.

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The money saved — which nearly came right out of the client’s pocket — amounted to more than $75,000.

“Laura Sherman came to the rescue,” said the adoring client.

“She exceeds my expectations by far, she is far and away the best,” said another client, singing Sherman’s praises.

“All I can say is that if it weren’t for Laura I would be in a world of hurt,” said yet another client. “She does not know the word ‘no,’ ” he said.

Among the Best in the Business

Kimberly Lucarelli, CIC, CAPI
Senior Vice President
Oswald Cos
Cleveland

An executive in the Midwest saw a bad dream come true when a wicked storm blew through his neighborhood and sent a tree crashing down into his house.

Others in his neighborhood, who had also suffered damage, endured push-back from the insurance carriers when they filed their claims. Not him.

He credited Kimberly Lucarelli and her associates at Oswald Cos. with handling his claim smoothly and professionally, and very importantly, with no chop from the underwriter. “Which has been great,” he said. “She made a great result for me.”

Lucarelli also proved her worth to this client by consolidating his insurance program and saving him money in the bargain. As a businessman, this client worked with many insurance brokers over the years on the commercial side and the personal lines side, and rates Lucarelli highly.

“She really knows the carriers and their products inside and out,” the client said.

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A carrier executive who is in a position to know rates Lucarelli among the top five in the business.

Lucarelli’s value is to the carrier as well as the insured. The executive said that Lucarelli gives the carrier candid feedback about how their products are working for clients and how they could be improved.

“It’s very helpful for me and most agents don’t take the time,” the carrier executive said.

It Got Handled

Diane Giles
Senior Vice President
Marsh
New York

An executive with a family office faced a dilemma. Their client owned more than a dozen properties and sought a more tailored approach than having to hold separate policies for each property with renewal dates “all over the place,” as the family office executive put it.

“Makes sense, but no one offers it,” is what a couple of brokers told him, and left it at that. Not Marsh’s Diane Giles.  She said it makes sense, no one offers it, but let’s get it done anyway.

And that is what she did. The result was a blanket policy with cheaper pricing and loads of coverage. Pull a property out, the blanket policy resets. Put one in, it resets again. One premium. One limit.

“Our principal thought it was a spectacular outcome,” the family office executive said.

An insurance executive who works in the personal lines space said Giles is one of the top brokers in this area, and is aided by the fact that she was on the carrier side before she was on the agent side.

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“She is very much about customer service and putting together solutions for her customers,” the carrier executive said.

“She never mismanages your expectations,” added the family office executive.

He said Giles expertly walks that line between giving him space and giving him the information he needs to keep his client informed and trusting.

Finalists:

Monica Griffy, CISR
Vice President
Risk Consulting Partners
Clayton, Mo.

Cecilia Graveran, AAI, ACA, AIS, etc.
Account Executive
Aon
Miami

Sarah Aguirre
Vice President
Marsh
New York

Jennifer Silva
Vice President
USI
Houston

Tim Weyerich, CAPI
Midwest Regional Director
Aon
Clayton,  Mo.

 

 

 

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

High Net Worth

High Net Worth Clients Live in CAT Zones. Here’s What Their Resiliency Plan Should Include

Having a resiliency plan and practicing it can make all the difference in a disaster.
By: | September 14, 2018 • 7 min read

Packed with state-of-the-art electronics, priceless collections and high-end furnishings, and situated in scenic, often remote locations, the dwellings of high net worth individuals and families pose particular challenges when it comes to disaster resiliency. But help is on the way.

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Armed with loss data, innovative new programs, technological advances, and a growing army of niche service-providers aimed at addressing an astonishingly diverse set of risks, insurers are increasingly determined to not just insure against their high net worth clients’ losses, but to prevent them.

Insurers have long been proactive in risk mitigation, but increasingly, after the recent surge in wildfire and storm losses, insureds are now, too.

“Before, insurance was considered the only step in risk management. Now, our client families realize it is one of the many imperative steps in an effective risk management strategy,” said Laura Sherman, founding partner at Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners.

And especially in the high net worth space, preventing that loss is vastly preferable to a payout, for insurers and insureds alike.

“If insurers can preserve even one house that’s 10 or 20 or 40 million dollars … whatever they have spent in a year is money well spent. Plus they’ve saved this important asset for the client,” said Bruce Gendelman, chairman and founder Bruce Gendelman Insurance Services.

High Net Worth Vulnerabilities

Laura Sherman, founding partner, Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners

As the number and size of luxury homes built in vulnerable areas has increased, so has the frequency and magnitude of extreme weather events, including hurricanes, harsh cold and winter storms, and wildfires.

“There is a growing desire to inhabit this riskier terrain,” said Jason Metzger, SVP Risk Management, PURE group of insurance companies. “In the western states alone, a little over a million homes are highly vulnerable to wildfires because of their proximity to forests that are fuller of fuel than they have been in years past.”

Such homes are often filled with expensive artwork and collections, from fine wine to rare books to couture to automobiles, each presenting unique challenges. The homes themselves present other vulnerabilities.

“Larger, more sophisticated homes are bristling with more technology than ever,” said Stephen Poux, SVP and head of Risk Management Services and Loss Prevention for AIG’s Private Client Group.

“A lightning strike can trash every electronic in the home.”

Niche Service Providers

A variety of niche service providers are stepping forward to help.

Secure facilities provide hurricane-proof, wildfire-proof off-site storage for artwork, antiques, and all manner of collectibles for seasonal or rotating storage, as well as ahead of impending disasters.

Other companies help manage such collections — a substantial challenge anytime, but especially during a crisis.

“Knowing where it is, is a huge part of mitigating the risk,” said Eric Kahan, founder of Collector Systems, a cloud-based collection management company that allows collectors to monitor their collections during loans to museums, transit between homes, or evacuation to secure storage.

“Before, insurance was considered the only step in risk management. Now, our client families realize it is one of the many imperative steps in an effective risk management strategy.” — Laura Sherman, founding partner, Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners

Insurers also employ specialists in-house. AIG employs four art curators who advise clients on how to protect and preserve their art collections.

Perhaps the best known and most striking example of this kind of direct insurer involvement are the fire teams insurers retain or employ to monitor fires and even spray retardant or water on threatened properties.

High-Level Service for High Net Worth

All high net worth carriers have programs that leverage expertise, loss data, and relationships with vendors to help clients avoid and recover from losses, employing the highest levels of customer service to accomplish this as unobtrusively as possible.

“What allows you to do your job best is when you develop that relationship with a client, where it’s the same people that are interacting with them on every front for their risk management,” said Steve Bitterman, chief risk services officer for Vault Insurance.

Site visits are an essential first step, allowing insurers to assess risks, make recommendations to reduce them, and establish plans in the event of a disaster.

“When you’re in a catastrophic situation, it’s high stress, time is of the essence, and people forget things,” said Sherman. “Having a written plan in place is paramount to success.”

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Another important component is knowing who will execute that plan in homes that are often unoccupied.

Domestic staff may lack the knowledge or authority to protect the homeowner’s assets, and during a disaster may be distracted dealing with threats to their own homes and families. Adequate planning includes ensuring that whoever is responsible has the training and authority to execute the plan.

Evaluating New Technology

Insurers use technologies like GPS and satellite imagery to determine which homes are directly threatened by storms or wildfires. They also assess and vet technologies that can be implemented by homeowners, from impact glass to alarm and monitoring systems, to more obscure but potentially more important options.

AIG’s Poux recommends two types of vents that mitigate important, and unexpected risks.

“There’s a fantastic technology called Smart Vent, which allows water to flow in and out of the foundation,” Poux said. “… The weight of water outside a foundation can push a foundation wall in. If you equalize that water inside and out at the same level, you negate that.”

Another wildfire risk — embers getting sucked into the attic — is, according to Poux, “typically the greatest cause of the destruction of homes.” But, he said, “Special ember-resisting venting, like Brandguard Vents, can remove that exposure altogether.”

Building Smart

Many disaster resiliency technologies can be applied at any time, but often the cost is fractional if implemented during initial construction. AIG’s Smart Build is a free program for new or remodeled homes that evolved out of AIG’s construction insurance programs.

Previously available only to homes valued at $5 million and up, Smart Build recently expanded to include homes of $1 million and up. Roughly 100 homes are enrolled, with an average value of $13 million.

“In the high net worth space, sometimes it takes longer potentially to recover, simply because there are limited contractors available to do specialty work.” — Curt Goetsch, head of underwriting, Private Client Group, Ironshore

“We know what goes wrong in high net worth homes,” said Poux, citing AIG’s decades of loss data.

“We’re incenting our client and by proxy their builder, their architects and their broker, to give us a seat at the design table. … That enables us to help tweak the architectural plans in ways that are very easy to do with a pencil, as opposed to after a home is built.”

Poux cites a remote ranch property in Texas.

Curt Goetsch, head of underwriting, Private Client Group, Ironshore

“The client was rebuilding a home but also installing new roads and grading and driveways. … The property was very far from the fire department and there wasn’t any available water on the property.”

Poux’s team was able to recommend underground water storage tanks, something that would have been prohibitively expensive after construction.

“But if the ground is open and you’ve got heavy equipment, it’s a relatively minor additional expense.”

Homes that graduate from the Smart Build program may be eligible for preferred pricing due to their added resilience, Poux said.

Recovery from Loss

A major component of disaster resiliency is still recovery from loss, and preparation is key to the prompt service expected by homeowners paying six- or seven-figure premiums.

Before Irma, PURE sent contact information for pre-assigned claim adjusters to insureds in the storm’s direct path.

“In the high net worth space, sometimes it takes longer potentially to recover, simply because there are limited contractors available to do specialty work,” said Curt Goetsch, head of underwriting for Ironshore’s Private Client Group.

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“If you’ve got custom construction or imported materials in your house, you’re not going to go down the street and just find somebody that can do that kind of work, or has those materials in stock.”

In the wake of disaster, even basic services can be scarce.

“Our claims and risk management departments have to work together in advance of the storm,” said Bitterman, “to have contractors and restoration companies and tarp and board services that are going to respond to our company’s clients, that will commit resources to us.”

And while local agents’ connections can be invaluable, Goetsch sees insurers taking more of that responsibility from the agent, to at least get the claim started.

“When there is a disaster, the agency’s staff may have to deal with personal losses,” Goetsch said. &

Jon McGoran is a novelist and magazine editor based outside of Philadelphia. He can be reached at [email protected]