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Thinking Outside the (Very Big) Box

Managing, measuring, monitoring with large property.
By: | November 1, 2017 • 3 min read

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In the space where large property brokers play, it’s important to use capital responsibly.

For instance, consider all of the components of a state operation.  This can include buildings, agencies, officials and boards along with universities, parks, airports, and in some cases, sports arenas, as part of the package.  Another example is a multi-media organization. Risks involve network and distribution, and also entertainment and film/video production exposures.  A major retail chain, with tens of thousands of locations from coast to coast and all of the stock and cash flow exposures that are critical business assets, is a third type of a complex operation.

Nationwide_sponsoredcontent_0117And all of these require coverage.

“Brokers need a stable partner with the ability to offer larger property lines. As part of Nationwide, we have a competitive edge to offer significantly more in-house limit capacity than many other carriers,” said Tom Jurgens, senior vice president, Brokerage at Nationwide.

Though Nationwide has the capital to handle high limits, it is very strategic in its approach to writing these risks.  For John Brunette, senior director, Brokerage Property, this means thinking outside a very big box to come up with solutions that provide the perfect balance of protection and profitability.

“The key is leveraging capacity deployment throughout the risk,” he said. “When we deploy capacity in lower layers, we’re also looking to deploy additional capacity in the excess layers. Understanding the concentration and knowing where you can add more –that’s what thoughtful deployment of capacity is really about.”

Nationwide_sponsoredcontent_0117Brunette also emphasized the importance of taking a mindful, measured approach to risk, especially in today’s insurance and financial landscape.

“The economy has improved, and there is capital coming off the sidelines,” he said. “There are lots of deals being made, but many of these investors are not insurance people, and as such, often don’t fully understand the exposure involved.”

For Brunette, this starts with adequately accounting for the catastrophe footprint of the risk and also looking at the design of a building.

“When you look at building design, you want to make sure developers are not skimping on materials and know the building will survive if a catastrophe event should occur,” he said. “You also want to look at ongoing site maintenance.”

Nationwide_sponsoredcontent_0117But building design and structure are just the beginning of a good risk. Other factors Brunette takes into consideration include behind-the-scenes operations, such as electronic surveillance and other protection like sprinklers and alarms. Also, understanding the exposure and matching that with layer structure is critical.

“If I’m insuring a risk in Missouri, I don’t want to be in a position where the totality of the exposure is tornado driven,” he said. “The key to that is spread of risk and attachment point.”

Brunette, who employs a philosophy that includes “managing, measuring and monitoring” when it comes to effective catastrophe underwriting, believes in constantly staying on top of trends and patterns to make sure the solutions he provides are appropriate.

“Insurance is never a ‘one and done’ kind of thing,” he said. “If you’re going to responsibly write a risk, you need to make sure you are not just on top of the game, but ahead of it.”

About Nationwide

An expert in large, complex property accounts, Nationwide writes primary and excess layers for business conglomerates with a multitude of components and diverse requirements though its excess and surplus Brokerage Property division.

Products underwritten by Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company and Affiliated Companies. Not all Nationwide affiliated companies are mutual companies, and not all Nationwide members are insured by a mutual company. Subject to underwriting guidelines, review, and approval. Products and discounts not available to all persons in all states. Home Office: One Nationwide Plaza, Columbus, OH. Nationwide, the Nationwide N and Eagle, and other marks displayed on this page are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, unless otherwise disclosed. © 2017 Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.

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This article was produced by the R&I Brand Studio, a unit of the advertising department of Risk & Insurance, in collaboration with Nationwide. The editorial staff of Risk & Insurance had no role in its preparation.




Nationwide, a Fortune 100 company, is one of the largest and strongest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the U.S. and is rated A+ by both A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s.

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

Black Swans

Black Swans: Yes, It Can Happen Here

In this year's Black Swan coverage, we focus on two events: An Atlantic mega-tsunami which would wipe out the East Coast and a killer global pandemic.
By: | July 30, 2018 • 2 min read

One of the most difficult phrases to digest without becoming frustrated or judgmental is the oft-repeated, “I never thought that could happen here.”

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Most painfully, we hear it time and time again in the aftermath of the mass school shootings that terrorize this country. Shocked parents and neighbors, viewing the carnage, voice that they can’t believe this happened in their neighborhood.

Not to be mean, but why couldn’t it happen in your neighborhood?

So it is with Black Swans, a phrase describing unforeseen events, made famous by the former trader and acerbic critic of academia Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

We at Risk & Insurance® define these events in insurance terms by saying that they are highly infrequent, yet could cause massive damages. This year, for our annual Black Swan issue, we present two very different scenarios, both of which would leave mass devastation in their wake.

A Mega-Tsunami Is Coming; Can the East Coast Even Prepare?, written by staff writer Autumn Heisler, profiles an Atlantic mega-tsunami, which would wipe out lives and commerce along the East Coast.

On the topic of whether the volcanic island of La Palma, the most northwestern of the Canary Islands, could erupt, split and trigger an Atlantic mega-tsunami, scientists are divided.

Researchers Steven Ward, a geophysicist at UC Santa Cruz, and Simon Day of University College London, say such a thing could happen. Other scientists say Day and Ward are dead wrong; it’s an impossibility.

One of the counter-arguments is backed up by the statement that there has never been an Atlantic mega-tsunami. It’s never happened before and thus, could never happen here. See exhibit “A” above, re: mass school shootings.

Viral Fear: How a Global Pandemic Kills an Economy, written by associate editor Katie Dwyer, depicts a killer global pandemic the likes of which hasn’t been seen in a century.

Tens of millions of people died during the Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918.

Why it could happen again includes the fact that it’s happened before. The science on influenzas, which are constantly mutating, also supports just how dangerous a threat they pose to millions of people beyond the reach of antibiotics.

Should a mutating avian flu, for example, spread widely, we could see a 10 percent drop in GDP, mostly from non-physical business interruption.

As always here, the purpose is to do exactly what insurance modelers and underwriters do; no matter how massive the event, we create scenarios, quantify possible losses and discuss risk mitigation strategies. &

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