2017 Power Broker

Workers’ Compensation

An Indispensable Partner

Christopher Bailey
Vice President
Willis Towers Watson, Greenville, S.C.

After decades coaching college football, Dave Roberts launched a new venture — Vital Care EMS, a South Carolina medical transportation company. There was a steep learning curve at first, and the company’s experience mod went “through the roof.”

Willis Towers Watson’s Christopher Bailey stepped in and analyzed Vital Care’s program top to bottom, identifying everything from quick-fix issues to long-term improvements. Roberts, the company’s president, credited Bailey with helping him turn things around.

“[He] helped us grow from five trucks and 20 people to 100 trucks and 400 people,” said Roberts. “He’s always given me great advice — even when I don’t want to listen to him.”

Roberts said the company could never have grown so fast without Bailey.

“We’ve been approached by every person in the state to [change brokers] and I won’t even go there,” he said. “I have the highest regard for him.”

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“He is the bomb,” said Dustin Pelletier, franchise owner and operator of the Big Air Trampoline Park in Spartanburg, S.C. Pelletier said Bailey had never worked with a trampoline park before. But he learned the industry so fast and so thoroughly that he soon found better insurance solutions than even Big Air corporate could offer.

“He got me better cover with less expensive premiums — better than corporate,” he said.

In fact it’s so good, said Pelletier, that corporate is asking, “Hey, can we get that guy’s number?”

A Champion for Small Employers

Riley Holman
Insurance Consultant
Dixie Leavitt, Cedar City, Utah

Dixie Leavitt’s Riley Holman understands that often the person managing workers’ comp for a small entity wears several other hats as well. That’s why he makes it a priority to streamline and simplify coverage as much as possible, while offering expert advice on safety improvements that won’t break the bank.

He also understands that even one workplace tragedy can turn a small business upside down in a moment.

Holman saw that playing out with a sand and gravel company in a tough position. A workplace accident had led to a double fatality and a large claim payout.

Carriers were not inclined to take the company on, and they were only able to find coverage with a nonstandard carrier, paying more for less coverage than they needed.

“We were practically uninsurable,” said the company president. “Other brokers said, ‘There’s almost nothing we can do.’ “

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Holman disagreed. He knew of a standard carrier with an appetite for their business. He arranged for underwriters to do a loss control visit to better understand the actual exposures, as well as the measures the company was taking to prevent future incidents.

“Riley leveraged his relationships and brought the carriers out to see the operations and to show that the fatality didn’t tell the whole story,” said the company president.

The new program saved more than $100,000, rescuing the company from being slowly strangled by excessive premiums.

Crisis Averted

Linda Joski, CRM
Area Senior Vice President
Arthur J. Gallagher, Brookfield, Wis.

The Milwaukee Center for Independence was thrown for a loop with a substantial legislative change impacting the state’s workers’ comp law. The law specified that the entity providing financial management services would become the employer of record for workers’ comp purposes for workers providing long-term care benefits under programs administered by the state.

That put MCFI, a nonprofit, in the crosshairs, as the fiscal agent responsible for withholding income taxes for employees of one such program.

The law “would have meant we had to put 18,000 workers’ comp policies in place,” at an expense of about $2.9 million, said Rob Wedel, CFO and vice president of finance for MCFI. It’s a burden that could have buried MCFI. But Gallagher’s Linda Joski came to the rescue.

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“Linda settled everybody down and got the right people in place, connected [the carrier] United Heartland and the state and got everyone on the same page with a viable solution,” Wedel said.

Joski helped arrange one master program for all participants involved, eliminating the administrative burden of single policies. Joski also negotiated using MCFI’s experience mod of .72 rather than the typical 1.00 used for new entities — resulting in additional savings of 28 percent (about $2.3 million).

Joski’s dedication and creativity “saved the state of Wisconsin about $5 million … it was just phenomenal,” said Wedel.

Bringing the ‘Wow’ Factor

Machelle McKenzie, CRM, CIC
Managing Director
Crystal & Company, Houston

Machelle McKenzie’s clients tend to talk about her in extremes — but in a good way.

“If she ever leaves, my business goes with her,” said Cheryl Wyatt, director of human resources for Stronghold Ltd. in La Porte, Texas. “There’s nothing she can’t answer, and I never have to wait for a response. I literally send emails at 2 in the morning … and I actually get her at 2 in the morning.”

Wyatt’s company split into two entities in early 2016, a complex undertaking with a high volume of moving parts.

“We wanted all of our billing to be separate,” said Wyatt. “Machelle had to split out the cost by entity. In particular for workers’ comp, that’s not easy … we work in almost every state.”

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Wyatt was impressed with how quickly McKenzie was able to find a workable solution, not to mention how quickly she completed the project.

“She did it in a couple of weeks,” said Wyatt. “It would have taken me six months.”

Clients value McKenzie’s ability to assess every angle and identify substantive ways to help the business succeed.

For one client, McKenzie recently discovered and corrected a carrier reporting error, bringing the company’s experience mod down from .98 to a more manageable .80. For another, she got a letter of credit reduced from $990,000 to $200,000.

The Next Frontier in Claims Audits

Joe Picone, CPCU, AIC
Claim Consulting Practice Leader
Willis Towers Watson, Glen Allen, Va.

Jenny Novoa, director of risk management for The Gap, threw down the gauntlet for her broker, Willis Towers Watson’s Joe Picone: Help us find a better way to evaluate third-party administrators (TPAs). More specifically, Novoa wanted to measure TPA performance based on outcomes rather than using standard “best practice” audits.

“We had to figure out how to build a tool to do that,” said Novoa.

Picone rolled up his sleeves and dug in, recruiting additional stakeholders from Foot Locker, Saks Fifth Avenue and Corvel.

To build the new audit tool, Picone, Novoa and the team incorporated numerous factors into the claim process such as employee co-morbidities, failures in the return-to-work process and life events as well as the hiring process and performance management.

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They completed audits using both the new tool and the old tool, and compared the results, which turned out to be a revelation. Using the traditional audit tool, some claims scored high even though they had poor outcomes, while some with good outcomes had lower scores.

For example, a file that received a perfect “100” score on a best practice audit may have exceeded expected medical disability guidelines by 400 percent.

Using the outcomes-based audit tool, there was a far higher correlation between high scores and good outcomes. It’s a “very cool tool,” said Novoa — the first of its kind in the industry.

Rolling Into Claims Success

Dennis Tierney
Director of Workers’ Compensation Claims
Marsh, New York

Power Brokers love a challenge. Marsh’s Dennis Tierney got that and more when he took on Motivate International as a client. A global bike share leader, Motivate International partners with governments and brands in major cities around the world.

The company was at a crossroads after the acquisition of a troubled bike share operator. The acquired company, which didn’t have a risk management department, had amassed $10 million in claims in only three years.

“Our broker at the time was on cruise control,” said Grant Barkey, Motivate’s risk manager. “We needed somebody who was strong on claims, someone who understood our business.”

Barkey partnered with Tierney and his team at Marsh, and he is effusive when explaining how far things have come since then.

“My entire team is pretty rock star,” said Barkey. “[They] really turned around our claims and claims management.”

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One key hurdle, said Barkey, was that carriers didn’t really understand the bike share business, which is a fairly young industry, or its sometimes nuanced exposure. But Tierney got it, Barkey said, and strove to make sure that carriers could wrap their heads around it.

The company ultimately ended up with a new carrier, said Barkey, and Tierney has been instrumental in ensuring that the carrier has a solid handle on Motivate International’s exposures. The company has made incredible strides in closing out open claims and setting up special handling agreements with the carrier.

 Finalists:

Jeffrey Breskin
Director
Crystal & Company, Los Angeles

Carol Murphy
Managing Director and Casualty Growth Leader
Aon, Chicago

Thomas Ryan
Managing Director
Marsh, New York City

Teri Weber
Partner
Spring Consulting Group, Boston

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

Risk Report: Hospitality

Bridging the Protection Gap

When travelers stay home, hospitality companies recoup lost income through customized, data-defined policies.
By: | October 12, 2017 • 9 min read

In the wake of a hurricane, earthquake, pandemic, terror attack, or any event that causes carnage on a grand scale, affected areas usually are subject to a large “protection gap” – the difference between insured loss and total economic loss. Depending on the type of damage, the gap can be enormous, leaving companies and communities scrambling to obtain the funds needed for a quick recovery.

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RMS estimates that Hurricane Harvey’s rampage through Texas could cause as much as $90 billion in total economic damage. The modeling firm also stated that “[National Flood Insurance Program] penetration rates are as low as 20 percent in the Houston area, and thus most of the losses will be uninsured.”

In addition to uninsured losses from physical damage, many businesses in unaffected surrounding areas will suffer non-physical contingent business interruption losses. The hospitality industry is particularly susceptible to this exposure, and its losses often fall into the protection gap.

Natural catastrophes and other major events that compromise travelers’ safety have prolonged impacts on tourism and hospitality. Even if they suffer no physical damage, any hotel or resort will lose business as travelers avoid the area.

“The hospitality industry is reliant on people moving freely. If people don’t feel safe, they won’t travel. And that cuts off the lifeblood of the industry,” said Christian Ryan, U.S. Hospitality and Gaming Practice Leader, Marsh.

Christian Ryan
U.S. Hospitality and Gaming Practice Leader, Marsh

“People are going away from the devastation, not toward it,” said Evan Glassman, president and CEO, New Paradigm Underwriters.

Drops in revenue resulting from decreased occupancy and average daily room rate can sometimes be difficult to trace back to a major event when a hotel suffered no physical harm. Traditional business interruption policies require physical damage as a coverage condition. Even contingent business interruption coverages might only kick in if a hotel’s direct suppliers were taken offline by physical damage.

If everyone remains untouched and intact, though, it’s near impossible to demonstrate how much of a business downturn was caused by the hurricane three states away.

“Hospitality companies are concerned that their traditional insurance policies only cover business interruption resulting from physical damage,” said Bob Nusslein, head of Innovative Risk Solutions for the Americas, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions.

“These companies have large uninsured exposure from events which do not cause physical damage to their assets, yet result in reduced income.”

Power of Parametrics

Parametric insurance is designed specifically to bridge the protection gap and address historically uninsured or underinsured risks.

Parametric coverage is defined and triggered by the characteristics of an event, rather than characteristics of the loss. Triggers are custom-built based on an insured’s unique location and exposures, as well as their budget and risk tolerance.

“Triggers typically include a combination of the occurrence of a given event and a reduction in occupancy rates or RevPar for the specific hotel assets,” Nusslein said. Though sometimes the parameters of an event — like measures of storm intensity — are enough to trigger a payout on their own.

For hurricane coverage, for example, one policy trigger might be the designation of a Category 3-5 storm within a 100-mile radius of the location. Another trigger might be a 20 percent drop in RevPAR, or revenue per available room. If both parameters are met, a pre-determined payout amount would be administered. No investigations or claims adjustment necessary.

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The same type of coverage could apply in less severe situations where traditional insurance just doesn’t respond. Event or entertainment companies, for example, often operate at the whim of Mother Nature. While they may not be forced to cancel a production due to inclement weather, they will nevertheless take a hit to the bottom line if fewer patrons show up.

Christian Phillips, focus group leader for Beazley’s Weatherguard parametric products, said that as little as a quarter- to a half-inch of rain over a four- to five-hour period is enough to prevent people from coming to an event, or to leave early.

“That’s a persistent rainfall that will wear down people’s patience,” he said.

“A rule of thumb for parametric weather coverage, if you’re looking to protect loss of revenue when your event has not actually been cancelled, you will probably lose up to 20 to 30 percent of your revenue in bad weather. That depends on the client and the type of event, but that’s the standard we’ve realized from historical claims data.”

The industry is now drawing on data to establish these rules of thumb for more serious losses sustained by hospitality companies after major events.

“Until recently the insurance industry has not created products to address these non-physical damage business interruption exposures. The industry is now collaborating with big data companies to access data, which in turn, allows us to structure new products,” Nusslein said.

Data-Driven Triggers

Insurers source data from weather organizations that track temperature, rainfall, wind speeds and snowfall, among other perils, by the hour and sometimes by the minute. Parametric triggers are determined based on historical storm data, which indicates how likely a given location is to be hit.

“We try to get a minimum of 30 years of hourly data for those perils for a given location,” Phillips said.

“Global weather is changing, though, so we focus particularly on the last five to 10 years. From that we can build a policy that fits the exposure that we see in the data, and we use the data to price it correctly.”

New Paradigm Underwriters collects their own wind speed data via a network of anemometers that stretch from Corpus Christi, Texas, all the way to Massachusetts, and works with modeling firms like RMS to gather additional underwriting information.

The hospitality industry is reliant on people moving freely. If people don’t feel safe, they won’t travel. And that cuts off the lifeblood of the industry.– Christian Ryan, U.S. Hospitality and Gaming Practice Leader, Marsh

While severe weather is the most common event of concern, parametric cover can also apply to terrorism and pandemic risks.

“We offer a terror attack quote on every one of our event policies because everyone asks for it,” said Beazley’s Phillips.

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“We didn’t do it 10 years ago, but that’s the world we live in today.”

An attack could lead to civil unrest, fire or any number of things outside an insured’s control. It would likely disrupt travel over a wide geographic region.

“A terrorist event could cause wide area devastation and loss of attraction, which results in lost income for hospitality companies,” Nusslein said.

Disease outbreaks also dampen travel and tourism. Zika, which was most common in South America and the Caribbean, still prevented people from traveling to south Florida.

“Occupancy went down significantly in that region,” Marsh’s Ryan said.

“If there is a pandemic across the U.S., a parametric coverage would make sense. All travel within and inbound to the U.S. would go down, and parametric policies could protect hotel revenues in non-impacted areas. Official statements from the CDC such as evacuation orders or warnings could qualify as a trigger.”

Less data exists around terror attacks and pandemics than for weather, though hotels are taking steps to collect information around their exposure.

“It’s hard to quantify how an infectious disease outbreak will impact business, but we and clients are using big data to track travel patterns,” Ryan said.

Hospitality Metrics

Any data collected has to be verified, or “cleaned.”

“We only deal with entities that will clean the data so we know the historical data we’re getting is accurate,” Phillips said.

“There are mountains of data out there, but it’s unusable if it’s not clean.”

Parametric underwriters also tap into the insured’s historical data around occupancy and room rates to estimate the losses it may suffer from decreased revenue.

Bob Nusslein, head of Innovative Risk Solutions for the Americas, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions.

“The hospitality industry uses two key metrics to measure loss of business income. These include occupancy rate and revenue per available room, or RevPAR. These are the traditional measurements of business health,” Swiss Re’s Nusslein said.  RevPAR is calculated by multiplying a hotel’s average daily room rate (ADR) by its occupancy rate.

“The hotel industry has been contributing its data on occupancy, RevPAR, room supply and demand, and historical data on geographical and seasonal trends to independent data aggregators for many years. It has done an exceptional job of aggregating business data to measure performance downturns from routine economic fluctuations and from major ‘Black Swan’ events, like the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the 2008 financial crisis or the 2009 SARS epidemic.”

Claims history can also provide an understanding of how much revenue a hotel or an event company has lost in the past due to any type of business interruption. Business performance metrics combined with claims data determine an appropriate payout amount.

Like coverage triggers, payouts from parametric policies are specifically defined and pre-determined based on data and statistical evidence.

This is the key benefit of parametric coverage: triggers are hit, payment is made. With minimal or no adjustment process, claims are paid quickly, enabling insureds to begin recovery immediately.

Applying Parametric Payments

For hotels with no physical damage, but significant drops in occupancy and revenue, funds from a parametric policy can help bridge the income gap until business picks up again, covering expenses related to regular maintenance, utilities and marketing.

Because payment is not tied to a specific type or level of loss, it can be applied wherever insureds need it, so long as it doesn’t advance them to a better financial position than they enjoyed prior to the loss.

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Parametric policies can be designed to fill in where an insured has not yet met their deductible on a separate traditional policy. Or it could function as excess coverage. Or it could cover exposures excluded by other policies, or for which there is no insurance option at all. Completely bespoke, parametric coverages are a function of each client’s individual exposures, risk tolerance and budget.

“Parametric insurance enables underwriting of risks that are outside tolerance levels from a traditional standpoint,” NPU’s Glassman said.

The non-physical business interruption risks faced by the hospitality industry match that description pretty closely.

“Hotels are a good fit for parametric insurance because they have a guaranteed loss from a business income standpoint when there is a major storm coming,” Glassman said.

While only a handful of carriers currently offer a form of parametric coverage, the abundance of available data and advancement in data collection and analytical tools will likely fuel its popularity.

Companies can maximize the benefits of parametric coverages by building them as supplements to traditional business interruption or event cancellation policies. Both New Paradigm Underwriters and Beazley either work with other property insurers or create hybrid products in-house to combine the best of both worlds and assemble a comprehensive risk transfer solution. &

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