Gaming and Hospitality
The Show Must Go On
Events and promotions usually fall outside the scope of general liability policies and can demand some very unique coverage.
Marlene Benoit, a vice president at Marsh, has helped clients hold weekend-long concerts with overnight camping, sponsor death-defying stunts at the Indy 500, and host a Survivor-esque competition on a tropical island.
Policies for event cancellation, weather and prize indemnity insurance are all necessary to ensure smooth sailing.
“She really helps me a lot with weather insurance, group sales and pyrotechnics with group shows,” said Veronica Fuentes, risk manager at the M Resort in Las Vegas. “I look to her for help with special shows including tightrope walkers, pyrotechnics and other liabilities including ‘act of God’ possibilities. She’ll send me three bids for everything I ask for.”
Sixteen years in the events and promotions space, including marketing experience, have helped Benoit identify what coverage terms are crucial and how organizations can best plan events for increased revenue and minimized risk.
Timeliness also matters should an event encounter any last-minute changes. Holly Delinski, vice president of the corporate executive financial department at Edelman, called Benoit’s responsiveness “reassuring.”
“Marlene is always willing to find the best solution possible to our insurance-related situations in the timeliest manner possible,” Delinski said.
Going the Extra Mile
It’s easy to be proactive when business is going well, but digging out of a hole can box brokers into survival mode, fighting against premium increases rather than searching for better, more cost-efficient solutions.
Reiner Braun, managing director and senior client advisor at Marsh, had to be creative for a client with an adverse loss history, broadening coverage for minimum cost. He did so by creating two separately sized primary layers and a larger excess program, allowing the client to take advantage of increased competition in the excess market.
Braun has also helped clients expand, sometimes changing the company’s risk profile dramatically. One hotel chain, for example, added a new coastal property to the program right at the beginning of windstorm season. On short notice, Braun had to attract a large number of underwriters to accept the heightened risk.
Finding underwriter support is not always easy. The hospitality sector faces unique insurance challenges, such as a transactional business model, dependency on lenders, and exposure to natural catastrophes such as windstorm, earthquake and flood.
Lisa Campanaro, COO and executive vice president of Raleigh Enterprises, praised Braun’s willingness to go the extra mile. Other clients also praised his availability and work ethic.
“He’s on everybody’s speed dial,” Campanaro said.
Gourmet Service for Gourmet Food
Gourmet food trucks have been rising in popularity, giving hopeful restaurateurs a chance to get into the business without the cost and risk of opening a storefront location. But the niche is chronically underinsured. Denton Christner, vice president of BayRisk Insurance Brokers and founder of InsureMyFoodTruck.com, sought to fill the gap.
By mid-2012, he helped build a program addressing risks specific to food truck operations, incorporating loss of business income coverage, equipment breakdown and spoilage. Christner and his team now serve more than 400 mobile food vendors in multiple states. His website receives between 60 and 125 quote requests per month and has so far attracted almost 8,000 unique visitors.
Much of the site’s success grew from social media promotion and interaction. Christner connected with clients on Facebook or Twitter before meeting them in person to learn about them socially, which builds a stronger bond. Clients also were served quickly — getting full policies, certificates and identification cards within 48 hours — thanks to the company’s digital platform.
“On his website, he has a spot where you sign in and fill in the blanks and within 24 hours you get a certificate for endorsing another insurance for the day, which some locations require,” said Alan Jong, president of Slightly Skewed, a food truck in Sacramento, Calif. “The 24-hour turnaround is a great solution because sometimes I’ll get a call asking me to bring my truck down to a location in two days.”
Bringing a Fresh Take on Client Service
There may be no better example of the innovation and fresh air the insurance industry craves than the work Denny Christner has done with BayRisk. By insuring hundreds of gourmet food trucks, Christner has not only displayed a sharp eye for new business, but has helped to cover a sector of the economy that speaks to new generations. If insurance is an enabler of commerce, then Christner is an enabler of good taste.
He also breaks the mold by using modern channels of communication with his clients: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Promoting and advocating for his always-on-the-go customers via social media speaks to his ability to adapt traditional business models to modern demands. That demonstrates a level of media savvy not typically seen from seasoned brokers.
And Christner is also serving the insurance industry and the economy in other ways. He has served on the Young Brokers & Agents Committee of Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of California and chaired that committee in 2011. In that leadership position, he hosted events geared to younger agents that encouraged them to discuss their progress and offer mutual support. Christner has also accepted a board position with the IIABCal in 2014.
“I continually engage young professionals and those entering the workforce to consider an insurance profession,” Christner said, calling the field personally rewarding, but often overlooked by young talent.
Dominating D&O Challenges
Renewal time can often weigh down the workload and demand extra creativity from brokers, but completely restructuring a program with new insurers within 60 days is quite a unique challenge. That’s what Anne Corona, managing director at Aon, did for one Fortune 100 company.
The client wanted to overhaul its D&O program to eliminate some coverages and increase its total limits by more than 20 percent, while switching to insurers with better credit quality.
In a challenging marketplace, she was able to create a more efficient program with fewer insurers and reduce the company’s premium by 20 percent despite that significant increase in total limits. The new program was also more tax compliant and included an improved international risk transfer strategy.
“Anne partnered effectively with our team to rethink the program in the context of our unique goals and objectives. The result was outstanding,” said Robert Gordan, assistant treasurer, Insurance division, at Chevron Corp.
Other clients also value her knowledge of the D&O marketplace and high level of honest, open communication.
“I’ve worked with her for about a year and a half now, and I find her very professional. There are a lot of brokers who can do the wining and dining, but she’s always been very professional and very knowledgeable about the coverages,” said Maila Aganon, director, Risk and Insurance, for Caesars Entertainment Corp.
Thinking Ahead and Enabling Growth
Growth is good. But it also presents risk management challenges in terms of taking on greater assets and more liability. In the past year, Diamond Resorts International Inc. increased its portfolio by 30 percent, acquired two companies, and went public.
Angela Giunto, senior vice president and AE leader for Aon, was there to make sure every transition went smoothly. By working with the companies prior to them being acquired, she was able to roll policies into Diamond’s existing programs with no gaps, and ensured a seamless renewal as the company went public.
That kind of diligence allows businesses to take advantage of opportunities and flourish.
The hospitality industry can be daunting to insurers, one client said, but Giunto has educated the marketplace about the exposures.
“She has to creatively market our program to entice carriers to work with us so we’re not at the mercy of their prices,” the client said. “Carriers are glad they stuck with us. They price us differently now.”
Giunto’s legal background also works to her advantage when it comes to client service. She will ask to see major contracts in early draft stages, which allows her to proactively make suggestions on coverage or indemnification.
“She’s very forward-thinking” said Nusrat Andersen, vice president, enterprise risk management for Diamond Resorts. “The creativity and solutions she offers us are for needs today, which she had identified and brought to our attention over 24 months ago.”
Keeping Costs Down
When a hotel with more than 10,000 rooms wanted to reduce their liability exposure at the property level, Sean Murphy came up with a creative approach. He and his team put together an “Accident Investigation Briefcase” consisting of a camera, standardized forms, a ruler and caution tape, among other items. The kit was distributed to 50 locations and helped to reduce the company’s exposure through consistent use.
Drawing on underwriter relationships built over a career solely devoted to the hospitality sector has also given Murphy an advantage in negotiating better deals for his customers.
“We had a large loss at one of our properties and it was occurring around the same time as our property insurance renewal, so understandably some of the underwriters from our insurance providers were a little skittish about what that could potentially do to their ratios,” said Matt Partridge, vice president of finance for Pebblebrook Hotel Trust.
“Sean and his team came up with a creative structure that allowed us to complete the renewal with only a nominal increase, when we otherwise would have experienced a 10 to 15 percent year-over-year increase,” he said.
“We’re a demanding company. We call all hours of the day, on weekends,” said Bob Provost, president for Murphy’s client, Provost & Associates. “And he’s always been responsive. He’s very customer service oriented.”
Despite having clients on both coasts, Murphy makes it a priority to respond to any issues or questions within 24 hours.