2014 Power Broker


Recipe for Success

Eric Boyum Senior Vice President Aon, Denver

Eric Boyum
Senior Vice President
Aon, Denver

Eric Boyum has a true talent for finding ways to help retail clients manage tight budgets and razor-thin margins within D&O and EPLI programs.

In one example, Boyum and his Aon team helped a client overcome a challenge that involved designing and developing a separate D&O liability program for the public spin-off of a nearly $1 billion subsidiary. With the post-offering ownership of the spun-off company still being majority held by the parent company, there were challenges to overcome, including: (1) dealing with the potential for overlapping claims on two separate programs, (2) addressing insurer concerns around total capacity exposed to the combined entities, and (3) meeting the expectations of two separate management teams and boards of directors. Boyum found a way to meet each of the party’s objectives, and often in a way none of them originally imagined.

“Eric does a very good job with benchmarking data with peers and that allows us to make a decision on both coverage limits as well as the players that are included on coverage profiles,” said the risk manager at a leisure shoe manufacturer.

The director of risk management at a large supermarket chain said his company is extremely pleased with Boyum’s help in keeping D&O costs down while increasing coverage for the last three years. “Eric makes sure we have access to the right type of markets, coverages and continuity,” he said. “It’s important to have the relationships with the right kind of carriers. Eric is very skilled at getting us in front of the right people at the right time.”

Fitting the Pieces Together

Lynn Jekkals, ARM Resident Managing Director Aon, Grand Rapids, Mich.

Lynn Jekkals, ARM
Resident Managing Director
Aon, Grand Rapids, Mich.

The lone retail Power Broker® repeater from 2013, Lynn Jekkals has a penchant for serving as a client advocate. In a recent case involving a client’s design-build construction project and securing adequate insurance for professional liability, the requirements were even more stringent than usual. With design-build, the risk is greater not only for the client’s project, but for all of the other work the general contractor does that shares limits with the client.

In this case, the general contractor was unwilling to increase its professional liability limits without passing on the cost, which was quite high. To get it done, Jekkals secured three different options for an Owners Professional Protective Indemnity policy with limits ranging from $3 million to $5 million at several different deductible levels.

Dedicated limits, a multi-year term and a highly competitive rate, of course, made the client happy. It not only hit the budget goals but allowed the client to maintain its strong relationship with the general contractor — a classic win-win.

Another Jekkals client, Miller Johnson, a Grand Rapids, Mich., law firm, had praise for her ongoing efforts. “We work with three different brokers on various lines but by far Lynn is the stellar performer,” said Betsy Raymond, COO at Miller Johnson.

“Lynn has many strengths but I most admire her for her business acumen as it relates to aligning products and lines of coverage with our business needs. Her knowledge of her industry is deep and she is a valued partner to our firm.”

The Amazing Mr. Sallada

James Sallada Senior Vice President Marsh, New York

James Sallada
Senior Vice President
Marsh, New York

Working on behalf of one of the leading private investment firms in the world, Marsh’s James Sallada found crucial solutions that enabled the purchase of a very large chain of grocery stores.

The transaction was split in two, creating two separate holding companies, and Sallada was tasked with creating two stand-alone primary casualty programs. The project had substantial loss projections and exposures, but Sallada was able to secure a deal that the customer was comfortable with in a very short time frame. In addition to placing the renewal, Sallada was able to resolve a punitive approach from the state of California in securing legacy liabilities there.

“Frankly, he’s a fantastic resource,” said Ira Weisman, managing director at Cerberus Operations and Advisory Company, an affiliate of Cerberus Capital Management, LP. “He is able to be very flexible between business sectors. There is not one sector or industry, and in my world that’s extremely important,” Weisman said.

For another large client that is expanding, Sallada was able to create an insurance program that has a total cost of risk that was 20 percent less than his client’s due diligence team anticipated.

“He’s good at what he does. In fact, he’s amazing,” said Wendy Meikle, director of risk management at the Werner Co. “We want a business partner, one who keeps up with the business and is an extension of our team, and we also have a unique need for product liability insurance, which is a limited market. He surprises us every year with alternatives.”

Creative Rate Warrior

Jim Gillette Managing Principal EPIC, Los Angeles

Jim Gillette
Managing Principal
EPIC, Los Angeles

To offset rate increases, some companies that distribute and wholesale products and services are taking a more active role in managing claims and losses. Jim Gillette is helping them meet those goals by getting creative with structuring programs. While negotiating big price decreases may not be possible, Gillette has been able to help clients receive better coverage at the same price.

One such client, GHP Group, saw significantly decreased excess liability premiums by close to 20 percent, and pre-negotiated a flat renewal with GHP’s incumbent primary liability carrier. Ron Calvert, a partner at GHP Group Inc., describes Gillette as a thorough, proactive broker whose vision helps clients understand marketplace challenges. “We are a growing business, at about 10 times the size we were five years ago,” Calvert said. “Market dynamics have changed, so we no longer have a simple insurance program. I’ve been doing this for 25 years and there is no one I have dealt with who can compare to Jim. He’s been a real asset.”

Another Gillette client, Jack Nadel International, achieved rate decreases on both the property and casualty coverage, helping offset increases in the company’s workers’ compensation premiums — a big deal in California. “Jim is very articulate and a professional, a ‘big picture’ guy,” said Bob Kritzler, CFO at Jack Nadel International. “He has a detailed understanding of risk management. I have come to learn in my career that while price is important, there also is a lot to be said for service. In the end, you really save in the long run, and Jim delivers those results.”

A Passion for Strategic Thinking

Dennis O’Neill, Jr. Vice President Aon, Philadelphia

Dennis O’Neill, Jr.
Vice President
Aon, Philadelphia

Speaking with Dennis O’Neill Jr.’s clients, the word “strategic” seems to crop up almost immediately.

Tom Rachubinski, risk and ERM manager at Wawa, a large and expanding convenience store chain headquartered in Pennsylvania, said O’Neill “grew up on the Wawa account,” having worked with the company since 2001. “If I think about the value Dennis brings to us, most of it comes from his ability to understand our business and risks,” said Rachubinski, who joined Wawa’s Risk Management team in 2011.

“My background is not in risk or insurance, it’s in accounting. Dennis quickly got me up to speed, and it was a great way to learn. What mainly sets him apart is that he always thinks strategically when coming up with risk solutions,” he added. “Dennis takes his work personally. He is very passionate about doing his job.”

O’Neill also helped guide tech giant Computer Sciences Corp. when a potentially significant divestiture could negatively impact the company’s insurance program. Ultimately, he was successful in working with each of the casualty insurance markets to ensure the impact was fully considered, leading to a substantial reduction in the client’s prospective total cost of risk.

“Dennis pulled together a tremendous presentation for the underwriting markets, presenting us in as favorable light as possible,” said Jeff Purdy, director of corporate risk management at CSC. “He went into the deepest level of detail. … He obviously loves what he does.”

Making it Happen

Marc Shemesh Managing Director Marsh, Seattle

Marc Shemesh
Managing Director
Marsh, Seattle

For California retailers, controlling workers’ compensation claim costs is a significant challenge. So when a large California client identified a critical need revolving around ongoing comp losses, it turned to Marc Shemesh for guidance.

Shemesh quickly assembled a cost-containment solutions team and moved on strategies, including a comprehensive claims and TPA audit, a claims inventory workout, an ergonomic analysis and return-to-work solutions, among other things. The result: significant savings and program improvement.

In another Shemesh success story, a large retail client suffered a significant loss from the 2011 earthquake in Japan. Handling bodily injury claims in Japan is much different than in the United States, as addressing the cultural and familial aspect of an injury to third parties is significantly more complex.

Shemesh worked with Marsh’s international network, along with global TPA firms and the client’s risk management team, to create a cultural guide to handling claims in the various countries in which this client had operations.

“Risk managers often talk about what company they do business with, but I like to say ‘we do business with people,’ and Marc represents the best of everything you look for in a broker: knowledge, professionalism, understanding, and most importantly, passion for what he does and who he is working for,” said Anthony Spacciante, risk financing manager for Starbucks. “Marc is truly one of those people you want on your team!”


John Vanasco Senior Vice President Aon

John Vanasco
Senior Vice President

Kate Simons Senior Broker Aon

Kate Simons
Senior Broker

Ross Wheeler Senior Vice President Aon

Ross Wheeler
Senior Vice President

Sandy Johannes Managing Director Aon

Sandy Johannes
Managing Director

Thomas Hams Managing Director Aon

Thomas Hams
Managing Director

Joseph Messina President & CEO Maximum Independent

Joseph Messina
President & CEO
Maximum Independent

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

4 Companies That Rocked It by Treating Injured Workers as Equals; Not Adversaries

The 2018 Teddy Award winners built their programs around people, not claims, and offer proof that a worker-centric approach is a smarter way to operate.
By: | October 30, 2018 • 3 min read

Across the workers’ compensation industry, the concept of a worker advocacy model has been around for a while, but has only seen notable adoption in recent years.

Even among those not adopting a formal advocacy approach, mindsets are shifting. Formerly claims-centric programs are becoming worker-centric and it’s a win all around: better outcomes; greater productivity; safer, healthier employees and a stronger bottom line.


That’s what you’ll see in this month’s issue of Risk & Insurance® when you read the profiles of the four recipients of the 2018 Theodore Roosevelt Workers’ Compensation and Disability Management Award, sponsored by PMA Companies. These four programs put workers front and center in everything they do.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top,” said Steve Legg, director of risk management for Starbucks.

Starbucks put claims reporting in the hands of its partners, an exemplary act of trust. The coffee company also put itself in workers’ shoes to identify and remove points of friction.

That led to a call center run by Starbucks’ TPA and a dedicated telephonic case management team so that partners can speak to a live person without the frustration of ‘phone tag’ and unanswered questions.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top.” — Steve Legg, director of risk management, Starbucks

Starbucks also implemented direct deposit for lost-time pay, eliminating stressful wait times for injured partners, and allowing them to focus on healing.

For Starbucks, as for all of the 2018 Teddy Award winners, the approach is netting measurable results. With higher partner satisfaction, it has seen a 50 percent decrease in litigation.

Teddy winner Main Line Health (MLH) adopted worker advocacy in a way that goes far beyond claims.

Employees who identify and report safety hazards can take credit for their actions by sending out a formal “Employee Safety Message” to nearly 11,000 mailboxes across the organization.

“The recognition is pretty cool,” said Steve Besack, system director, claims management and workers’ compensation for the health system.

MLH also takes a non-adversarial approach to workers with repeat injuries, seeing them as a resource for identifying areas of improvement.

“When you look at ‘repeat offenders’ in an unconventional way, they’re a great asset to the program, not a liability,” said Mike Miller, manager, workers’ compensation and employee safety for MLH.

Teddy winner Monmouth County, N.J. utilizes high-tech motion capture technology to reduce the chance of placing new hires in jobs that are likely to hurt them.

Monmouth County also adopted numerous wellness initiatives that help workers manage their weight and improve their wellbeing overall.

“You should see the looks on their faces when their cholesterol is down, they’ve lost weight and their blood sugar is better. We’ve had people lose 30 and 40 pounds,” said William McGuane, the county’s manager of benefits and workers’ compensation.


Do these sound like minor program elements? The math says otherwise: Claims severity has plunged from $5.5 million in 2009 to $1.3 million in 2017.

At the University of Pennsylvania, putting workers first means getting out from behind the desk and finding out what each one of them is tasked with, day in, day out — and looking for ways to make each of those tasks safer.

Regular observations across the sprawling campus have resulted in a phenomenal number of process and equipment changes that seem simple on their own, but in combination have created a substantially safer, healthier campus and improved employee morale.

UPenn’s workers’ comp costs, in the seven-digit figures in 2009, have been virtually cut in half.

Risk & Insurance® is proud to honor the work of these four organizations. We hope their stories inspire other organizations to be true partners with the employees they depend on. &

Michelle Kerr is associate editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]