2015 Power Broker
Lifting Client Burdens, in Any Way Possible
When Houston-based Levey Group sought permanent financing for one of its industrial parks, it hit a snag.
One of the park’s tenants was self-insured, prompting questions from the company’s lender, according to Helen Dreyfus, Levey Group’s operations director.
Dreyfus handed off the questions to Paige Cokinos, who promptly straightened things out.
It’s not the first time Cokinos has spared her the time and effort that insurance matters used to soak up in the past. In another case, he reassured a buyer for a Levey property that the company’s existing insurance would cover future environmental issues.
“I mean it when I say he changed my life in this office,” Dreyfus said.
Cokinos has been changing lives for all of his Houston-area clients. In 2014, he redesigned insurance policies to account for reduced capacity in the region for wind and flood coverage. The revamped policies minimized high deductibles and kept premiums reasonable.
Cokinos lends a hand regardless of whether a commission is on the line, according to Michael Grivon, managing partner at Lovon Properties, which owns commercial properties in Colorado and Texas.
After building a second home in Colorado, Grivon had trouble finding homeowner’s insurance. Cokinos connected Grivon with a local agent who was able to find coverage, Grivon said.
“He made life easier for his customer and, ultimately, his customer got taken care of,” Grivon added. “When I talk to friends and tell them about Paige or recommend that they use him, I always use that as an example.”
The One You Can Turn to
A real estate firm had rolled up a large portfolio of single-family rental properties, and was planning to securitize it; they just needed an insurance plan that would satisfy the conservative requirements of credit ratings agencies.
Within four months, Alexandra Glickman, Gallagher’s real estate and hospitality practice leader, came back with a favorably priced package that included coverage for property, casualty, D&O, environmental liability, lender liability and cyber liability, as well as employment practices and employed lawyers, according to an executive at the firm.
“I have worked with many insurance brokers, but Alexandra Glickman has far surpassed all the others in knowledge, expertise and service,” said the executive.
Joseph E. Miller, CFO of California-based Griffin Capital Corp., calls Glickman for advice, maybe more often than he calls her for insurance, knowing she will follow through.
During a recent merger transaction, for example, Miller needed tail coverage for D&O exposure. Glickman provided guidance, though she was not writing the coverage. “Alex and her team provide very sound advice on how to proceed with all insurance programs and coverage limits,” Miller said.
Another client relied on Glickman’s client-centric approach to resolve a large property claim in 2014. Glickman delivered a 100 percent recovery. “She’s not shy about looking out for our interests and doing it in a professional, pleasant manner,” said the client, an executive overseeing risk for a firm in the Northeast.
No Challenge Too Tough
Limited data did not limit David A. Johnson when real estate giant CBRE challenged him to find coverage for its affiliates around the world, according to Mark Magi, manager of global risk management for the company.
The coverage was required for affiliates delivering services under the CBRE name in countries where the company does not have its own offices.
CBRE could provide revenue estimates, but not much more, Magi said. “We were essentially asking them to go out on a wing and a prayer, and said it had to be inexpensive.”
Johnson came back with exactly the coverage CBRE needed, Magi said, noting that Johnson is now tackling other complex projects for the company. “He’s done phenomenal things for us, things that I didn’t think a broker could do,” Magi said.
Johnson made a similar impression on the risk manager at a construction company in the Northeast. “He came in and really brought in coverages that I wasn’t even aware existed,” said the risk manager. “I felt that he had a history of understanding our needs, and that obviously made him more valuable.”
One of the company’s more pressing needs was better general liability coverage for its exposure to contractors working for the company overseas, said the risk manager.
Ultimately, Johnson brought the company’s international coverage closer to its U.S. coverage, the risk manager said. “That let us better price our projects in terms of how we covered certain contractors in areas where contractors didn’t buy insurance as much as we had hoped.”
The risk manager for a commercial real estate company needed a juggler, not an insurance broker.
As the company was preparing to go public in late 2013 and early 2014, it undertook a series of property swaps — and had to ensure that insurance coverage was consistently in place at the right price.
Brendan Monahan stepped into the ring and kept an eye on all the moving pieces, the risk manager said. The process involved months of weekly meetings and conference calls, the risk manager added.
“He really took ownership of it. He wasn’t just sort of a liaison. He definitely owned it. He would get the information and bring it back to me himself. He knew everything that was going on.”
Most importantly, Monahan made the risk manager look good in front of senior managers, who didn’t want to hear about any challenges involving insurance coverage. “We never had to go to them and say, ‘We’re at a roadblock; we have a problem. We need your help,’ ” the risk manager said. “I feel like Brendan helped me be the problem-solver.”
Clients attribute Monahan’s success in delivering results to his calm, even-handed manner, as well as his up-front approach to client requests.
“He doesn’t always say ‘yes’ to me, which I appreciate,” said the risk manager for real estate at a Fortune 500 company. “That sounds weird, but he tells me like it is in a way that we both understand why he’s saying what he said, and he explains it clearly.”
Strategic and Tactical
Hudson Advisors LLC had insurance policies scattered all over, and the inconsistencies were maddening.
For example, Hudson was paying two different rates for the same coverage under general liability policies for its hotels, said Stephen Bernstein, Hudson’s senior vice president for global insurance management.
“It drove our people crazy,” Bernstein said.
To simplify matters, the Dallas-based private equity firm decided to consolidate policies through a single broker. After an RFP in early 2014, the firm picked Robin Reyes and her team at Marsh. Things are a lot saner now.
For Hudson’s hotels, Reyes worked with the insurer to secure the better rate for every property. “That was a real coup for us,” said Bernstein. “She’s far superior to anybody else we’ve ever had. She’s both strategic and granular. It’s a rare combination.”
She helped another client, a Texas-based private equity firm, after it ran into a trouble on a recent deal. A buyer for one of its properties couldn’t find insurance at a reasonable rate, delaying the transaction.
Word of the impasse reached Reyes, according to an executive in charge of insurance for the firm, which deals mostly in real estate. Reyes could have simply offered suggestions, the executive said. “Instead, she took ownership of it, and got a resolution.”
Although Reyes helped the buyer find insurance, she didn’t benefit from the transaction, the executive added. “She just helped us by helping him. To me, that is above and beyond.”
Creating Order Out of Chaos
It wasn’t too much celebrating that caused a hangover in early 2014 for the legal and compliance administrator at a New England real estate company.
It was a long list of insurance challenges that had gone unaddressed in previous years. “The whole thing was in disarray,” the administrator said.
The headache began to subside by May, however, when Jennifer Wilson began poring over the issues.
“She got them all resolved in a very short period of time,” said the administrator. “And it wasn’t one or two issues. It was a whole list of issues that had been outstanding for quite a while.”
Among them was a potential lack of protection under construction contracts, the company’s largest risk, the administrator said. Wilson reviewed all contracts and made sure the language adequately shielded the company from any claims arising from the work of subcontractors.
Wilson even came up with a schedule for requiring insurance limits for subcontractors, based on the size and type of the project, and the size of the contract.
“She can identify what the problem is, and she’s tenacious,” the administrator added. “She goes after it until it’s done.”
Wilson takes the same dogged approach to claims, according to an executive at another client. Her guidance helped the client, a temporary staffing agency, stave off a recent E&O claim.
“She was valuable because she had the perspective of how an insurance company views potential claims, and what you should or shouldn’t be doing to help work through it,” the executive said.