Working Magic With Carriers
For one industrial multinational client based in the Midwest, Aon’s Katherine Glancy Johnston secured physical damage and business interruption coverage against cyber attacks within the property program itself — a fairly unusual coverage in the industry.
How did she do it? “Magic, I guess,” quipped the company’s risk manager. Well, there might have been a little more to it than that.
“Katherine employed her contacts with the carriers to make sure that they understood that we are making a big effort to minimize our exposures. She showed them that we go beyond traditional loss control and try to think outside the box,” he said.
Rob Greiber, vice president of risk management at Reyes Holdings, pointed out that the open exchange of information with carriers — promoted by Johnston — helped his company attain important gains recently in its property program.
“We have achieved significant growth and made changes to our organization in the past 12 months. Even then, Katherine has been able to renegotiate a multiyear placement that has resulted in premium relief, while also extending some of the coverages’ terms and limits,” he said.
“Katherine organized several site visits to make sure that there was no misunderstanding between what the carrier saw and what the risk is,” he added.
“She understands what is going on in the market, but she also took her time to understand our business, our operations and our exposures.”
The One to Turn to for International Expertise
International insurance programs can be sources of stress for risk managers who need to manage them from the home base. They rely on brokers like Aon’s David Johnson, who can help them navigate intricacies as well as settle claims spread across the world.
“David really understands the nitty-gritty of an international program,” said Barbara Vitale, the director of corporate risk management and insurance at Avis Budget Group.
Iconex, a printing solutions firm, presented an interesting coverage challenge after it was formed in May 2016, when a unit of NCR was purchased by Atlas Holdings. A new insurance program encompassing all 22 foreign subsidiaries of the new firm had to be expediently implemented, and Johnson was instrumental in the process.
“We had to replace every casualty, employee benefits and property policy that the company had in place across the world, and David spearheaded the effort,” said David Dodson, the vice president of global treasury and risk management at Iconex.
“We are very lean in the risk management department, so I have to count on my broker team extensively to get things done in this area for our global business.”
When a company lays its trust on a broker to such extent, however, it is necessary to be confident that it will get prompt answers anytime issues arise. Which, in the case of Johnson, is another ticked box, according to Vitale. “He is very approachable and is always willing to drop everything in order to help us,” she said.
A Partner for Growth
Clients say Krauter & Co.’s Craig Joncyk goes the extra mile, positioning them to further develop their operations. One such company is Dallas-based Pegasus Logistics, where Brian Cheshier is the director of business operations.
Pegasus is not a large organization, he said, and directors have to wear different hats. Therefore, Cheshier needs brokers he can trust.
“Craig listens to us, he tries to understand what we need, and is open to thinking outside the box,” he said. “When I first met him, I said that I was not looking for a broker, but for a business partner. And that is exactly what he is.”
The partnership paid off last year when one of Pegasus’ clients made changes to its contractual obligations, shifting more liability to transportation providers for expensive equipment being moved.
“A couple of carriers decided not to participate in the program anymore due to the new liability exposures,” Cheshier said. “But with Craig’s help, we were able to find a creative way to obtain the coverages we needed. We adopted process changes that made the risk acceptable to carriers, while keeping premiums at a level where we can remain competitive.”
The solution produced a lasting reduction of damages and helped to strengthen the confidence of a vital client of Pegasus’ services. “Not only did we retain the business, but it has almost [tripled] in the past 12 months,” Cheshier said.
Helping Universities Protect What Matters Most
In a time when terrorism and political risks abound, ensuring the safety of stakeholders no matter where they are has become a vital task for risk managers and their brokers. This is a key service provided by Mercer’s Kerry King, to one of the largest education entities in the world.
“Kerry helps me bring together the right partners and tools to respond to emergencies when our students, faculty and staff are traveling,” said Cheryl Lloyd, chief risk officer at the University of California. The complexity of the task should not be underestimated. UC has more than 250,000 students and a similar number of faculty and staff. At any given time, thousands of them are traveling around the world.
Last year, there were UC students on the ground in places like Bangladesh when terrorist events took place. About 80 students were in Nice, France, when a suspected militant drove a truck into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in July.
“Kerry has helped us put together a big program that allows us to provide pre-trip planning tools for the students as well as a 24/7 travel assistance hotline,” Lloyd said.
“Our travelers also get real-time travel warnings and alerts and — in the event of a medical or security evacuation — Kerry has gotten us an entity that provides that service as well. And we have access to all that by having to call a single telephone number.”
She added: “The system was put to the test in 2016 and it worked seamlessly. It is an invaluable service provided to our university.”
The Right Resources at the Right Time
Arthur J. Gallagher’s Mike McCoy has a keen sense of the best way to leverage resources for the benefit of clients.
“Mike has been the quarterback of our program,” said the risk manager of a company that manages large portfolios of real estate investments, demanding complex insurance programs.
“Recently, a foreign client came to the United States because we were advising them on a construction loan that exceeded $150 million,” he said. The client wanted to meet surety-bond experts to learn how bonds could help to protect their investment.
“Mike linked us with Gallagher’s San Francisco office and brought the managing director of Gallagher’s construction practice to meet our client,” he said.
Making that happen in Iowa is something McCoy’s clients value, as they often have to compete with rivals who operate from centers such as New York or California.
“This is just one example of the kind of support that Mike provides, which enables us to provide high-quality services to our clients,” said Schaeffer.
That access to expertise is key when dealing with emerging risks such as cyber liabilities.
“We recently purchased cyber insurance for the first time,” said Jim Sarcone, risk manager at Hubbell Realty, which is also based in Des Moines. “Mike put together a program that not only managed to provide us more coverage than I thought that we would be able to buy, but also for a much better price.”
Superior Coverage Solutions for Complex Needs
In times of increasing uncertainty around the world, multinational companies are asking brokers to expand their political risk coverages, while keeping costs under control.
Aon’s John Minor helped Bunge Ltd. include some new markets in its political risk and terrorism programs. At the same time, he achieved significant cost efficiencies with a proposal to combine two policies into one — even though he’d just taken over the account in late February, and renewal was looming on April 1.
“In the period of one month, John was able to combine two policies into one, market them, understand the risks, significantly increase existing limits, and add countries that we previously did not have under cover,” said Rick Bernstein, Bunge’s senior director of global credit risk and insurance. “We achieved almost a 40 percent reduction in premium costs.”
Bernstein praised Minor for his willingness to work with the client at every step of the process, keeping the risk management team in the loop and taking guidance even though negotiations had to be done in a tight time frame. “He kept working with us to make sure that he understood our needs and our requirements,” Bernstein said.
Another risk manager of a multinational company that performed a major restructuring of its political risks program raved about the support provided by Minor during the process. “He showed a very deep knowledge of the market and great relationships with all the key players, which was absolutely critical to get the deal done,” the risk manager said.
Helping Clients Take Control of Claims
Getting a handle on claims is a top priority for risk managers, and it’s an area where Joe Peiser, who is also head of casualty broking, distinguishes himself in the eyes of clients.
“Joe works hands on with our workers’ comp account and has really helped me to identify potential issues in our program and to restructure it,” said Lisa Drillich, the director of corporate risk and insurance at New York Community Bancorp.
Under Peiser’s supervision, Willis Towers Watson undertook a full-blown analysis of the company’s workers’ comp claims, identifying weaknesses and defining corrective actions. “Our previous brokers did not do that, and the carriers provided little information, so we often did not have the clearest picture of the state of claims,” Drillich said.
“Joe has also hired a staff member within Willis with a much better skill-set to be our claims advocate with the carriers. Now Willis is doing claims analysis for us, looking for trends and loss control issues, and it has really made a big difference.”
The result has been a more efficient process overall, in which Drillich is kept in the loop about the progression of claims. She said that, to a large extent because of the progress achieved, a new team member was hired to focus on the safety side to further reduce workers’ comp losses.
“If I call him, Joe is always there for me,” she said. “He is great when it comes to providing services that go above and beyond, which is not often the case with other brokers.”
Always Meeting Clients’ Changing Needs
Every company has its particularities and, very often, standard products fail to meet specific insurance needs. That’s why Marsh’s Brian Pfund puts so much energy and creativity into developing tailor-made solutions that best serve his clients, particularly in segments such as D&O, E&O and cyber liability
Milton Hiura, vice president and controller at James Campbell, a Kapolei, Hawaii-based real estate firm, stressed how Pfund continually comes up with manuscripted policies for an organization that has changed considerably as it has transitioned from a trust to a limited liability company. And he has achieved improved coverages for financial lines every year.
“Brian has been able to maintain blanket, as opposed to scheduled professional services coverage, which is very rare for a diversified real estate company that does real estate development, asset management and property management work,” Hiura said.
The same approach is helping buyers to strengthen their coverages for emerging risks such as cyber liability. “Brian took over our cyber liability program last year. He concluded that we were paying too much in premiums and made it his mission to fix that,” said the risk manager of a Midwest-based retailer. “He not only managed to reduce premiums materially, but also obtained an additional layer of limits for us.”
After Pfund’s intervention, the company’s total limits increased by one-third, sublimits improved materially, and expenses with premium dropped by about one-quarter, he added.
Excellence at Crunch Time
Some may perceive corporate insurance as dull and slow-moving, but Aon’s Andrew Racle might beg to disagree.
Racle is typically elbow-deep in fast-paced M&A deals where access to data is granted at the 11th hour, but insurance coverages need to be put in place in the blink of an eye. Clients say Racle is in his element in high-stress situations.
“Many times, the definition of insurance coverages are delayed to the very end of a deal, and then it is important to do things extremely quickly,” said Garrett Shipp, vice-president at private equity firm HGGC. “In a recent deal, the banks demanded that we have some specific D&O coverages in place. We contacted Andrew to go to the market and find us an underwriter in something like 24 hours. He achieved it for us. … It was a pretty amazing turnaround that enabled us to close the deal within the planned time frame.”
Racle also excels in the area of due diligence, protecting clients from being blindsided by hidden liabilities. This is one of the most important contributions that Racle made to the recent acquisition of Twinkie-maker Hostess by UK-based Gores Group, especially after doubts emerged concerning the risk of peanut contamination from a supplier.
“Andrew did a very good job of getting us some answers around the potential risks, allowing us to cover the risks with the appropriate contractual protections,” said Robbie Reynders, managing director at the Gores Group. “His responsiveness is very important in an M&A situation, where time is critical.”
A Vital Member of the Team
When Craig Santa Maria talks about customer service, he’s not merely paying lip service to it.
“Craig is constantly asking questions about my business, and not only during renewal season,” said a treasury manager at a food manufacturer. “He wants to know how we do things and how the business is changing.”
That commitment has nurtured a relationship of trust that the treasury manager depends on. “We consider Craig a member of our risk management team,” he said. “He’s involved in many strategic and risk assessment meetings, usually in person. He brings to our attention issues that we may not have thought about before.”
Just one example: Santa Maria recently identified the potential risk of leaks at settling pools employed by the company to purify water used in the production process.
The manager said Santa Maria was also instrumental in helping make the case to operational staff about the need for insurance coverage for the exposure. “Craig was involved in what, in the end, was a long process of education of our staff about the risk, and we recently purchased a pollution policy to transfer it.
“We used to work with one of the largest brokers in the world, but I felt we were ignored because we became just another one of their clients,” he added. “They only wanted to get our business and move on. The only thing that can distinguish a broker is customer service, and that is what Craig provides.”
Solutions to Fit Every Need
Risk managers who have worked with Alicia Speight say that finding creative and innovative solutions to deal with unusual risk situations is a hallmark of her work.
“Alicia is outstanding and her knowledge of the insurance industry is amazing,” said the risk manager of a real estate management company in Florida. “We have very specific insurance needs as a large developer, and she managed to structure a program for us that is quite unique. It does not look like any standard policy in the market.”
He recalled that last year, for a large project that was delivered by parcels, his company needed not only the typical permanent property coverage, but also ongoing construction insurance. Speight obtained a policy that contemplated both needs, which is unusual in the market, he said.
The insurance manager of an education client faced the challenge of setting up a new entity in a format foreign to the American market. She feared that its risks would be refused by carriers. But Speight was able to set up an insurance program anyway, even though the substance of the new entity changed several times in the course of the year.
“Without Alicia’s assistance, it would be extremely difficult to get it going,” she said.
Speight’s commitment to customer service is unparalleled, clients said.
“She’s very customer service oriented and, most importantly, she listens to her clients,” said the CFO of a cultural institution.
Cool Under Pressure
The development of a new line of business is exciting, but often involves new and unfamiliar coverages — a situation where the guidance of a broker is a must.
Aon’s Eric Ziff took on that role recently, helping a client solve the tricky intricacies of representation & warranties coverages while the client was learning the ropes of its new transactional business.
Financial services group Orix USA recently created a strategic acquisitions and private equity arm. The firm faced the need to set up an R&W policy to close an M&A deal, but neither its own team nor its legal advisers were very familiar with the product.
“Because of the parties’ unfamiliarity with the product, there was much anxiety about its use,” said Cary Schmelzer, assistant general counsel at Orix USA. “Eric was cool under pressure, calmly and clearly answering questions and guiding the parties.”
“R&W insurance is a stressful placement,” said Michael Rosenberger, corporate risk manager at Charles River Laboratories, who has counted on Ziff’s support in several recent M&A deals.
Rosenberger noted that few carriers take the risks, policies are complex and they often need to be arranged in a short span of time. Therefore, the willingness of a broker to be always available at the home stretch is key to the success of an M&A transaction.
“Eric’s hours are endless when it comes to the deal,” Rosenberger said. “He truly understands the mechanics of an acquisition.”