No Fear of Complex Programs
For a group of car dealerships with a presence in the West Coast and Hawaii, Carter has been a ”tireless advocate” who has routinely and effectively “educated the insurance marketplace” about storm and earthquake risk in the region, said John North, vice president of finance and chief accounting officer for Lithia Motors Inc.
Carter, vice president of Beecher Carlson’s national property practice, personally ran multiple weather models showing the impact of potential earthquakes or tsunamis at the dealership’s various locations — demonstrating which locations were “at risk” and where the company had less exposure. That helped both sides pick the appropriate coverage.
“She continues to elevate her game to understand our business and tailor solutions within a relatively rigid marketplace that meet the needs and mitigate the risks important to us … ,” said North. “I always feel like she moves the market to our needs rather than making us conform to the usual or traditional underwriting standards.”
When another client was just one week away from a renewal, Carter received news that a recent loss was significantly larger than expected. She worked tirelessly on a solution, completely restructuring and remarketing the account. Not only did she complete the program prior to expiration, but she secured a creative deductible structure that met the insured’s needs. Carter is also known for handling some of the most complex placements in the marketplace, sometimes requiring up to 30 markets for a single global program.
Rethinking Risk, Saving Costs
Kevin Garvey at Aon has a simple philosophy — get clients to view him as a member of their own risk management team. His knowledge and customer service skills were on full display when he recently dealt with a manufacturer of gas and fluid systems components (think tube fittings, valves and gauges).
The company needed a fresh approach to risk management and insurance after it moved headquarters and employed a new management team. After an RFP, Kevin Garvey of Aon won the business due to his keen ability to identify key gaps in coverage, and set an aggressive target price using Aon’s benchmarking data. Garvey engaged with incumbent markets and helped them understand why the account should be viewed differently than they were currently underwriting it, and at a much lower price. The results?
“Because of Kevin’s planning, diligence, and knowledge we were able to reduce our overall premium by 15 percent,” said an executive at the client company. “In addition to the lower premium, we were able to increase limits and get more favorable coverage terms while still reducing premium.” Oh, and Garvey did it all in just 70 days.
For another client, a global tire and rubber manufacturer, Garvey showed his stuff yet again — re-introducing the risk to the market with the lofty goal of increasing competition, diversifying the program, improving terms and conditions, and reducing the total cost. Garvey came through in fine style, adding more than 10 markets to the shared and layered program, delivering serious cost savings.
Managing Change to Support Growth
Not many brokers can say that they helped create a risk management department from scratch, but John George of Aon can certainly make that claim. George had a historically risk tolerant client that placed most of its coverage into its captive insurance company. But the company didn’t have strong oversight of that captive coverage or a well-thought-out philosophy on what coverages to buy from the standard insurance market and which ones to retain in the captive.
Then everything changed because the company doubled in size through an acquisition. With a new chief risk officer who came from outside the organization, the combined company examined each line of insurance coverage — so you can imagine how much they leaned on George and the Aon team to get questions answered. Insurance and reinsurance partners were added where appropriate and the client has been able to retain its historically large share of risk but bring in expertise where needed and outsource certain functions that are not within their core competencies. With George’s leadership, the risk management department is now 10 people strong and thriving.
Another client is a global manufacturer and supplier of alternators, starters and other electrical equipment to the transportation, industrial and military industry. The company was sold in 2014 and again in 2015, making directors and officers liability coverage a major concern. But George was able to secure run-off coverage after both sales to keep the coverage in place during a tumultuous time.
Making Clients Priority No. 1
Companies want a broker who takes the time to understand their business needs and helps secure appropriate coverage — not someone who’s just trying to sell them the most expensive policy. Hearing clients talk about Marsh’s Bruce Ludwig, it’s obvious that he’s a partner first and a broker second.
One client, a risk manager for a manufacturer of medium and heavy-sized trucks, said he doesn’t want brokers “basically rubber-stamping a policy because their counterparts in another office say it’s a good deal.” Instead, Ludwig “doesn’t acquiesce to the company line, he’ll get in there and fight for clients even if it means disagreeing with fellow employees at a Marsh office.”
That same client had one of its largest product losses ever and it hit very close to the time of the renewal. But Ludwig was able to help the client present its case, get insurers comfortable with the risk, and realize they were still profiting long-term. “His industry knowledge is excellent. We’ve been spoiled to have him on our account for such a long time,” the risk manager said.
For another client, Ludwig was able to help it integrate a newly acquired company — with a completely different business model — into its risk management and insurance plans. The result was better solutions at significant cost savings. The company’s corporate risk manager lauded Ludwig’s vast experience and expertise saying: “Bruce possesses very broad general knowledge of almost any of our program lines — and we have quite a few.”
Bill Novak is a skilled negotiator who can get things done. For a global tire and rubber manufacturer, he led a large-scale renewal that took nothing short of completely repositioning the risk in the market. That included researching key risk improvements, documenting past, current and projected capital expenditures, and updating the loss-prevention database of the carrier. The result was outstanding.
Coverage was substantially improved in critical areas and diversifying carrier capacity helped spread risk and drive competitive pricing. The coverage Novak obtained “was an improvement not just in the breadth of coverage, but also pricing was a significant change that exceeded my expectations and the expectations of more senior people here,” said the company’s director of risk management.
Another client, a food service products producer, had a healthy appetite for risk that kept premiums low. But when an adverse claims history from a legacy company threatened to drive a significant premium charge, Novak took action. He convinced the incumbent carrier that it could be replaced and that it should work with other markets on the program. Novak’s negotiating skills helped eliminate the retrospective premium charge, reduce property insurance cost and diversify insurance premiums.
“Bill spent a great deal of time analyzing our property program and helping us design and achieve a much better structure than what we had a few years ago,” said the client.
A Risk Physician
Working in the Shanghai office of Aon Risk Solutions, Wendy Wu had a big role in one of 2015’s largest mergers. Yanfeng Automotive Trim Systems and Johnson Controls Inc. formed a new joint venture called Yanfeng Global Automotive Interior Systems Co. Ltd. It’s now the largest provider of automotive interiors in the world.
Wu was tasked with helping the combined company set up a global risk management program and even interviewed candidates for the global risk team. Claire Zhu, head of treasury at the company, said Wu is “a genuine, bright and friendly personality who constantly exhibits a ‘can do’ attitude.” Another client company, Trina Solar, was facing a 50 percent increase to its insurance premium after making several property damage claims. Then Wu went to work, using her expertise and negotiating skills to get that premium increase cut to 20 percent.
Another client is Gang Wang, director and deputy general manager of Guangxi Fenglin Wood Industry Group Co., Ltd., a wood-based panel manufacturer located in China. Wang said Wu is not a broker or insurance salesperson who disappears after the deal is signed and comes back a month before the policy expires.
“To me she is like my family doctor. Whenever something happens or comes to my mind, I will pick up the phone and seek her input,” said Wang. “When she hears anything going wrong with other companies, she calls to give me an alert. She has made herself the risk management officer of my company.”