2018 Power Broker

Aviation

Helping Clients Soar

Bryan Holmgren
Vice President
Aon, Chicago

It seems like everywhere you look, businesses are finding more ways to use drones — also known as unmanned aircraft systems. It follows that the insurance industry needs to keep pace. But it wasn’t, as brokers and clients alike observed.

Getting coverage meant a time-consuming process, restrictive policy language, low liability limits and high premiums.

Bryan Holmgren of Aon’s Aviation Practice Group recognized this, and led a team as they developed an insurance solution that provides less restrictive policy wording, more competitive costs at higher coverage limits and a seamless policy placement process.

Aon Aviation’s Unmanned Aircraft Insurance Program now provides clients with a competitively priced way to cover the exposure with a best in class policy.

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One client talked about the challenges they faced and how Holmgren assisted them. “Our drone fleet has been growing faster than expected. Bryan helped us negotiate a policy that covers our fleet on a blanket basis rather than reporting each drone. This has resulted in a much easier process to manage.”

She added, “My favorite ‘Bryan story’ is when our drone carrier insisted on language that was crazy restrictive. We had to have a call with the VP of underwriting, who dug in [his heels]. Fortunately, we had Bryan on the call. He brought his expertise from the aviation world and pushed back on some of the limitations.

“Bryan’s incredible knowledge helped get us a result that made much more sense for the consumer.”

Relationships and Communication 

Drew Love, CIC
Vice President, Account Executive
Aon, Dallas

In every business, relationships matter, but never more than when there is a crisis or problem. Aon’s Drew Love knows and lives this, his clients say, and that helps him help them.

For Jesse Castilleja, insurance manager at H-E-B, storms were brewing — literally and figuratively — as Love helped them with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and the ever-growing risks of cyber exposure.

H-E-B did a great job preventing cyber exposure, but the carriers just didn’t recognize it. Love facilitated underwriter meetings with carriers he felt were a good fit.

After the meetings, underwriters recognized all that H-E-B brought to the table. This led to a renewal that allowed the client to purchase higher limits and enhance terms and conditions while decreasing price.

“I can use Drew as a sounding board,” Castilleja said. “He’s very knowledgeable and works hard for us and has a strong team that helps us develop risk solutions.”

Another client said that Drew immediately became an asset to them just hours after coming on board.

“Drew is very responsive to all questions and requests. He is proactive in providing solutions. He understands our business. Most important, he realizes the expectations our risk department has from our C-suite and works in tandem with us to exceed their expectations,” the client added.

Yet another client said he told Aon that he always expects the “A team.”

“Love qualifies as an ‘A team’ member,” the client said. He added that as his business grows, their risks are becoming atypical and Love is helping them navigate the new terrain.

The Knowledge They Depend On

John McCaffrey
Vice President
Aon, Dallas

With a significant suite of risk, including remote international locations and 30,000 employees and contractors who fly there, an aviation client of John McCaffrey’s needed coverage that would protect its interests and satisfy contractors as well.

It was a complex placement. The existing program consisted of six different polices covering exposures related to their worldwide operations for airport liability, products/completed operations, and non-owned liability.

“We wanted to take on more risk, but underwriters were resistant,” the client said. McCaffrey, Aon’s Southwest Region Practice Leader, negotiated with underwriters and ultimately created a restructure of their coverage that saved them 15 percent on premiums while reducing the number of policies to two, and creating clarity and coverage flexibility.

“John is top-notch,” the client said. “He is very aware of our market relative to our unique placement, and he gives us a lot of good advice about markets we can use,” she added.

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Chuck Burn, senior manager of insurance for Union Pacific, said that their aviation risks include flying to plants in the middle of nowhere — sometimes on a customer’s or supplier’s plane. McCaffrey “knows what to ask for, what to get, and how to develop a travel procedure that will help protect them.”

Burn also said that their recent increase in drone usage sparked a need for better coverage for that risk, a greater understanding of it and the ability to communicate it enterprise-wide. “John has been very responsive and helped us understand the drones as an emerging risk,” said Burn. “He’s helped us understand FAA regulations too.”

Protection for Land or Sky

Scott Thomason
Senior Vice President
Regions Insurance, Texarkana, Texas

From down on the farm to the often not-so-friendly skies, Scott Thomason puts his experience to work helping clients protect lives and livelihoods.

Darrin Henry, owner of Henry’s Aerial said. “Scott helped our company with risk solutions for all aspects of our company, from aircraft and commercial auto to workers’ compensation and property.

“Just today, I called him with a question about our pilots using his personal aircraft for travel from jobsite to jobsite. He instantly had a plan to  protect our interests and the employee’s,” Henry said.

Henry is impressed with the time Thomason has invested in his business, started by his father. Thomason is the only broker who has visited their home and field operations, even bringing underwriters to educate them about Henry’s specialized missions and to meet his pilots.

Thomason also guided Henry’s company as it expanded operations to wildland fire suppression. “Not only did Scott know the aviation industry, he was able to obtain coverage for our fire aircraft service vehicles. We had struggled with coverage for the hazmat [jet fuel],” Henry said.

Katherine Williams, owner of Cotesworth Farms Partnership, concurs. “We have a cattle farm and unusual insurance needs. Scott has covered them all.

“We had a major loss just after we switched to him. He and his staff handled things immediately and to our satisfaction. I was impressed with Scott’s knowledge and thoroughness,” she added.

Ahead of the Curve

Lou Timpanaro
Senior Managing Director
Crystal & Company, New York

Lou Timpanaro knows the insurance industry so well that he can spot trends far over the horizon — while there’s still time to help prepare clients.

Christine Zalar, president/founding partner of Emprize Group/Life Flight Eagle, can attest to that. “Lou has endless knowledge and an absolutely unique ability to get ahead of industry trends. It’s a very powerful capability.”

Timpanaro recently resolved a situation for Emprize. It required that one of their aircrafts be stored at a fixed-base operator (FBO).

“The FBO was putting everything on us,” Zalar said. “They wanted us to assume all the risk.” They were at an impasse until Timpanaro stepped in. He negotiated acceptable terms that protected his client. “Lou knew what we could do to protect our exposure,” Zalar said. “He’s king of the road.”

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Another client, an aircraft charter company, wanted to use their insurance program as a marketing tool to attract high net worth individuals — while reducing premiums and increasing protection. Not easy, but for Timpanaro, it was achievable. He reduced costs while increasing liability limits by 33 percent.

But there is one thing even Timpanaro couldn’t predict. An aircraft cleaning company accidentally set off the foam suppression system in an aircraft hangar causing a 30-foot wall of fire retardant.

Cool under pressure, Timpanaro initiated the emergency response protocol: a claims adjustor assessed damage, coverage assurances were communicated and clean up was immediate. The facility, the aircraft and operations were back to normal in four days and payments were made shortly thereafter to close out the claim.

The complete list of 2018 Power Broker® winners can be found here.

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

Exclusive | Hank Greenberg on China Trade, Starr’s Rapid Growth and 100th, Spitzer, Schneiderman and More

In a robust and frank conversation, the insurance legend provides unique insights into global trade, his past battles and what the future holds for the industry and his company.
By: | October 12, 2018 • 12 min read

In 1960, Maurice “Hank” Greenberg was hired as a vice president of C.V. Starr & Co. At age 35, he had already accomplished a great deal.

He served his country as part of the Allied Forces that stormed the beaches at Normandy and liberated the Nazi death camps. He fought again during the Korean War, earning a Bronze Star. He held a law degree from New York Law School.

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Now he was ready to make his mark on the business world.

Even C.V. Starr himself — who hired Mr. Greenberg and later hand-picked him as the successor to the company he founded in Shanghai in 1919 — could not have imagined what a mark it would be.

Mr. Greenberg began to build AIG as a Starr subsidiary, then in 1969, he took it public. The company would, at its peak, achieve a market cap of some $180 billion and cement its place as the largest insurance and financial services company in history.

This month, Mr. Greenberg travels to China to celebrate the 100th anniversary of C.V. Starr & Co. That visit occurs at a prickly time in U.S.-Sino relations, as the Trump administration levies tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars in Chinese goods and China retaliates.

In September, Risk & Insurance® sat down with Mr. Greenberg in his Park Avenue office to hear his thoughts on the centennial of C.V. Starr, the dynamics of U.S. trade relationships with China and the future of the U.S. insurance industry as it faces the challenges of technology development and talent recruitment and retention, among many others. What follows is an edited transcript of that discussion.


R&I: One hundred years is quite an impressive milestone for any company. Celebrating the anniversary in China signifies the importance and longevity of that relationship. Can you tell us more about C.V. Starr’s history with China?

Hank Greenberg: We have a long history in China. I first went there in 1975. There was little there, but I had business throughout Asia, and I stopped there all the time. I’d stop there a couple of times a year and build relationships.

When I first started visiting China, there was only one state-owned insurance company there, PICC (the People’s Insurance Company of China); it was tiny at the time. We helped them to grow.

I also received the first foreign life insurance license in China, for AIA (The American International Assurance Co.). To date, there has been no other foreign life insurance company in China. It took me 20 years of hard work to get that license.

We also introduced an agency system in China. They had none. Their life company employees would get a salary whether they sold something or not. With the agency system of course you get paid a commission if you sell something. Once that agency system was installed, it went on to create more than a million jobs.

R&I: So Starr’s success has meant success for the Chinese insurance industry as well.

Hank Greenberg: That’s partly why we’re going to be celebrating that anniversary there next month. That celebration will occur alongside that of IBLAC (International Business Leaders’ Advisory Council), an international business advisory group that was put together when Zhu Rongji was the mayor of Shanghai [Zhu is since retired from public life]. He asked me to start that to attract foreign companies to invest in Shanghai.

“It turns out that it is harder [for China] to change, because they have one leader. My guess is that we’ll work it out sooner or later. Trump and Xi have to meet. That will result in some agreement that will get to them and they will have to finish the rest of the negotiations. I believe that will happen.” — Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, chairman and CEO, C.V. Starr & Co. Inc.

Shanghai and China in general were just coming out of the doldrums then; there was a lack of foreign investment. Zhu asked me to chair IBLAC and to help get it started, which I did. I served as chairman of that group for a couple of terms. I am still a part of that board, and it will be celebrating its 30th anniversary along with our 100th anniversary.

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We have a good relationship with China, and we’re candid as you can tell from the op-ed I published in the Wall Street Journal. I’m told that my op-ed was received quite well in China, by both Chinese companies and foreign companies doing business there.

On August 29, Mr. Greenberg published an opinion piece in the WSJ reminding Chinese leaders of the productive history of U.S.-Sino relations and suggesting that Chinese leaders take pragmatic steps to ease trade tensions with the U.S.

R&I: What’s your outlook on current trade relations between the U.S. and China?

Hank Greenberg: As to the current environment, when you are in negotiations, every leader negotiates differently.

President Trump is negotiating based on his well-known approach. What’s different now is that President Xi (Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China) made himself the emperor. All the past presidents in China before the revolution had two terms. He’s there for life, which makes things much more difficult.

R&I: Sure does. You’ve got a one- or two-term president talking to somebody who can wait it out. It’s definitely unique.

Hank Greenberg: So, clearly a lot of change is going on in China. Some of it is good. But as I said in the op-ed, China needs to be treated like the second largest economy in the world, which it is. And it will be the number one economy in the world in not too many years. That means that you can’t use the same terms of trade that you did 25 or 30 years ago.

They want to have access to our market and other markets. Fine, but you have to have reciprocity, and they have not been very good at that.

R&I: What stands in the way of that happening?

Hank Greenberg: I think there are several substantial challenges. One, their structure makes it very difficult. They have a senior official, a regulator, who runs a division within the government for insurance. He keeps that job as long as he does what leadership wants him to do. He may not be sure what they want him to do.

For example, the president made a speech many months ago saying they are going to open up banking, insurance and a couple of additional sectors to foreign investment; nothing happened.

The reason was that the head of that division got changed. A new administrator came in who was not sure what the president wanted so he did nothing. Time went on and the international community said, “Wait a minute, you promised that you were going to do that and you didn’t do that.”

So the structure is such that it is very difficult. China can’t react as fast as it should. That will change, but it is going to take time.

R&I: That’s interesting, because during the financial crisis in 2008 there was talk that China, given their more centralized authority, could react more quickly, not less quickly.

Hank Greenberg: It turns out that it is harder to change, because they have one leader. My guess is that we’ll work it out sooner or later. Trump and Xi have to meet. That will result in some agreement that will get to them and they will have to finish the rest of the negotiations. I believe that will happen.

R&I: Obviously, you have a very unique perspective and experience in China. For American companies coming to China, what are some of the current challenges?

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Hank Greenberg: Well, they very much want to do business in China. That’s due to the sheer size of the country, at 1.4 billion people. It’s a very big market and not just for insurance companies. It’s a whole range of companies that would like to have access to China as easily as Chinese companies have access to the United States. As I said previously, that has to be resolved.

It’s not going to be easy, because China has a history of not being treated well by other countries. The U.S. has been pretty good in that way. We haven’t taken advantage of China.

R&I: Your op-ed was very enlightening on that topic.

Hank Greenberg: President Xi wants to rebuild the “middle kingdom,” to what China was, a great country. Part of that was his takeover of the South China Sea rock islands during the Obama Administration; we did nothing. It’s a little late now to try and do something. They promised they would never militarize those islands. Then they did. That’s a real problem in Southern Asia. The other countries in that region are not happy about that.

R&I: One thing that has differentiated your company is that it is not a public company, and it is not a mutual company. We think you’re the only large insurance company with that structure at that scale. What advantages does that give you?

Hank Greenberg: Two things. First of all, we’re more than an insurance company. We have the traditional investment unit with the insurance company. Then we have a separate investment unit that we started, which is very successful. So we have a source of income that is diverse. We don’t have to underwrite business that is going to lose a lot of money. Not knowingly anyway.

R&I: And that’s because you are a private company?

Hank Greenberg: Yes. We attract a different type of person in a private company.

R&I: Do you think that enables you to react more quickly?

Hank Greenberg: Absolutely. When we left AIG there were three of us. Myself, Howie Smith and Ed Matthews. Howie used to run the internal financials and Ed Matthews was the investment guy coming out of Morgan Stanley when I was putting AIG together. We started with three people and now we have 3,500 and growing.

“I think technology can play a role in reducing operating expenses. In the last 70 years, you have seen the expense ratio of the industry rise, and I’m not sure the industry can afford a 35 percent expense ratio. But while technology can help, some additional fundamental changes will also be required.” — Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, chairman and CEO, C.V. Starr & Co. Inc.

R&I:  You being forced to leave AIG in 2005 really was an injustice, by the way. AIG wouldn’t have been in the position it was in 2008 if you had still been there.

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Hank Greenberg: Absolutely not. We had all the right things in place. We met with the financial services division once a day every day to make sure they stuck to what they were supposed to do. Even Hank Paulson, the Secretary of Treasury, sat on the stand during my trial and said that if I’d been at the company, it would not have imploded the way it did.

R&I: And that fateful decision the AIG board made really affected the course of the country.

Hank Greenberg: So many people lost all of their net worth. The new management was taking on billions of dollars’ worth of risk with no collateral. They had decimated the internal risk management controls. And the government takeover of the company when the financial crisis blew up was grossly unfair.

From the time it went public, AIG’s value had increased from $300 million to $180 billion. Thanks to Eliot Spitzer, it’s now worth a fraction of that. His was a gross misuse of the Martin Act. It gives the Attorney General the power to investigate without probable cause and bring fraud charges without having to prove intent. Only in New York does the law grant the AG that much power.

R&I: It’s especially frustrating when you consider the quality of his own character, and the scandal he was involved in.

In early 2008, Spitzer was caught on a federal wiretap arranging a meeting with a prostitute at a Washington Hotel and resigned shortly thereafter.

Hank Greenberg: Yes. And it’s been successive. Look at Eric Schneiderman. He resigned earlier this year when it came out that he had abused several women. And this was after he came out so strongly against other men accused of the same thing. To me it demonstrates hypocrisy and abuse of power.

Schneiderman followed in Spitzer’s footsteps in leveraging the Martin Act against numerous corporations to generate multi-billion dollar settlements.

R&I: Starr, however, continues to thrive. You said you’re at 3,500 people and still growing. As you continue to expand, how do you deal with the challenge of attracting talent?

Hank Greenberg: We did something last week.

On September 16th, St. John’s University announced the largest gift in its 148-year history. The Starr Foundation donated $15 million to the school, establishing the Maurice R. Greenberg Leadership Initiative at St. John’s School of Risk Management, Insurance and Actuarial Science.

Hank Greenberg: We have recruited from St. John’s for many, many years. These are young people who want to be in the insurance industry. They don’t get into it by accident. They study to become proficient in this and we have recruited some very qualified individuals from that school. But we also recruit from many other universities. On the investment side, outside of the insurance industry, we also recruit from Wall Street.

R&I: We’re very interested in how you and other leaders in this industry view technology and how they’re going to use it.

Hank Greenberg: I think technology can play a role in reducing operating expenses. In the last 70 years, you have seen the expense ratio of the industry rise, and I’m not sure the industry can afford a 35 percent expense ratio. But while technology can help, some additional fundamental changes will also be required.

R&I: So as the pre-eminent leader of the insurance industry, what do you see in terms of where insurance is now an where it’s going?

Hank Greenberg: The country and the world will always need insurance. That doesn’t mean that what we have today is what we’re going to have 25 years from now.

How quickly the change comes and how far it will go will depend on individual companies and individual countries. Some will be more brave than others. But change will take place, there is no doubt about it.

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More will go on in space, there is no question about that. We’re involved in it right now as an insurance company, and it will get broader.

One of the things you have to worry about is it’s now a nuclear world. It’s a more dangerous world. And again, we have to find some way to deal with that.

So, change is inevitable. You need people who can deal with change.

R&I:  Is there anything else, Mr. Greenberg, you want to comment on?

Hank Greenberg: I think I’ve covered it. &

The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]