These Are the Best 190 Commercial Insurance Brokers and Why We Call Them Power Brokers

Creativity, deep industry knowledge and delivering superior customer service are the hallmarks of these award-winning brokers.
By: | February 25, 2019

It’s gratifying to see someone like Bob Parisi, a managing director with Marsh, win a Power Broker® award in the cyber category. Parisi has served as an expert on cyber risk for this magazine and in many other forums for quite some time.


A client who served as a reference for Bob Parisi’s 2019 Power Broker® application described Parisi as “so passionate about what he does that it’s almost painful — he is beyond passionate.”

Parisi is not alone. Many of the 190 commercial insurance brokers we recognize as Power Brokers in this February issue are passionate. They have to be. They must also be driven to deliver the results their clients need.

Remember that the three main qualifiers for someone to distinguish themselves from the field and win a Power Broker® award are creativity/resourcefulness, customer service and industry knowledge. What I’m trying to drive home here is that those traits must be deployed even more intensely given the pace of change in our world and our economy.

Bob Parisi
Managing Director

Consider Payal Chahal, a vice president with Aon in San Francisco. Chahal works with an autonomous vehicle startup that has the goal of creating an autonomous vehicle ride-hailing service by 2020. It all sounds exciting, but the insurance markets have no idea what to do with such a thing, given there is no loss data to go on.

But Chahal, who has won a Power Broker® award in the technology category, was able to put together an insurance program with a standard carrier. She is in the process of creating a new product liability coverage for the startup addressing both cyber security and product liability. Without this coverage, the startup would have no road in front of it.

Cyber risks and the pace of technology growth are one stand-out area in Power Broker®, which is in its 14th year. Another area of intense focus and innovation is in the category of mergers and acquisitions, particularly within the emergence of tax insurance.

Aon’s Jessica Harger did not enter in the mergers and acquisitions category, but it’s where she was named a winner for the brilliance she displayed in procuring a tax insurance solution for a major private equity company. The seller in the deal was unwilling to indemnify two major tax liabilities identified by the buyer. No insurance solution; no deal.

Harger stepped in and was able to put together $600 million in coverage from 13 carriers. She stipulates this is one of the largest tax insurance programs ever placed.

“A lot of brokers are guilty of using too much jargon, which often confuses the client, but Jessica cuts through all that and gets to the heart of the matter,” said her client.

Each year since 2005,  Risk & Insurance® has received hundreds of applications for Power Broker®. Not all of them are as stunning as Harger’s was. But a fair number of them are.

Mark your calendars for mid-October. That’s when the next round of Power Broker® applications are due. Much will have changed by then. And commercial insurance brokers will have a lot to talk about. Not in the area of boasting, but in proof they are extremely high-performing professionals, without whom the machinations of industry would grind to a metal-splintering halt.

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

Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He can be reached at [email protected]

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]