The 2019 Construction Power Brokers

Andy Bullock
Senior Vice President
Marsh, Boston

Andy Bullock, Senior Vice President, Marsh

When the owner of an oft-delayed project lost its owner-controlled insurance program, the project faced further delays and ballooned insurance costs.

The owner gave Marsh’s Andy Bullock 45 days to bind $100 million of general liability limits covering all the project’s contractors and eight years of completed operations coverage and backdated coverage for some faulty completed work that the cancelled OCIP’s insurer deemed potentially uninsured.

Bullock met all the demands, said the general contractor’s risk manager. Otherwise, a shutdown was possible, and contractors would have had to individually purchase coverage — multiplying total insurance costs “several times.”

Another client lauded Bullock for crafting a program for the $2 billion design/build portion of a $5 billion public/private partnership project with substantial third-party risk and highly prescriptive insurance requirements, noted another contractor’s risk manager.

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Bullock’s solution for the primary and excess casualty coverage “included utilizing a version of Marsh’s Project Edge product with broad terms and conditions drafted to include contract compliant wordings, as well as utilizing the Marsh Xsellence excess form in the lead excess and all of the excess policies included in the $200M limit,” the client said.

Plus, days before insurance verifications were due, the developer’s broker said it could not obtain the required auto liability coverage. Bullock found contract-compliant coverage within 24-hours, preventing financial and reputational repercussions, the client said.

Trish Kawa, ARM, CRIS
Project Risk Leader
Marsh, Boston

Trish Kawa, Project Risk Leader, Marsh

A client of Trish Kawa’s tasked her with researching three years of workers’ comp data that an insurer had misreported. The errors negatively affected the experience mod of one of the client’s providers. Kawa “spent a tremendous amount of time to research and reconcile all the proper reported payrolls by project, class code and state,” the client said. That “generated about $1.2 million of found WC premium refunds — a major windfall.”

For New York University, Kawa quickly pulled together a six-year owner-controlled insurance program that is saving NYU 30 percent of the cost a contractor would have billed, noted Michael Liebowitz, senior director of insurance and risk management.

“In addition, we were provided expert safety services as part of the premium,” which increases savings and will attract better contractors, Liebowitz said.

Another client with a major upcoming project adamantly opposed an OCIP because of a bad prior experience. But Kawa refused to go away quietly without underscoring the problems with that mindset, the client noted.

Kawa “was able to explain the benefits of uniform coverage with excellent carriers,” the client said. She also illustrated the client’s insurance requirements of engaging small women- and minority-owned contractors could not be met unless those firms benefited from an OCIP’s cost savings.

To assuage the client, Kawa proposed a general liability OCIP with no workers’ comp coverage, the source of the client’s previous negative experience.

Jonathan Kosin, ARM
Michigan Construction Practice Leader
Aon, Southfield, Mich.

Jonathan Kosin, Construction Practice Leader, Aon

TopBuild Corp. faced a “challenging risk management situation” with its “delicate” acquisition of a major competitor, said James Caccavale, director of risk, health & safety. Jonathan Kosin recommended and secured coverage TopBuild had never purchased: buyer-side reps and warranties insurance, which covers certain breaches a seller might make during a transaction. R&W benefits the seller by reducing or eliminating its escrow.

Caccavale praised Kosin for his leadership and education skills, which made TopBuild’s management more comfortable pursuing the sizable transaction.

For another client acquiring two companies with different risks than its own, Kosin encouraged the insurers to explore their portfolios for losses associated with similar risks: “When the search came up empty, he had leverage to get [double-digit] premium relief” amounting to six figures, compared to the original proposal, the risk manager explained.

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It also avoided having to take a higher umbrella attachment point, said the risk manager, who greatly credited Kosin for a professional honor the client recently received.

Joe Rieger, CFO for Conti Corp., also credited Kosin for making Conti’s senior management comfortable with an opportunity in a new market: Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

“Jon was able to tell me where we had coverage and what coverage we would need to add” to ensure Conti’s protection, said Rieger, noting he originally was unsure whether any existing insurance would respond in Cuba.

Jeffrey Leadley, AFSB
Regional Commercial Director
Aon, Chicago

Jeffrey Leadley, Regional Commercial Director, Aon

Aon’s Jeffrey Leadley created a risk financing method that looks promising enough to be used in much wider circulation than it currently is. The maneuver is using a captive as a reinsurance layer over the more traditional surety bonds that typically backstop sizable commercial financial obligations.

“It is extremely uncommon in the surety industry to utilize a captive or fronting structure since surety is indemnified credit and not risk transfer,” Leadley noted in his Power Broker® application.

That’s not Leadley’s only uncommon accomplishment. One client needed Leadley to pull off placement of surety bonds as guarantees in some foreign jurisdictions where they were previously using bank letters of credit; Leadley got it done and saved his client almost $200,000.

The client also credits Leadley with keeping his cool in highly pressurized situations.

They said Leadley “remains very calm and does not panic through the process as the deadline nears, a very level demeanor that never sparks alarm for the teams.”

“While Jeff does handle our often challenging day-to-day issues both quickly and efficiently, I believe it is what he does for us throughout the year that brings just as much value to our organization,” said another client.

“His flexible and innovative approach to problem solving has been integral in resolving issues that have allowed us to successfully build our business,” the client said.

Timothy McCaffrey
Senior Vice President
Aon, Houston

Timothy McCaffrey, Senior Vice President, Aon

Zachry Construction Corp. faced coverage disputes over a series of claims against a policy, according to Erika Kilgore, director of risk management. After Timothy McCaffrey resolved those issues, he helped Zachry identify carriers willing to “to ensure coverage clarity before a claim occurs,” Kilgore said.

In a months-long process, McCaffrey and his team first edited policy forms to develop coverage for losses such as “contractors continuing expense and idle equipment resulting from a builder’s risk event,” said Kilgore.

Then McCaffrey assembled a team from Zachry’s and the carriers’ legal, risk management, claims and underwriting departments to develop language, pricing and terms, she said.

Another client noted it faced substantial builder’s risk insurance challenges with a multi-year project involving a concentration of high-value risks in a CAT-exposed area.

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All the insurance options could have resulted in “huge cost swings in the wrong direction if we could not get the insurance market to commit to a multi-year program at guaranteed rates for the full term and which was scalable to the situation,” the client said.

Despite a global search, the market that was expected to come through did not, the client explained. However, “Tim had a couple of alternatives well-prepared and ready.”

The result: $5 million in savings compared to more traditional market pricing, sufficient coverage for natural catastrophe losses and a rolling master program that better enables the development team to establish budgets and project plans.

Clay Morris, CPCU, ARM, CIC
Executive Vice President
Willis Towers Watson, Birmingham, Ala.

Clay Morris, Executive Vice President, Willis Towers Watson

For Robins & Morton Group, Clay Morris reviewed a subsidized builder’s risk policy that the owner of the client’s largest project purchased. The project’s coastal location is at risk to named storms, but Morris discovered the policy did not cover contractors’ storm-protection costs.

“Clay’s attention to detail on this issue helped us put better [difference in conditions] coverage in place at a cost the project owner was willing to pay us for,” said P. Benjamin Leaver, Robins & Morton’s director of finance.

The impact on the client and several large sub-contractors has been significant. The contractors have had to protect the project twice, at a cost of several hundred thousand dollars, Leaver noted.

“Without the coverage, we would have suffered profit write-downs.”

Morris-Shea Bridge Co. Inc. needed to acquire $15 million of equipment manufactured overseas, noted CFO Andy Joiner. The investment allowed Morris-Shea to complete “almost $500 million of contract work with handsome profit margins,” Joiner said.

But there was a stumbling block: The manufacturer required advance payment, but the company’s creditors wouldn’t fund the purchase until the equipment was on U.S. soil.

Morris facilitated the transaction by finding insurance that covered the equipment while it was located outside the country and in transit: “Clay immediately offered the solution and utilized his contacts to get the ball rolling to ensure we had the appropriate coverage in place both internationally and domestically,” said Joiner.

The complete list of 2019 Power Brokers® can be found here.

Finalists:

Megan Remley
VP, Unit Leader
Lockton, Kansas City, Mo.

Danielle Ross
National Casualty Brokerage Leader
Aon, Dallas

Heather Wilkinson
Growth Leader, Cyber and E&O
Willis Towers Watson, Los Angeles

 

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 and 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]