The 2019 Education Power Brokers
Ken Banks, Area Senior Vice President, Gallagher
Ken Banks has acted as Melissa Diaz’s colleague, competitor and broker over the last 12 years. When she signed on as risk services manager for the University of San Francisco, she said the transition was easy: Banks was already the university’s insurance broker.
“He does more than act as my broker, though; he’s my right-hand-man on risk,” she explained. USF was building a new residential project. However, it needed builders’ risk insurance, which was difficult to obtain due to arson in the area aimed at wood-framed residential buildings.
Diaz said it ended up as a $1.1 million policy, which “Ken didn’t see a penny of.” He was working on a flat fee, yet he still worked just as hard to obtain coverage. “Ken came in and was a huge, huge, huge save in getting us covered.”
For another client, Loyola Marymount University, there were concerns from the members of the board regarding insurance limits. Doug Moore, associate vice president and risk manager, reached out to Banks to see what could be done.
“I asked Ken for insurance options just for the board, and he found an option where they would not have to share the coverage with the rest of the university.” However, carriers were not willing to underwrite it at first. “I think they thought it might be too risky or they didn’t understand why we wanted it.”
But in the end, Banks prevailed and placed the coverage for the university. “Ken is easy-going and tolerant with his clients. He doesn’t get frustrated,” Moore said.
Kelly Ethier, Sports & Specialty Risk Broker, Gallagher
Janitza Matta, insurance and claims specialist, was new to the field when she joined Five Colleges, Incorporated: “I had quite the year. The learning curve was insane.” It was Kelly Ethier, however, who made everything click. “She guided me in understanding the relationships between the schools [within Five Colleges] and their different sport accident insurance needs.”
This past year, “Kelly saw an increase in the premium. During our pre-renewal meeting, Kelly mentioned it would be a good idea to do a risk analysis to see if the fully-insured program was the right way to go for all four schools.”
Matta explained that insurance carriers view the consortium as one entity instead of four individual schools. “Kelly went on her own to research and see if it was worth it for one school to be self-insured or stay under our fully insured program.”
Christopher Paquet, assistant VC policy & compliance, University of Wisconsin Green Bay, said Ethier works like “an assistant and an advocate.”
UW-Green Bay is required to cover student athletes at $90,000 per student under NCAA liability insurance requirements.
The university was having some experiences driving premium and knew it was going up, so they asked Gallagher for help in deciding the next best steps. Ethier needed only six weeks to present a portfolio of all the university’s major sports injuries and places where the university was likely to see more.
“She then honed it down to the top three options,” said Paquet. “It made my job easy.”
Byron Given, Area Vice President, Gallagher
Tom Akers, superintendent of Cambridge School District #227, said that although his school district is small, Byron Given understands what it needs.
“That small-school understanding is so big for us. Recently, Byron was big on getting us violent and malicious acts coverage. School safety is in the news every day; if anything happens, now we know we have that coverage.”
“Byron is a go-getter. We call him the ‘Insurance Guy,’ ” said Clint Schutte, assistant superintendent of business, Haysville Unified School District #261 of Kansas. “He gets excited when he gets going on insurance.”
When Schutte started working with the Gallagher team, Kansas had limited experience with insurance pools. Given met with the state’s insurance commissioner to help explain and educate on what a pool would entail. “He really took the time to educate our people in the insurance world. And once you educate someone, you’re able to talk about different insurance possibilities.”
Charles LeMoine, pool attorney, Collective Liability Insurance Cooperative, said that board members trust Given and his team to do what’s right by them.
“He had a pool member who was concerned about how his claim was handled. So Byron gave him an opportunity to attend a board meeting and explain why he was frustrated. Byron started an investigation on both sides to see where there might have been a mistake.
“These little things can become big things, and Byron handled it in an extremely professional and objective way,” said LeMoine.
Paul Pousson, Area Senior Vice President, Gallagher
“Paul has a unique and thorough understanding of building a risk program for what we are and what we do,” said Daniel Harper, vice chancellor and CFO, Texas State University System.
The university partnered with Gallagher in December 2017 with the condition that Paul Pousson get them into the underwriting markets by early January 2018.
Pousson was able to organize a three-day event with international markets and a two-day event with domestic, enabling Harper to sit down with more than 30 underwriters to talk about the university system in advance of the April 30 renewal date.
Another higher ed client’s automobile insurance program was challenging. So much so, their current carrier wasn’t planning on renewing in what is a very tight market. “Paul didn’t accept that and was able to negotiate another year of coverage,” said Steve Bryant, managing director, risk management, Texas Tech University System.
Always looking to the future, Pousson brought up the idea of self-insuring at the next expiration. “Not many brokers will bring a renewal to the table and immediately start on the next year.”
A third client said, “Paul has got the strongest work ethic I’ve ever seen in any employee.” He has a deep understanding of what universities need, and he’s got the mind to think of innovative solutions, said the client. “He understands higher education and the health care environment,” which is where the university conducts most of its research.
Bill Powell, Area Executive Vice President, Gallagher
With more than 25 years in the brokerage business, it’s no wonder Bill Powell knows his stuff.
“When we need coverage that is out of the ordinary, Bill takes the time necessary to research, work with the underwriters to obtain the coverage and meet with us to explain it in detail,” said Jolie Beulle, insurance & claims specialist at Wheaton College.
For Wheaton’s special foreign coverage last year, Powell printed out his research and gave a detailed presentation in person. Wheaton was expecting a 19 percent increase in premiums, but Powell worked hard to bring in another international service provider, and that projected increase was actually flat, said Dan Clark, the college’s director of risk mnagement.
“His understanding of Wheaton College and the culture here — to meet with the vice president of finance and to make sure the mission of the college is ingrained in the process — it’s difficult to do that as well as Bill has.”
James Prince, VP for business & finance, Kalamazoo College, has known Powell for years, working with him at three different colleges over his career.
“Bill is the kind of person who brings value to each institution. He has a strong understanding of higher ed and brings a high level of knowledge from a risk standpoint. He’s dedicated to risk mitigation and ensuring our students, faculty and staff have safe facilities. Bill doesn’t wait for us to reach out. He’s there, always available and quick to respond to our questions,” Prince added. “I can’t think of a more worthy [Power Broker® award] recipient than Bill Powell.”
Nancy Sylvester, Managing Director, Gallagher
When risk manager Jayme Naquin had to go out on medical leave from Loyola University New Orleans, broker Nancy Sylvester didn’t leave her client in the lurch.
“Nancy was absolutely amazing. When I had to transition out, Nancy brought in her team — I think she had three people on rotation a couple days a week — to help explain and train on risk management and Loyola’s current portfolio.”
She’s enthusiastic, energetic and great to have access to all times of day, said Colorado Robertson, assistant director, risk management, Louisiana State University.
“She really steps up and engages with our campus community,” Robertson explained. “Nancy is great at bringing clarity to the insurance process for our key stakeholders.”
Ed Nobles, director of risk management, Louisiana State University, said, “She’s amazing. I’ve been in insurance over 20 years and I’ve met a lot of brokers, but out of all of them, I’d give her the highest rating. She approaches the insurance market and coverage challenges with passion and creativity. She has gone above and beyond with both the London and domestic markets to accomplish great things for our university.”
Naquin added that Sylvester’s time as a risk manager for a school board really shines through in her broker career: “She’s always up-to-date with the university and makes sure she’s available. She keeps a pulse on risk management issues and litigation that may affect what we’re doing.”