A True Captive Adviser
Some brokers simply sell products; others also help their clients understand their insurance needs. Kathryn Christensen excels at the latter.
Christensen advised Katie Smart, assistant vice president, risk management, Macerich, on the process of setting up a captive as it involves big capital commitments.
“Kathryn focused on our business and what we were looking for and did not try to fit our business into a captive model,” Smart said.
“The information was very detailed and accurate. She took a complex concept and did a good job at dialing it down to a straightforward one that was very useful for us when we needed to translate it upwards in the company.”
Having access to high-quality information led to a well-made decision. In Macerich’s case, Christensen helped the client assess that the time had not come to take a step ahead after all.
“The changes modified our return on the captive, so in the end we decided not to set it up,” Smart said. “But the analysis and support that Kathryn provided was really instrumental to help us make the right decision.”
The reward, in this case, comes in the form of trust. Smart noted that, some years ago, the company already considered creating a captive but suffered at the hands of its then broker. If the topic comes up again, Christensen will be the go-to person.
Valuing a Hands-On Approach
Not all brokers are able to make full use the services available to the benefit of risk managers. Carmela Inneo is the noticeable exception.
She is praised by risk managers for her ability to leverage the resources of a large organization and for her willingness to deploy those resources into the service of clients whenever the necessity arises.
“I know that, no matter if it is a small or large issue, I can talk to Carmela, and she will get it done,” said the risk manager of a large reinsurance and insurance company. Inneo helped them set up a D&O and professional insurance program.
“Carmela goes way above and beyond what anyone can expect from a broker,” agreed the vice president of a life insurance firm. “She is a pleasure to work with and she is always available, no matter if it is a weekend or holiday.”
She said that Inneo’s quick action proved vital, for example, when some of the company’s facilities were affected by the hurricanes that hit large swaths of the country.
“During the hurricanes, I received a call from our CEO’s chief of staff asking about our coverages,” the VP recalled.
“It was not exactly in my area of responsibility, but I decided that I should come up with an answer. The first person I contacted was Carmela, and she provided me with ideas and information to deliver an answer to queries from the higher levels of the company.”
Client Is King
Sure insurance brokers like to say the client is king. But how many act on those words?
Insurance buyers can testify that not all do. Pam Paladino, VP of HR, U.S. Fence Solutions Company, endured some frustrating experiences with brokers before working with Scott Kegler.
“Scott has been a godsend,” she said.
Her company is the kind of company that sometimes does not receive the best treatment from its insurance intermediaries. In Paladino’s words, it’s not a huge firm but it’s a complicated one — with a portfolio of companies with high needs in terms of HR coverages and employee benefits.
But Kegler managed to stand out from the broking crowd by doing the basics.
“He pays attention, which maybe does not sound an incredible thing, but, these days, it surely is. It is great when someone stops and listens to what your needs are,” Paladino said.
By listening, she added, Kegler gained enough knowledge to set up a team of brokers to meet their different needs. In 2017, he and his team helped the firm to consolidate its employee benefits program.
He also negotiated an expansion of the firm’s existing policies in order to make them valid for a recently acquired company that operates in a sector where they did not have previous experience and which included government procurement.
Paladino also praised the way that Kegler educates himself about the business and goes the extra mile to help its development.
Expert on Acquisitions
Ammad Mahmood helped a client tackle the intricacies of evaluating risks and existing coverages of an acquired company.
Ian Fitzgerald is principal and associate general counsel for the client, Ares Management. Fitzgerald said Mahmood was a key player in the optimization of insurance programs and the evaluation of potential liability legacy issues.
“Ammad helped us to go through what the appropriate go-forward policy would be, given all the ramifications of the acquisition and our growth in size. He also enabled us to negotiate the best prices, fitting the new, expanded coverages into the budget of the company,” Fitzgerald said.
For his part, Brian Smith, vice president, corporate insurance, Prudential Financial, stressed how knowledgeable Mahmood is when structuring D&O and E&O programs.
“In the last two renewal cycles, as team lead, Ammad has exceeded our service expectations related to coverage, price and insurer selection,” he said. “He used that knowledge to construct and negotiate manuscript policy terms on D&O and E&O, plus fiduciary and EPLI.”
Also, importantly, Mahmood delivers results in a timely manner — a feature that risk managers in financial companies tend to show a particular degree of appreciation for.
“Ammad is very accommodating when it comes to turning things around, be it market information or even some historical data related to our own company,” Fitzgerald said.
E&O and D&O Master
Asset management is a globalized business where complex, multinational financial structures can provide a decisive advantage for companies in a very competitive environment. It also creates risks for executives who are exposed to different kinds of legislation and sometimes aggressive regulators.
Setting up D&O and E&O coverages in such circumstances is a tricky job, and Shawn Walsh aids his clients in dealing with that challenge.
Such was the case of Neal Wilson, chief operating officer, EJF Capital, who called Walsh to arrange professional coverages related to a new closed-end fund. It was the first time that the company employed this fund structure for one of its investment vehicles.
“We had to think through how the D&O and E&O coverages would be different from our other funds, and Shawn handled that in a quick, impeccable and professional way.”
With Walsh’s help, EJF also revamped its general D&O and E&O programs in 2017, obtaining better coverages and similar rates, even though the company had grown.
Walsh was also praised by the chief risk officer of a U.S.-listed, Bermuda-based reinsurer for supporting the company as it looked for directors’ coverages in the market. He said the company employs a strategy similar to a hedge fund and, as such, presents some particularities regarding their D&O and E&O needs.
“Shawn helped us to find the coverages we needed, and rates and conditions were better than expected,” the CRO said.
Music to an Investors’ Ears
In the world of private equity, any dollar saved by the companies in an investment portfolio matters. Barry Weiner helped one of the titans achieve significant savings by bringing together the cyber insurance programs of several of its companies.
For Thomas Kim, director and global risk manager, KKR, this is how a broker can leverage resources to the benefit of clients.
“Barry was directly responsible for bringing innovative cyber insurance solutions into the company,” he said. “He single-handedly leveraged a team of a dozen Aon experts that ultimately won the business.”
Weiner also implemented cyber risk solutions and other improvements to the risk management program at health care company Avalon, according to CFO Anne Stuart.
“We did not have cyber insurance, even though we are an IT-centric company,” Stuart said. “Barry and his team helped us to look at different kinds of exposure, and we are underwriting the policy right now.”
Other solutions Weiner helped implement at Avalon include a system to monitor and analyze workers’ comp losses and updated insurance accounting procedures to optimize the risk management structure.
With a focus on the private equity market, Weiner claims that the efficient insurance programs help not only to improve the company’s bottom line but also increase its market value, which sounds like music to investors’ ears.