Gallagher Power Broker John Chino Builds Programs Based in Trust and Knowledge

A spirit of collaboration has helped this public sector broker find creative solutions for his clients.
By: | June 19, 2020

Those already in the brokering business know how meaningful a career it can be. It’s entrepreneurial by nature; it’s complex, challenging analytical and creative skill sets; and when a professional is in the business long enough, they find a satisfying connection between effort and reward.

“If you’re willing to specialize and put in the time to really learn your client’s business and the coverages they need, then you will be rewarded in that your client will keep you longer and recommend you to others in the business,” said John Chino, area senior vice president, Gallagher.

For Chino, the autonomy, complexity and connection between effort and reward make his time as a broker fulfilling. His introduction into the business came on his second day as a finance major at the University of Southern California, when he met Tom Gallagher, who is now CEO, brokerage services, for Gallagher.

“Tom told me about this insurance brokerage his grandfather founded,” Chino said. “That’s the first time I ever heard the words ‘insurance’ and ‘broker’ used together. I was hooked.”

Chino never looked back. He has since spent decades in the brokering community, servicing the public sector. His time, dedication and efforts have paid off time and time again, including this year when Chino was recognized as a Risk & Insurance Power Broker® in the Public Sector for the eighth time.

“The public sector is an incredibly dynamic environment, and what’s really fun about it is we get to use the most innovative risk financing alternatives that exist.”

For one client, Chino had to put those innovative skills to the test.

Protection for the Most Vulnerable

Dr. Karla M. Rhay, CEO of The California Schools JPA, had a request: Could Chino find sexual assault and molestation coverage for third-party consultants and vendors entering her schools?

“School districts have to contract with small, often one-person organizations,” Chino explained.

These consultants might enter into the school building as an additional counseling service for the special education department or as a presenter or demonstrator for specialized topics, like a D.A.R.E. officer. Such services are vital for the school districts Rhay oversees.

But, these third parties don’t always carry insurance to protect the schools against sexual assault claims should an event occur.

“This risk existed, but there was no insurance specific to cover it,” Rhay told Risk & Insurance in February.

So, she challenged Chino to find the solution. “We had to determine the best method to handle the exposure presented by those professionals,” he said. “That was through a combination of risk financing through insurance and non-insurance methods, like contracts.”

“The public sector is an incredibly dynamic environment, and what’s really fun about it is we get to use the most innovative risk financing alternatives that exist.” — John Chino, area senior vice president, Gallagher

The contracts acted as an insurance guideline for the school districts. They worked with their consultants to make certain each third party brought onto school premises was compliant with the requirements listed in the contract.

But a contract wasn’t coverage.

“We found out quickly that there was not an insurance market available for these small operators,” Chino said. “We had to retool.”

Chino spent the next three years creating a pool for vendors to pay into, collecting premium to cover a school in the rare event that an incident occurred. The road to coverage wasn’t always easy, though. The underwriters wanted details on the specifics: How many contractors were there, what operations would be covered, and had they already experienced losses?

“The challenge was that we didn’t have any data. We were starting from scratch.”

Luckily, the connection between effort and reward that Chino prides the brokering profession on shined through: He and his team were able to use the deep connections they had and their niche understanding of the public sector to garner the information from not just Rhay’s schools, but also hundreds of other schools in California.

“We were able to collect the data underwriters wanted, and there was enough to present it to the insurance providers.”

They took that information to the worldwide market and brought it home by developing a place online where third party consultants and vendors can go to get the coverage required by the schools they service.

“And it’s not just John’s clients who benefit,” Rhay told R&I. “This is something that can benefit all schools.”

Though the method for obtaining coverage has been procured, Chino has not stopped there. His team is already working on the second iteration for The California Schools JPA.

Brokering in the Public Sector

For Chino, it’s important his clients, including Dr. Rhay, receive the resources they need to thrive. He said this dedication is particularly important now that public entities have entered into a hardening market.

“What we’re experiencing is not a traditional hard market,” he explained, “but it is hard for certain industries and for certain lines of coverage.”

In the public sector, the hardening market had acted as a catalyst for a philosophy change: “We now use a broking philosophy of collaboration.

“We — the broker, the client, the insurers and the reinsurers — work together, sharing information in order to try to find the best combination of insurance and reinsurance and retention for the client,” Chino said.

He added this approach has been a big shift in thinking these the last few years for public entities. Even just five years ago, when the market was only starting to tighten, the approach was to connect with insurers and reinsurers independent from one another to obtain insurance structures.

“Collaboration has proven the most effective way for us to assist our reinsurance partners and our clients in the current market,” Chino explained.

That shift, however, required trust. Clients and the insurers and reinsurers had to be involved and willing to participate in open dialogue. Chino said a good strategy had to be in place in order for the clients to find success in this market.

“The bottom structure of their strategy is where everything else starts and is built from.”

And much like what Chino and his team did for Rhay and her schools, they work tirelessly in assisting in creating strategies alongside their clients, using technical skills, actuarial and statistical data, a deep understanding of the market and communication.

“I love working in the public sector, because my clients are the best and the brightest in any industry,” Chino said. “They make being a broker meaningful. Together we make a difference.” &

Autumn Demberger is a freelance writer and can be reached at [email protected].

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