The 2019 Hospitality Power Brokers

Martyn Clark
Executive Director
Aon, London

Martyn Clark, Executive Director, Aon

Four Seasons is among the hotel sector’s best-known names, but isn’t actually a hotel owner. Instead, the company manages owners’ assets and its group insurance policy. Four Seasons suffered a $30 million claim from last January’s California mudslides.

Securing attractive terms for the 2018 renewal was a challenge for Martyn Clark, as owners could easily move their individual hotels to separate standalone insurers or alternative programs.

Maintaining the program’s integrity meant retaining current owners while expanding the premium base via new hotels; a task complicated by the program’s $500 million named windstorm sublimit being specifically allocated to three named hotels.

One option was to buy a program standalone excess layer, but pricing was high and capacity limited. Instead, the solution chosen was to sublimit the $330 million windstorm limits for an Orlando location to $100 million — freeing up $230 million of new limits.

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“During our last renewal period, we faced 30 percent-plus pricing increases as the industry was severely impacted by Harvey, Irma and Maria,” said Hyatt’s director of risk management, Jennifer Pack.

“While hotels in our property program weren’t impacted by these events, the markets and brokers indicated we should expect large increases regardless, due to the very nature of our business and locations.

“With the assistance of Martyn and his team, we were able to convince both new and incumbent markets that Hyatt is a great risk and also receive flat rates year-on-year.”

Dennis Donovan
Managing Director
Marsh, Philadelphia

Dennis Donovan, Managing Director, Marsh

Dennis Donovan regularly works with the biggest organizations in sport and the gaming industry. One major international manager of sports arenas and convention centers asked Donovan to negotiate multi-year guaranteed rate commitments from underwriters for their 2018 general liability, umbrella and environmental liability renewal programs.

The new liability structure was a “state-of-the-art” insurance program, featuring the broadest coverages available for venue management companies.

Highlights included negotiated audit savings for the group’s workers’ comp and general liability programs; composite rates to mitigate premium swings due to changes in manual rates and class code mix; and self-audits to minimize administration.

For another client in online gaming and sports wagering, the team worked closely with Marsh’s cyber Center of Excellence to secure significant improvements to the company’s vendor contract with respect to cyber liability terms and conditions.

A further success was achieved for a major U.S. sports association in designing an international network of individual country specialists within Marsh, with expertise in hospitality, sports and entertainment.

“With over 240 facilities in eight countries, our group is constantly challenging Dennis to keep our insurance current, accurate and in compliance with our contracts and local law,” said Bill Helmig, executive director of risk management for venue manager SMG.

Ryan Griffin
Senior Vice President
JLT Specialty, Chicago

Ryan Griffin, Senior Vice President, JLT Specialty 

Translating global ransomware attacks and technology vendor disputes into understandable losses is rewarding for Ryan Griffin.

Risk solutions devised for clients last year included a cyber risk financial stress test for Las Vegas Sands Corporation, which incorporated scenario development and quantification.

“As a highly regulated business that derives most of its revenues from international operations, it is critical we have a clear understanding of all threat vectors produced by cyber exposure,” said W. David Little, SVP global risk management.

“Ryan has been instrumental in developing and using the knowledge gained from our stress test to produce risk management solutions that address our cyber exposures.”

Complex claim navigation was undertaken for Sabre Corporation and another client, a producer of slot machines and provider of financial equipment and services to casinos.

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“Ryan was instrumental in helping us think through the complexities of our cyber claim and then partnered with us to discuss and justify appropriate coverage,” said Brian Evans, VP, treasury and assistant treasurer, Sabre.

“With his understanding of our underlying business, and expertise in the cyber and E&O market, we were able to drive and deliver a positive outcome for the company.”

A single meeting convinced another client to transition their E&O program from a 10-year incumbent to Griffin and JLT. “Under Ryan’s leadership, the subsequent onboarding process was seamless and thorough,” they said.

James Kelley, CPCU, AIC
Director
Aon, New York

James Kelley, Director, Aon

Harvey, Irma and Maria left their mark on Comcast NBC Universal. For James Kelley, it meant working closely with an independent adjusting firm, multiple experts and a large market of insurers to develop an effective strategy that maximized the client’s recovery.

Comcast’s VP of global risk management, Donald Aspinall, said: “Jim has been a tremendous asset and advocate in thoughtfully working through three extraordinarily complex claims for us.

“The facilities impacted were in diverse geographies and involved many complex aspects of the company. Jim navigated this complexity with admirable professionalism and aplomb.”

For another client, Host Hotels & Restaurants, the challenge lay in the proximity of many properties in Paris and Brussels to terrorist attacks in 2015-16.

Kelley’s team worked with forensic accountants to develop a unique claim strategy, including interactive mapping of the cities against timelines of the terror events.

The claim presentation matched complex facts, geographies and timelines up to coverage within the policy in an easily understandable fashion and helped overcome significant coverage limitations. These efforts paid off, resulting in a recovery of “millions of dollars.”

Kelley also negotiated multiple claims for a major chemical company, including a plant explosion and complicated process shutdown: “Jim works efficiently with adjusters and experts and presents a fully documented claim that avoids costly litigation,” said its insurance manager.

Sean Murphy, AAI, ARM
Senior Director, Hospitality Practice
Gallagher, Houston

Sean Murphy, Senior Director, Hospitality Practice, Gallagher 

When Hurricane Irma tore across Florida, Puerto Rico and other regions in September 2017, it created a sizeable workload for broker Sean Murphy.

“Sean has settled, or is in the process of settling, more than $91 million in property and BI claims due to Irma, with six of his major clients suffering losses,” reported Wesley Brandt, president of Wes Brandt Insurance Consulting.

“All are complex, but none were contested due to a comprehensive team of professionals and resources managing the claims.

“Sean is a student of manuscript forms and negotiates the smallest details of policy wording to accomplish the risk transfer and retention goals of his clients. He travels more than 80,000 miles each year to see them — sometimes several times a quarter — to solve problems they have raised.”

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This expertise saw Murphy take on a leadership role, providing insurance and risk management advice to both sides of a contested $5 billion-plus takeover of one of the U.S.’s leading hotel REITs.

Following the approved purchase, he and his team were asked to create a comprehensive risk management program for the combined company. This will include placement of most of the insurance in what is now a 60-plus hotel portfolio, all upscale and large properties across the U.S., most located in high CAT zones, which fortunately are Murphy’s specialty.

David Owen, CISR, CLCS
Area Senior Vice President
Gallagher, Dallas

David Owen, Area Senior Vice President, Gallagher

With rates on the rise again, achieving savings for the client is a challenge. Yet a thorough analysis and restructure of one newly-won program by David Owen and his team achieved a premium decrease of no less than 60 percent for the client, a hotel fund manager.

The account was moved to new carriers, and more than 40 enhancements of the coverage were secured.

For another client, a hotel chain, Owen provided due diligence on four potential acquisitions and two disposals, While reducing the cost of risk by 25 percent year-on-year and adding specialized cyber coverage.

In serving middle market clients as their outsourced risk manager, Owen sees his role as their ‘quarterback,’ by connecting them to the full team of Gallagher resources and maintaining sole accountability for the team while providing weekly updates.

“I take pride in lifecycle service — renewals, ongoing operational service, claims service and loss control service,” he disclosed in his Power Broker® application. “I pride myself on reviewing and providing constructive feedback on client insurance and indemnity provisions in leases, PSAs, and lender and partnership agreements.”

“In the years in which David acted as our agent, he exceeded all of our needs,” said Rex Stewart, CFO of Quorum Hotels & Resort.

“He is very good at communicating and responding to our requests for assistance. David is proactive in pursuing opportunities to improve our coverage and ensure good communication from our carriers regarding claim status.”

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

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]