How Risk Strategies’ Rebecca LaFazia Built a Rewarding Career in Entertainment Insurance
Gone are the days of entering a boring, mundane career in the insurance world. Professionals can create a blend of passion and insurance, or risk management, and cultivate a worthwhile career for themselves.
That’s exactly what Rebecca LaFazia did, and she hasn’t looked back since.
LaFazia was no stranger to the brokering world. Her father worked as a broker and she experienced what a career in brokerage would entail through a high school internship.
Then, she entered her college years and fostered a new passion: theater.
“When I was in college, I became a theater dork,” LaFazia said. “I was very involved in student theater, usually doing music, stage management or directing.”
With her graduation from college came the reckoning and discernment that most graduates have: what comes next? LaFazia knew that she wanted to stay involved in the world of theater, but this time on the business side. Someone suggested she work in insurance for Broadway.
And just like that, an insurance star was born.
Insurance for the Performing Arts
For LaFazia, the heart of the industry and her role “is about protecting businesses and being there for them in their time of need.” In terms of insuring performing arts, LaFazia provides insurance and risk management insights that ultimately allow productions to continue to bring in revenue, and most importantly, continue to do what they do best.
For many, the appreciation for live productions has grown tremendously following pandemic-induced shutdowns.
“There are so many productions and shows that are beginning to reopen after being closed for a year and half,” LaFazia said. “I’m really proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish for these organizations.”
In addition to insuring Broadway and other performances, LaFazia also works to insure commercial wrap-up programs, in which she provides coverage for large advertisers and their commercial productions.
Working as a broker for the entertainment industry never involves two identical days, and that’s another reason why LaFazia loves her profession.
“You never really know what you’re going to get when you open your email,” she said. “It could be a client calling in a panic because they have a celebrity that is supposed to be in their commercial, and they just broke their arm.”
Other times, she had to work to insure productions that contained an array of risks, such as the use of drones, helicopters and skydiving, to name a few. “It certainly keeps things interesting,” she said.
One notable feat for LaFazia involved the popular production of Dear Evan Hansen, and its potential revenue loss following a hotel collapse near the theater. Because the production was conducting a national tour, she had to work diligently to assess exposures and risks in each city the show was performing in, as they can vary by location.
Additionally, other factors that were subject to change included theater size, ticket pricing and tour duration in cities. LaFazia had to not only assess these varying exposures, but also prioritize growth and revenue potential in each city.
Dear Evan Hansen was set to perform in a New Orleans theater when a nearby hotel collapsed. From an insurer and broker standpoint, the collapse meant the production could see a loss in revenue. Luckily, another venue was able to accommodate the show, but the claims filing was rather tricky.
“The claims process was interesting, because even though the production was able to reschedule, the new theater was smaller,” LaFazia said.
She continued, “Additional performances had to be built into the schedule to accommodate tickets that had already been sold, and the extra performances generated some additional operating costs. Those also had to be factored into the claim.”
It was LaFazia’s expertise, ingenuity, and commitment to crafting a solution for the Dear Evan Hansen production that set her apart from other brokers, earning her a 2021 Power Broker® accolade.
A Brokering Philosophy Comes to Life
Every professional can attest to having a career philosophy that serves as a catalyst for how they operate day in and day out. For LaFazia, it boils down to putting her clients’ needs first. And those clients’ needs cannot be met without strong relationships and trust.
“My goal is to always give great service to my clients, but I also strive to maintain great working relationships with carrier partners,” she said. “Working as a go-between, it’s always going to be a balancing act.”
Working as a mediator includes holding honest conversations on both sides of the claim.
“Clients will appreciate and respond to hard work and transparency, especially in a difficult market like we’re in right now, I find it helpful to prepare them by setting realistic expectations,” she said.
“Your underwriters will also need to trust you and understand the risks that you’re presenting.”
LaFazia believes a career in insurance can be for anyone who finds a specialty they’re truly passionate about. It was only once she got started that she realized how many specialties the insurance space contained.
“Find something that you’re drawn to and excites and motivates you every day,” she said. &