Getting It Done
For a client buying single-family investment properties in the Greater Boston area, Aon’s Jay Brancaleone displayed the type of persistence that each of us wish we had in our advocates.
The issue was that the client’s personal lines insurer wasn’t keen to insure investment or rental properties, representing as they do, a higher risk than an owner-occupied property.
The carrier did agree to insure four such properties, but finding a carrier to insure the fifth proved to be something of an odyssey, with a closing date fast approaching.
Inquiries to several personal lines insurers and Brancaleone’s connections with Aon’s Small Commercial insurance team came up empty.
Then Brancaleone broke through. He found a middle-market admitted carrier that would take the risk. Not only would they underwrite the property, they listed the policy in the name of the stand-alone LLC.
“Jay is always on top of everything,” said an admiring client.
“I feel like I can tell him anything,” said Page Wallace, a client of Brancaleone’s who benefitted from his steady guidance and counsel when her home was significantly damaged in the nor’easter of January 2015 that impacted many cities in the Northeast.
“If you would ask me who is the one person, outside of my family, who I most count on, that would be Jay,” said Wallace.
Wallace, who describes herself as a very discerning customer, recommends Jay to family members who aren’t getting the service level they need from their existing brokers.
When a client faced a major life event — the death of his mother — Patti Clement offered heart-felt condolences to her grieving client. Then she set about making sure the client received the highest level of risk management protection.
To make sure the client’s home and inherited possessions were covered, Clement partnered with a carrier to conduct an on-site inspection of the home, which contained valuable musical instruments and memorabilia. Part of the process was to hire a fine arts and collectibles appraiser.
A coverage review showed the limits were inadequate. Clement obtained coverage with an increased home value and a $1 million blanket policy covering jewelry and fine art.
Then, an electrical fire and 100 percent loss. Clement dramatically changed the outcome for her client, so much so the client’s financial advisor asked her to present at an annual accountants’ conference on commonly overlooked insurance coverages.
Another client saw a neon art piece inadvertently damaged by gardeners. Clement got right to work.
“The claim information was so quick and diligent and so right on that we were able to communicate with the artist in the UK to create this art again,” said Joy Soodik, chief compliance officer and managing director, Clarfeld Financial Advisors.
The entire piece was recreated by the artist and it “didn’t cost our clients a penny,” Soodik reports.
In the Line of Fire
Picture this: A heated divorce; the principals are only speaking to each other through their attorneys. Then their house burns down.
Imagine walking into that and trying to find solutions to please both parties. But that’s exactly what Jeff Kaplan did.
Prized by his clients for emotional intelligence, Kaplan — Family Office Practice Leader — was charged with settling this claim when the house and all the love in it burned to the ground.
“I was in the seventh circle of hell,” said the client. Kaplan kept cool and got the claim paid by Chubb. Then he offered crucial advice: Don’t negotiate the rebuild; sell instead.
They launched a one-week sale period with a 30-day close. The buyer was left to handle the rebuild, and the coverage from Chubb gave the claimant’s wife a rental for a full year until she could rebuild.
Every party involved — the original policyholders and the developers of the property — profited. A true win-win-win.
“He is really good about being able to read a situation,” said Jason Raymond, a partner with Gore Creek Asset Management LLC.
For Raymond and his clients, Kaplan arranged an excess group umbrella policy that included a blanket layer of coverage for valuables the clients may have forgotten to list to their insurance service providers.
“He’s got a rare ability to interact with clients, but he is also an insurance nerd, so he knows the technical details,” Raymond said.
Planning for Everything
Lori Monserrat and her financial and estate planning partners asked their high net worth clients a very important question: What happens to your data when you die?
They not only asked the question, but Monserrat and her allies also rented a movie theater and served popcorn to their clients as part of a presentation on the subject.
“It was a unique idea that everyone gravitated to,” said Lawrence Manierre, private wealth manager for Merrill Lynch, who attended the presentation.
So deep is Manierre’s trust in Monserrat that they share clients with each other.
When Hurricane Irma struck, it was the diligence and market knowledge of Monserrat that left another client well-protected. Monserrat arranged primary and excess flood coverage on the client’s Florida properties.
Out-of-pocket for the client was reduced from about $86,000 to $21,000 after Irma severely damaged one of the client’s older homes.
For clients with multiple homes who weren’t in Florida when Irma hit, Monserrat provided on-the-ground surveillance, toured impacted areas and reported to her clients on the condition of their properties.
That’s a trait of all great brokers. Be proactive, think about what your client might be worrying about and then take immediate steps to reduce stress.
“She’s the best of the best,” said Kevin Coleman, shareholder, Coleman, Yovanovich and Koester.
Answers on the Spot
When Hurricanes Harvey and Irma took aim at the U.S., Jason Ott coordinated Aon’s private risk management response.
His team reached out to more than 2,000 clients, providing storm forecasts, storm preparedness checklists and fine art safety checklists. While coordinating a team of 70 agents, Ott personally took claims calls from clients when connection to their main point of contact was unavailable due to storm disruption.
For those high net worth clients who depend on him, Ott is a resource. In one client’s parlance, a “Johnny on the Spot.” They know who they can depend on to get the answers.
“He has always responded carefully and resourcefully,” said one Midwestern client.
As the deepest pocket on a nonprofit board, this client depended on Ott to work with his attorneys to craft D&O coverage that would keep him safe in the event legal action was filed against any part of the nonprofit.
Ott is also very active with the Private Risk Management Association. At this year’s summit, Ott presented on the nuances of flood insurance. He also leads efforts to develop best practices for customer service for high net worth clients.
Another client said Ott works to find answers regardless of whether his firm or the carriers have any business interest in the coverage or claims issue.
“In Jason’s case, it doesn’t matter so much that he’s involved in the solution; it’s that he always helps us find a solution,” this client said.
A Beloved Broker
Policy and industry knowledge in insurance brokering and the crucial traits of creativity and customer service are the hallmarks of a Power Broker®. But some Power Brokers have something a little extra, a special dose if pizzazz that has their clients reaching for ever more exuberant phrases to describe them.
Such is the praise lavished on Marsh’s April Rey.
Her fans in this case are managers of family offices that handle the full spectrum of wealth management services for their clients.
“We love her,” said a representative of a Boston-based family office. “She is the best representative we have ever had; she is fantastic.”
“What I really like about her is her responsiveness. I have talked to her twice today for two different clients, and she thinks about things that I haven’t thought about,” another family office manager said.
Of the 14 families this office works with, nine currently work with Rey.
One of the families involved actually left Marsh years ago. This family office manager brought them back to Marsh and Rey was the reason.
“It’s because I have been so pleased with what she’s done with the rest of my clients,” this wealth management professional said.
“I have been working with April for 10 years and she always goes the distance, regardless of how unique a situation it might be,” added another family office manager.