2018 Power Broker

Public Sector

The Talk of the Town

Judith Arenz, CPCU, RMPE
Area Senior Vice President
Gallagher, Boca Raton, Fla.

Scott Marting, director of risk management, Palm Beach County BOCC, knows what it’s like to live through a hurricane.

As a risk manager in Florida, Marting said he needed a broker who not only understood the frequency of hurricane events but also the scope of damage that can be done, like property destruction, mold growth, extended loss of power and more.

“We were able this year to increase our wind cover and drive down our deductible,” said Marting.

And it was Power Broker® Judith Arenz who was instrumental in that process. She increased wind cover from $80 million to $115 million in the last two years. In 2017, Arenz helped drop Palm Beach County’s deductible from 5 to 4 percent as well.

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“Judy will get the answer. She’ll work closely with us before, during and after a hurricane,” said Marting.

And her talents don’t stop with fixing damaged property; Arenz is also knowledgeable in building towns from scratch.

One client aimed to build an entire community fueled solely by solar power. They needed someone with knowledge of both real estate and the public sector to succeed.

Arenz provided them with utility coverage for wastewater treatment; coverage for retail stores, restaurants, office space and a charter school; a program for waste management; and coverage for a sightseeing vessel for the town’s lakes.

Master of R&W

Allyson Coyne
Managing Director
Aon, Radnor, Pa.

Ashland Global Holdings Inc., was in the middle of an acquisition that represented a significant growth opportunity. As the company moved toward closing on the deal, they realized the seller would not be able to provide protection for breaches of reps and warranties.

In the eleventh hour, Allyson Coyne came through in the clutch.

“She came in late in the process, but she did a great job at reading the room for major concerns,” said Asad Lodhi, director of enterprise risk management and insurance. “Allyson did a terrific job at helping us find the right partners — in this case, an underwriter.”

Coyne was a brand-new face for the Ashland team. With a large, fast-moving transaction on the table, this would appear a daunting task for both broker and client.

But not for Coyne. She hit the ground running, determined to educate her client about a new R&W product that the underwriter was offering and helping to solve policy and coverage issues.

“In a couple weeks, she was able to get us all at a level of comfort and assist in a successful closing” with the R&W product in place, said Lodhi.

Another client had concerns around including reps and warranties coverage at all. The company did not see the value in such a product when it came to M&A opportunities.

But Coyne reviewed the coverage with them and demonstrated how vital it was in the underwriting process. They were convinced, and later put the coverage to use in successfully closing a deal.

Insuring Far and Wide

Katie Crowe, ARM, RIMS-CRMP
Senior Account Specialist
Aon, Washington, D.C.

The Department of Defense deploys people around the world, often in dangerous places. To insure their safety, Kerry H. Walters, director of contracts, finance and administration for engineering consultancy Darkblade Systems, needs defense base act coverage.

And to do that, he turns to Katie Crowe.

“She separated herself from the crowd,” he said. Walters’ old broker believed no one would underwrite the DBA coverage he was seeking because of how risky it was. Another broker found the coverage but at an extremely expensive premium.

Crowe was convinced better solutions existed; she brought down the policy premium from $120,000 to $20,000.

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Another client, Laureate Education Inc., has a global network that spans 25 countries, 70,000 employees and 1 million students at its higher education institutions. Amanda Chittenden is its director of risk management.

Crowe came on board two years ago, a transition Chittenden said was easy because Crowe dove right in.

Laureate was switching to a new database that collected information around its potential risk exposures. While Chittenden worked to get the Laureate team trained with the new system, she saw that she needed a way to reconcile the old data with the new.

“There was no electronic way to do that. Katie went through the data with me, line by line, to view when and where things changed.”

Advocating for the Client

Jessica Govic, CLCS
Area Executive Vice President
Gallagher, Rolling Meadows, Ill.

Lowell Crow, city manager, the City of Freeport, Ill., has worked with Jessica Govic for many years. When he stepped into the city manager role, he brought Govic on board immediately.

“Jessica was able to work with the community. She got on our public risk fund and saved close to $300,000,” he said.

In addition to big savings, Govic showed Freeport she was working for their best interests by acquiring cyber coverage and a $5,400 safety grant.

“She, by far, has the best customer service,” added Crow. “She never tries to sell products to us that we don’t need. She gives us options to go forward and decide.”

Mark Rooney, village manager, Village of Carpentersville, Ill., said Govic goes to bat for his town as well.

“Her team worked to help us find a more service-oriented coverage for workers’ comp,” he explained. “That wasn’t even her area, but she was able to get us an outstanding program. She facilitated that.”

In addition to workers’ comp, Govic helped get Carpentersville’s P&C premiums well below $150,000 in less than one year, and she saved the village $35,000 per year by bringing them on board with Gallagher’s risk management training. Before, said Rooney, the village would use a third party to conduct training programs.

“She’s thorough, professional, responsive, solid, committed and reputable,” said Dane Bragg, village manager, the Village of Buffalo Grove, Ill.

The Man on the Ground

Michael McHugh
Area Senior Executive Vice President
Gallagher, Rolling Meadows, Ill.

Jeff O’Connell and the executive board he is vice-chairman of oversee a 190-school-district pool in the suburbs of Chicago. Michael McHugh is instrumental in getting those schools what they need.

In 2017, O’Connell and the other members decided to put together a presentation on predatory behavior in schools. McHugh did not hesitate to jump in.

“He put the program together in three weeks. He got the legal team together and got us what we needed,” O’Connell said. He added that the best part was McHugh’s willingness to be a part of the training.

“Michael and his support team came out and provided training. He really wanted to be that man on the ground for us.”

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“Michael leads the financial analysis of our co-op on an ongoing basis,” said Ron Chilcote, treasurer, Collective Liability Insurance Cooperative.

For the co-op, a handful of legal firms throughout the state of Illinois vie to be a part of the CLIC legal panel. McHugh, said Chilcote, has a methodology for choosing which firms would best serve the co-op’s needs.

“He is very cognizant of our needs and represents our members, understanding that certain legal firms have different areas of expertise. What I see as Michael’s best attribute is his ability and willingness to mentor others. Michael is not afraid to share his knowledge for others to grow,” Chilcote said.

Analyze, Review, Succeed

Harry Merker
Senior Broker
Aon, New York

“As far as Harry’s knowledge — he is insurance savvy. Property is really his specialty,” said Jennifer Luckern, CEO, Florida Housing Authorities Risk Management Insureds (FHARMI).

Aon’s Harry Merker is the main property broker for FHARMI. Despite the continuously changing nature of the insurance industry, he strives to stay on top of the markets and get his clients what they need when they need it. To perform at a high level, he works to review and change his strategy with the times.

For example, in this last year, Merker was tasked with reviewing the Florida Housing Authorities’ coverages and found a few discrepancies. Altogether, FHARMI had more than $40 million in property coverage, and Merker had to make the coverages consistent and streamlined.

Luckern said Merker is especially fluent in the ins and outs of property markets in the state of Florida, which helped him go above and beyond in the course of “correcting our scope of coverage [and] reviewing the policies that back those coverages.”

Luckern added that Merker has saved them at least $1 million in the last two years they’ve worked with him.

In addition to helping them save big, Luckern knows that Merker stays on top of emerging risks and new products.

If she ever needs cover for flood or cyber or crime or any other exposures not within the authorities’ scope of coverage, she can call Merker, and he will connect her immediately with the right service. 

Finalist:

John Chino
Area Senior Vice President
Gallagher, Irvine, Ca.

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 an 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]