The 2019 Renewable Energy Power Brokers
Amanda Lania, Account Manager, Beecher Carlson
“We have had the privilege of watching Amanda’s career as she has truly developed as an insurance broker,” said a risk manager of Beecher Carlson’s Amanda Lania.
“Recently, we were putting together — at the 11th hour, of course — an extensive request-for-proposal bid response. Amanda, without blinking, jumped on our difficult and time-sensitive bond request and was even early with the results. Amanda was extremely involved in our property and casualty renewal and worked tirelessly on our behalf with underwriters and carriers.”
“We have had construction projects that have run into many delays and they have worked with the insurance companies many times to get our builder’s risk policies extended,” said an assistant executive director. “During our annual renewal, she worked with the markets to get our premiums reduced this year.”
A new waste-to-energy client was struggling with drastically increased renewal pricing as part of their facility operator’s master insurance program. The cost had doubled, despite the client having no losses. Lania was able to work with the underwriters to get them comfortable with the exposure.
By pulling them out of their operator-controlled master insurance program and putting them on a stand-alone placement, the client achieved a 40 percent rate savings and their own dedicated limits. The client was so pleased with the results that they chose to cancel their placement then in effect mid-term in favor of the alternative that Lania had developed.
Mary Leighton, Senior Vice President, Beecher Carlson
“Mary saved us thousands of dollars in premium when she came on the program,” said the CEO of one of Mary Leighton’s client companies. “We are a waste-to-energy facility, which is very different than a big conventional power generation company. She reviewed not just our current insurance policies, but all of our contractual obligations: power-purchase agreements, interconnects, equipment supplier relationships, everything,” said the CEO.
“We have rolling renewals through the year, and over the course of that time she explained to everyone how we were different in our operations and our risks. She brought them to a new understanding.”
Sometimes clients just have a rough year, and rather than score a big win for them, the broker is a hero for making the best of a bad situation.
“This year has been a struggle for us,” said one risk manager. “We had two large claims. They are still in process. We are also in the second year of a three-year policy, so we are already looking to the renewal, and she is starting work on that even as she wrangles these claims. None of this would be possible without her.”
It was a tough year all around. “There were more [catastrophic] failures in 2018 than ever before,” said one company president, “and we expected rates to go higher. Mary went out to a lot of markets and the initial indications were even higher than we anticipated. But she worked with a few and got the increases down to what we could handle.”
Chris Shorter, Senior Vice President, Aon
“Chris has an impressive technical knowledge and has been obtaining improvements to our casualty program this year,” said one risk manager of Aon’s Chris Shorter.
“This year in particular, we had an outstanding renewal and Chris was instrumental to our success. We had a good rate reduction to the primary program this last renewal. Also, Chris came up with a new structure to the excess liability tower to give us the best terms and conditions.”
A client with a large fleet of vehicles had two large claims in recent years. That made the 2018 renewal particularly challenging. Because of the state of the automobile market, the client was projected to incur a steep rate increase, impacting overall premium spending.
Options were tight. Shorter had conducted a comprehensive marketing initiative only two years prior, so a new marketing push wasn’t likely to be productive.
Instead, Shorter went to the incumbent with extensive details on the client’s safety program, including changes that had been made to minimize the risk of future occurrences.
Shorter also contacted the underwriter that had lost that account as a result of the marketing effort, let them know they had an opportunity to win it back, and reminded them why the effort was worth their while.
It took about a month of negotiations, but Shorter was able to get the auto line placed with just a single digit rate increase, and without increasing the retention. This was not only a win on the auto, but it also assisted in keeping the umbrella premium down.
Scott Smidlein, Assistant Vice President, Marsh
“Scott took on the role of not just broker, but risk management advisor for us in 2018, in the absence of the necessary resources internally,” said one insurance risk manager of Marsh’s Scott Smidlein. “I rely on Scott to identify exposures and help with the transfer of risk. Scott was instrumental in the marketing of our property program. He was able to negotiate a two-year deal amid the hardening market and double-digit rate increases for peers.”
One of Smidlein’s clients began a complete transformation from traditional to renewable energy. After reviewing the current placement, Smidlein determined it was better to modify the existing program rather than start tabula rasa.
Smidlein came back from the markets with insight that helped to hone the insured’s long-term renewable-energy initiative. The revised insurance program modified the acquisitions plan, helping to determine which facilities to buy and which to let pass.
Another client had a large storm-related loss to their solar assets. The size of the loss was due to a design flaw, and the client was confident most of the loss would be recaptured in subrogation.
Unfortunately, subrogation was not final prior to their renewal, which also took place shortly after Hurricane Harvey. Through an extensive marketing effort, reviewing various structure options, and assuring the market that subrogation proceeds for the previous loss were expected, Smidlein and his team were able to achieve a 7 percent rate decrease year-over-year.
Marc Toy, Senior Vice President, Beecher Carlson
“Marc has been an outstanding resource for our company,” said one director of finance of Beecher Carlson’s Mark Toy.
“He played a critical leadership role in helping us consolidate and streamline our complex insurance program. Our project submission process is now much simpler, and we’ve seen premiums for parts of our portfolio fall by up to half of what we were paying previously and with improved coverage.
“We can now submit projects on a quarterly basis, with automatic back coverage to the beginning of the quarter,” the finance director added. “He found carriers that specialized in our asset types and better understood the risks of our business. As a result, our risk was viewed more fairly by underwriters and premiums were much lower.”
Another client is a utility-scale solar generator. “Marc started on our account just this year,” said a vice president of asset management. “He took over a complex account with complex financing: tax equity, debt, and capital sponsors.
Everything is complicated, our contracts, our insurance, our compliance, and our renewals. Our previous broker just assumed that our program was in compliance, but Marc dug in and found places where we were overexposed and underexposed. He got us better rates and filled those gaps.
“Getting a better rate from our hundreds of contracts was a heavy lift. We could not have done it without Marc’s attention to detail, hard work and understanding of our comprehensive situation.”
Erin Yamada, Assistant Vice President, Marsh
A client of Erin Yamada’s was facing a very difficult property renewal. “We still have potential claims relating to 2016 storms that are in question,” said the company’s chief risk officer. “We believe these are covered claims, but the carriers are claiming that these are not due to multiple occurrences.”
Many carriers, including some that wouldn’t be affected if the claims were covered, had priced those claims into their premium, despite being unpaid.
“We have similar situations from 2017 and 2018 fires, where there may be claims but these have not been finalized,” the risk officer continued. “In addition, many of the carriers have also participated on our liability program that has experienced losses in recent years.
“This all required a great deal of sensitive negotiations, focusing carriers on relevant facts and taking emotion out of the pricing. Erin was a key member of the team that helped us to achieve a result that we are happy with.”
Yamada is an equally vital part of the team for her smaller clients.
“I am a one-person shop,” said the risk manager for a solar company. “Erin really stepped up for me this year, and I value that highly because my expertise is in project finance, not insurance.
“This was particularly important in 2018 because there was a constriction in the sector as a result of CAT losses. Erin dug into our program and demonstrated to the market that there were reasonable maximums on our losses. She also broke down our limits into tranches that the market was comfortable with.”