Rising Star Gerald Stoll Shares His Journey to Becoming a Health Care Insurance Broker
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Risk & Insurance: What was your biggest win as a health care broker in the past year?
Gerald Stoll: In my mind, I have two answers. One win that I’m personally very proud of is that, as of a few weeks ago, HUB Northeast asked me to take the position of CEO of the senior care division.
So that for me was a big win in my head. But as far as winning an account, I think the story that was written about in this past year’s Power Broker was a tremendous win in my mind.
The story, in short, was that we had a client — which at the time was not yet a client — that owned facilities in Tennessee. It was with a well-established broker that specializes in the state. Tennessee, in fairness, is a very tough venue, litigation there has skyrocketed, and the client was looking at premium bids that had tripled. I think it was a $300,000 or $400,000 increase.
So they called me two days before the renewal and asked if I would be able to step in and help. And I was able to uncover markets that they could not access; I was able to negotiate the premium and deliver. I think it was a $200,000 or $300,000 savings off of what they were being forced to buy.
So to me, that was a tremendous win, because we were able to sell the value of being able to explain the risks to an underwriter, to a market that they had not approached.
We were down to the wire, and within two days, we were able to sell the story, present our clients as best-in-class insured.
R&I: What do you think the most pressing issue for your clients will be for the remainder of 2021 and into 2022?
GS: Without a doubt, it’s stopping the nursing shortage crisis in America. As minimum wage increases across the country in certain states, the certified nurse assistants, referred to as a CNA, are making minimum wage at this point.
And it’s a lot easier and simpler to work another minimum wage job as opposed to having a more difficult job as a CNA.
I do believe that for a lot of the CNAs the reason they’re in the industry is because they care for patients. They want to do something that is fulfilling, at the end of the day; they want to have a direct impact on the quality of care of these seniors’ lives.
For a lot of the CNAs, this job is something they go home from at night knowing they’ve done something to help better the lives of the residents they work with.
But from a financial perspective, it’s not necessarily the most rewarding job. And as America comes across a nursing shortage in general, it’s going to be the greatest challenge that theses facilities are going to face, in my opinion.
R&I: How did you get your start as an insurance broker?
GS: I got my MBA, and when you’re there, school is really simple, you go from one class to the next. But once you graduate, it hits you like a brick wall: “Okay, now what?” And I thought, “Okay, let me go sell insurance.”
If I would’ve known what I was getting myself into, there is no way I would have signed up for this, but thank God I didn’t, because now that I’ve done it and put in the time and effort, I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. It is the most fun, most rewarding, best job anyone could possibly have.
R&I: What have you accomplished in your career that you are proudest of?
GS: I’ve been able to help the owners and operators of senior care facilities, better the lives of the residents who they work with. To me, you can’t even describe it in words, the fulfillment you get knowing you’ve helped them. It’s statistically shown that residents who are happier live longer.
So not only are you enabling seniors to have a happier life, they’re having a happier, longer life. By doing the right thing, working hand in hand with the facilities to enable them to do the right thing, is truly rewarding.
I think part of the advantage that I have working with over a thousand facilities across the country is that I’m able to bring a purview even some of the larger operators don’t have.
We’re able to discuss best practices from a perspective that they might not necessarily have thought of. And to be able to do that on such a broad level, across so many states and so many geographic areas, to help so many different people is the best part of my job.
Of course, there was COVID. The whole world took a pause. Everybody was home, locked up in lockdown. But not my world. My clients were in the field working through it all. There was never downtime.
I could have sat back and said, “Hey, let’s wait till the next insurance renewal, this is nothing insurance related.” But I didn’t, because we’re in this together. We’re doing it for the betterment of the residents, to better our facilities, to be best in class. My day went from insurance brokering to helping my facilities find PPE.
Everybody knows senior care facilities were the most dangerous places, because they’re where the residents with comorbidities are, they are the most susceptible to disease. Everybody’s in a close environment. The facility has to do everything within its power to mitigate the risk of spreading.
I was on the phone with various politicians from various states pleading the case of the facilities on their behalf, asking for supplies to be sent to our clients.
Ford Motor Company was able to get face shields for some of our clients. Any avenue that we could find, we were working. Anyone who would have access to gloves, whether it was construction companies that might have masks or what have you, we were working the phones to find those supplies for the staff and to make sure that the residents were safe.
R&I: Who has been a mentor to you in your career? What advice did they give that stuck with you?
GS: If I have to choose the one person who I would see as my mentor it would be Michael Zeldes.
Michael Zeldes is one of the top insurance brokers in the country. Michael has a niche in the real estate sector, which is completely different from mine — I’ve worked in health care — but yet I still call Michael for advice. I’m still in touch with him. He’s a superstar.
And I really, truly credit him, because if it wouldn’t have been for Michael, I wouldn’t be in this industry today.
Ultimately, the job of a broker is to provide value for clients. And it’s not just about placing coverage. We all place coverage. We all try to get the best pricing.
But what separates the top brokers from some of the others is that value add. Going that extra step, providing that extra value and being their partner, not being a vendor to their industry. &