Rising Star RP Lopez on How Power Broker Recognition Has Changed His Approach to Clients and More
Come see the Stars! As part of our ongoing coverage of the best brokers in the commercial insurance space, Risk & Insurance®, with the sponsorship of Philadelphia Insurance, is expanding its coverage of the Rising Stars — those brokers who represent the next wave of insurance brokering talent.
Look for these expanded profiles on the Risk & Insurance website and in your social media feeds now and throughout 2023.
We spoke with RP Lopez, now serving as area vice president, national agribusiness practice with Gallagher and a 2023 Agriculture Power Broker.
Risk & Insurance: How did being recognized as a Power Broker by your clients change your practice?
RP Lopez: Being a Power Broker gives me more credibility when I am speaking to a group, especially when I am taking a placement to market. I was in a great spot before, and have learned a great deal at every stage of my career. My clients’ interest was leaning toward more data analytics, and I found a great fit with Gallagher.
R&I: Did you have to move?
RPL: I live in Lexington, Kentucky, and I did not have to move with the new job. I now report to the office in Louisville.
I’m originally from Lakeland, Florida. I attended Wingate University, where I earned a degree in business management and played football. I was a place kicker and punter, two positions that are only notable when you do something especially good or especially bad.
I studied business management because there are so many options, and I was good at sales. Insurance was never on my radar, but that was my first job out of school. I was an auto claims adjuster in Miami. I quickly realized that claims was not my passion. I moved over to the broker side, in retail for the first three years, then moved to business and large commercial lines.
R&I: Did you have any mentors early in your career?
RPL: As a new producer, the first thing you are asked to do is create a list of all your friends and acquaintances that could be prospects. In central Florida, citrus is king. There are also some feed mills, which is how I got into ag.
Mentors are important for many young brokers, and I had two, both at AssuredPartners. Kurt Netherton taught me what it takes to make it in this business, the motor you need to have to be successful. He and I were colleagues, working side by side.
The other was Rich Lonneman, who was executive vice president. He taught me about the property market, especially large layered and shared placements. He was a wealth of knowledge, recommending books to read and people to know. He took a very hands-on approach.
R&I: Do you now have any guidance for those just starting in the business?
RPL: Insurance is so broad; find a sector you are passionate about. The days of the generalist are gone. The big clients, the long-term clients, are looking for specialists, particularly to build their carrier marketing presentations.
Another essential skill is proper valuation for property. In most cases, my clients hire me as an outside risk manager. You can always find someone to place insurance, but many companies do not have an in-house risk manager. They have a CFO or general counsel who is wearing many hats. They don’t have someone who understands policy language, contractual terms or third-party risk transfer.
Our goal is for a client to be the most informed buyer. The most common mistake we see is improper valuations of buildings, property and total insured value, especially in large, complex placements. In many cases, insureds are not clear in determining income and extra expense. For example, lead times on equipment that used to be six months may now be two years. Expecting to be out of operation for six to nine months waiting on a replacement part or piece of equipment is not a true estimation anymore.
R&I: The other side of the placement is knowing markets. How do you approach that?
RPL: We are the guide and interpreter, especially when it comes to sublimits and exclusions. We tend to change from the carriers’ forms to manuscripted forms. We want forms to match clients’ needs, not carriers’ needs. There are a lot of brokers who handle insurance. We dive into the contracts. It’s far more than just the placement.
R&I: Please tell us about your life outside of work.
RPL: We keep it all in the family. My wife is an attorney in insurance defense. We have two boys, ages 7 and 6, and a daughter, age 3. The two boys are baseball players, and our 7-year-old’s team recently won the Kentucky state championship in the coach-pitch division, and they played summer all-stars. Our daughter just started gymnastics and dance.
I travel a good deal for work, which means lots of driving, because the airport is a disaster. We are also a big beach family — that means lots of driving, too. We like to go to Destin and Captiva [Island, on the Gulf Coast of Florida], and also St. Simons, [Georgia].
I play golf, and lately I’ve gotten into running. I’m training for a half-marathon, which is something I never thought I would be doing. I have a football body — 6 foot 2, 230 pounds — not a runner’s body. But I’ve really gotten into it. &