Rising Star Todd Burack Shares Why He’s Excited about the Progress Within the Renewable Energy Sector
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 continuing into 2023.
Here’s our conversation with Todd Burack, vice president, McGriff Insurance Services and a 2022 Renewable Energy Power Broker winner and Rising Star.
Risk & Insurance: Can you tell us how you got started in the insurance industry? Have you always worked in the energy sector?
Todd Burack: I was introduced to the insurance space via an internship on the brokerage side specific to power generation and energy, which was a natural segue from my academic background in oil and gas. I benefitted from strong mentorship early on, which was later the catalyst behind taking a second internship at the same firm before joining full time in the same specialty group.
From day one, the focus has always been on conventional and renewable power-gen within a team that really valued technical expertise. I quickly learned that within the growing field of renewables, there was a clear difference between tenure and experience across the industry, with the rapid rate in which the renewable sector developed being a great equalizer against some of the industry’s more tenured professionals.
My aim then was to continue growing my own knowledge base across each phase of a power asset’s life cycle to leverage that point, and I still take pride in having that be a core facet of my approach.
R&I: You had mentioned in your Power Broker application that the renewable marketplace has demanded a brokering style that transcends transactional brokering. Can you expand on this? What is your brokering style?
TB: Ultimately, the renewable marketplace changes too quickly for dialogues to be anything less than completely transparent.
With that in mind, I try to structure my approach to ensure that each party in the deal — be it insurers, insureds, financiers, financier consultants, etc. — are acutely aware of the goals and challenges that each other party is conscious of.
For the last three to four years, I’ve found that renewable placements really require two broking efforts — one that tracks into the insurance marketplace, and one that tracks into project finance (financiers, financier consultants). Each effort builds upon the other, and my aim towards transparency works to promote a path where insurance is seen as a tool — rather than a hurdle — to cross each party’s respective finish line.
R&I: What are the biggest changes that the energy sector is facing and how will that affect the overall insurance industry for that market?
TB: I will distill it down into a topic that is certainly near and dear to my heart: the marrying of high-quality renewable insureds/technologies with insurers in high hazard natural catastrophe (Nat CAT) exposed areas.
As the renewable sector’s growth continues to progress, most sponsors are looking to develop wind/solar PV/BESS projects on land that is classified as more challenging from the perspective of Nat CAT insurability.
Be it good energy resource, easy access to interconnection, flexibility in licensing/permitting, or even just cheap land, renewable portfolios continue to see development in geographies that test insurers’ comfort.
Couple this approach with insurers who are actively decreasing their Nat CAT exposures and compound it with the pain of the 1/1 Nat CAT reinsurance marketplace, and what you are left with is an opportunity to create a competitive advantage for developers who are capable of differentiating their risk profile from the peer group.
R&I: How do you stay abreast of the evolving issues facing the energy sector? What proactive measures do you take to stay ‘in the know’ for your clients?
TB: Alongside the usual suite of podcasts and white papers that produce good content across OEMs, EPCs, O&Ms, etc., a critical element of ensuring that our clients stay ahead of the curve is the constant flow of communication with our major trading partners.
Each facet of power-gen insurance is built upon the relationship aspect that is so often thrown around the industry, but I find that renewables really underpins this theme given how quickly the market has and continues to develop.
Engaging in frequent dialogues with markets, listening to their challenges, and then collaborating on a solution set certainly isn’t rocket science; however, it is a necessity to ensure that the same developers have a stable set of insurer-partners who match their appetite for growth. &