Risk Insider: Bob Black

Seven Tips for Optimizing Property Placements

By: | August 14, 2014 • 2 min read

Bob Black is executive vice president - property at AmWINS Brokerage of Georgia. He is responsible for the placement of large catastrophe-exposed or loss-distressed property accounts and inland marine exposures. He can be reached at [email protected]

Property capacity is abundant for commercial and residential real estate placements. Existing carriers often offer to bolster their capacity, while new carriers enter the marketplace and aggressively compete for business. The response from carriers: Reduced pricing and broadened coverage.

Here are seven tips for risk managers to help navigate a softening marketplace while securing optimal coverage for your placement:

Avoid Complacency: Partner with a retailer who has full market access and market clout, both directly and through your retailers’ wholesale intermediary.

Require a detailed marketing summary from your retailer, inclusive of all carrier responses, and here’s why: This approach generates favorable results for your placement. It also minimizes the chance of being blindsided by other risk managers utilizing markets your program does not utilize or offering more robust coverage than your program includes.

Improve and Streamline Coverage: Request deductible and sublimit improvements, broaden the manuscript form and ensure concurrency within the program. The improvements that are secured may prove to be more valuable than any rate relief that is achieved.

In numerous instances lately, we have seen success with reducing named storm deductibles, thereby providing insureds with balance sheet protection in the event of a future loss.

Reshuffle the Deck: Many carriers impose limitations on the rate decrease they will authorize for an expiring layer, despite a marketplace that may support a larger reduction.

The solution? Focus carriers on a “new” layer to ensure there’s no expiring layer price used for baseline purposes.

Maintain a Diverse Carrier Mix:   Sure, your retailer can reduce the number of carriers needed to complete a placement in a softening market; however, they should resist the temptation when possible.

This strategy is both defensive and offensive. Your organization will be less dependent on any one carrier and will be well-positioned when the market tightens.

Facilitate Lasting Underwriter Relationships:   For larger layered placements, ask your retailer to schedule face-to-face underwriter meetings.

This approach allows you to showcase your organization to the marketplace, differentiating your business from the vast majority of insureds that do not capitalize on this opportunity.

Risk managers that invest in this important step will realize a more favorable renewal result when the marketplace hardens or after a meaningful loss.

Reap the Rewards of a Detailed, Accurate and Timely Submission: Your retailer can best market your account with a detailed and accurate submission.

Underwriters will aggressively price an account or provide broader coverage when uncertainty is removed or minimized. Also provide your retailer with as much lead time as possible, positioning them for marketing success.

Things to include in your submission: detailed SOVs (inclusive of roof replacement age and other secondary data for wind and hail-exposed accounts), updated loss summaries, mapping or pivot tables to show aggregations, coverage specifications, manuscript form, RMS modeling results and target layering/pricing.

4 Companies That Rocked It by Treating Injured Workers as Equals; Not Adversaries

The 2018 Teddy Award winners built their programs around people, not claims, and offer proof that a worker-centric approach is a smarter way to operate.
By: | October 30, 2018 • 3 min read

Across the workers’ compensation industry, the concept of a worker advocacy model has been around for a while, but has only seen notable adoption in recent years.

Even among those not adopting a formal advocacy approach, mindsets are shifting. Formerly claims-centric programs are becoming worker-centric and it’s a win all around: better outcomes; greater productivity; safer, healthier employees and a stronger bottom line.


That’s what you’ll see in this month’s issue of Risk & Insurance® when you read the profiles of the four recipients of the 2018 Theodore Roosevelt Workers’ Compensation and Disability Management Award, sponsored by PMA Companies. These four programs put workers front and center in everything they do.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top,” said Steve Legg, director of risk management for Starbucks.

Starbucks put claims reporting in the hands of its partners, an exemplary act of trust. The coffee company also put itself in workers’ shoes to identify and remove points of friction.

That led to a call center run by Starbucks’ TPA and a dedicated telephonic case management team so that partners can speak to a live person without the frustration of ‘phone tag’ and unanswered questions.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top.” — Steve Legg, director of risk management, Starbucks

Starbucks also implemented direct deposit for lost-time pay, eliminating stressful wait times for injured partners, and allowing them to focus on healing.

For Starbucks, as for all of the 2018 Teddy Award winners, the approach is netting measurable results. With higher partner satisfaction, it has seen a 50 percent decrease in litigation.

Teddy winner Main Line Health (MLH) adopted worker advocacy in a way that goes far beyond claims.

Employees who identify and report safety hazards can take credit for their actions by sending out a formal “Employee Safety Message” to nearly 11,000 mailboxes across the organization.

“The recognition is pretty cool,” said Steve Besack, system director, claims management and workers’ compensation for the health system.

MLH also takes a non-adversarial approach to workers with repeat injuries, seeing them as a resource for identifying areas of improvement.

“When you look at ‘repeat offenders’ in an unconventional way, they’re a great asset to the program, not a liability,” said Mike Miller, manager, workers’ compensation and employee safety for MLH.

Teddy winner Monmouth County, N.J. utilizes high-tech motion capture technology to reduce the chance of placing new hires in jobs that are likely to hurt them.

Monmouth County also adopted numerous wellness initiatives that help workers manage their weight and improve their wellbeing overall.

“You should see the looks on their faces when their cholesterol is down, they’ve lost weight and their blood sugar is better. We’ve had people lose 30 and 40 pounds,” said William McGuane, the county’s manager of benefits and workers’ compensation.


Do these sound like minor program elements? The math says otherwise: Claims severity has plunged from $5.5 million in 2009 to $1.3 million in 2017.

At the University of Pennsylvania, putting workers first means getting out from behind the desk and finding out what each one of them is tasked with, day in, day out — and looking for ways to make each of those tasks safer.

Regular observations across the sprawling campus have resulted in a phenomenal number of process and equipment changes that seem simple on their own, but in combination have created a substantially safer, healthier campus and improved employee morale.

UPenn’s workers’ comp costs, in the seven-digit figures in 2009, have been virtually cut in half.

Risk & Insurance® is proud to honor the work of these four organizations. We hope their stories inspire other organizations to be true partners with the employees they depend on. &

Michelle Kerr is associate editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]