The 2019 Technology Power Brokers
Larry Bowlus, Senior Vice President, Aon
Professional liability insurance veteran Larry Bowlus is a broker his clients have come to rely on. His positive traits are numerous, but they include the fact he is a great listener who is also skilled at communicating with various internal constituents.
“I didn’t have an insurance background coming into the job. It was more thrust upon me,” said one executive in charge of a global risk management program.
“So I really need to rely on our partners and brokers. As long as I am in charge of insurance at this company, nobody else will even get a chance to look at the coverage because I can’t imagine it being close to what [Bowlus and his associates] bring to the table,” he said.
“When I think of Larry in terms of customer service, three things come to mind: highly knowledgeable, very responsive and customer oriented. He is role modelling all three, and if things, for some reason, do not work out, he proactively addresses the issue immediately,” said another risk management professional with a Fortune 500 technology firm.
For global biotech firm Amgen, Bowlus and his team, over the past 12 months, completed a very successful D&O renewal in a hardening life sciences market with a new risk management team in place. Capacity was expanded to include the London market, and coverage was broadened.
For an aluminum manufacturer, Bowlus successfully put together D&O coverage after the first excess insurer bowed out at the last minute, throwing a wrench into the works.
Payal Chahal, Vice President, Aon
Autonomous vehicles are intriguing, but placing insurance coverage for the companies that manufacture them is tricky.
Aon’s Payal Chahal was able to shepherd an autonomous vehicle startup through the whole process; no easy task.
For one, there is very little loss history for underwriters to go on. Chahal had numerous meetings with senior management at Travelers to drive home the point that autonomous vehicles are a safer alternative than vehicles driven by humans.
The risk manager for the startup praised Chahal for her responsiveness and her flexibility in negotiating each twist and turn in the underwriting process. As the startup continues to grow, Chahal is working to develop product liability coverage that will address both cyber security and more traditional product liability exposures.
The risk manager for another technology company praised Chahal for her ability to keep pace with her rapidly growing company: “We have been growing really fast and she has been able to keep up with our growth and recommending higher limits, so that has been helpful.”
This risk manager does not give praise easily, and on scales of one to 10, she just does not give out 10s. But the hardworking Chahal did earn a “9” in the area of customer service.
“For me, client service means having a thorough knowledge of the industry and being able to help customers make informed decisions,” Chahal wrote in her Power Broker® application.
Lauren Cisco, Senior Vice President, Marsh
Marsh’s Lauren Cisco gets top grades from top-flight organizations: The University of California, Dell Technologies and Symantec Corp.
“I’m not looking for someone to place my insurance, I’m looking for an expert,” said Julie Young, director, business risk management and insurance for Dell Technologies.
“I need to be educated enough to understand my coverage and how it will respond … there’s so much going on in that space [in this case, cyber coverage].
“It’s typical for tech companies to have small risk management departments,” she added. “We’re a two-person department; we really do rely on our partners to be an extension of our department,” she said.
For Dell, Cisco was a partner and then some. Dell is a complex organization with a complex cyber and errors and omissions insurance program.
In 2018, the company needed to evolve coverage to match expanded risk, deviations in market appetite and cost increases in the large technology sector.
Cisco and her colleagues were able to patch a program that saw tens of millions in capacity that needed to be replaced. Her work resulted in expanded cover throughout the program, maintaining all but three incumbent insurers and forging relationships with four new carriers.
“I don’t like to waste time,” Young continued. “Lauren came on and was very personable, she knows the markets and she managed the timeline expertly. I thought I was organized, but she takes it to the next level.”
Frannie Epps, Senior Vice President, Marsh
Frannie Epps and her teammates at Marsh pride themselves on how well they communicate the risk profiles of their clients to the market. She describes her team’s mantra as, “We know this client, we know this space, you know us.” Pretty effective if you can pull it off, and according to Epps’ clients, she can.
The challenge for Epps in the past year was managing a very large acquisition that brought significant exposures into her client’s existing casualty program.
Karen Sullivan, Senior Vice President, Aon
According to her clients, Aon’s Karen Sullivan is as dedicated as they come, seamlessly becoming a part of the risk management teams of the companies she services.
“Karen goes above and beyond what your average property broker would do,” said one admiring risk management director, who is employed by a Fortune 500 global technology company.
This risk manager said Sullivan partners with her to take deep dives into the business interruption exposures of several of her business units. The forensics involved are extremely time consuming.
Sullivan provided the same exhaustive service to another client who was struggling with identifying and quantifying business continuity loss estimates.
It’s not only in business interruption and business continuity exposures where Sullivan proves her mettle. One of her clients possessed substantial supply chain dependencies but had never quantified the risk. Some of the locations involved were exposed to critical natural disaster risk.
Sullivan was able to corral Aon’s data strength and consult with her firm’s supply chain experts. The result: She and her team were able to calculate maximum foreseeable loss exposures for each of the key supplier locations. Then she went to work developing the client’s story for the markets.
What did she end up with? How about the provision of the full limits asked for, halving of the deductible and a cost savings on the whole deal.
Cristina Varner, Senior Vice President, ABD Insurance and Financial Services
Cristina Varner’s dedication to her clients and her knowledge of their business is so deep that clients trust her to expertly tell their story to underwriters.
“Cristina can speak on my behalf all day, every day,” said a risk manager for a company in the pharmaceutical business.
This particular client’s relationship with its distribution and marketing partners is very complex. The structure demands the risk manager and the broker spend a lot of time on the phone with underwriters.
“Trying to explain our contractual obligations and the types of Fortune 100 partners we have can get very complicated to an insurer,” said the risk manager.
“They get knee deep into understanding the business that we do, where we are exposed and understanding the difference between the inherent risk in a pharmaceutical product versus the risk that can be controlled,” the risk manager said.
Another client said she has worked with Varner for five years with two different companies and has come to depend on her.
“In our annual review process, she goes the extra mile in trying to make sure we have the best options available as well as giving us really sound advice in terms of the pros and cons of each option,” this risk manager said.
For yet another pharma company, Varner went to bat with the London markets and right-sized a program with much better terms and conditions: a big win for her and the client.