Knowing It Cold
Many brokers win their stripes working tirelessly on complex programs or revising placements for fast-growing companies. Anne Corona’s testimonials stood out because one client praised how the Aon senior managing director kept everything simple, quick and easy. The client lauded her ability to recalibrate their program to reflect the fast-changing realities of the tech sector: suddenly a company’s fast growth stalls and it must reconfigure itself.
“Anne did an outstanding job of knowing what we needed and did not need,” said the client’s chief corporate counsel.
“She recognized the pragmatic realities of our needs. At the end of the day, we are simply not that complicated a business from an insurance perspective and our bandwidth for these issues is fairly low. A big part of the reason why we took the business from the incumbent and gave it to Anne’s team is because she really heard us when we said, ‘We don’t want to spend much time on this — once you earn our trust, we will let you run with this.’ Anne knew our business cold.”
Another client testified to another simple but important aspect of brokerage: claims. “We had several large claims pending and Anne got resolution for us,” said the deputy general counsel for that firm.
“She just kept after the claim, which was from a few years back.”
The counsel added that Corona managed all the tower’s carrier relationships well.
He Knows Everybody
More than a few brokers win their laurels as passionate advocates for small and mid-sized clients, patiently explaining their clients’ risks to seemingly indifferent underwriters. At the other end of the spectrum there are the brokers for the largest companies, who must construct vast complex towers of multiple layers and myriad underwriters.
“We have a ridiculous number of carriers,” said the director of risk management for one global tech company.
“There are something like 40 of them, all of which have to be quoted, all of which have to be slotted in.” That would be enough of a challenge, but in 2015 the firm sought to double the limits of its errors and omissions cyber coverage.
As big as the company already was in the market, that sort of increase essentially meant reassembling the tower as the new demands on capacity could not simply be allocated on a pro-rata basis. There was an additional complication as new government regulations meant a change in customer protections. That resulted in changes to the nature of the client’s exposure.
“Chris knows everyone. We trusted him on his recommendations about what markets we could go to for how much. There was enormous pressure on him. But he knows our business. We were able to renew the program as expiring, and with premiums flat.”
For other clients that were not so massive, Keegan was able to model ideal coverage.
Ironing Out Cyber
On the web, no one knows how big a company is, or is not. One of Rieth’s clients is a small firm that has some of the largest household names in technology for customers.
“We were getting a lot of pushback from our customers on our breach coverage,” said the general counsel.
“They asked us to get a lot smarter on cyber, and so we asked Brent to revamp all of our forms and documents.”
Having started down that road, the counsel said company executives quickly got on board.
“Now when we get in to see larger customers, we present our cyber agreements. That has allowed us to be much more competitive. We put a lot more thought and effort into cyber, and so did Brent, and it is really paying dividends.”
In addition to helping clients win new business, Rieth was lauded for helping a client handle a big claim and a renewal at the same time.
“The claim did not sit squarely within the four corners of the policy,” said the vice president of the client. That is becoming a common problem in the tech sector as standard business practices can be at odds with the way carriers would like to see things done.
“It could have ballooned into a big coverage dispute. But with all of Brent’s relationships and negotiating skills he was able to get a phenomenal result on the claim and land a great renewal at the same time. We were able to maintain a good relationship between us and the carrier.”
Cyber Risk Stopper
For big businesses, cyber risk can mean huge potential exposures, into the hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars. For mid-sized businesses the exposure is the same, but that scale of loss poses an existential threat.
That’s why the services of Doug Jones have been so crucial to his clients.
“Our business exposure, the industry as a whole and specifically cyber security liability is at an all-time high,” said the senior vice president of one of Jones’ clients.
“The protection of our clients’ data is critical for us and the mitigation of risk related to a potential breach could make the difference in our future corporate existence.”
The SVP continued, “Doug took the time to review, update and know our business to build a program for us. Specifically, he has identified, acquired and negotiated the components of our liability insurance program to protect us from the cost of potential data breaches.”
In this case the client wanted the cyber coverage to be a service it could offer to its clients, so Jones designed a warranty program to complement coverage that his client’s customers already had.
As is often stated in regard to cyber risk, the weak links are rarely the systems or even the risk management, but the people. The chief administrative officer for another client stressed how Jones addressed that element.
“This was a very exciting year for us,” said the insurance and risk manager for one of Rachel Lavender’s clients. What that meant, of course, was a very challenging year for the broker. That was especially true considering it was her sophomore year on the account. In this case the client hardly had to ask.
“For this year’s renewal, Rachel sought new approaches and resolved problems,” said the insurance and risk manager.
“Specifically that included an issue relating to prior-acts coverage for an acquisition. She also got clarification as to very specific coverage details related to services provided by our company. She assisted our company to keep premiums in line with the outlook and she was realistic when assisting in budget preparations.”
This was also an exciting year for another client. Literally two separate clients used that very expression. In this case the client company completed a merger.
“Our company is in a very competitive environment and there were a lot of unknowns going into this combination,” said the corporate risk manager.
Part of the challenge was that the client was a government contractor, which means it had to maintain specific levels of coverage with explicit terms and conditions while the merger was being executed.
“So I am sure it was fun for Rachel,” the client said.
Flexibility and Innovation
Aon’s Stephen Schluter was able to consolidate several trade credit programs that covered significant accounts-receivable risk for one admiring client.
Previously, the program was scattered among several brokers and carriers. Subsidiaries purchased coverage directly, without direct control from corporate risk management.
As might be anticipated, some divisions were eager to offload this burden, while others sought to retain their autonomy and any customization built into their individual programs. Another significant complication was the wide variation in renewal dates. Once internal consensus had been reached, it was a whole other campaign to normalize and coordinate the timing of the new coverage.
“Overall,” the risk manager said, “we saved a significant amount of premium and developed an accordion-type of program that could become bigger or smaller depending on the needs of participating subsidiaries and affiliated companies. Steve made a considerable personal contribution to this effort to sell this new program to a market in a way that they could understand our businesses and what protections we are trying to achieve.”
That theme of flexibility, applicability and innovation was echoed by another client.
“Stephen and his team of specialists helped us navigate the insurance market across various lines of insurance as our business evolved with new funds, technologies, spin-outs, and the physical expansion of our laboratory,” the client said.