The 2019 Transportation Power Brokers

Maron Impagliazzo, ARM
Vice President
EPIC, San Mateo, Calif.

Maron Impagliazzo, Vice President, EPIC

Despite the legalization of recreational marijuana in California, growers and distributors have a hard time building their businesses, because few insurers want to take on their commercial auto exposure. The potential for theft combined with federal prohibition of cannabis makes transporting the goods a risk endeavor.

But Maron Impagliazzo and his team “don’t take ‘no’ for an answer,” said Scott Heirshberg, VP of Operations for cannabis distributor Rise Logistics.

“We are required to obtain a motor carrier permit and as such are required to find commercial auto insurance willing to do a filing with the state.”

Most underwriters balked, but Impagliazzo and his team “ended up finding us a policy through the Assigned Risk Pool. They held our hand through the application process, which was much more difficult than your typical auto policy, and were able to get a filing and by extension a permit.

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We are now among the first distributors in the state to receive one,” Heirshberg said.

When Barnett Transportation, a heavy-haul trucking company, wanted to purchase a construction company early in 2018, Impagliazzo made sure insurance didn’t stand in the way.

“He went over and above transferring the insurance from the old owner to us, and we couldn’t have done it without him,” said Nicole Barnett, VP and controller, who is also impressed with Impagliazzo’s deep knowledge of the transportation industry. “He accompanied me to a safety workshop to get a sense of the risks and how we approach them. He has an excellent understanding of our company and the industry in general.”

Jeff Maconaghy, ARM
Agency President
AssuredPartners, Warminster, Pa.

Jeff Maconaghy, Agency President, AssuredPartners

When his clients want to grow, Jeff Maconaghy helps to make room by reshaping insurance programs to create savings while maintaining coverage.

“Jeff has worked with our firm, as we have scaled our business to find solutions, providing us with exceptional coverage while managing our overall cost of risk,” said Matthew Bates, president, ENC Holdings.

“I have called on Jeff to provide acquisition due diligence with little advance notice and on tight deadlines. Identification of coverage gaps in acquired business has allowed us to avert uncovered losses.”

“He’s very good at what he does, and I’m very proud to be associated with him. Insurance is one of our largest controlled costs, and without the help of a good broker, our margins would be that much smaller,” said one trucking company president.

Another trucking company wanted to retain its deductible but reduce the collateral required. Maconaghy created a loss-pick alternative based on the company’s “empty” miles — when trucks carry no freight — that he used as a negotiating tool to bring the collateral down by 50 percent. This freed up millions of dollars in the company’s budget.

For another freight company, Maconaghy helped the organization identify third-party alternatives for managing safety and compliance, which made them into a more favorable risk in the eyes of underwriters. “He did think outside the box, and his team was able to add a lot of value,” the company president said. “They are a very special organization.”

Taylor Mitcham, AAI, ARM
Senior Account Executive
Aon, Little Rock, Ark.

Taylor Mitcham, Senior Account Executive, Aon

One provider of specialized freight transportation and environmental services has a risk profile that many insurers have little appetite for.

In 2018, the company’s incumbent carrier decided to leave the space, and right around renewal time, they took on a significant loss. The company’s risk manager turned to Aon to for help going to market to assemble a new program. Taylor Mitcham and his team had to go into full marketing mode, but secured a good outcome for the company.

When the company went through a large restructure, Mitcham was there to help guide them through, keeping them covered amid the change of control.

Mitcham’s industry relationships help him secure optimal outcomes for all his clients.

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“[Taylor and his team] have an endless amount of connections in the industry and know individuals to assist with every problem. On more than one occasion this year, I have requested introductions to individuals for issues expanding beyond insurance, and they always deliver. Their value far exceeds being our broker,” said Chase Welsh, EVP of risk management and general counsel for Celadon Trucking.

“I also go to them for recommendations for contacts outside of insurance but still in the transportation industry. They are an all-around great resource,” one risk manager said.

Liam Murphy
Managing Director
Aon, Fayetteville, Ark.

Liam Murphy, Managing Director, Aon

When Liam Murphy can’t find a solution that solves his clients’ problems, he creates one. Such was the case with FreightRover, which builds technology solutions for fleet management, motor carrier payment, supply chain financing and more. It also wanted to provide insurance for carrier fleets.

Murphy pulled in multiple markets to build a sponsored insurance program for drivers, charging premium based on driving behavior. By structuring the program as a risk retention group, he secured discounts that enabled FreightRover to offer competitive overage while also incenting safe driving.

“Liam was able to work across the various groups within Aon and externally to find the perfect partner for our need. He was then able to structure the product to fit perfectly within our rapidly growing solution,” said Eric Meek, CEO, FreightRover.

Chase Welsh, EVP of risk management and general counsel for Celadon Trucking, lauded Murphy’s persistence and creativity: “The team takes a mentality that there is a solution for every problem, and at times the problem requires a very creative solution. We have explored and utilized different insurance vehicles (e.g. captives, RRGs, etc.) and have traveled both domestically and internationally seeking additional capacity.”

Murphy’s clients also praised his availability: “Liam is the type of partner who will always pick up your call or quickly respond to an email request. If there are follow-up items needed, he is the first to take responsibility for circling back with the group,” Meek said.

Joseph Peiser
Executive Vice President
Willis Towers Watson, New York

Joseph Peiser, Executive Vice President, Willis Towers Watson

Between 2015 and 2018, one of Joseph Peiser’s railroad clients experienced several significant accidents. Though safety improvements were in the works, company leaders feared it was too little too late to mitigate big premium increases.

Peiser took a proactive approach, communicating benefits of new safety features and their anticipated impact on loss trends. He also orchestrated a competition among three lead markets, making them do the work of arriving at a competitive price.

By taking a higher deductible and leveraging the company’s captive to insure excess layers, Peiser kept the premium increase reasonable without sacrificing coverage. Peiser also brings his expertise to bear in helping clients manage claims.

For one life sciences company dealing with a complex batch claim, Peiser’s involvement lead to full recovery from insurers, even after a previous broker failed to make progress: “His understanding of life science exposures, risks and policy forms is unparalleled,” said the company’s director of risk management and insurance.

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“He also understands that he does not have every answer to every question; his skill lies in knowing exactly what resources we require to get the job done. He always follows through to make sure we get what we need.”

Another client said Peiser’s strongest quality as a broker is his integrity. “At my firm, one of our values is ‘do the right thing.’ Joe shares this value. He stood by commitments to our firm, even though it may not have been in the best interest of his brokerage.”

Sanju Rajan
Broker
Aon, Baltimore

Sanju Rajan, Broker, Aon

A poor loss history will make renewals challenging, but undergoing an operational restructure accompanied by budget cuts at the same time? Finding affordable coverage would seem all but impossible.

That’s the scenario Sanju Rajan faced with a client with a loss ratio above 360 percent for the policy term, pending claims and a restricted insurance budget to work with.

Rajan worked with the client to develop a stringent risk management strategy, maximizing available resources and marketing to carriers beyond the incumbents that were hesitant to renew. Rajan was able to retain full coverage limits with only nominal increases in rate — a result far better than the company expected.

“Although he does our property insurance, he has become familiar with our liability program and our cyber needs so that he can provide comprehensive advice and understand how all of our programs fit together — thus, he provided unique perspective during our meetings in the market,” said Jonathan Broder, VP, corporate development and chief legal officer for Rajan client Conrail.

Kevin Busath, VP, strategic planning for Iowa Pacific Holdings, said Rajan “held his hand” through a difficult transition period when Busath was thrust into a risk management and insurance role following the exit of a colleague.

“I asked a multitude of really, really basic questions, and Sanju was very good about setting up conference calls with various Aon people to give me a crash course in insurance policies and procedures.”

The complete list of 2019 Power Brokers® can be found here.

Finalists:

Mark Epperson
Executive Director
Aon, Franklin, Tenn.

Craig Parres
Area COO
Gallagher, St. Louis, Mo.

Parker Stough
Producer
Dwight Andrus Insurance, Lafayette, La.

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

Exclusive | Hank Greenberg on China Trade, Starr’s Rapid Growth and 100th, Spitzer, Schneiderman and More

In a robust and frank conversation, the insurance legend provides unique insights into global trade, his past battles and what the future holds for the industry and his company.
By: | October 12, 2018 • 12 min read

In 1960, Maurice “Hank” Greenberg was hired as a vice president of C.V. Starr & Co. At age 35, he had already accomplished a great deal.

He served his country as part of the Allied Forces that stormed the beaches at Normandy and liberated the Nazi death camps. He fought again during the Korean War, earning a Bronze Star. He held a law degree from New York Law School.

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Now he was ready to make his mark on the business world.

Even C.V. Starr himself — who hired Mr. Greenberg and later hand-picked him as the successor to the company he founded in Shanghai in 1919 — could not have imagined what a mark it would be.

Mr. Greenberg began to build AIG as a Starr subsidiary, then in 1969, he took it public. The company would, at its peak, achieve a market cap of some $180 billion and cement its place as the largest insurance and financial services company in history.

This month, Mr. Greenberg travels to China to celebrate the 100th anniversary of C.V. Starr & Co. That visit occurs at a prickly time in U.S.-Sino relations, as the Trump administration levies tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars in Chinese goods and China retaliates.

In September, Risk & Insurance® sat down with Mr. Greenberg in his Park Avenue office to hear his thoughts on the centennial of C.V. Starr, the dynamics of U.S. trade relationships with China and the future of the U.S. insurance industry as it faces the challenges of technology development and talent recruitment and retention, among many others. What follows is an edited transcript of that discussion.


R&I: One hundred years is quite an impressive milestone for any company. Celebrating the anniversary in China signifies the importance and longevity of that relationship. Can you tell us more about C.V. Starr’s history with China?

Hank Greenberg: We have a long history in China. I first went there in 1975. There was little there, but I had business throughout Asia, and I stopped there all the time. I’d stop there a couple of times a year and build relationships.

When I first started visiting China, there was only one state-owned insurance company there, PICC (the People’s Insurance Company of China); it was tiny at the time. We helped them to grow.

I also received the first foreign life insurance license in China, for AIA (The American International Assurance Co.). To date, there has been no other foreign life insurance company in China. It took me 20 years of hard work to get that license.

We also introduced an agency system in China. They had none. Their life company employees would get a salary whether they sold something or not. With the agency system of course you get paid a commission if you sell something. Once that agency system was installed, it went on to create more than a million jobs.

R&I: So Starr’s success has meant success for the Chinese insurance industry as well.

Hank Greenberg: That’s partly why we’re going to be celebrating that anniversary there next month. That celebration will occur alongside that of IBLAC (International Business Leaders’ Advisory Council), an international business advisory group that was put together when Zhu Rongji was the mayor of Shanghai [Zhu is since retired from public life]. He asked me to start that to attract foreign companies to invest in Shanghai.

“It turns out that it is harder [for China] to change, because they have one leader. My guess is that we’ll work it out sooner or later. Trump and Xi have to meet. That will result in some agreement that will get to them and they will have to finish the rest of the negotiations. I believe that will happen.” — Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, chairman and CEO, C.V. Starr & Co. Inc.

Shanghai and China in general were just coming out of the doldrums then; there was a lack of foreign investment. Zhu asked me to chair IBLAC and to help get it started, which I did. I served as chairman of that group for a couple of terms. I am still a part of that board, and it will be celebrating its 30th anniversary along with our 100th anniversary.

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We have a good relationship with China, and we’re candid as you can tell from the op-ed I published in the Wall Street Journal. I’m told that my op-ed was received quite well in China, by both Chinese companies and foreign companies doing business there.

On August 29, Mr. Greenberg published an opinion piece in the WSJ reminding Chinese leaders of the productive history of U.S.-Sino relations and suggesting that Chinese leaders take pragmatic steps to ease trade tensions with the U.S.

R&I: What’s your outlook on current trade relations between the U.S. and China?

Hank Greenberg: As to the current environment, when you are in negotiations, every leader negotiates differently.

President Trump is negotiating based on his well-known approach. What’s different now is that President Xi (Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China) made himself the emperor. All the past presidents in China before the revolution had two terms. He’s there for life, which makes things much more difficult.

R&I: Sure does. You’ve got a one- or two-term president talking to somebody who can wait it out. It’s definitely unique.

Hank Greenberg: So, clearly a lot of change is going on in China. Some of it is good. But as I said in the op-ed, China needs to be treated like the second largest economy in the world, which it is. And it will be the number one economy in the world in not too many years. That means that you can’t use the same terms of trade that you did 25 or 30 years ago.

They want to have access to our market and other markets. Fine, but you have to have reciprocity, and they have not been very good at that.

R&I: What stands in the way of that happening?

Hank Greenberg: I think there are several substantial challenges. One, their structure makes it very difficult. They have a senior official, a regulator, who runs a division within the government for insurance. He keeps that job as long as he does what leadership wants him to do. He may not be sure what they want him to do.

For example, the president made a speech many months ago saying they are going to open up banking, insurance and a couple of additional sectors to foreign investment; nothing happened.

The reason was that the head of that division got changed. A new administrator came in who was not sure what the president wanted so he did nothing. Time went on and the international community said, “Wait a minute, you promised that you were going to do that and you didn’t do that.”

So the structure is such that it is very difficult. China can’t react as fast as it should. That will change, but it is going to take time.

R&I: That’s interesting, because during the financial crisis in 2008 there was talk that China, given their more centralized authority, could react more quickly, not less quickly.

Hank Greenberg: It turns out that it is harder to change, because they have one leader. My guess is that we’ll work it out sooner or later. Trump and Xi have to meet. That will result in some agreement that will get to them and they will have to finish the rest of the negotiations. I believe that will happen.

R&I: Obviously, you have a very unique perspective and experience in China. For American companies coming to China, what are some of the current challenges?

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Hank Greenberg: Well, they very much want to do business in China. That’s due to the sheer size of the country, at 1.4 billion people. It’s a very big market and not just for insurance companies. It’s a whole range of companies that would like to have access to China as easily as Chinese companies have access to the United States. As I said previously, that has to be resolved.

It’s not going to be easy, because China has a history of not being treated well by other countries. The U.S. has been pretty good in that way. We haven’t taken advantage of China.

R&I: Your op-ed was very enlightening on that topic.

Hank Greenberg: President Xi wants to rebuild the “middle kingdom,” to what China was, a great country. Part of that was his takeover of the South China Sea rock islands during the Obama Administration; we did nothing. It’s a little late now to try and do something. They promised they would never militarize those islands. Then they did. That’s a real problem in Southern Asia. The other countries in that region are not happy about that.

R&I: One thing that has differentiated your company is that it is not a public company, and it is not a mutual company. We think you’re the only large insurance company with that structure at that scale. What advantages does that give you?

Hank Greenberg: Two things. First of all, we’re more than an insurance company. We have the traditional investment unit with the insurance company. Then we have a separate investment unit that we started, which is very successful. So we have a source of income that is diverse. We don’t have to underwrite business that is going to lose a lot of money. Not knowingly anyway.

R&I: And that’s because you are a private company?

Hank Greenberg: Yes. We attract a different type of person in a private company.

R&I: Do you think that enables you to react more quickly?

Hank Greenberg: Absolutely. When we left AIG there were three of us. Myself, Howie Smith and Ed Matthews. Howie used to run the internal financials and Ed Matthews was the investment guy coming out of Morgan Stanley when I was putting AIG together. We started with three people and now we have 3,500 and growing.

“I think technology can play a role in reducing operating expenses. In the last 70 years, you have seen the expense ratio of the industry rise, and I’m not sure the industry can afford a 35 percent expense ratio. But while technology can help, some additional fundamental changes will also be required.” — Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, chairman and CEO, C.V. Starr & Co. Inc.

R&I:  You being forced to leave AIG in 2005 really was an injustice, by the way. AIG wouldn’t have been in the position it was in 2008 if you had still been there.

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Hank Greenberg: Absolutely not. We had all the right things in place. We met with the financial services division once a day every day to make sure they stuck to what they were supposed to do. Even Hank Paulson, the Secretary of Treasury, sat on the stand during my trial and said that if I’d been at the company, it would not have imploded the way it did.

R&I: And that fateful decision the AIG board made really affected the course of the country.

Hank Greenberg: So many people lost all of their net worth. The new management was taking on billions of dollars’ worth of risk with no collateral. They had decimated the internal risk management controls. And the government takeover of the company when the financial crisis blew up was grossly unfair.

From the time it went public, AIG’s value had increased from $300 million to $180 billion. Thanks to Eliot Spitzer, it’s now worth a fraction of that. His was a gross misuse of the Martin Act. It gives the Attorney General the power to investigate without probable cause and bring fraud charges without having to prove intent. Only in New York does the law grant the AG that much power.

R&I: It’s especially frustrating when you consider the quality of his own character, and the scandal he was involved in.

In early 2008, Spitzer was caught on a federal wiretap arranging a meeting with a prostitute at a Washington Hotel and resigned shortly thereafter.

Hank Greenberg: Yes. And it’s been successive. Look at Eric Schneiderman. He resigned earlier this year when it came out that he had abused several women. And this was after he came out so strongly against other men accused of the same thing. To me it demonstrates hypocrisy and abuse of power.

Schneiderman followed in Spitzer’s footsteps in leveraging the Martin Act against numerous corporations to generate multi-billion dollar settlements.

R&I: Starr, however, continues to thrive. You said you’re at 3,500 people and still growing. As you continue to expand, how do you deal with the challenge of attracting talent?

Hank Greenberg: We did something last week.

On September 16th, St. John’s University announced the largest gift in its 148-year history. The Starr Foundation donated $15 million to the school, establishing the Maurice R. Greenberg Leadership Initiative at St. John’s School of Risk Management, Insurance and Actuarial Science.

Hank Greenberg: We have recruited from St. John’s for many, many years. These are young people who want to be in the insurance industry. They don’t get into it by accident. They study to become proficient in this and we have recruited some very qualified individuals from that school. But we also recruit from many other universities. On the investment side, outside of the insurance industry, we also recruit from Wall Street.

R&I: We’re very interested in how you and other leaders in this industry view technology and how they’re going to use it.

Hank Greenberg: I think technology can play a role in reducing operating expenses. In the last 70 years, you have seen the expense ratio of the industry rise, and I’m not sure the industry can afford a 35 percent expense ratio. But while technology can help, some additional fundamental changes will also be required.

R&I: So as the pre-eminent leader of the insurance industry, what do you see in terms of where insurance is now and where it’s going?

Hank Greenberg: The country and the world will always need insurance. That doesn’t mean that what we have today is what we’re going to have 25 years from now.

How quickly the change comes and how far it will go will depend on individual companies and individual countries. Some will be more brave than others. But change will take place, there is no doubt about it.

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More will go on in space, there is no question about that. We’re involved in it right now as an insurance company, and it will get broader.

One of the things you have to worry about is it’s now a nuclear world. It’s a more dangerous world. And again, we have to find some way to deal with that.

So, change is inevitable. You need people who can deal with change.

R&I:  Is there anything else, Mr. Greenberg, you want to comment on?

Hank Greenberg: I think I’ve covered it. &

The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]