Brokerage

Venbrook Serves a Niche

Brokerage finds growth in the middle markets.
By: | June 1, 2017 • 2 min read

Jason Turner started working in insurance right out of college when, at 23, he took a job at a Farmers Insurance agency run by an acquaintance. As he learned the industry, he saw an untapped market — right in the middle.

Turner convinced his dad, who ran a small surety bond business, to partner with him and open a brokerage in Los Angeles focused on serving middle market businesses that were “buying insurance off the shelf.”

Jason Turner, CEO, Venbrook Group

“Those were interesting days because really neither one of us knew exactly what we were doing,” Turner said. “Failure was not an option, so it was keep going … keep going.”

Several years and a few acquisitions later, Turner formed Venbrook Group, LLC. Today it is one of the largest independent P&C brokerages in the U.S., with more than 150 employees working on 10,000-plus accounts.

Turner remains at the helm as Venbrook’s CEO. With seven offices around the country, Venbrook offers advice, risk management, risk transfer, risk control, and risk mitigation solutions to companies with revenue between $10 million and $1 billion.

“Our sweet spot is $10 million to $100 million in revenue,” Turner said.

Venbrook offers middle market buyers the same level of insurance and risk management services along with all the resources a publicly-traded Fortune 5000 client might get from a leading brokerage house, Turner said.

The company services a select group of industries, mainly real estate, transportation, financial services, construction and development.

Recently, Venbrook added a food manufacturer with an 18-month old claim denial. Venbrook gathered the account’s lead managing director on the P&C side, a loss control person, the claims manager and then brought in an attorney to review the claim.

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“Our team came together and said this loss should have been paid, we think it’s worth challenging,” Turner said. They prepared a strong response to the carrier who then agreed to pay the $1 million claim.

Turner believes Venbrook’s role is to act as a consultant, helping clients’ businesses prosper, helping navigate through contracts or releases, and even assisting with human resource issues or ERM issues.

“We don’t look at insurance as a transaction,” Turner said. “We look at it as a strategy that every client needs to incorporate into their business.”

In October, Venbrook raised $42 million from Madison Capital Funding, a subsidiary of New York Life. A portion of that funding was then used to acquire a New Jersey-based wholesaler, Brooks Insurance Group.

“I’m proud of our company and the people we have working with us,” Turner said. “I’m proud we are still an independently owned organization, that somewhat separates us from a lot of others.” &

Juliann Walsh is a staff writer at Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

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.

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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.

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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]