The Nonprofits’ Champion
California workers’ comp is never easy but nonprofits have it tougher than most. Arthur J. Gallagher’s Tim DePriest has the expertise that nonprofits turn to for help.
One large nonprofit’s workers’ comp coverage was in a single-entity captive and a retrospective rating plan. When DePriest came on board, he and his team conducted a loss forecasting analysis that evaluated the projected claims costs and collateral requirements.
He was able to negotiate a close-out agreement for three years of retrospectively rated policies, eliminating the need for the organization to carry a reserve on its balance sheet.
“He’s just great at thinking strategically, and at setting expectations and putting it in lay terms,” said the client. “He’s always been able to communicate in such a way that I felt I was able to walk away, not as an expert, but as understanding what an expert was telling me.”
Another large nonprofit with an exceptionally high risk profile saw its workers’ comp premiums increase by 100 percent and was braced for more. DePriest offered numerous safety and claims strategies. He also recommended a self-insured group workers’ compensation program, which was a tougher sell than the rest.
“It took some real clever navigating,” said Kevin Matthews, who serves as the nonprofit’s CFO on a consulting basis. “As soon as you say self-insured, people get nervous, but he really walked us through it on why our downside was minimized. … That saved us at least $150,000 on an annual basis, which for a nonprofit — that’s huge.”
The tougher the challenge, the brighter Carol Murphy shines. As a managing director with Aon, Murphy tackled numerous complex challenges this year, applying a combination of skill, determination and actuarial prowess.
One client of Murphy’s did an exceptional job improving its claims experience, however the company’s financial rating and perception in the marketplace didn’t reflect the company’s efforts.
“It was one of the most challenging renewals I’ve ever been through in my career,” said the client. “[Murphy and her team] brought expertise to the table like I’ve never experienced. They brought a whole new level of analytics and strategy and process. The way they managed this process and the objectivity they brought to all of the options we had on the table is what allowed us to get through this successfully — they were amazing.”
For another client facing negative perceptions in the market, Murphy leveraged the strength of her relationships with carriers, giving them a deep dive into the company’s financials so that they could understand the real picture. The result was favorable renewal, said the client, who credits Murphy’s expert-level grasp of the numbers.
“There’s a lot of a financial and mathematical rigor that she puts into the process,” said the client, “that gets [senior level experts] on the carriers’ side comfortable with the numbers we’re putting in front of them. … She really gets into the weeds in terms of pulling numbers apart.”
A Tough Negotiator
Laurel Ulrich has a solid understanding of what makes carriers tick, and that helps her cultivate relationships that make her an invaluable asset no matter what kind of challenge a client faces.
One client wanted to dispense with a policy so complicated it numbered 1,600 pages. Ulrich analyzed the policy and realized it afforded coverage that didn’t exist elsewhere in the market.
The existing carrier had recently been purchased by a carrier Ulrich had strong ties with, so she worked with their underwriters to retain the extensive coverage while having a manageable policy and quote in an updated system.
Another client faced a host of challenges, including an acquisition and a management upheaval. Leading the newly merged risk management department through a renewal might have been challenge enough. But Ulrich also faced an 11th hour price increase on the primary program that was a bit of a curveball.
“We’re kind of a unique risk,” the client said. “It wasn’t as if we had [carriers] waiting in the wings.” But Ulrich brought in some viable alternatives, and was able to negotiate with the incumbent carrier and bring them back into range.
There’s no question she’s a tough negotiator, said another client, Kurt Leisure, risk manager for The Cheesecake Factory. “When she says, ‘This is our final number,’ the markets understand that that’s the final number. They respect her. She’s not a game player. And we get amazing results at the end of the day.”
“I don’t rate anyone a 10,” said a risk manager, “because no matter how good you are, there’s always room for improvement.”
Christian Florence understands this philosophy better than most, devoting his time to helping clients identify their own room for improvement, and devising strategies to make it happen.
Florence is senior vice president with Beecher Carlson, and operations leader for its proprietary ZOOM business process, which uses customized data analysis to generate actionable information about the sources of clients’ loss costs.
That process paid off for a client who asked Florence and the ZOOM team to examine all facets of the company’s litigation management as it related to casualty claims, which represented about 10 percent of the company’s overall expense.
“[Christian was] instrumental in helping us come up with best practices and instituting some change management,” said the client. “He was very intuitive and creative in coming up with solutions as they relate to our culture and how we go about doing business.”
A project for another client led to a double-digit percentage reduction in workers’ comp claims and double-digit percentage drops in claims costs as well.
“Christian really went beyond my expectations to make sure that we had exceptional performance [on the project]. He took the time to get to know us and how we do things, and understand our business. I have a great deal of respect for Christian,” said the client. “He’s been a very valuable partner for us. He truly goes above and beyond on a consistent basis.”
Transforming Workers’ Comp
Ettie Schoor, president of PRISM Consultants, is known for transforming every workers’ comp program her team touches, large or small.
Benjamin Ganz, owner of Hastings Hide Inc. in Lawrence, N.Y., was faced with rising rates and possibly being forced to seek coverage from the state pool. But things turned around when Schoor stepped in, he said. Not only did premiums decrease by 25 percent to 30 percent, but Schoor and her team “changed the whole way we deal with workers’ comp.”
Abigail House for Nursing & Rehabilitation in Camden, N.J. was struggling with an increase in claims, so finance executive Simon Young called Schoor. Since then, the company has lowered premiums and has an entirely new perspective on claims. “Sometimes claims can balloon into a monstrosity,” said Young. “They nip it in the bud. … They follow everything along — it’s like an extra person in HR. They’re unbelievable.”
One property management client was dealing with a patchwork of workers’ comp policies for the 11 states it operated in. The company had tried unsuccessfully to find a carrier to write its entire program. They eventually turned to Schoor for help.
Schoor’s carrier contacts knew that losses would decrease once PRISM was handling the claims. That helped secure two competitive options, a loss sensitive plan and a guarantee cost plan. The client decided to bind the guarantee cost policy for all states except Ohio with a premium that was nearly $323,000 less than previous estimates.
Target and Conquer
Aon’s Carol Ungaretti is a leader in helping clients isolate their most challenging pain points and developing successful programs to target those issues.
For one large and diverse client, Ungaretti worked to design and implement a post injury drug and alcohol testing (PIDAT) program that spans the company’s U.S. operations.
The initial launch of the project in six states cut nearly $3 million in ultimate incurred loss costs, with further reductions when the program expanded to additional states.
“She continues to challenge us and to bring new ideas, and she has exceptional people working for her,” said a client, adding that Ungaretti’s level of client service is “off the charts.”
“Carol doesn’t make a move without a lot of thought going into it. I think she’s one of the best — in terms of the ideas and the fostering of progress — that I’ve worked with in a long time.”
One client noted that Ungaretti helped her identify specific risks associated with first-year employees, and developed a unique safety program around those risks.
“She has not only recommended solutions that have really helped us but then helps us to manage them to make sure that we can get the best leverage from them, efficiently and effectively,” said Tammy Spialek, vice president of human resources with Addus HomeCare.
“She’s always been a good partner to run ideas past and to point you in the right direction of helping solve whatever issue you have.”