Building Upon Strengths
Craig Graham secured an unheard-of deal for a contractor that was building a tunnel underneath a rail yard for a railroad, while simultaneously constructing several high-rise buildings that rested on a platform over the yard, for a real estate developer. An owner-controlled insurance program covered the building project, but it was not economically feasible for Graham to roll the tunneling project into that program, as the railroad’s coverage demands did not give consideration to the world’s “most difficult” New York construction insurance market.
Graham, senior vice president at Alliant Insurance Services, then convinced the OCIP carriers to also participate in a “relatively affordable” contractor-controlled insurance program for the tunnel, by demonstrating how the contractor could enhance safety on both projects, and how claims management could be coordinated.
“Craig Graham crafted some really creative solutions to the more problematic markets, such as New York State with its challenging labor laws,” said Bill Buchan, vice president, risk management, at Tutor Perini Corp. “Often the coverages can be very expensive and placing them is a challenge, but he’s been very creative structuring a solution to minimize costs and maximize coverages.”
Graham was able to secure a comprehensive OCIP with “very fair pricing” for the Los Angeles Unified School District, by thoroughly explaining the district’s claims and safety services, said Robert Reider, director of risk finance.
Changing the Game
One of Paul Healy’s clients wanted to bid on construction projects on U.S. military bases in Japan, but the bid specifications referenced the Japan Ministry of Finance approved list of surety companies — which didn’t actually exist, making it impossible for non-Japanese companies to bid on the work. Given the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was the ultimate owner for these projects and a U.S.-based company with a local office in Japan wanted to bid the work, Healy had to get the agency to change the bid specifications.
To accomplish this, Healy, national practice leader, Construction Services Group at Aon, prompted several U.S. surety companies and their industry trade association to lobby for some political pressure on the Corps’ head office in D.C., to prevail upon the agency’s Japan-based representatives to make the bid requirements reasonable. The agency eventually agreed to change the bid specifications to accept surety bonds from companies on the U.S. Treasury list of approved sureties, in addition to the referenced Japan Ministry of Finance list.
“Paul Healy has been very helpful getting us a bond in Japan,” the client said. “He’s also helped us evaluate various prospective joint-venture partners from a financial perspective.”
“Paul Healy is a strong advocate for us,” said Robert Alger, president and chief executive officer of Lane Construction Corp. “He’s been fabulous to work with and really has the clients’ best interests at heart.”
“Paul was very helpful in placing three new, fairly complex surety agreements for us,” another client said.
Last year, Keith Jurss was hired to help secure a cutting-edge professional liability policy for a Fortune 100 “diversified international family entertainment and media enterprise” that had started to use the integrated project delivery method on its capital improvement projects.
The IPD method, which requires a multiparty contract between the project owner, designer and contractor, incorporates mutual waivers of liability and financial incentives for the parties to work collaboratively to deliver the project on-time and on-budget.
However, because of select contractual provisions, the corporate professional liability policies of the design and construction team would not respond appropriately, thus requiring a project-specific alternative.
Jurss, senior vice president at Willis, was able to help underwriters understand the contractual incentives built into the program, and to convince them that the IPD team was truly committed to working collaboratively. Jurss then customized the project solution utilizing a variety of coverages from select carriers. The result was a solution that gave the design and construction team protection for rectifying design and construction errors without having to bring suit against each other. The solution also incorporated best-in-class professional liability coverage to protect against potential third-party claims.
“The challenging element of an IPD is the lack of a mature insurance marketplace,” the client said. “Since my organization has a very active creative and design process on some pretty unique projects, we had a short timeline to have something in place by May.”
En Route to Top-Notch Service
Jamie Pincus, vice president and account executive commercial at Wells Fargo, goes far beyond the call of duty.
For the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority — which oversees the Dulles International and Ronald Reagan National airports, the Dulles Toll Road, and Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project in the D.C. area — Pincus helped with the transition of the aviation owner-controlled insurance program and the implementation of a rail OCIP.
On the authority’s projects, Pincus scheduled vendor, contractor and subcontractor information sessions to ensure that “clear, open communication occurs internally and externally.” She has also deployed a Wells Fargo Insurance loss control/safety specialist to ensure protocols are being followed at the authority’s numerous worksites. Pincus and her team provided similar attentive services for the OCIP of the Maryland Transit Administration.
“The scope and size of our projects and the amount of administrative detail is staggering, but Jamie does an excellent job,” a client said. “She’s very adept at coverage analytics and has superior technical abilities.”
For Swire Properties’ Brickell CityCentre construction project in Miami, Pincus advocated for the placement of webcams with 24/7 surveillance and a process to badge contractors for secure worksites. “Jamie Pincus is outstanding — she has been able to put in a very unique insurance program for us and she’s saved us a lot of money,” said David Gross, construction accountant for Swire Properties.
Wells Fargo’s Jamie Pincus is a firm believer that the best insurance policy is the one that you might never need.
“In the construction industry, it’s not just about the insurance placement, it’s about the people working on the construction site, providing a safe environment and seeing something develop that others will benefit from and there must be a business understanding of what our client is looking to accomplish,” Pincus said.
Pincus is a big believer in voice-to-voice communication with clients.
“Email is efficient but a lot gets lost in electronic delivery,” she said.
Pincus serves as a mentor to young professionals, not just handing down instructions but giving them the tools to do their jobs better.
“I lead by example. There is nothing I like better than digging into a policy to learn about what coverage is provided and researching a client’s exposure to have a complete understanding about their risk,” she said.
“I’ll do this as a mentor on a daily basis to demonstrate good service.”
In her community, Pincus involves her family in her efforts to help the less fortunate. Her eldest daughter recently joined her and other Wells Fargo team members to deliver groceries and prepared meals to 77 families in the Washington, D.C. area.
She brought all three of her daughters along for a more recent project, painting and repairing the house of a family in need.
Expertise in Action
One of Susan Schwartz’s clients partnered with two other contractors for a large construction project, but the disparity between the contractors on how to handle insurance for the newly formed limited liability company was holding up finalizing the contract.
To help get the $70 million project started, Schwartz, a director at Aon, discussed the completed operations extension with underwriters, negotiated more favorable coverage and pricing terms, met with the contractors and their brokers to discuss the insurance program, and worked out an equitable broker compensation solution.
Schwartz met regularly with another client to discuss estimates for coverage and pricing of a contractor-controlled insurance program at various loss ratio levels, and detailed the merits of project-specific coverage for various lines including professional liability, pollution liability, builders risk and contractor default insurance, potentially saving the client more than $500,000.
“With short notice, Sue was able to work with my company and team leaders from other companies and brokerage firms to develop a comprehensive strategy and risk solution for a complex joint venture project,” said Kathy Norris, director of risk management at Fred Weber Inc. “Her clear view and analysis of situations coupled with her can-do attitude, professionalism, and her willingness and ability to listen to the opinions of others and share ideas make her a valuable resource.”
“Sue Schwartz is by far the most knowledgeable when it comes to construction issues and coverage,” said Monica Settle, insurance risk manager at Western Construction Group.
Matthew Walsh was tasked to respond to a significant uptick in large, complex construction projects undertaken by both private and public sector clients throughout the world.
Walsh, managing director, brokerage practice leader, global/complex clients, Construction Services Group at Aon, built a unique analytics and brokerage platform to address the risks in these complex global projects, including rapidly changing laws impacting construction risk, geographic challenges from catastrophe, and increasingly complex project delivery methods that blur the lines of responsibility between project owners, designers and contractors. It can be used to address various unique legal challenges in some of the world’s most challenging construction liability jurisdictions, or structured for global responsiveness to a single owner undertaking projects simultaneously.
“Matt Walsh goes above and beyond to meet his clients’ needs,” said Ted Wickenhauser, vice president, risk management at McCarthy Building Cos. “He does a phenomenal job at being a client advocate as well as liaison between the markets and his clients. He is never afraid to confront any challenging situation head-on, take ownership of it and move it toward resolution.”
“Matt is very knowledgeable on construction management, as well as the insurance industry,” another client said. “I also think he’s extremely talented from a people skills standpoint, and he’s highly regarded at all levels of the insurance industry.”
The global upturn in commercial construction is, on the face of it, good news.
But many of our risk management sources caution that there is great risk in this upturn. Geographic challenges in catastrophe-prone areas and rapid changes in laws governing construction risk are just a few of these factors. Aon’s Matthew Walsh has built a unique analytics and brokerage platform tailored to address the risks of stakeholders in complex, global undertakings.
Walsh’s base in his 25 years in the business is Chicago, which as a venue ranks as either first or second in construction liability risk from year to year. He feels he’s learned a lot about the business, which is why he is so passionate about passing his knowledge on to a new generation of brokers.
“What has remained constant is that you need a vast team, with vast knowledge and access to vast resources to deliver in these environments,” Walsh said.
“Going it alone was, and never is, an option; it’s all about our team and always will be,” he said.
“At present, I am privileged to have a talented group of young people recruited from our career development program, and young leaders from the construction risk management community, to develop a new generation of construction risk tools delivered through a web portal environment.”
Earning Respect and Trust
Mickey Brown and his team won the opportunity to restructure an insurance program for a synthetic siding products manufacturer. For workers’ comp, Brown’s request for a change in governing classification was initially rejected by the NCCI, but he successfully appealed and obtained a lower-rated code. He also suggested a change in general NAICS (or SIC) coding, which put the client into a more appropriate grouping for credit analysis.
For trade credit insurance, Brown’s marketing presentations provided a creative solution to insure key customers, at desired limits and terms, at a lower rate. The hedging opportunity provided by trade credit insurance permitted an extension of higher credit amounts and sales growth.
For property insurance, Brown developed quality engineering data and moved mechanical breakdown perils to a separate policy, due to risks involving heavy press machines. This strategy proved successful in achieving cost savings and favorable coverage terms, including terrorism and other catastrophic perils. He also developed alternatives for supply chain risks and contingent business interruption.
“I have tremendous amount of respect for Mickey,” said Jim Shaffer, vice president and treasurer at Tosoh America Inc.
“The differentiator with Mickey is that if he wanted to, he could keep pushing different products, but he doesn’t. He introduces them to me, but it’s not a strong sales push.”
Two Green Thumbs Up
Justin Buren was able to convince an A+ carrier to provide coverage to fill an existing gap for chemical applicators within the lawn care industry, by helping the carrier to build a comprehensive green industry tailored program.
“We had two holes in our coverage that had to do with damaging individual lawns,” said Sam Morgan, owner of Weed Man in Charlotte, N.C. “Justin went to our insurers and presented on those gaps, not only to help me, but also the rest of the lawn care industry. He was able to create a policy around the missing coverage and get us protected.”
“Our insurance policy was cancelled in November 2013, even though we had not done anything wrong,” said Brandi Kellis, president of Kellis Vegetation Management Inc.
“We called Justin in a panic about what we were going to do, as there are not a lot of insurance companies covering our niche industry, industrial weed control. Justin was like, ‘Don’t worry about it — I’m on it.’ Not only had he seen this coming, he had done the legwork and already had a solution. We have more coverage now than under our old carrier.”
“A year or two ago I thought about expanding my business to also include fertilizing and lawn treatment,” said another lawn care client. “Justin explained to me the type of liability that would be involved as well as some of the nightmares that have happened to other companies. After talking to Justin, I decided to do what I do best – lawn maintenance and landscaping.”
Creative Carrier Liaison
One of Cara Cortes’ clients was sued several years ago, triggering an insurance claim. As settlement discussions between the client and the plaintiff solidified last year, the carrier issued an adverse coverage position citing very controversial interpretations of the policy.
After several tenuous discussions, the carrier compromised and participated in settlement discussions, resulting in a favorable claim outcome. But then at renewal, the carrier raised the client’s premium by 50 percent, and so Cortes had to remarket a directors and officers tower that exceeded $100 million in less than six weeks. The result: a program with a 30 percent lower premium than the incumbent market.
“Cara worked very hard to come up with effective carrier alternatives and insurance solutions for our executive liability programs during our renewal,” the client said. “Her creative ideas and strong negotiation tactics helped us to build an effective coverage tower with significant cost savings.”
“Cara did an absolutely fantastic job and we really appreciate her hard work,” a grocer client said. “This year we had tricky litigation issues and the endorsements weren’t as clear as we had hoped. We didn’t foresee those types of issues, but she fixed everything with her ability to negotiate with the carriers. She probably saved my job!”
“Cara Cortes does a great job for us,” said Tony Cosentino, director of risk management at Highmark Health. “She’s very detail oriented, very customer focused, and she not only understands the lines of business she services for us, but she also understands our business.”
Going Beyond Insurance Coverage
A large corporation was spinning out two entities that were being merged by Oaktree Capital Management. Its broker, Tiffany Davis, established a competitively priced, comprehensive insurance program that was fully running when the deal closed. She also created an attractive benefits program, including an online portal and call center to streamline communications, which facilitated full employee participation.
“Tiffany helped us navigate through the various delicate and complex employee-related matters and made the transition seamless,” said Jimmy Lee, vice president of Oaktree Capital Management.
Another client, Neuberger Berman, purchased a bankrupt property that had sustained material construction defect losses. Davis secured wrap coverage reaching back to inception and did not exclude prior work. She developed a manuscripted policy, addressing the unusual situation for a realistic price. “Tiffany consistently works through complex insurance issues, identifying risks and helping us mitigate them, increasing coverage and usually decreasing our expense,” said Michael Holmberg, managing partner at Neuberger Berman.
Another client acquired a family-owned business that had not fully disclosed many important issues. After coordinating with multiple experts to better understand the acquiring risks, Davis convinced the client to adjust the purchase price accordingly. She then developed a comprehensive integration strategy for the two companies’ workers’ comp and benefits programs. “Tiffany is … dedicated to providing first-class service,” the client said.
One of Michael Dellova’s clients, MetLife Inc., in 2013 acquired a subsidiary of Provida’s pension management company in Chile, with the intention to combine pension management services with already existing financial services such as annuities, life insurance and health benefits.
In July, Dellova traveled to Chile with Richard Barquist, the company’s vice president of corporate risk management, to meet with all stakeholders and explore the possibility of integrating the subsidiaries into the corporate master controlled property program.
Due to regulations, the former Provida and MetLife operations had to remain separate entities, each with their own business interruption/contingent business interruption exposure.
Given the program covers all locations outside the United States and Canada, additional capacity and sub-limits were warranted. During renewal, Dellova and MetLife convinced the carrier to seek additional capacity from both its home office underwriting and within the facultative reinsurance market, to increase capacity and sub-limits for business interruption, contingent business interruption and earth movement.
Another client said that Dellova is a “seasoned professional, and is extremely knowledgeable concerning all international insurance matters.”
“He is dedicated to providing his clients with exceptional service, and is easily accessible and reliable,” the client said.
Enabling Executives to Lead
One of Andrew Doherty’s clients — a Fortune 500 insurer with private equity-type investments in various non-financial industries — last year ramped up its acquisition of companies and spin-off of non-core business. This activity created a new risk profile for the firm, leading to a variety of complications regarding its directors and officers coverage, particularly over the question of whether underlying subsidiaries should purchase their own D&O coverage versus relying on the parent’s coverage. Doherty and his team also analyzed whether the companies should purchase run-off or tail coverage.
The brokers put multiple policies in place to address key management liability exposures, coordinating overlaps in coverage to ensure that any claims would be adjusted correctly under each policy and that all D&Os are adequately protected.
“Andy’s attention to detail is second to none,” said a client that provides private mortgage insurance and related risk mitigation products and services to mortgage lenders. “He takes the extra time to listen and understand our needs and often makes suggestions for program enhancements or additions that strengthen our various executive risk programs. The few issues that have come up over the years are often resolved within 24 hours. His knowledge of the marketplace is immense and has a very collegial and collaborative way in which he works with the carriers.”
“Andy is forthright, diligent, and he delivered very positive results for the company,” a cable network client also said.
The risk manager for one of Larissa Gallagher’s clients, a large automotive parts supplier, said that after Gallagher had already “beat up on our carriers — in a nice way, of course — for a 10 percent drop” you’d think it would be tough to squeeze another 10 percent out of the markets, no matter how soft they might be.
But, Gallagher has been able to consistently beat market conditions. “She is probably the best property broker I have worked with,” the client said.
“She may have the best relationship with the markets of any broker I know. Gallagher’s strategy is to leverage the account — keep the incumbent carriers on board, but add some first-class competition to the mix. Push for rate and price reductions, but look for enhancements to the program. Increase capacity.
“She presented us with three options,” the risk manager said. The first was the status quo: Keep incumbent carriers only. Next was the cheapest pricing, and the third was the strategic option, priced between status quo and cheap.
The strategic option positioned the client far better if the market turned hard.
“That would give us the best position for future renewals,” the risk manager said. “We chose the strategic option.”
The risk manager added, “She’s so young, less than 30 years old. But she’s detail oriented and mature; she understand the markets and provides great service. I don’t know how she does it.”
Covering Counsel Across the Globe
Stuart Girling restructured a $250 million legal professional liability program for a law firm with 1,000 attorneys, which wanted to move out of a risk retention group program and into a more cost-effective solution. This required Girling to match the coverage exactly, while adding some improvements, and to structure the tower in the most effective way possible to achieve maximum savings.
This restructure allowed the firm to move out of the restrictive RRG/captive program, broaden its coverage, and realize more than $2.5 million in cost savings. The program also includes a rolling gate guarantee enabling for the calculation of savings over a two-, three-, and four-year period. Going into year two, the savings will exceed $5 million.
Girling has extensive broking and client service experience with law firms in the United States and Europe, and has leveraged his years of experience and targeted knowledge to provide specialized programs that account for the unique risks faced by today’s law firms.
“Stuart is relentlessly attentive,” said Barry Chasnoff, partner and general counsel at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP. “He does a great job of negotiating on my behalf, keeping me informed, coming up with alternatives with coverage and helping me service my clients.”
“Stuart Girling is such a breath of fresh air because he does everything he says he’s going to do,” said Donald Ridge, managing partner at Morris Polich & Purdy LLP. “He never says no, he assists in client development, he assists in insurance questions — for us, he’s been the epitome of client service.”
Prioritizing Risk Management
Many of Alexander Gold’s small law firm clients are having much greater difficulty in procuring malpractice insurance coverage than ever, especially since several of the carriers that were previously writing coverage for small firms recently exited the market. Compounding the issue is that the remaining carriers have increased their rates, tightened their underwriting criteria, or both.
One of Gold’s clients was not renewed, and the firm could not obtain admitted terms for its area of practice — personal injury/medical malpractice. Gold then had the client complete a detailed claim prevention questionnaire on the firm’s existing policies and procedures, used that to recommend improvements and claim prevention techniques, and then positioned the firm as a safe one to insure from the perspective of the carrier. The result was admitted coverage at a 20 percent lower premium than the carrier’s original quote.
“Our insurer decided to no longer underwrite in New York, but Alexander was able to find another carrier and negotiate a lower price, in part because he had us conduct a risk management assessment,” the client said. “He’s the first broker I’ve had that talked to us about how to better manage risks, taking time to clarify the process, discuss minimizing risks, etc.”
“Alex is an energetic young man, intelligent and perseverant,” another law firm client said. “He’s an agent who understands the importance of client service — fast, competent, responsive and fighting for competitive rates.”
Customer Service at the Forefront
Scott Gronholz had a client that was acquiring a company with specific indemnification requirements, which presented a significant exposure that neither party was comfortable assuming — nor one that most industry experts would feel was insurable.
After countless hours, conference calls and due diligence, Gronholz and his team were able to provide specific data points to enable the carrier to be comfortable in providing terms and conditions to the client, because Gronholz convinced the client to retain a portion of the exposure. The client was able to proceed with the $2 billion deal.
“Scott Gronholz has given us exceptional service,” said a client that provides workers’ compensation and risk management solutions to transportation industries. “First, he was successful in finding a hard-to-place litigation buyout policy, which other brokers were unsuccessful in placing. Second, he put together a team of claim service consultants and they were successful getting a large, international insurance company to accept an alternative process for handling our claims. This will result in material cost savings for us.”
“Scott has done an outstanding job, going above and beyond,” said a client that distributes automotive parts for commercial uses. “He spent lots of weekends, he was on call at all times, very responsive. He came up with some very creative solutions working with the carriers directly, as well as myself. We had conferences with the carriers developing modified products.”
According to a client that provides integrated audio visual solutions, “Scott Gronholz is very diligent in satisfying our needs and our insurance requests.”
Sandra Gulick is a veteran of the car wars. She’s been handling auto and related manufacturing accounts for 27 years for some of the largest auto companies in the world. Her specialty — mergers and acquisitions. The latest deal involved a foreign manufacturer that merged with another related company. As with any merger, she had to make sense of the two different insurance programs — different terms, different renewal dates, different coverage and retentions and, of course, different risk management departments.
Gulick, after extensive internal and external negotiations, was able to restructure and improve the program, lower retentions and improve cost structure. An important part of the process was convincing and educating the new risk management team to better understand the options and benefits that she proposed. That was a challenge because the longtime incumbent carrier was an insurance company based in the company’s home country.
When faced with the assignment, she introduced market competition into the process despite the fact that it was acknowledged that the client already benefited from lower than market rates. The result — premiums were reduced substantially and the relationship with the incumbent carriers remained strong.
Gulick is the manager of Aon’s local client service team and she’s committed to providing excellent service. She has a record of excellent client retention. Said one client: “She’s a true professional and she’s done a great job for us.”
Passionate About Insurance
Under Kenneth Mackunis’ lead, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ comprehensive member benefits program has expanded from one to 15 solutions. Mackunis and his team also developed a robust risk control program to help CPAs mitigate their exposure to data breaches and employee theft risks.
The two coverage enhancements launched after the 2014 tax season were CPA NetProtect, a comprehensive solution to protect firms in the event of a data breach, with privacy event expense coverage and network damage claim coverage; and employee theft coverage, which provides cover for employee theft of firms’ properties or third-party properties.
As a result of these enhancements, more than 25,000 CPA firms are insured nationwide under AICPA’s program. CPA NetProtect extensions to professional liability policies increased by more than 93 percent from 2013 to 2014, and employee theft extensions to professional liability policies increased by more than 70 percent.
“Ken is the ultimate professional when it comes to an insurance broker,” said Kevin Murphy, chairman, AICPA professional and personal liability programs committee.
“I think Ken is extremely conscientious, intelligent and innovative,” said Jack Finning, chairman of AICPA’s life and disability insurance trust. “He really focuses on timely client service.”
“Ken is passionate about insurance — I really haven’t experienced anybody who loves being in the insurance industry like he does,” said a client at a trade group.
Taking a Team Approach
Scott Meyer recently took over a multimillion dollar premium program with a publicly-traded consulting firm. The firm had previously experienced a significant claim that was not covered by insurance due to poor policy language; additionally, the client had just undergone a major internal reorganization and needed to be assured they would be adequately insured in new endeavors.
Meyer leveraged key resources including attorneys and subject-matter experts to provide suggestions, employed benchmarking and analytics, and solicited feedback from the client to ensure he understood the goals the client had for its business under its new structure.
Meyer and his team tailored a program with effective policy language and relationships with global insurance carriers that had not previously been included in the client’s program. These efforts saved the client nearly $1 million upfront. Even more importantly than initial cost savings is the assurance the client now has that they will not face another uninsured loss that would carry significant economic and reputational damages.
“Scott is phenomenal,” said Anne Oliva, chief financial officer at Consecra Corporation. “He has a lot of integrity and wants the best for his clients. Scott’s knowledge and professional expertise continues to help us manage our portfolio in the best possible way.”
“Scott responds unbelievably quickly to any inquiries, and is efficient, thorough and concise in all he does,” said Drenna Shive, human resources manager at RHC Holding Corp.
Helping Clients Hit the Books on Coverage
Kathy Phillips had placed D&O coverage for Ventura County Law Library for many years. While shopping the renewal, she discovered that the county was passing on insurance costs to the law library.
After making several phone calls, Phillips determined that there was no memorandum of understanding in place. In fact, no one truly understood the nature of the coverage or if there was duplicate coverage in place. She then coordinated discussions between the library’s board of trustees and the county’s risk manager to determine whether the library should continue its coverage or cancel it.
“Kathy used due diligence and initiated an exploration of our risk management relationship with the County of Ventura, and through her perseverance, discovered that we actually had insurance coverage through the county,” said Stuart Comis, a member of the board of trustees of Ventura County Law Library. The library was able to cancel its coverage “which saves us substantial money and enables us to better meet the public’s needs by the purchase of many additional books.”
“Kathy continually goes above and beyond the expected level of service, often offering creative solutions, answering calls and emails off-hours, and providing rapid turnaround of requests,” a parking management client said. “Whether negotiating extended policy terms, assisting with the management of overall claims experience or a particularly difficult claim, or providing us with proactive solutions, we have always been able to count on Kathy to deliver far more than just another policy.”
Sure of Surety Approach
Energy Solutions was required to provide nearly $145 million in financial assurance security to various state agencies for environmental liabilities. The firm was utilizing mostly letters of credit, which were costly, tied up cash and impaired availability on its credit facility.
The firm’s broker, Tom Rhatigan, learned that the firm’s treasurer, David Nilsson, had explored surety as an option, but the large aggregate size of the various obligations was seemingly too much for a single surety to handle. To maximize the use of more economically attractive surety bonds, Rhatigan introduced a multi-surety approach that spread the various risks over eight markets, building enough capacity to use surety to cover all of the firm’s financial assurance obligations.
“Tom successfully got $140 million of market capacity from the surety companies, which netted us $108 million in restricted cash that was released to pay down our debt,” Nilsson said. “Through Tom’s skill and efforts, this project was a huge success and is saving the company $4.5 million on an annual basis.”
“Tom has almost single-handedly resurrected the surety program for us and made it a responsive outstanding program with superior sureties,” said Lisa Nargi, vice president at Foster Wheeler.
“Tom is fantastic – extremely knowledgeable, easily reachable,” said a client at a specialty contractor. “He has spent countless hours with me teaching me the ins and outs of bonds. That, to me, is the key to a superior broker.”
Quick Turnaround on Global Challenges
One of Xiaomei Rodrigues’ clients had a few significant liability claims several years ago, which caused some insurers to be unwilling to provide capacity, resulting in premium hikes. When Rodrigues and her team were appointed to the account, she conducted risk finance modeling that helped the client understand the inefficiency of its insurance program retention, layer pricing and limits. Rodrigues helped the client achieve significant premium savings by restructuring its casualty program.
For another client that acquired a multinational company, Rodrigues and her team were only given a few days to place product recall coverage with a very high limit. Working closely with Marsh’s recall team, she successfully obtained the capacity and also secured broader coverage. Moreover, Rodrigues helped the client integrate all its existing product recall policies in Europe into its global recall program, resulting in significant premium savings.
“Xiaomei is phenomenal,” said Gene Surrett, director of risk management at Hubbell Inc. “She has excellent control over the entire account and transcends multiple offices — she’s even been to China and Europe on business trips with us. She is extremely helpful in coordinating things. Without her I would still be in the Beijing airport.”
“Xiaomei is really diligent in terms of bringing resolution to any issue, whether big or small,” said an energy management client. “She will step outside the normal parameters to find the right resources, which can be very time-consuming for her. She’s very good at getting back to me with an answer or an explanation about why something is being delayed.”
Martin Serbins received a midterm broker of record letter from a former client that was unhappy with their current broker and the results of the last renewal. This client’s property insurance program had a number of different expiration dates with various carriers and the client was displeased with the fragmented structure. The client’s foundries were the main exposure, as they were all in foreign countries, including countries such as India that posed particular business challenges.
Serbins contacted all the major insurers that had global capabilities and there was little interest in the account. He also contacted the carrier that had declined the prior broker in the past, since Serbins believed that broker hadn’t adequately presented the risk to the carrier. This carrier that had previously declined, then stepped up and provided a very competitive quote and was willing to work with Serbins and the client to consolidate the program.
“Marty is consistently a top performer, with the ability to facilitate a relationship directly with the carrier which results in better service and more customized coverage,” said a client at a diversified global manufacturing, marketing and distribution company.
“With his help, we were able to consolidate with one carrier to provide global property insurance needs. With that purchasing power, we saw significant premium savings, and we continue to see premium reductions.”
“Marty has done a very good job for us,” said a client at a company that offers maintenance services to companies that own and/or lease rail rolling stock.
Better Service, Better Protection
Cyber security and privacy have been major topics of conversation with one of Nicholas Warren’s newspaper publishing clients. Warren and his team worked with senior management, along with finance, IT, business continuity and risk management, to analyze the company’s exposures in order to tailor policy language to meet the company’s needs. Warren and his team also educated the managers on what they should do in the event of a business interruption or crisis management event.
“Nick is a great broker, in terms of responsiveness and in terms of getting the right people in front of us,” the client said. “When I took over risk and insurance responsibilities, I was brand new to that area. He was able to provide me the education that I needed on our industry and our particular business. He was proactive in terms of addressing future issues.”
For another client, Bertelsmann SE, dust explosions have been a major focus given some issues at specific plants. Warren and his team assembled meetings with the various plant managers, provided loss control and preventative loss services to not only focus on mitigation of such claims, but maintenance protocols to assist the plant managers and their teams.
“Nicolas Warren provides very excellent service,” said Jurand Honisch, Bertelsmann’s senior vice president, corporate risk management and insurance.
“Nick is very responsive,” said a wheat exporter client. “He was able to expand our coverage this year in an area that we had been somewhat deficient in, which strengthened our policies so that we’re better protected than prior years.”
A Global Perspective
As any traveler knows, the world is full of uncertainty and dangerous places, where the challenges of simply trying to run a profitable business far from home are complicated by even greater risks, such as political violence, civil unrest, credit risk, corruption, expropriation of private assets by the government, and more.
Anyone doubting this need only take a look at current events. Some 70 percent of the world’s nations currently have serious corruption problems throughout their governmental and civil service framework. Nearly 40 percent of all nations are experiencing some form of significant civil unrest. Signs of economic distress are everywhere, from falling oil prices to Eurozone debt crises to economic slowdown in China.
Despite such geopolitical risks, the world still needs its businesses to continue running amid dangers that range from warfare and terrorism to punishing economic conditions caused by international sanctions, to simple graft and hostility toward foreigners.
For global and multinational companies, keeping an eye on their political risk profile is as important as handling worker safety, environmental impact, products liability, or any other insurable risk. Thankfully, political risk exposures are insurable as well, and Starr Companies is there to provide its clients with robust political risk insurance coverage, a suite of unique support services that truly is second to none, and the ability to educate clients on how to manage their political risk.
Political risk hazards generally fall into one of the following categories:
Breach of Contract and Non-Honoring of Financial Obligations
These related hazards involve the failure of a local actor to uphold their contractual or financial obligations to a foreign investor, and the inability or unwillingness of local authorities to intercede on the foreign investor’s behalf. This is perhaps the most common form of political risk hazard, as it is a major problem in any environment where there is substantial economic instability and/or corruption.
Confiscation of Property
Also known as “expropriation,” “ownership risk” and “nationalization,” this is when a government seizes property or assets without compensating the owners for them. An overt example of expropriation would be a revolutionary government seizing an office building or a factory belonging to a foreign-owned corporation. An example of creeping expropriation would be a series of successive events by a government to gradually deprive an investor of their property rights.
This is when the local laws change in such a way as to constrict foreign investors’ economic activity in some way. It could range from creeping expropriation to changing taxation or labor laws that might simply make it far less profitable or far less efficient for a foreign entity to operate in a local jurisdiction.
Inconvertability of Currency
Also known as “transfer risk,” this is when a government takes action to prevent the conversion of local currency to another form of currency, making it difficult or impossible for foreign investors to transfer their profits elsewhere. This tends to happen in countries undergoing some kind of political crisis, like when Zaire—now the Democratic Republic of Congo—declared a new national currency in 1980.
Property or income losses stemming from violence committed for political purposes, including, but not limited to declared and undeclared warfare, hostile actions taken by foreign or international forces, civil war, revolution, insurrection and civil strife (politically motivated terrorism or sabotage).
Kidnap and Ransom
Political violence might also manifest itself as a kidnap, ransom and extortion hazard, but that is typically covered by a separate, specialized policy.
To protect against these risks, insurers can provide comprehensive and custom-tailored political risk solutions, which at a client’s request can be broadened to cover investment contract repudiation, currency inconvertibility and political violence. Such policies typically last for periods of 5 to 10 years. Protected assets for this coverage include fixed assets (e.g., a factory, farm, warehouse or office), mobile assets (e.g., harvested natural resources, raw or manufactured inventory or mobile equipment), leased assets (e.g., aircraft, watercraft or construction vehicles) and investment interests in assets abroad (e.g., money dedicated to funding a foreign project, held in a host country bank and subject to expropriation).
Kidnap & ransom coverage protects company personnel and family by providing financial reimbursement for such an event. Depending on the insurer, some K&R programs also provide independent expert consultancy before and after a potential act of kidnapping, ransom or extortion.
Great insurance coverage isn’t enough to adequately protect against political risk, however. Businesses need extra support to stay on top of their exposures, and to know what the latest geopolitical developments are.
Starr Companies, for example, does this through Global Risk Intelligence, a specialized team of political risk experts with long-standing backgrounds in national intelligence and international affairs. GRI delivers to Starr clients a unique risk advisory service that spans the gamut of commercial property & casualty exposures. GRI also produces two assets that are extremely helpful. The first is the Executive Intelligence Brief, a world-class monthly analysis of ongoing geopolitical developments (especially in emerging markets) available exclusively to a carefully selected readership of top executives. The second is the Global Risk Matrix, a quarterly ranking of the overall political security risk of every country on the planet.
The world’s geopolitical landscape is changing at a remarkable pace, with new risks and uncertainties arising in even the unlikeliest of places. And yet, as business becomes ever more globalized, insurers can provide their clients with tailored coverage to absorb the losses that stem from political turmoil. By finding the right insurer, with the financial strength to cover their risks as well as the analytical acumen to help turn risk into opportunity, businesses can create partners in prosperity anywhere in the world.
This article was produced by the R&I Brand Studio, a unit of the advertising department of Risk & Insurance, in collaboration with Starr Companies. The editorial staff of Risk & Insurance had no role in its preparation.