Power Broker Rising Stars
Judging the talent employed by commercial insurance brokers leads us to one conclusion; optimism is the order of the day.
As we discovered this year, not only are the ranks of high-achieving younger brokers as strong as ever, they are increasing in number.
We’ve renamed our Power Broker® “Under 40” category to “Rising Stars” to better celebrate this wave of talent and to focus on an important point. Yes, this is a younger group of professionals, all of them under 40, but it’s more on point to think of them as the future leaders of this profession.
As Power Broker® winners and finalists, this set of Rising Stars demonstrated a superior level of creativity in finding solutions for their clients, unflagging customer service and a devotion to learning more about their industry.
Just four years ago, the number of brokers honored by this designation hovered around 40. Last, year, there were 54 Power Broker® winners and finalists recognized in the Under 40 category.
Over the next few pages, you will see the names and affiliations of 77 brokers we recognize as Rising Stars. Since the launch of this category in 2009, more than 250 brokers under 40 received the designation.
The average age of the Rising Stars designees is 36. They represent a powerful wave of talent that is bolstering a profession, which like many other professions will be challenged to replace talent as the baby boomers retire.
For this group of Rising Stars, a career in commercial insurance brokerage is a compelling challenge that results in rich rewards.
“I really enjoy telling ‘the story’ on behalf of my client to the insurance carrier, to pique their interest in an account,” — Ashley De Paola, assistant vice president, Alliant
We first came to know Lockton’s Christopher Keith when he broke into the Power Broker® ranks as a winner in the Workers’ Compensation category in February 2013.
In those days, Keith worked for the Philadelphia-based Graham Co. Keith, 39, said it’s the “entrepreneurial” nature of the business that he finds so rewarding.
“I like the fact that I am managing my own profit and loss statement,” said Keith, who this year achieved Power Broker® status in the Aviation category.
At Lockton’s annual President’s Dinner, he was recognized as the “prototype” Lockton producer.
“I’m very proud of that,” he said.
Alliant’s Ashley De Paola, 33, a 2016 Power Broker® in the Real Estate category, said it’s the quick-paced, evolving atmosphere of commercial insurance brokerage that excites her.
“I really enjoy telling ‘the story’ on behalf of my client to the insurance carrier, to pique their interest in an account,” De Paola said.
Earlier in her career, a client expressed his concern over her age and experience. Her review of his insurance program changed his mind.
“It was very rewarding when he later asked me to work on his business,” she said.
Beecher Carlson’s Joe Roberta, a 2016 Power Broker® winner in the Private Equity category, has several reasons he likes working in this industry. Top of the list is that this is a very “social industry.”
“I truly enjoy working with people that I’ve been fortunate enough to build long-term relationships with,” he said.
Justin Wiley, 32, Power Broker® winner in the Public Sector category, works for Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., which prides itself on its mentoring efforts.
The company sent Wiley to Orlando, Fla., to work with veteran Rich Terlecki, himself a multiple Power Broker® winner.
“My goal was to learn and gather from him as much intellectual capital as possible,” Wiley said.
Clearly, Terlecki taught him well.
The 2016 Power Broker® Rising Stars
Clout in the Market
Few things are more important to boards of directors and corporate officers than directors and officers coverage – and that is where Aon’s Cara Cortes excels.
One private equity portfolio company needed D&O coverage at the end of the month. They couldn’t get an extension and an application had yet to be filled out.
Two days before coverage expired, the company asked Chip Gutshall, CEO of Work Comp Strategic Solutions, another of the portfolio companies, for help. He immediately called Cortes, who raced to the rescue.
“She got a 60-day extension for the application,” Gutshall said. “That was awesome. She carries a lot of clout within the market to pull something like that off.”
Cortes has also been extremely helpful in D&O and employment practices liability claims, he said.
“I wouldn’t trade her for anyone,” he said.
A risk manager in the Midwest said that Cortes “does a great job at matching up our exposure, our risk, with the best potential partners.
“We were able to significantly improve the coverage in several respects and to reduce the cost beyond what the [soft] market was.”
Cortes’ assistance with cyber coverage for St. Clair Hospital was what stood out the most for Linda Lattner, corporate compliance officer at the hospital.
There’s a limited market for professional lawyer liability, and Craig Howser is an expert at searching out the best specialized coverage for his clients.
On the Cutting Edge
The risks and exposures of companies in the new sharing economy receive significant media attention and face uncertain regulatory demands.
One of the Team
Weis Markets Inc. lost its risk manager this year, but rather than replacing the position, it relied more heavily on the expertise and knowledge of Michael Falvey.
“He really goes above and beyond the normal insurance broker,” said Chris De Tray, director, safety and risk management, Weis Markets.
In addition to placing insurance and shepherding renewals, Falvey is “the best business partner out there,” helping Weis proactively deal with risk management concerns, including vendor risk transfer and safety reviews.
“He absolutely is an extension of our department and understands what our model is. He does a very, very good job of making sure we are not at risk,” De Tray said.
For the Virginia Port Authority, Falvey helped Chris Harrell, vice president, contracts and risk management, rebuild the insurance program “from the bottom up. When I say the program, I mean 3,000 employees, six marine terminals and every policy you can think of from executive liability coverage to auto to human resources to ships on terminal.
“When we rebuilt it, it consolidated a lot of things,” he said. “It was a big value add.”
Marti Dickman, vice president, risk management, ADS Waste Holdings Inc., said “the quality and level of performance we get from Michael is exceptional.”
Active in acquisitions, ADS has been challenged with the structure and poor claims history of some legacy programs.
Responsive and Knowledgeable
Whether it’s addressing workers’ comp issues or the diverse needs of nonprofit organizations, Jeanna Madlener is creative, responsive and knowledgeable.
“Jeanna is tremendous,” said Vincent Salvi, risk and compliance manager at Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA), which provides educational services to associations worldwide.
The insurance requirements from some schools can be “quite unusual,” he said, but Madlener resourcefully helps NWEA work through those challenges.
Two challenges affecting The Dussin Group, whose restaurant portfolio includes the Old Spaghetti Factory, were workers’ compensation and letters of credit, said Dean Griffith, president.
“Our outstanding letters of credit were frustrating to us,” he said, noting that Madlener “worked very hard to get those down.”
She was also instrumental in collaborating with the company’s medical provider to take responsibility for an expensive workers’ comp claim with reserves in excess of $250,000. The loss was decreased to just over $25,000, reducing the impact to Dussin Group’s premium expenses by more than 15 percent over the next three years.
Scrutinizing safety issues is also crucial, Griffith said. The company doesn’t want “rainbows and sunshine” from her store audits, he said. “A safe work environment is not just great on the cost side, but also for our people.”
Navigating Cyber Policies
Placing cyber policies is a complex undertaking, but for retail and health care organizations, that task is significantly more demanding. Kaitlin Upchurch nails it.
“She is just very, very good,” said Margot Roth-L’Heureux, global director of risk management, Whole Foods Market Inc. “She did a tremendous job.
“As anyone in the insurance world knows, cyber is not easy for anybody in retail,” she said. “You have to count on your broker to structure your program correctly and manage your expectations.
“Cyber has a lot of visibility with your officers and board right now. She brought good candidates to the table and different configurations for not only the best way to use money in our budget but to get us the best coverage,” Roth-L’Heureux said.
James Banfield, director of risk management/associate general counsel at Baylor College of Medicine, echoed those sentiments.
After years of self-insuring, Baylor wanted to explore going to market for cyber coverage. Upchurch took the lead, offering information and helping Baylor complete the “fairly extraordinary” applications.
When Baylor was dismayed about the prospect of completing each insurer’s separate application, Upchurch was able to convince the insurers to use a common document, with Baylor providing additional information if needed.
Commercial Auto Warning: Emerging Frequency and Severity Trends Threaten Policyholders
The slow but steady climb out of the Great Recession means businesses can finally transition out of survival mode and set their sights on growth and expansion.
The construction, retail and energy sectors in particular are enjoying an influx of business — but getting back on their feet doesn’t come free of challenges.
Increasingly, expensive commercial auto losses hamper the upward trend. From 2012 to 2015, auto loss costs increased a cumulative 20 percent, according to the Insurance Services Office.
“Since the recession ended, commercial auto losses have challenged businesses trying to grow,” said David Blessing, SVP and Chief Underwriting Officer for National Insurance Casualty at Liberty Mutual Insurance. “As the economy improves and businesses expand, it means there are more vehicles on the road covering more miles. That is pushing up the frequency of auto accidents.”
For companies with transportation exposure, costly auto losses can hinder continued growth. Buyers who partner closely with their insurance brokers and carriers to understand these risks – and the consultative support and tools available to manage them – are better positioned to protect their employees, fleets, and businesses.
Liberty Mutual’s David Blessing discusses key challenges in the commercial auto market.
“Since the recession ended, commercial auto losses have challenged businesses trying to grow. As the economy improves and businesses expand, it means there are more vehicles on the road covering more miles. That is pushing up the frequency of auto accidents.”
–David Blessing, SVP and Chief Underwriting Officer for National Insurance Casualty, Liberty Mutual Insurance
More Accidents, More Dollars
Rising claims costs typically stem from either increased frequency or severity — but in the case of commercial auto, it’s both. This presents risk managers with the unique challenge of blunting a double-edged sword.
Cumulative miles driven in February, 2016, were up 5.6 percent compared to February, 2015, Blessing said. Unfortunately, inexperienced drivers are at the helm for a good portion of those miles.
A severe shortage of experienced commercial drivers — nearing 50,000 by the end of 2015, according to the American Trucking Association — means a limited pool to choose from. Drivers completing unfamiliar routes or lacking practice behind the wheel translate into more accidents, but companies facing intense competition for experienced drivers with good driving records may be tempted to let risk management best practices slip, like proper driver screening and training.
Distracted driving, whether it’s as a result of using a phone, eating, or reading directions, is another factor contributing to the number of accidents on the road. Recent findings from the National Safety Council indicate that as much as 27% of crashes involved drivers talking or texting on cell phones.
The factors driving increased frequency in the commercial auto market.
In addition to increased frequency, a variety of other factors are driving up claim severity, resulting in higher payments for both bodily injury and property damage.
Treating those injured in a commercial auto accident is more expensive than ever as medical costs rise at a faster rate than the overall Consumer Price Index.
“Medical inflation continues to go up by about three percent, whereas the core CPI is closer to two percent,” Blessing said.
Changing physical medicine fee schedules in some states also drive up commercial auto claim costs. California, for example, increased the cost of physical medicine by 38 percent over the past two years and will increase it by a total of 64 percent by the end of 2017.
And then there is the cost of repairing and replacing damaged vehicles.
“There are a lot of new vehicles on the road, and those cost more to repair and replace,” Blessing said. “In the last few years, heavy truck sales have increased at double digit rates — 15 percent in 2014, followed by an additional 11 percent in 2015.”
The impact is seen in the industry-wide combined ratio for commercial auto coverage, which per Conning, increased from 103 in 2014 to 105 for 2015, and is forecast to grow to nearly 110 by 2018.
None of these trends show signs of slowing or reversing, especially as the advent of driverless technology introduces its own risks and makes new vehicles all the more valuable. Now is the time to reign in auto exposure, before the cost of claims balloons even further.
The factors driving up commercial auto claims severity.
Data Opens Window to Driver Behavior
To better manage the total cost of commercial auto insurance, Blessing believes risk management should focus on the driver, not just the vehicle. In this journey, fleet telematics data plays a key role, unlocking insight on the driver behavior that contributes to accidents.
“Roughly half of large fleets have telematics built into their trucks,” Blessing said. “Traditionally, they are used to improve business performance by managing maintenance and routing to better control fuel costs. But we see opportunity there to improve driver performance, and so do risk managers.”
Liberty Mutual’s Managing Vital Driver Performance tool helps clients parse through data provided by telematics vendors and apply it toward cultivating safer driving habits.
“Risk managers can get overwhelmed with all of the data coming out of telematics. They may not know how to set the right parameters, or they get too many alerts from the provider,” Blessing said.
“We can help take that data and turn it into a concrete plan of action the customer can use to build a better risk management program by monitoring driver behavior, identifying the root causes of poor driving performance and developing training and other approaches to improve performance.”
Actions risk managers can take to better manage commercial auto frequency and severity trends.
Rather than focusing on the vehicle, the Managing Vital Driver Performance tool focuses on the driver, looking for indicators of aggressive driving that may lead to accidents, such as speeding, sharp turns and hard or sudden braking.
The tool helps a risk manager see if drivers consistently exhibit any of these behaviors, and take actions to improve driving performance before an accident happens. Liberty’s risk control consultants can also interview drivers to drill deeper into the data and find out what causes those behaviors in the first place.
Sometimes patterns of unsafe driving reveal issues at the management level.
“Our behavior-based program is also for supervisors and managers, not just drivers,” Blessing said. “This is where we help them set the tone and expectations with their drivers.”
For example, if data analysis and interviews reveal that fatigue factors into poor driving performance, management can identify ways to address that fatigue, including changing assigned work levels and requirements. Are drivers expected to make too many deliveries in a single shift, or are they required to interact with dispatch while driving?
“Management support of safety is so important, and work levels and expectations should be realistic,” Blessing said.
A Consultative Approach
In addition to its Managing Vital Driver Performance tool, Liberty’s team of risk control consultants helps commercial auto policyholders establish screening criteria for new drivers, creating a “driver scorecard” to reflect a potential new hire’s driving record, any Motor Vehicle Reports, years of experience, and familiarity with the type of vehicle that a company uses.
“Our whole approach is consultative,” Blessing said. “We probe and listen and try to understand a client’s strengths and challenges, and then make recommendations to help them establish the best practices they need.”
“With our approach and tools, we do something no one else in the industry does, which is perform the root cause analysis to help prevent accidents, better protecting a commercial auto policyholder’s employees and bottom line.”
This article was produced by the R&I Brand Studio, a unit of the advertising department of Risk & Insurance, in collaboration with Liberty Mutual Insurance. The editorial staff of Risk & Insurance had no role in its preparation.