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.
Using Data to Get Through Hail and Back
4,600 hailstorms have rained down on the U.S. as of the end of July according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. And these storms have left damage behind, cracking unprotected skylights, damaging exterior siding, dimpling rooftops and destroying HVAC systems.
While storm frequency is almost on par with last year’s 5,400, the rest of the picture isn’t quite the same. For example, the hail zone seems to be shifting south. San Antonio, Texas, a “moderate” hazard hail zone area, typically sees four or five hail storms a year, on average. Year to date, more than 30 storms have been reported. Overall, Texas has suffered nearly 20 percent of all hail storms this year.
Liberty Mutual’s Ralph Tiede discusses the risk hail poses to large commercial property owners.
The resulting damage is different too, with air conditioning (AC) units accounting for more than a third of the insurance industry’s losses, a greater proportion than in previous years. “In some cases, we’ve seen properties that sustained no roof damage but had heavily damaged AC systems. This may be a result of smaller hail stone size coupled with high winds,” noted Ralph Tiede, Vice President of Commercial Insurance and Manager of Property Risk Engineering at Liberty Mutual.
Despite the shifting trends, however, these losses are largely preventable if commercial property owners understand their exposures and take steps to mitigate them. By partnering with the right insurer, a company can gain access to the industry-leading resources and expertise to make it happen.
Understanding the Risk through Data
A property owner might know that his property is located in an area prone to hail, but could underestimate the extent of damage a storm could cause. Exposed skylights, solar panels, satellite dishes and other roof-mounted equipment can translate to serious losses.
Three trends that have emerged this hail season.
This is where Liberty Mutual’s property loss control engineers offer critical guidance for customers with large property exposures.
“Our property loss control engineers go out and inspect locations to develop loss estimates,” said Tiede. “They’re looking at the age and condition of the roof, the material it’s made of, and whether equipment is exposed or if there are adequate safeguards in place.”
Liberty Mutual can combine this detail with the hail data it has collected for more than 14 years and use this extensive library to help customers understand their exposures. The company’s proprietary hail tool looks at customer-specific factors, such as roof type, age, condition and geocodes, to better identify potential losses from hail. The tool provides a more detailed view of hail exposure on a micro level, as opposed to more traditional macro views based on zip codes.
“This way, we’re not just looking at a location’s exposure, we’re looking at an account’s cumulative hail exposure and providing a better understanding of where the risk is concentrated,” Tiede said.
Having a good understanding of a company’s specific exposure helps the broker, buyer, and insurer develop an effective insurance program. “Two customers may be in the same area, but if one’s building has a hail resistant roof, protected skylights, and hail guards for HVAC equipment and the other’s has unprotected sky lights and no hail guards or screens on rooftop equipment, they are going to have different levels of exposure. In both scenarios, we can design an insurance program that fits the customer’s situation and helps control the total cost of property risk,” said Brent Chambers, Underwriting Consultant for National Insurance Property at Liberty Mutual.
A Liberty Mutual property loss control engineer consults with the customer on ways to reduce or mitigate the exposure from hail so that the customer can make an informed decision as to where to deploy capital. “It’s not just about protecting a building’s roof and rooftop equipment. Roof damage can lead to extensive water damage inside a building and in some cases disrupt service, both of which can be costly for a business. By focusing on locations with the most exposure, a risk manager is better able to mitigate future losses,” said Tiede.
Actions commercial property owners can take to mitigate the risk of hail-related damage.
Liberty Mutual property loss control engineers also provide recommendations specific to each location. “We know that hail guards work, so we encourage clients to use those to protect HVAC equipment,” said Ronnie Smith, Senior Account Engineer for National Insurance Property at Liberty Mutual. “Condenser coils in air conditioning systems are fragile and easily damaged, and units don’t necessarily come with built-in protection. It’s important for property owners to take this step proactively to prevent a loss.”
The average cost to fix a condenser coil is $500, but replacing a coil can run at least $500 per ton of cooling, a measurement of air conditioning capacity that refers to the amount of heat needed to melt a ton of ice over a 24-hour period. As one ton of cooling typically covers about 250 square feet of interior space, replacement costs can quickly add up.
Replacing an entire AC unit can run more than $1,000 per ton of cooling. In a 250,000 square foot property, the replacement could easily reach $1 million. Given the increase in hail-related AC damage this year, these are numbers worth knowing.
Other risk mitigation recommendations include regular roof maintenance, such as inspections and repairs to small damages like blisters and installing protective screens over skylights.
“If a roof needs replacing, we also suggest using materials that have been tested and approved by an independent certification laboratory and are durable enough to fit the location’s exposures,” Tiede said. “The last thing a commercial property owner wants is to replace a roof again six months after it’s installed. Experience has shown that ballasted-type roofs are the most resistant to hail damage.”
Using Data to Develop Solutions
When a property owner has an understanding of the size of its exposure and potential losses, it is better able to work with its agent or broker and insurer to develop an insurance program to manage and mitigate potential risks.
“The data and advice we provide help clients focus on the largest risks and better mitigate that exposure,” Smith said. “The more data you have, the more you can understand your risk on a granular level and manage it.”
This data-driven approach to preparedness makes Liberty particularly well-suited to serve large commercial properties with multiple locations in high risk areas.
Prices for roof and air conditioning repairs and replacements have risen over last year, Tiede said, and are likely to grow more expensive as older equipment becomes obsolete. Property owners will be forced to buy newer, pricier replacements than perhaps they had originally planned for.
And if this year’s storm trends are any indication, hail is sometimes an unpredictable foe.
Amidst these shifting trends, the value of an insurer’s expertise in identifying, mitigating and managing hail exposure will be immeasurable to large commercial property owners.
For more information about Liberty Mutual’s commercial property coverage, visit https://business.libertymutualgroup.com/business-insurance.
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.