Understanding the Risks
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That was the clear message from a client to Richard Geiger when the firm reorganized itself and split off a large chunk of its business.
“We recently completed a spin-off where we needed to duplicate our marine liability structure at an aggressive price,” said the risk manager.
“Rick successfully completed that assignment, getting us the same coverage for the new entity with a cost structure we liked. I was confident he would be able to get it done. Rick was able to negotiate a very aggressive pricing structure at below minimum premiums with the same coverage for some of the layers.”
Another client had a workers’ compensation policy that included limited cover for the Jones Act and U.S. Longshore and Harborworkers’ Compensation Act.
The Jones Act is a federal law that requires the movement of cargo between U.S. ports be carried in vessels owned by and crewed by U.S. citizens. USLH is workers’ compensation for employees specifically when working on or near navigable waters and engaged in maritime employment.
The additional elements of the coverage were expensive, despite a million-dollar retention.
The client said Geiger was able to isolate those specific exposures and place a policy that effectively eliminated the retention and significantly reduced the costs.
Geiger worked with colleagues and insurers in London to create a financial guaranty cover to protect the client’s balance sheet in case of a significant loss after project completion.
Making It Happen
Often, Power Brokers earn their status through innovative coverage and placements, or by resolving a complex claim.
Mira Jacinto had to do it all at once for a client that had suffered “multiple large catastrophic claims,” said the risk manager.
A previous reorganization of the company’s business plan, combined with the losses, drove the firm into poor results and forced it to sell a significant portion of its operations.
The risk manager said that Jacinto was instrumental in getting things back on track. She revised the company’s program after the divestiture, supported management in crafting a risk program for its new, smaller operations, and went to domestic and international markets to secure placement.
Jacinto transformed the client’s turnaround story from a negative one to a positive one, and was able to place customized coverage and secure an overall reduction in rate.
For another client, the challenge could not have been more different.
The firm had prospered, and it asked Jacinto to recommend and implement opportunistic expansions in coverage.
At a time when many companies are emphasizing supply-chain efficiency and trying to reduce inventory, Jacinto found readily available capacity in the market for excess stock exposure, enhancing the client’s marine program at very low cost.
For a third client, a very large retail operation with an evolving business model, Jacinto was credited with keeping the inventory program current with rapid changes in the company.
Meeting the Challenge
“Our cargo coverage was a mess,” said one risk executive. “Our whole business practice had changed and suddenly we went from holding no inventory to holding a lot. It was suddenly a huge exposure both in warehouses and out in the supply chain.
“We had changed our whole stock-throughput policy, and our coverage had not kept pace. We were paying way too much.”
The exec’s company put out an RFP and ultimately chose Michael Pellegrini. “He fixed the gaps and saved us money.”
Part of the challenge, the client said, was that that the company is known for its lean supply chain. Presenting the company to the market was as much a question of perception as it was underwriting and risk management.
Nevertheless, Pellegrini was able to double limits to $200 million, and enhance coverage across the board for the transit and inventory risks, all while securing a rate reduction of more than one-quarter of the previous bill.
Having secured increasingly favorable successive multiyear cargo and transit placements for one client, Pellegrini had to dig a little deeper in 2014 to find efficiencies to be gained in the client’s excess layers that were placed offshore.
Pellegrini was able to craft a presentation that generated competition by previously reluctant domestic underwriters. The result was significant reductions by the incumbent London markets.
Expertise for Diverse Needs
Times have been tough for some in the marine sector, but companies were able to rely on the expertise of Kevin Sisk.
“This was a terrible year for our industry, and a tough one for our company,” said the owner of a private firm. “Margins sunk very low, to the bare bones.
“We put a lot of pressure on Kevin, and he really helped us when we needed it. We changed the whole nature of our company, sold off some big operations, and concentrated on a few others. Our whole financial structure changed and our whole risk profile changed.
“We had to go back to our underwriters — sometimes for our whole placement, sometimes just for segments. But Kevin really earned his stripes this year; we got seamless changes in coverage,” the owner said.
In a strikingly different testimonial, another client faced other needs at a fast growing firm with many small clients. The owner said that with expansion had come strong pressure from small clients for the company to handle the risk management and insurance for projects.
The Catch-22 was that if Sisk’s client refused to shoulder the burden, it risked losing the project or customer entirely; if Sisk’s client accepted, the risks exposures could be greater than any gain from the project.
The client credited Sisk with being able to accommodate the risks — in some cases within the firm’s existing program. In other cases, he worked with the client and its customer to craft coverage for the project that enabled it to proceed without unduly burdening the contractor.
Creative Solutions to Keep Clients Afloat
HUB International’s B.C. Thibeaux III earned his laurels this year by crafting powerful and innovative programs for small operators in a beleaguered industry.
“B.C.’s aggressive and creative thinking showed me how to limit my company’s and my customers’ exposure, by getting non-owned vessel owners to list us on their policy as additional insured,” said one owner. “And then he was the architect in implementing that policy.”
The client has been an owner and operator of offshore vessels for more than 30 years, along with marketing and managing a large fleet of non-owned vessels. So it was no mean feat to show him an approach he had not heard about before.
In another case, a client needed traction with underwriters before he could even begin to think about creative options.
“When I met B.C., my company was having a very difficult time getting underwritten,” said the company executive.
“Many brokers didn’t even acknowledge us with a return phone call. Although we are a small account, B.C. treated us like a major [one], aggressively attacked the market and got us coverage, which effectively saved us from tying up the fleet. B.C. kept us in business.”
Another client had multiple claims on both employer’s and general liability, which were separate. First, Thibeaux worked with the client on safety and risk mitigation, and then was able to find a Lloyd’s underwriter willing to take the placements under a single policy.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
“Out of sight, out of mind.” That phrase is a useful reminder of the vulnerabilities many organizations unknowingly face when it comes to their far-flung supply chains.
Following some quiet years where natural catastrophes and supply chain disruption issues aren’t front page news, management often turns to seemingly more pressing matters.
However, low risk quality at one’s key facilities, or that of their suppliers and customers, can leave unprepared organizations susceptible to business disruption. Two often overlooked aspects warrant consideration: The first is an organization’s exposure to natural hazards on a country-by-country basis, given that all nations have particular vulnerabilities to one or more perils like earthquake, windstorm or flood.
While mega-catastrophes often spring to mind as a major contributor to supply chain disruption, outwardly smaller weather events can wreak fiscal havoc too.
The second aspect is a country’s level of commitment to addressing natural hazards (i.e., whether local building codes and standards exist, are robust and enforced).
Yet, lower costs and higher productivity often entice businesses, with little consideration of the supply chains consequences, into less resilient countries — regions where economies are emerging, labor is cheap, facilities are built in natural hazard-prone locations and risk management practices are weaker than more developed nations.
While mega-catastrophes often spring to mind as a major contributor to supply chain disruption, outwardly smaller weather events can wreak fiscal havoc too.
Last year, in a poll of the U.S. workforce, more than one in four employees said their company had been hit financially as a result of the winter weather and didn’t have an emergency plan to keep business going during such scenarios.
All told, since 2000, the economic losses globally from natural disasters are estimated to be approximately $2.5 trillion, according to the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction.
When you can’t make savvy decisions about the resilience of your supply chain to disruption, the chance of it disentangling increases. Under such circumstances, it can take two years or more for companies to recover from a supply chain failure, research finds.
Yet, despite those statistics, 90 percent of companies still do not quantify supply chain risk when outsourcing production, according to a recent study by the Global Supply Chain Institute.
Certainly, the need to continually gauge Mother Nature is just as important as assessing ongoing macroeconomic and geopolitical factors within each country where one’s supply chain extends. For example, what if a key supplier is located in a region with robust building codes and standards that adequately address local natural hazards, but the region’s economy is destabilizing by political upheaval?
By factoring suppliers’ differing risk profiles on a country-by-country basis and which firms could most affect revenue growth and profitability, a buying organization can make sounder choices.
The most resilient companies take pains to identify, analyze, quantify and correlate these various physical threats with other key factors that can jeopardize the timely flow of supplies from across the world.
Only after a comprehensive analysis of such data can organizations be in a position to soundly prioritize supply chain and risk management efforts to ensure their business continuity, competitiveness and reputation.
Healthcare: The Hardest Job in Risk Management
Radically changing cost and reimbursement models.
Rapidly evolving service delivery approaches.
It is difficult to imagine an industry more complex and uncertain than healthcare. Providers are being forced to lower costs and improve efficiencies on a scale that is almost beyond imagination. At the same time, quality of care must remain high.
After all, this is more than just a business.
The pressure on risk managers, brokers and CFOs is intense. If navigating these challenges wasn’t stress inducing enough, these professionals also need to ensure continued profitability.
“Healthcare companies don’t hide the fact that they’re looking to reduce costs and improve efficiencies in practically every facet of their business. Insurance purchasing and financing are high on that list,” said Leo Carroll, who heads the healthcare professional liability underwriting unit for Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance.
But it’s about a lot more than just price. The complexity of the healthcare system and unique footprint of each provider requires customized solutions that can reduce risk, minimize losses and improve efficiencies.
“Each provider is faced with a different set of challenges. Therefore, our approach is to carefully listen to the needs of each client and respond with a creative proposal that often requires great flexibility on the part of our team,” explained Carroll.
Creativity? Flexibility? Those are not terms often used to describe an insurance carrier. But BHSI Healthcare is a new type of insurer.
The Foundation: Financial Strength
Berkshire Hathaway is synonymous with financial strength. Leveraging the company’s well-capitalized balance sheet provides BHSI with unmatched capabilities to take on substantial risks in a sustainable way.
For one, BHSI is the highest rated paper available to healthcare providers. Given the severity of risks faced by the industry, this is a very important attribute.
But BHSI operationalizes its balance sheet in many ways beyond just strong financial ratings.
For example, BHSI has never relied on reinsurance. Without the need to manage those relationships, BHSI is able to eliminate a significant amount of overhead. The result is an industry leading expense ratio and the ability to pass on savings to clients.
“The impact of operationalizing our balance sheet is remarkable. We don’t impose our business needs on our clients. Our financial strength provides us the freedom to genuinely listen to our clients and propose unique, creative solutions,” Carroll said.
Keeping Things Simple
Healthcare professional liability policy language is often bloated and difficult to decipher. Insurers are attempting to tackle complex, evolving issues and account for a broad range of scenarios and contingencies. The result often confuses and contradicts.
Carroll said BHSI strives to be as simple and straightforward as possible with policy language across all lines of business. It comes down to making it easy and transparent to do business with BHSI.
“Our goal is to be as straightforward as we can and at the same time provide coverage that’s meaningful and addresses the exposures our customers need addressed,” Carroll said.
Claims: More Than an After Thought
Complex litigation is an unfortunate fact of life for large healthcare customers. Carroll, who began his insurance career in medical claims management, understands how important complex claims management is to the BHSI value proposition.
In fact, “claims management is so critical to customers, that BHSI Claims contributes to all aspects of its operations – from product development through risk analysis, servicing and claims resolution,” said Robert Romeo, head of Healthcare and Casualty Claims.
And as part of the focus on building long-term relationships, BHSI has made it a priority to introduce customers to the claims team as early as possible and before a claim is made on a policy.
“Being so closely aligned automatically delivers efficiency and simplicity in the way we work,” explained Carroll. “We have a common understanding of our forms, endorsements and coverage, so there is less opportunity for disagreement or misunderstanding between what our underwriters wrote and how our claims professionals interpret it.”
Responding To Ebola: Creativity + Flexibility
The recent Ebola outbreak provided a prime example of BHSI Healthcare’s customer-centric approach in action.
Almost immediately, many healthcare systems recognized the need to improve their infectious disease management protocols. The urgency intensified after several nurses who treated Ebola patients were themselves infected.
BHSI Healthcare was uniquely positioned to rapidly respond. Carroll and his team approached several of their clients who were widely recognized as the leading infectious disease management institutions. With the help of these institutions, BHSI was able to compile tools, checklists, libraries and other materials.
These best practices were immediately made available to all BHSI Healthcare clients who leveraged the information to improve their operations.
At the same time, healthcare providers were at risk of multiple exposures associated with the evolving Ebola situation. Carroll and his Healthcare team worked with clients from a professional liability and general liability perspective. Concurrently, other BHSI groups worked with the same clients on offerings for business interruption, disinfection and cleaning costs.
Ever vigilant, the BHSI chief underwriting officer, David Fields, created a point of central command to monitor the situation, field client requests and execute the company’s response. The results were highly customized packages designed specifically for several clients. On some programs, net limits exceeded $100 million and covered many exposures underwritten by multiple BHSI groups.
“At the height of the outbreak, there was a lot of fear and panic in the healthcare industry. Our team responded not by pulling back but by leaning in. We demonstrated that we are risk seekers and as an organization we can deploy our substantial resources in times of crisis. The results were creative solutions and very substantial coverage options for our clients,” said Carroll.
It turns out that creativity and flexibly requires both significant financial resources and passionate professionals. That is why no other insurer can match Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance.
To learn more about BHSI Healthcare, please visit www.bhspecialty.com.
Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance (www.bhspecialty.com) provides commercial property, casualty, healthcare professional liability, executive and professional lines, surety, travel, programs, and homeowners insurance. It underwrites on the paper of Berkshire Hathaway’s National Indemnity group of insurance companies, which hold financial strength ratings of A++ from AM Best and AA+ from Standard & Poor’s. Based in Boston, Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance has regional underwriting offices in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Toronto, Hong Kong, Singapore and New Zealand. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The information contained herein is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any product or service. Any description set forth herein does not include all policy terms, conditions and exclusions. Please refer to the actual policy for complete details of coverage and exclusions.
This article was produced by the R&I Brand Studio, a unit of the advertising department of Risk & Insurance, in collaboration with Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance. The editorial staff of Risk & Insurance had no role in its preparation.