By MATTHEW BRODSKY, senior editor/Web editor of Risk & Insurance®
NEW YORK--The New Year is only a few weeks of holiday shopping away, so if they're on their toes, risk managers are preparing now for their 2010 insurance renewals. Jim Iervolino, vice president of risk management and insurance for Wyndham Worldwide, has his May 2010 property insurance renewal in his crosshairs. On a rainy Wednesday before Halloween, 177 days before May 1, he brought together his brokering team to launch the effort.
"We really go fast and furious from this point on," he told them.
Iervolino had success with his 2009 property renewal by getting an early jump. As his insurance brokers explained at the meeting, the Wyndham program benefited last year by submitting early because it then missed the rate hardening that occurred in the second quarter.
The market could be friendly for the 2010 renewal as well, Iervolino's brokers reported, as about a dozen and a half of them squeezed into a conference room in the Midtown Manhattan office of Stephens Insurance.
Reinsurance companies' third-quarter earnings reports and cocktail napkin indications from the meetings in Monte Carlo suggest that property reinsurance rates should hold steady. It also helps that Mother Nature forgot to blow this hurricane season.
Of course, that's not to say that some primary carriers might not try to pass off rate increases, especially for Tier-1 catastrophe-exposed property. After all, flat reinsurance rates for 2010 property treaties aren't necessarily great for primary insurers. That just means they are paying the same high rates they paid for reinsurance last season, which were double-digit percentages higher than the season before.
"UGLY" TEAM, GETTING UGLIER
But that's where Iervolino's brokerage team comes in. Despite their different affiliations--Aon, THB, Napco, Stephens Insurance?the Wyndham brokers must cooperate to cobble together a property tower that comes as close as possible to Iervolino's goals, working existing relationships with markets and creating opportunities with new underwriters,.
At his meeting in New York, Iervolino drove home the message that the brokers should take to the underwriters: "One team. One family. One renewal submission. No questions."
Or as Iervolino likes to say, "We don't check coats at the door. We check egos."
Whether or not you believe big-time brokers can actually set aside their egos for an entire renewal process, or for five minutes, the Wyndham brokers appear to have a good time working together, with Iervolino leading the ribbing.
"People seem to get uglier and uglier every year," he kidded at the commencement of this year's meeting.
Iervolino also got some laughs (and some team-building effort) with a "Getting to Know You" crossword puzzle. Before any serious work could start at the property renewal meeting, the brokers had to match their colleagues with certain descriptions, such as "still plays with Barbie dolls," "loves Fruity Pebbles" and "fought a zebra with his bare hands."
The next step in team-building: everyone received a surprise present, Ishiganto rocks, traditional Okinawan good-luck charms. The stones, Iervolino explained, are meant to help the brokers avoid exclusions, sublimits and other renewal misfortunes.
After these ice breakers (and a game of musical chairs so that no two members of the same firm sat next to each other), the brokers got down to their job of briefing the risk manager, including discussions on the state of the market, about underwriters' comings and goings, the current Wyndham property program, plans for subsequent property renewal meetings, and a review of underwriting and modeling data, among other things.
Brokers at the renewal meeting included: from Stephens, Stan Payne, Mary Whitten, Bill Bussey, Stephanie Jones and Matt Jones; from THB, Mark Cody and Steve Matanle; from Napco, David Pagoumian, John Carlsen, Rian Nelson, Ravi Singhvi and Marco Perci; and from Aon, Vince Bell, Andres Silva, Steven Forsythe, David Johnson, Joan Jakowski and Jessica Harbron. Also attending was Alan Buchfuhrer from claims solution provider Cunningham Lindsey.
We'll leave it up to you to guess who fought the zebra, loves Fruity Pebbles and plays with Barbies.
November 5, 2009
Copyright 2009© LRP Publications