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What brokers should be on the lookout for in the era of connected devices


Everything you need to know about insuring commercial property


Expert advice on connecting with customers on Facebook and Twitter

WHAT’S UP NEXT? AIG Multinational’s Carol Barton on what the future might hold for the industry



ale brokers Producers name the wholes the rest in and MGAs that stand above 12 different specialties

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ISSUE 5.05

CONNECT WITH US Got a story or suggestion, or just want to find out some more information?


UPFRONT 04 Editorial

Reputational risk in the era of fake news





06 Statistics



It’s a vast market with a wide range of exposures – here’s what brokers need to know about insuring commercial property




Do all businesses need terrorism insurance?

10 News analysis

Understanding the latest risks posed by technology

12 Intelligence

This month’s big movers, shakers and new products The reality behind slowing health cost growth

16 Technology update




How to move customers effortlessly from analog channels to digital ones

Carol Barton, president of AIG Multinational, speculates on the future of underwriting and the industry as a whole


08 Head to head

14 Workers’ comp update

PRODUCERS ON WHOLESALE PARTNERS Producers name the best wholesale brokers and MGAs across 12 different specialties


What Gen Y customers want

Tips for winning customers through social media

23 Opinion

Culture is king when making acquisitions

FEATURES 54 Agency insight

David Macknin explains how Alper Services has found success by tuning out the competition

PEOPLE 63 Career path




Feel like you can’t ever get on top of your work? Follow these three steps for an instant improvement

No matter where life takes him, John O’Marra can’t resist the pull of the insurance industry

64 Other life

Off the beaten path with Jeep enthusiast Brad Henderson


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Deliver the expertise.

We can. Expertise that allows us to understand the complexities of our business. Talented people who are inspired to deliver a remarkable experience.

E&S/Specialty A.M. Best rating of A+ (Superior), FSC XV Fortune 100 company

Nationwide and the Nationwide N and Eagle are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. Š 2017 Nationwide

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12/05/2017 5:47:52 AM



Fake news, real problem


as it really 100 days ago? The idea of Donald Trump leading the US as president has barely sunk in for most of us, yet he’s already spent more than 100 days in world politics’ ultimate hot seat. On the arrival of that historic milestone, he renewed his promises on taxes and healthcare – but also took the opportunity to reiterate another key theme of his reign to date, namely to slam the media for allegedly misleading Americans with what he brands “fake news.” Whether you agree with the media’s interpretation of President Trump’s leadership or not, there’s no getting away from the fact that reputational risks have become a key topic globally – and especially in the world of insurance. In April, Aon released its 2017 Global Risk Management Survey, in which 1,843 respondents at public and private companies around the world named “damage to reputation/brand” as their number-one risk. “Over the past few years, while defective products, fraudulent business practices or corruption continue to be key reputation wreckers, new media technologies have greatly amplified their negative impact, making companies more vulnerable,” the report said. “In the age of Twitter or viral videos, damage to reputation could occur because of an inappropriate tweet by an executive or a

“Fake news, which started as a way to influence elections on social media, has begun to spill over to the corporate world” video by an employee complaining about sexual harassment or discrimination. On a related note, fake news, which started as a way to influence elections on social media, has begun to spill over to the corporate world.” That spillover means businesses can no longer rely solely on the usual forms of risk transfer and risk management – instead, they require new ways to deal with emerging complexities. For the insurance world, of course, this creates an opportunity – fake news and similar reputational threats have created a risk that needs to be managed effectively. To ensure they have the solutions businesses require, brokers are increasingly reliant on MGAs to put together policies that are adaptable and appropriate for their clients’ needs. In this edition of Insurance Business America, brokers have their say on some of the leading wholesale MGAs and brokerages in the US – those they know they can rely on to provide real solutions in a world where the risks are anything but fake. The team at Insurance Business America MAY 2017 EDITORIAL Managing Editor Paul Lucas Journalists Sam Boyer, Jordan Lynn, Lucy Hook, Will Koblensky, Ryan Smith, Nerine Zoio News Writers Lyle Adriano, Louie Bacani, Mina Martin, Gabriel Olano, Allie Sanchez Staff Writers Tim Garratt, Libby McDonald, Joe Rosengarten, Heather Turner Editorial Researcher Hannah Go Copy Editor Clare Alexander

CONTRIBUTORS Jay Brown, Dermot Crowley, Anders Sörman-Nilsson

ART & PRODUCTION Design Manager Daniel Williams Designer Joenel Salvador Production Manager Alicia Chin Traffic Manager Ella Dayandante

SALES & MARKETING Vice President Cathy Masek Media Sales Managers Chris Wills, Chris Anderson, Megan Roth Mktg & Comms Manager Lisa Narroway

CORPORATE Chief Executive Officer Mike Shipley Chief Operating Officer George Walmsley Chief Information Officer Colin Chan Human Resources Manager Julia Bookallil

Editorial Inquiries Subscription Inquiries Advertising Inquiries,,

Key Media 78O7 E. Peakview Ave., Suite 115 Centennial, CO 80111, USA tel: +1 720 316 0151 Offices in Denver, London, Toronto, Sydney, Auckland, Manila, Singapore, Bengaluru

Insurance Business America is part of an international family of B2B publications and websites for the insurance industry Insurance Business Canada T +1 416 644 874O Insurance Business UK T +44 20 7193 0935 Insurance Business Australia T +61 2 8437 47OO Insurance Business NZ T +61 2 8437 47OO Insurance Business Asia T +61 2 8437 47OO


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Copyright is reserved throughout. No part of this publication can be reproduced in whole or part without the express permission of the editor. Contributions are invited, but copies of work should be kept, as the magazine can accept no responsibility for loss.

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12/05/2017 5:49:51 AM



Changing channels

A WORLD OF USER EXPERIENCE Globally, members of Generation Y are likely to have less positive experiences with insurance companies across the board. That’s primarily due to high expectations and a pronounced preference for digital channels, pointing to gaps in service.

Gen Yers are on the rise, and they’re not satisfied with the status quo when it comes to insurance YOUNG, MOBILE and attuned to a world of constant digital interaction, Generation Y is emerging as a new kind of customer. According to the latest World Insurance Report from Capgemini and Efma, fewer Gen Y customers reported a positive experience with their insurance carriers than their elders. Perhaps most important is the marked gulf between what Gen Y customers expect and

what traditional insurers provide. This generation is characterized by a desire to engage more frequently, with a preference for twice as much contact as other demographic segments, particularly in newer channels such as social media. That opens the field to new competitors, especially as Gen Yers say they’d be more likely to consider purchasing insurance from a tech brand like Apple or Google, if offered.


100% 80% 60% 64.7% 40% 40.3% 20% 0% Positive experience in traditional channels



of the global population is part of Generation Y


of Gen Y customers consider themselves to be strong technology users

of non-Gen-Y customers consider themselves strong technology users



Positive experience in digital channels


of customers worldwide are likely to purchase insurance from a tech company, if offered

Gen Y


Source: World Insurance Report 2016, Capgemini and Efma



Gen Y consumers communicate with their insurers more often across all channels, though they do reach out more frequently online.

Gen Y customers have a clear preference for digital channels – they turn to social media to access insurance services up to two and a half times more often than other customers and use mobile more than twice as often as other customers.

Gen Y


Gen Y






North America



Internet (PC)


Internet (Mobile) Social media 0%





Source: World Insurance Report 2016, Capgemini and Efma



Developing Asia-Pacific 40%



Developed Asia-Pacific





Latin America








30.2% 53.2%

33.9% 0%





Source: World Insurance Report 2016, Capgemini and Efma

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100% 80% 60% 56.6% 40% 20% 34.6% 0%

100% 80% 60% 40% 51.6% 20% 36.0% 0%

49.9% 29.0%

Positive experience in traditional channels

Positive experience in traditional channels

Positive experience in digital channels



100% 80% 60% 59.3% 40% 20% 35.4% 0%

100% 80% 60% 48.8% 40% 20% 33.9% 0%

Positive experience in traditional channels

44.7% 29.0%




Positive experience in traditional channels

Positive experience in digital channels

Positive experience in digital channels


Positive experience in digital channels

Source: World Insurance Report 2016, Capgemini and Efma



Digital migration is hardly the sole province of the younger generation – across all age groups, online and mobile channels were most likely to see increased usage for the purchase of primary insurance policies.

A quarter of Gen Yers in North America were willing to purchase insurance through a tech company, but that number was even higher elsewhere.








11.8% 20.7% 8.8%





43.6% 13.2% 9.0%

30% 20%

13.1% 8.8%

10% 0%





Internet (PC)

Internet (mobile)

Social media Source: World Insurance Report 2016, Capgemini and Efma



12.5% 14.1% 8.8%










Gen Y

Would you purchase insurance policies from a top technology brand such as Google, if offered?

North America





Channel likely to be used to purchase or renew insurance policy in next 12 months (Others)



Channel used to purchase insurance policy (Others)



Channel likely to be used to purchase or renew insurance policy in next 12 months (Gen Y)


Channel used to purchase insurance policy (Gen Y)

Latin Developed Developing America Asia-Pacific Asia-Pacific

Source: World Insurance Report 2016, Capgemini and Efma


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Is terrorism coverage now necessary for all businesses? Terrorism insurance is essential for business clients in high-risk industries and locations – but what about everyone else?

Julian Enoizi CEO Pool Re

“Recent attacks have emphasized the terrorism threat we now face; the insurance industry needs to increase the uptake of cover and its scope. In many of these events, small businesses have borne the brunt of the costs, from street closures to loss of attraction, damaging the wider economy as a result. These attacks have not been restricted to major cities or high-risk industries and locations. As high-profile sites become better defended, terrorists might turn their attentions to less obvious and more exposed targets. Ensuring that businesses have access to terrorism insurance cover is key to mitigating this threat.”

Reggie Gibbs

Geoff Stilwell

Managing underwriter, security risks Starr Companies

CEO and managing director Beech Underwriting Agencies

“The need for terrorism insurance, particularly that of the ‘non-certified’ variety – i.e. not subject to TRIA – has become increasingly important in recent years as threats have shifted from highprofile locations to targets that would not traditionally be considered high-risk. Recent examples include attacks at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando and at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino. Low-level, ‘lone wolf’ attacks have become even more prevalent in Europe. Hence, regardless of the location, profile or industry class of business, the chance of becoming a target of, or suffering collateral damage from, an act of terror has increased.”

“Unfortunately, any act of terrorism, as we know, is totally random. Therefore, it doesn’t matter where a client is based or the type of business they are in – I would recommend terrorism insurance. Quite simply, any client must think of the following: “Should an incident take place, who is going to pay back the mortgage or loans to the lender, or can I continue to trade?” All the lender is interested in is getting ‘their’ money back – whether you can trade or not trade – and having the right cover will enable a business to continue to trade.”

A CONSTANT THREAT Fifteen years after the September 11 attacks, the threat of global terrorism lingers, albeit in an altered form. The April incident in Stockholm, which resulted in the deaths of four people and injuries to 15 when a truck was driven into a pedestrian shopping street and department store, is the type of ‘lone wolf’ attack that typifies the changing face of terrorism. According to a 2016 report from Marsh, this change in the nature of terror attacks has seen a growing awareness of the need for organizations to assess their coverage for indirect losses stemming from business interruption risks. In the US, the passage of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act in 2015, which extended the legislation until 2020, has increased the take-up rate for terrorism coverage embedded in property programs.


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12/05/2017 5:51:59 AM

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12/05/2017 5:52:04 AM



Technology gone bad Never mind the challenge of innovating within the industry – technology is opening up new exposures across multiple sectors, and insurance needs to take note

IT’S NOTHING new to say that technology is changing the world, but while much lip service is paid to how digital innovation is affecting the insurance industry internally, less is known about some of the new risks that technology is opening up in many lines of business. Current issues range from the problem of connected devices and who will be liable for them in the future to the network of cybercriminals using digital techniques to execute sophisticated scams. “With the interconnectedness of the world, every company is becoming a tech company to a certain extent,” says Emy Donavan, Allianz’s global head of cyber. From semi-autonomous cars to house-

that lead us down the way,” Donavan says. “What concerns me more are the non-tech companies that are now doing tech,” she adds, pointing particularly to product manufacturers that are starting to integrate connected technologies into their offerings. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that there is a limited number of people who can advise on these products and the surrounding liabilities. Manufacturers of connected consumer products may end up facing major issues and product recalls if they are unable to get a handle on the vulnerability gap these devices open up, which can include the threat of hacking, as well as malware programs that can

“If, as an organization, you aren’t hardwired to think about [cybersecurity] exposures, you inherently won’t” Emy Donavan, Allianz hold appliances, connected devices are creeping into more and more people’s homes and lives. But while many tech companies have a good understanding of some of the exposures these products can bring, just as many firms do not. “Tech companies have this in hand, and I think actually they’ll be the ones


break devices. With so much focus on speed to market and early adoption, companies may well be pushing out products without an understanding of the exposures they could face. “I think that companies that haven’t yet been forced to think about security aren’t yet,” Donavan says. “If, as an organization,

you aren’t hard-wired to think about those kinds of exposures, you inherently won’t.” The potential shift in liability as a result of these devices’ exposures is yet to be worked out, and Donovan believes there needs to be far more communication between the insurance industry, its regulators and the technology community to figure out how they will respond to these challenges. “Who ends up holding the bag?” she says. “I don’t know the answer to that – but I think people should start to think about how they want that to look.” And it’s not just devices that are vulnerable – cybercriminals are now using technology to manipulate people in “a modern-day version of the old con scams,” says Greg Bangs, XL Catlin’s global crime insurance head.

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CYBERSECURITY: THE CURRENT LANDSCAPE There will be as many as 20.8 billion connected devices in use worldwide by 2020.

The huge DDoS attack on global internet access in October 2016, which blocked websites such as Twitter, Paypal and Spotify, was conducted by hacking into hundreds of thousands of internetconnected devices.

Sixty percent of US enterprises were victims of social engineering attacks in 2016.

The average loss from CEO fraud is $120,000, but some companies have been tricked into sending as much as $90 million to offshore accounts. Sources: Gartner Research,, ISMG & Agari, Federal Bureau of Investigation

Social engineering fraud – in which criminals gather information from social media platforms and company websites to

convince employees to transfer them funds. CEO fraud is particularly rife in Europe, Bangs says, and is especially difficult to

“With the increasingly technologically superior capabilities of the fraudsters, it seems they are always one step ahead” Greg Bangs, XL Catlin use as psychological manipulation – is one of the hottest talking points in the crime insurance space. Two of the most common forms of scam are vendor impersonation, in which criminals impersonate a business vendor to re-route payments to themselves, and CEO fraud, where thieves pretend to be executives within the company and

protect against. “This one is a little more insidious because the fraudsters are very good at using psychological pressure points,” he says, “so when they’re talking to the individual to try to convince them, they recognize right away what the right buttons to push are.”

But while these scams are happening “all the time,” Bangs says the picture is still a little cloudy when it comes to coverage. “It’s an interesting landscape … a lot of [insurance] companies don’t cover [social engineering fraud] at all because they’re not comfortable with it, so they stick with the standard crime coverage and say, ‘We don’t like that; it’s too exposed.’” Others, including XL Catlin, do offer coverage, but limits vary, as there is still some hesitancy in the space as the risks continue to develop. Loss-wise, Bangs says there’s been an “explosion” in the computer fraud and wire transfer area, which insurers are concerned about. “With the increasingly technologically superior capabilities of the fraudsters,” he says, “it seems they are always one step ahead of the good guys.”

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12/05/2017 5:53:00 AM






SES Insurance Brokerage Services

The purchase of the MGA will complement Alliant’s real estate division

AmWINS Group

Partners Specialty Group

The two firms will have a combined capability of $14 billion

HUB International

Insurance Supermarket

Insurance Supermarket is a Canadian insurance marketing organization that specializes in connecting consumers to insurance advisors



Post-merger, the organization will be known as the Wholesale & Specialty Insurance Association


LoVullo Associates

The deal will strengthen RSG’s presence in the Northeast

USI Insurance Services

Cameron M. Harris & Company

Harris & Co. specializes in personal and commercial coverage



The acquisition will combine Vertafore’s native data with RiskMatch’s data analytics capabilities

NRA launches training and insurance bundle

The National Rifle Association has announced plans to introduce Carry Guard, a new training program bundled with an insurance plan, targeted at the 14 million Americans who are legally permitted to carry concealed weapons across the country. The plan will be available in bronze, silver and gold memberships. The NRA has yet to hash out details of the program with regard to cost, training locations and timeline for availability. However, the organization said that current NRA-certified instructors, law enforcement officers and military personnel are qualified to apply as Carry Guard professionals.

Specialty insurer merger will create huge distribution firm

Two major specialty players have agreed to undertake a merger that will create a massive specialty insurance distribution firm. Once the deal is completed, AmWINS Group and Partners Specialty Group will have a combined placement capability of $14 billion, employing more than 4,000 workers across 12 countries. According to a Yahoo Finance report, Partners will become part of AmWINS’ brokerage division. AmWINS expects the acquisition to boost its product expertise and expand its geographic footprint; the deal builds on the firm’s strategy of providing specialized products and diverse capabilities with a specific focus on insurance distribution.


The Hanover introduces life sciences product

The Hanover Insurance Group has launched a new product aimed at the evolving life science market. Hanover Fusion provides coverage in four key areas: products completed operations liability; errors & omissions; information security, privacy, and personal injury; and media and content. The product aims to streamline the current process, which often requires agents to piece together a program to address the current and emerging risks of life sciences companies. Hanover Fusion enables agents to combine a variety of coverages under one policy.

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12/05/2017 5:53:36 AM

PEOPLE K&K offers concussion insurance for student athletes

K&K Insurance has launched Headstrong Concussion Insurance, backed by Nationwide, to the 80,000 student athletes of the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association. Each athlete will be covered for $121,000 per year to pay for concussion treatment and any necessary neurological follow-ups, including deductibles and co-pays. Coverage is secondary to any other valid collectible insurance, but it will become the primary benefit if no other policy is available.

Willis Towers Watson covers cyber for aviation industry

International brokerage giant Willis Towers Watson has launched a new product tailored to cover cyber exposures affecting the global aviation industry. CyFly represents part of Willis Towers Watson’s integrated approach to cyber risk by focusing on the human element associated with risk and technology. The product targets global airlines, which are exposed to major financial and reputational damage in the event of a network incident caused by people or technology. CyFly includes extension of business interruption referable to third parties, cover for aviation regulatory fines and more.

CUNA Mutual pioneers experimental insurance

CUNA Mutual has developed a new product to address the insurance needs of an underserved market in the US. The firm’s SafetyNet project is an experimental program that aims to address individuals who might not have the financial capability to absorb shocks arising from job loss, illness or other unexpected expenses. Under the initial plans sold through the SafetyNet project, customers pay $5 to $30 in monthly premiums for a lump-sum payment of $1,500 to $9,000 to cover a job loss or new disability.





Nancy Bewlay

Swiss Re

XL Catlin

Global chief underwriting officer

Andy Faber

Lexington Insurance


Head of life sciences line

James A. Grayer

Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel

Concord Specialty Risk

Executive vice president for reps and warranty insurance

Scott Gunter



Senior vice president and division president, North America commercial insurance

Glenn Mozingo

Willis HRH’s Atlantic Region

Markel Corporation

Managing director, global insurance business development

Richard Shannahan

Brown and Brown Insurance

Iroquois Group

Regional manager, Florida

Gavin Shiels

Aon Risk Solutions

JLT Specialty USA

Senior vice president

Stephen Vivian

Guy Carpenter & Co.


Head of US marine

Joachim Wenning


Munich Re


Wenning takes over as CEO at Munich Re

Joachim Wenning has officially taken the helm as CEO of Munich Re with the aim of driving innovation and opportunities at the reinsurance giant amid emerging technologies. Appointed a year ago by Munich Re’s board, Wenning replaced Nikolaus von Bomhard, who stepped down after heading the company for 13 years. Wenning also took over as the new chairman of the board of management. “I will be stepping into the ‘big shoes’ of my predecessor,” Wenning said in an interview published on Munich Re’s website. He added that his new responsibility comes during “difficult times” as low interest rates place a “heavy burden” on Munich Re and the industry as a whole.

Iroquois welcomes former Coast Guard officer

Former Coast Guard officer Richard “Cole” Shannahan has joined the Iroquois Group as its regional manager for Florida. Shannahan comes to the insurance network from a stint at Brown and Brown Insurance, as well as four years with Bates & Hewett. Prior to that, he served in the Coast Guard for 10 years. “Cole’s experience as an agent gives him added perspective on the challenges, needs and opportunities of our Iroquois member agencies,” said Iroquois South managing partner David Ward.

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WORKERS’ COMP UPDATE NEWS BRIEFS Manufacturing still a major contributor to workers’ comp

The National Council on Compensation Insurance has released new data that shows the manufacturing sector remains a major contributor to workers’ compensation across the country, despite losing significant jobs to automation. The NCCI said the sector contributes 15% of the country’s total compensation premiums, but only accounts for 8% of the exposure. “Increases in automation have reduced manufacturing costs, making US manufacturers less expensive and more competitive, and reducing employment required to produce output,” the report said. The NCCI also noted that decentralized supply chains are contributing to shrinking employment opportunities.

QBE launches workers’ comp program QBE North America, a division of Australian insurer QBE Insurance Group, has announced a partnership with High Point Underwriters and Midwestern Insurance Alliance to provide workers’ compensation and occupational accident coverage for the transportation sector. According to a report by Yahoo Finance, the partnership will provide coverage for both drivers and operators. “We have noticed this gap in the trucking market … and are excited to provide insurance solutions,” Marc Risen, president of Midwestern Insurance Alliance, told the news site.

AmTrust Insurance subject of FBI/SEC probe Major workers’ compensation player AmTrust is undergoing investigation by the SEC and FBI after allegations surfaced that the company has been


involved in accounting malpractice. The Wall Street Journal reported that a team led by Harry Markopolos, a forensic accountant, has been sniffing around the insurer’s balance sheets to look for potential issues. Among other issues, Markopolos said that the company could be engaging in several measures to window-dress its losses, including passing on losses to offshore affiliates to make them disappear from record, as well as cleaning the bottom line of significant losses.

Wyoming names new workforce deputy John Ysebaert has been appointed as deputy director of the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services. Ysebaert previously served with the DWS standards and compliance division, where he played a pivotal role in the department’s reorganization in 2011. He also served as administrator for six years, managing compliance within the agency. “I am confident that [Ysebaert’s] principled approach and ability to get things done will advance the department’s efforts to best serve Wyoming workers and employers,” said DWS director John Cox.

Montana lawmakers hold off on privatization

Legislators in Montana have deferred discussions on the privatization of the $1.6 billion state workers’ comp system, which serves 26,000 policyholders. The Republican-controlled state legislature appears to be split over the pros and cons of such an undertaking. Opponents have cautioned that small businesses may not be able to find a new carrier because they either carry too high a risk or do not provide enough economic value to the insurer. However, proponents argue that dismantling the state fund would increase competition and result in lower premiums.

Employer health costs at historic lows Opposing forces have pushed health cost growth to its lowest level in more than 30 years

A recent report by the PwC Health Research Institute found that “growth rates in employer health costs are at historic lows,” thanks to sustained demand for value, which is tempering healthcare costs. PwC data revealed that during the period between 1984 and 1994, growth stood at an average of 10%; from 1994 to 2004, the median was 7.9%, while the 2004 to 2014 period (which includes the 2008 financial crisis, when fewer people were enrolled in employer plans) saw a 4.2% growth rate. According to the report, two opposing forces are at play in the determination of medical cost growth. While convenient care settings such as retail clinics provide satisfactory services at lower price points, the report pointed out that their success has led to increased utilization, which translates to more spending. This increased utilization as a result of the emergence of new healthcare access points is expected to re-accelerate the medical cost growth rate. However, PwC added that these increases will be “tempered” by deflators; among others, better negotiations between pharmacy benefit managers and drug makers are expected to keep drug prices in check throughout the year.

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12/05/2017 5:54:25 AM

“We also expect that political and public pressure will tamp down the largest drug cost increases,” the report said. Meanwhile, PwC said specialty drug costs could trigger false alarms as concern mounts over the ever-increasing cost of new cures. However, drug spending continues to be a small portion of overall health spending, the report added. In addition, PwC highlighted the fact that insurers and employers are adopting “more aggressive network strategies” while exploring new benefit strategies that will shift the focus from cost-sharing toward leveraging high-performing provider networks that provide higher quality at lower costs. PwC also pointed out that “price, not utilization, is the historical force behind the medical cost trend.” Its analysis revealed that utilization growth rates were in negative

territory from 2007 through 2015, but that employer health benefit costs grew annually at just below 4%. “In the early 2000s, price and utilization were both major contributors to healthcare [cost] growth,” the report said. “Since then, the utilization trend has

“In the early 2000s, price and utilization were both major contributors to healthcare cost growth. Since then, the utilization trend has declined while the price trend has grown”

declined while the price trend [has grown]. Future reductions in medical cost trend growth will require a continued focus on prices, and also delivery and access changes that might impact utilization.” Policies are underwritten by Bridgefield Casualty Insurance Company and Bridgefield Employers Insurance Company, authorized insurers in AL, AR, FL, GA, IN, KY, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN and TX; BusinessFirst Insurance Company, authorized in FL, GA, KY, NC, SC and TN. RetailFirst Insurance company, authorized in FL; Retailers Casualty Insurance Company, authorized in AR, LA, MS and TX. ©2017 Summit Consulting LLC | 2310 Commerce Point Drive, Lakeland, FL 33801

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12/05/2017 5:54:37 AM



How brokers can leverage social media Savvy brokers can get ahead by using social media for customer engagement – with some caveats in mind

social media, then have a long-winded relationship over the phone. It needs to be cohesive so that they work together.” Rixford adds that the current technology climate has its limitations, making agents and brokers as necessary a part of the sales and service equation as the social media tools they use. He explains that when AI and social media channels fail, which they tend to do at some of the most inopportune moments, policyholders are still inclined make a phone

“You need to make sure [customers] have a consistent experience throughout”

Social media is quickly gaining ubiquity as insurance agencies use the platforms to support their sales and customer engagement initiatives. Insurance Technologies Corporation president Laird Rixford notes that social media platforms have evolved into a “powerful” sales and service tool because they allow insurers to be where their customers are. However, Rixford emphasizes the need for agencies to deliver “a consistent experience” across all platforms they use to


interact with their clients. “A consumer should feel they are talking to the same person or the same group of people, no matter what kind of channel they are speaking on,” Rixford says. “They talk to you in your office, they call you on the phone, they interact with you over email, or they interact with you over social media. You need to make sure they have a consistent experience throughout. You don’t have a short, unfriendly experience when they are on

Allianz makes strategic investment in Lemonade

Insurtech startup Lemonade has received a strategic investment from major global insurer Allianz, which said it was attracted by the firm’s ground-breaking business model. The P2P service pays claims as any insurer would, but sends any excess funds from the insurance pool at the end of the year to a charity chosen by its customers. “Allianz is committed to staying at the cutting edge of insurance,” said the company’s chief digital officer, Solmaz Altin. “We follow the insurtech space closely … and have seen nothing to match Lemonade.”


or video call to engage in an interactive, realtime conversation with their insurance agent. Rixford also cautions brokers and agents to recognize the limitations of the security infrastructure supporting these platforms, and refrain from using them to transmit and exchange sensitive data, especially relating to policy information. The picture might be different five years down the line, Rixford adds, highlighting the fact that technologies such as machine learning take time to deliver the kind of support needed to enable customer service representatives and producers to focus on “doing what they do best,” which is cultivating long-term relationships with the insurance market.

Marsh subsidiary embarks on tech partnership

Marsh subsidiary Dovetail Insurance has entered into a partnership with Duck Creek Technologies, a technology solutions provider focused on the insurance market. Duck Creek will manage and develop technology to support Dovetail’s proprietary platform. “The pace of innovation in insurance distribution continues to increase as technology plays a greater role,” said Marsh’s John Drzik. “Dovetail’s strategic relationship with Duck Creek accelerates our ability to bring new and better solutions to the small commercial market.”

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Andrew Roman Wells CEO ASPIRENT

Kathy Williams Chiang Vice president of business insights WUNDERMAN DATA MANAGEMENT

Fast fact Together, Wells and Chiang wrote the recent book Monetizing Your Data: A Guide to Turning Data into ProfitDriving Strategies and Solutions

Data is both a strength and weakness for insurance How can insurance companies best leverage their data assets? Kathy Chiang: Insurance, at its core, is very datadriven. I think it is a strength and a weakness in a way, because a lot of the processes and infrastructure are based on legacy, and with advances in new technology and the wealth and explosion of available data, a lot of insurance companies have established processes and systems that might not let them take full advantage of it. For example, we’re trying to take advantage of social media data that they collect a lot of but probably haven’t done much with because the tools and the analytics weren’t there so many years ago when they were building their processes and systems. So being able to look at the full spectrum of data that’s now available, and being able to bring that into their product development processes, is a new area of challenge and opportunity for insurance companies. Then there’s using artificial intelligence – and that’s starting to become more commercialized – to get ahead of the curve. Fraud detection, for example, is a very important part of the insurance industry. Before, they had to go through a lot of information to identify fraud rings, so by the time they were really able to identify it, there was already a lot of fraud going on.

How do decision-making and technology, especially automation, interplay in leveraging

WorkFusion brings RPA software to insurance

Developer WorkFusion is making its Robotic Process Automation [RPA] Express product widely available. RPA Express is a base program that allows users to expand on its capabilities to build basic applications for their enterprise. According to Adam Devine, senior vice president and head of marketing at WorkFusion, the technology has diverse applications in insurance, including identifying clients on the sanctions list and expediting the claims process, both of which usually involve filing through massive amounts of data.


data assets? Andrew Wells: As you mature your analytical capabilities, you’re really trying to drive to the heart of, “What are we trying to decide?”, “How do data and analytics support that decision?” and “What actions can come from it?” So when we talk about decision analysis in the book, it’s really centered on capturing that component, and as you look at tools like AI and machine learning, those are very much centered on automating decisions. So by doing your requirements process and then automating analytics that surround the decision, you’re paving the way to use more advanced techniques.

How do you keep from falling into the inertia trap in optimizing your data monetization strategies? AW: A big part of what we prescribe is to build analytical solutions around your insight using the techniques that we discuss [in our book], which includes buying and building tools that can be scaled to the organization. In addition to building out analytical solutions versus a siloed insight, we also recommend that they catalog and leverage these monetization strategies so other departments can use them. Right now, most organizations will just generate an insight but won’t necessarily catalog it or remember it.

Insurers should offer sensor-based technology

Specialty insurers should provide sensor-based technology to their clients if they want to build and retain valuable, long-term relationships. That’s the view of Rooney Gleason, president of Argo Insurance, which serves the US retail food market. Argo has begun using sensor technology to monitor potential safety issues in supermarkets to help its clients manage claims risks. “If you’re going to be a specialty insurer, then you’ve got to bring special tools to your end client – because [otherwise] someone else is going to do it,” Gleason said.

Vertafore announces key acquisition

Insurance technology support provider Vertafore has acquired analytics firm RiskMatch. Vertafore expects to leverage its platform of native data with RiskMatch’s business intelligence and data analytics capability to meet the emerging demand for broader capabilities directly related to analytics, insight and ease of use. The companies’ clients are expected to benefit from expanded functionalities for price and product discovery, identifying options for policyholders, and more efficient transactional capabilities.

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SEEING BEYOND BORDERS Carol Barton, president of AIG Multinational, talks about protecting businesses as they expand their global footprint and contemplates what’s ahead for underwriters A SEASONED insurance industry professional, Carol Barton is the global leader of AIG’s multinational division, charged with providing solutions for organizations whose business interests cross borders – an increasingly important focus in today’s rapidly evolving world. “Twenty years ago, there were about 33,000 companies that did cross-border business globally,” Barton says. “Today, it’s probably 193,000+ companies. It’s almost a business imperative to be multinational, but the landscape in multinational is changing. In every country, there are different regulations, [a] different cultural environment, [and] there is different employment law. From an insurance perspective, staying current and being compliant is critical.” AIG’s solution to these challenges, Barton explains, has been to focus on a few key areas. “What we have been doing is investing in people, process and technology to drive insights, solutions with risk transfer and risk management capabilities, and service in a globally consistent and seamless fashion,” she says.

The risk landscape On the subject of new and emerging risks, Barton mentions the word on everyone’s


lips – cyber. “We are seeing a huge uptick in take-up on [cyber insurance coverage],” she says. But she stresses that it’s not just about providing cyber risk transfer solutions. Also integral is assisting clients in preparing for a potential cyberattack – particularly in light of the escalation in cyber risk that’s been driven by heightened connectivity as a result

the Internet of Things.” Barton considers global aggregation exposure to be the greatest challenge facing the insurance industry today. “For me, the biggest challenge in terms of helping our clients is to really look at some of these emerging risks, look at the fact that most of them are aggregate exposures, and then managing that in a way that we will be there

“It’s almost a business imperative to be multinational, but the landscape in multinational is changing. From an insurance perspective, staying current and being compliant is critical” of the Internet of Things. “While it is a plus in many regards to have so much connectivity … it is also creating a very porous environment where people can get in,” Barton says. She adds that part of the challenge of cyber is the fact it’s an aggregation risk. “It’s not just about an individual company; it’s about how many potential companies might be impacted by the same event. It’s similar to supply chain risk, which is getting ever more complicated as well as a result of

for our clients when an event occurs.” Another major challenge under Barton’s purview is contract certainty. “For multinational clients, it would be getting policies out in a way that gives them contract certainty when the loss occurs, and that has historically not been done,” she says. “We are very focused on a new multinational, end-to-end process where we have actually taken the work and lifted it ahead of the effective date so that we end up with policies issued on or before the effective date. We rolled that out last year,

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PROFILE Name: Carol Barton Company: AIG Title: President, AIG Multinational Based in: New York City Joined AIG in: January 2012 Fast fact: Prior to her role at AIG, Barton was senior vice president, chief underwriting and reinsurance officer at FM Global, where she had global leadership responsibility for all underwriting and reinsurance activities. Photo by Barbie Schwartz

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[and] we are starting to get traction.” It’s a work in progress, Barton adds, but it’s an effort to reshape the way business is conducted. “We are very excited about it because it will give our clients contract certainty and meet their governance objectives as well,” she says.

Tomorrow and beyond Barton expects the role of underwriters to change in the coming years, thanks to the proliferation and exploitation of information. “The availability of data and our enhanced ability to start to collect data and use it in a way that can inform underwriters should

holistic view,” she says. “You will still have your expertise, but I think underwriters will work more as a team to provide holistic solutions versus staying in their product silo.” In times ahead, Barton also foresees underwriters will have increased interaction with clients. “I think underwriters will be interacting more with brokers and clients … and [there will be] a lot less focus on administrative, transactional, non-value-accretive-type activities. I think it will be a lot of fun – it will be even more interesting than it is today.” In looking toward the future, Barton also emphasizes the ongoing importance of the

“We obviously see our broker partners as very critical and important, and we are always looking for continuous improvement opportunities and for feedback from them” really help with the risk selection and underwriting process,” she says. “One of the trends we are seeing is the ability to take claims data and use that for both underwriting risk selection and to help the client understand exposures that threaten their business, thereby allowing them to drive down their long-term cost of risk.” She also emphasizes the significant role data can play in helping underwriters – and their clients – learn from losses. “The ability to share knowledge and understanding is critical, and insurance carriers are uniquely positioned to deliver … I think more and more, with technology, we will be able to do a better job at that.” Barton also anticipates that the future will bring greater appraisal of risk from a holistic perspective. “I think we have grown up as a very productoriented company – you had property people, casualty people, financial lines people … and now, I see that coming together in a more


broker channel to AIG. “We obviously see our broker partners as very critical and important, and we are always looking for continuous improvement opportunities and for feedback from them on how we are doing [and] what we can do differently … and then how they can support us, because a relationship is two-way.” As for the year ahead, Barton is focused on AIG’s global goals, including delivering on the two-year targets the company set in its January 2016 Strategic Update. “We are well on the way to delivering on that plan,” she says. “We have released $18 billion to our shareholders. Our goal is $25 billion over the two-year period, and we have every intention of returning the rest and achieving that target, as well as the other goals that we publicly stated. We are committed to continuing to really sharpen our focus and being sure to work with clients where we can add the most value.”



Year when AIG was established by Cornelius Vander Starr, who started an insurance agency in Shanghai, China, under the name American Asiatic Underwriters


Year when AIG’s first office in the US opened in New York City

90 million

Number of AIG customers around the world


Approximate number of AIG employees worldwide

$11.31 billion

AIG’s revenue for the first quarter of 2017

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Why culture is key In today’s M&A-heavy insurance industry, culture is a crucial element of smooth acquisitions, writes Jay Brown INSURANCE AGENCIES have seen the impact of organizational changes on corporate culture become more pronounced due to the current merger and acquisition frenzy. For agency owners who have built their businesses and brands on a solid reputation for customer and employee loyalty, unexpected cultural shifts are a major concern. Several studies show that corporate culture is the most powerful influencer of financial success for businesses. According to the Society of Human Resource Management, 50% of all mergers fail because of cultural incompatibility. A 2014 paper published by the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate and Financial Regulation found that “high levels of perceived integrity are positively correlated with good outcomes in terms of higher productivity, profitability, better industrial relations and higher level of attractiveness to prospective job applicants.” Even in today’s technology- and analyticsdriven insurance sales environment, a positive corporate culture can be a huge competitive advantage. Savvy brokerages are developing formal strategies to engage and motivate producers – the engine that keeps the organization running – as part of acquisition integration planning. These companies realize that cultivating a positive culture for producers is a key tenet of an acquisition strategy. One producer of an acquired firm noted recently that he previously came from an environment where people worked on their own in silos. Following the acquisition of his firm five years ago, he has assumed a new role where teamwork is encouraged, a change in environ-

ment that he attributes to writing $1.8 million in new business. A common concern among acquired producers is that new owners frequently hand down rigid objectives from the corporate level without providing adequate resources to help them meet those goals. This can hurt morale and ultimately productivity. Therefore, it’s critical to engage the acquired agency’s producers

of employees, implementing recognition programs, establishing wellness initiatives and launching corporate social responsibility [CSR] campaigns where employees are encouraged to invest their time and resources in local community service. A CSR campaign can greatly improve employee morale following a recent acquisition, cultivating camaraderie around a common cause. Millennials in particular are hyper-aware of social and environmental issues, and prefer to work with businesses that give back to their communities. Brokerages are also encouraged to reward producers for early successes. One example is a plan where a producer who generates $150,000 of new business commission can effectively earn 60% of their total production as compensation through the combination of stock and new business bonuses. Giving producers an opportunity to go on a bucketlist trip to an exotic destination is also a great motivation tool that can be financially rewarding to the company in the long run.

“Corporate culture is the most powerful influencer of financial success ... 50% of mergers fail because of cultural incompatibility” fully from the start, giving them the tools needed to meet expectations. A major part of building a successful culture involves training and empowering producers with the resources they need to explain solutions in terms that are easy to understand and demonstrate a positive economic impact for their clients. Firms that implement formalized training are able to help both new and seasoned producers refine their sales tactics and other processes to generate prospect activity without cold calls. For example, after attending a training session at USI Insurance Services, 40% of new producer hires achieved $100,000 of annual new business within the first 36 months. Increasing numbers of brokerages are also offering programs to help their employees thrive. These include financial assistance to employees experiencing financial hardship, providing college scholarships to children

As mergers and acquisitions continue at a record pace in the insurance industry, it’s important to remember that, for brokers, this is first and foremost a people business. Following any acquisition – whether large or small – being able to integrate cultures successfully requires management to communicate their vision for success upfront, identify any cultural differences immediately and then work together to bridge any gaps that might exist. Doing so will result in a staff that is more motivated, productive and innovative.

Jay Brown is vice president of corporate development at USI Insurance Services, where he leads the firm’s national acquisition and integration activity. He has 30-plus years of financial and operational experience in the insurance industry.

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12/05/2017 5:58:29 AM





PARTNERS IBA unveils producers’ picks for the specialty wholesale distribution brokers and MGAs that stand out above the rest THE WHOLESALE insurance market in the US has experienced great growth in recent years, and continues to be a cornerstone of the industry. Statistics produced by the 14 state stamping offices around the nation indicated a strong wholesale market last year, reporting a premium growth of 3.3% from 2015 to 2016. According to Corrine M. Jones, president-elect of the AAMGA, the demand for new products and coverage in certain marketplaces is a major driver of growth in the wholesale industry. “Wholesale continues to be a vibrant and growing part of the overall insurance landscape,” she says. “The E&S marketplace in particular, and specialty distribution more broadly, has doubled as a total percentage of US P&C commercial insurance. While the wholesale space continues to change rapidly, the dynamic nature of the market leads to a lot of opportunities. It’s a very healthy industry.”


Providing further evidence of a strong and healthy wholesale market, Brady Kelley, executive director of NAPSLO, adds: “As noted in the September 2016 A.M. Best report, the surplus lines market reached its highest point in history at $41.3 billion in 2015 premium, representing a 2.5% increase from the prior year and the market’s fourth consecutive year of growth.” Apart from the financial power present in the market, enhanced underwriting capabilities in the wholesale industry are opening the door for business opportunities that have traditionally been reserved for the standard market, says AAMGA board member Kathy Schroeder. “As the business world tries to make everything more commoditized and cookie-cutter,” she says, “more and more business falls outside their ‘plan,’ and a broker or underwriter who is willing to make a custom tailored product becomes more sought-after.”

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WHAT ARE PRODUCERS LOOKING FOR IN A WHOLESALE PARTNER? Producers were asked to name the most important things they’re looking for in a wholesaler. Here’s what they said:

96% 72% 49% 23%




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However, even with all the opportunities present in wholesale channel, challenges remain. Jones points to the highly competitive market, rising costs in technology investment and unrefined efficiency as challenges that are currently weighing on the market. Schroeder also highlights training and the talent gap, as well as the consolidation of businesses, adding that “ironically, at the same time that new players are entering our business [and] offering alternatives, others are growing through mergers and acquisitions, and essentially reducing options that were previously available to their customers.” Yet, Jones notes, even these challenges pose unique opportunities for growth, which largely stems from the dynamic nature of the wholesale market and all the factors that impact how the industry performs. In particular, the proposed merger of AAMGA and NAPSLO into the Wholesale & Specialty Insurance Association [WSIA] is expected to address these challenges for the betterment of the wholesale distribution channel as a whole. “There are many benefits to members of this proposed merger, and one is in talent development,” Kelley says. “WSIA will build upon existing AAMGA and NAPSLO career development initiatives to reach and educate students about the wholesale, specialty and surplus lines segment and the career opportunities it provides.


WSIA will represent a larger, unified voice for wholesale brokers, managing general agents, underwriters and all members who are all specialists in creating value and innovative solutions for the most unique and complex risks.”

PRODUCERS SPEAK OUT Producers were asked how their wholesale partners could improve their service. Here’s what they had to say: Develop more proprietary options {my MGA’s] accounting department needs improvement. In the past, they have sent cancellations to clients that have been paid More involvement in the claims management process I would like the ability to self-serve, [such as] lookup policy status, billing, etc Unify departments. Hate having to work with multiple departments and underwriters to properly quote scope of whole business risk



PRODUCERS ON WHOLESALE PARTNERS METHODOLOGY For retail brokers, a wholesale partner – whether a broker or MGA – performs the essential function of giving them the specialized skill and access they need to service their clients’ every need. Now in its fourth year, IBA’s survey focuses on the best specialists in the wholesale distribution channel. Hundreds of producers were asked to rate their wholesale partner on a scale of 1 (poor) to 10 (excellent) in seven key areas:





All Risks Ltd. AmWINS Group Inc. AP Advantage Apogee Insurance Group Appalachian Underwriters Inc. Arlington/Roe & Co. American Risk Management Resources Atlantic Specialty Lines Atlas General Insurance Services Bass Underwriters Breckenridge Insurance Group Brown & Riding

• Premium pricing • Underwriting expertise • Claims support • Range of products offered • Technology and automation • Marketing support • Compensation Wholesale partners that earned an average score of 8 or higher across all seven criteria were awarded our fivestar designation, recognizing their commitment and expertise in their rated specialty. In total, the survey produced 1,419 wholesale partner ratings across 12 specializations; the 41 wholesale partners listed at right earned five-star status in at least one specialty.

BTIS Burns & Wilcox Capitol Special Risks Chris-Leef General Agency CRC Swett Empire State Brokerage Services Environmental Risk Managers Genesee General Gorst & Compass Insurance Hull & Company Inc. Johnson & Johnson Inc. MacNeil Group Monarch E&S Insurance Services NIF Group Inc. NSM Insurance Group Patriot Insurance Company RIC Insurance General Agency, Inc. Risk Innovations Risk Placement Services Inc. RT Specialty Scottish American SIS Wholesale Insurance Services Socius Insurance Services Inc. Sullivan Brokers Wholesale Insurance TAPCO Underwriters Inc. The Jack Nebel Companies tKg Wholesale Brokerage U.S. Pro Insurance Services U.S. Risk Insurance Group Inc. Worldwide Facilities, LLC


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Brown & Riding

Brown & Riding

Burns & Wilcox

Genesee General

Genesee General

Gorst & Compass Insurance

Gorst & Compass Insurance RT Specialty

MacNeil Group RIC Insurance General Agency, Inc. Risk Placement Services RT Specialty


s average global temperatures continue to rise, the risk of natural disasters intensifies, boosting the need for proper insurance coverage in this very complex market. In this hardto-insure arena, retail brokers depend on the expertise and service of wholesalers for the most competitive quotes and products. All in all, only five wholesale partners received five-star ratings from their producers in this difficult specialty.


he commercial auto space is bracing for some drastic changes as autonomous vehicles gradually work their way into service. Just seven wholesale partners earned five-star status, suggesting that few are doing a good job of extending more offerings and keeping producers “in the loop with all types of commercial auto news.” Even producers serving traditional segments of the commercial auto market are struggling to find good coverage options. One producer praised his wholesale partner for offering the best markets and a good range of products in towing and local commercial trucking, but added that “there are a few markets that are still in need, such as long-haul trucking.” Other wholesalers should keep an eye on rates and take a closer look at the claim records of clients when extending

Producers praised those wholesale partners who are extending more options for hard-to-insure areas, offering competitive rates Wholesalers should take and a good range of products a closer look at the claim Producers praised those wholesale partners who records of clients when are extending more options for hard-to-insure areas, extending policies offering competitive rates and a good range of products. One producer commended his wholesale brokerage for “continu[ing] to look for options.” When it comes to claims, producers appreciated an attitude of “pay first, investigate second,” which is invaluable for clients dealing with catastrophe-related scenarios. “It makes us look good,” one producer commented. In terms of technology, some producers bemoaned the fact that the catastrophe business written by wholesalers is still not automated, but admitted it’s par for the course given the nature of the risks. “Their turnaround time is so good, it’s not necessary,” one producer added.


policies, said one producer, who found it problematic that his wholesaler’s “rate increases every year, regardless of driving or claims record.” “Commercial auto insurance rates have been increasing since the end of the recession, in contrast to flat or declining rates in other commercial lines,” explains Jim Watson, commercial auto/transportation manager at RIC Insurance General Agency, Inc. “This trend, along with insurance carriers returning to firmer underwriting practices, has made it increasingly difficult for the independent agent to find coverage for their clients.”

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PRODUCERS ON WHOLESALE PARTNERS RIC INSURANCE GENERAL AGENCY, INC. Headquarters: Santa Rosa, CA Year founded: 1974 Number of offices: 5 Leadership: Gary Kitchen, president

RIC Insurance General Agency, Inc. is a managing general agency and surplus lines broker that offers a broad spectrum of admitted and non-admitted property & casualty products to retail agents all over the Western United States, specializing in small and medium-sized business risks and personal insurance products, including homeowner’s, auto and much more. With more than 50 years in business, RIC is one of the oldest independently owned MGA/surplus lines brokers on the West Coast. As a company, RIC prides itself on providing exceptional service for its insurance agency partners. Its expanding team, including leadership, field sales staff and dedicated underwriting account service groups, contributes largely to its success. RIC is recognized as one of the exclusive partners for agents to access the California State Compensation Insurance Fund, in addition to commercial/E&S, specialty, personal lines, workers’ compensation and commercial auto/transportation divisions.


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Quirk Co


Johnson & Johnson

Bass Underwriters

MacNeil Group

Breckenridge Insurance Group

Monarch E&S Insurance Services

Brown & Riding BTIS Burns & Wilcox CRC Swett Empire State Brokerage Services

RIC Insurance General Agency, Inc. Risk Placement Services RT Specialty Scottish American

Genesee General

Sullivan Brokers Wholesale Insurance

Gorst & Compass Insurance

TAPCO Underwriters

Hull & Company

The Jack Nebel Companies


conomic shifts and changes in demographics all contribute to the ebb and flow of the nation’s commercial property market. But what remains constant is the need for adequate insurance coverage for the development and maintenance of commercial properties. For many producers, competitive pricing and a wide array of products led to top marks for their wholesalers – a whopping 21 wholesale partners earned five-star status, the most out of any specialty. One producer named “their knowledge of the property marketplace” and “quick turnaround and responsiveness” as defining factors of his wholesaler. In all, producers had positive feedback on how their wholesalers are performing in the commercial property space – comments like

“excellent service” and “very responsive” were echoed throughout this section of the survey. One producer praised his wholesale partner for “[coming] up with creative layering solutions, as well as deductible solutions for large property schedules.” However, a few respondents were critical of their commercial property wholesalers. “Our main wholesaler is starting to use insurance carrier policy download, which is a huge issue for us,” said Ted Joyce of Insurance Agency Services. “They are also planning to have commissions download in the future. Both of these activities are critical for us, as it helps us provide better service to our clients, as well as lowering or at least keeping expenses from rising for us.”

One producer praised his wholesale partner for “[coming] up with creative layering solutions, as well as deductible solutions for large property schedules”


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WWW.QUIRKCO.COM 24/03/2017 12/05/2017 12:00:36 5:59:43 AM AM


PRODUCERS ON WHOLESALE PARTNERS CONSTRUCTION FIVE-STAR WHOLESALE PARTNERS: CONSTRUCTION All Risks Ltd. Gorst & Compass Insurance Appalachian Underwriters Hull & Company Arlington/Roe & Co. Johnson & Johnson Atlas General Insurance Services Risk Placement Services Brown & Riding RT Specialty BTIS SIS Wholesale Insurance Services Burns & Wilcox Sullivan Brokers Wholesale CRC Swett Insurance Empire State Brokerage tKg Wholesale Brokerage Services Genesee General



onstruction projects continue to pop up nationwide, despite astronomical property prices and perceived conges-

Worldwide Facilities tion in many metropolitan areas. The past year has also seen many construction-related accidents; coupled with inevitable project delays,

legislation-related challenges and litigation issues, they highlight producers’ consistent need for good rates and varied programs. Reassuringly, the top-performing wholesalers in this specialty are offering programs for everyone, “from contractors to business owners, garage markets to slip-and-fall policies.” In total, 20 wholesale partners earned top marks from their producers, the second highest number out of any specialty. Producers named a couple of wholesale partners that stood out because of their excellent builder programs; another said his wholesale brokerage’s advantage lies in its “comparable rating program for construction.” Another producer praised his wholesale partner for their knowledge of the market, but felt they could do more in terms of advocacy for construction defect claims.

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TKG WHOLESALE BROKERAGE Headquarters: Phoenix, AZ Year founded: 2004 Number of offices: 9 Head leadership: James Keating, founder, chairman and CEO

tKg Wholesale Brokerage is an independent brokerage and a leader in the surplus lines wholesale industry. Founded in 2004 by James Keating, the organization started as a small office with one home computer and just $76,000 in initial capital. Since that time, tKg has grown into a company that offers unmatched expertise in a variety of coverage areas, including professional liability, casualty, workers’ compensation, transportation and small business. With offices in seven states, tKg serves clients in all 50 states. In the 13 years since its founding, tKg has grown from $4.2 million in gross written premiums to an estimated $206 million in gross written premiums across multiple product lines last year.

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RISK PLACEMENT SERVICES Headquarters: Itasca, IL Year founded: 1997 Number of offices: 70+ Leadership: Joel Cavaness (pictured), president

Risk Placement Services [RPS] is one of the nation’s largest intermediaries, offering valuable solutions in wholesale brokerage, binding authority, programs and standard lines. RPS collaborates with the most respected providers in the industry to offer customized solutions that meet the business needs of independent retail agents and their customers. The company prides itself on partnering with independent retail agents on an individual basis to design, negotiate, and tailor risks and customized solutions each and every time. Since it first opened for business in May 1997 with just four employees, RPS has completed dozens of acquisitions across the United States, and has acquired top talent in all aspects of insurance. Today, RPS has more than 1,700 associates with the local knowledge, regional presence and national reach to provide the best options to clients. With more than $2.9 billion in premium placed annually, RPS is focused on smart and strategic growth, as well as the needs of retail partners, in order to remain their wholesaler of choice.


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CYBER FIVE-STAR WHOLESALE PARTNERS: CYBER AmWINS Group Brown & Riding Genesee General Risk Placement Services RT Specialty Scottish American U.S. Pro Insurance Services


iven the plethora of data collected and stored online, it has become a given that businesses of all sizes, across all industries, need cybersecurity and insurance. Given the immediate effect of a security breach and the extent of potential damages, it seems fair to expect that brokers and MGAs should be advanced, alert and responsive in helping to arrange cover and address claims. Thankfully, some are, as one producer revealed: “[With my wholesale partner], I can get a cyber quote in one hour, [but] other brokers take weeks!”

Ultimately, producers say the most important thing is a well established, trust-based relationship between the agent and the broker Yet it’s not just turnaround time that producers are after, as another producer explained: “Cyber is a complex product with countless forms and often a series of sublimits. [Our partner] team works with us to find out both our customers’ exposures and needs, and then works to tailor the cyber policy accordingly. The complexity of the product often leads to a complex application process. [Our wholesale partner] is able to utilize one application to market the risk to multiple companies, thus driving down the cost of sales and improving our margins.” Product knowledge and technical acumen are particularly invaluable for wholesalers working in this sector. But ultimately, producers say the most important thing is a well established, trust-based relationship between the agent and the broker, developed by effectively listening to clients and addressing their concerns. “[Our wholesale partner] has helped us with claims and coverage interpretation,” one producer said. “He isn’t just selling a product; he takes ownership in what he does.”

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ENVIRONMENTAL FIVE-STAR WHOLESALE PARTNERS: ENVIRONMENTAL American Risk Management Resources Appalachian Underwriters Brown & Riding Environmental Risk Managers Hull & Company Risk Placement Services RT Specialty Sullivan Brokers Wholesale Insurance


ccording to Tim Turner, CEO of RT Specialty, soft market conditions are driving environmental insurance rates down as new players emerge in the space, creating greater competition in an often difficult-to-insure market. Producers were generally pleased with their wholesale partners’ performance in this specialty; however, there were a few who expressed areas where their partners could improve, including “better service in checking quotes for accuracy.” However, the majority of respondents were happy with the knowledge and guidance their wholesalers provided them when placing environmental policies. In a space with such a wealth of exposures, having the right wholesale partner with the right products can make a big difference.



he current technology revolution in the insurance industry is affecting the financial industry, too. “The number of social engineering situations we are seeing [in financial services] truly is staggering,” says Connor Dippel, AVP and professional lines broker at Worldwide Facilities. “Industries where there is a frequent exchange of money are especially vulnerable. The coverage extension used to be solely the crime, but we are now beginning to see a lot of cyber markets offer it as well.” Despite being a soft market with excess capacity, financial services garnered the least amount of five-star wholesale partners – only four earned top marks. However, the select few wholesalers on this list received admirable remarks from their producer partners, who cited “knowledge of market trends” and “broad market access” as the reasons for their positive feedback.


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PRODUCERS ON WHOLESALE PARTNERS WORLDWIDE FACILITIES Headquarters: Los Angeles, CA Year founded: 1970 Number of offices: 17 Leadership: Davis Moore, CEO; Ron Austin, president and COO

Established in 1970, Worldwide Facilities is a national insurance wholesale broker and managing general agent. Its team of insurance specialists has access to virtually every specialty domestic and international insurance market. Worldwide Facilities has branch offices in several major metropolitan areas, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Irvine, South Bay (LA), Phoenix, Orlando, Tampa, Atlanta, Savannah, Chicago, New York, Dallas, Houston, Hartford, Nashville and Seattle. The company is dedicated to bringing its best resources to every opportunity across the entire United States. Worldwide Facilities’ focus and commitment to its clients continues to be one of its top priorities. The company’s mission is to continue growing its business and increasing its relevance – combining its unmatched expertise, market relationships and service to deliver innovative solutions to its clients.

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AmWINS Group Brown & Riding

Brown & Riding

Burns & Wilcox

Burns & Wilcox

Genesee General

Genesee General

RT Specialty

RT Specialty

Sullivan Brokers Wholesale Insurance U.S. Risk Insurance Group


ecently, Iowa announced a soft cap for medical malpractice lawsuits in an attempt to significantly temper premium increases and keep healthcare costs to a minimum, while allowing room for juries to increase awards for special cases. The development is a response to the continuing litigious climate within the healthcare industry, which is prompting medical professionals to proactively seek advice from law firms on how to protect themselves. The situation requires wholesale brokerages and MGAs with expertise in this area that can properly advise producers on the best plans to meet their clients’ needs. “We focus on healthcare risks, and [our wholesale partner is] a one-stop shop for our agency with respect to healthcare industry risks,” one producer said. “They provide innovative solutions as well as traditional products.” Producers would certainly welcome more wholesalers who are able to specialize in medical malpractice, especially as the industry expects to face more challenges due to possible healthcare reform spearheaded by the new presidential administration.



ospitality continues to be a very soft market in the class for property & casualty, with very few exceptions,” says RT Specialty CEO Tim Turner. “Rates continue to drop, and [there is] plenty of capacity and carriers competing for this class of business. Nightclubs and amusement parks would be an example of exceptions where rates are rising and terms/conditions are tighter.”

“Rates continue to drop, and there is plenty of capacity” Producers have taken notice of the increase in rates for this market – one noted that “pricing is going up in this class, for some carriers much more than others.” Even with the uptick in rates for certain areas of hospitality, most producers were content with their wholesale partner’s ability to find competitive prices. “They have been able to compete with some of our leanest priced markets,” one producer said of his wholesale partner. Just five wholesale partners netted five-star ratings in this specialty – a somewhat worrying number, considering that the US hospitality sector remains ripe for growth.

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PRODUCERS ON WHOLESALE PARTNERS NONPROFITS FIVE-STAR WHOLESALE PARTNERS: NONPROFITS Brown & Riding Burns & Wilcox Chris-Leef General Agency Gorst & Compass Insurance NIF Group NSM Insurance Group


roposed federal budget cuts have spurred concern among many nonprofits, sending them scrambling to figure out how to overcome aid reductions if the new budget should pass. Undoubtedly, nonprofit retail brokers will have to help their

clients navigate these new waters. “Currently, the nonprofit insurance marketplace is extremely competitive,” says Paul Orlando, vice president of marketing and sales at NIF Group. “For example, social service agencies are traditionally a nonprofit class that face tougher professional and medical exposures, which in turn makes them more challenging to underwrite. These risks are now being considered by many traditional carriers, giving a strong price advantage to savvy agents and potential policyholders. Agents and advisors need to carefully review coverage proposals to ensure that their clients are getting the proper coverage and limits, and not letting price be the sole motivating factor when making a final policy decision.” In general, producers liked the fact that their


wholesale partners have remained in tune with market conditions, allowing them to always accurately cover the insurance needs of

“These risks are now being considered by many traditional carriers, giving a strong price advantage to savvy agents” nonprofits and social service organizations. This satisfaction resulted in six wholesale partners earning a five-star rating from their producers.








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NIF GROUP Headquarters: Manhasset, NY Year founded: 1976 Number of offices: 7 Number of employees: 120+ Leadership: Michael A. Orlando, chairman of the board, NIF Group, and president, North Island Facilities Ltd.

As an insurance facility with established expertise in program management, wholesale brokerage and binding authority, and MGA services, NIF [North Island Facilities] was established in 1976 by developing long-term relationships with the independent agent community and carrier partners. With a primary focus on providing the best possible solutions for retail insurance agents and their customers, NIF leverages experience, expertise and strong relationships with carrier partners to deliver exceptional products, programs and speed to wholesale markets. This allows NIF’s partner agents to access to one of the broadest insurance distribution platforms, which ultimately gives them the ability to meet the unique needs of their customers. NIF has expertise in offering insurance programs for nonprofits, social service agencies, bowling centers and contractors. Additionally, NIF offers specialized wholesale brokerage for professional & management liability (NIF Pro) and property & casualty risks nationwide.

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12/05/2017 6:00:47 AM



RT SPECIALTY Headquarters: Chicago, IL Year founded: 2010 Leadership: Timothy W. Turner (pictured), chairman and CEO; Edward F. McCormack, president and general counsel; Michael T. VanAcker, COO

RT Specialty is the wholesale brokerage arm of Ryan Specialty Group, an international holding company specializing in wholesale brokerage, MGU/MGA underwriting facilities and other specialty services. Founded in 2010, RT Specialty is an independent broker with no insurance company backing or venture capital funding, and it is not affiliated with any other insurance broker, financial institution or company. Headquartered in Chicago, RT Specialty has 33 offices and 1,000+ team members nationwide, in all of the major markets. With nearly $4.5 billion in premium placements in 2016, RT Specialty is ranked as one of the leading wholesale insurance brokers in the US. RT Specialty specializes in broking property, casualty, real estate/habitational, transportation, workers’ compensation, life sciences, professional and executive liability risks, among others, with a concentration in tough, high-hazard risks that demand detailed expertise and specific industry experience. RT handles all sizes of accounts. RT Specialty brokers place significant premium volume into the insurance marketplace, across all lines of business. This translates into significant market clout. RT brokers have the technical expertise, exceptional underwriting relationships and fine-tuned execution skills required to provide consistent, exceptional, cutting-edge risk solutions to their clients.


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12/05/2017 6:00:47 AM

ORDINARY PEOPLE GETTING THE EXTRAORDINARY DONE PROFESSIONAL LIABILITY FIVE-STAR WHOLESALE PARTNERS: PROFESSIONAL LIABILITY AP Advantage Apogee Insurance Group Appalachian Underwriters Bass Underwriters Brown & Riding Burns & Wilcox Capitol Special Risks Chris-Leef General Agency CRC Swett Genesee General Gorst & Compass Insurance MacNeil Group Monarch E&S Insurance Services NIF Group Risk Placement Services RT Specialty Scottish American Socius Insurance Services

Many survey respondents agreed that their wholesalers are well versed in professional liability and offer competitive pricing for today’s marketplace

Sullivan Brokers Wholesale Insurance Worldwide Facilities


overing all types of professions, from doctors and landscapers to lawyers and tattoo artists, professional liability insurance protects professionals of all stripes from negligence claims. Working with a wholesale partner that understands the market is imperative for producers to ensure their clients’ businesses are accurately covered. Considering the breadth of the market, it’s no surprise that 20 MGAs and wholesale brokers earned five-star ratings from producers. Many survey respondents agreed that their wholesalers are well versed in professional liability and offer competitive pricing for today’s marketplace. “They give superior performance in all aspects,” said one producer of his professional liability wholesale partner. Another said that having a professional liability wholesale partner that “provides a policy tailored to the client’s specific needs at a reasonable cost, and is available during office hours to answer questions” makes a big impact on his agency’s success.

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I would like to see more pricing tools Faster response time on the quotes and endorsements are what’s needed for improvement

Burns & Wilcox CRC Swett

Get more competitively priced on products that other MGAs also carry

Gorst & Compass Insurance Patriot Insurance

Better terms and restrictions – sometimes they are too restrictive

RIC Insurance General Agency, Inc.

Quicker turnaround times on the harder-to-place risks and broader appetite capabilities

Risk Innovations RT Specialty

Better access to specialty markets for tough workers’ comp placements

Scottish American SIS Wholesale Insurance Services

Treat the relationship as a partnership and communicate, because it’s a win-win if the retailer and wholesaler are able to get and retain business


he workers’ compensation space is the subject of persistent reforms, and producers couldn’t emphasize enough their need for access to more workers’ comp markets through their wholesale partners. As one survey respondent said about a top-performing MGA: “[They] do a great job, but don’t write workers’ comp, so [there’s] some limitation.” A similar sentiment was expressed by producers whose wholesale partners offer limited workers’ compensation coverage; producers complained that “they used to have more markets available” and “they are stuck with state fund prices.” Considering the ever-evolving changes to workers’ compensation in state legislatures, it’s invaluable for producers and their business clients to have wholesale partners that can stay on top of the latest changes and provide plenty of coverage options. The nine companies that received five-star ratings are clearly already on the right track in this regard.


A little lower premium financing and higher compensation

Producers couldn’t emphasize enough their need for access to more workers’ comp markets through their wholesale partners



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Producer goodbye s at WHA Insurance to their The agency, comfort Agency zones. its focus are saying based in Eugene, on commerc new of the areas Ore., Future: is expandin transport of specializaial lines Insurance The Evolution and developin g Distributi example. ation insurance tion within of Property “The role that on. g role those for taxis and Casualty “Historic agents they and buses,lines: i ally, we played used to are playing n risk have had 20 to their for s areas there,” 30 years today is co-authorelection a agents of not the ago, specifical of the nd pricing director says Vince specialization who were “The ,” say report. very Ada, s Rob people. at WHA, which informati and they underwri agent used Hartm ly stayed an, to be you have“But you can’t employs on technolog writing ting and approxim just sit authority, pricing on the front y the have to done in of a policy, comfortab ately 50 the customer line of did learn multiple last five or ly in “There’s had , knew inspection WHA s of homes, underrecently industries eight years. what the business,” a lot and is in all implemen hired eight .” You knew personalless need for says company commerc ting technologadditiona lines—and that today, Hartman. The agencyinteract more l employee black-box ial—carrie increasing given that ies effectivel that will s to is also underwri rs are moving in order ly in help the accurately y with to grow stepping ting model, to more small lines, customer up its 50 to fill out sales and is marketing 60 questions where of in personal s. questions an applicatio WHA’s taking measures the task a efforts and about about is n happenin experienc it—and to boost commerc you and the business and answer that’s agencies g at many e is emblemat efficiency ial the car or Multichan it.” small . and how 10 to 20 and brokerage ic of are becoming and mid-size increasing nel what you drive or s across focused insuranceis accounts steadily, direct sales more the US. by carriers for 70% and auto are also on commerc efficient, comm Many ial lines technolog developin od insurance are marketingitized, Ha of premium They and specializy-driven, , which rtman may have g new approach s, is says. “There becoming ed. They spending more aggressive little es to marketing Car traditiona are signs choice. In some more than ly, with riers are that a l . l $6bn lines, agent s according the industryo the economic competin a year notably model to a recent g with on advertisin are beginning personal s of agents McKinsey the auto, and brokers. carriers g. THE DIRECT & Co. to unravel,” are report, Direct CHANNE Agents sales L personal have punched of all P&C auto, a noticeabl and the written premiums hole e hole agents by independe were is growing in Source: nt Market larger A.M. Share


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The Insurance Business America website is an online industry hub committed to delivering the latest industry news, opinion and analysis for today’s sophisticated insurance brokers and agents. The exclusive e-newsletter service delivers need-to-know developments to inboxes, as well as video reports from Insurance Business TV.

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r R-T Specialty, LLC (RT), a subsidiary of Ryan Specialty Group, LLC, provides wholesale brokerage and other services to agents and brokers. RT is a Delaware limited liability company based in Illinois. As a wholesale broker, RT does not solicit insurance from the public. Some products may only be available in certain states, and some products may only be available from surplus lines insurers. In California: R-T Specialty Insurance Services, LLC License #0G97516. Š 2017 Ryan Specialty Group, LLC

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12/05/2017 6:00:50 AM



The real deal Insuring commercial real estate can be a lucrative niche, but how can agents take advantage of the opportunities on offer? 48

AS THE US economy strengthens on the back of strong corporate earnings and optimism around potential tax cuts, the commercial real estate space is expected to grow, which in turn represents a wealth of opportunity for insurance agents. Commercial property insurance is a massive space that involves any entity that owns and operates real estate, including owner-occupied buildings such as factories or restaurants, office buildings, strip malls, and even residential real estate like apartments and condominiums. “There are numerous types of claim exposures to which a commercial real estate entity may be exposed,” explains Jason C. Schiciano, president at Levitt-Fuirst Associates, a 2017 IBA Top Specialist Broker for real estate. “Normally, it takes multiple policies to properly cover commercial real estate.” Besides standard risks such as fire, smoke, water, vandalism, leaks and slip-and-fall injuries, commercial property owners may also face several other exposures, depending on the type or location of their building and the nature of their business. These risks usually require customized endorsements or separate policies and could include coverage for construction or asbestos liability, earthquake, or flood damage. The coverage requirements of a condominium association paint an accurate picture of the multiple layers of insurance often needed in the commercial property space. According to Schiciano, whose firm is the insurance broker for hundreds of condominiums and apartments, in addition to a package policy for property and general liability coverage, a condo association should also maintain a D&O policy, an umbrella liability policy for additional liability protection, workers’ compensation and disability policies for injuries to condo employees, and a crime policy to protect against the theft of association funds. Other policies in a comprehensive insurance program for a condo association include an employment practices liability policy (sometimes built into the D&O policy) and possibly certain specialty

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40% 15% 15% 10%

Burglary Water and and theft freezing damage

Wind and hail damage



Wind and hail damage Average claim: $26,000

Water and freezing damage Average claim: $26,000

Burglary and theft Average claim: $8,000

Source: The Hartford


policies, such as environmental or pollution liability, cyber liability and flood insurance. “It would not be uncommon for a condominium association to have at least four insurance policies to cover basic exposures, and possibly eight policies for a more complete insurance program or to address more unique exposures,” Schiciano says.

have a good understanding of the coverages and deductibles and how they can vary. “Coastal locations will likely have a named storm deductible in addition to a wind-hail deductible,” Branoff says. “Deductibles can apply on a per-location, per-occurrence basis; on a per-building, per-occurrence basis; or on a per-client, per-occurrence basis.”

Overhead expenses

Tough competition

Property owners face a range of differing risks, which vary in terms of cost and coverage needs, but there are few building improvements that incur as much cost as the replacement of a roof. The difficulties surrounding roof-related issues are often substantial and can lead to serious interior water damage and mold. “In addition to having insurance, it is important for property owners and managers

The commercial property space is filled with many of the big players, and is soft, competitive and aggressive. Getting a property policy on a monoline basis is fairly easy for clients, and some carriers even package the risk with general liability coverages at a discount, making the space even more competitive. “Standard companies are gobbling up Main Street risks, like stores or strip malls, so the

“There are numerous types of claim exposures to which a commercial real estate entity may be exposed. Normally, it takes multiple policies to properly cover commercial real estate” Jason C. Schiciano, Levitt-Fuirst Associates to conduct regular roof inspections and budget accordingly for repairs to avoid deferred maintenance,” says Andrew Branoff, president and CEO of Apartment Insurance Consultants. “Older roofing shingles lose their protective oils over time and become brittle and can curl/split, causing them to become ineffective. Weakened shingles are more likely to be blown off by wind gusts, exposing the property to structural rot and additional damage.” The insurance industry has responded to the increasing costs related to roof replacements by moving toward actual cash value [ACV] evaluations on roofs older than a specified age. Agents working in the space must

risks that are left are candidates for excess & surplus lines companies,” says Ron Abram, president and CEO of Interstate Insurance Services. “These clients usually have past claims, are located in a high-crime area, may have high TIVs or are more likely to be affected by some form of natural catastrophe, which makes them more difficult to insure.” Results for carriers in the commercial property arena are driven by the huge losses associated with natural disasters and catastrophes such as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, wildfires and tidal waves. No major disasters have struck in the past couple of years, so performance has been relatively good, and many

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© 2016 General Star National Insurance Company is licensed in the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and all states. General Star National Insurance Company has its principal place of business in Stamford, CT and operates under NAIC Number 0031-11967. Insurance is placed with General Star National Insurance Company by licensed producers. General Star Indemnity Company is an eligible surplus lines insurer in all states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. It has the status as an unlicensed insurer in California and operates under NAIC Number 0031-37362. Insurance is placed with the General Star Indemnity Company by licensed producers and, for risk that qualify, by licensed surplus lines brokers. Atlanta 404 239 6777

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“In addition to having insurance, it is important for property owners and managers to conduct regular roof inspections and budget accordingly for repairs to avoid deferred maintenance” Andrew Branoff, Apartment Insurance Consultants carriers in the space are posting strong profits. “As a result, insurance carriers want to write more of this business, and that means it’s getting increasingly aggressive and competitive in terms of pricing and underwriting flexibility,” Abram says. “There are only so many catastrophes and exposures that can occur, so when we don’t have the big disasters, excess & surplus lines companies and brokers do pretty well.” This also means many carriers operating in the space have large reserves of cash sitting in investment accounts. Carriers are eager to deploy that money and put it to work, and there is a scramble for increased exposures on risks that are considered relatively benign. “Insurance companies are competing for


these risks, and that leaves the hard-to-place risks for the surplus lines market,” Abram says.

Advice for agents Although the space has the potential to be lucrative, it’s not for the “weak-hearted,” Abram says. There are lots of property markets out there, each with slightly different appetites, and in order to achieve any level of success, agents need to choose a particular specialty to focus on and then align with the right carrier. “The property business is so broad that without specific industry expertise, a new agent entering the space is going to have a hard time making headway,” Abram says. As competition in the commercial prop-

erty space heats up, both carriers and agents must find a way to differentiate themselves from the crowd. “At Atlas, we’ve been able to achieve success with commercial property by being truly monoline,” says Lee Glaser, senior vice president and property manager at Atlas General Insurance Services. “It’s all we focus on in the property division. We have all risk facilities that can include CAT as well as several DIC facilities, and our focus is on building relationships with other people who only focus on monoline property. That’s how we’ve continued to find success – by specializing in one area.” As new agents and carriers enter the commercial property space on a consistent basis, established agents need to be able to increase their value proposition and solidify relationships if they want to hold onto their most lucrative accounts. Annual renewals are the norm, so agents and brokers are going after business in a highly aggressive manner. “I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for brokers to have strong relationships with their retailers, clients and carrier partners,” Glaser says. “When there is an issue that may prevent a deal from getting done, it’s those relationships that get the deal over the line.”

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Alper Services David Macknin, president and CEO of Alper Services, explains how his firm’s contrarian strategy has resulted in 50-plus years of success

IBA: What has been a key factor in Alper Services’ success? David Macknin: From day one when our doors opened 51 years ago, it’s been about doing business differently. The way we lead this business is in quite a contrarian manner. One of the key strategies to our success has been to listen to our clients and the market and to use that information to think about what’s coming next. We don’t focus on what others are doing today and how we can do it better. Instead, we anticipate and deliver what the client of tomorrow needs. I learned from playing tennis and baseball competitively that one should always play on one’s toes and rarely play on one’s heels. If you are on your heels and the ball comes at you, the ball is playing you. You then are merely reacting, thus greatly reducing your chance of success, as opposed to playing on your toes and leaning forward. Our organization operates on our toes by constantly innovating and anticipating what’s next.

IBA: How does Alper Services foster a healthy work/life balance? DM: Our personal and professional lives no longer have boundary walls. With technology in our lives, one spills into the other, and it is a constant synthesis of the two. Instead of having a harsh wall that separates our two lives, what if we blend them in a comfortable way?


We must recognize that during the workday, people will have personal life events. We have to blend people’s lives in a comfortable and healthy way so they are not running into either side of those boundary walls. To have a balance, think of a scale with two platforms. Even when they are balanced, they are still two separate pieces. We look to unify those two pieces by blending them together.

IBA: What are some major challenges Alper Services has overcome? DM: Many insurance agencies focus on one core line of business. Alper Services used to be heavily invested in the commercial property & casualty insurance space. One of the challenges with that is that while you can ride high rates or a robust economy up the hill of success, the other side of that hill can descend very steeply.

We decided that we didn’t want to be too heavily invested in one area, so we have focused on diversifying our portfolio. While we have continued to grow our property & casualty business, we have also very boldly built out our benefits and personal insurance space, both of which have doubled in the past five years. We have also broadened our financial service offerings and extended our practice into human resource consulting, wellness consulting, workplace violence consulting and more. It’s this key strategy of differentiation of offering a suite of services that has enabled us to stabilize the company and make sure that we are not subject to spikes or dips in the insurance market and macro conditions.

IBA: How does Alper’s ownership model support its success? DM: We are owned in a perpetual trust that

ALPER SERVES In 2014, Alper Services launched its volunteer initiative, Alper Serves, as a way to improve the communities in which its employees live and work. “The guiding principle here is that we are truly blessed to have success doing what we do, and we feel that it is an absolute privilege to give back to the community,” says David Macknin. “We follow the Judeo-Christian principle of tithing by giving 10% of our profits back to the community.” Alper Services’ employees are given paid days off throughout the year to volunteer, whether it is for a nonprofit client or an organization that is near and dear to their hearts. “If our clients and our community win, then we can’t help but win, too,” Macknin says.

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Top offerings Property & casualty Credit insurance Employee benefits Personal insurance Financial services

Year founded: 1966

“We don’t focus on what others are doing today and how we can do it better. Instead, we anticipate and deliver what the client of tomorrow needs” – provided we are profitable – prohibits the sale of the company. This structure allows us to preserve the integrity and legacy of our services. As a result of this, we are able to live with a smaller-than-industryaverage profit because the trust that owns our company essentially does not need the money. All of our company’s profits are shared with our team and reinvested into the business, which is ultimately gifted back to our clients.

IBA: What’s your take on the current

state of the insurance industry? DM: This is not an industry marked by reactive handling. This is an industry guided by predictive modeling. The microanalysis of data now is giving the insurance industry an ability to change the way it has done business in the past by breaking away from old cycles. Right now we have a lot of disruptive forces with some great ideas that are impacting the industry. Today, consumers can get all of their insurance needs on their smartphone without speaking to a single

Headquarters: Chicago Number of employees: 50 Executive officers: Howard Alper, chairman and founder; David Macknin, president and CEO; Leslie Morse, COO and general counsel; William McGrath, director of finance person. While there are some in the industry who disregard these advances, the reality is that consumers are and will be buying very differently than they have in the past. There is statistic after statistic that explains how consumer habits are changing, so at Alper Services, we are not ignoring disruptive technology. To the contrary, we are gradually and thoughtfully reinventing our company daily to be an embracer and implementer of technology in ways that will contribute to our shared success.

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Seamless transitions:

Winning customers’ digital minds and analog hearts

It’s never been easier for businesses to reach customers – but if your digital message is confusing and comes through too many channels, it can be disjointed, and you will lose customers due to the irritation factor. Anders SörmanNilsson explains

WHEN I was growing up, I used to despise the friction caused by the stitching in the back of my pants and the labels with ‘Anders Sörman-Nilsson’ that my mother insisted on hand-sewing into every piece of underwear and garment I used to leave home with. In fact, this rubbing annoyance could take the pleasure out of otherwise fun outdoor activities – or any situation that involved wearing these privately labeled threads. The thought behind this branding exercise was good – my items would be differentiated from the other kids’ garments and could be returned if I ever lost them. However, the fact that I didn’t have a choice in the matter, and that, seemingly, my mother superim-


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posed this discomfort on me, didn’t make the situation better. Of course, she always pointed out that I should be grateful for the fact that I even had clothes to put on my back. There may be a moral point of truth in her statement, but there is also an element of ‘shut up; be grateful; here’s what you are getting’ to this approach. It’s an approach that we, as customers and businesspeople, also see in the experiences we have with brands and the way we design our brand touchpoints for our clients.

Customer friction As customers, we experience this friction dealing with retail banks and their myriad concoctions of seemingly disconnected communication channels – mobile, desktop, branch, phone, snail mail – none of which seem to integrate with the other. As businesspeople, we also tend to design from our own channel convenience, rather than shifting to an empathy with the customer and how they want to experience your brand, your solutions and your products. And for every channel we add because a social media guru told us we should, our approach to marketing becomes more and more channel-additive, rather than integrative. When we don’t think through how these channels should interlink holistically, we are creating friction for our customers and making their transitions between their preferred modes of communication seem like a hassle. In fact, what we are doing is creating stitching and labels that give our customers an itch – an itch that will cause them to leave, or never do business with us in the first place. What customers are reminded of when they feel this annoying itch is your brand – hardly a situation you want from a branding perspective. And our attitude to this friction is similar to the attitude of the past – when the customer didn’t have a choice – of ‘shut up; be grateful; here’s what you are getting.’ The problem is, today and for the foreseeable future, the customer has a choice. Information asymmetry has become information symmetry, and we must design seamless transitions between digital and analog modes of communication to win the hearts and minds of tomorrow’s customers.

Digital disruption In my last book, I described the paradigm shift caused by a phenomenon known as digital disruption. Digital disruption is the revolutionary shift that is impacting all industries (and that includes insurance brokers!) caused by the digitization of information. As information moves from physical, analog formats to digital formats in the cloud, the old value of the physical information

design a website (WordPress), contract a web designer (99designs), get a team of developers (, study your digital effectiveness (Google Analytics), start a TV channel (YouTube), create a landing page (Unbounce) or build an engaged tribe for your brand (Mailchimp). Never has the little guy had so much power to amplify his voice. Never before have you had the ability to go from being merely local to now being also

When we don’t think through how channels should interlink holistically, we are creating friction for our customers and making their transitions between their preferred modes of communication seem like a hassle partly evaporates. Think about music, for example. Music used to hold more value in how we perceived a song when it was on a vinyl record or on a cassette tape, but now that music is simply a streamable subscription service, we don’t give it as much value anymore. This is the reason why today only 6% of the revenue for US recording artists comes from selling songs. The remainder comes from merchandise, concerts, sponsorship, brand ambassadorship deals, etc. The other impact of digitization is that the customer’s increasingly digitized, rational minds are being spoiled with real-time data – real-time data that they used to rely on you as an intermediator for. Digital disruption also means digital disintermediation and, in the future, potential displacement unless you shift your role in the value chain. When we lived in an age of information asymmetry, your expertise and insight was highly valued. When that insider information sits on aggregation websites and is available in an instant, what is your value going to be moving forward? The digital world kills those in the value chain who are either average at what they do or don’t add any value beyond what a digital interface can give you. But the digital world is also your saviour. Think about it. Never has it been easier to

regional, national or global – all because of the fact that the same tools that are in the hands of your customers and prospects are also in your hands. The question is whether you are ready to use them.

Analog hearts I mentioned that customers’ rational, information-seeking minds are becoming increasingly digitized. But their hearts are enduringly both emotional and analog. However, they are expecting something different. As the customer shifts their customer journey and where they are accessing information, and how they are connecting to soothe their need for positive experiences, any friction that they can feel in the process of transitioning between digital and analog channels will annoy them. Your job is to design seamless transitions to ensure that you do not annoy them. The tools to do this are in the palm of your hand. So, how do you do this? One way is to think strategically about your brand touchpoints according to the Seamless Strategy Map from my strategy consultancy, Thinque (see page 58). This elegantly simple Strategy Map lets you plot out the various brand touchpoints you have with your customers. On the X axis you have the dimension between analog touchpoints (on the left) and digital touch- 57  

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DIGITAL EXPERIENCE points (on the right), and on the Y axis you have pre-sale touchpoints (on the top), and post-sale touchpoints (on the bottom). Your job as a business leader is to map out the current and future brand touchpoints

The digital world kills those in the value chain who are either average at what they do or don’t add any value beyond what a digital interface can give you with your customers. This requires you to audit your current brand assets and assess how consistent they are in terms of visual look, tactile touch, messaging and tone of voice. Then you need to decide whether these brand touchpoints are more digital or more analog, and ask yourself whether you use them pre- or post-sale. Are there any gaps at the moment? If so, they need to be addressed. Gaps hint at overlooked opportunities. For example, have you claimed your Google Local/Business name? Is your blog mobile-optimized? Have you


been actively getting involved in sponsoring the local junior football team? When was the last time you organized an event to give something back to your clients? Once you have audited your current brand assets and touchpoints, it is important to notice whether they are balanced. Are you more digital or more analog? Do you focus more on pre-sale activities, or are you engaging your clients post-sale as well – for example, to answer questions and generate referrals and testimonials? The ideal is to get a holistic balance to ensure that you are compatible with their increasingly complex customer journeys. But the touchpoints must be integrated. We shouldn’t be additive until the whole Seamless Strategy Map is integrative. For example, do you integrate your Mailchimp newsletter to automatically send out a mobile-optimized newsletter as soon as you post three new blogs? Does a new blog trigger a Tweet in your Hootsuite account? Have you set up a marketing calendar for the year that ensures some analog touchpoints, and do they direct your customers to a digital landing page with a special offer on an Unbounce page? What you’re starting to see is the integration of your brand touchpoints and the seamless transitions between them. This does require some thinking and experimenting, but it is well worth the effort, and your customers will thank you for being elegantly simple to find and easy to remember, and for providing engaging, beautifully designed and valuable content that connects both with their increasingly digitized, rational minds and their enduringly analog emotional hearts. The future is where we will spend the rest of our business lives, so we’d better get ready for it in a seamless fashion. Otherwise you may just give your customers the itch to leave you. Anders Sörman-Nilsson is the founder of Thinque, a strategy think tank that helps executives and leaders convert disruptive questions into proactive future strategies. As a futurist and innovation strategist, Sörman-Nilsson has helped executives and leaders on four continents map, prepare and strategize for foreseeable and unpredictable futures.


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IB Awa


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How to boost your productivity in three easy steps To truly work effectively today, writes Dermot Crowley, it’s critical to harness the power of technology and to use it in a coordinated way to manage three core aspects of your work – your actions, your inputs and your outcomes

WE ALL complain about being busy: too much to do, too many emails, too many meetings. Our modern workplace demands so much from us. Technology promised us an increase in productivity that never really eventuated. You may have all of the high-tech productivity tools at your disposal to help you plan your time and manage your priorities, but are you really leveraging this technology to meet the challenges of the 21st century workplace? Are you working smart?


Centralize your actions

Most of us made the transition from paper planners to electronic calendars more than a decade ago. We have one place where we centralize all of our meetings, and we collaborate with other people’s schedules using an electronic scheduling system. Yet, when it comes to the other side of our activity management and task management, most of us are still very reliant on paper systems, and tend to manage our priorities in fragmented, ineffective piles – piles of emails in our inbox, piles of paper on our desk, piles of actions in our notepad and piles of thoughts in our head. No wonder we are stressed, reactive and behind the eight-ball. One of the most powerful ways of getting in


control of your priorities is to embrace technology and centralize all of your tasks into the task system that sits alongside your calendar in your scheduling tool. Most organizations use Microsoft Outlook, Lotus Notes or Google Calendar as their email and scheduling tool. All of these tools have powerful task systems built into them, yet few people use electronic task systems to manage

for managing your actions, you need to think about how you deal with inputs. You probably receive many inputs every day – emails, paperwork, phone calls, interruptions, meeting actions. Inputs present a number of challenges for the modern worker. First, there is the volume. Where a few years ago, 100 emails per day was a lot, now 300 per day is

The secret to staying on top of your incoming work is to treat your inbox like a mailbox. It is simply where you receive emails their priorities. It’s time to pull yourself into the 21st century! The benefits are huge. You will be able to schedule tasks by date and create action lists for specific days. This will ensure you manage your priorities more proactively, and will help you to balance your meeting and task workloads. Best of all, as many of your actions are driven by email, you will be able to schedule emails into your task list or into your calendar for action at the appropriate time.


Organize your inputs Once you have a solid system in place

common. Second, the way most people tend to manage these inputs is problematic. Many of us have hundreds (if not thousands) of emails piled up in our inboxes. We desperately try to stay on top of the pile, marking emails unread or flagging them to maintain visibility of the emails that still need our attention. But it just causes stress, reactivity and missed deadlines. The secret to staying on top of your incoming work is to treat your inbox like a mailbox. It is simply where you receive emails. It should not be used as a to-do list or a filing system. It should be cleared to zero at

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least once per week. When you process your emails, be decisive. Delete what you don’t need. File the things you are finished with but feel you need to keep (and remember that a few well thought-out folders will be quicker and more effective than a complicated filing hierarchy). Delegate anything that is not a good use of your time. Most importantly, schedule your actions into your task list or calendar rather than keeping them highlighted in your inbox. This will give you greater control over your actions, as you will be managing the priority within the context of your time.


Realize your outcomes

How often do you feel like your job has become a series of endless meetings and emails? What about the time you need to work on the really meaningful work? That time just seems to evaporate or get stolen by somebody else’s urgent crises. While meetings and emails are a critical way of getting stuff done, your ability to deliver in your role

requires more. It requires time to think, to plan and to work on the activities that are driven by your outcomes, rather than just your inputs. Many executives I work with complain about not being able to find time for the important work. But you will never find time for this – you have to make time in your schedule. You need to proactively schedule time for the important stuff and then protect it fiercely. You should protect it from the other people who want to steal your time away, but also from yourself, as it is easy to procrastinate over the more complex work that contributes to our outcomes. The best way to create a connection between your outcomes and your actions is to invest time in personal planning. Sometimes we need to stop doing and take some time to plan and prioritize. Having a robust weekly planning routine in place is a good way to build a habit around this. Each week, review last week, organize next week, anticipate what is coming up and realign your priorities with

what you are trying to achieve – your outcomes. Tools like Microsoft Outlook are seen as email clients, but they are so much more. They are designed to help you manage your actions, inputs and outcomes. If they are used in a coordinated way, they can give you the leverage you need to stay productive in the modern workplace. Nelson Jackson once said, “I do not believe you can do today’s job with yesterday’s methods and be in business tomorrow.” I would also suggest that we cannot do today’s job with yesterday’s tools and be in business tomorrow. Technology has contributed to our productivity challenges over the past decade, and it can also be a part of the solution – but only if we learn to use it in a smart way.

Dermot Crowley is a productivity thought leader, author, speaker and trainer. He is also the author of Smart Work. For more information, visit or email dermot.

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Natural catastrophes are among the most threatening perils in the nation—and without comprehensive coverage, can result in devastating losses for your clients.

• Network with like-minded insurance professionals

On July 12, attendees of CAT Risk 2017 California will access expert, comprehensive masterclass content featuring timely discussions of risk mitigation, underwriting advancements and broker best-practices to position insureds ahead of mounting catastrophe losses.

• Access leading perspectives on natural disasters like flood, fire, earthquake and windstorm

Uniting more than 120 specialized underwriters, wholesale brokers and retail agents, CAT Risk 2017 is a must-attend for insurance professionals leading the way in the flood, earthquake and fire markets, and offers the opportunity to network with key industry innovators. Don't miss this timely educational and networking opportunity!

Register today!

• Learn how to better explain and sell CAT coverage to your clients • Understand how different catastrophe events impact coverage exclusions and how to avoid gaps in coverage • Get the latest on natural disaster risk mitigation

Visit for more information or contact ATHEENA LOPEZ 303 800 5877

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John O’Marra was indoctrinated into the world of insurance early on, and he has always found his way back to it O’Marra grew up in an insurance family – his father was a 40-year industry veteran. In his teens, O’Marra was impressed by his father’s frequent travel to exotic places, the tickets to concerts and pro sports he was given by clients, and his ability to provide a nice life for his family “I may not have known exactly what my dad did, but it seemed like a career in insurance could be fulfilling and fun”




BECOMES A FAMILY MAN As his career was getting off the ground, O’Marra moved to Long Island and married his wife, Caroline. Two daughters, Carleigh and Cate, followed in the years to come “Not only does having a family remind me that things exist outside of work, but it also reinforced my drive for a long, successful career to take care of my family”


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2006 RETURNS TO INSURANCE Realizing that he missed the relationship aspect of the insurance business, O’Marra joined startup wholesale broker Mercator Risk Services as a property broker, achieving his ARM and ASLI designations along the way “The role was very similar to what I had done at Marsh, and I could tap into the same network of colleagues and friends I had built during my time there. It was a perfect fit”

BEGINS HIS CAREER O’Marra’s college years included a stint interning at Marsh, which provided invaluable background when he began his career as a property broker in the global broking unit at Marsh’s office in New York “I worked with a great team that taught me a tremendous amount in a short period of time – not only about insurance coverages, but also how to conduct yourself as an insurance professional”

2005 FINDS A SILVER LINING O’Marra soon found his burgeoning career interrupted by the high-profile investigation and fining of Marsh in the early 2000s and the subsequent massive layoffs. However, opportunity knocked in the shape of a friend who convinced O’Marra to sell mortgages

“The silver lining was a blank slate to pursue new opportunities. Working in mortgages was great – it involved intense sales training, both cold-calling and face-to-face closings. Everyone should have to do cold-call sales at some point” 2011

2016 TRIPLES HIS TEAM Despite a perpetual soft market cycle, the end of last year marked a milestone for O’Marra: His team’s headcount at RT Specialty clocked in at three times the level he started with five years ago. The upped roll call also reflected a similarly elevated revenue stream “It feels good to work with people you like and admire, and share that success with them”

JUMPS TO RT SPECIALTY Disruption in carrier and retail distribution approval led O’Marra to move with his team to RT Specialty in 2011 “Working for respected executives like Pat Ryan and Tim Turner has been a dream come true. RT is a salesdriven organization that gives its brokers all of the tools and opportunities for success. We have grown every year at RT and will work hard to make sure that continues”

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JEEPERS CREEPERS Brad Henderson spends his off hours behind the wheel of his Jeep, going where few have gone before


LIKE MANY residents of Colorado, Brad Henderson of Denver’s Network Insurance Services is a fan of the outdoors and all it has to offer. He’s hiked 65 miles in a five-day trip, has climbed five of the state’s ‘14ers’ (as inhabitants refer to peaks topping 14,000 feet), and often spends hours fly-fishing in cold mountain streams or exploring the desert backcountry in neighboring Utah – all thanks to the access afforded by his beloved Jeep. Buying a Jeep was a natural progression for Henderson, who spent many happy hours in his youth dirt-biking in the mountains. He couldn’t help but notice that many people he would see at


“the same places, having all the same fun we would have” arrived in Jeeps. “I thought it would be so cool to come back with a Jeep,” he says. In 2011, Henderson took the plunge and purchased a Jeep Wrangler, soon finding himself part of an unexpected subculture that lends itself to large gatherings of 4x4s for off-roading trips, camping and huge cookouts. “There’s a hidden camaraderie between Jeep drivers,” Henderson says. Even weekends spent in town are still dominated by the Jeep. “If I’m not driving it somewhere,” he says, “I’m working on it – customizing it for off-road or taking care of a squeak or a leak.”

Largest group of Jeeps Henderson has ever gone off-road with


85,000 Mileage on Henderson’s Jeep


Highest elevation, in feet, that Henderson has driven his Jeep to

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Expect big things in workers’ compensation. Expect to save a third of your clients 30% or more. Most classes approved, nationwide. For information call (877) 234-4450 or visit Follow us at Š2017 Applied Underwriters, Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway company. Rated A+ (Superior) by A.M. Best. Insurance plans protected U.S. Patent No. 7,908,157.

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Profile for Key Media

Insurance Business America issue 5.05  

The magazine for America’s insurance broking and advice community.

Insurance Business America issue 5.05  

The magazine for America’s insurance broking and advice community.

Profile for keymedia

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