Friday, 20 November 2009
I'm looking forward to it actually. The role is a good one for me, and Sword operates in 50 countries, I enjoy working in different markets. We get to keep our team together, we pick up the US operations in the insurance industry and other software complementary offerings for our target market.
I'll still be working on strategy, selling new products, selling in new markets, doing product marketing and other means of growing the top line. Sword does $77.5 million in insurance with the acquisition complete and we are targeting $96 million in 2010. Clients get the combination and value our larger footprint (meaning our balance sheet story just got stronger and it's easier for buyers to reccommend us), and the feedback about the announcement has been great.
Wednesday, 7 October 2009
Tons of Job Finding is done through LinkedIn, Twitter, online job boards, etc.
But Travelers is on Twitter for auto insurance news/promotion; The Hartford is also on Twitter including a recent Tweet about their new CEO's podcast (very web 2.0...)
FaceBook is used by some insurance companies for Groups (discussions/Q&A type of stuff). GEICO is pretty clever with a "Page" and some groups around their cavemen characters. GEICO also features FaceBook on its home page so that policyholders can recommend GEICO to others.
Obviously ACORD believes in video, as does AgencyPort. But most use of YouTube is for re-runs of tv ads like those by Hiscox.
Blogging works, even in large commercial where the D&O Diary is a good example of a niche that Kevin covers really well.
If traditional marketing agencies don't offer social media as a skill-set to insurance company clients, boutique providers of such services will inevitably crop up. As the video says, it's not a fad, it's here to stay.
I'm not going to be talking about D&O anymore, not for a lack of love for all things litigious, but instead because I have a new crush - I've fallen for insurance distribution technology. Who knew that agent portals or commercial auto upload was so hot? I've joined AgencyPort and am blogging about automating insurance transactions.
Lastly, it's my nephew's birthday today and he asked "Can I do dangerous stuff now that I'm 4?"
Tuesday, 12 May 2009
The discussion will revolve Advisen’s latest briefing "The Insurance Market in 2009: A Market Poised for a Change" that examines the forces at work on commercial insurance premiums, claims and investment income in 2009. Download this new Briefing, free of charge, at http://corner.advisen.com/reports_topical_hard_market_2009.html.
Register for free here.
While the briefing groups together findings of several recent Advisen reports, there are several points that are new - see the breakout of trends by coverage on page 4, a discussion of broker consolidation to come - on page 5 (we are going to publish a full piece on this soon), and the implications of the new Obama administration on page 7.
Jim Blinn of Advisen will moderate a panel including:
- Eric Andersen, CEO-Aon US Retail
- Dave Bradford, co-founder and EVP of Advisen
- Bob Petrilli, Head of Swiss Re’s IRI Americas
- Steven Weisbart, Chief Economist for Insurance Information Institute
Buyers, brokers and underwriters of all major lines will learn from the report and the webinar discussion. If Property, D&O, GL or Workers Compensation insurance are important to you, we urge you to register for the free webinar here.
We'd love to see you on the call and answer your questions. The best way to get your question answered is to submit them to email@example.com in advance.
Thursday, 7 May 2009
Advisen Front Page News (here) carried an interesting article this week from the Chief Counsel to ACE Professional Risks, Carol Zacharias, who recapped the state of play in climate change litigation and how it increases the exposure to companies and their directors and officers.
Excerpting from the article:
So I searched Advisen's large loss database for "climate change disclosure" and found a match on a case where Xcel Energy settled with the Attorney General of New York. Excerpting from our case profile:
The new cases address the adequacy of a company’s assessment of the financial
consequences of climate changes and the adequacy of disclosures to shareholders
of that financial impact. Since questions regarding disclosures to shareholders
raise the prospect of management liability exposure, these developments present
liability risks to directors and officers that should be considered.
Click here for the full article.
Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the first-ever binding and
enforceable agreement requiring a major national energy company to disclose the
financial risks that climate change poses to its investors. Cuomo's agreement
with Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) ("Xcel") comes as many power companies, including
Xcel, are investing in new coal-burning power generation that will significantly
contribute to global warming emissions.
Certainly climate change disclosure is not going to decrease under the Obama administration.
To get your hands on this case or other cases you want to follow, click here and indicate you want everything we have on climate change or whatever search criteria fits your needs.
Monday, 4 May 2009
NERA and Cornerstone make their money by serving as expert witnesses during trial and pre-trial stages. NERA and Cornerstone collect data as a byproduct of this business.
Advisen makes its money collecting data and licencing access to this data on a one-time or continuous basis. Data and predictive models are our core business and we are dedicated to the commercial insurance industry so our output is tailored to their specific needs.
So the answer to the executive's question is "Depends on what you define as a SCAS" but, more importantly, SCAS is only one part of the exposure to liability insurers. In fact, in Q1 2009, SCAS dropped to less than 40% of all securities filings. Advisen tracks shareholder and other derivative suits and cases involving breach of fiduciary duty and securities fraud.
Advisen tracks filings in US federal and state courts and collective actions and other cases filed in overseas courts against US and non-US companies.
In summary, there is no standard definition of "securities class action suit." But for management liability professionals, the more important question is"How many and what types of lawsuits are likely to result in claims under D&O, E&O or fiduciary liability policies?" Advisen tracks and reports on all manner of suits, filed in state, federal and foreign courts, that are likely to result in losses to companies and their management liability insurers. The Advisen database is the most complete, accurate and timely of its kind.
Today Advisen released the findings of its quarterly securities litigation review and the report is available free of charge here. The headline is that filing activity was up significantly from 2008 rates, but the pace can't be sustained and will likely level off over the year.
The executive's follow up questions are "how many of these companies do we write policies for" and "what do we need to reserve". Reserving capital erodes profit so frequency is not popular, but frequency of filings is only part of the picture.
The elephant in the D&O room is whether these cases will yield insured loss. Advisen has already written (see here) about how defense costs are going to eat significantly into the policy limits but that for many reasons, this increased frequency is unlikely to result in an increase in claims paid.
D&O and E&O professionals would benefit from reading the report (here) and seeing if their clients are on the list (here).
Friday, 1 May 2009
Quoting a UPI article:
A warning submitted by a man in Hampton, Ga., regarding the use of a portable toilet has topped this year's Wacky Warning Label Contest, an event sponsor says.
The Foundation for Fair Civil Justice said in a release that Hampton resident Steve Shiflett won the 2009 Wacky Warning competition by sending in a warning label attached to "The Off-Road Commode."
"Not for use on moving vehicles," the label on the portable toilet, which can be attached to a vehicle's trailer hitch, reads.
Other winning entries this year include a cereal bowl warning that urges adult supervision for use and a livestock castration ring product that insists the product only be used on animals.
Bob Dorigo Jones, who created the annual contest, said such seemingly unnecessary labels are an indication of an ongoing economic trend.
"Once a year, millions of people around the world get a collective laugh from our winners," Jones said. "The truth is, this is no laughing matter. Outrageous warning labels confirm that the American civil justice system is out of whack! In today's economy, Wacky Warning Labels demonstrate the tax we all pay for lawsuit abuse."
Friday, 17 April 2009
Ready to Close that Deal?
Advisen may be the solution!
Whatever happened to the good old days of loyalty coupled with an insurance broker who provides better value than their competitors? In these tough times as all sectors of the economy struggle to tread water, many of us are probably wondering why accounts that we have had ten or twenty years are heading for the door. There is one answer: The bottom line. Do not give up quite yet! There is a software tool that can:
1) Increase the ratio of your sales
2) Provide your client or prospect with valuable information about their industry and insurance policy
3) Clearly put the term “value” back into the minds of the consumers
Advisen is fueling global business insurance with the industry’s first ever online knowledge marketplace.
Advisen’s wealth of information resources, combined with a sophisticated search engine, data mining, and analytical tools provide strategic information services to the insurance industry. By aggregating information relevant to the business insurance industry, Advisen has created a workspace where insurance underwriters, brokers and business managers assess, quantify and evaluate risk within and across domains, benchmark performance against best practices, and track regulatory developments.
Recently, a colleague asked me if I could check what the self-retention average for a company who specializes in real estate management with revenue over $100 million dollars would be. After filling out the brief search engine questionnaire on the software, I was able to create a graph which illuminated the average retention of similar companies across the country. Based on this information, we were able to determine that the retention was right where it needed to be.
We didn’t stop there. I used Advisen to do a policy form comparison between the incumbent broker’s policy form and the carrier’s form that we were planning to use. We were able to show the prospect where the norm in terms of retention fell for their industry, the difference in wording between policies, and also how that could affect the payout of a claim in the event of a loss. To say the least, the prospect was very impressed.
Wednesday, 15 April 2009
I checked out our MSCAd Large Loss Database (see info here) and since we cover the largest cases first, we covered the infamous "Why didn't you tell me your coffee was hot?" suit against McDonald's (and another one where a Mom sued for a kid falling out of its high chair at McDonald's - my 2yr old son does that at least twice a meal, he must have been born with a steel plate in his skull). But this wasn't going to do - the client had 100 claims last year and we didn't have enough of this granular loss data.
So I turned to our catch-all database called rmLibrary which contains links to 30,000 pages on the web and other resources and found the four links below. I love that in addition to preventing them (the best scenario) there are resources devoted to investigating and proving the damages!
Anyway, this is why Advisen partners with Libraries & Directories and carries their rmLibrary product for all of our subscribers. (See details about expanded partnership here). They don't have loss runs for this either but they have killer content at your fingertips.
The fellow in Oklahoma should subscribe soon and I couldn't resist asking him what caused most of the clients' 100 claims: overwhelmingly it was "chicken bones in the spaghetti". GROSS.
Tuesday, 14 April 2009
So our benefits renewal was not pretty - the older the staff the higher the premiums. Definitely not something we considered when making hiring decisions - but material to the expense line.
Looking at Workers Compensation insurance, there are a few main drivers for success. One of them is productivity - can you get your staff utilization up and the other is cost - can you keep your fees down and lower your workers comp coverage.
Recently we met Rebecca Shafer who's had a distinguished career at Marsh (pioneering Injury Management Consulting) and at Aon (CEO of the workers' compensation consulting unit of Aon Risk Services, Aon Management Institute (AMI) in Glastonbury, CT, and was responsible for the development of "Comp Camp.").
An attorney, Rebecca retired from Aon and must not have read enough about how hard it is to start up a company from scratch - she founded Amaxx to build the Workers Comp Kit to manage workers comp and her site at ReduceYourWorkersComp.com - also note her blog in my Blogroll to the right.
From her site "Many of her clients have experienced cost reductions of 20 to 50 percent. Her clients have included Rite Aid, Warner Lambert, Continental Airlines, U S Airways, Universal Orlando, New York Times, TV Guide, CVS, Knight-Ridder, New Haven Terminal, Centerplate, Simpkins Industries, American Tourister, and numerous other national, mid-market accounts and small accounts."
From our joint press release today comes the following pithy comment full of good keywords to get unsuspecting Google searchers to discover us at Advisen:
“Companies typically spend 30% of their risk management dollar on workers’ compensation, according to the RIMS 2008 Benchmarking Survey, but most managers are unsure how they can reduce these costs,” said Mason Power, GM of Advisen. “While companies buying workers comp and their brokers are a key part of the 100,000 industry professionals who subscribe to Advisen, the Workers’ Comp Kit® also offers a predictive analysis enabling insurance companies, state funds, captives and reinsurers to establish a threshold risk profile for underwriting purposes. This partnership further demonstrates Advisen’s commitment to providing invaluable insight to the commercial insurance marketplace.”
Beyond the salesy stuff (the WC Kit is for sale through our store), it's clear that our subscribers find Rebecca's work relevant, particularly how it helps them benchmark workers comp producitvity and cost. We ran a series of seminars with hundreds of attendees on each session and the feedback has been terrific. ReduceYourWorkersComp is a welcome addition to our Partners (see here for further info about the partnership). Rebecca and Advisen will be at the upcoming RIMS conference in Orlando starting this Sunday.
Friday, 20 March 2009
In today's news (story here) she sues Lloyd's for coverage under Stanford's D&O and Company Indemnity policy seeking $5m in actual damages and to get the media to cover the story and try to embarrass the Lloyd's Managing Agents involved, $40m in punitive damages.
Paraphrasing from what I've been told by law firms involved in bankruptcy protection and unwinding these matters, the following is how I understand it to go. Do you the readers agree with what I've been told?
The law firm defending the Stanford group in its bankruptcy goes to court and as the first act, asks for estimated legal fees (big sum) to be set aside in escrow.
That law firm then discusses all of the claims for money against Stanford with the claimants to do an off-the-record assessment of the merits.
The cases are ranked by the anticipated outcome (from must pay to no chance) and then the lawyers for the claimants are notified of their standing (again off the record). The lawyers for the claimants have their own assessment of the merits and they either proceed to settlement or an actual review of the merits through court. But guiding the discussions is the fact that the assets available (net of legal fees) is always a small fraction of what's been claimed in lawsuits.
The D&O or E&O insurance firms are in very close contact with the bankruptcy law firm and when the cases are ranked, they act. If these insurance companies are to pay the legal fees and then not get anything returned if fraud is proven, they are wasting money so they wait for the first assessments of the merits.
The tough part for everyone involved (including information outlets like Advisen) is that there is no transparency to the real horse-trading here. And because everyone knew that Lerach was straightforward and predictable as a deal-maker, the D&O or E&O guys could reserve accordingly. But with the new bumper crop of Lerach wannabes, it's anybody's guess.
Thursday, 19 March 2009
Quoting from the recent Advisen report on Securities Litigation and the D&O Market, the article lists the proliferation of 2009 litigation (433 Madoff and 9 Stanford not to mention another 70 subprime and credit crisis-related cases). You can buy a list of this litigation here.
Apparently the law firm which represented Enron in its bankruptcy made almost as much as Milberg who brought the class action. This means both sides are racking up big legal bills before even getting to a judgment on the merits of the case.
Therefore these cases are going to lead to use of D&O coverage for mounting legal fees and when merits are judged, it's more likely that significant E&O or Professional Indemnity claims are paid. Core D&O claims are less likely to be paid as the losses were so "systemic" - how could any D or O be more culpable?
Similarly with the ponzi schemes, if you're bringing a case against the Ds&Os, where's the money to go after? Ruth Madoff only has so much jewelry and the rest of the Madoff business isn't worth $50b. Instead and in addition, go after the funds and pros that fed Madoff.
On this point, I remember a ponzi scheme that raced through UVM while I attended. The guys at the top of the pyramid fully knew that it would collapse under its own weight but that so long as they got out at least twice they would be playing with other people's money until the inevitable collapse.
While I'm happy to see Madoff's staff and family (was there really a distinction?) getting indicted like his accountant (all of these people had to be in on it), I am waiting to see how the scheme can be unwound to find the people who gave Madoff money at the beginning of the Ponzi scheme. These are the crooks Madoff is pleading guilty to protect.
On the insurance coverage of ponzi litigation, there could be negligence in due diligence on the part of feeder funds and investment professionals who put their clients into Madoff recently, and that could be covered under E&O insurance. But criminal charges will be overwhelming when they unearth Madoff's true accomplices - those with Madoff at the top of the pyramid. I doubt any insurance company would honor their E&O.
Tuesday, 10 March 2009
The goal is to provide what clients want, when they want it and the way they want to consume the information.
Our clients are overwhelmingly receptive to this approach as they want to find the path of least resistance to get our information to their staff in the cheapest and easiest route.
Our service has expanded in breadth and depth so that many clients are canceling other services to accommodate a greater spend with Advisen within existing budgets.
2009 customer implementations have all been solutions-oriented rather than one-size-fits-all.
As we get set to publish our rate card for this solutions-oriented approach, I'm researching how best to reward customers for doing more business. Any comments from readers would be much appreciated to firstname.lastname@example.org. How do you volume discount in your business?
Countervailing measures are there:
- forecasts like the above seem rational, but the insurance industry doesn't act rationally
- the economic implosion reduces exposures and it's hard to raise the top line when demand shrinks
Speaking of the credit crisis, Mr. Degnan thought the "hyperbolic forecasts" of big losses were way overblown. Citing high dismissal rates and other measures he discussed in Chubb's last earnings call, Mr. Degnan thought the $10, 15 20b numbers are overblown. Was he subtly asking Advisen to revise its forecast?
In the Q&A he was asked about direct distribution and said it had been seriously reviewed at Chubb but Chubb is "strongly committed" to working with brokers who provide a significant "value add".
Monday, 9 March 2009
Mr. Degnan started with the experience of the last two days testifying in front of Congress in Washington and forecast that "by the end of this year there will be a Federal Systemic Risk Regulator" and that while insurance is not likely to be covered in phase I, regulation is moving to the federal government from the states.
Mr. Degnan compared the relative pain for European insurers trying to do business in the US and how they have to open in 50 markets, not just 1 market and wonders if they will take countermeasures at some point for US firms operating in Europe.
Analyzing recent testimony by NY State Insurance Superintendent Eric Dinallo (bio here) that NY regulation saved the markets from AIG's implosion, Mr. Degnan called it a "truism" because they only regulate the insurance company subsidiaries and not the rest of the holding company such as the Financial Products division that caused the implosion.
Mr. Degnan also reminded the audience of Mr. Dinallo's approval of $20b in AIG subsidary dividends going to the parent before the federal government bailout. While noting that this might have been politically motivated (saving jobs in NY), it was ironic nonetheless.
Mr. Degnan said that before Chubb got out of credit derivatives in 2002 not one state regulator had asked Chubb about these, and that state regulators aren't equipped to regulate this type of thing. "Federal Systemic Risk Regulation is happening" and while "systemic" is hard to define, there may be a role for the ratings agencies and wondered whether it would be more than solvency regulation.
Noting resistance to this movement, Mr. Degnan said insurance agencies are so numerous and such effective lobbyists and that agencies favor the state system. I assume this is because agencies compete in niches such as geographical areas that global or national brokers don't serve as well.
Noting that he's a Democrat, Mr. Degnan told the audience to be very aware of "economic populism" in Washington and while the industry might enjoy federal oversight, it might watch what it asks for.
Noting that trial lawyers own Democrats, Mr. Degnan warned of the ascendancy of the Trial Bar. Citing one of the "very few" positives from the George W. Bush years, Mr. Degnan cited good legislation that kept the trial lawyers down (e.g. District Attorneys outsourcing to trial lawyers). "Even the stimulus bill had pro-plaintiff language." Part II tomorrow.
Friday, 27 February 2009
Martin has started a blog and just commented about a favorite topic of mine, Lloyd's quest to retire paper processing and to adopt technology (onwards Web Connectivity). See the post here and enjoy Martin's dry with and love for dry gin.
Thursday, 26 February 2009
Dave presented at PLUS about the correlation of bankruptcies and D&O loss and the audience really seemed connected to this important topic. The findings Dave presented were a small part of the research Advisen can conduct and we are looking for equity partners in the project.
This means firms with interest in getting a securities litigation risk score for all U.S. public companies based on their risk of bankruptcy should contact me. By joining others in the initial funding partners will be the only recipients of these risk scores. email@example.com if interested.
VJ Dowling who I enjoyed meeting at the Allied World party (they have a company rock band which did some good covers), provided a bit of color to Dave about the performance of Odyssey Re (see earlier post about trailing twelve month market cap performance for commercial insurance companies).
Apparently Odyssey's CEO has said he'd love to claim underwriting genius but it was the brilliance of their chief investment officer who foresaw the credit crisis and bet accordingly. If you look at the chart he must have been selling what Joe Cassano at AIG was buying.
We all know stocks are down and that the financial services sector has been hit the hardest, but I thought it interesting to note the relative performance of the commercial (re)insurance underwriters.
The chart shows that amazingly there are 2 firms in Odyssey Re and Navigators that are up in market cap in the last 12 months.
Unsurprisingly, the firms most in the news including AIG, Hartford, XL & Swiss Re are the firms losing more than 80% of market cap.
I believe the prices reflect investor's opinions of the investment performance and exposure to credit insurance more than underwriting performance, but those underwriting loss ratios will be a big driver of market cap growth as the big claims from subprime and the credit crisis make their way through the system and reserves are set.
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to get charts like this and other insightful data and analytics.
Wednesday, 25 February 2009
Advisen has just published a 38-page report on securities litigation and new challenges to Boards of Directors and the D&O insurance market. Securities class action suits – which were a minority of securities suits filed in 2008 – no longer are a reliable barometer of public company D&O insurance trends.
Methodologies used by the D&O market to price trends in the past are no longer relevant. The Advisen report goes well beyond anything published by other researchers to break out all forms of securities litigation that might trigger Directors & Officers or Errors & Omissions coverage and details shortcomings in D&O claims management that are contributing to higher defense costs.
To help readers track potential exposure by company, Advisen’s report includes the list of companies facing lawsuits in 2008 and the list of companies facing multiple lawsuits over the past thirteen years.
The information contained in Advisen’s report is not freely available on the web or in any other source and is more complete and relevant than reports from other sources which charge far more for their reports.
Click here to purchase your copy.
Among my favorite quotes in the report from an Advisen customer is “We miss Bill Lerach”.
The Advisen report contains new research but follows a series of Advisen research papers detailing the impact of the subprime and credit crisis on the D&O market. The running tally by Advisen now shows more than 660 major lawsuits from this global economic trauma including 148 securities class actions.
Part of the shady dealind included hiring the NY State Judge who ruled in favor of the Milberg law firm. Here's the recap from the WSj
A class-action firm's name partners are nailed in a 30-year fraud.
Class-action firm rewards lead perpetrator with share of future earnings. State
judge sanctions the earnings deal. Class-action firm hires state judge. We'll
let our readers decide what they think of this "fact pattern," as a plaintiffs
lawyer might put it.
Thursday, 15 January 2009
I attended this morning's RIMS Chapter Meeting focusing on D&O. The moderator of this session was Brian Wanat (Aon). The panelist were Mike Price (HFP), Tony Galaban (Chubb), Mike Smith (AIG), and Scott Meyer (ACE).
Here are a couple of thoughts / notes I jotted down during the session.
- With all the FI issues out there, portfolio management seems to be a big topic. Making sure your book is diversified is necessary to weather subprime. I was thinking Advisen should try and put together some type of e-mail that describes some of the off-line work we can do w/ to help senior management at carriers better understand their book and explain it to their superiors. Taking some of the data Advisen can provide and then tying it in with their loss info could be kind of powerful. Any thoughts?
TWO THINGS WE CAN DO: (1) WE CAN RUN THEIR POLICYHOLDER LIST AGAINST OUR VARIOUS INDUSTRY/FINANCIAL FIELDS TO IDENTIFY THOSE CLUSTERS OF COMPANIES MOST LIKELY TO REPRESENT ACCUMULATION RISKS. I'M NOT EXACTLY SURE OFF ALL THE KEY INDICATORS WE SHOULD BE LOOKING FOR, BUT I SUSPECT OUR CLIENTS HAVE SOME IDEAS. (2) LOOKING ACROSS LOBs, MSCAd's RELATED CASE FEATURE CAN BE USED TO MODEL ACCUMULATION RISK.
- Red Flag: A red flag that the markets seem to be looking at is large debt payments due in 2009. Typically in the past a company might refinance their debt before these large payments.
Given the current credit environment, they might not be able to refinance or it may be it a higher rate. It may be a fun little exercise to create a list of the companies with the highest debt payments due in 2009. Maybe release that list in conjunction with the PLUS D&O Symposium.
- Counter Party Risk: They were saying how some risk managers are starting to ask more questions about the carriers they use. They want to make sure that those carriers will be around to pay their claims. It seems like they have lost faith in the rating agencies.
- Defense cost is still a hot topic. Underwriters are curious as to who the outside counsel is on their risk and the relationship. I'm not sure what we can do here, but this topic is not going away. It would be interesting if we could do some analysis of the counsels involved in MSCAD cases.
DEFENSE COST IS GOING TO BE A MAJOR PART OF OUR FORTHCOMING REPORT ON 2008 SCAS ETC. IN THE NEW ENVIRONMENT, PLAINTIFFS FIRMS ARE BRAINSTORMING NOVEL NEW THEORIES AND ARE FILING MORE CASES IN STATE COURTS, WHICH WILL MAKE IT MORE DIFFICULT TO CONSOLIDATE CASES INTO LARGE CLASS ACTIONS. AS A RESULT, DEFENSE COSTS ARE LIKELY TO SKYROCKET.
Chad M. Roth