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From the start of his 36 years at Oswald Cos. — a Cleveland-based brokerage and risk management firm — health, education and human services organizations have been on the radar screen of Executive Vice President William Brancovsky.
One of the first challenges he faced was a client that was an orphanage in Ohio. “They had a bad event with an employee and a child. After that, their carrier was non-renewing and they couldn’t get coverage,” Mr. Brancovsky said. Coverage was eventually found, but finding adequate insurance for some of these organizations remains a challenge, he said.
Oswald now has about 350 nonprofit organizations as clients, ranging from cultural and psychiatric institutions to foundations. Mr. Brancovsky and the brokerage’s health, education and human services team of about a dozen employees are dedicated in their search for coverage for these clients. Based on that dedication, Oswald has been recognized with Business Insurance’s 2020 U.S. Insurance Award for Broker Team of the Year (firms with less than $500 million in U.S. revenue).
“Right now is a hard market, and we’re going through difficult times,” he said. “If an organization has any type of foster care exposure, forget it. There is nobody writing foster care in this country. It’s been a very difficult 12 to 18, months and it’s not getting any better.”
Issues include the rising costs of insurance claims resulting from increased litigation, plaintiff-friendly legal decisions and larger jury awards, all of which have led to the hardening insurance market, Mr. Brancovsky said.
Added to this is the COVID-19 pandemic. “COVID-19 has not helped. Carriers are coming out with exclusions to COVID events,” he said.
To put their clients in a better position, Mr. Brancovsky said the team has focused on a number of fronts, including working with the states and lobbyists to cap lawsuits. They are also looking at alternative insurance solutions, including risk retention groups, risk purchasing groups, self-insurance and captive insurance companies.
In addition, he said, the company’s risk management division of safety and loss-prevention professionals is working to create best-in-class clients. This includes helping organizations write policies and procedures for hiring employees, doing engineering studies to make sure employees are safe, and also taking steps to promote auto and driver-related safety.
“This all goes part and parcel with an organization’s insurance program,” he noted. “The better risk you are, the more attention you’ll get in the marketplace.”
• Gaspar Insurance Services Inc. — Gaspar offers a range of services to clients, including a department that offers advice on employee safety, employment best practices and in-house claims handling, among other things.
• Genesee General — Genesee provides insurance resources across the United States and recently added coverage options for the cannabis industry.
• Burnham Benefits Insurance Services Inc. — A women-owned brokerage, Burnham Benefits recently added a property/casualty division to expand resources for its clients.
• The Liberty Co. — Headed by a former movie producer, The Liberty Co. has doubled its revenue over the past 18 months and expects to double in size again this year.
This year, the Business Insurance U.S. Insurance Awards, like many other awards presented during 2020, took on a different format.