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Crafting the risk financing program for Bankers Trust New York Corp. is a never-ending process.

We're always looking for a better understanding of our risks and then we compare that to our insurance coverage in place," said Russell C. Opferkuch, vp of corporate risk and insurance at Bankers Trust.

The goal is to always use the renewal process "to get some form of enhancement" of various coverages, Mr. Opferkuch said.

One reason the company is successful at meeting that goal is the risk management group's level of preparation.

"We put significant effort into our renewal presentation such that underwriters have a comfort level in the insurance partnership, if you will," Mr. Opferkuch said.

The company strives to maintain long-term relationships with insurers, which is particularly important because there are a limited number of players in the market for financial institution risk, he explained.

"We have what we believe to be a handful of key insurers," he said. "We tend to use them over the long term. They can understand the risks better and view BT exposures in the long term rather than just in terms of what happened in a one-year term."

"You don't want your insurers to run from you if you have one claim, and you don't want to run from them if they're rightly trying to collect some of the premium from you they need to maintain the business," Mr. Opferkuch said.

Bankers Trust also takes a close interest in its insurers' financials, relying not only on sources like A.M. Best Co. and Standard & Poor's Corp. but also its own analysis. It has even examined individual syndicates at Lloyd's of London.

Mr. Opferkuch noted that a company can go through an extensive renewal process with an underwriter, "but if they're not going to be there when you have a loss, it's not very helpful."

Bankers Trust buys directors and officers liability insurance, errors and omissions, bankers blanket bond and liability insurance from an array of insurers and reinsurers, "including but not limited to" ACE Insurance Co. Ltd., American International Group Inc., Chubb Corp., CNA Insurance Cos., Gulf Insurance Group, Lloyd's syndicates, Reliance Insurance Group, The St. Paul Cos. Inc., Travelers/Aetna Property Casualty Corp., X.L. Insurance Co. Ltd. and Zurich Insurance Co., Mr. Opferkuch said.

With worldwide operations, generally Bankers Trust's philosophy is to buy coverage on a global basis and only fill in locally if it's required by local regulation.

CIGNA Corp. leads the global property and business interruption insurance program, which includes approximately 20 other insurers. The program has separate domestic and non-domestic limits, which Mr. Opferkuch would not disclose.

Bankers Trust also has a Bermuda-based captive, which insures BT's professional liability exposures.

Many financial institution policies are manuscripted to meet the needs of the individual company. Bankers Trust maintains considerable confidentiality over details of its insurance program and policy limits, which Mr. Opferkuch said is not uncommon among financial institutions.

"They're our programs and they're confidential to us and the insurer," the risk manager said.

"Confidentiality in the financial institution business is of major importance," he said. "We are large enough and have unique enough exposures that insurers are willing to work with us in developing coverages that meet our needs."

Bankers Trust has three primary broker relationships. Aon Risk Services Inc., succeeding Alexander & Alexander Services Inc. which it acquired last year, is the global broker. Minet Inc. and Johnson & Higgins, now J&H Marsh & McLennan, also are involved in the program "when there really is no need for local efforts," Mr. Opferkuch said.

BT's captive was formed in 1992.

"The objective was twofold," Mr. Opferkuch said. "One, to provide us with access to the reinsurance market and two, to allow us to provide coverage for previously uninsured areas or areas where there was no coverage available."

The captive has allowed the crafting of a manuscripted financial institution professional liability program, which is supported by a group of more than 40 reinsurers.

"We have found the captive to be an effective tool for meeting our overall risk financing goals," the risk manager said. "It has become an increasingly important part of the overall risk financing program, as intended."