2019 US Insurance Awards: Higginbotham Insurance Group, Broker Team of the Year (< $500 million)Posted On: May. 1, 2019 12:00 AM CST
For Higginbotham Insurance Group Inc., a concentrated effort to expand loss control and claims staffing in its Houston and Austin, Texas, offices couldn’t have come at a better time — occurring in the months after Hurricane Harvey devastated its second-largest region.
The brokerage had personnel from its Day Two Services program — which helps clients with cost reduction, regulatory compliance and other services — deployed in Houston, but did not have a local senior claims executive until last year, when it hired a 30-year-industry veteran to fill the position, said Vance Lee, Dallas-based managing director, risk management.
“It’s significantly improved our responsiveness in that region, having someone there in the backyard versus having someone flying in from a distance,” he said.
“The events from Hurricane Harvey have a long tail, and there are a lot of complicated claims scenarios. Having the person there in the office and available day in and day out to serve our clients — the timing’s been great.”
Higginbotham’s risk management staffers also advise clients during U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspections and keeps them abreast of changing OSHA regulations.
“Last year, there was a lot of banter back and forth on the anti-retaliation concerns within the OSHA (electronic) record-keeping process,” Mr. Lee said.
“Post-accident drug testing, for instance, was kind of a controversial subject there for a while. That was an evolving subject, and making sure we were current on the latest interpretations and being available for our clients if and when something was to happen” was critical.
The key risks faced by Higginbotham clients varies based on industry, but “generally speaking, the biggest challenge we see from a safety and general risk management standpoint is with the auto liability marketplace,” he said. “I’ve been doing this for 25 years, and I can’t recall a time where it’s ever been as challenging as it is right now. Barring tort reform, I think it’s probably going to continue. Any industry out there with any sizable transportation exposure, it’s critical that they have effective risk management controls in place because we’re starting to see some significant, landmark verdicts coming out over the last couple of years. Underwriters are being extremely selective about who they wish to partner with and it’s our job to make sure our clients understand the general state of affairs within that industry and that they are being very aggressive in controlling the exposure to the extent that they can.”
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