2022 US Insurance Awards: Burns & Wilcox, Underwriting Team of the YearPosted On: Nov. 2, 2022 12:00 AM CST
The COVID-19 pandemic created significant disruption in the construction sector, which affected the types of risks the industry faced and companies’ insurance needs.
To help meet those changing needs, Burns & Wilcox developed ProConstruct, said Michael Muglia, Farmington Hills, Michigan-based national underwriting director within the underwriting manager’s professional liability practice.
The program had its first full production year in 2021 and Burns & Wilcox has written “hundreds” of policies, which are backed by Lloyd’s of London syndicates, Mr. Muglia said.
“We’re an internal program division within Burns & Wilcox, and we really create programs based on brokers’ needs and needs we see in the marketplace,” he said.
Design and construction professionals’ jobs have evolved to include tasks such as making sure materials arrived on time, checking to see they were not damaged in transport, or adjusting for something that may have changed at the jobsite after the original order, he said.
Other policy forms were silent or “gray” on a lot of things, “and from the brokerage side, we know some carriers have denied claims” in areas “that we very much thought should have been covered, based on what we knew the contractor was doing” at the time of the underwriting, he said.
In addition, as the pandemic hit, projects were shut down, contractual wording came under scrutiny, and there were time delays and material shortages because of the global disruption, Mr. Muglia said.
This created an opportunity, he said. As Burns & Wilcox personnel transitioned to working from home, the underwriting team could “really work on something without a ton of disruptions,” he said.
The whole program fell into place in about a month and a half. It was “lightning fast, but it really speaks to the expertise of underwriting that we have on the team,” Mr. Muglia said.
The program reflects the pandemic’s impact. With the work stoppages, for instance, construction professionals and contractors were storing chemicals on site because they could not access disposal sites due to unusual hours, lack of staffing or others trying to use them, Mr. Muglia said. But insurance had covered only delivery services.
The Burns & Wilcox form addresses this issue, Mr. Muglia said, adding that competitors have since followed its lead in offering this coverage. “It’s flattering, but it’s aggravating,” although it also shows “we’ve got it right,” he said.
• American International Group Inc. — The insurer devised an insurance program for the complex risks that come from special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs.
• Ascot Insurance Co. — Ascot’s ocean marine team scaled up its operations to meet increased demand in a difficult market and provide responsive services to policyholders.
• Constellation Affiliated Partners — The CRC Insurance Services Inc. unit launched a technology-enabled large fleet commercial trucking program.
• Westchester — The Chubb Ltd. unit worked with wholesale brokers to institute changes that improved products and distribution strategies.