How did you get into the insurance business, and what do you consider to be some of your career highlights to date?
After a brief career during and after college on the business side of the music business, I was seeking something different and was drawn into the wholesale side of the insurance business by a couple of friends that were in it and loved it. I never looked back.
For career highlights, recently, being honored by NAPSLO with the McAlear Industry Award a few years ago has to be one; there is nothing like recognition from your peers. In the early ’80s, I conceived the idea that I could knit together a product liability form with an errors & omissions form to offer seamless coverage to a then-emerging new industry, biotechnology. For about five years, I offered one of only two facilities available to insure that industry and the form that I developed became the standard form used for decades to insure clinical trials and biotech. Heady stuff, for a young broker.
In between, I have loved the process of starting companies, or operations, or programs and watching them grow. But, the continuing highlight has always been the opportunity to work with the great people in this business: to collaborate with my co-workers and employees, to build relationships with my producers and underwriters, and to cooperate (in association work) with my peers.
What is it that appeals to you most about the surplus lines sector, and what are some of your (and your firm's) specific areas of expertise?
What most appeals about surplus lines are the ability to innovate, the flexibility and the diversity.
Over the years, my focus and expertise has evolved. Biotech and environmental early on, along with alternative risk structures. Program development and cyber risks later on.
Today, the Sullivan Group is very niche focused, so, amongst our companies, we have a broad range of specialized expertise, but we’re especially known for our expertise in insuring the healthcare industry, community association industry, auto dismantlers and renewable energy.
What would you say are the greatest challenges facing the E&S industry in the coming year?
The industry is strong, secure and evidencing sustained growth. Our challenge is to continue to perpetuate our value proposition–to be the place (in insurance) where complex risk meets innovative solutions.
To do that, we need to do an ever better job of attracting smart, new talent to the industry even while we broaden the awareness–both in the retail community and among buyers–of the value we as wholesalers bring to the transaction. In short, we need to create the opportunity and we need to have the people to service it.
What are some of your priorities for NAPSLO for the year to come?
Well, based on the above, pursuing our new Wholesale Value campaign, which was initiated under the outstanding leadership of Kevin Westrope, certainly is one. So, too, is the continued growth of our career awareness and career path education programs.
However, since my personal focus has been so much on the advocacy role of NAPSLO, I have two priorities there. First, is to further the opportunity offered by the passage of NRRA to gain uniformity, not just in tax filings but also regulatory requirements. Second is to revitalize our involvement with advocacy on the state level by providing more resources to work with state regulators and legislators.