Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

With all of the cultural, racial, religious and nationalistic divides going on in the world today, we sure should could use some Dr. King.

He would have helped to bring those people together that influence love, hope, happiness for all of us to make more sensible and less inflamed decisions. While those around him would have stacked their knowledge and proof as to why their side is the right one, MLK would have used his wisdom to understand that side, and all sides, to find neutral grounds amongst all constituents. There is no side, there are interpretations of the facts through the attainment of some form of knowledge, complete or incomplete. The truth is interpretation of such through one’s own eyes.

“Knowledge is a process of picking up facts; wisdom lies in their simplification”

Having knowledge of facts is foundational in understanding any problem to be solved. The wisdom used in how to address the ignorance of hatred; someone’s skin color, religion or political ideology does not make one better or worse. It is wisdom to respect said beliefs and ideologies even if not shared. It’s ok to disagree, to debate, to banter….just respect each other when doing such. We do not walk in each other shoes but share a planet.

In processing what is slowly coming on a year of the COVID19 pandemic, it is hard to believe all we have lost in that short period of time that was taken for granted for so long. A hug, a wedding, a graduation, a live event, a proper way to say goodbye to the fallen weigh on me tremendously as events not being the way they should have been or should be going forward. The anxiety of all the “what if’s” that flood your mind continuously can become a point of paralysis, leaving some of us in a state of saddened confusion with little hope.

Hope is where Dr. King shines. He brought calm to those that lived in fear and light where there was only darkness. He would be able to help us to understand today why people who may look different or not believe in everything we do pose us no threat. He would remind us that while there has been a lot done with social inequality, there is still a long way to go. He would focus on not only blacks, but all races and creeds.

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

Most importantly, he would start, focus, and not stop; he would always keep moving forward. He would not be paralyzed, he would be energized. He would know how much impact he could have and how to get there. He would include all parties in a spirit of love and collaboration. He would give up himself again for the betterment of a society.

Happy Birthday Dr. King and thank you for giving us a script for acceptance, love and happiness

Inspirational Christmas quotes - the Grinch

…It sure does.

From our family to yours, have a special Christmas today and we hope joy, happiness and laughter chases you down throughout the weekend.

Love from our clan(s) to yours – Merry Christmas.

Lloyds of London View of Industry

The insurance industry as we know it was created in 1686 by Edward Lloyd in his coffee/tea shop. Our friends across the pond arguably know more about our domestic insurance marketplace than the underwriters here. The article below is a nice analysis of how they view the marketplace today, with a focus on casualty.

We are seeing dramatic increases in both premiums and retentions on specialty casualty lines of insurance (employment practices, directors and officers and professional liability). It is especially volatile in California.

Make sure you budget accordingly. Loss history dependent of course, but minimum 10% +


“According to the underwriters, there are the usual suspects responsible for today’s market conditions, including years of poor results, social inflation, litigation funding, the current economic recession and uncertainty over the effects of COVID-19.

“The tort environment has suddenly become very challenged. In addition to that, we’ve got a lot of back year loss deterioration on people’s portfolios,” said Aspen’s Bland.

— Message is to make sure you give proper time to correct client company pricing with the understanding of with increased terminations, furloughs, wage reductions… the lawyers will follow and claims thereafter.

Let us know if we can be of help.

Congratulations SUNZ !

Some big things happening in Bradenton with our partners at SUNZ. Great NEWS to hear that Mr. Leonard was promoted and Mr. Brodsky hired. Excellent moves that provides a great future –


Insurance firm builds up leadership team in recent months 

Insurance executive Steve Herrig has learned some big lessons about hiring top leaders over the years. A big one: don’t do it alone. 

by: Grier Ferguson Sarasota-Manatee Editor

Amid the turmoil of the pandemic, one area firm has kept its sights on the sunny side of the street.

That company, Bradenton-based Sunz Insurance, has worked in recent months to build up its leadership team, making several additions through external hires as well as through internal promotions. The growing leadership bench comes during an era of significant growth for the 350-employee firm, with $415.02 million in revenue in 2019. That’s up from $137 million in 2016, a 203% increase over four years. The firm is a national provider of workers’ compensation insurance and insurance services to professional employer organizations, staffing companies and large employers. 

Sunz CEO and chairman Steven Herrig says the first key move was promoting Rick Leonard to president, in May. In early October, Sunz  announced it had hired a new executive vice president and CFO, Jeffrey Marshall. Then, later in the month, it announced a new chief underwriting officer, David Brodsky. That came after Alicia Christiansen was promoted to director of sales operations and Glen Distefano was promoted to chief information security officer in August. 

Leonard started with Sunz as broker relations executive and was then promoted to director of sales. “Rick’s skill set and leadership style is very broad-based and expands beyond an understanding of sales,” says Herrig. “Rick is a gifted individual and an exceptional leader and has a good understanding of business. He was the natural selection to be president of Sunz.”

‘I probably have grown in the process by letting others be more involved in also interviewing the person and getting their perspective of what they thought.’ — Steven Herrig, Sunz Insurance

Leonard, with Sunz since 2011, is also an asset because he understands the Sunz model, Herrig says, and its vision for the future. “Where Rick, I think, is exceptional and will help the most is he’s very hands on, he meets with the various teams and does a really nice job of interacting with the other managers and pretty much everyone in the company,” says Herrig.

The hiring of Marshall as CFO was predicated by need since Sunz’s CFO was retiring. The company used an executive search firm to find a good fit.

Marshall, with over 35 years in finance and accounting, was with Ategrity Specialty Holdings Insurance Co. as a senior vice president, group CFO and chief risk officer prior to joining Sunz. “The vetting process was long and arduous, and we selected Jeff because of his broad-based understanding of business,” says Herrig. “His resume was tailor made for us, and then after having met him and interviewed him, the decision was made clear.”

Brodsky, Sunz’s new chief underwriting officer, filled a spot the company wasn’t actively searching for, and was, instead, an example of the firm’s opportunistic nature. “He was someone who was well known and highly regarded in the industry,” says Herrig. “We heard he became available and we just went after him.”

Herrig, who previously helped grow a PEO, Bradenton-based Professional Employer Services, to a $50 million business, among other ventures, says his approach to hiring has evolved over the years. “I probably have grown in the process by letting others be more involved in also interviewing the person and getting their perspective of what they thought,” he says. “In past years, I pretty much made those decisions without additional input from others.” That change has been gradual, adding one person into the process, then another and so on. “As you grow, you have to do things at a higher level,” says Herrig. “It requires a greater degree of sophistication.”

The leadership team now includes people from outside, like Brodsky, and people from inside the company, like Leonard. That’s an asset, says Herrig, who doesn’t want to limit the company’s prospects by sticking to solely internal or external candidates. Both sets will help lead growth. “The internal people will help drive it from the standpoint that they have a solid understanding of Sunz’s unique model and how we serve our clients,” he says. “The external people will drive it by bringing in new ideas and ways of viewing things.”

In the coming months, Herrig says Sunz will unveil additional plans for growth. Early in the pandemic, Sunz, like many companies, experienced a contraction. But now it’s on better footing. 

The leadership additions and promotions, meanwhile, are just part of its larger big-picture plan. “Our strategy, like most businesses, is always to improve and evolve along with your growth,” says Herrig. “We’re always looking to elevate and become better.” Prev ArticleFirms sue insurers over unpaid pandemic claims Next Article Transition plan: Insurance firm tackles two big moves at once


Thank You For Your Protection and Support of our Country

Veterans Day to me is not a “hallmark holiday”, it is a celebration of those that have gone the distance and beyond for our country.

“I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.”

– Nathan Hale, 1776, in his alleged last words prior to being executed by the British for being a spy.

…love this.

So my Grandfather got to Boston in 1634. Have had one in French and Indian war… 2 in Revolutionary war, War of 1812, Civil War, WW1, WW2, Korea and Vietnam.

As my Dad would say, thank God you can push pencils. As I will say, thank God for him and the the other patriots over the last 244 years.

Thank you for your service.

When Robert Hartwig Talks, People Listen…

As I was pulling this post together, for good reason, the old EF Hutton commercials we grew up with (dating myself)…

…came to mind. “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen”…

As EF Hutton was considered (or at least advertised) as “the smartest guy in room” for all things investments; the same holds true for Robert Hartwig @Bob_Hartwig when it comes to insurance economics. He is the guy insurance company CEO’s call to help predict the future and someone I have had the pleasure to meet and see present on a few occasions. You will not see anyone provide more data and direction in a short session that is credible and meaningful.

Robert, a PHD/CPCU, was the former Chief Economist of the Insurance Institute of America and currently serves as the Clinical Associate Professor of Finance, Risk Management & Insurance @ USC’s Darla Moore School of Business. His latest presentation points to some areas that are important to understand and budget for.


I have listed some of my key take-aways below and the slide number you can reference for the detail:

Slide 12 – 12.5-25% reduction in workers’ compensation premiums based on rate reductions coupled with drop in exposure basis due to COVID-19. COVID-19 Claims will not be used for rate-making purposes in most states until 2021. All other lines are seeing material drops in written premium due to usage, but rates at the same time are on the rise.

Slide 13 – Range of workers’ compensation losses on a national basis due to presumption is $.2 – $92B … quite a delta and as you will note, and a far greater one than any other line (which are also not yet understood). The range for Business Interruption losses is next with anywhere from $2B – $22B expected. The courts will be the most impactful on where this end result comes in based on policy interpretation. Policy language and intent will be the battlefronts.

Slide 15 – Cost of COVID v comparable pandemics in recent age – the cost and number of countries impacted by COVID-19 versus other pandemics (SIKA, Swine Flu, SARS etc.) is staggering and exponential.

Slide 30 – Presents the investment yield trends for 10-year US Securities which is a foundational “safe” investment for insurance carriers – down 61%. Puts more pressure on operational results which in turn, more pressure on upward pricing.

Slide 31 – 9 of the the top 10 ever point drops on the S and P ever occurred in 2020. The 3’rd largest percentage drop in history occurred on 3/16/20 at -11.98%/-324.9 points. This volatility is of grave concern to the investment strategies of the insurance carrier community. This also puts upward pressure on pricing.

Slide 41 – Business closures will cause debt of $3T for at least a generation to overcome. This is very saddening and a complex issue to make a call on. Be safe and put us in debt for another generation or open up and hope for the best? Question of the century –

Slide 47 – Rates on most lines of insurance (with the exception of Workers’ Compensation) are rising at a rapid pace. Umbrella (20%) and Directors and Officers insurance (16.8%) being hammered the hardest, with Business Interruption (9.7%), Commercial Auto (9.6%) and Employment Practices Liability insurance (9.4%) also expecting hefty increases.

Slide 50 – Business Interruption insurance will be highly litigated going forward, especially on those policies that do not have a pandemic disease exclusion. This and the presumption issue in regard to workers’ compensation are what will cause the greatest uncertainty going forward as to the exposure to the insurance community and how they react as a result the pandemic.

In conclusion, it has been a long cycle of premium reductions. Drop of exposure basis (payrolls, sales, miles travelled etc) may neutralize overall premiums to some extent, but the “as is or lower” rate renewals of the last decade will be very tough to navigate this year. Get out ahead of your renewals, especially on the specialty casualty side. Let us know if we can help.

Report: COVID-19 Accounts for 1-in-9 California Workers’ Comp Claims in 2020

Wow — We are seeing a depletion of capacity/increased costs for health care and other “client-facing” industries.  The why —

“CWCI says that brings the total for the year to 41,861 claims, or 11.2% of all California job injury claims reported for accident year 2020. Those claims included 224 death claims, up from 160 reported as of Aug. 10.”

.005 of all claims in California are a COVID19 fatality year to date.  The unknowns are the reopens, adjusted reserves and longevity of the severe and critical patients.  Still much unknown –

September 28, 2020

The California workers’ compensation COVID-19 claim count continued to grow in August, albeit at a much slower rate than in July, with new data showing that as of Sept. 21, the state had recorded 5,130 COVID-19 claims with August injury dates, according to data compiled by the California Workers’ Compensation Institute.

CWCI says that brings the total for the year to 41,861 claims, or 11.2% of all California job injury claims reported for accident year 2020. Those claims included 224 death claims, up from 160 reported as of Aug. 10.

The latest claim count shows that the number of COVID-19 claims reported to the Division of Workers’ Compensation doubled from May to June, then increased another 16% in July. The numbers reported for August, however, fell sharply, even accounting for the lag in the reporting of COVID-19 claims, according to CWCI.

The CWCI projects there could ultimately be 8,208 COVID-19 claims with August injury dates. Given that the latest tally suggests COVID-19 claim volume may have peaked in July, CWCI is now projecting 48,086 COVID-19 claims with January through August injury dates, which is less than the January through July projection from last month.

CWCI reports that the distribution by industry shows health care workers continue to account for the largest share of California’s COVID-19 claims, filing 38.1% of the claims recorded for the first 8 months of this year, followed by public safety/government workers who accounted for 15.8%. Rounding out the top five industries based on COVID-19 claim volume were retail trade (7.6%), manufacturing (7.6%), and transportation (5.0%). In addition, the percentage of denied COVID-19 claims declined to 28.6% from CWCI’s May report of 35.5%.


NAPEO and How to Price Your Workers’ Compensation Exposure

While this year’s “Super Bowl” for NAPEO was a bit different, I was very impressed in what was put together under the shadow of the pandemic.  Great content and albeit virtually, great to catch up with folks.

My dear friend and colleague Tom Stypla did a lunch and learn on how to price client companies for workers’ compensation that is linked here…

How to Price Your Workers’ Compensation Exposure Final

Tom has priced more PEO business than anyone I know.  His understanding of PEO workers’ compensation is extremely impactful.

If we can help you with an underwriting strategy or an individual client, let us know!  321.217.7477 is my cell….