RISK & INSURANCE®
POWER BROKER®: PHARMACEUTICALS
Timothy Gosnear, CPCU
Director Aon, Portland, Ore. Knowledge is Power Edwin Albers, director of the Aon Risk Solutions Life Sciences Group, could have acted like the rest of the brokers. Working with a producer of nutraceuticals—products like vitamins that provide health and medical benefits—Albers
could have simply resigned himself to the fact that the company would have to
pay high premiums because their products aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug
He could have accepted the fact that their products are seen as dangerous—
even though they have strict testing policies and their products do lots of good for
people every day.
He could have accepted the fact that the ephedra scandal of the early 2000s is
simply too much to overcome, so they should have just sat back and dealt with bad
rates in a tainted industry.
He could have, but he didn’t.
Instead, the Portland, Ore.-based Albers did plenty of research on the safety of
the products and relayed that message to the carriers. Eventually, he got them to
agree to consolidate all insurance policies for the nutraceutical company—from
general liability to property—leading to a savings of $400,000 or about 17 percent,
according to the company’s assistant treasurer.
His willingness to learn about the nutraceuticals products set him apart from the
rest of the brokerage field.
“We feel it’s critical and that’s what we were looking for in selecting a new
broker,” he said. “We feel like we’re doing things the right way. We’re doing things
better than most of the people in the category we’re put into. We feel like we’re very
different than the companies we get lumped in with.”
Albers also proved to be a big help for Opto Circuits, a medical device and
After an acquisition, Albers developed a plan to consolidate the company’s
insurance, saving $1 million in just one year, said Manesh Patel, the company’s
chief financial officer.
“We like Eddie’s ideas,” said Patel. “Now our insurance is easier to manage.
We’ve got one policy dealing with one agent and one insurance company.”
Ty Howe, ARM
Managing Director Aon, Philadelphia Broker Reassures Carriers Enzyme replacement drugs can have wide ranging impacts that have been wonder drugs for patients with rare lysosomal disorders like Gaucher disease, Fabry disease, Pompe disease and Mucopolysaccharidosis. Genzyme, a Cambridge Mass.-based company offers enzyme-replacement
treatments to fight those inherited ailments, as well as marketing others for more
common illnesses like chronic kidney disease and leukemia.
With a market so narrow and virtually unknown to the general public, every
renewal is an adventure.
But when you’ve got someone on your side like Timothy Gosnear, managing
director and strategic account manager of the life sciences practice at Aon Risk
Solutions, things tend to go much more smoothly than expected. His industry
knowledge and ability to relay safety information to carriers sets him apart.
“It’s a very narrow market. It’s a really high risk and the losses are pretty
significant,” said Ron Kaufman, senior director of risk management at Genzyme
who explained that the “success rate is very high” and testing is very rigorous. But
try explaining that to an insurance carrier whose only understanding of Genzyme
products is that they are headed for cancer patients and people on kidney dialysis.
The risks just seem too high.
That’s where Gosnear comes in. When working with the insurance carriers, he’s
been able to emphasize the safety and curative powers of Genzyme’s products. As
a result he has consistently been able to keep insurance prices affordable for his
“We had a successful renewal in June,” said Kaufman. “We got all the coverage
we need and stayed within budget.”
Gosnear’s not just a Power Broker® for small companies with specific risks, he’s
also valuable to larger players.
For a major pharmaceutical company, Gosnear has become such an asset that
Dirk Van Heyst
the company’s director of risk management calls him “an extension of my internal
She even says that she’ll “go down the hall and ask questions to employees,”
she said. “I’ll do the same to him. There’s a seamless connection with our risk
Vice President Marsh, Boston A Fast Mover Some attributes set Power Brokers® apart from the rest— responsiveness, knowledge and creativity come to mind. But Ty Howe, senior vice president of Marsh Inc. in Boston, adds one more to the mix: speed. When Coronado Biosciences, a small biopharmaceutical
company, went public in 2011, the business was under the gun to change from a
private directors’ and officers’ policy to a public one.
The company focuses on immunotherapy agents for cancer and inflammatory
diseases such as acute myeloid leukemia, inflammatory bowel disease and multiple
With a window of only 60 days, Dale Ritter, Coronado’s senior vice president of
finance, could only think of one broker for the job: Ty Howe.
“There really was no question in my mind who I was going to call,” said Ritter
who’s dealt with Howe since the early 1990s. “He caused the wheels to turn and we
got our policy in place in time.”
Despite the narrow window, Howe did his due diligence to get plenty of offers
In the end, Coronado got quality coverage as well as competitive benchmarks.
With his help, Coronado can now face the future as a public company.
“One of the things I put a lot of emphasis on is responsiveness,” said Ritter. “Ty
and his team get back to you right away when you have a need.”
Howe also filled a gap in the market for physicians.
Since pharmaceutical companies aren’t allowed to refund doctors for lost or
mishandled drugs due to anti-kickback laws, Howe created an insurance policy
allowing physicians to submit claims for lost drugs on a dedicated website. The
limit is set at $15,000 per year.
If that weren’t enough, he negotiated coverage for microbial contamination of
a production facility. Previously, property insurance policies only responded to
contamination if it followed a physical damage loss due to a covered peril, even
though microbial contamination could do serious damage.
The coverage trigger was typically from an Environmental Protection Agency
regulated event, but through his work, it will now include Food and Drug
Administration regulated events.
Senior Vice President Lockton, New York Broker Acts as Insurance Supplement Dietary supplement companies seem to be in a constant pickle: they’re trying to offer products that help people get he most out of their exercises, lose weight or live healthier lives. At the same time, it’s hard to secure insurance because their
products aren’t approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Not to mention the industry is still feeling the pain of the 2004 ephedra scandal
when the FDA banned the substance a year after a medical examiner said ephedra
played a “significant role” in the heart attack death of Baltimore Orioles pitcher
With that backdrop, broker Dirk Van Heyst, senior vice president at Lockton, went
to work trying to place insurance for a dietary supplement company. Then came
another wrinkle: one of the large retailers that purchases supplements from the
company required the supplement manufacturer to carry 40 percent more insurance.
“We don’t send Dirk to market with a royal flush or a perfect hand to play,”
said the company’s general counsel. “But we are a good company. Quality is very
important to us. We have not had a claims history at all.”
When working with the carriers, Van Heyst was able to emphasize the company’s
stringent testing policies as well as its sparse claims history. The result was a two-fold increase in coverage while premiums remained flat. Not bad in an industry
that’s tougher than most.
Van Heyst’s industry knowledge does not just extend to the world of
pharmaceuticals. He’s also been extremely valuable to a wine-and-spirits company.
So much so, in fact, that he seems like part of the staff.
The company’s director of audit freely admits that he was an insurance newbie
and relied heavily on Van Heyst.
“I explained to them the most I did in insurance was going to Geico to save 15
percent,” he joked. But with Van Heyst’s help, he was able to reassess risk, saving
money and time.
“I was spending 25 percent of my time on insurance. Now I only spend 5 percent
to 10 percent,” said the company’s director of audit. “Now, I can focus on audit and
risk management of my company.”