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Tough cases can breed loyal allies – and new business.

Nothing tests a new agent’s mettle as much as a tough initial placement. It is during these early tests that strong, enduring relationships are built. Just ask Senior Underwriter Andrea Prahl, of the Burns & Wilcox Special Risk Division, which handles unusual and unique risks. Meeting and exceeding a new agent’s expectations, she says, not only may win you a long-term ally, it may also win you additional business.

Prahl recently confronted a whopper of a test, even by Texas oil industry standards. The risk came from the Alabama office of a large retail agent, which approached Commercial Underwriter-Broker Jack Yester of the Burns & Wilcox Birmingham, Ala. office. Yester’s agent was seeking coverage for the care, custody, and control of an estimated 300,000 barrels of crude oil as it made its way across the client’s property, from train tank cars into its oil pipeline, then into tanker barges to be shipped to local refineries.

“The quantity and high value of the crude, as well as the number of different transportation modes involved, made this a unique risk and one that most markets would not even consider,” says Prahl. “A leak, for example, could create an immediate and large loss. Or something along the journey could contaminate the crude.”

Prahl got right on the case. “I approached several London markets that were somewhat resistant,” she says. “But one Lloyd’s broker, Chesterfield, was optimistic that we could get this placed.”

Chesterfield Group had recently become part of the Kaufman Group, the parent to Burns & Wilcox. Prahl and her counterpart at Chesterfield were collaborating on a case for the first time, and they were eager to make the placement.

“Chesterfield felt it had a market for the coverage and asked a few questions. I provided answers, and quickly had an indication,” she recounts. The policy, which was bound several weeks later, covers up to $14 million of crude in the operation’s custody at any one time. Meanwhile, the operation has grown from the estimated 300,000 barrels to 12 million barrels of crude and perhaps more. And the fledgling relationship between agent and wholesale broker also continues to grow.

Yester credits teamwork on the Burns & Wilcox side — especially Prahl’s skill in placing a very com- plicated account — for giving the agent the confidence to bring him other parts of this very large account. Gina Jones of the Burns & Wilcox Environmental Center of Excellence, successfully placed the pollution liability coverage for the operation, while Sheila Hailey and Katie House of the broker’s Dallas, Texas, office, brought in several quotes for the general liability.

The large Alabama agent recently brought Yester a submission for the operations’ excess pollution and is now reviewing the quote Yester’s brokerage efforts provided.

Test passed — with flying colors. What’s more, Yester says he expects to field more risks from this agent.

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