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How an agent’s modest request became a groundbreaking professional liability coverage package

Sometimes posing a simple question to the right person leads to big things. That’s what happened when a Texas agent asked broker Allison Barber to help place coverage for a pilot car operation through the Burns & Wilcox office in Texas.

Barber consulted Kenneth LaBelle, a broker at the Burns & Wilcox Professional Liability Center of Excellence in Farmington Hills, Mich., about the potential exposures. Together they identified heavy errors and omissions (E&O) vulnerabilities, as pilot car operations are responsible for mapping and checking routes, and safely escorting vehicles with extra-large cargos to their destinations in a safe, timely manner. Their conclusion: The risk would be best addressed by a combination policy containing general liability and professional liability coverage.

After researching the risk, speaking with underwriters who had experience with pilot cars, and reviewing available coverage options, LaBelle came to three conclusions: (1) pilot car operations have an exposure suited for a full professional liability policy; (2) there was a dearth of adequate coverage options for cases such as this; and (3) this was a perfect opportunity for Burns & Wilcox to fill that void.

“We hadn’t seen a full professional liability policy written in conjunction with a general liability policy for this industry,” he recalls. “I knew of general liability policies that would add a professional liability endorsement, but those were vague and limited.”

Barber and Labelle collaborated with John Pacitti, director of professional liability with Atain, a nonadmitted A rated carrier, to more thoroughly examine the operations and exposures of pilot car drivers. They were determined to tailor the perfect form by specifically listing the exposures of a pilot car driver under the description of operations of the policy, thus removing uncertainty about what the policy would cover.

“We created a broad policy that included general liability and professional liability. We even included contingent bodily injury and property damage within the E&O, to ensure there were no gaps in coverage,” explains LaBelle.

The die had been cast. Within a few weeks of the program being implemented, submissions began flowing in at an incredible pace for a new product. Four months into the program, “we are binding accounts due to the broad coverage, competitive premiums and quick turnaround time,” says LaBelle.

To help retail brokers and agents tap this emerging niche, Burns & Wilcox developed a product marketing sheet for its local offices, and even adapted it for the Texas agent who now handles insurance for a large number of pilot car operations.

LaBelle credits the program’s success thus far to in-house resources: “It would be difficult to match the speed, resourcefulness and collaboration within Burns & Wilcox and the Kaufman Financial Group.”

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