C. V. Starr

Michael E. Garrison, C. V. Starr & Company (California)

Michael E. Garrison

C. V. Starr & Company (California)

Would you give an overview of the products and the range of services that you offer?

C. V. Starr & Company (California) is a specialty casualty agency. Our areas of focus include residential and commercial construction; public entity; and specialty lines excess, which is a catch-all for us; it is comprised mainly of manufacturing and specialty transportation. The specialty transportation occupancy includes such exposures as petroleum transporters, ready mix in transit, and refuse haulers. We write excess casualty lines with up to $25 million in capacity on these segments.

Primary coverage is available for commercial construction through the group’s PrimeStarr product. The agency also has a very good residential construction primary offering, though this market has been quite depressed over the past couple years.

Is it challenging to differentiate in the residential construction or public entity space?

It is a challenge, but I believe we provide the greatest value and differentiation in the residential construction and public entity areas.

The residential construction policy form that we issue on behalf of a partner market is one of the best in the industry. The unique quality of the form is its focus on the “Right to Repair” laws. The form was released nearly two years ago, so it is still relatively new considering the state of the residential marketplace. C. V. Starr & Company (California) has been an industry expert in residential construction since its beginning. Consequently, we have earned a reputation for innovation and responsiveness in the marketplace.

We enjoy a 90 percent renewal retention rate with our public entity clients. Our relationships with our clients and producers in this space along with tremendous expertise make this area our greatest strength.

Our underwriters and claims team spend many hours visiting with our clients where we provide protection above their self insured retention (SIR). Our team provides guidance on claims management, attachment point selection, and general risk management practices.

Have you seen stabilization on the residential and commercial sides?

We are seeing some signs of growth in home building, but with a greater emphasis on distressed housing; these are partially built or vacated tracts of homes. Efforts to revitalize these homes create additional underwriting and exposure concerns that we are uniquely qualified to address.

There is demand for enhanced or unique coverage in the residential market. We actively look to provide coverage solutions for new and existing exposures, and we have already introduced some of these into the marketplace.

As for the commercial construction market, we have seen a reduction in “four-walls” type projects, but “street and road” and other infrastructure projects continue to provide steady business opportunities.

How are you implementing technology, and do you worry that the focus is moving away from the people part of the business?

While technology offers us exciting opportunities, we don’t want to sacrifice the personal and often long-standing relationships that we have developed with our clients and producers. I believe that success in this market depends greatly on personal relationships and that is one of the most important components of our success. The technology we are moving towards will enable our underwriting team to spend more face-to-face time with clients and producers while providing them with better information about their businesses. There will always be a need for people trading with people in the specialty lines insurance marketplace, and our implementation of technology will focus on enhancements and support of this process.