Why GJS Re’s Claim Experience Matters

By Jerry Sullivan & Thom Smith

Chairman & Executive Vice President, GJS Re

Most everyone in the insurance industry would agree that the “product” we sell is “a promise to pay.” When a claim occurs, our product is judged by whether the loss is covered and how well the Claims team executes that promise. Anything less, and our value proposition is called into question.

With decades of insurance industry experience between them, GJS Re’s Jerry Sullivan and Thom Smith, also provide their reinsurance clients a wealth of claims expertise.

One of Jerry’s first positions after joining the industry was handling street claims with Unigard Insurance in Seattle. That experience provided Jerry with a unique perspective for the years ahead and served him well, for example, when he participated in the negotiations of the MICRA agreement in California, or in successfully convincing the California Insurance Commissioner that Lloyd’s of London was financially able to honor all their claims in the U.S. This broad background also made Jerry a sought-after expert witness and consultant on a broad range of subjects for everyone from Lloyd’s of London to Departments of Insurance.

Ascending through the ranks from adjuster to chief claims officer at both the primary insurance and reinsurance levels, Thom understands the importance of delivering on the promise made when the insurance cover was first sold. Over the years, Thom has been involved in virtually every type of problem that can arise from an insurance claim – from routine property and casualty losses, to catastrophic events like the Northridge Earthquake in 1994 and the 9-11 attack on the World Trade Center. Thom also managed the claims on billions of dollars of asbestos exposure, providing him a very unique understanding of the challenges these legacy liabilities pose to the insureds, primary insurers, and reinsurers.

Jerry and Thom place significant focus on the “promise to pay.”

So, why does this matter? We believe it matters because GJS Re’s reinsurance clients benefit from this unique expertise in several important ways:

The Best Terms for Our Clients

Once GJS Re understands the exposures a client faces and the client’s goals for transferring risk, we begin to construct a tailored insurance solution. Importantly, GJS Re examines how the contractual language obligates each party, beyond price and limits. Each word of the agreement is examined to assure exposures are addressed in the best terms available. GJS Re also works to assure that any potentially unclear policy wordings that could become problematic after a claim are identified and resolved prior to securing the cover. The worst time to begin debating the meaning of policy language is after a claim occurs!

Improved Terms for New Products
GJS Re is frequently asked by carriers that are introducing new products if we will review their proposed wordings. It is common that such draft wordings, including applications, are unclear and confusing. In many cases, the wordings have been cobbled together using sections from existing contracts, but lack the clarity and cohesiveness required for a sound understanding of the coverage being extended and the obligations of all parties. GJS Re’s clients benefit because we help insurers and reinsurers create better wording on new and existing products.

Claims Advocacy

On occasion, GJS Re has been called upon to intercede with insurance and reinsurance claims challenges, whether or not GJS Re originally placed the cover. Those have ranged from discussions with senior Claims management as to the basic interpretation of policy language, to participation as witnesses in an arbitration, or recommending other experts. GJS Re is in a strong position to advocate effectively on behalf of our clients when a claim occurs.

The promise to pay is important to our success as an industry. GJS Re does its part to help our clients achieve the best outcomes for the premiums they pay. Give us a call!