Pamela Cutchlow, executive director of two centers for abused and abandoned children, in Southern California, doesn’t mince words when asked what she wants to hear when an insurance broker comes in to speak to her about her operation.
“Workers’ compensation issues. Are the rates the same across the board, or are they determined by the size, type of clients, or judged on merit, etc.?” Cutchlow said. “Their availability to speak directly to employees about the importance of keeping their driving records clean. The importance and training of staff in the right procedures needed to protect our ability to get proper insurance at an affordable rate.”
Cutchlow, who runs a boy’s home called Orange County Children’s Foundation Inc., and a girl’s home called Paragon Center Inc., said the biggest mistakes brokers make is thinking she hasn’t heard about any of this before.
“I get approached all the time,” she said. “They always say they can undercut the price. They’ll look at the policy and say they’re not insuring you enough in this area.”
Rhonda Sciortino, national child welfare specialist for Markel Insurance Co., who also chairs Successful Survivors Foundation, a nonprofit in Southern California that assists abused children, is in a unique position to talk about how brokers should deal with potential clients.
Sciortino’s Child Welfare Insurance Services in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., was acquired by Markel in 2008, she’s been involved in the sector for several years and knows a great many nonprofit executives.
“People in nonprofits say if another broker walks in here and takes 35 minutes telling me about their great services and their agency I’m just going to throw up,” Sciortino said. “Instead they want to hear, ‘I feel your pain, I understand what you’re doing, and here’s how I can help you.’ Period.”
Sciortino recommends brokers ask nonprofits these five questions:
- What are your programs?
- Are you doing fund raising and what does it consist of? Sciortino offers a cautionary tale. She was working with an abuse foundation that had a fundraising event during which a stunt motorcyclist had one of the kids lay down in dirt while he popped a wheelie and jumped over the kid. She didn’t know that was the plan, or “I would certainly have had something to say about it,” she said. “Almost any wild crazy thing you can think of these folks will do because they’re so strapped financially.”
- Are you contracting with staff, or other organizations? Because so many organizations are working to keep costs down, “lots and lots of collaborations are happening,” Sciortino said. “A broker should look at those contracts, and say, ‘Let’s see if you just offered to indemnify the other group, and the county and the city and the state.’”
- What sort of population are you serving? Whether serving abused kids, the elderly or recovering addicts, the needs and the risks can vary greatly. Organizations serving the physically handicapped may have a greater risk of premises liability, while those serving the mentally ill may be at greater risk of professional liability related to comments misunderstood or taken out of context, and those serving rescued victims of human trafficking may be at a greater risk of allegations of sexual misconduct due to sexualized behavior that can result from sexual abuse.
- Who else is involved? If the client is dealing with abused kids, those kids may have dysfunctional or dangerous family members to consider, and shelters for abused women may have to consider that there are potentially violent abusers out there looking for their clients or their employees.
Wayne Tesch, founder and CEO of Royal Family Kids, a network of camps for abused, neglected and abandoned children across the country, said he wants to hear from brokers who care about his organizations’ mission and its vision, and who can be at their side when the organization is in trouble.
“I don’t want to be an expert in insurance,” Tesch said.
“I want a broker who has passion to educate and help so I can fulfill my calling and passion,” he said.