people” from the global firms.
tulsa’s economy is primarily concentrated
in providing equipment and services
globally for the energy industry.
servicing these clients properly, biggs
notes, necessitated developing an
internationally expanded focus.
one of the first steps to gaining
that global perspective was joining
intersure more than two decades
ago. intersure is a global alliance of
independent insurance agents.
Membership allowed CFR to form
partnerships that helped develop ideas,
let the firm gain from others’ experience
and gave it access to brokers in overseas
markets that could help manage its clients’
risks in foreign locations.
today, CFR has 110 employees and
generates in excess of $200 million in
premium. its client sweet spot is upper- and
middle-market companies predominately
within the geographic footprint of its
offices in tulsa and oklahoma City that do
CFR’s expertise, says biggs, lies in having
professional partners on site in foreign
countries who can answer the unique
insurance issues that can arise in overseas
“it is not about what offices you have,
but what expertise you have—and we
We are confident that we have
made the investment and that we
understand the international market.
Nothing is easy, and you have to commit
the time and resources to doing it.”
Jim Kapnick, President,
Kapnick Insurance Group
can compete very effectively from that
standpoint,” biggs adds.
foA & son coRp. finds nichE in
insURinG lUxURY BRAnds
Foa & son Corp. is an international
insurance broker with five generations of
brokerage experience going back to 1861.
From genoa, italy, Mario Foa moved the
firm to the United states in 1935.
in new york, Mario Foa set up shop
brokering Hull and Machinery reinsurance
coverage for international shipping and
sold life insurance. the business remained
concentrated in those markets until Conrad
Foa, father of current President Justin Foa, took
over, extending into P&C about 40 years ago.
Foa & son developed a niche providing
insurance for luxury brand products from
Europe, ranging from clothing to shoes to
handbags—products “that you
run into walking down Madison
avenue,” says the firm’s president.
Many of those clients are
now household names, and they
market their products through
their own retail establishments.
their insurance needs range from
Cargo coverage to the liability and
Property related programs typically
required by a retail client.
over the past seven years, the
international business has boomed. “We
have more interest than we can handle,”
cliEnts qUiCKly realize when they have claims in another country how much they want someone in close
proximity to the problem at hand.
bruce basso learned this lesson during
his time as head of abD insurance services.
in the 1990s abD sat in the middle of
silicon Valley, and, by necessity, the firm
had to develop an international presence
to solve overseas placements as its clients’
global business exploded.
U.s.-based brokers placing risks
internationally via carriers “never have the
eyes and ears on the ground” that the clients
want, basso says. and not having that local
presence opens the door for global brokers,
with boots on the ground everywhere, to
walk in and steal the account.
once cognizant of this vulnerability,
abD (which in 2007 was sold to Wells Fargo)
began building relationships with European
and domestic brokers of substantial revenue
size and brought them together in 1994 to
form an independent-distribution company.
today, that firm is known as Worldwide
broker network (Wbn) based in san Mateo,
Calif. (While the brokerage was sold to
Wells Fargo, Wbn was kept separate.)
network and the technology to support
it. the 80-member broker network relies
on a state-of-the-art global agency-management system designed by Vertafore
that interconnects brokers with one
another on any project instantaneously,
leveling the playing field with the global
the ability to demonstrate that your
brokerage firm has the relationships and
is a player in the international arena is the
only way independent brokers will grow,
“that is the salvation for these
independent firms,” he adds. “if you can’t
do that, you’re dead.” NU
February 20, 2012 | National Underwriter Property & Casualty | 17