Interview with Raffi Kodikian, Senior Vice President, Lawyers Professional Liability Practice Leader at Founders Professional.

Founders Professional is a broker of wholesale solutions for retail insurance agents. Raffi Kodikian, Senior Vice President, Lawyers Professional Liability Practice Leader at Founders Professional
will be discussing the business with us in this interview with TechBullion.

Please tell us your name and a little more about yourself? 

My name is Raffi Kodikian, I was born and raised outside of Philadelphia, PA, moved to Boston to attend Northeastern University, and lived there for seven years. I’ve lived in San Francisco since 2004, when I began my career in the Insurance industry “helping out” at a family-founded wholesale brokerage specializing in Professional Liability. It soon became clear that I had a skill set that translated well to broking accounts, and it wasn’t long before I was doing more than just helping out. I left that brokerage in 2017 as their top-producing broker and joined Florida-based Founders Professional as their Lawyers Professional Liability Practice Leader for the Western Region.

What is Founders Professional and what unique services do you provide?

Founders Professional is a wholesale insurance brokerage specializing in professional liability. Our focus is on professional E&O, D&O, EPL and Cyber risks for any and all professions. Our clients are retail brokers whose’ clients are seeking protection against malpractice claims that could otherwise mean the end of their business.  As a specialist in the Professional Liability realm, our retail broker partners turn to us for expertise or market access that they may not enjoy on the retail side.

Could you give us a market overview of the liability wholesale insurance brokerage market and the rate of demand for the services you provide at Founders Professional?

While the market consists of hundreds of insurance companies, each one has a different appetite for particular risks, based on the determinations of their actuaries. So if a law firm practices, say, complicated and often high-value Intellectual Property law, there may only be a few carriers that understand how and are willing to underwrite that type of work. Another carrier may specifically want to write risks that have poor claims history, and avoid risks that the standard market would pursue. Another may only be interested in writing law firms of a certain size (attorney count). Our job is to know each carrier’s appetite, as well as the coverages they’re willing to offer their insureds, and make sure the right risks get in front of the right underwriters.

Conversely, a retail broker will often handle many lines of coverage for their clients- personal lines like auto, life, and health, business lines like benefits or Worker’s Comp, etc. Professional Liability is a niche part of the industry, and generalist brokers often aren’t familiar enough with PL to feel comfortable broking these particular lines of coverage. They turn to a specialist wholesale broker like Founders to represent their clients for them. What’s more, many carriers won’t work directly with retail brokers, and require that they go through a wholesale broker to make the process more efficient. A good wholesale broker can be a significant asset for a retailer and their clients when it comes to finding them good coverage at a competitive price.

As a wholesale solutions provider for retail insurance agents, could you give us a walkthrough of how this works at Founders Professional?

Like any other type of insurance, our retail brokers partners have their clients complete applications that provide a multitude of details about the business they run. For law firms, which I focus on, they ask things like what kind of law the firm practices, the names, hire dates and hours worked by each attorney at the firm, what kind of calendaring systems the firm employs, what kind of claim experience they’ve had, etc. The retailer will then send that application to us, and we’ll review the details of the risk to determine which insurance carriers have an appetite for the particular firm in question. We then submit those applications to those carriers, and after underwriting the risk, they determine 1) if they are interested in writing them, and if so, 2) at what rate and under what conditions they are willing to write them. Our job then becomes to negotiate both price and coverage for the applicant. Once we’ve done that, we present our results to the retail broker, who then presents those results to the applicant. If those results are favorable to both parties, they “bind” coverage, in most cases for a 12-month period. At the end of that period, the same process is repeated, accounting for any changes in the firm during that time. 

Could you give us a breakdown of your specific insurance products and how they work?

We exclusively broker business involving Errors & Omissions (E&O), Directors & Officers (D&O), Employment Practices (EPL) and Cyber Liability coverages. 

E&O is commonly referred to as malpractice insurance, and covers any liability that a professional might take on in the practice of their profession- doctors, lawyers, architects, engineers, technology, financial institutions, etc. D&O protects directors and officers of a company against personal losses should they get sued in the performance of their duties (most often by shareholders or beneficiaries).  EPL protects businesses against lawsuits by employees against the company for complaints such as discrimination, sexual harassment, or wage & hour violations. And Cyber protects companies for failures in their computer and network systems, including remedial and notification costs after the hacking of a network, or losses from ransomware and social engineering. 

Are you a global business? Does your business have any regional restrictions? If yes, where are you focused on and who is eligible for your services?

We are a national brokerage writing insurance in all 50 of the United States. Our headquarters is in St. Petersburg, FL, and we have offices in Tampa, FL, Chicago, IL, North Carolina, San Francisco, and San Diego, CA. We work with retail brokers throughout the US.

What makes Founders Professional the best in the industry? Any success stories or use cases you would like to share with us?

Founders began in 2008 with just one broker and one market. Today, Founders employs over 50 people with direct access to over 100 markets. Our focus is and always has been providing superior service and personal attention to our retail clients, with a small business feel for other small businesses, while at the same time striving to be an excellent partner to the carriers we work with in a manner that reflects big-business capabilities.  Our growth in the last five years especially, both in revenue and staff, has been amongst the best in the industry. 

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