Posted on 16 Mar 10
This week we are featuring Storefront Roundstone, a firm with a niche orientation that focuses on captive insurance. Roundstone develops and manages agency, single-parent and group captives, purchasing groups, and other alternative risk products. Founded in 2003 as a captive facility for a Medical Malpractice program sold throughout the U.S., the company expanded its captive programs beyond medical malpractice when Mike Schroeder, President of Roundstone, joined the company in 2005. Today, Roundstone manages more than 10 different specialty captive programs where there is risk assumption in its Bermuda Captive Facility, Roundstone Insurance, Ltd. The programs include Transportation, Workers Compensation, Medical Benefits, Malpractice, and Miscellaneous Liability.
Roundstone has grown from a captive facility domiciled in Bermuda to a full-service captive and program manager with offices in Westlake, Ohio and Washington, D.C. Roundstone offers insureds, agents, and insurers professional insurance managers and infrastructure with disciplines in underwriting, claims, policy administration, reinsurance accounting, legal/regulatory, and product/marketing management.
We spoke to Mike Schroeder about the company, its philosophy, what sets it apart in the industry, and its success in helping its partners grow. Prior to joining Roundstone, Mike served as National Interstate Corporation’s (NATL) vice president and general counsel. While at NATL, Mike developed numerous alternative risk structures, including group captives, single-parent captives, and purchasing groups. His career has included restructuring and transactional consultation services to firms in the insurance industry, senior-level executive positions with a publicly held Workers Comp insurer and a non-standard Auto insurer. Mike also founded and sold a $20 million managing general agency to a publicly traded insurance holding company.
Roundstone’s infrastructure, technology, staff, and experience allow it to deliver specialty insurance programs, from concept all the way through to profitability. “When our agents partner with us, they see their business grow,” says Mike. “We work together to create a successful program that generates growth and profitability for them. One of our agency partners when we first met them was writing less than $1 million in premium and today writes $20 million after instituting a captive as part of his strategy.”
Detail, service, and innovation are what make Roundstone a success. Its emphasis on paying close attention to the details is a company priority and helps to set it apart in the programs they create and deliver. “Often we find that insurance programs are either made or not depending on whether there’s a focus on details, such as reinsurance treaties, program management, structure and relationships, and coverage terms,” explains Mike.
When it comes to Roundstone’s commitment to service, Mike puts it simply: “It’s amazing what a very straightforward and basic insurance program can do with outstanding service, such as returning phone calls, delivering on promises that you make…doing what you say.”
Thinking outside the box when it comes to developing new ideas and coming up with innovative product design and solutions round out the firm’s uniqueness.
Roundstone’s approach in the marketplace during the industry’s prolonged soft market and an overall economic downturn is to “work very hard to stay away from running with the herd,” says Mike. “When times are tough as they are now and the market is soft, we are even more vigilant about looking for a new niche or new innovation and, where there is only price competition, we look for another sandbox to play in. With today’s challenges in which price competition is severe we are looking for better solutions…and that means a better way of delivering the product, a better way to service the insureds and agents, as well as providing innovative product design, improved overall terms, coverages, commission. We are looking to do something different.”
Two of Roundstone’s programs that play very well in today’s marketplace are Trucking and Pay As You Go Workers Compensation, both available on a national basis.
“The Trucking industry has been stressed for a couple of reasons,” explains Mike. “Oil and gas pricing, the overall economic downturn and high cost of moving freight across the country has affected this industry. What we did is rather than only focus on the traditional Liability coverages that Truckers need, we created a suite of captive insurance programs that focus on this market and are all integrated and can work together. One of them is certainly focused on Liability with our deductible captive program, but we also have programs that cover Owner-Operator’s Medical Benefits, Stop Loss Coverage for Trucking Employees Medical Benefits, etc. We are getting a lot of traction with this program.”
Roundstone’s Pay As You Go Workers Compensation program allows the insured to pay the premium on a month-to-month basis (based on payroll) instead of making an upfront deposit of 20%-30%. “The insured gets a cash flow benefit and avoids unforeseen audit hassles that may arise. In today’s tough credit crunch, the payment terms are very attractive. What’s more, this program is not only geared toward office accounts, but also focuses on the tougher classes, such as the hazard class 3 and 4 in the construction industry and the folks that, in this time of slow commercial building, could use payment terms where they don’t have to shell out a big premium deposit,” says Mike. The objective is to match premiums with the current payrolls, not a payroll estimate of what a contractor hopes or thinks may be. This is a real advantage during economic downturns. The Pay As You Go program is doing very well, and has a captive facility set up so that any producer that would like to take a risk on a book of business can work with Roundstone to do so.
Roundstone’s marketing strategies include search engine optimization of its website during the last 12 to 18 months to gain greater traction and presence, sending email blasts via ProgramBusiness, and being active on business networking platforms and the groups within those platforms, such as LinkedIn, as well as attending industry conferences in specific segments.
“We have a blog (http://roundstoneinsurance.wordpress.com/), publish as many articles as we can, including e-magazines, join in conversations in different on-line groups that are debating a unique or new issue,” says Mike. “I find this worthwhile from two perspectives: One for my own knowledge and education but also to have the opportunity to add Roundstone’s perspective to an issue and how we approach it. An example of this is a group discussion that took place on LinkedIn about segregated cell captives. We’re a proponent of cell captives. People have varying opinions about this, but what was worthwhile and valuable about the discussion is that you could see the varying opinions, the pros and cons. And if someone is interested in a captive, he/she can see the expertise offered by the participants and contact them.
“And of course, we make sure to always provide outstanding service to our customers who in turn bring us referrals,” says Mike.
To find more abut Roundstone and the programs it offers, please visit www.roundstoneinsurance.com or call Mike at 440-617-0333 x223 or email him at: MSchroeder@roundstoneinsurance.com.