Q&A: Danny Gumm

Insurance & Risk Professional: How did you feel when your name was announced?

Danny Gumm: It was a surreal experience to hear my name read out as the winner, especially with the high calibre of state winners from which the judging panel had to choose.

Parmia is a small niche operator which purposely “flies under the radar” within our industry, so to receive such recognition, in addition to Natasha Burr from our office being in contention for the Warren Tickle Memorial Award as well, has surpassed our greatest expectations. Without doubt this recognition from within my own industry is the highlight of my career.

IRP: How has the reaction from colleagues and clients been so far?

DG: We have had wonderful feedback from our clients and supporters and the number of emails/messages of congratulations has been overwhelming. From walking through the conference and being congratulated by complete strangers, to wonderful catch-ups with colleagues I have known my whole working life, it has been an amazing ride over the past week.

IRP: Why do you think it has helped you stand out from your peers?

DG: The principal point of difference is that we decided early on to make a very real difference in assisting professional industries, not just providing an insurance product as a commodity to their members. In general, we chose to work with a professional association or body working with the industry, and then asked what we could do to improve the exposures it currently faces through risk management assistance.

We do this through a number of different means, such as giving back to the education of members through sponsorship, assisting with legal and other professional advice to improve the standards and commitment of members.

Once this has been done, we approach the insurance market with a fresh proposal with an industry prepared to play their part in minimising exposures for the insurers, and with professional commitments in place for their members, providing an extremely attractive risk, and therefore generally attracting a broad tailored policy at highly competitive costs. To use a now old adage, it is very much about creating a “win-win” scenario for insured and insurer alike.

The vast majority of people within our industry are truly caring people who wish to help others in any way they can – that makes me extremely proud.

A prime example was when the beauty industry was caught up in the collapse of HIH/FAI and the near-collapse of [medico-legal defence organisation] UMP and could not obtain insurance for some of its high end exposures such as lasers, IPL treatments, cosmetic tattoos, chemical peels, etc.

By working with the industry, we were able to put in place standards and risk management procedures which became conditional of membership to their professional association, and then presented this risk to Lloyd’s of London, who accepted these exposures accordingly. Parmia was rewarded by the beauty industry by being offered their National Award of Excellence for Services to the Industry, making us one of very few external companies to receive this accolade.

IRP: What part of broking gives you the most satisfaction?

DG: Again, it is about making a difference, whether through to one member with a relatively minor issue, through to being able to provide positive and real change for the better across whole professions. Like many others from within our industry, I think we are an easy political scapegoat following a natural catastrophe and yet the vast majority of people within our industry are truly caring people who wish to help others in any way they can – that makes me extremely proud.

A prime example was last year’s winner, Alan Wilson, who during his prize trip to New Orleans was so taken aback by the state of some of the houses still so many years after Cyclone Katrina, that he actually rolled up his sleeves and provided assistance. Alan also advised that Zurich are considered a legendary organisation in New Orleans and no one can say a bad word about them!

Action such as that taken by Alan and other such colleagues in the insurance industry make me extremely proud to be an insurance broker.

IRP: The award offers more than just the recognition of the title. How do you feel about your upcoming trip?

DG: I am obviously extremely excited having not been to New Orleans beforehand. I love golf (although it does not love me!) and it will again be a highlight to see the PGA event, as well as the Jazz Festival at the same time. It is a wonderful and generous prize and I am sincerely grateful to Zurich for sponsoring not only the prize but the whole award.

IRP: Would you encourage other brokers to get involved in the Broker of the Year award next year?

DG: I would strongly recommend anyone to submit to the award – it was very professionally run and the process involved was an experience in itself. It was a highlight to win the state award, and then having the opportunity to be interviewed by the judging committee (all extremely friendly and professional), to be filme, and then interviewed by IRP, it was an amazing experience. The opportunity to meet the other highly professional state award winners was also a highlight, and the quality of the people made me feel extremely confident that our industry is in a strong place going forward.