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A premium for coverage

Posted: July 27, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: July 27, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Petersen International Underwriters principals, from left to right, Michael, Harold (founder), Thomas and Mark Petersen, are traveling to London in September to launch the celebration of their upcoming 30th year association with Lloyd’s of London.

The four principals of Petersen International Underwriters of Valencia are traveling to London in September to launch the celebration of their upcoming 30th year association with Lloyd’s of London in 2012.

Harold, Michael, Mark and Thomas Petersen will meet with Lord Peter Levine, chairman and CEO of Lloyd’s of London.

Naturally, with all four principals flying to London at the same time — and no one left behind to run the business in the event of an accident or emergency — they purchased their own insurance policy for the trip.

“For the first time in our history, all four principals will be going to London at the same time,” said Mark Petersen, one of the four principals. “An insurance policy has been put in place.”

Harold Petersen founded Petersen International Underwriters in 1974 in Brentwood. Eventually, his three sons became partners of the firm.

The firm eventually followed Harold’s children, who had moved to Santa Clarita, in 1980. After commuting for 10 years, Harold and his wife, Jacquie, moved to SCV in 1990.

Today, the company employs more than 30 people, including eight Petersen grandchildren — referred to internally as the “3G” for the third generation of Petersens. Another grandson is expected to join the firm this September.

Very high risks
Petersen International Underwriters specializes in personal-accident insurance with Lloyd’s of London, and has only four primary competitors in the United States.

“We’re the only personal-accident, Lloyd’s of London coverholder on the West Coast,” Mark Petersen said.

The firm has the privilege of accepting risks on behalf of Lloyd’s, Mark Petersen said.

Petersen International designs the policy, markets the policy, underwrites the risks, pays commissions and handles the claims for personal-accident and high-risk policies for insurance agents, brokers and risk managers that are not covered by traditional insurance markets.

Lloyd’s of London carries the risk. As an underwriter, Petersen does everything an insurance company does, without being the insurance company, Mark Petersen said.

But the firm also offers unique, high-risk policies, some of which they pioneered with Lloyd’s of London.

The firm has a kidnap and ransom specialist with the “power of the pen” authority granted by Lloyd’s. The underwriter has the power to accept a risk up to $20 million on behalf of Lloyd’s without Lloyd’s even looking over the policy first.

At one time, kidnap and ransom policies were routinely issued to large multinational corporations doing business overseas.

“Our firm modernized the policy,” Mark Petersen said. “We redesigned it so that a single individual could buy a policy, and Lloyd’s of London restructured the prices to accommodate individuals.”

The firm sold a lot of these policies in the past decade as civilian contractors headed over to war-zone areas to consult on logistics.
“We also pioneered international medical insurance people taking trips outside the country, as well as people who live outside the U.S.,” said Harold Petersen, founder of the firm.

Lloyd’s connection
As Petersen International Underwriters grew, the firm quickly reached the point where the traditional U.S. insurance market did not offer policies adequate to meet the needs of the firm’s clients.

“We knew the risk-takers were all in London,” Harold Petersen said. “We reached out to Lloyd’s of London and formed a relationship.”

The firm recently wrote two $100 million death and disability policies for the owners of a business. The domestic insurance market doesn’t offer high-risk coverage solutions, Harold Petersen said.

Petersen International insures people in high-risk professions, such as politicians, successful entertainers and professional athletes. The policies cover people whose entire career could be over with one accident.

“Arranging those amounts of insurance on the few people in this stratum is a great privilege,” Harold Petersen said.

Today, the family-owned and operated firm underwrites policies with annual premiums in excess of $60 million, Mark Petersen said.

The principals will travel to London at their own expense to kick off the celebration of their upcoming 30th year with Lloyd’s of London.

They will have a private meeting with Lord Levine prior to joining nearly 25 underwriters at a cocktail party.

Next year, a representative of Lloyd’s of London is planning to travel out here to honor the conclusion of the 30-year anniversary and unique relationship between Petersen Internal Underwriting and Lloyd’s of London.

“It’s a special event in Lloyd’s life too,” Harold said. “We are known to have pioneered a number of the policies they write for us. And we’ve had a high level of success with them.”


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