Pete Picetti

Captives – A Strong Option for the Right Client

Heffernan Insurance Brokers, headquartered in Walnut Creek, California, is one of the nation’s largest independent insurance brokerage firms in the U.S., and is also an employee-owned agency that wins awards for being a great place to work. Providing comprehensive insurance, employee benefits, and financial services to a wide range of businesses and individuals nationwide, Heffernan operates offices in San Francisco, Petaluma, Menlo Park, Los Angeles, and Orange County in California. They also have offices in Portland, Oregon, St. Louis, Missouri, and New York City.

Peter Picetti, a senior vice president at Heffernan, has been working in the insurance and risk management business for 27 years – 17 of them at Heffernan managing the firm’s food practice. Recently, Picetti has seen interest in captives growing.

Captives are picking up steam

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“Over the past four or five years, captives have really become a hot button,” says Picetti. Always glad to find new ways to help clients manage uninsured risk, the growing popularity of enterprise risk captives has come as good news. “Clients like to hear that there are options for managing risk – they also like to hear that they can set money aside and create a profit center. Hearing that it may also provide them with some tax benefits is even better here in California, where taxes can sometimes seem unrealistic to clients. Overall, captives are a very strong option for the right client.”

“We are spreading the message about captives to our clients,” says Picetti, noting that captives aren’t for all clients. “Just because a business pays a lot in premiums doesn’t mean it is right for a captive,” says Picetti. “There’s many factors that go into considering if a client is appropriate for a captive. I have a book of more than sixty clients, and probably fewer than 10 percent of them are captive-ready. It’s a delicate dance, but when it’s right for a client, it’s a very good option.”

It takes a village

Part of the value equation for Picetti is the expertise that Intuitive brings to the table. “The feasibility study that Intuitive conducts prior to launching a captive is very valuable in helping to make the proposition clear to clients.” Additionally, Picetti feels that the risk pool operated by Intuitive (The Colorado Reinsurance Exchange) helps to add legitimacy and safety to the mix.

“We really believe that our organizations are matched well,” says Picetti of Heffernan and Intuitive. “We have similar cultures. It’s a village of people that help to get the job done every day.”