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Terra Holds Its First Ever Convocation of Policy Holders

May 13, 2019

Terra Insurance Company (Terra) held a convocation of its policyholders in San Francisco on Friday, May 3, 2019. The gathering was held to immerse the participants in risk management and loss prevention guidance and celebrate Terra’s 51 years of success. It was a first-class event attended by CEOs, representing most of the firms whose professional liability insurance is provided by Terra. The day culminated with the executives and their guests enjoying a cocktail social and dinner at one of San Francisco’s finest restaurants. Participants thanked and toasted Terra President/CEO, Dave Coduto, and our other gracious Terra hosts, for the years of support and an unforgettable experience in the Bay Area.

Policyholders were surveyed in advance of the Convocation to identify topics of interest. Top items identified in the surveys included the desire to learn from new case histories, tackle contractual challenges, focus on critical success factors (CSFs) and explore leadership/ownership transition issues. Terra representatives and veteran speakers from the industry delivered compelling presentations on each of these areas of interest filled with valuable experience, insight and advice. Instant polls were used throughout the day to encourage audience participation. Each presentation provided take-aways to enable the participants to share the knowledge learned with colleagues at their firms.

Highlights of the Convocation included the keynote entitled “Observations on the Standard of Care in a Dynamic World and Rapidly Changing Marketplace” by Andrew Giacomini, Managing Partner of the prominent construction litigation firm of Hanson Bridgett. The results of a two-year Terra study entitled “A Peer Review of Peer Review” were presented and included an overview of what has worked, as well as challenges and opportunities to improve this long standing, valuable program reimbursed by Terra for their insureds. Dave, Hal Arditti (CFO/Treasurer) and Lisa Gamblin (Vice President for Claim Administration and Risk Management) presented a “lightening round” offering risk management and loss prevention tips, and discussion of contractual challenges and pre-cursors to claims. Different approaches to well-planned/executed ownership and leadership transition also were presented to the attendees. The convocation featured three harrowing case histories which underscored the importance of reliable document retrieval/review procedures, proper indemnities in contracts, exercising quality assurance/controls on projects and the four CSFs identified by Terra as keys to low loss experience:

  • Initially quick and lasting/continuing response to problem situations by technically competent staff that are empowered to solve the problem and make financial decisions on the spot.
  • Financial wherewithal
  • Corporate culture that focuses on client, project, and employee selections and assigns accountability to those selections
  • Non-autocratic work environment

Terra is one of the nation's oldest and highest rated professional liability firms providing insurance for civil, geotechnical and environmental professionals in engineering. The value of their personable, “go the extra mile”, educational, relationship-based approach to business was on full display at the Convocation. As a risk retention group, a company owned entirely by its policyholders, this culture of enabling success should come as no surprise. It also should be no surprise that Terra has remained one of the most significant supporters of the Geoprofessional Business Association (GBA) throughout the past 50 years. We share an illustrious history of service that continues to elevate the geoprofessions for the betterment of all.

Historical Note, Terra and GBA, A Cherished 50 Year Relationship: Most Terra policyholders are members of GBA. The connection has deep roots going back to the origins of both organizations. In the 1950s, there was only one professional liability insurer writing business for design professionals. However, as this carrier's exposure grew, the losses became too significant, and around 1968 it cancelled the entire group of engineers en masse and left them with no coverage at all. To ensure they would never face this issue again, these engineers collectively formed Terra in late 1968 — a professional liability insurance company based in Bermuda devoted exclusively to insuring those in the geotechnical and civil engineering fields. Terra's founders recognized that for them to succeed as an insurance company (which naturally assumes risk), their focus had to be on risk management and loss prevention. To address those issues, they formed Associated Soil and Foundation Engineers, Inc. (known for many years and name iterations simply as ASFE - now GBA) in 1969. The association was formed to provide members with ongoing educational and professional development, as well as tools to reduce both risk and loss. Back then, to be an ASFE/GBA member you had to be insured by Terra. In the early 1970s, Terra helped capitalize DPIC — Design Professionals Insurance Company — one of the first organizations to offer PL coverage and active risk management to design professionals outside the geotechnical field. Terra owned a 48% interest in the company and maintained two seats on the Board. By 1984 Terra divested its ownership in order to concentrate on Terra’s own line of business — insuring civil, geotechnical and environmental engineers. The partnership between GBA and Terra led to early success addressing loss prevention issues and within a decade most association members and Terra insureds were experiencing better loss experience records than other design professionals. The organizations built on member success with each passing decade, evidenced by this telling statistic: in 1988, Terra firms on average experienced one claim for every $250,000 in revenue, today Terra firms experience one claim for every $40,000,000 in revenue produced. The years of investment in sharing experiences and education continue to pay off.

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Terra Insurance Company
2 Fifer Avenue, Suite 100
Corte Madera, CA 94925

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May 13, 2019
Terra Holds Its First Ever Convocation of Policy Holders
Terra Insurance Company (Terra) held a convocation of its policyholders in San Francisco on Friday, May 3, 2019. The ga...