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Broker Spotlight: Cooper O'Connor, Burns & Wilcox Brokerage

Broker Background

Cooper O’Connor is a Senior Broker at Burns & Wilcox Brokerage, and he has been in the insurance industry since 2016. Cooper began his insurance career with a temporary role that evolved into becoming a full-time broker. He now uses his expertise to manage the complexities of the wholesale insurance market, specializing in tough Management Liability, Crime, Tech E&O, and Cyber. 


One of Cooper’s primary challenges in the insurance sector is the impersonal nature of interactions with carriers and insurtechs alike. These transactions are often characterized by a lack of consistent contact points and a reliance on algorithms rather than human interactions. Without ‌the human relationships that Cooper has come to value, there’s a higher chance of miscommunication and unpredictability when managing clients’ needs.


When Cooper discovered Counterpart in early 2021, he immediately recognized the value of personal underwriter relationships and fast, attentive service. Since then, Counterpart has provided Cooper with the flexibility and customization that he needs to meet the unique needs of his clients. Due to his close partnership with the underwriting team, Cooper has earned an impressive 65% hit rate.

1. Building Relationships: Working with Counterpart, Cooper values the responsiveness of the underwriting team and their ability to cater to specific client needs. He appreciates the personal and direct relationship he has with individual underwriters, which is a stark contrast to the service center approach of many carriers and insurtechs. The human connection and interaction creates opportunities for better negotiation and for both parties to truly understand client requirements.

I much prefer having a dedicated underwriter. Insurtechs often just have service centers, and you’re dealing with a different person each time you interact. I love that at Counterpart, I know who to reach out to and I can get exactly what I need.

2. Flexibility in Problem Solving: Cooper recalls a handful of times where he needed carrier flexibility to meet the needs of his clients. Because Counterpart is a smaller, more nimble organization — and because of Cooper’s personal relationships with underwriters — he has been able to work with the team at Counterpart to create custom, out-of-the-box solutions and pricing to meet specific client needs. Counterpart’s flexibility and willingness to adapt in urgent situations has helped Cooper get more competitive terms and pricing for his clients, making Counterpart a reliable solution for his more challenging accounts.

Counterpart has a very broad appetite, and they’re generally able to accommodate what my clients need. Since I started working with them, they have become more and more competitive, and I haven’t run into many things they don't write.

3. Looking Toward the Future: As for current market trends, Cooper emphasized the importance for carriers to stay ahead of the market, especially when it comes to technology and emerging sectors. While he does love personal connections with individual underwriters, Cooper also acknowledges that portal submissions and automation are the upcoming trends. It’s advantageous for Cooper when carriers offer more than one submission method. It helps him automate some of the smaller, more simple submissions with portals and APIs, while using his direct underwriting contacts for the larger, more complicated accounts. But the hunger for innovation needs to go beyond technology. I’s important for carriers to continue searching for new classes and sectors, while continuing to optimize their coverage for existing ones.

The market is going to be heavily shifting towards portals in the next five years. It’s great that Counterpart offers multiple ways to submit applications, so I can choose which method makes the most sense, depending on the account.
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