5 Minutes with . . . Perry Lerner, Crown Global Insurance

From Insurance Business America

Perry Lerner, the CEO and Chairman of Crown Global Insurance, grew up around insurance. His parents were part of a “mom and pap” company where Lerner discovered all the benefits of the insurance industry. So it didn’t seem like that much of a reach when Lerner opened his own insurance company after starting a different family business. Lerner took some time to tell Insurance Business America about where this has led his career.

Crown Global is a leading provider of private placement life insurance and provides efficient investment-enhancement strategies and products for institutional investors, investment managers and ultra high net worth individuals.

Q: How did you get into the insurance business?
I learned about the business when I was very young. My stepfather was a life insurance agent in our small town and my mother worked with him. I became exposed very early in life. Many years later I left my law practice and started a family office. The connection with insurance became extremely important for our office planning and, because of that, I became more focused it. I ended up starting my own insurance company in Bermuda. I sold it to a company, but had opportunity to buy it back three years ago.

Q: What is the best thing about working in insurance?
On the client level, you get deeply involved in personal planning with them. That allows you to meet people and enjoy those kinds of relationships. On a personal level I find it very satisfying. Secondly, the opportunity to be innovative is great because problems family have require a lot of planning. I find that a very creative process.

Q: You are involved with several companies and are a founding member of Fresh Direct, LLC.
Is entrepreneurship important in insurance? Yes absolutely and for two specific reasons. The first is that the best clients are entrepreneurs themselves, so you get exposed to others. The second reason is that success in insurance is entirely related to what you put into it yourself. These are really the attractions of the business I think.

Q: What is the best piece of advice you were ever given?
Be honest. If a product doesn’t suite a client, move off of it. People can come to you thinking they need one thing that may be a lucrative opportunity for you. However, the best thing to do is to give your best advice and say no to what doesn’t suit their needs. The insurance business can get a bad reputation when people try to sell products that aren’t suitable.

Q: What is your funniest insurance story?
We had an American client get a physical examination in Spain. When we got the medical report back it was in Spanish, so we had it translated. While doing the translation, we found out the doctor that performed the examination was a veterinarian. I think the doctor came to our client’s hotel, so they had no way of knowing. I’m glad we caught it because it would have embarrassing for us.

Q: If you weren’t in the insurance industry, where would you be?
I’d probably be pretty bored. I’ve been an entrepreneur in other areas though, so I would probably find another entrepreneurial type business to give me the same opportunity of meeting interesting people and solving problems.