Lifestyle Personal Lines the October 2011 issue

Kevin Davis, President, Kevin Davis Insurance Services

I originally took a class in a standup comedy because I wanted to improve my presentation skills, and it ended up being something I really enjoyed.
By Chris Hann Posted on October 1, 2011
Q
Your business specializes in community association insurance? Was that the specialty when you started in the business 25 years ago?
A
Back then nobody knew what a community association was. I was working at Chubb in their D&O department and met a gentleman who had a whole book of business of condominiums. When I joined his organization, we grew the book from 300 accounts in 1984 to about 45,000. When I left in 2000 to start Kevin Davis Insurance Services, we figured out there were about 300,000 community associations in the country, and directors and officers liability was really underserved in the marketplace.
Q
And that’s all you do these days?
A
In the beginning, all we focused on was one coverage—directors and officers liability insurance. Now, we write a variety of products for the community association industry, including umbrella liability, general liability, equipment breakdown, property and workers compensation.
Q
Your business is across the country.
A
Our footprint tends to follow the population boom. Our biggest states in terms of written policies are Florida, New York and California. In Florida, we believe there to be more than 75,000 community associations.
Q
You started a program in which your employees knit hats and scarves that are then donated to the homeless and to cancer patients. How did the Knitting for a Cause program get started?
A
We’re affiliated with The Sullivan Group, and some of their employees asked us to participate in this knitting idea. We encourage our employees to give back to the community whenever possible. A group of employees give up their lunches a few days a week and knit. All the items they knit are then donated to local shelters.
Q
Where did you grow up?
A
I grew up in Camden, New Jersey, and my parents now live in Cherry Hill. Chubb transferred me out here to California in 1981. My two children were born and raised in Los Angeles and ended up going to school on the East Coast. I was pleased they chose to go back East to further their education and see New York. My son attended Seton Hall, and my daughter chose Marymount in midtown Manhattan.
Q
Any hobbies?
A
I do standup comedy around Los Angeles. I originally took a class in standup comedy because I wanted to improve my presentation skills, and it ended up being something I really enjoyed. There was an instantaneous reward—people laughing.
Q
Where do you perform?
A
There’s a comedy club in Burbank and a couple in the San Fernando Valley. I try to perform at least once a month. I can easily entertain a crowd for five or 10 minutes, but to keep an audience’s attention for more than that is pretty challenging. My goal is to get to 20 minutes.
Q
Do you joke about the insurance industry?
A
Not really. Most of my routine is about growing up, my children and my wife.
Q
What’s your best line?
A
“My wife is upset because I was late picking the kids up at school. Normally I drop my son off at 8. She’s upset because I didn’t pick him up until he was 12.”
Q
What business leader—in any industry—do you most admire?
A
Jerry Sullivan. Ten years ago we partnered together. He taught me what’s important in terms of running a business. I learned from him that you can be a nice guy and still be respected in this industry. He’s probably the one person I’ve learned the most from over the past 25 years.
Q
What is the best advice he ever gave you?
A
“Err on the side of generosity.”
Q
How would people describe you in terms of your personality and/or management style?
A
I’m the cheerleader. My job is to support my management team. I’m very fortunate to have a really great staff, and I’m the glue that keeps us all together.
Q
What gives you your leader’s edge in this industry?
A
I listen. It’s probably the most important thing. That’s how I’ve realized where the problems are—and the opportunities.

The Davis File

Age: 56
Hometown: Encino, Calif.
Family: Wife (of 27 years), Ethel; daughter, Kimberly, 25, a graphic designer; son, Erik, an underwriter for Traveler’s in New York City
Wheels: Chevy SUV Trailblazer
Last vacation: Sea Island, Ga., summer 2010. (“It was just my wife and I. Now that my kids are grown, she and I get to travel together.”)

Chris Hann Associate Editor Read More

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