Welcome to the exciting world of insurance. You probably don’t put those words together very often, but then you don’t know Christine Sadofsky. When we think of insurance brokers, what comes to mind is someone who helps us find the best home or auto insurance provider for our needs. That’s important, but Christine provides specialized services that go far beyond what the average insurance brokerage offers.
Christine founded Ventura Insurance Brokerage, Inc.in 2004. She purchased the New York division of National Insurance Brokerage that she had managed for 15 years.
Ventura is a successful female-owned business that focuses on some of the more glamorous aspects of life. The insurance brokerage specializes in risk management and coverage for movie productions and other entertainment, fine art and aviation.
Christine has built a strong team at Ventura, and she has given other women the opportunity to work alongside her in this creative business. She has a wealth of experience in this industry, and Christine is passionate about helping women grow their business and achieve financial independence.
Besides her insurance industry affiliations, Christine is a member of the Women Presidents Organization, The New York Women in Film and Television, Women in Theater League, International Association of Women in Aviation, National Association of Insurance Women and a Member of the Women Business Enterprise National Counsel. Christine is an example of what women can do when they put their mind to it.
First Wives World had the pleasure of speaking with Christine about running a successful insurance brokerage and helping women manage their lives and businesses by providing the safety net of a comprehensive insurance package.
Not only have you built a successful insurance brokerage, but you’ve carved a wonderful and creative niche for yourself by specializing in insurance products for art, the entertainment industry and aviation. How did that come about? Do you have a personal interest or passion for those areas?
Christine: When I joined the prior firm in 1990, entertainment was the only type of customer so this was inherited by the acquisition. In addition, from 1994 to 2004, when I acquired the assets, we expanded our niche into these two areas by bringing in individuals with certain expertise. The aviation niche came to be with the creation of the fractional jet ownership business. The original founders of this concept, NetJets, became a client of our office back in 1998 as the company was just “taking off”. Together with the risk manager and my team, we worked closely with them to handle a very unique insurance program serving a new industry at that time.
You are a great example to other female entrepreneurs and you help other women achieve success. Is there a woman who inspired you to become the person you are today?
Christine: Unfortunately, there isn’t one woman that created an inspiration for me. I’m in a very male dominated business, so finding that type of muse would have been very difficult as there are very few woman insurance agency principals. My main muse would have to be my father who always told me I could do whatever I set my mind to do. When the opportunity presented itself, I was surrounded by talented employees who believed in me and the best clients who were extremely loyal and in very strong relationships with my insurers who were there to support my goals.
When women go through divorce, there are so many changes. It’s overwhelming. Most of us don’t think about insurance unless we need to, but a woman may have to make changes to her insurance if the couple had joint policies. She probably has made changes to her lifestyle. What advice do you have for a woman going through this journey and how can an insurance broker help her through this stage?
Christine: As with all the advisors in a woman’s life; accountant, lawyer, or confidante, your insurance broker can guide you to make the right choices. There are many “financial constraints” that surface during a divorce and in many cases, insurance is something woman will forgo when having to make tough financial decisions. It’s worth a conversation with your broker who may be able to reduce some coverage, but help you to maintain some basic amount because an uncovered loss is more devastating financially than an insurance policy premium can ever be.
Ventura Insurance Brokerage, Inc. Specializes in Insurnace Coverage for Fine Art Works (Image Courtesy of Wiki Commons: Mary Cassatt's The Child Caress, 1890)
Sometimes during a divorce, the other party will attempt to hide assets, such as artwork. If joint assets are insured and they go missing before a divorce, how would a woman deal with this situation?
Christine: Hiring a forensic accountant can find many “hidden assets” of the spouse and if she suspects this, it’s the best way to get the truth. Also, if the artwork was insured, the broker would have a record of the request to delete the artwork and the dates of these changes.
Your list of services is extensive. Most people probably don’t realize all the benefits that a broker provides. Can you share with us how a broker can help a woman with her personal or business insurance needs?
Christine: Insurance is a legal contract and therefore not easy to understand. The most important thing a broker can do, of all their services, is help you to understand what you are at risk for and what insurance is in place or is available to protect you from those risks. When I’m working with a woman who also owns her own business, one way I explain the various types of insurance is to use the “financial statement method” to explain. For each section of the balance sheet and income statement, there is a corresponding type of insurance. Since business owners know their financial information pretty well, this helps them break it down to things they understand.
Reading your service menu is fascinating. You provide everything from pet insurance to coverage for kidnapping and ransom, which I am sure is invaluable to the rich and famous. What is the most interesting experience you have had during your time in this business? (That you can talk about.)
Christine: We used to insure the Extreme Makeover show – the one where they would perform surgery on the woman to improve her appearance. The insurance for this was very tricky as the liability carrier wanted the production company to also buy medical malpractice insurance. This was a very challenging task as medical malpractice is only sold to doctors/surgeons, not TV production companies. But having canvassed the marketplace, I did find an insurer who was willing to amend the policy “trigger” for the production company so that the policy would cover them and the network in case one of the participants sued over the surgery. It’s one of the reasons we enjoy handling entertainment insurance as these challenging situations allow us to be creative in a very controlled marketplace.
What do you love about your job? Sometimes after a divorce, a woman who has been a stay-at-home mom has to move back into the working world, or an older woman is looking for a career change. What advice would you give to women who want to get into this industry?
Christine: I love the insurance industry for so many reasons, but one of the main reasons is the opportunity we have to really dig into our client’s businesses and learn how they run their companies and manage their risks. By virtue of learning about each aspect, we become educated about how many companies and industries function. As an entrepreneur, it gives me the chance to see inside each one. The other benefits of this business are the close relationships you build with your insurance company partners, your employees who work closely with you on the various team accounts, and the clients who truly value your counsel and make you feel appreciated each day.
One of the main reasons we are so successful at Ventura is that each of our executives take the time to listen, explain and solve your insurance solutions. Because we take the time to do this right, the client senses that we are on their team and that our advice is important to their overall success. Once you cross over from a pure “broker” to a trusted advisor, you’ve achieved success on so many levels.
Thank you, Christine! It’s been a pleasure learning about your business and the value provided by insurance brokers.
Are you seeking advice on managing your risk as you start your single life? Read more about Christine in our professional directory and share your thoughts in the comment box below.