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The NJFPA Stradley Ronon Food Forum

This series will focus on stories about the people changing the face of the food processing in the Garden State through innovation, hard work and lending a caring hand. The NJFPA will endeavor to tell the stories that might now get attention in other mainstream channels.

If this series inspires and provides actionable ideas, it will achieve its aims.

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Nov 9, 2021

Welcome to the third episode of Season 2 of the NJFPA Stradley Ronon Food Forum Podcast. In this episode, Bill Mandia, Partner at Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young, speaks with Shawn Knechtel, director of the New Jersey region for Smith Brothers Insurance and current NJFPA secretary- treasurer. They talk about recent changes in the insurance market and the potential for insurance to be an investment through group captives.

Guest Bio:

Shawn Knechtel began his insurance career in 1992 with the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies. In 1998, Shawn joined Widerman & Company as Vice President, earning into a principal position with the organization within a few years, partnering with Bob Widerman to grow and lead the agency. His responsibilities include working directly with customers to assist in their risk management and financing efforts, heading the commercial insurance division and general agency management duties. Widerman & Company became part of the SmithBrothers Insurance family in 2017. Shawn is now Director of the New Jersey Region and a Principal of Smith Brothers.

Shawn received his bachelor’s degree from Franklin & Marshall College. He has earned his Associates in Risk Management designation (ARM) and is a Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC). He’s also a longstanding Board Member of the NJ Food Processors Association.

Listeners will hear: 

  • The difference between the traditional insurance market and alternative captive markets where businesses take a larger role in managing their insurance experience. 
  • The roles of the different players: the reinsurers, the guarantors, and the independent insurance broker.
  • The governance of captive insurance programs, where the ownership lies with the members, the businesses who are sharing in the risk. 
  • The pros, cons, and risks of joining a group captive insurance plan and how long it takes to see the full benefits. 
  • Viewing insurance as an investment rather than an expense. 
  • What factors (not just COVID) Shawn says are behind current high insurance prices.

Download the Edited Interview Transcript