Archive for the ‘General Information’ Category:

A User’s Guide to Insight Articles

I have been writing my regular bi-monthly column Insight for Insurance Advocate magazine for two years now.  My focus has been on the regulatory scene, particularly aimed at New York but also at National and International issues.  I also post pdf copies of these column’s on the Publications page of my website.  I have noted, however, that in my penchant for clever titles, it is not all that easy to know the topic of a particular column.  After two years, even I cannot always remember what a particular column is about without re-reading it, which is not a very user friendly approach.  So I am now adding a brief description of the topic covered following the title for each column.  Even if these descriptions do not help or interest you in the enjoyment of my musings, I find them very helpful to me, so that counts for something.  You can check out all my columns and all my other articles and publications here.  I hope you can find a topic of interest!




The Interns and Sister Mary

Last Summer the Insurance Federation of New York (IFNY), an organization whose members represent a diverse group of insurance professionals in the Metropolitan New York City area, implemented an extraordinary internship program in partnership with the charitable organization Yes!Solutions.  Under the program, six motivated high school students from extremely difficult backgrounds and circumstances, were exposed to the working environment and people at participating insurance companies and professional firms over an eight-week period.  My Insight Column in the April 22, 2013 issue of Insurance Advocate magazine ( discusses this program and its value not just to the interns, but to the industry as wellClick here for a pdf copy of the column.  For more information on the IFNY Intern Program including information on how you can help, I urge you to go to the IFNY website at 

While IFNY’s sponsorship was invaluable to making the program possible, the other half of the story is Yes!Solutions, one of the alter egos of a very extraordinary woman, Mary Lanning.  It was Mary, an insurance industry lifer as well as a nun in the service-oriented Sisters for Christian Community,  who developed, promoted, implemented, sold, cajoled, monitored, prodded, corralled and shepherded the program, the interns and the industry participants.  It is impossible to fully explain or comprehend the magnitude of all that Mary does for our industry and for those in need.  Back in 2002, one of Mary’s innumerable friends, Meg Fletcher, wrote a wonderful bio of Mary for Business Insurance magazine.   Anyone interested in reading this bio to get more of an inkling of this incredible woman and her work, click here.

Remembering Fred Perrotta

Fioravante “Fred” Perrotta died this past July. His NY Times obituary (July 28, 2012) focused on his public service as a key aide to Governor Rockefeller in the 1960s and later as part of Mayor Lindsay’s administration, including an unsuccessful run for city comptroller. In between those two lives, however, Fred played a significant role in the insurance business – and in my career.

In the mid-1960s, Fred was appointed as a senior deputy in the Insurance Department. At the same time, I was a fledgling staff lawyer at The United States Life Insurance Company of New York, the oldest stock life insurance company in the US. In 1967, New York adopted the predecessor to current Article 15, the Holding Company Act. Shortly after the law was in effect, my employer became the first company in New York to create its own parent under the new law – USLIFE Corporation. One of its first acts was to hire Fred away from the Insurance Department as vice president and secretary to help set up the new company. To provide Fred needed assistance, I was transferred from the life company to the holding company.

Fred was instrumental in organizing the company and establishing its working relationship with regulators, forming the basis for future dealings under the holding company law. He also helped USLIFE start the pursuit of an aggressive capital raising and acquisition program that simply could not have been accomplished directly through the life company with all the investment and management restrictions under the Insurance Law. In other words, he helped USLIFE take advantage of the freedom provided by setting up a parent company. Today most company executives grouse about the restrictions of the holding company act, particularly the registration and disclosure aspects of the law. However, historically the holding company law was designed as much to help insurance companies address capital and expansion needs that could not be adequately addressed under capital and ownership restrictions of the insurance law, as it was to provide disclosure and control over insurance company ownership and management.

Fred’s stay at USLIFE was not long – about a year as I recall – but it was certainly an exciting and important time, not just for USLIFE as a new entity, but also for setting the practical ground rules for operating under the holding company law. It was exceptionally thrilling for me to have been a part of this new venture, and when Fred left to join the Lindsay administration, I was fortunate enough to assume his position as corporate secretary. Even though Fred was the person most responsible for USLIFE to eventually be in position to have its stock listed on the NYIE, it was my good fortune as corporate secretary to be on the floor of the exchange the day of the first trade in 1969 (My gosh! Was it really that long ago?)

Fred was well known to many in the insurance industry during his many years prior to retirement as a senior partner at the Rogers & Wells law firm. But the significance of his short stint at USLIFE, and his involvement with the holding company law, are not as well known or recognized. Fred, thank you for all you did for our business, and for all you taught us about the importance of communication and cooperation among regulators, management and investors to help the industry thrive.

New Column

I was asked recently by Steve Acunto, the publisher and editor of Insurance Advocate magazine to write a regular column on developing issues, particularly on the legislative and regulatory fronts.  The first installment of my column, Insight, appears in the May 21, 2012 issue of IA.  The column, which will be a regular feature of IA, can be viewed at  In his introduction, Steve stated:

In this issue of the Insurance Advocate Peter Bickford’s column premieres on page 12. Peter is a longtime, rather astute observer of the business, whose work we have featured with great pride over the years. We believe that, in keeping with the Insurance Advocate’s mission to observe regulation and legislation that affect the progress of insurance, as well as to look out for the livelihood of independent insurance agents and brokers, always seeking to improve the system as it now exists, we are advocates for good insuring practice on all sides. Peter Bickford has earned many stripes in this very same advocacy sphere and we welcome him to our pages.

Now all I have to do is deliver the goods . . .  regularly. . .  No pressure!

I look forward to your comments and suggestions for items of interest that you believe should be explored.

Thank you Mr. Roberts!

I was sad to hear about the recent passing of Burton Roberts who was purportedly the model for the judge in Thomas Wolfe’s “The Bonfire of the Vanities.” My sadness, however, was on a more personal note – Mr. Roberts is probably the reason I ended up in the insurance industry.

When I was looking for a job in NYC following my graduation from Law School, a friend who had graduated the year before and was an assistant DA in the Manhattan DA’s office of the Frank Hogan era, arranged an interview for me. It turned out that the interviewer was the gruff, intimidating Burton Roberts, then a senior assistant to Mr. Hogan. After informing me about the rigors of the position and questioning me at length about my background and aspirations, Mr. Roberts informed me: “Young man, you seem like a smart, pleasant person, but you are far too nice to be working in the district attorney’s office.” It was not presented as a put-down, but merely an honest assessment of his view. After having had several condescending interviews with “white shoe” firms (“We only hire from Harvard or Yale, but I told [so-and-so] I would talk to you, so go ahead.”), I actually left Mr. Roberts’ office feeling a lot better about myself. He listened and then gave what was probably an accurate assessment.

Soon thereafter I accepted a position in the legal department of United States Life Insurance Company, and the rest, as they say, is history. So, thank you Mr. Roberts, for knowing more about me than I did at the time.

New Office Address and Phone Number


Peter H. Bickford, Esq.
50 Park Avenue
12th Floor
New York, NY 10016


(212) 889-7384