With over 300 managing general agents (MGAs) operating in the UK market, placing more than 10% of the country’s £47 billion in general insurance premiums, the role of MGAs in the insurance industry should not be underestimated.
With this in mind, last week, Insurance Business UK released the results of its recent market-wide survey assessing and determining the top MGAs in the UK insurance sector. The surveyed firms were assessed using a range of criteria including technical expertise and product knowledge, overall responsiveness, ability to place niche or emerging risks, reputation, range of products, price, technology and automation, geographical reach, compensation, and marketing support.
Lending his insights into the top categories, Douglas Brown, MD of multi-award-winner Renovation Underwriting emphasized the importance of technical expertise and product knowledge.
“Providing technical understanding and advice to brokers is at the center of what we do,” he said. “The outcome must be right for our customers, so we’d rather support brokers to achieve that outcome than let them flounder.”
On the subject of overall responsiveness, he noted that the timescales for the majority of Renovation Underwriting’s business are very short.
“To meet that demand, we need to gear up with a group of underwriters who are the most experienced in the market and give brokers access to them,” he said. “If the referral chain is too cumbersome and response times are too long, then often the wrong decisions are made.”
Looking next to the ability of MGAs to place niche or emerging risks, Brown highlighted that the ability to do what others can’t or don’t will make an MGA either an attractive proposition or a novelty. Thankfully, he said, he can see that Renovation is past being considered a novelty and is rather regarded as a serious business that constantly finds ways to write challenging risks by the way it structures its capacity.
“For us,” he said, “what started as a necessity has become one of our leading propositions.”
The reputation of MGAs is also a critical factor in their success, he said, because: “If, despite the timeframes and sometimes pretty shocking ambivalence, we always do what we said we would do and are consistent and act with complete integrity, then I think we are worthy of the reputation we have earned. The moment we stop doing the right thing, then we deserve to fail. Our word is our bond; we tackle problems head-on and never get involved in situations where we cannot add value.”
Especially in the current period of financial tumult, pricing has a spotlight upon it that cannot be ignored. Buying the right thing is always cheaper than buying the wrong thing twice, Brown said. And what Renovation Underwriting provides isn’t a discount product or solution. “It is a proper product at the correct price.”