The insurance industry could soon have a new acronym: WSIA. Introducing the Wholesale and Specialty Insurance Association (WSIA).
That’s the name and acronym for the new wholesale, specialty and surplus lines insurance trade association that would be formed by the proposed merger of the National Association of Professional Surplus Lines Officers (NAPSLO) and the American Association of Managing General Agents (AAMGA). The memberships must still vote on the merger.
The WSIA promises to represent the entirety of the wholesale, specialty and surplus lines industry.
The groups announced they had signed an intent to merge agreement at a meeting yesterday. Insurance Journal first reported merger talks were underway in October.
According to today’s announcement, the AAMGA board of directors approved the draft letter of intent on February 10, and the NAPSLO board of directors approved it on March 5. The letter of intent outlines the basic structure of the proposed merger, key attributes of the merged organization and an outline for how the merger will be considered, voted upon and implemented.
A final proposal will be subject to approval by both boards in mid-April.
Hank Haldeman, NAPSLO past president, served as chairman of the merger. “We are confident that this consolidation has been approached in a thorough, thoughtful manner and will leverage the synergy of the AAMGA and NAPSLO,” he said in a letter to members.
Haldeman said there was consensus at every step. “What’s been especially rewarding is that we’ve reached all our conclusions and recommendations, without exception, through consensus,” he said.. “Within the committee work, every vote has been unanimous and without abstention.”
Ed Levy, AAMGA president, said the merger committee members were able to come to an agreement quickly in part because all directors of the AAMGA and NAPSLO boards maintain active membership in both organizations.
“[I]t has been crystal clear to me throughout our discussions, that all have the interests of both organizations, and our industry, at heart,” said Levy.
“I have been impressed by the committee’s ability to put the comparison of the two organizations aside – ‘How does AAMGA do it?’ vs. ‘How does NAPSLO do it?’ – to focus on designing a new organization to provide even greater value to members,” said Dave Leonard, NAPSLO president. “After all, this is the purpose of the work we’ve undertaken – to provide benefits, programs and valuable services to members. The committee’s list of benefits is long.”
“I’m certain that WSIA members of all shapes and sizes, from the localized delegated authority and brokerage operation to the global wholesale broker, along with the insurers serving the wholesale channel will all gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace through active participation in this, the only association dedicated specifically to the wholesale, specialty and surplus lines insurance industry,” said Bobby Owens, vice chairman of the merger committee and AAMGA secretary-treasurer.
Both associations have agreed that a merger makes sense given their overlapping memberships. Currently, 77 percent of AAMGA members also belong to NAPSLO and 48 percent of NAPSLO voting members also belong to the AAMGA.
The AAMGA’s voting membership is comprised of 253 (68 percent) wholesale insurance members; and 119 (32 percent) associate members (insurance companies and other risk bearing entities).
NAPSLO’s voting membership is comprised of 370 (77 percent) wholesale broker/agent members; and 108 (23 percent) company/underwriting manager members (insurance companies and other risk bearing entities).
On the new WSIA.org website, the groups posted a video that introduces the new organization and reviews the presentation given at the yesterday’s meeting.
WSIA is calling itself “an association of insurance professionals working to build profitable business relationships in the wholesale, specialty and surplus lines insurance industry.” WSIA is promising to provide members with networking, education, talent recruitment, regulatory and legislative advocacy, and promotion of wholesale value.
AAMGA was established in 1926. For most of its history, membership was limited primarily to managing general agents. In 1983, the AAMGA opened its membership to domestic and foreign insurance companies, underwriters and other organizations that provide insurance related services to the wholesale insurance system. Then in 2013, the association opened its membership further, welcoming managing general underwriters, program administrators, aggregators and other wholesale insurance professionals.
NAPSLO was established in 1975 to represent the surplus lines industry. As a national trade association, NAPSLO represents surplus lines insurance agents/brokers, surplus lines insurance companies and associate members from more than 1,500 member offices, all comprising the wholesale insurance distribution system.