Agents Exercise Skills to Build Insurance Program Muscle

December 12, 2005

Like Arnold Schwarzenegger, today’s biggest and strongest insurance programs started out as scrawny kids, yet many carriers remain reluctant to take a chance with fledgling programs for niche markets, reports Insurance Journal in its Dec. 5, 2005 issue.

For reasons that include costs and pressure from ratings agencies, many carriers will not discuss writing programs less than $10 million in premium.

“If I was just starting in this industry today, no one would talk to me,” a leading program manager told Insurance Journal, the national property-casualty insurance magazine.

But some insurers are listening and as a result there are a number of resourceful program administrators around the country who have carved out successful programs that are regional or very specific in the businesses they target, writes Andrea Ortega-Wells in her report, “Building Program Muscle: Smaller, Regional and Start-Up Programs Sweat it Out.”

One program manager notes that there are advantages to being regional. “If you’re regional, you’re right in the heart of it,” she said.

Administrators of smaller programs also are close to their customers. “I’ve seen just about every company that comes into the program,” she added.

Insurance programs serving fuel dealers, churches, auto transporters and child welfare agencies are among those profiled in the issue.

The Dec. 15 issue contains Volume II of the 14th Annual Program Directory, a giant 74-page resource guide for agents and brokers in search of markets.

In other stories in this week’s issue, readers of Insurance Journal will also learn why applying Sarbanes-Oxley to mutual insurance companies is a bad idea.

Marsh, Berry & Co.’s Patrick Linnert provides a status report on agency consolidation. He forecasts a surge in the number of agencies in the $4 million to $10 million, and $10 million to $50 million ranges.

Readers will also learn that those looking for love in their agent-carrier relationships are bound to be disappointed. And that words have real meaning when crafting partner contracts.

“You should always think of every possible contingency when working on a contract,” advises Greg Thompson, president of THOMCO brokerage in Kennesaw, Ga.

Regional coverage
Insurance Journal publishes five regional editions of its magazine. Each regional edition this week includes the Program Directory and stories plus its own state and regional reporting.

The West edition this week looks at employment — the potential shortage in employees, what an agency should do when a new hire starts, and how agency employees can fast forward their own careers. The edition also shares highlights from CPCU’s All Industry Day.

Supporters of Louisiana’s recently passed statewide uniform building code legislation say it will protect property and keep insurance costs down, but opponents believe it will cause construction costs to skyrocket and burden local enforcement authorities. That’s just one of the reports in the Texas/South Central edition, which also has industry reaction to Texas Insurance Commissioner Mike Geeslin’s rejection of new rates for the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association.

In the Southeast edition, Mississippi’s George Dale talks about his eight-year career as an insurance commissioner and the upcoming court battle he faces with the Mississippi attorney general over wind vs. flood damage claims. Southeast Editor Dave Kaiser also checks in on rate hikes for Citizens Property Insurance.

In the East edition, Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Susan Cogswell offers some advice for states looking for a “common sense” solution to broker compensation disclosure: follow her state’s example. The East edition also reports on how a proposed national catastrophe plan might work.

The Midwest regional edition follows up on the ruling by the Illinois Supreme Court that found its state courts were not the proper venue for an important case and looks at trends in workplace injuries in Minnesota.

Insurance Journal is a network of print, web and email news and feature publications and services serving independent insurance agents and the property casualty insurance industry. For more information, visit www.insurancejournal.com.

For more information, contact Andrea Ortega-Wells at awells@insurancejournal.com

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