Notes from Paradise (Island)

While softening conditions in many areas of the commercial insurance market have standard lines insurers competing for business in lines that have previously been the province of the excess and surplus market, leaders of the association representing managing general agents see opportunity in the current market conditions.

“It’s the old half full, half empty cup,” Euclid G. Black, president of Black/White & Associates Inc. in Henderson, Nev. and president-elect of the American Assn. of Managing General Agents, said earlier this week at the AAMGA’s annual conference at the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas.

With the “surfeit of surplus” in the current market, “everyone’s looking at new ideas,” Mr. Black said. “If you’re looking at the cup of opportunity, it’s brimming.”

Other top AAMGA officers offered similar views.

“Companies have surplus. There’s so much money out there and they’re looking for ways to use it,” said Scott M. Anderson, owner and executive vp of  the Concorde General Agency in Fargo, N.D.,  and immediate past president of the AAMGA.

“There’s always been a need to be flexible and adapt to changing market conditions,” said Bernd G. Heinze, executive director of the AAMGA in King of Prussia, Pa.

The association’s leaders noted that for companies looking to enter a new market, distribution can be one of the biggest barriers, and the MGAs are a proven commodity in product distribution. Also, many buyers are looking not just at rate, but service, they suggested.

Service, according to Thomas K. Albrecht, the AAMGA’s new president and vp at Southern Insurance Underwriters Inc. in Montgomery, Ala.,  “is one thing that we control. When someone is out there in the market trying to choose, it’s often not just rate.”

I’ll be writing more about the AAMGA’s annual gathering in an upcoming issue of Industry Focus.

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