Issues & Answers Special Advertising Section
September 2020

Issues & Answers: Excess & Surplus Value

Brady Kelley, WSIA executive director, said the excess and surplus lines insurance market was in a relatively strong position entering into this year. “That helped well-position members to manage through the pandemic and continue to serve clients as seamlessly as possible,” he said. The following are excerpts of an interview.

Brady Kelley

Brady Kelley
Executive Director

“Our Annual Marketplace facilitates network-focused meeting time for professional and financial lines specialists and their wholesale-dedicated trading partners.”


How is WSIA serving the needs of professional and financial lines specialists?

WSIA is the only trade association that serves the entirety of the wholesale, specialty and surplus lines insurance industry, with domestic and international wholesalers, wholesale-dedicated insurance markets and service-provider members comprising the U.S. wholesale insurance distribution system. We recognize the growing need for networking-focused events for our professional and financial lines brokers and underwriters who are dedicated to wholesale distribution. Our Annual Marketplace meeting last year highlighted those attendees with a discounted first-time attendee rate, a special networking reception and the opportunity for them to proactively schedule networking and business meetings during the week with other attendees.

What is WSIA’s position on potential liability arising from COVID-19 claims?

WSIA supports temporary, targeted, and timely COVID-19-related liability relief legislation to safeguard business and the U.S. economy from unfair lawsuits that could impede an effective recovery from the pandemic. We, and more than 500 other organizations with broad-based interests, have worked with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to advocate for temporary liability protections for business and institutions that work to follow applicable public health guidelines against COVID-19 exposure claims; healthcare workers providing COVID-19-related services; manufacturers and distributors of medical devices and therapeutics related to COVID-19 response; and public companies targeted by opportunistic COVID-19-related securities lawsuits. 
Sen. John Cornyn (D-Texas), has introduced the “SAFE TO WORK Act,” which would help ensure COVID-19 liability reform for these frontline workers and small businesses who follow public health guidelines, and we are hopeful that it will gain the needed support to protect them from undue litigation.

Is the role of the actuary more critical during times of economic uncertainty?

There’s an opportunity for an actuary to play a greater role. Whether the actuary steps up to that challenge remains to be seen, but there’s certainly an opportunity. A situation like the current crisis is begging for data, and it’s very challenging from a data perspective. There’s not a lot in the actuarial toolkit that makes looking at the historical data and using it to accurately project what 2020 is going to look like an easy or routine process.

How are WSIA members delivering value to their clients through the disruption of the pandemic?

The COVID-19 pandemic has dealt significant disruption for the global economy, and this industry has certainly not been spared. WSIA members have experienced operational impacts of remote work and the need to quickly adapt through this evolving situation, but the wholesale, specialty and surplus lines industry has a successful track record in navigating through catastrophic situations like this. As key players in the wholesale distribution system, WSIA members excel at creating customized responses in unique, and often challenging, times.
Strategic communication is also absolutely imperative right now. The impacts of the pandemic on insureds and the business operations of industry partners have varied widely. Some industry stakeholders have been able to maintain business essentially as usual, while others are in much more challenging circumstances, so our members have communicated openly with their partners in order to clearly understand each situation.