Issues & Answers Special Advertising Section:
 July 2022

Issues & Answers: Delivering Value

Brady Kelley, Executive Director, Wholesale & Specialty Insurance Association (WSIA), said the organization has always known that wholesale distribution delivers tremendous value to retail agents and insureds. “WSIA members are specialists who can offer access to markets, coverages and options that just aren’t available in the standard market,” he said. Following are excerpts from an interview.

Brady Kelley
Executive Director
Wholesale & Specialty Insurance Association (WSIA)

“It’s our mission to help WSIA members build profitable business relationships and strengthen the industry..”

At a Glance

  • A nonprofit association of insurance professionals
  • More than 700 member firms representing 1,600 offices
  • Providing world class member services

What makes the wholesale, specialty and surplus lines segment unique and how can that benefit insureds?

Wholesale brokers are specialists, and they provide retail agents and their clients access to customized solutions for excess or unusual risks. Insureds benefit from their technical expertise because wholesale brokers cannot only help provide coverages and options that are often not available in the standard market, but they can also gain access to markets that not all agents can. It’s also important to remember that there is no cost to simply seek a wholesale quote, but there can be a great return on that effort when an insured needs a tailored solution in the form of the right coverage. 
WSIA has partnered with Conning Inc., to conduct an updated analysis of 2016-2020 data investigating the non-loss cost of the wholesale transaction versus retail transaction. That analysis confirmed that wholesale distribution does not increase the cost of the transaction to the insured, and in fact it found that the cost of wholesale distribution was lower than retail distribution by 1.8 percentage points, which makes consulting a wholesale expert a logical step for insurance buyers

What is the current financial outlook for the surplus lines segment?

The market is growing. According to 2021 year-end data from the 15 states with surplus lines stamping offices, premium increased a record 22% for 2021 over the previous year, with a 6.6% increase in transactions. We’re hearing that demand is strong for D&O, professional, excess liability, property, residential flood, wildfire and cyber coverages. Coupled with the 17.5% increase reported for the market in the AM Best 2021 Special Report for 2020, and anecdotal evidence that these figures remain strong halfway through 2022, the market is as strong as ever. This segment is also designed for innovation, so in a time of rapidly developing technologies and emerging risks like we’re currently seeing, the E&S industry performs well.

What initiatives is WSIA working on to strengthen the surplus lines marketplace?

It’s our mission to help WSIA members build profitable business relationships and strengthen the industry with networking, education, talent recruitment, regulatory/legislative advocacy and promotion of the value of the wholesale distribution system. Diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives are a priority because they impact every element of the association and our members’ work.With financial support from WSIA member firms, the WSIA Diversity Foundation was formed in 2020 to help influence greater diversity, equity and inclusion in the industry. Many of those efforts are student-focused right now because they dovetail with the identified and ongoing need to attract talent to the surplus lines industry. We are also developing resources and education opportunities for member firms that can be a starting point for them in their own DE&I journey or can enhance existing initiatives.