Insurance Business recently polled brokers on their thoughts about insurance underwriters’ innovation efforts. When asked whether underwriters’ product range and pricing improved or worsened over the past year, a good 27% of broker respondents indicated that there was an improvement – while another 7% said the improvement was “significant.”
Like with any industry, innovation is the name of the game in insurance, and underwriters who fail to bring in new ideas may find themselves left in the dust as their competitors snap up business. For a relatively new underwriting firm, getting into the innovation game may sound like a daunting task – but it doesn’t have to be. New managing general agents tend to have the agility, know-how, and even the tech-savvy to be able to quickly respond to the needs of brokers and their clients.
Signal Underwriting officially launched in 2022 without any financial ties to any broker or carrier, and yet the healthcare-focused and fully independent underwriting company has been making waves ever since. This is all thanks to Alexander Blair-Johns – CEO and class underwriter, and now an Insurance Business 5-Star Underwriter award winner for 2023.
For Blair-Johns, it is key for underwriters to not only touch base with brokers, but also ensure that brokers are educated and carefully attended to.
“We want to spend the time and help them understand the risks that are in front of them and help them make sure they get the right coverages,” he told Insurance Business.
That strategy appears to be working for Signal Underwriting, as the close consultation with brokers has allowed the company to bring new products to the market that satisfy brokers’ specific needs.
“We have three or four new products that will be coming out in the next six months,” said Blair-Johns.
But communication is just half of the innovation equation – Blair-Johns brings his over 20 years of broking experience with him as the head of his own managing general agent. That experience allows him to respond immediately to the needs of not just brokers, but even the insurance carriers themselves.
“I think spending about half your career on the broking side and the other half on the underwriting side gives you a unique perspective and advantage when starting an MGA,” he explained in a previous interview. “It allows you to understand the needs of the carriers you represent, while having first-hand knowledge of the challenges brokers face.”