Brokers said underwriting responsiveness and turnaround time is the most important factor they consider when choosing an MGA; 73% named it as one of their top priorities. But MGAs are falling short of expectations in this category – their score tumbled from 8.04 in 2018 to 7.60 this year was the third lowest of all categories. Despite the overall slide, 14 MGAs earned five-star designations this year, just one shy of last year’s number.

Those who rated their MGA highly tended to focus on the underwriting department’s flexibility and rapid response times. “They are willing to discuss different scenarios in order to evaluate the risk rather than flat-out turning away the business,” one broker said. Another praised their MGA for “always responding quickly to referred quotes.”

Those who were dissatisfied with their MGA’s underwriting responsiveness, however, complained of long waits for answers to their questions and insufficient underwriting staff to meet demand. “Underwriting staff are overwhelmed, and response time is very poor,” one broker said. Another complained about waiting a month for a response, saying, “Generally, a quote’s no good if I don’t get it within two days because I’ve moved on to the next market.”

Several brokers pointed out that responsiveness isn’t simply about getting a quote quickly – it’s also about getting prompt answers to calls and emails. “Underwriters have good knowledge but limited time to discuss,” one broker said of their MGA. “There’s a 24-hour response time from a real person to say they will be handling your submission and setting a deadline for getting back to you.”