What do financial lines brokers want from their MGA partners?

"A lot of the composite insurers seem to be struggling with service"

What do financial lines brokers want from their MGA partners?

Professional Risks

By Mia Wallace

With over 20 years of experience and credits at Hiscox Ireland and Chubb Insurance to his name, Shane Barry (pictured) is no stranger to what it takes to support the professional lines insurance market. In September of last year, he brought his expertise to Spring Insure, joining the only financial lines MGA in Ireland as senior underwriter.

His appointment followed Spring’s authorisation from the Central Bank of Ireland and Lloyd’s coverholder status in Ireland, opening the doors of the wider group to Irish and European business. For Barry, a few conversations with Patrick Mettler, MD of Spring Insure Europe, was enough to convince him that the opportunity to be part of the ground-floor launch of the business was too good to miss.

“Paddy and I go way back, and it represented such an exciting move so I was delighted to come on board with Spring,” he said. “It was Paddy who set up Spring Insure Europe, based on conversations he was having with a few ex-colleagues who had moved into the MGA space. And those conversations led to him finding Spring who were looking to add a Europe string to their bow. Providing a European hub was a big thing for Spring which already had a London office and a Guernsey office.”

The challenges facing financial lines insurance brokers

Serving the Irish and broader European market from the MGA’s Dublin office gives Barry and Mettler a clear overview of the challenges facing insurance brokers in the financial lines market at this time. Having spoken to brokers, he said, there’s a real need for new capacity at the moment and for new options in this space within Ireland.

Beyond the demand for new capacity and greater choice, what brokers really want from their underwriters right now is service. And while Spring might not be able to cater for every risk all the time, he said, it prides itself on differentiation in terms of service.

What does great service look like today?

“People want to be able to talk to underwriters who can make decisions, which is where we come in,” he said. “And if we can’t do something, we’ll tell the client pretty quickly so that they know where they stand and we’re not wasting each other’s time.

“Service seems to be a big area of focus in the Irish and European markets at the moment because a lot of the composite insurers seem to be struggling with service due to staff turnover. And that’s a challenge for brokers if they’re struggling to get an answer at renewal so it’s good for them to have options – options that we hope to provide where possible.”

What’s next for Spring Insure Europe?

It’s all still early days, Barry said, but already Spring is making strong headway on the FI side and with its commercial D&O offering. Its PI binder is now up and running, and starting to gather a bit more momentum as brokers become more aware of the new option available to them. Top of the agenda now is maintaining and growing that momentum, with longer-term ambitions to expand its product line.

“In the coming weeks and months, we’ll hopefully have the ability to write some corporate legal liability and pension trustee liability to tack on to the commercial D&O, for example,” he said. “And we’d like to broaden out our cyber appetite a little bit. We want to grow the Irish business and there’s only so much two people can do so we’ll probably be looking to take on a new hire in 2023. From there, the plan is to grow in-line with the ambitious plans of the wider Spring group.”

Barry and Mettler are both familiar faces within the professional lines insurance market, and integral to their ambitions for the year ahead is getting out to meet brokers and clients under the mantle of Spring. A lot of these brokers will know them from their previous roles, he said, which he hopes will serve as an injector of confidence into the Spring proposition.

The reaction of the market to Spring Insure Europe

“The reaction of the market has been really good so far,” he said. “We’ve been out to see some brokers who have known us for a long time and their reactions have been really positive. One thing I know from working in the market for so long is that finding experienced financial lines underwriters is a real challenge. So for us to have two people both with 20-plus years of experience in this sector is a comfort to brokers. It has been really gratifying to see their reactions and we’re delighted to see that those brokers are keen to support something new in the Irish market.”

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