WSIA : Everything you need to know

Everything you need to know about the WSIA    

Fast facts:

  • 2019 President: Joel Cavaness
  • Founded: 2017
  • Make-up: the WSIA is a merger of the AAMGA and NAPSLO
  • Member firms: 772 (in 2018)

The Wholesale & Specialty Insurance Association (WSIA) is a member service organization representing the wholesale, specialty and surplus lines industry. It was formed in August 2017 with the merger of the American Association of Managing General Agents (AAMGA) and the National Association of Professional Surplus Lines Offices (NAPSLO).

The WSIA provides networking opportunities, education, talent recruitment and development initiatives, and regulatory and legislative advocacy for the wholesale, specialty and surplus lines insurance industry.

The organization has around 800 member firms representing tens of thousands of insurance brokers, insurance company professionals, underwriters and other insurance professionals around the world that conduct business in the US surplus lines market.

More about AAMGA

The AAMGA was founded in 1926 to provide networking, education and advocacy for the wholesale and excess and surplus lines insurance industry. MGAs were only admitted to the association’s ranks if they demonstrated high standards of excellence and experience, integrity and company representation. The association expanded its membership ranks in 1983 to welcome domestic and foreign insurance companies, underwriters and other organizations that provided significant insurance related services to the wholesale insurance system.

More about NAPSLO

NAPSLO was created in 1975 as a professional trade association for the surplus lines industry and the wholesale sector. Its membership included insurance brokers, agents and underwriters, who worked in the wholesale insurance distribution system and the surplus lines industry. Like the AAMGA and eventually the WSIA, the association provided networking, education and career development programs, and regulatory and legislative advocacy on behalf of members.

Why did AAMGA and NAPSLO merge?

The AAMGA and NAPSLO were heavily intertwined with regards to the services and support they offered. Approximately 76% of AAMGA members were also NAPSLO members, while 48% of NAPSLO members were also AAMGA members. By merging together to become the WSIA, members gained access to a concise listing of programs and services without having to choose between similar offerings from the two organizations.

At the time of the merger in August 2017, WSIA executive director Brady Kelly commented: “While we have a new name, a new brand and a renewed energy and purpose, our core mission and values have not changed. We remain focused on perpetuating the success of the legacy organizations. Our advocacy and services support the same segment of the industry … We now represent the overwhelming majority of the US wholesale, specialty and surplus lines marketplace.”

WSIA member demographics

In 2018, WSIA membership consisted of 772 firms, which could be broken down into the following demographics:

· 366 US wholesale members

· 129 US insurance market members

· 96 associate members

· 181 service members

The WSIA Annual Marketplace and the Spring Underwriting Summit

The WSIA holds numerous networking and educational events throughout the year, but its two leading shows are the WSIA Annual Marketplace and the Spring Summit. The WSIA Annual Marketplace is widely recognized as the premier event for the wholesale, specialty and surplus lines industry, and is attended by approximately 4,500 people from around the world who are keen to connect with the specialty markets.

The WSIA Underwriting Summit is a slightly more relaxed affair than the Annual Marketplace. This event is designed to provide networking opportunities for the underwriting and delegated authority segment of the WSIA membership.

WSIA President and the board of directors

The first ever president of the WSIA was Corrine Jones, EVP of operations for AmWINS Access Insurance Services. She was succeeded by Jacqueline Schaendorf, president and CEO of Insurance House. For the 2019 term it is Joel Cavaness, president of Risk Placement Services. The rest of the 2019 board includes:

· Bryan Sanders, president, Markel Assurance (Vice President)

· Davis Moore, president and CEO, Worldwide Facilities, LLC (Secretary)

· Bryan Clark, president, Gorst & Compass Insurance (Treasurer)

· Jacqueline Schaendorf, president and CEO, Insurance House (Immediate past president)

· Josh Ammons, senior vice president, AmWINS Group (U40 representative)

· Patrick Albrecht, senior vice president, Associated Insurance Administrators

· Shannon Dahlke Appplegate, senior vice president, MHI, a division of Worldwide Facilities

· Brenda (Ballard) Austenfeld, president national property practice and managing director, RT Specialty

· Tim Chaix, CEO and president, R.E. Chaix & Associates Insurance Brokers

· Robert Greenebaum, executive vice president, CRC

· Harry Johnson, COO, Johnson & Johnson

· Bruce Kessler, division president, Westchester

· Dave Obenauer, CEO, CRC Group

· Richard Schmitzer, president and CEO, James River Insurance Company

· Gary Tiepelman, senior vice president, Western World / Validus Specialty

President Cavaness reflects on ‘the bright future’ of E&S

Speaking to Insurance Business prior to his announcement as 2019 WSIA president, Joel Cavaness said: “I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to serve the industry as president of the WSIA. I’m also very enthused about the health of the industry and the way we all work together for its betterment. I continue to hear talk about the challenging rate environment. We’ve actually been very fortunate that the surplus lines industry has performed quite healthily from a financial perspective. The E&S sector has performed better than other parts of the business. We’re healthy, we’re growing, and I think we’re in a way better stock today than we have been in the past. The future looks very bright.

“I really can’t stress enough how well-positioned, focused and dedicated the WSIA staff are to furthering the interests of the members. I’m very happy to represent the industry alongside such a professional team.”

The U40 group

The WSIA’s U40 group is a key focus for the association, which says it is: “committed to developing awareness about surplus lines career opportunities and cultivating interest in them by young and emerging talent.” WSIA U40 members must be 40 and younger, employed by WSIA member firms, and show a commitment to assisting the WSIA in developing young talent. The U40 hosts an annual conference with education and networking opportunities, and it’s heavily involved in college outreach.

Past president Schaendorf explains the importance of education

Acquiring new talent as insurance professionals age out of the industry presents its own challenges. WSIA is doing a number of things to grease the talent pipeline, including having an active career awareness and internship committee, increasing university and campus visits, and maintaining the Under 40 Organization (U40).

“The wholesale distribution system and the retail distribution system is an extremely resilient group at adapting to challenges and changes in the industry. It’s why we’ve not been eliminated,” explained Schaendorf. “A challenge on that side is depth of experience versus bringing new people into the industry. They effectively have to season over their career and it takes a little bit of time, so invest in the programs to educate these folks because one, you want to get them in, but you want to also be able to take advantage of getting them experience and seasoned.”

The WSIA Education Foundation

When AAMGA and NAPSLO merged in 2018, they also brought their educational foundations together. The AAMGA Education Foundation and the Derek Hughes / NAPSLO Educational Foundation merged to become the WSIA Education Foundation. The foundation encourages educational development for all those interested in E&S business with a goal of overcoming any misperceptions in the E&S lines market.

The WSIA Education Foundation also provides financial support for the education programs for WSIA members, as well as support for the A.M. Best Company’s annual review of the surplus lines segment, which the WSIA describes as “a valuable tool for the industry.” Furthermore, the foundation maintains and improves the Associate in Surplus Lines Insurance (ASLI) designation program, administers student-focused educational programs, and conducts significant university outreach to attract talent to the industry.

WSIA : In the news