IB Talk

How to build success in the wholesale marketplace

In this episode, we chat with Jason Conkin, Executive Vice President, E&S Casualty at Arch Insurance, on the current state of the wholesale insurance marketplace, how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted this very relationship-driven part of the market, and what’s next for Arch Insurance in the E&S marketplace.

Gain insight into:

  • Attracting, building, and retaining strong market relationships
  • Navigating pandemic challenges through digital and technical innovation
To view full transcript, please click here

Narrator 1: [00:00:05] Welcome to IB Talk, the leading podcast for the insurance industry across the UK and Ireland brought to you by insurance business.

Narrator 2: [00:00:14] This episode is presented in partnership with Arch Insurance. In the latest episode of IB Talk, Jason Conkin, executive president of E&S Casualty and Arch Insurance, joins us to discuss how to pursue better together in the wholesale insurance marketplace.

Bethan: [00:00:42] Hi everyone and welcome to IBA Talk the Insurance Business America podcast. I'm Bethan Moorcraft, senior editor at Insurance Business. And in this episode, I'm joined by Jason Conkin, the executive vice president of E&S Casualty at Arch Insurance. And we're going to be chatting about the wholesale insurance marketplace and the differentiators in this very relationship driven business. Jason, welcome to the show.

Jason: [00:01:06] Thank you so much. Happy to be here. Thanks for having me.

Bethan: [00:01:09] That's great. Thanks for coming on board. So, Jason, let's start by setting the scene. How would you describe the current state of the wholesale insurance marketplace?

Jason: [00:01:19] Thank you. The marketplace is quite dynamic and energized. There's plenty of opportunity out there for us to consider, and each one of those requires a little bit different treatment. And therefore our approach needs to be quite dynamic. It's energized in that there's plenty of opportunity to be had. There's a high volume of activity which gives us a good look at the marketplace. It also allows us to be selective in the risk that we want to accept, and it makes for quite an interesting day. I would also suggest that there's plenty of room for specialization in that the wholesale marketplace supports many different industry segments, and that is anywhere from manufacturing to transportation, even agriculture and public entity operations. And so we at Arch Pair very well with wholesale producers who are uniquely specialized in those areas. They bring their expertise and their support to arch with these risks and we connect very well with them. So overall, again, very dynamic place with a high volume of activity and a lot of room for us to be creative.

Bethan: [00:02:51] That's great. Thank you. So you've already touched on it slightly, but what is Arch's role in the wholesale insurance marketplace? Can you provide a little bit of a summary?

Jason: [00:03:02] Sure Arch Insurance Group began in 2002, and many may know that. But we were born out of a market opportunity at that time, and the company as a whole has many different, many different products and divisions that are encompassing the world from reinsurance, mortgage and insurance, and then downward into different specializations. The E&S Casualty Business Unit serves the surplus lines community, and that is an area of the property and casualty market that has been built long ago to engage with and provide solutions to risks that are more unique, distressed, perhaps emerging risk and quite quite meaningfully in the excess casualty and excess capacity space. And so we have in our mass casualty unit focused our products and services to serve that community. And therefore, our distribution is most predominantly with our wholesale customers. That ranges across the nation with roughly 2500 individual brokers in many of the metro areas and in communities. So we've built this terrific network of strong and long standing relationships with our wholesale customers, and our role is to provide really financial support. When you break it down, it's financial support to a variety of industries within the United States. So again, back to the surplus lines, nook of the market, providing capacity and products to unique and distressed risk. We are accepting that transfer from others when many are not willing to do so. And when you roll all of that up, what E&S Casualty really needs to be is a good listener and a partner with wholesalers with an open mind at the very start. We are attempting each and every time to. Get to? Yes, at the end of the day. And so where others may push away or decline, a risk arch is more willing to accept that in this market space.

Bethan: [00:05:48] It's great. Thank you. Getting to yes, I'm sure can require a lot of kind of complex thinking in a business. It is challenging and that is why it is such a relationship driven business. Jason, can you tell me a bit about how Arch is pursuing better together in your relationships and how you attract, build and retain those relationships with your wholesale partners?

Jason: [00:06:13] Absolutely. Over the last few years, there's been a tremendous amount of work at Arch to improve and strengthen the relationships that we have with our customers. And I'd say one of the most important factors for E&S casualty along the way was to make sure that we are enhancing our relevancy with those customers. In a few points on that. To achieve the objective includes gathering feedback and responding to it. So we made responsiveness one of our top priorities here because customer feedback time and time again has said, I really need a response, I need something quickly, even if it's not what I'm hoping to receive. I need to know where you stand. You know, show me a sign of life that you've you've received my request for help and get back to me quickly with something very clear and concise. So we've really made it an important goal of ours to improve that and be uber responsive. We also receive feedback from our customer on their greatest challenges, where they are attempting to be of value in the marketplace. It might be in an area that's quite challenged, and so we've listened to that feedback. We've worked on ways to build new products into the market in those areas rather than just turn them away because they might be too challenging. And a quick example of that could be we built a new play, an initiative in the the trucking market where we had not done that in the past. So getting that feedback we entered and it's been a really nice, rewarding initiative for us. And the last is our our focus on the customer experience overall. And we've done an incredible amount of internal training on how to improve that customer experience, and that's continuous. And it will be ongoing improvement no matter what the market cycle point is. Being there for the customer and providing that great experience is important to us.

Bethan: [00:08:46] Yeah, sticking with relationships and the customer experience, how was that all impacted by the COVID 19 pandemic and you know, not being able to meet with people face to face. How did it impact that sort of very relationship driven part of the market?

Jason: [00:09:05] Absolutely. You know, that was such a tremendous turn of events for everyone. And we were certainly not spared from the stay at home orders and shifting very quickly to working virtually, which we had limited experience within that area in the past. So we feel we did a nice job with that. One of the benefits of the transition, I would say, is it gave us a great opportunity to focus our attention on the job at hand. Meaning if we if we step back to the importance of being uber responsive, you know, staying at home and getting the job done was a was a very good way of servicing our customer effectively in a time where they really needed our products are quotes or indications or even our declarations quickly. Being there for them was a benefit to all of us. So productivity increased during that period. Like many others, we adopted technology that helped communicate both internally and externally. And I would say the virtual world has been very good for all of us. It allows. Just to distribute important information broadly. And that's been a great tool for us. I mean, this podcast by example is, you know, leaps and bounds from the marketing and advertising approach that we had pre-pandemic. And so we're learning and adapting and taking advantage of these new tools. With that said, we know that that great things happen when you are in person with others. That's both with coworkers and also with our customers. So we've now shifted toward enhancing our marketing and advertising to a multichannel approach where before it was largely the in-person experience. And we feel that's going to help let our our wholesale brokers get better access to what we offer and who they should be working with and how to contact that person, where we're able to distribute our new and creative initiatives so that they know what their market is up to, that would be arch and E&S casualty. And then we are building our relevancy as great as we can at this time in the market while things are so favorable. And so I liken it to we're collecting premium at this time, which is going to help carry us into the softening market cycle. The same goes for relationships. We're collecting as many relationships and strengthening those now so that when things do get more challenging, we'll be there for each other to get through them in a better way.

Bethan: [00:12:36] I like that sort of idea of strengthening both premiums and relationships is interesting. Jason, as you said, the pandemic accelerated digital and technical innovation, especially when it came to kind of communication and distribution, focusing on kind of the E&S wholesale market. How are new capabilities around data and analytics helping to enhance your offerings?

Jason: [00:13:04] They become critical in in helping us to navigate a very challenging liability environment. We have the luxury of 20 years of excellent data at our disposal, and we can look back and make very strong assumptions on what the future holds for us. And I would say that gives us a 3 to 5 year view of how things are going to change because we saw how they did in our history. We could say with the data we have that we are at a peak in the market opportunity and yet it's still good and it's still time to be bold. So it gives us the confidence to fight for our renewals and offer new business quotes, knowing what we know. And further, when a customer asks for help within some of these new industry segments say they have a need within a construction area that Arch has not currently been involved with. We can look to our data and we can build strategies for that new product with greater confidence. And so we can lean into that with a view of how that type of business had gone for us. Many, maybe it was many, many years ago. So it helps us get to that. Yes. That we talked about instead of declining due to the unknowns, if there's a particular industry segment that is underperforming for us, we can develop a defensive posture more quickly. And while that may not be what the broker is hoping for, we feel that it still benefits them because we can alert them to changes much sooner than we had in the past. So where in the past we may have had to have taken an abrupt halt to a particular business. We can maybe transition that more gracefully, and therefore they can deliver tougher messages with better information and education. And then last, I will. I'll just add. You know, we talked about the market being dynamic and energized. It's also, you know, to be honest, quite overwhelming. And there's there's a high volume of that business that needs to be serviced. And we have, you know, resources at our disposal that do get overwhelmed. And so we need to improve our efficiencies every single day to make sure that our team is still energized and is still effective. And I truly believe the next phase of arch is to adopt greater technology so that it can assist us with that upfront underwriting and be more efficient. And so we are doing investigations and and we're learning what is available, and we will soon be adopting that technology to help us along the way.

Bethan: [00:16:34] Mm hmm. That's great. It sounds like lots of exciting opportunities there. Building on that, Jason, can you give us a little bit of insight on sort of what's next for Arch in the marketplace? What would you say are your top priorities over the next two or three years?

Jason: [00:16:51] Top priority is to be the best E&S casualty carrier in the nation. And it sounds a little lofty, I know, but I think with that, that objective in mind, it gives us that strength to be bold and to expand by capturing these favorable market conditions while they are upon us. It gives us the the energy to engage with our customer by growing within those new initiatives, being responsive as as much as we can. We're going to revitalize dormant products so that we can continue to be relevant for our customers. And we're going to need to add fresh talent along the way because as mentioned, resources are needed and beyond just getting that support. We value the diversity of thought that that new folks bring to the table because there's always a way to do it better. And so the new the new talent that we've brought on recently has brought terrific ideas to help us in that endeavor. And then lastly, we'll continue to improve our efficiencies so that we can service our customer better at the end of the day.

Bethan: [00:18:21] Yeah, that's a very exciting and action packed agenda. And as you said, Jason, hopefully this dynamic marketplace will enable all of these things to happen. Jason, thank you very much for joining us on IBA Talk today. It's been great having you on the show.

Jason: [00:18:38] Thank you. Appreciate the opportunity.

Bethan: [00:18:41] Thanks also to our listeners for tuning in. I'm Bethan Moorcraft, senior editor at Insurance Business. Make sure you check out the rest of our podcast, IBTV episodes and Daily News at www.insurancebusiness/us. Thanks, everybody.

Narrator 2: [00:18:58] Thank you for listening to this episode of IBA Talk. For more from Jason and the team at Arch Insurance, visit them at insurance.arch group.com. Thank you for listening to IB talk for the latest episodes. Be sure to follow us on SoundCloud, Stitcher and Apple Podcasts.