Retail brokers can sometimes feel like a “number” when they approach a big wholesaler or MGA, but this should not be an experience that they have to put themselves through, according to Greg Liewald (pictured), Falvey Insurance Group senior vice president – wholesale brokerage operations.
Falvey launched its wholesale division earlier this month, just in time for the Wholesale & Specialty Insurance Association’s annual marketplace in San Diego.
The unit is plotting quick growth and is targeting a nine-digit premium figure within “a handful of years”, according to Liewald.
“I think sometimes, and I’m not saying in all instances, agents can get lost in the mix of some of the larger shops,” Liewald told Insurance Business. “Our focus is to make sure that our clients are getting the attention they need versus just being kind of a number.”
Liewald, who joined Falvey from USG Insurance in January to head up the division, has ambitions to provide great service for retail brokers and further build on Falvey’s reputation with its clients.
“This is about us continuing the service and expertise that they currently receive through Falvey’s other products,” Liewald said.
Falvey has been active in the managing general agent (MGA) space for more than 25 years and works with more than 1,000 agents.
The launch of the wholesale division is expected to plug a “lost opportunity” gap for the business, according to Liewald, with Falvey keen to offer access to products that are outside its typical program appetite to its growing roster of agent partners.
“[Falvey] decided that they could handle the customers that they currently have and be able to give them the same great service that that they’ve been giving for years,” Liewald said.
“An MGA has a product and they write within a box – and outside of that, the business goes elsewhere; if you can’t write it, it goes somewhere else,” he pointed out.
Having a wholesale division will mean that for areas of business not covered by a Falvey program the MGA will be able to broker these out and find solutions, meaning the client can be kept within the firm.
“It complements, it supports, and it rounds out our product suites,” the wholesale division boss said.
Traditionally a marine and logistics MGA, Falvey’s new unit will, for now, continue to concentrate on this space.
Products in focus include motor truck cargo, warehouse, legal, and product recall – “because we’re shipping a lot of these products,” Liewald said.
On the inland marine side it will look to builder’s risk, as well as active shooter, an area that can be a bit of a “dicey product” where there has been “an uptick unfortunately”, Liewald said.
“Those are what I would say our main focuses are, and I’m looking to do some of the more difficult to place stuff within that space as well,” Liewald said.
Moving forwards there is scope for expansion into other areas.
“Our current goal is to dovetail around the products that we have and offer additional products in the space to our agents, but down the road, it could grow,” Liewald said.
As for where the wholesale division may look to branch out, given Liewald’s construction expertise he speculated that this could be a good place to start while environmental is another area it could look to.
“It could, it could not be,” he caveated. “But we have the opportunity to do what we want based on our clients’ needs, which is really cool.”
Maintaining and building on strong relationships with London and Lloyd’s firms will be a key component of the division’s success, according to Liewald.
“We’re the largest coverholder in London for cargo,” Liewald said.
“I want to leverage that access point to really help some of the retail agents and to give them better access to London for hard to place business.”
“The good thing about having us with access to Lloyd’s is, we’re already talking about potentially producing new and unique products for Falvey on the brokerage side, and a lot of that’s going to depend on what we start seeing [in terms of appetite],” Liewald added. “That’s also the beauty of being on the smaller side and new – we’re nimble, and we have terrific relationships in London.”
Alliances will not be limited to Lloyd’s, with domestic carriers also very much in the frame.
“We are looking at possibilities for new products and programs here as well, based on what our clients’ needs are,” Liewald said.
In Liewald’s experience, retail brokers can sometimes be unsure about what exact product they need to access for their client.
This has been the case on the construction side and Liewald said he is already seeing this in the marine and logistics space following a period of rapid change and the growth of players like Amazon.
“The market is ripe for people that can help these agents properly insure their clients, as we’re seeing a lot more of them,” Liewald said. “We feel like now is a great time to be in this space.”