MGAs respond to turnaround time concern

After an IBA survey of agents on MGAs, wholesalers have come up with answers to turnaround time angst.

Workers Comp


According to results of a recent Insurance Business America survey, MGAs face the same basic feedback. At the top of most agents’ wish lists is faster underwriting turnaround times.

Underwriting responsiveness and turnaround times ranked highest on the list of agent priorities, according the IBA survey. Despite that universal consensus, however, agents seem fairly dissatisfied with their MGAs’ performances. Underwriting performance ranked as the fourth worst-performing area, behind marketing support, automation and claims responsiveness.

Cathy Baldwin, director of marketing and communication with J.M. Wilson in Portage, Mich., says she understands the need for prompt responses from MGAs. However, the demands of the underwriting process may necessitate more careful thought than agents realize.

“Sometimes, I think agents might not be aware of the decisions that go into the markets we use. It’s not just plugging in numbers and rating it up,” Baldwin says. “The fact that we are looking at so many diverse markets—especially on the E&S side—means the underwriter has a lot of choices.”

Underwriters at J.M. Wilson do try to send an initial response to a quote request within 24 hours, whether it is the quote itself or an explanation of why the request is taking longer to process, Baldwin added.

That quick response has now become the focus of many MGAs, particularly those who want to attract top-performing agents.

“I started on the retail side of the business, and I know the importance of getting something back quickly. I may not have the cheapest option out there, but if I can get it to the agent within 24 hours, I have the best option to sell,” says Brent Wright of Towerstone. “A lot of our agents come to us because they know we’ll respond to them one way or the other.”

In order to ensure a speedy turnaround time, both Wright and Baldwin urged agents to complete applications fully and communicate their needs well in advance.

“The more information they can possibly give us to obtain what they need is helpful—especially up front,” Baldwin says. “We would just as soon have them pick up the phone to talk to us about the account—when they need the quote, the price range required and what carriers they’ve already approached so we don’t end up spinning our wheels.”

Common areas where agents seem to trip up include leaving umbrella applications blank, not sharing information on underlying workers compensation or auto requirements and not filling out a description of operations on the Acord 125 application.

“When I see submissions where agents don’t take the time to fill everything out they go to the bottom of the pile,” says Wright.

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