MGA association may only be weeks away

The creation of a Canadian Managing General Agents association may be just around the corner, as MGAs throughout the country can expect to see membership invitations anytime now.

Risk Management News


The creation of a Canadian Managing General Agents association may be just around the corner, as MGAs throughout the country can expect to see membership invitations anytime now.

“We have a mandate to essentially move forward,” says Mark Woodall, of Special Risk Insurance Managers in Vancouver, B.C. “Within the next 10 days, we will be emailing MGAs, offering memberships and appointing committee heads. It is our hope that we are moving forward with this.”

It is Woodall, along with Grant Kimball  of Angus-Miller Ltd. in Saint John, N.B. and the executive director of the American Association of Managing General Agents Bernie Heinze, who have been the driving force being the creation of the Canadian MGA association.

And by drawing upon the U.S. template and their experience that dates back almost nine decades, Woodall and Kimball hope to have the groundwork laid within weeks.

“The biggest plus is we won’t have to recreate the wheel,” Kimball told Insurance Business. “When Mark and I attended the AAMGA conference in Hawaii, we could see that they’ve dealt with a lot of the issues we are currently facing here.”

The decision to take advantage of a partnership with the AAMGA when MGAs gathered to discuss forming an association.

“We had a meeting in Toronto a little over a year ago, hosted by Lloyds, and at that time the MGAs in the room said they would like to form an association,” says Kimball. “And luckily for us, the AAMGA was discussed by Hank Watkins, who was the American representative of Lloyd’s. So it really piqued our interest, Mark and I.”

Woodall and Kimball formed a steering committee following that meeting to see what form of Canadian association of MGAs would take shape. (continued.)

“There are a lot of things happening in the industry,” says Kimball, “and it helps to have common minds in a room that think through things – and that is a general overview of what we’re doing.”

It is the growth of the MGA sector in the insurance industry in the last decade that has created the need for an association, says Woodall, which now amounts to roughly 92 companies across Canada writing more than $1 billion in business.

And it is the growth of the internet that is facilitating the exchange of information and underwriting expertise no matter what the distances in geography are, Kimball points out.

“I am one of two MGAs in the Maritimes,” says Kimball, “and it was a great boost when I attended a recent conference and was with 65 other MGAs in the room.”

More than just strength in numbers, Kimball sees a strong relationship with the American MGA association as benefitting MGAs north of the border as well.

“I’ll give you an example. I was at the University West program in Arizona earlier this year, and I met up with someone who specializes in oil and gas insurance; and as we all know oil and gas is getting to be a pretty big deal here in Canada,” says Kimball, “in particular the east-west pipeline that will end in Saint John.

“Well, I now have a contact in the U.S. that I can call up and say, ‘What are your viewpoints on pipelines? Natural gas extraction?’ They’ve all gone through this before,” says Kimball, “whereas perhaps a domestic insurer in Canada really doesn’t specialize in that sort of thing.”

And there is a lot that can be shared between American and Canadian MGAs that should make life easier, says Heinze.

“A lot of the manuscript forms that work in the U.S. can work in Canada,” he says. “In those unique coverages, like oil, gas, marine, inland marine and personal jewellery and those types of schedules, as well as on cyber and the Ebola programs, we can share that type of information and benefit the consumer accordingly.”


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