How is the distribution landscape changing in insurance?

Francis Johnson, president of Johnson & Johnson Insurance, explains what led his company to be named as a five-star MGA, how it’s helping to simplify surplus lines insurance and how the distribution landscape is changing in insurance.


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Bethan: [00:00:13] Hi everyone and welcome to Insurance Business TV. I'm Bethan Moorcraft, senior editor, and in today's episode I am very delighted to welcome Francis Johnson president at Johnson & Johnson, one of insurance business, America's Five Star MGAs for 2022. Francis, welcome to IBTV.

Francis: [00:00:32] Thank you, Beth, and great to be here. Thanks for inviting me on the show.

Bethan: [00:00:37] It's great to have you on the show. So, Francis, congratulations on your five star award. Can you talk me through a few factors that you feel have led to your success in the past year?

Francis: [00:00:48] Thanks, Beth, and incredibly honored to be awarded the Five Star Award. You know, I think our relationships with our independent agencies is a big factor in that we focus a ton on our relationships with our agents and how we interact with them and also with our partner companies. It's very important to us how we interact and how we build relationships to us. That's the most important part of the insurance industry, is building strong relationships, trusting relationships. I think that's probably the biggest factor we've had. And throughout our COVID period in the last two years, we've made a huge point of contacting our agents, making sure they're okay, making sure that we're providing the services that they need during that time. And I think that's probably the biggest factor, huge for us in the relationship world.

Bethan: [00:01:47] Great. It's kind of proof in the pudding that insurance really is a people business. So so Francis, you know, surplus lines, access and surpluses can be complex for retail agents and dependent agents. How are you helping to simplify surplus lines, insurance for your agency partners and ultimately sort of increase their revenue?

Francis: [00:02:09] Yeah, that's and that's a great question. Excess and surplus science can be complex. It's actually melded a little bit into the admitted side. Not quite as complex in some instances today because of coastal issues and other catastrophe issues causing causing property, etc., to be excess and surplus lines driven. But what J&J does is we separate our business into two lines of business person lines and commercial lines. And inside of that we have specialty areas. And all of my underwriters study, get educated, only sell and underwrite in those specific areas and become professionals at it. I think that's our responsibility as a broker or in between to the provider, to the capital provider and to the actual independent agent or consumer. So we literally get it down to where everybody knows exactly what forms we write, what forms are on it, so we can educate the independent agent on the differences between an admitted product and an excess and surplus launch product. We break our business down, as I said, in personal commercial. We then break it down again into specific lines of business, from manufacturing homes to homeowners to high value, high net worth to private flood. On the personal lines, marine recreation, commercial lines. We do brokerage, small bonding authority, professional large, work comp and transportation. Everybody again studies those areas and is a professional in those lines. So we then can take that down to the independent agent and give them a great product that fits their needs.

Bethan: [00:03:55] That's great. Francis keen to get your thoughts on how the distribution landscape is changing and why MGA is like Johnson & Johnson are such a critical part of the solution these days.

Francis: [00:04:09] Yeah, well, obviously the landscape is changing with mergers and acquisitions. I've never seen the numbers that have been merged together and obviously there's some really big MGA and there are medium and then there are small MGAs. The smaller MGA is becoming fewer and fewer. So I think that landscape is changing. Then obviously digitization or digital transformation in the insurance space is happening. So we can see that going. But I think again, we wear two hats. We are relationship oriented to our product and capital providers and then we're relationship oriented to our independent agents. And people want to do business with people they trust. And I think we're an integral part of that. As you said, the INS is can be different and it can be complex. And it's it's our job and duty really to perform that for both our capital provider and our independent agent. And I just think that makes us a critical piece of that. We are down in the trenches in our territories where we do business. We know our territories. We actually embed people in all the communities we do business in. So we know those communities know what the needs are, pay taxes in those areas, and we think that's vital and crucial in the distribution product that that is the most important piece and why we think we are a critical piece to the distribution.

Bethan: [00:05:36] I mean, so obviously Johnson  & Johnson is very focused, as you've said, on that relationship side of the business. But I know as well in recent years that you've made quite a lot of investments in technology and sort of digital tools to sort of improve the business. Can you tell me about that and how sort of these investments position you as a best in class MGA?

Francis: [00:05:57] Yeah, thank you for that, Beth. And we have we've made a lot of investment in our technology. We actually create our own technology. So we have from programmers and business analysts, I think we have 35 people who work on our products each and every day. Our job is to make it very easy. On transactional business, anything less than, say, $5,000 should be as easy as that can be for our independent agent to produce. They also should be able to produce that on a 24/7 basis at any time. They need to be working on it. They should be able to work on that. So we are working on Outward Facing, allowing the agents to access our systems. 24 seven You know, in this in the new COVID world, remote work, etc., people want to work when they need to work. People have other things to do. So our job, I think on transactional business is to give them that ability to do everything they need to do inside of our system. So outward facing easy, we can data source for them so we can make sure that the data that they're receiving is correct. And we are making a huge push to be the best in class on that small transactional business, making it easy for everybody and personal lives and commercial lines to do their business with us at any time they want to do it and that we can then access back to them at any time they need for us. And that would include from quoting to binding to issuance to billing. And then to be able to look at your account at any time, day or night, and see exactly where that is in our system.

Bethan: [00:07:48] So interesting. It sounds like lots of exciting developments happening there. So, Francis, looking ahead, obviously you've had a great few years. Looking ahead, what's next for Johnson & Johnson? Where do you see the business going in the next few years?

Francis: [00:08:02] Yeah, I wish I had a crystal ball. I would love to know what I can tell you what some of the things we are looking to do. So we're looking to continue to expand. We would like to expand and become a national footprint. Today we are basically East Coast. We'd love to be a national footprint. We will continue down the path of our technology, trying to become one of the best of the best and transactional business. And we will continue our march to relationship oriented business. And we in 2019, before COVID made 14,000 independent agent visits to ask for the business and teach about how we do business, we will begin to do that again. We're looking this year to do another 14 to 15000 visits. Again, just creating that relationship, having people understand how we do business and we'll continue down that path. We think that is probably one of the most important things that we do at J&J. So expansion, I.T. oriented, relationship building, we will continue down that path. We think that's the best of the best to be one of the hopefully, again, a five star MGA as we move forward.

Bethan: [00:09:21] So Francis for agents who are keen to work with Johnson & Johnson was the best way for them to get in touch and find out more about you?

Francis: [00:09:29] Beth. And thanks for that question. I think the easiest way to get in touch with us is our website at That site then provides them with benefits to doing business with us. They can apply to become an agent and or producer for us and also gives them some history. And Who's Who and J&J.

Bethan: [00:09:54] Well, Francis, best of luck with that. It sounds like you've got lots on the go and it's very exciting. Congratulations once again on your five star award and thank you very much for joining us on IBTV.

Francis: [00:10:05] Thank you, Beth. And again, we are incredibly humbled to be listened to that by our partners and vetted on that by our partners. Thank you very much.

Bethan: [00:10:15] Thank you for joining us. Thanks also to our viewers for tuning in. I'm Bethan Moorcraft, senior editor at Insurance Business. Make sure you check out the rest of our TV episodes. IB Talk and daily news at Thanks everyone.