Multi-Line Carriers Offer Specialty Agents, Customers More Choices and Opportunity
Historically, agents focused on specialty lines have turned to specialist underwriters for their extensive industry expertise.
However, as the specialty universe has grown into a roughly $80 billion marketplace, leading multi-line property and casualty insurance carriers have also successfully developed dedicated specialty capabilities, providing important capabilities for their key agent partners and others in a space once dominated by smaller, niche carriers.
“With multi-line carriers in the game in a big way, agents now can capitalize even more on their long-term relationships with these carriers, while providing their clients with quality insurance protection and enhanced customer service across a variety of lines of business,” said Bryan Salvatore, President, Hanover Specialty at The Hanover Insurance Group, Inc.
Fortunately, multi-line carriers are expanding their portfolios and their presence in the market at an opportune time, with the market experiencing some challenges in recent years and some carriers adjusting their approaches to specialty product lines.
As trends have emerged, some carriers have taken corrective underwriting actions on their portfolios, affecting numerous coverages, including management liability, certain professional liability, excess and surplus and more.
Also, specialty lines by nature tend to be more volatile than standard lines. When working with carriers that only write one or two lines of business, agents and their clients can be more exposed to cyclical changes.
All of this activity creates uncertainty and makes it challenging for agents to provide a reliable customer experience. Agents want assurance that their carrier partners will be there to serve their clients over the long term.
Multi-line carriers in the space recognize most businesses also need additional coverages, including property, general liability and workers’ compensation and can address those needs.
“Agents focused on specialty lines can find value in carrier partners that have well-established operations with expertise across multiple practices,” said Salvatore. “These carriers can provide solutions for a wide range of exposures, both within the specialty lines and beyond.”
With this in mind, some leading multi-line carriers have developed diverse sets of specialized products and the requisite underwriting expertise to deliver tailored solutions to the market, allowing them to combine specialty coverages with other coverages to address broader customer and agent needs.
Working with carriers that offer both endorsements and standalone coverage options can also better serve a wider range of clients. Some clients may have relatively simple specialty needs that can be addressed with an endorsement. Others are more complex. For example, having the option to add a cyber endorsement onto a business owner’s policy can provide an important level of protection. Alternatively, standalone coverages can address the more complex risks.
Partnerships with multi-line carriers can improve the agent and client experience, providing a single bill and more streamlined customer service. By extending coverage with a single carrier, agencies can offer improved protection for their clients while reducing their agencies’ exposure to errors and omissions claims. The result is increased operational efficiency, an improved customer experience and, ultimately, better client satisfaction and retention.
In addition to more comprehensive coverage offerings, multi-line carriers offer added value in other areas, including more integrated claims and robust risk management solutions. More sophisticated multi-line carriers have highly specialized in-house claims staff, unlike some niche carriers that outsource these essential services to third parties.
Similarly, agents can take advantage of service centers offered by some multi-line carriers. Service centers equipped to manage specialty lines can increase agency efficiency, improve customer retention and free agency staff to focus more time on sales.
“My own company is a good example,” said Salvatore. “We have invested heavily over the past 10 years to build a dedicated set of specialized products and the corresponding underwriting expertise, enabling us to grow our specialty business to the approximately $1 billion mark and bring customized solutions to the market.
“Our goal is to solve a broad range of customer and agent needs, with account-oriented solutions, making a difference for both agents and clients.”
The Hanover’s specialty strategy is built around three tenets: deep specialization, product diversification and seamless coordination of delivery. The combination of these three tenets differentiates The Hanover from many of its competitors.
“Beyond expanding capabilities, we are focused on investing in capabilities and services that provide our agents with more choice, allowing them to customize insurance solutions for a wide range of specialty clients,” said Salvatore.
In an increasingly volatile specialty market, agents can create mutually beneficial partnerships with multi-line carriers that can help them enhance their competitive position in the market.
Partnering with established carriers that offer multi-line solutions and deep expertise enables agents to provide their clients with the comprehensive, high-quality insurance coverage they need.
To learn more, please visit www.hanover.com.