WSIA 2018

New at the 2018 WSIA Marketplace: Networking, Speakers and More

Packed with networking opportunities and timely education sessions, this year’s WSIA Annual Marketplace is sure to satisfy.
By: | August 30, 2018 • 3 min read

August 1 marked a special anniversary for the Wholesale & Specialty Insurance Association (WSIA): One year has passed since AAMGA and NAPSLO partnered to create WSIA, a member services organization servicing the wholesale, specialty and surplus lines industry.


And feedback has been “extremely positive,” according to WSIA’s president, Jacqueline Schaendorf.

“Our events have grown. Our education programs were combined, and we’ve hosted over a dozen education programs as the new organization,” she said. “We also approved 50 new members this past year.

“The surplus lines segment continues to be strong financially,” added Schaendorf. “We see more growth in the market, which generally translates to growth in the organization.”

WSIA saw firsthand how its organization impacted and fostered opportunity for its members at the 2017 WSIA Annual Marketplace, which was the debut event showcasing the newly-formed partnership. Brady Kelley, executive director of WSIA, believes this year will top the record high attendees of last year.

The 2018 WSIA Annual Marketplace will be held in Atlanta at the Marriott Marquis Atlanta and Hyatt Regency Atlanta from Sept. 23 to Sept. 26. All four days are packed with networking and learning opportunities, from education sessions organized by WSIA’s U40 group to panels of executive leaders in the industry.

U40-Led Sessions and Other Exciting Opportunities

“The Marketplace is the premiere event for the wholesale, specialty and surplus lines market,” said Schaendorf. “Our mission is to facilitate successful networking and business meetings among our membership and foster education.”

Brady Kelley, executive director, Wholesale & Specialty Insurance Association

WSIA will do just that through offerings at its Annual Marketplace this year.

Of note, Kelley said, are the sessions organized by the U40 group made up of WSIA members age 40 and under. These individuals are recognized for their commitment to developing young talent for the surplus lines industry and engaging in the organization’s mission.

For the WSIA Annual Marketplace, the U40 group was tasked with finding top leaders and speakers in the industry and identifying education topics of interest.

“They all stand out,” Kelley said of the sessions planned. “The U40 group did an excellent job in choosing speakers and content relevant to the industry and to current events.”

“Insuring Political Violence and Active Shooter Situations,” presented by Paul Marshall of McGowan Program Administrators, will take place on Sept. 23, and cover how insurers can prepare and acquire resources for these unpredictable events.

WSIA’s U40 Education Session on Blockchain, held on Sept. 24 and featuring Srinivas Pulijala of Munich Re as a panelist, will answer the industry’s questions on blockchain and the role it can play in the surplus market.

“[The session] will answer how blockchain works and suggest solutions in securing insurance transaction data,” explained Kelley.

And on Sept. 25, WSIA’s U40 will host an Executive Panel made up of Joel Cavaness of RPS, Tim Stokes of Croton Stokes Wilson Holden, Tracy Wade of Maxum and Danielle Wade of Jackson Sumner & Associates.

“These are four strong, progressive speakers in key leadership roles,” said Kelley.

“AAMGA had a program specialist lounge, and we decided to bring it back for the Marketplace. We … thought adding it into the September conference would be equally beneficial.” — Brady Kelley, executive director, Wholesale & Specialty Insurance Association

During the panel, these leaders will answer audience questions and discuss the future of the surplus lines market, the challenges and opportunities E&S professionals might encounter during the next several years and anecdotes from their own experiences as leaders and professionals, he explained.


Afterwards, said Kelley, the U40 group and the panelists are holding a reception for all WSIA attendees, where conference-goers can further explore the themes touched on during the panel discussion.

New this year will be an AAMGA favorite: a program specialist lounge.

“This is an idea that came out of the merger. AAMGA had a program specialist lounge, and we decided to bring it back for the Marketplace,” explained Kelley. “We hosted it back at the WSIA Summit in April and thought adding it into the September conference would be equally beneficial for our members dedicated to program business.”

It’s an opportunity for program administrators to have a dedicated network space to meet with program specialists.

Attendees can keep informed before the WSIA Annual Marketplace through WSIA’s webpage, where the organization gathers legal/regulatory updates relevant to the E&S market, as well as offering other education programs.

When at the conference, members can download a mobile app for further information, updated with maps of the Atlanta locale, details about sessions and daily news updates of the conference. &

Autumn Heisler is the digital producer and a staff writer at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

4 Companies That Rocked It by Treating Injured Workers as Equals; Not Adversaries

The 2018 Teddy Award winners built their programs around people, not claims, and offer proof that a worker-centric approach is a smarter way to operate.
By: | October 30, 2018 • 3 min read

Across the workers’ compensation industry, the concept of a worker advocacy model has been around for a while, but has only seen notable adoption in recent years.

Even among those not adopting a formal advocacy approach, mindsets are shifting. Formerly claims-centric programs are becoming worker-centric and it’s a win all around: better outcomes; greater productivity; safer, healthier employees and a stronger bottom line.


That’s what you’ll see in this month’s issue of Risk & Insurance® when you read the profiles of the four recipients of the 2018 Theodore Roosevelt Workers’ Compensation and Disability Management Award, sponsored by PMA Companies. These four programs put workers front and center in everything they do.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top,” said Steve Legg, director of risk management for Starbucks.

Starbucks put claims reporting in the hands of its partners, an exemplary act of trust. The coffee company also put itself in workers’ shoes to identify and remove points of friction.

That led to a call center run by Starbucks’ TPA and a dedicated telephonic case management team so that partners can speak to a live person without the frustration of ‘phone tag’ and unanswered questions.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top.” — Steve Legg, director of risk management, Starbucks

Starbucks also implemented direct deposit for lost-time pay, eliminating stressful wait times for injured partners, and allowing them to focus on healing.

For Starbucks, as for all of the 2018 Teddy Award winners, the approach is netting measurable results. With higher partner satisfaction, it has seen a 50 percent decrease in litigation.

Teddy winner Main Line Health (MLH) adopted worker advocacy in a way that goes far beyond claims.

Employees who identify and report safety hazards can take credit for their actions by sending out a formal “Employee Safety Message” to nearly 11,000 mailboxes across the organization.

“The recognition is pretty cool,” said Steve Besack, system director, claims management and workers’ compensation for the health system.

MLH also takes a non-adversarial approach to workers with repeat injuries, seeing them as a resource for identifying areas of improvement.

“When you look at ‘repeat offenders’ in an unconventional way, they’re a great asset to the program, not a liability,” said Mike Miller, manager, workers’ compensation and employee safety for MLH.

Teddy winner Monmouth County, N.J. utilizes high-tech motion capture technology to reduce the chance of placing new hires in jobs that are likely to hurt them.

Monmouth County also adopted numerous wellness initiatives that help workers manage their weight and improve their wellbeing overall.

“You should see the looks on their faces when their cholesterol is down, they’ve lost weight and their blood sugar is better. We’ve had people lose 30 and 40 pounds,” said William McGuane, the county’s manager of benefits and workers’ compensation.


Do these sound like minor program elements? The math says otherwise: Claims severity has plunged from $5.5 million in 2009 to $1.3 million in 2017.

At the University of Pennsylvania, putting workers first means getting out from behind the desk and finding out what each one of them is tasked with, day in, day out — and looking for ways to make each of those tasks safer.

Regular observations across the sprawling campus have resulted in a phenomenal number of process and equipment changes that seem simple on their own, but in combination have created a substantially safer, healthier campus and improved employee morale.

UPenn’s workers’ comp costs, in the seven-digit figures in 2009, have been virtually cut in half.

Risk & Insurance® is proud to honor the work of these four organizations. We hope their stories inspire other organizations to be true partners with the employees they depend on. &

Michelle Kerr is associate editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]