The Target Markets Program Administrators Association (TMPAA) Mid-Year Meeting took place on May 1–3. The TMPAA is an organization of managing general agents (MGAs), program administrators (PAs), carriers, and service providers dedicated to the unique challenges of program specialists and focused on insurance products targeted at a niche market or class, generally representing a book of similar risks placed with one carrier. Administrative responsibilities may include underwriting selection, binding, issuing, billing, data gathering, claims management, and loss control.
Our Gallagher Bassett Carrier Practice team (Amy O’Brien, VP — Carrier Practice Sales, Bob Morris, VP, Gary Leonard, EVP Director of Account Management, and more) took full advantage of the ample networking and educational panels while discussing opportunities to collaborate and prosper in the program business space.
Since this time last year, what changes have you seen across Target Markets events?
Amy O’Brien (AO): The events continue to see record numbers of attendees. TMPAA is the association for the programs marketplace, and they continue to produce excellent content for conference panels. The Mid-Year Meeting provides access to 80+ program carriers, including program administrators, London Markets; reinsurance support; and networking opportunities for our team.
Bob Morris (BM): One of the key themes in my conversations with attendees was the search for talent in the program space. Additionally, many reported the unique challenges the larger MGAs/MGUs face as they strive to grow, with some looking for acquisition targets.
Gary Leonard (GL): The specialty and alternative markets have been growing in recent years, driven by cyclical and structural factors. In 2022, the programs sector accounted for an estimated $70 billion in premiums, a growth of more than 30% since 2020. TMPAA consistently delivers a great variety of subject-matter experts and presentations covering the most pressing topics our clients are interested in unpacking.
What were the most common themes in presentations you attended at the event?
AO: In particular, one Town Hall aimed at PAs focused on outsourcing services that support the rate/quote/bind and underwriting processes—and in some cases, even the full outsourcing of underwriting. These “strategic partnerships” were cited as “important for growth.” The panelists spoke about the importance of feeling aligned with those partners—knowing their leadership, culture, HR approach, processes, and procedures. For example, some have outsourced day- or night-shift partners to turn around quotes quickly for PAs. The focus here was global partners (outside the US) and the importance that all employees understand the social norms of their international team and build relationships—celebrate with them, visit with them, host video calls with them—for true partnerships.
Another topic was the importance of data and metrics to measure the quality of work. Panelists spoke of the outstanding speed and accuracy of their outsourced partners. They also discussed the risks associated with outsourcing and that organizations should have a readily available backup or comprehensive Plan B in case of an emergency.
What conversations did you have with event attendees that most intrigued you?
AO: The topic of specialty lines came up often in our meetings—professional liability, cyber, D&O, E&O, lawyers’ liability, general liability, and construction and transportation/trucking claims. Additionally, we heard the need for claims professionals with the necessary background and skills to manage these lines. We found MGAs who currently handle some claims in-house but are looking for an agile partner to outsource claims for newly developing programs, given the challenging labor market. And in many discussions, PAs and carriers were looking for excellent customer service and reliable claims handling—what I call “the basics.” When meeting with newer carriers, I heard a mix of some looking to work with Best-in-Class MGAs and others looking to work with start-ups.
GL: Through discussions with brokers, producers, MGAs, and senior leaders, it became abundantly clear that many claims organizations (carriers, those who self-administer, and other TPAs in the space) do not have the in-depth institutional knowledge that is necessary to manage high severity claims successfully.
What topics do you think will continue to be top-of-mind in the specialist space throughout 2023?
AO: The increased competition for top talent has made it more difficult for PAs and MGAs to retain experts who live and breathe their underwriting claims specialization. The ability to add to staff and remain agile as new programs develop is extremely important, as is the need to recruit, train, and support new and young entrants into this industry. Additionally, PAs are looking for TPA partners who understand specific MGA program verticals, including transportation, construction, the public sector, and cyber, to name a few.
GL: It is vital in today’s environment of increasing severity and nuclear verdicts to have proven experts managing your cases. Across specialty lines, this could not be truer; knowing when, why, and how to settle a claim early in the process requires expertise that only experienced claims attorneys and professionals can provide. For example, knowledge of jurisdictions, key players (plaintiff firm/lawyer), and co-defending carriers provides clients with the leverage they need to make informed decisions on a case-by-case basis.
BM: As the cost of claims continues to rise, choosing the right claims partner has never been more critical. Having the right program manager and carrier partner only works if the team includes the right claims handler. Any program is only as good as its weakest link; therefore, the claims handler needs to be an asset to the program.
How can specialists engage with partners like GB to solve pain points?
GL: Specialty lines written through PAs and MGAs require a specialized claims operation to mitigate their risk, and GB offers a robust team of specialists that can easily adapt to these risks. Partnering with GB provides PAs and MGAs access to claims professionals with deep technical expertise across all lines of coverage, complexities, and specialized liability.
AO: GB’s Carrier Practice is like no other claims management firm. We are a boutique within the larger GB network, and our team is dedicated to serving programs and understanding the needs of every program stakeholder. Our award-winning Luminos RMIS system provides timely, accurate, and succinct data points, dashboards, and analytics. We have recruiters constantly working to maintain a bench of emerging talent while supporting the development of professionals already progressing through their careers. Our team includes experts in claims outsourcing for programs, captives, and insurance companies. Finally, our organization consistently prioritizes investing in our ability to deliver detailed reporting on claims management, loss prevention cycles, closure ratios, cost per claim, and expenses, leading to improved underwriting outcomes and growth opportunities and positioning us to be the TPA of choice for MGAs, PAs, and carriers.
To connect with our team of experts, book a free consultation here.