Some of us in the MGA sector will remember how, in the awful aftermath of 9/11, one unexpected casualty of that attack were some members of the MGA community that saw their underwriting capacity withdrawn.
Could the current turn of events in the Atlantic, which started with the unpredicted rain dominance of Harvey followed by the ongoing devastating Irma and unknown potential of Jose and Katia, cause a dramatic change in the direction of the market that leaves some MGAs with capacity issues as they suddenly were in 2001?
As the MGA market has evolved and been embraced by many market players we have seen a diversified environment with many standalone MGAs aligned to and with capacity from larger carriers, be they Lloyd’s players, smaller insurers or the reinsurer behemoths.
Many, myself included, have extolled the virtues of these structures as they offer many positives for both sides, by allowing large carriers to trial new classes and MGAs to benefit from the financial strength and expertise of their capacity providers.
However, I would like to add a note of caution to the general positive picture for these MGAs. The advantages of being aligned to one in particular could quickly disappear if it chooses to reallocate capital away from the MGA. Whether that reallocation is in response to a negative financial impact from a large loss or to access the opportunities that a market moving event creates, non-core MGAs can sometimes be the losers.
Perhaps some MGAs should be considering their response should current events cause their capacity providers to have a change of heart and remove or reduce their support.
Independently managed and owned MGAs, such as those managed by Asta, which itself is independent, are, in contrast, able to access a range of capital providers and flexibly look around the market should catastrophic events over take their existing carrier. This model may be more appropriate for MGA owners looking for control over their own destiny, not just in terms of the capital providers it is able to partner with, but in the value of any final exit strategy they are able to achieve.
As I and much of the rest of the market head to Monte Carlo, there is little doubt in my mind that the implications of the recent and still developing devastating events in the Caribbean and southern United States will be near the top of everyone’s agenda. MGAs, particularly those in specific niches, may believe that it has little to do with them, however, I would urge them to reconsider what, if anything, a run of North Atlantic hurricanes might mean for them.
John Holm has a strong background of corporate banking in the City, specialising over the last 30 years in relationship banking, debt origination, and M&A transactions in the insurance sector across the UK, Europe, Bermuda and North America.
After senior roles within RBS, National Australia Bank and Clydesdale Bank, John moved to a new role within Capita Insurance Services Ltd where he worked with start-up Managing General Agencies (MGAs), providing working capital, taking minority equity stakes and NED roles on behalf of Capita.
John moved to Asta in 2015 as MGA Executive, working on the development of Asta’s MGA platform and developing a new business pipeline of MGA investment transactions.
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