Nick Wright, chief business development officer at Pen Underwriting, talks to Insurance Times following the release of the Five Star Rating Report – MGA Market 2023/24

In the Five Star Rating Report – MGA Market 2023/24, which was officially launched in full today (10 January 2024), Pen Underwriting was awarded a four star rating.


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This was an improvment on 2022/23’s result, when the firm achieved a three star rating, and represents a continued positive trajectory from the two star rating it achieved in 2021/22. 

Brokers also improved their broker service ratings for Pen Underwriting year-on-year, with the MGA’s rating rising 0.35 from the last report to reach a total of 4.55 in this year’s report. 

Nick Wright, the firm’s chief business development officer, spoke to Insurance Times about its results.

1. What is your reaction to the star rating awarded by brokers and the positive journey Pen has been on over the last three years in the survey?

We are obviously delighted to receive affirmation from our customers that they have seen and felt improvement in our service to them over the last number of years.

As Pen, we are totally committed to providing our brokers with solutions that help them win and retain business – whether that is transacted digitally, face to face or over the phone – and will continue to invest in multi-channel platforms that maximise the accessibility and responsiveness of our teams.”

2. How would you respond to broker concerns about the threat of arrangements at MGAs being withdrawn or altered in a precarious market?

We’d urge brokers to focus on dealing with MGAs that prioritise underwriting discipline, long-term partnerships and have the actuarial and analytics capabilities to proactively manage underwriting performance and hit target loss ratios.

Loss ratios are lifeblood and consistently hitting them leaves an MGA best placed to secure alternative capacity should an insurer partner make a strategic decision to exit a line of business or territory.

Equally, no MGA is immune to macroeconomic, market-wide or portfolio-level pressures that make certain risk areas very challenging to write, so be open to working with your MGA partners to add rate or remediate books as required to sustain the availability of those solutions.

3. What key developments took place at Pen over the last 12 months and what are you working on for the next year?

We’ve invested in a number of areas, be that telephony to ensure our underwriters are readily available to our brokers, or our own and third party platforms to digitalise more of our offerings.

Nick Wright Pen Underwriting

Nick Wright 

Most recently, we launched Penny, our new chatbot, to help brokers navigate Pen in a quicker and more efficient way.

We also entered marine by acquiring six internationally focused MGAs in two key deals, which not only brought in fresh talent to offer compelling new solutions for our brokers, but also established our first physical presence outside the UK and created a platform for wider international expansion.

4. What trading support does Pen provide to brokers in the UK?

Pen’s model provides support for brokers across underwriting, claims and distribution and omnichannel engagement is key.

For example, we have our network of UK offices, which enables brokers to trade with local underwriters, as well as our telephone account management (TAM) team.

We also continue to invest in our online trading platforms where brokers can quote and bind a myriad of risks ranging from D&O and terrorism to cyber and non-standard household.

And our regionally based development team, whose members are on hand to create solutions for customers, ensures even our most niche products are readily available to all our brokers.

5. What do you think will be Pen’s biggest challenge and how are you preparing to meet it? 

One of the biggest challenges we face is ensuring all our brokers are aware of the full breadth and depth of Pen’s increasingly diverse product offering.

To do this, we actively use a mix of social media, our TAM team, our local and specialist underwriters, our trading teams and our business development managers so that brokers know just how many business and consumer risks and exposures Pen can help mitigate and manage with effective insurance solutions.

And 2024 will only see us continue to invest in and expand that range.

6. How are you aiming to achieve a five star rating next year?

By continuing to focus on what we are already doing and investing in team trading facilitation – whether that’s greater digitalisation or in-person facilities, like our new trading floor presence at Lloyd’s, investing in product innovation and supporting systems and keeping customer service training at the top of our annual programme.

We have a can-do culture at Pen and customer centricity is our watchword. Every senior leader right across our business has already set out their focus areas for 2024 to ensure they continue to deliver what our brokers need to best support their customers.

7. What is the importance of specialism to Pen and the brokers you serve?

Niche practices run by empowered underwriters are what Pen is good at and a key foundation upon which our business has been built – be that construction, tech sector, fuel distributors, cyber, solicitors PI and many more.

We also continually evaluate opportunities to expand that range of specialisms – diversifying into international marine risks in 2023 through two fantastic acquisitions as well as into intellectual property via strategic hire.

For our brokers, that means Pen offers choice and alternative risk solutions in what can be limited markets, plus the ability for them to win and retain business across an ever greater spread of insurance risks.

8. How does Pen aim to provide simple ease of access and clear service level agreements?

As mentioned, Pen intentionally maintains numerous ways our brokers can interact and trade with us, whether that’s traditional face to face, over phone or email, or digitally via third party platforms or our own.

Being easy to do business with drives our investment across all those channels, anchored in giving brokers choice as to how and when they access our people and products.

We also have a dedicated customer service committee with representatives from every trading division within Pen as well as support functions, to ensure the paramount importance of customer consideration and delivery remains a dominant priority.”

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