The MGA’s managing director explains why the firm is ‘not a computer says no type of organisation’

This year, personal and commercial lines MGA Prestige Underwriting celebrates its silver jubilee, marking 25 years since the MGA began offering a range of non-standard and bespoke insurance products across the UK, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland.

So, being awarded an overall five star rating in Insurance Times’ Five Star Rating Report: MGA market 2022, published in November 2022, has been an extra cause for celebration.

According to Prestige Underwriting’s managing director, Alison Williams, the firm’s partnership approach is key in terms of the business delivering successfully for brokers and other key stakeholders.

Williams tells Insurance Times: “It’s our second year of getting five stars and I’m elated. I’m very proud of the relationships we have with our brokers [that] voted and very proud of the Prestige team.

“We took note of the feedback last year. We took it on board, listened and made improvements in some areas where [brokers] said we needed to improve. Insurance is a relationship business and our relationship with our brokers is paramount.

“We’ve evolved a lot. We’ve been around 25 years, so this is our silver jubilee year. We were the original non-standard MGA and the market has evolved hugely [during our years in business]. There have been times when we have not kept pace with the change.

“We’ve invested a lot in the past two years. Covid was a difficult time for everybody, but we’ve invested heavily in our pricing team and around the wellbeing of our staff, which is something that we hadn’t always done.

“One thing that sets us [apart] from some of our competitors is the strength of our underwriting expertise and we work hard at keeping their knowledge current.”

Being accessible

Prestige Underwriting’s commitment to relationships and broker engagement is evident from the firm’s revised strapline - ‘Partnerships are the best policy’ - which the MGA implemented in April 2020.

Williams says the aim of adopting this slogan is to help improve engagement with both brokers and capacity partners.

She adds: “People can talk to the decision-makers, but they actually get to talk to an underwriter as well. We are not a ‘computer says no’ type of organisation.

“We underwrite non-standard business. We have no issues with our head of pricing or head of underwriting going out and having meetings with brokers. So, accessibility is one thing that sets us apart.”

Alison Williams

Alison Williams

Capacity stability

Insurance Times’ 2022 survey found that the majority of its 1,300 broker respondents are concerned about the prospect of capacity being removed from an MGA. Williams agrees that capacity is critical to the success of any MGA and that without, it they wouldn’t even exist.

Williams says: “We moved our capacity just as Covid started.

“We moved our home capacity to Aviva. We took the decision to only ever use rated capacity. It took us 20 months before we found motor capacity, but that was a conscious decision. It caused pain for us and I know it caused pain for our brokers having to replace those risks.

“Stability of capacity is very important for us and we have some great, long-term deals in place now. We are continuing to build upon them.”

Capacity isn’t the only hot topic on Williams’ mind, however.

She continues: “It is a difficult market at the moment - it is a volatile market, particularly around inflation.

“We need to make sure that we continue to provide competitive products and products that our brokers want to sell.

“The cost of living is something that’s clearly going to be important for everybody over the next 12 months and we need to make sure we act on that.”