MPR Underwriting’s managing director Neil McCarthy promises that the MGA’s strategy will continue to be ‘broker led’

The Five Star Rating Report: MGA 2021/22 - compiled by Insurance Times - is out now. What is your reaction to the five star rating awarded to MPR Underwriting by brokers?

Thrilled and also a little relieved. When we set up MPR Underwriting, brokers were at the heart of our proposition and one of the key areas we felt was missing in the market was an experienced, advice-backed, high quality service solution. Having done incredibly well to achieve the five star rating in 2020, we had set a high standard early in the lifecycle of the business.

To achieve five stars again in 2021 from the partners on whom the business is centred was terrifically satisfying, but we were also relieved that our brokers confirmed that we had continued to deliver against our ambitions to be the leading financial lines insurer in the regional market.

In an environment where our brokers tell us that it has been difficult to access underwriters, we have provided unrestricted access through our flexible operating model and the survey results confirm our performance standards were as strong as they have been since we started over four years ago.

In this year’s survey, which polled more than 1,000 brokers, we found that 7% of respondents were extremely concerned about the prospect of capacity being removed from an MGA, while 69% were moderately or very concerned about this. How do you reassure broker partners about this?

We totally understand these concerns, but would tend to view them in a slightly different way and within the wider context of developments in the financial lines market.

In recent years, brokers have lost one of their major financial lines markets completely through a total withdrawal. The largest participant has also undergone a radical strategic transformation and most others have adjusted their positions, so the market in our lines of cover has changed beyond recognition.

A more established and uniquely positioned MGA may, therefore, have more agility and stability than any of its corporate counterparts. Having created an organisation that is fundamentally built around the people that are in it might have created more certainty and consistency for our brokers.

It is never possible to remove these concerns completely, but they are a function of the whole market dynamic, of which MGAs are a component.

There will inevitably be a series of challenges for the MGA market over the next 12 months - what do you think will be your MGA’s biggest challenge and how do you aim to tackle this?

We have set ourselves very high standards, so one of our challenges will be to maintain these over the coming 12 months.

As our profile grows and as market changes permeate, brokers will continue to seek high quality, experienced, superior, service-based underwriting solutions. We absolutely have to continue to deliver against the promises we have made to our broker partners since we started trading over four years ago, but there are some equally high quality brokers, many of which are newly established, with whom we will have opportunities to trade.

Our challenge, therefore, lies in delivering against the five star credentials to all our broker estate. The ongoing recruitment of the highest quality talent will allow us to calibrate our response, as will the development of younger and less experienced individuals through our apprentice scheme and other initiatives.

The lines of business that we operate in have undergone radical recent change and the pandemic has supplemented this narrative. Our vast experience and our case by case underwriting approach is perfectly tailored to meet any challenges that present themselves.

What new products or service developments do you have in store for the broker community across the next 12 months?

We will continue to deliver products and services that our brokers tell us they would like to see.

We recently introduced a management liability policy for portfolio companies to deliver against a specific requirement. We will continue to be responsive to the market and adjust our contracts as we keep abreast of developments. We absolutely cannot let our standards slip as we grow, so we will be focused on maintaining the levels that we have achieved to date.

It is likely we will add to the team to support the service proposition, but our strategy will be broker led, as it has been from day one, so we hope to be out and engaging with our brokers to understand what they need from their carriers. We will also continue to deliver the technical content that is strongly associated with our brand.

In terms of the Insurance Times MGA Data Insight Book, which can be bought alongside the main report, what insight and feedback from brokers really stood out to you and why?

Five years ago, we had a simple ambition to create the leading regional financial lines insurance provider. Since then, we have established ourselves as a high quality, service and advice-based solution, with a strong brand and a clearly differentiated proposition.

To secure another five star rating this year was therefore hugely rewarding for us and confirmation that the regional market very much values what we do. Moreover, to have secured a five star rating in every broker category that we trade with - our proposition is not just for SME only brokers - was brilliant news for us.

One of the key themes to emerge, as it does with most brokers we talk with, is the importance of accessibility and the ability to make and articulate a decision. The MPR Underwriting operating model of having multiple access points, all of which have experience and knowledge across the spectrum of financial lines classes, has always been central to our model.

Much of the feedback from the survey supports how we have performed during challenging and difficult times for our brokers and how we delivered against our core brand values.


Click here to take part - all brokers that participate will receive an executive summary of the full report and be entered into a prize draw to win £250 worth of John Lewis vouchers