MGA managing director has ‘built an army of skilled and experienced underwriters’ to ensure that brokers don’t need to scour the market and ‘work with other MGAs’

Since being founded at the tail end of 2018, First Underwriting has quickly established itself in the MGA market. Originally offering brokers access to specialist and niche classes, it has since expanded its non-motor product lines to create a more rounded proposition.

In the past three years, for example, First Underwriting has launched home, tour operators, travel bonds, surety, leisure and real estate products. It also invested in a new niche schemes team in September 2022, to help brokers find solutions that meet their specific needs.

This year, First Underwriting made its debut in Insurance Times’ Five Star Rating Report: MGA market and was rewarded with overall five star rating from brokers.

Tom Donachie, managing director of First Underwriting, tells Insurance Times: “We are absolutely delighted to have received such glowing feedback from our broker partners and to have been rated so highly.

“We strive to remove all barriers between brokers and underwriters, enabling us to deliver best in breed service.

“These close relationships mean that we truly understand brokers’ needs and can swiftly provide solutions while also developing new products and schemes to meet their changing needs.”


Tom Donachie

Underwriting DNA

Donachie attributes First Underwriting’s success in the Five Star Rating Report: MGA market to the company’s continued investment in its underwriting team – this aligns with the firm’s ethos that underwriting is “in our DNA”.

He explains: “As we have grown, we have continued to invest in our people, building our team of expert underwriters so that high levels of service were maintained as we scaled.

“Our growth and investment in people did not falter during the Covid years, as we could pivot our strategy to focus on less impacted product lines and continue to support brokers [navigating] the impact of the pandemic.

“Specialist brokers want direct access to expert underwriters - especially when faced with unusual and hard to place risks - but this is rarely provided.

“In response, we built an army of skilled and experienced underwriters who foster direct relationships with brokers and are trusted for their expertise.

“Our expert underwriting capabilities are across a broad range of products and risks, enabling us to meet brokers’ many specialist product needs without the need for them to work with other MGAs.”

Capacity security

For MGAs to operate successfully, they require reliable, quality capacity.

This was highlighted in the Five Star Rating Report: MGA market 2022, which found that the majority of surveyed brokers are concerned about the prospect of capacity being removed from an MGA.

Although Donachie understands “the capacity concerns that many brokers have [because] we have seen some high profile MGAs lose capacity over the years - normally on unrated paper”, he is not overly worried about First Underwriting in this respect thanks to its five-year deal with Accredited Insurance (Europe) Limited.

Confirmed in January 2022, the deal – which also includes insurance broker McGill and Partners – provides First Underwriting with £1bn of gross written premium to place into the specialty markets it operates in.

Donachie says: “Our underwriting pedigree is recognised by our capacity partners, resulting in a five-year deal on A-rated paper, which is envied by many and stands us apart in the market.

“Our capacity security gives our brokers stability for future growth and gives us the ability to develop our products to meet changing needs.”

Despite its new five star rating from brokers, Donachie says that First Underwriting will not be resting on its laurels - the positive feedback received in the Five Star Rating Report: MGA market 2022 will not make the firm complacent.

He explains: “We recognise the need to constantly invest in our business, whether this is [around] new talent, launching new products or technology investments – all of which have a common theme to help us to continue to deliver superior service levels to our brokers by allowing access to expert underwriters.

“In 2023, we will continue to deliver an outstanding service to our brokers.”