NBS Underwriting’s managing director, Steve Cowman speaks to Insurance Times’s Savan Shah about what he deems the ’obvious concern’ which is the hard market and following this reduced capacity
As UK brokers respond to the 2021 MGA Survey, Insurance Times take the opportunity to speak to MGAs on the current and future challenges they face.
The following Q&A explores the 2021 Insurance Times MGA survey addressing broker concerns surrounding capacity, innovation, underwriting and more.
Here Insurance Times speaks to Steve Cowman, managing director at NBS Underwriting.
In the MGA survey brokers will be expressing their concerns and challenges for the year ahead. What are your concerns and challenges in the year ahead and how do you aim to alleviate these challenges?
The obvious concern is the hard market that is upon us and as a result we are seeing a reduction in capacity or appetite from insurers and MGA’s. I keep using the word consistency but that is exactly how NBS will continue to strive during these trying times.
We are constantly monitoring the market to establish issues and opportunities, our agile business model allows us to take advantage. Our long term relationships with our Insurer partners allow us to remain calm and consistent during an uncertain market and our huge investment in top quality staff gives these insurers absolute faith that NBS adds value for insurers and brokers alike.
Brokers are coming forward to rate their MGA partners in the 2021 Insurance Times MGA Survey, what do you feel sets your MGA apart from your competitors?
At NBS we work hard to make our broker’s lives easy. We provide competitive and market-leading insurance products that give you a competitive advantage. I believe the main reason for our huge growth and success over the last 24 months has been consistency. We have managed to develop an MGA that offers huge value to our broker partners, niche products and exceptional service.
The consistency of trading during the pandemic allowed brokers to rely upon NBS to deliver new business quotes in under two hours and renewals four weeks in advance. NBS offers a full cradle to grave binder management solution on behalf of several insurers which allows us to be innovative in bringing new products to market. We are able to identify opportunity and deliver a solution quickly. We control our distribution. This includes building quote and buy solutions for new opportunities in days, not weeks or months.
The 2021 MGA survey aims to investigate the service levels of MGAs over the last 12 months, please tell us about the last 12 months at your MGA? How has your MGA adapted to the challenges faced over the last 12 months?
As we offer a cloud based quotation platform - our transition to home working was seamless. Our service remained unaffected which allowed us to take advantage of the delays suffered by some of our competition and the bigger more rigid Insurers. Our agile business model really allowed us to offer a ‘business as normal’ message and brokers new and old quickly increased their engagement with NBS. To really build on the all round service we offer we have recruited 18 new staff members since March 2020.
Please tell our readers why you feel the underwriting process used at your MGA stands out?
Our underwriting process is built with speed of delivery at the forefront. Our state of the art quotation platform is designed to offer immediate quotes with the ability for brokers to bind cover at their leisure.
Behind the system we have upwards of 30 skilled and experienced underwriters dealing with the more complex cases that need manual attention. As our business model is aimed at the more niche sectors i.e. leisure and hospitality as well as a large non standard household and property account the need for top class underwriters is essential.
We manage the risk on behalf of our insurer partners while ensuring our brokers have the edge to win business. Again, consistency is key which allows our brokers to trust our offering.
There are concerns of the potential scenario of the reduction or removal of capacity from an MGA. Should brokers have this concern whilst working with your MGA?
NBS is in the very fortunate position to be a partner MGA with Accelerant Insurance and tied into a long-term relationship. We are well into our third year of this relationship and NBS is going from strength to strength as a result. We have regular meetings with the Accelerant teams and we link in with their actuarial and MI teams on a monthly basis to ensure that the NBS offering is in the right place. On top of this we have relationships with various other top quality Insurers that back NBS to deliver. The consistency of our offering and of agile and innovative business model cements these long term relationships.
The quality of support provided to brokers was a major factor for why certain insurers performed well and not so well in the Insurance Times commercial lines survey. Please tell us in more detail what brokers can expect from your MGA when it comes to quality of support?
We work hard so our brokers don’t need to. We employ the best people, work with the best insurers and always strive to be exceptional. With over 30 front line underwriters, BDM’s on the road, a top class management team and a very active board - we ensure we are available to offer whatever support our broker partners may need. NBS is actively seeking more and more opportunities to write business, whether this is in our current product set or a new proposal all together. We can deliver quickly and ensure we all take advantage.
What new developments do you have in store for your broker community across the next 12 months?
We are constantly reviewing and improving our current product sets. We have very recently completed the acquisition of The Underwriting Specialist which brings a whole new line of PI [professional indemnity] products to the NBS platform which our brokers can now take advantage of. On top of this we have new insurer relationships to announce and several new products in development for both our UK and Republic of Ireland brokers which are sure to add even more value.