Canadian Underwriter

How new MGA association president wants to reach out to brokers

July 26, 2021   by Jason Contant

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The new president of the Canadian Association of Managing General Agents (CAMGA) is looking to bring some recognition and change to the MGA industry during her two-year term.

CAMGA president and board member MaryKate Townsend told Canadian Underwriter Friday that the association is working on educating brokers about the services that MGAs offer.

Oftentimes, a principal broker will make decisions concerning placing a risk. “But when it’s the frontline sales broker that thought of looking for an option, or looking for a solution for a difficult to place piece of business, they might not realize they have access to an MGA,” Townsend said in an interview. They might not even be aware their office has authority to work with an MGA, and a lot of MGAs don’t necessarily work under a specific contract, she added.

CAMGA would like to reach out to all brokers — frontline and principal — so that they can come up with the best solution to providing their clients with appropriate coverage.

“What we’re trying to determine is what’s the best approach,” she said of the education outreach. “How can we really let brokers know that we exist and that the services are available to them?

“So, we’re working on that messaging right now. I’m hoping to be able to represent Canada at various provincial organizations, conferences [and] conventions.”

Part of the outreach will be providing the basics about what an MGA is and what it does, but also about stressing that MGAs are specialists. Sometimes, the MGA industry will be used as “more of a substandard market where [brokers] have exhausted all of their efforts with their usual carriers,” Townsend said. “And then they’re coming to the MGA as a last resort.”

Townsend recognized that “being a broker has to be one of the most difficult jobs in terms of knowing everybody’s line of business.

“What we want to do is express to the brokers that we’re specialists, we’re experts in the field and the business they we’re writing,” she said. “For example, with pleasure-craft marine, rather than talking to maybe a property underwriter who sees very little of those risks throughout the year, this is what we do every day.”

Townsend, who is also manager and senior underwriter with Pacific Marine Underwriting Managers, noted there is a new MGA-designated course being offered through the Insurance Institute. This touches on talent and hiring, as it provides industry professionals with opportunities to advance their career or try something different, like work for an MGA.

There is also talk in the industry about the regulation of MGAs. “That’s another thing that I’m really looking forward to, is being part of those conversations,” Townsend said. “There’s already been proposals drafted for some of the provincial regulatory bodies… or what that regulatory body will look like.

“Those are some of the main pillars of things that we’re looking to do as an organization and that, for myself, is important,” she said of the education and regulatory components. “I’m hoping to see some direction on that level in my time here and my involvement with the board.”


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