Canadian Underwriter

New online platform ‘Bridges’ the gap between brokers and MGAs

August 31, 2022   by David Gambrill

Shanghai Skyline Sunset. Bridges winding through a mobile screen

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Canadian managing general agencies (MGAs) have developed a new real-time, online platform that allows brokers to match their quote applications with MGAs underwriting that specific class of business.

Once the match has been made, the platform promises to shave days, if not weeks, off the time it takes for brokers to hear back from MGAs about the status of their applications.

Canada Association of Managing General Agencies (CAMGA) is launching its new ‘Bridge’ platform at no cost to brokers Sept. 1. At the time of the launch, almost half of CAMGA’s 60 member MGAs will appear on the Bridge system, with most of the rest joining post-launch. Bridge was created with help from financial advisory firm EY.

CAMGA’s managing director Steve Masnyk described to Canadian Underwriter how the system works. He used the example of a retail broker looking for dog walking insurance. (Masnyk’s example applies to all kinds of insurance classes, such as directors and officers, cyber, professional liability, and hundreds more.)

“Let’s say a broker has a client who needs dog-walker insurance, and the broker has no clue who underwrites this kind of coverage,” Masnyk said. “The broker can type ‘dog walker’ into the Bridge platform, and up will pop up, say, four MGAs that accept submissions for dog-walking insurance. Brokers can now submit their applications through Bridge, and they will land at the at the desk[s] of those four MGAs. The broker can now theoretically get quotes from all four MGAs within a day.”

That’s opposed to what’s happening right now. Brokers are frequently sending out submissions for dog-walking insurance to any market they can think of, and then waiting for days (or even weeks) for a response — only to find out the market doesn’t underwrite that specific class of business.

Efficiently matching broker submissions with the right MGAs doing business in that class is a key pain point addressed by Bridge, Masnyk said.

“We’ve created a broker council comprised of seven or eight brokerages that have come together through several meetings and told us, ‘Here are the pain points, here are the obstacles.’” said Masnyk. “So, we’ve taken that input from the broker council in creating this platform. Bridge addresses these issues.”

Bridge will have “a direct impact in the day-to-day life of brokers,” Masnyk predicts. “I hear from brokers that they get these special requests from clients and, depending on the province, there may be only one or two markets that write it. They cannot find a market that will take the client, and they spend a ton of time trying to find that one market.”

CAMGA has 60 member MGAs, representing a vast majority of the country’s MGA market. Masnyk said if Canada follows the path of the United States, U.K. or Australia, the market share and premium written by MGAs in Canada could double over the next few years.

Among the 60 members of CAMGA, brokers are likely to find at least two or three that will write the business, Masnyk said. But he notes misunderstandings among brokers still exist about how MGAs work. He described MGAs as ‘outsourced underwriters,’ specializing in certain business classes.

For example, MGAs use capacity supplied by insurance companies. However, an insurance company may not wish to pay overhead for specialized underwriters to write business for only a few hundred clients. And so, while a carrier supplies the capacity, MGAs employ the underwriters who will write in those specialized business classes.

Up until CAMGA and Bridge, however, there was no real way for brokers to know how many MGAs existed in Canada, much less the various risk appetites of the individual MGAs, as Masnyk noted. Bridge helps Canadian brokers overcome three obstacles.

First, it solves the ‘knowledge’ issue. Through Bridge, brokers now know how many MGAs are in the Canadian market, and what they write.

Second, it solves an ‘efficiency’ issue. “Through one submission into the platform, Bridge will send that submission in real time to X number of markets currently writing that type of risk,” said Masnyk. “It will only go to the doorsteps of MGAs who are writing that type of risk.”

Finally, it resolves a ‘streamlining’ issue.

“One value of Bridge is that the broker can have [multiple conversations with MGA markets] in one spot, in one location,” Masnyk said. “They don’t have to have seven, nine, or 15 different conversations with individual markets, and not be able to keep track of where those conversations are at….

“For example, the broker will see all on one screen which five MGAs have received their submission. They will see which of the five require additional information or documents, what that information is, and the current status of those five applications.

“The broker will see whether the MGA is accepting their submission, whether the MGAs are in the process of doing X or Y, and whether the MGA has declined for whatever reason. All of these conversations in the quoting process are all happening in one spot.”


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