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The Schinnerer Group
The No. 1 managing general agent continues to build its reputation for providing professional liability insurance while retaining clients and markets over the long haul.
In fact, 2006 marks a significant anniversary for The Schinnerer Group's customer relations. In 1956, construction brokerage Victor O. Schinnerer & Co. created a specialty design-industry liability program for the American Institute of Architects and the National Society of Safety Engineers.
Today, Chicago-based CNA Financial Corp., the original program insurer, continues to insure the architects and engineers program for multiple lines of coverage underwritten by Schinnerer, said John F. Shettle, president of Chevy Chase, Md.-based Schinnerer & Co.
Along with architects and engineers, today Schinnerer underwrites liability coverage for businesses that include health care organizations, public entities, real estate firms, construction companies and technology professionals.
By generating $991 million in premium volume in 2005, down from more than $1 billion in 2004, Schinnerer continues to rank No. 1 in Business Insurance's 2006 ranking of the 10 largest underwriting managers.
The 2005 premium volume decline is due to the closure of London-based Schinnerer UK and soft market conditions for liability coverage, Mr. Shettle said.
Mr. Shettle said he plans to counter the impact of soft market conditions by creating new programs.
In 2005, Schinnerer launched business-to-business management consultants liability coverage for professionals who provide consulting on topics such as public relations, advertising and human resources. A Lloyd's of London syndicate managed by Brit Insurance Holdings P.L.C. provides the paper, with up to $2 million in limits available.
Burns & Wilcox Ltd.
Burns & Wilcox Ltd.'s strength lies in the diversification of its nationwide offices, says Alan J. Kaufman, the managing general agent's chairman, president and chief executive officer.
Each of the company's offices produces a different mix of business depending on location, expertise and other factors.
The San Francisco office, for example, generates about half its business from wholesale brokerage services for retailers with large commercial clients. The other half comes from MGA services provided to small accounts.
In Arlington, Texas, meanwhile, Burns & Wilcox's office largely provides MGA services for small accounts.
"Our personality is not consistent across the country," Mr. Kaufman said. But the diversification helps the independently owned, Farmington Hills, Mich.-based company thrive during up and down insurance cycles.
In 2005, Burns & Wilcox's $700 million in premium volume rose 7.7% from the prior year. With about 70% of its business deriving from its MGA operations or from acting as a Lloyd's of London coverholder, Burns & Wilcox's premium volume puts it in the second spot nationwide in BI's 2006 ranking of the largest MGAs.
The remainder of Burns & Wilcox's business stems from wholesale brokerage operations.
Founded in 1969, the majority of the company's business has derived from its work as an underwriter, Mr. Kaufman said. More recently, however, Burns & Wilcox has handled a greater volume of large brokerage accounts because of its nationwide reach.
Burns & Wilcox provides a wide variety of products and coverages including commercial property, earthquake, employment practices liability, general liability and inland marine. Its specialty coverages include prize indemnification, public official liability, liquor liability, equipment and warehouse legal liability.
Recently, Burns & Wilcox landed binding authority, with limits up to $25 million, for small environmental programs underwritten on behalf of an insurer rated A+.
Hub International Ltd.
Hub International Ltd.'s wholesale subsidiaries stick closely to the business niches and geographical areas where they have honed their expertise, says Marc Cohen, president and chief executive officer of Program Brokerage Corp.
New York-based PBC is by far Chicago-based Hub's largest managing general agent among several wholesale operations the retail broker operates across the country, Mr. Cohen said.
PBC's largest flagship program insures various types of real estate. Its second-largest program covers restaurant risks.
"We really stay very steadfast to what we do and what we know best," Mr. Cohen said. For PBC, that means focusing on business generated only in the Northeast United States. "It's a very controlled geographic area that we source our business from," Mr. Cohen said.
"We never export our programs throughout the country," he said. "We really keep our business focused in our own territory where we have a good understanding of rate, competition and jurisdiction from a legal standpoint and the claims environment."
That disciplined underwriting helps make Hub a powerhouse broker. In 2005, Hub's wholesale business units generated $683.2 million in premium volume, up from $312.7 million a year earlier, although some of that premium volume is attributed to acquisitions.
The business generated by Hub put it in the No. 3 spot in BI's 2006 ranking of the nation's 10 largest MGAs.
Apart from real estate and restaurant programs, PBC provides insurance for several other business classes. A general wholesale program, for example, can accommodate manufacturing and durable goods wholesalers, food and dry goods distributors, and fuel distributors, among others.
Eastern America Insurance Agency Inc.
Representing insurance markets while communicating its services in English and Spanish is all in a day's work for San Juan, Puerto Rico-based Eastern America Insurance Agency Inc.
The managing general agent's Web site and telephone answering system accommodate both languages and its staff is largely bi-lingual. Providing insurance services throughout Puerto Rico also shapes Eastern's operations in other ways, said Jorge J. Amadeo, executive vp.
The agency, for example, binds insurance for business placed by Puerto Rico's local agents. Yet it also underwrites coverage placed by the world's largest brokers with paper provided by U.S. insurance companies that rely on Eastern for its knowledge of conditions unique to Puerto Rico.
"We help everybody out," Mr. Amadeo said. By doing that, the MGA handled $239.6 million in premium volume in 2005, making it the fourth-largest MGA in the 2006 BI ranking. In 2004, Eastern processed $239.2 million in premium volume.
Founded in 1981, Eastern is a part of San Juan-based Universal Insurance Group. Universal Insurance Co., a commercial and personal lines property and casualty writer, is the largest unit in the group.
Nearly 60% of Eastern America's business is for commercial accounts, with the MGA providing a wide range of property/casualty insurance. The coverages include boiler and machinery, inland marine, commercial auto, professional liability, and directors and officers liability.
The agency specializes in covering Puerto Rico's risks, Mr. Amadeo said.
W. Brown & Associates Insurance Services
Since W. Brown & Associates Insurance Services launched in 1987, it has maintained a steady focus on underwriting aviation risks, although it has since extended its reach.
The Irvine, Calif.-based managing general underwriter provides clients with aviation products on paper provided by XL Specialty Co., a unit of XL Capital Ltd.
In 2005, WBA's combined operations handled $221.8 million in premium volume, up from $214.0 million. With most of its business stemming from underwriting operations, the premium volume placed WBA at No. 5 in the 2006 BI ranking of the 10 largest managing general agents.
The coverages it has available include aviation products liability, airport liability and fixed-base operators, all with limits up to $50 million. The fixed-base operators coverage is suitable for premises, ground operations and hangar keepers.
Aircraft liability is also available with $50 million in limits for preferred pleasure and business operations, as well as charter and industrial aid. Along with other aviation products, WBA can also underwrite up to $10 million in hull insurance.
WBA's aviation coverages are licensed in all states. But over the years, it has expanded to provide a wider array of property/casualty products backed by a variety of specialty insurers.
Either through its surplus lines brokerage operations or through its MGA products, WBA can help truckers, restaurants, manufacturers, hotels and other business entities. Pollution liability, professional liability, and technology errors and omissions are some of the products it provides.
K&K Insurance Group Inc.
K&K Insurance Group Inc.'s slogan of "Insuring the World's Fun" fits the Fort Wayne, Ind.-based managing general agent like a well-worn baseball glove.
Think of most sport, entertainment or leisure activities and chances are good that K&K underwrites coverage for them. From amateur baseball teams, to performing arts centers and whitewater rafting guides, K&K likely has the coverage if it's related to an American pastime.
That is not far from the MGA's beginnings in 1952 when a couple of motorsport enthusiasts provided an accident medical benefits fund for race car drivers. K&K later expanded to cover racetracks, race promoters and other related entities.
Today, K&K is a unit of Aon Corp. It consists of five business units including sports, motor sports, recreation and entertainment, leisure and mass merchandising, says Ross T. Smith, K&K's president and chief executive officer.
Four of those units are roughly equal in size. Mass merchandising is the smallest of the five and includes coverage for main street businesses such as dance or martial arts studios.
In 2005, the MGU processed $221.1 million in premium volume, down from $222.0 million in 2004.
Its premium volume ranked it No. 6 in Business Insurance's 2006 list of the largest MGAs.
A small sampling of businesses that K&K underwrites include sports camps, antique vendors, produce vendors, motorcycle dealerships, tribal gaming operations and festivals.
While K&K's core offerings have included general liability, property, auto liability and personal accident coverages, it has recently expanded to provide some workers compensation coverage and directors and officers liability coverage for nonprofit entities.
NIF Group Inc.
About 40% of NIF Group Inc.'s program business comes from underwriting nonprofit social service organizations such as homes for runaways and drug and alcohol counseling centers, says Mark P. Maher, NIF's president.
Manhasset, N.Y.-based NIF underwrites property, general liability, professional liability, auto, crime, and umbrella coverage for social service organizations. NIF's second-largest program covers public entities such as water, sewage and housing authorities in half a dozen states.
It also administers programs that insure trade contractors, nonprofit directors and officers liability risks, and homeowners with properties along a portion of the East Coast.
One of NIF's newest programs provides property and inland marine coverage with limits of up to $5 million on an A-rated insurer's paper. The program is available in Connecticut, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.
The new property program is available for manufacturing and warehouses; vacant buildings; and mercantile, including restaurants.
Through its broad network of insurance companies, however, NIF wholesale brokers can place all lines of coverage, the company says.
Independently owned NIF has eight offices throughout the eastern United States and was founded in 1976.
In 2005, it handled more than $210.2 million in premium volume, placing it seventh in the 2006 Business Insurance list of largest MGAs.
Its premium volume declined 4.4% from 2004, mainly because of increased competition for social services business, but also because of softening insurance rates, Mr. Maher said.
Mr. Maher describes NIF, which is an insurance holding company, as "tight-knit" because it retains both clients and employees for many years.
WKF&C Agency Inc.
WKF&C Agency Inc. is a Melville, N.Y.-based managing general agent known mostly for underwriting property insurance, but it also underwrites other specialty risks, said Michael Sillat, chief operating officer and chief financial officer.
"Our strategy was to expand into as many lines as we possibly can so that when maybe one or two lines are down, the others are up," Mr. Sillat said. "We have a broad product palette to offer."
One of WKF&C's unusual attributes is that, unlike many other MGAs, it does not have wholesale brokerage operations.
If WKF&C also operated a wholesale brokerage unit, that would likely decrease the business it receives from nearly 400 wholesale brokers nationwide who now bring it accounts to underwrite, Mr. Sillat said.
The strategy works for WKF&C. In 2005 it processed $162 million in premium volume. That was up from $158 million in 2004. The premium volume it handled in 2005 put WKF&C in the No. 8 spot in Business Insurance's 2006 ranking of the 10 largest MGAs.
It has offices seven states: California, Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, New Jersey, New York and Virginia. Its newest office opened recently in Los Angeles.
WKF&C, founded about 10 years ago, provides special events and property coverage. The special events coverage, though, is now less than a $10 million book of business annually. In comparison, its property book of business produces about $150 million a year, Mr. Sillat said.
While it underwrites much larger accounts, the bulk of its underwriting, including property, is for accounts with premiums ranging from about $3,000 to $25,000 annually, Mr. Sillat said.
WKF&C also underwrites miscellaneous professional liability, various inland marine coverages, boiler and machinery, weather-related and other specialty risks.
LoVullo Associates Inc.
Leonard T. LoVullo, president and chief executive officer of Depew, N.Y-based LoVullo Associates Inc., says he has considered expanding his company's reach beyond the state of New York.
But he hasn't been willing to do that out of concern that the high level of service his firm now offers clients could falter, he said.
"It's all about great service," Mr. LoVullo said. "It sounds cliche, but there is no other way."
Mr. LoVullo should know. The premium volume his wholesale operation, with a total of 82 staff members, processed in 2005 rose to $133.5 million, a nearly 4% increase over 2004. That ranks his company as the ninth-largest MGA in BI's 2006 ranking.
LoVullo Associates formed in 1981 from the wholesale operations that evolved from an insurance agency Mr. LoVullo's father founded in 1949.
Commercial lines business now accounts for 85% of the premium volume handled by LoVullo Associates. The company also provides insurance for watercraft, motorcycles, mobile homes and other personal lines risks, Mr. LoVullo said.
On the commercial side, Mr. LoVullo said his company is one of the largest writers of contractors and truckers coverage in New York. Focusing on such hard-to-place risks helps the company grow even in a soft market when standard insurers expand into areas they usually leave to surplus lines companies.
But LoVullo Associates doesn't limit itself to underwriting truckers or various contractors. It provides property and casualty coverages for a wide range of entities.
Arlington/Roe & Co.
Arlington/Roe & Co., with its broad array of specialty programs, aims to serve as a one-stop shop for insurance agents across six Midwest states, says company President James A. Roe.
Founded in 1964 by Mr. Roe's father, Arlington/Roe handled $105 million in premium volume in 2005, up from about $96.8 million a year earlier. Some of the growth is attributable to an acquisition, Mr. Roe said.
The premium volume man- aged by Indianapolis-based Arlington/Roe in 2005 earned it the No. 10 spot in the 2006 BI ranking of the largest managing general agents.
Its largest specialty program underwrites homes valued at $1 million or greater and homes valued at less than $100,000. Standard homeowner insurers typically shy away from high- and low-value homes, Mr. Roe said.
Yet a broad arrangement of coverages for commercial entities account for about 75% of Arlington/ Roe's business.
Under the MGA side, "We do your standard restaurants, taverns, bars, daycare centers, small contractors and a few nursing homes," Mr. Roe said. Arlington/Roe also underwrites coverage for other "routine surplus lines" business such as apartments and vacant buildings.
Its surplus lines brokers, meanwhile, can find insurance for large properties, product liability, excess liability and other risks. Arlington/ Roe also has specialty divisions that focus on medical malpractice, professional liability, transportation, workers compensation and other risks, Mr. Roe said.
While the majority of its business is focused in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, Arlington/Roe also has an aviation unit for risks nationwide. It represents several markets that insure risks such as airports, aviation liability and personal and corporate aircraft.