MGAs (managing general agents) fill important roles within the insurance supply chain. If investors understand what MGAs are and how they function, they will be better able to spot potential opportunities. MGAs are insurance agencies that offer underwriting services on behalf of a syndicate or insurer. Their work typically includes rating, issuing documentation and sometimes claim handling.

Because the MGA deals with the administration of the policy (with the insurance provider only providing the financial backing regarding any claims), insurers are able to enter markets where their £5,000 plus minimum premiums would otherwise be prohibitive.

An Important Role within the Value Chain

Often positioned between other intermediaries (such as wholesale or retail brokers and insurance companies), MGAs have the potential to play a significant role within the insurance distribution value chain, offering a unique value proposition to each party involved.

MGA CEOs – such as Rob Tolley (former London broker) – know that they can also increase the efficiency of the value chain, as they typically operate without the legacy placement platforms often deployed elsewhere in the sector. Plus, they’re usually smaller and younger than insurance carriers and therefore leaner, unencumbered by operational complexities that could otherwise slow them down.

MGAs and Reinsurance

Reinsurance is a significant element of the business of most MGAs, due to the wide range of risks and coverage options that MGAs typically handle. Reinsurance effectively provides indemnification and reimbursement regarding payments already made. Therefore, it should play an important part in an insuring organisation’s strategies to maximize value and minimize risk.

MGAs work directly and indirectly with reinsurers. In terms of the former, this involves developing programmes, such as in cases where the MGA identifies an existing niche in the market within which there are few or no carriers currently writing a specific line of business.

Awareness of Emerging Risks

MGAs are able to bring their market experience and specialist underwriting skills to bear regarding newly emerging threats, such as cyberthreats, casinos on Native American reservations, cannabis and transactional liability (for smaller deals). Several cyberthreat-focused MGAs have already emerged, and MGAs are increasingly active in the specialty coverage in personal lines field. As a result, this is boosting customer experience and underwriting quality, as well as enabling access to specialised risks for MGAs’ capacity backers.

The Rise of Digital MGAs

Recent years have been witness to the rise of digital MGAs, which tend to target specific end customers to provide certain insurance lines, such as auto, pet, homeowners and small-commercial insurance. Furthermore, many digital MGAs are retaining some of the risk on their own balance sheets, which enables them to control some of the capacity they place.