From the February 20, 2012 issue of National Underwriter Property & Casualty • Subscribe!

Necessity Gives Birth to Worldwide Broker Network 

Clients quickly realize when they have claims in another country how much they want someone in close proximity to the problem at hand.

Bruce Basso learned this lesson during his time as head of ABD Insurance Services. In the 1990s ABD sat in the middle of Silicon Valley, and, by necessity, the firm had to develop an international presence to solve overseas placements as its clients’ global business exploded. 

U.S.-based brokers placing risks internationally via carriers “never have the eyes and ears on the ground” that the clients want, Basso says. And not having that local presence opens the door for global brokers, with boots on the ground everywhere, to walk in and steal the account. 

Once cognizant of this vulnerability, ABD (which in 2007 was sold to Wells Fargo) began building relationships with European and domestic brokers of substantial revenue size and brought them together in 1994 to form an independent-distribution company.

Today, that firm is known as Worldwide Broker Network (WBN) based in San Mateo, Calif. (While the brokerage was sold to Wells Fargo, WBN was kept separate.)

Basso, who serves as WBN’s CEO, says his is only one of two global broker-distribution companies (the other being Assurex Global) with a broad international network and the technology to support it. The 80-member broker network relies on a state-of-the-art global agency-management system designed by Vertafore that interconnects brokers with one another on any project instantaneously, leveling the playing field with the global brokerage firms.

The ability to demonstrate that your brokerage firm has the relationships and is a player in the international arena is the only way independent brokers will grow, says Basso.

“That is the salvation for these independent firms,” he adds. “If you can’t do that, you’re dead.”

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