The “2016 Special Report U.S. Surplus Lines – Segment Review,”produced by A.M. Best and sponsored by the Derek Hughes/NAPSLO Educational Foundation, reports that the surplus lines market is financially sound. The trend of no surplus lines impairments for the past decade extended through 2015, and as of Aug. 15, 2016, fully 100 percent of domestic surplus lines carriers were rated Good or higher with 97 percent of those rated Excellent to Exceptional.
This financial strength is critical to the continued strength for the market and, NAPSLO members believe, to the value of the wholesale distribution system within the broader insurance industry.
Gil Hine, NAPSLO President and president of McClelland & Hine, said that with this good news for the market it is perhaps more important than ever for NAPSLO and its members to spread that word to the retail community. “We need to tell the industry that the wholesale distribution system works,” Hine said. “It’s important to note that in addition to being financially stable, the wholesale distribution system really provides value to the insurance consumer.”
Hine said that NAPSLO has enhanced its commitment to communicating that value through all of its marketing initiatives during the last three years. “We refreshed the NAPSLO brand in 2013 and with that came a renewed emphasis on messaging the importance of the wholesale distribution system,” he noted. “The key message that we know needs to be reinforced for retail agents is that NAPSLO members are innovators who can help them strengthen their client relationships. Wholesale brokers deliver custom insurance solutions efficiently and effectively and they bring value to a transaction that helps the insured get the right solution for their insurance need.”
According to NAPSLO Executive Director Brady Kelley, the NAPSLO approach to highlighting the value that the wholesale distribution brings to a transaction has been emphasized across several platforms. He said that placed advertising has been an important tool in the Wholesale Value campaign because the message can be targeted to the retail insurance agent.
Innovative solution providers
“We have invested in a print and online advertising campaign that positions NAPSLO members as innovative solution providers for complex risks,” said Kelley. “The advertising is placed in trade and industry-specific print and online spaces and has received favorable reader feedback. The advertising creative is designed to remind readers to find a NAPSLO member wholesale broker and links directly to NAPSLO’s online member locator. That same member locator message and graphic icon is featured in print and on our NAPSLO website, serving as a visual link between the NAPSLO website and the advertising.”
As part of its Wholesale Value message initiative, NAPSLO has also worked to develop proactive relationships with trade publications. Hine said that the Association has had success in working with media outlets to provide editorial content on behalf of the Association and to assist in providing information to those outlets on important legislative issues. He added that those editorial placements and the ability to be a resource to media outlets for news stories is an important part of NAPSLO’s integrated effort to message the value that the surplus lines industry brings to the overall U.S. economy and specifically how the wholesale distribution system is good for the insured.
“The approach is consistent and strategic. The paid advertising placements echo the message that’s leveraged in editorial opportunities and those echo the message that is shared on the NAPSLO website and in other communications,” Hine explained. “We know that NAPSLO members conduct each transaction with the highest level of integrity and that every one of them is committed to efficiently creating the best solution for complex risks. The Wholesale Value campaign just reinforces the message to the retail industry that NAPSLO members can and should be looked to as trusted experts.”
Dave Leonard, NAPSLO Vice President and chairman and CEO of RSUI Group, believes that many retail agents do understand the value the wholesale broker brings to an insurance transaction. “I think that there are many agents who know that there is no cost for seeking a quote from a wholesale broker on behalf of their client, and they understand that in many instances that wholesale broker will help craft a solution that’s superior for their insured,” he said. Leonard adds that it remains important for NAPSLO to continue to tell that story. “NAPSLO members demonstrate this value daily, but we have to consistently remind our retail partners.”
Kelley said he believes that the Wholesale Value campaign is an important and valuable benefit of NAPSLO membership. “The NAPSLO brand represents integrity and innovation in the marketplace and we’re very proud to be able to promote the value that NAPSLO members offer to retail agents and their clients,” Kelley said. “We continue to update our message and related tools for members so that they can better leverage those in their own organizations and with their retail partners.”
Member logo seals and usage guidelines for the logo are available on the NAPSLO website. Kelley said that the NAPSLO team can assist members in using the logo and help determine where they might most effectively incorporate it in their messaging if they desire assistance.