Filed Under:Agent Broker, Commercial Business

Details revealed on NAPSLO, AAMGA proposed merger to create WSIA

Strategy for forging a larger, stronger organization promoting surplus lines is outlined at NAPSLO Mid-Year event in Fort Lauderdale

Should members of both organizations vote in favor of it, on or about Aug. 1 the NAPSLO/AAMGA merger could be completed. (Photo: Caterina Pontoriero)
Should members of both organizations vote in favor of it, on or about Aug. 1 the NAPSLO/AAMGA merger could be completed. (Photo: Caterina Pontoriero)

If there was a single person opposed to the possible union of NAPSLO and AAMGA, you certainly didn’t hear from them Tuesday morning in Fort Lauderdale.

At a Town Hall meeting hosted during NAPSLO’s Mid-Year Leadership Forum at the Marriott Resort in Harbor Beach, leaders representing the two largest professional surplus lines organizations spent 90 minutes laying out their strategy for the coming months — including the timeline for the approval vote, details on which annual events would still take place (and when) should the merger come to pass, and a long list of additional details sorted out after months of due diligence by the merger committee.

NAPSLO President Dave Leonard; AAMGA President Ed Levy; Hank Haldeman, NAPSLO past president and chairman of the AAMGA-NAPSLO Merger Committee; AAMGA Treasurer Bobby Owens, vice chairman of the AAMGA-NAPSLO Merger Committee; and NAPSLO Executive Director Brady Kelley took the dais to outline the greater purpose and finer points of the proposed new organization, which, should AAMGA and NAPSLO members vote to join forces, will create WSIA — the Wholesale & Specialty Insurance Association.

In anticipation of the vote, a web site offering information on the merger and an accompanying video launched today at www.wsia.org. Also on the site for members to review is a draft Letter of Intent, which outlines the basic structure of the proposed merger; key elements of the merged organization; and an outline for how the merger will be considered, voted upon and implemented.

The AAMGA’s board of directors approved the draft Letter of Intent on Feb. 10, and NAPSLO’s board of directors approved it on March 5. A final proposal will be subject to final approval by both boards in mid-April.

In June, the full proposal would be put to a vote by both organizations. Should members of both organizations vote in favor of it, on or about Aug. 1 the merger could be completed.

General consensus: It’s time


“It’s time for this to occur,” Levy said to those who gathered Tuesday morning to learn more about the proposed merger. It was a sentiment openly shared by many in attendance at the town hall, which also provided repeated opportunities for questions.

Both organizations invested $75,000 to support the work and due diligence in studying the risks, benefits and pure feasibility of a union, news of which first broke last October. Recommendations were made to the boards of both organizations, with each maintaining independent authority regarding the advancement of a merger proposal.

In addition to Haldeman and Owens, the merger committee includes Harry Johnson of Johnson & Johnson Inc.; Corinne Jones of AmWINS Access; Mark Maucere of Arlington/Roe; CRC Wholesale Group’s Dave Obenauer; Jacque Schaendorf of Insurance House; Kathy Schroeder of Sierra Specialty Insurance Services; and Western World’s Gary Tiepelman.

NAPSLO president Leonard praised the spirit of collaboration among the members of the merger committee, which has seen to the myriad details of creating a rebranded group of E&S professionals that he said most effectively represents the interests and shared missions of both organizations.

Haldeman, who has led these efforts, made a point of noting that the committee has reached all of its conclusions and recommendations, without exception, through consensus — with every vote unanimous and without abstention.

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Benefits to members


Among the benefits outlined to members: a single, rebranded organization with renewed energy and purpose; a simplified menu of programs and services; a larger, unified voice in its legislative and regulatory advocacy; cost savings gained by combining the management of the two separate organizations; synergy in committee and volunteer work; and refinement of existing networking events.

The latter point is one that will require further attention by the committee with regard to location planning, but NAPSLO’s annual convention this year will still take place from Sept. 10-13 in San Diego (and will be rebranded as the first true WSIA event, should the merger happen). Going forward, however, if the merger is approved, some changes are in store from an events perspective.

NAPSLO’s annual fall convention that currently vacillates between Atlanta and San Diego (which would now be known as the “Annual Marketplace,” under WSIA branding) will still be held in venues booked through 2023. However, the annual business meeting, including the election of directors and officers, would move to a combined event held earlier in the year that would be known as the WSIA Spring Summit — a combination of AAMGA’s Annual Meeting and the NAPSLO Mid-Year Leadership Forum. That event would be held in late February/early March.

Further hybridization of the two groups’ annual events would include a February Automation Conference; a Committee Day, to be held in May; a Legislative Fly-In, in late April/early May; and consolidated London Meetings in April.

The two organizations’ education programs would be similarly consolidated under the WSIA banner, but would offer a more comprehensive slate of offerings than ever before. Where AAMGA’s programs could be considered more technically oriented, with emphasis on underwriting, coverage analysis and market awareness, NAPSLO’s is more broadly career-focused, with attention to every step in professional development. The combined educational curricula would be overseen by WSIA professionals — many of whom already contribute to the educational efforts of both NAPSLO and AAMGA, Levy noted.

A revised dues structure and renewal projections are in process. AAMGA’s 2016-2017 dues totaled $1.2 million, while NAPSLO’s dues were $1.6 million. While the committee is considering options for transitioning dues over time, 2017-2018 dues will be billed by each organization along existing dues structures.

“Dues parity is of importance to us,” said AAMGA treasurer Owens.

4 categories of WSIA membership proposed


During Q&A sessions throughout the town hall, more than one member praised the idea of the merger as a “no-brainer.” It was noted that 76 percent of AAMGA’s 437 members are also NAPSLO members, and of NAPSLO’s 701 members, 48 percent are also members of AAMGA.

Under the merger, all current members and their voting rights will be grandfathered. Four categories of WSIA membership are proposed: U.S. wholesale members, U.S. insurance market members, associate members, and service members.

In conversation with PC360.com, Kelley praised the work of Haldeman, whom he called the right choice for the task of leading the merger committee and who has been engaged in all facets of its mission. “We were very fortunate that he was willing to lead the charge,” Kelley added.

NAPSLO’s executive director also noted that the merger provides additional leverage to its ongoing legislative efforts in Washington. AAMGA’s and NAPSLO’s interests, he said, “are 100 percent aligned on legislative policies and positions.”

“I think the time is right,” Levy told PC360. “There are no egos involved, because everyone’s trying to do the right thing for both organizations. We need to continue to be transparent, and communicate and share our message.

“While I feel very comfortable the measure will pass,” he added, “We still have a lot of work to do.”

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