By Cyril Tuohy, InsuranceNewsNet
Direct premiums written through managing general agents (MGAs) in the property/casualty
sector in 2014 rose 5.6 percent to $33 billion, a sign that insurance carriers are comfortable with the
MGA channel. This is according to a new study by Conning & Co.
Conning also said the $33 billion in MGA-sourced premium represents 11.7 percent of total
commercial property/casualty commercial premiums last year.
In 2012, MGAs produced $25.7 billion of direct premium written, or about 9.7 percent of all
commercial premium, Conning said.
MGA-sourced premium growth was due in part to rate increases, the expansion of
relationships with carriers and new product launches, according to William Broomall, assistant vice
president for Conning and author of the company’s recent report titled “Managing General Agents:
Superior Growth in Specialty Markets 2015.”
The report also found that 60 percent of the top 100 property/casualty insurers in the U.S.
reported an MGA relationship in 2014.
“A wide network of carriers is involved in this and this points to a lot of insurers that find value in
this distribution channel as a way to source premium,” Broomall told InsuranceNewsNet.
Another factor contributing to the rise of MGA-source premium, Broomall added, is a longterm
shift away from paying MGAs based on premium volume and instead paying MGAs on the
basis of the quality of the risk.
“Carriers want volume but they want the premium to perform so you’ve seen that shift,”
Broomall said. “There’s a focus on profitability.”
Low-quality risks tend to have higher claims frequency or severity and higher loss ratios. That
means carriers pay out more in claims since the carrier holds the premium on its books.
High-quality risks have lower claims frequency and severity, which means carriers pay out less
MGAs typically earn their living through commissions paid either on a sliding scale or as a flat
Carriers grant MGAs authority to underwrite specialty risks with which carriers are
unfamiliar. Carriers also use MGAs to get access to a network of retail and wholesale agent
Broomall said the data for his report were compiled from three sources: statutory filings, a
Conning survey and disclosures from publicly traded insurers.
All three sources indicated the MGA channel was growing faster than the industry as a whole,
he also said.
In a soft property/casualty market, where insurance carriers have difficulty raising prices,
MGAs offer a source of premium growth.
In a report on the state of the MGA market published last year, Conning found a seller’s
market in that many insurance companies were interested in buying MGAs and their books of
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Writer Cyril Tuohy has covered the financial services industry for more than
15 years. Cyril may be reached at email@example.com.