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Company visits

PHLY focus "making things easier"

Executives from Philadelphia Insurance Cos. (PHLY) recently sat down with PIANJ leaders for a lively discussion, the latest in PIANJ's ongoing series of business-focused conversations with carriers its members represent. Seth W. Hall, PHLY VP—Service Operations and Kevin McCabe, CPCU, CIC, AVP—Marketing/Sales for New Jersey, Delaware and southeast Pennsylvania, traveled to The Insurance Centers in Clark, to meet with PIANJ directors Donald LaPenna and Bruce Blum.

PHLY is "a specialized insurer" that develops products tailored to specific exposures presented by each type of risk that it targets. Originally formed in 1980 as Philadelphia Consolidated Holding Corp. and based in the Philadelphia suburb of Bala Cynwyd, the carrier was acquired by Tokio Marine Group in 2008.

Asked how his company wants to be perceived, Hall stated: "Making things easier for you." His role and the service operation he oversees reflect the carrier's emphasis on responsive processes, which includes a current initiative to add more self-service options. Clarity about how to get things done is imperative for a carrier like PHLY, to help producers navigate its diverse array of products. Hall and McCabe showed PIANJ several tools the company gives producers to boost their ease of doing business.

Kudos for PIANJ surveys

Hall said the company constantly collects and analyzes internal metrics in the service area, such as turn-around time on endorsements and claims response. He commended the reports PIANJ makes available to carriers, based on its company performance surveys. They provide PHLY with "valid, reliable external data" that the company incorporated into developing its three-year strategic plan. "The work that PIA does is fantastic—it's truly helpful. Our internal metrics are important, but they don't show us how we compare to industry averages like the PIANJ surveys," Hall added.

LaPenna confirmed that PIANJ collects data from agents for exactly such reasons. McCabe noted that commercial consulting firms frequently are retained to design and conduct similar research for their insurer clients. PIA's carrier-specific reports are offered to member companies at no charge, noted PIANJ Business Issues Director Jim Pittz, CPIA., who designed the report format.

Producer business options

McCabe said PHLY distributes products through nearly 600 producers in New Jersey, using three different models for its producer relationships. PHLY's "preferred agents" form a "select group"—around 350 countrywide. They provide the carrier with premium in the neighborhood of $1.5 million and up. "Firemark agents" are selected for their production and their potential to become preferred agents.

Unlike nearly all companies, PHLY has a third way: Some producers place just a single account or a handful of risks with the company. McCabe said PHLY is "unique" in providing this open-brokerage option. "All we need from a producer is a business profile, an E&O dec page and a license," he stressed. The company's marketing people will work with interested producers having relationships with risks that might be good opportunities for PHLY to write.

What are these opportunities? McCabe described five general areas the company is known for:

  1. Human Services. Of the carrier's $2.1 billion total book, about $750 million comes from this core segment, including nonprofit social services offices, rehab centers and group homes, daycare programs and similar operations. Factoring in educational institutions, camps, museums and other similar risks PHLY targets, the human services segment represents an even larger share of the carrier's business.
  2. Property risks. PHLY writes condos, builders' risk, large hotels, shopping centers, office parks and similar large property risks.
  3. Sports, recreation and entertainment. This category includes sports leagues, health and fitness centers, golf courses, day spas, convention centers and similar venues.
  4. Management and professional liability. This includes combined policies for D&O/EPLI for non-profit and for profit risks, as well as E&O policies for a myriad of professions. PHLY also offers a monoline cyber liability policy on an admitted basis for many classes of business.
  5. "New" products. PHLY constantly develops and brings new products on line, with a goal of rolling out three or four offerings per year. Current newly-introduced niche products include pest control firms, temporary staffing companies and home medical equipment suppliers.

Addressing producers' needs

Hall told PIANJ that PHLY notes common complaints voiced by agents, and tries to excel in these areas. For example, it tackled endorsement processing by establishing a single dedicated office. PHLY constantly measures turnaround time as part of the company's "customer scorecard" system.

As an antidote to "invisible underwriter syndrome," underwriters try to get out of the office and make themselves known to clients and agents, according to McCabe. LaPenna recounted how his PHLY underwriter's presence helped him when they visited a prospect: "It was a really complex, disorganized risk—it was all over the place. But when we got done, it was covered and it was covered right."—Kiehl