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  • Writer's pictureInsurance Business America

Navigating the program business landscape

Updated: Mar 8


AM Specialty CUO Dominick Tassone


In the ever-evolving world of insurance, program business has undergone significant transformation over the past few decades. This transformation has been driven by market dynamics, technological advancements, and the continuous quest for strategic underwriting excellence. With over 40 years of primary insurance experience, I have witnessed first-hand the profound shifts and changes that have defined the program business space. In this piece, I aim to shed light on the evolution of program business, explore strategic underwriting in today’s competitive landscape, and delve into the art of building and maintaining successful relationships with Managing General Agents (MGAs).


Evolution of program business


Program business has come a long way since its inception. What started as a niche market has now blossomed into a significant segment of the insurance industry, accounting for $79 billion in premium volume in 2022. The past few decades have seen a shift from a focus on standardized products to more specialized and tailored solutions, addressing the unique needs of various industries and segments. The increased complexity and sophistication of risks have demanded a more granular approach to underwriting. Underwriters are no longer just risk assessors; they are risk advisors, equipped with the expertise and tools to provide bespoke solutions. This evolution has been propelled by advancements in data analytics, allowing for more precise risk assessment and pricing.


Strategic underwriting in a competitive landscape


In a market inundated with options, standing out requires more than just competitive pricing; it necessitates strategic underwriting. Having managed programs for several large carriers, I have learned that disciplined underwriting is the bedrock of sustainable growth and profitability. Strategic underwriting involves a meticulous evaluation of risks, comprehensive market analysis, and a forward-thinking approach. It demands a balance between aggression in pursuing profitable business and caution in risk selection. In today’s competitive landscape, underwriters need to be nimble, leveraging data and technology to enhance their decision-making processes.


Building and maintaining successful MGA relationships


The relationship between carriers and MGAs is pivotal in the program business space. MGAs serve as crucial intermediaries, possessing the specific market knowledge, underwriting expertise, and distribution networks necessary for carriers to tap into niche markets. Building and maintaining successful relationships with MGAs is an art. It requires mutual trust, open communication, and a shared commitment to underwriting excellence. In my role as chief underwriting officer at AM Specialty Insurance Company, fostering strong partnerships with MGAs has been a priority. We understand that these relationships are not just transactional; they are strategic partnerships that need to be nurtured over time.

The program business landscape has undergone considerable changes, and navigating this space requires a combination of experience, strategic underwriting excellence, and strong MGA relationships. As we look to the future, the industry will continue to evolve, and those who adapt, innovate, and uphold underwriting discipline will be well-positioned to thrive in this dynamic market.

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