Insurance Age – MGA Feature on NBS Underwriting
12 May 2023
We are delighted for NBS to have been featured in Insurance Age on their website and latest magazine. Stan Kaznowski, talks to Insurance Age about all things NBS. You can read the full article on their website here: www.insuranceage.co.uk/commercial/7952826/meet-the-mga-nbs-underwriting
If you do not have a subscription for Insurance Age, you can read the questions and answers from the article here:
NBS has doubled the number of agents it works with over the past 12 months. CEO Stan Kaznowski explains how both making ‘brokers’ lives easy’ and getting ahead of the curve with data have been key to the company’s success.
When did NBS start trading, and with what products and capacity did you begin?
NBS Underwriting was founded in 2011 and started trading in the same year. The company initially focused on offering insurance within the leisure and hospitality sector.
We started with limited capacity but very soon gained enough premium to attract the likes of LV and Hiscox and then secured a long-term commitment as an Accelerant Member, and we haven’t looked back since. Since then, we have expanded our product offering to include other specialty insurance lines including retail and petrol stations, non-standard home insurance, property owners, sports and social clubs, community enterprise, combined and contractors’ liability and very recently we have launched a professional indemnity product.
What would you describe as the USP of NBS?
Our ethos is to make our brokers’ lives easy, which underpins all our decisions. We embrace technology and use an award-winning system which provides speed of delivery for even the most complex quotes.
Communication is managed through the system, to ensure the process is easy and streamlined. We also ensure that quotes are delivered on time – if a risk is urgent, we respond immediately.
We back up technology with 40 skilled underwriters, who are empowered to find innovative ways to help.
How has the business evolved since launch in 2011 and have things gone as expected?
Since our launch back in 2011 we have seen significant growth. Like most businesses we have had a few setbacks along the way such as capacity coming in and out of the Flood-Re space.
By being agile and consistently evolving to market conditions and having a service first approach, we have seen our business grow. Our GWP has increased from £19m to £100m in less than 5 years.
There has been a lot of talk about a capacity crunch; how have you found securing (re)insurer support?
We experienced this in our early days, but now NBS is in the very fortunate position to be a Member of Accelerant, which empowers us with a rolling 5-year capacity deal. Alongside this we also manage capacity for Hiscox, AXA Insurance and HCC Tokio Marine.
Our insurer partners remain delighted with our standard of underwriting and excellent loss ratio results, so we have been able to continue to offer A-rated capacity across all products.
Consistent capacity in the MGA space is priceless and our relationships with our partners enables us to commit to the products we offer and provide a consistent underwriting approach for brokers, which absolutely makes their lives easier.
In terms of your core markets how would you describe the rating environment presently?
The current rating environment is certainly a challenge right now, but by utilising our tech and data we have been ahead of the curve, and we have pushed rates through our products gradually. Data is key to NBS, and we pride ourselves on capacity management and forward thinking change rather than waiting for demands from our partners. This cushioned approach allows brokers to manage their clients’ expectations with ease.
There have been lots of concerns about underinsurance in the commercial space; do you see this as a concern and how are you looking to address the issue?
Yes, we recognise that there is a huge underinsurance issue in the commercial space which has been amplified in the last 2-3 years by an unprecedented increase in material costs, wages and inflation. We want to support brokers and their clients, to prevent SMEs becoming underinsured and an average condition being applied, whenever we can.
We understand the difficulty that business owners face, especially in the current climate, when calculating precise sums insured. This is why we recently introduced a number of special provisions which provides a buffer to reflect the issues we are seeing in the marketplace.
We know this is not a new problem, but together with our brokers, we are highlighting to business owners, the importance of ensuring that sums insured are at an adequate level. We are issuing information to all business owners highlighting the issues around underinsurance.
How would you describe someone who might be a good fit as an NBS employee?
To support our continued growth, we have had to scale up to meet increasing demand at a great rate. The most important thing for us it to ensure that an employee has a strong work ethic and great personality. Whilst recruiting candidates with insurance experience is preferred, we like to nurture those who are committed to professional development. The NBS team is the life blood of the business, we employ the very best to ensure we continue to deliver a quality service. By scaling up quickly, we have also created a lot of opportunity, therefore creating great career development for all.
Last year you unveiled a ‘Team Charter’, can you explain what it is and why you launched it?
In June last year we launched our team charter which provides NBS employees with a clear understanding of our culture and behaviours. The charter clearly documents and explains how all employees can ensure that we deliver on our core value of ‘making brokers’ lives easy’.
It was important for us to keep building on the great ethos we have created, moving from a small personal team to a more corporate setting – while at the same time keeping the enjoyment within the team and ensuring all employees have a voice to enact positive change.
In June 2021 you acquired The Underwriting Specialist Limited; what do you look for in potential buys and how would you describe you acquisition strategy?
We are an ambitious MGA and we are always looking to further strengthen the position of NBS and expand our product range by acquiring other specialist MGAs. When looking for potential purchases we look for businesses with a great team who have a similar ethos to ours; the people are so important. Then we look for products that complement our existing portfolio, so we can offer a wider range of products to our broker partners. If these products are niche and non-standard, even better. Further, we are always looking for books of business from our brokers, where we can utilise our quote and buy technology and get to market extremely quickly.
What can we expect in terms of product diversification from NBS in 2023?
One of our key strengths is that we can react to market conditions quickly and develop appropriate products to meet the needs of brokers and their clients. We constantly research and keep abreast of developments in the industry to ensure we continue to provide market-leading products.
In 2022 we introduced two new products, community enterprise and combined liability to add value to our product offering. Within the past month we have also launched a further professional indemnity insurance product range, in association with The Underwriting Specialist.
As businesses are closing at an unprecedented rate, we are already developing a new unoccupied commercial property insurance product to meet the needs of this growing trend. This will be launched in the coming months. From here we will then look to launch a new commercial combined product, but more on that will be announced shortly.
How many brokers do you deal with and what would your message be to brokers who have not reached out to you yet?
We now have over 600 agents in the UK regularly placing business every month – compared to under 300, 12 months ago. This increase in the number of brokers using our system is testament to the service we are providing. This is backed by the results of our recent broker partner feedback survey where we were rated as excellent or good by 89% of brokers for our level of service, 94% for our range of products, 91% for quality of cover and 92% for speed of quotation.
We are always interested in building strong relationships with reliable and reputable partners and urge brokers to get in touch with us to see how we can support their business.
In five years’ time what will success look like for NBS?
We are committed to growth and development of the company. We have bold aspirations to double the current size of NBS with a good mixture of organic growth and acquisitions.
We are very fortunate to have a young and robust team that can easily take us to the next level. We have a clear progression strategy at all levels, and we’re excited to watch the team grow and succeed.
Success will be a strong premium growth alongside watching the next generation of NBS talent becoming a major force in the MGA space.
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