The US program insurance sector has transformed itself from an esoteric and sometimes maligned “problem child” of the P&C industry to become one of its fastest growing most vibrant areas, drawing a surge of investor interest, innovation and activity.
Program Manager – the new free-to-read monthly ezine from The Insurer – delivers in-depth coverage of the sector from our team of experienced journalists on the ground in the US. Based on the core high value content published by The Insurer, we bring readers exclusive news, analysis and commentary on the latest developments in this rapidly changing sector.
The target audience of Program Manager will include program administrators, MGA/MGUs, program insurers, program fronting carriers, reinsurers, reinsurance brokers, insurtechs, wholesale brokers, retail brokers, M&A advisors, and ancillary service providers.
We believe that interest in the sector has never been higher. Amid a broader transition towards a hard market in the P&C industry, the dynamics of the program space are changing. The MGA and program administrator segment is the subject of record interest from PE investors looking for the attractive cash generating business that the model provides.
At the same time those MGAs and program administrators are looking to broaden and deepen their capabilities (including through M&A) to be able to demonstrate to potential buyers that they have the kind of integrated platforms that can attract premium valuations with the highest Ebitda multiples. And then there is the wave of program fronting start-ups that have entered the scene. Following the success of State National – the fronting carrier that dominated the space and was sold to Markel at a high multiple – half a dozen new players have launched vying for their share of a growing demand for paper.
More traditional program carriers have also been looking to expand their fronting capabilities. That demand for fronting capacity is being driven by several factors.
Program administrator and MGA relationships that have been over concentrated with a small number of traditional program insurers have been tested by retrenchment and changing appetites, leading to instability as a result of program and capacity churn.
That has been demonstrated by the many MGAs that have struggled to replenish lost capacity over the last 18 months as a result of a pullback from carriers, both domestically and at Lloyd’s.
At the same time traditional reinsurers – and at times alternative capital providers – have been ever more interested in accessing program business.
To do so they have typically had to work with either pure fronts or hybrid vehicles that assume a portion of the risk.
The emergence of insurtech players seeking to evolve into MGAs has also driven demand for reinsurance capacity and access to fronting carriers to facilitate it.
And the appetite of retail agent aggregators to work with MGAs and fronting carriers to develop programs that pool risk in areas like the SME segment to be taken straight to reinsurers also has the potential to transform the space.
All of this activity comes at a time when the “traditional” US program insurance market has been seeing solid top line growth.
According to the most recent data from trade body Target Markets, program business revenues jumped 12 percent to $40.5bn between 2016 and 2018. Since 2011 the size of the market has more than doubled from $17.5bn.