A lot of companies insure commercial property – but not many can claim to be constantly looking for ways to say “yes” to their brokers, rather than for ways to say “no”. Like many MGAs, South Western Insurance Group Limited offers both named perils and broad form property policies. But they also make those coverages available on the kinds of properties that other companies do not want to insure.
Hard-to-place risks constitute the greatest portion of South Western Insurance Group Limited’s property business. And according to senior underwriter Melanie Pon, that is exactly why so many brokers look to her company first. “It is our common-sense approach to property insurance,” she says, “that sets us apart from the regular markets.”
As one of the oldest MGAs in Canada, South Western Insurance has extensive experience and an established network of commercial property contacts. The company also understands that brokers want to be kept in the loop and staff pride themselves on providing quick turnarounds.
“We make a point of responding to property quote requests right away,” Pon explains, “to let our brokers know they are being worked on, and that someone will be getting in touch with them. That lets them know exactly who to contact in case they need to follow up.”
But as for the main reason why South Western Insurance Group Limited enjoys such success in the property sector, Pon firmly credits the company’s common-sense approach to coverage needs.
“A lot of underwriters stay inside their boxes and say, no, we are not going to look at this because of A, B, or C. But we ask questions. We look at a situation, we see the little markers saying this is not a good risk, then we ask the client to explain why A, B, or C happened. In a lot of cases, the reasons make sense.”
Pon cites the example of how a regular market might inspect a building, then come back to the insured with a recommendation that the outside stairs be repaired. When the insured responds that the stairs cannot be repaired until spring because the property is covered in snow, the company cancels them for not complying with recommendations within 60 days.
“Once an insured has not complied with recommendations, those are words nobody wants to hear. It is basically a red flag, and so regular markets will not look at the risk. But if that client comes to us, we ask them why they did not comply. And if the explanation is reasonable – like the one in this example – we say okay, we can do this. Get back to us in the spring and let us know the work has been done.”
According to Pon, common sense means talking to your broker about a situation – not just looking at a piece of paper and concluding that this is not going to happen. “Communication is key,” she states, “especially when it comes to hard-to-place risks. And that is why it is great to be part of an MGA that has the ability to think outside the box.”