Posted on 05 May 09
This week we are featuring ProgramBusiness.com Storefront, AmWINS Transportation Underwriters (ATU). We spoke with ATU president Joe Hutelmyer about the success of the company and the programs it provides. He has been with the company since 1981, when it was known as Seaboard Underwriters.
AmWINS Transportation Underwriters is a managing general agency and wholesale insurance brokerage specializing in the trucking/transportation industry. The company is a combination of two long-time transportation/commercial auto specialty MGAs: Burlington, North Carolina-based Seaboard Underwriters, which has provided comprehensive insurance services to short- and long-haul trucking operations since 1957 and joined AmWINS Group, Inc. in 1987; and London American General Agency of San Diego, California which was acquired in late 2007. AmWINS Group, Inc. is one of the largest wholesale brokerage operations in the country, with over $3.3 billion in premium placements and 45 offices nationwide.
ATU, in addition to its Burlington and San Diego locations, has offices in Zionsville, Indiana and Bellingham, Washington and staff of 28. The company expects to write $35 million in premium this year.
“The key to our success lies in our unbelievably talented and knowledgeable staff who, on average, have been with us more than 10 years,” says Joe. “If you consider the North Carolina operation, the average would be closer to 20 years.”
The company’s goal, according to Joe, is to be the best transportation specialist in the industry and he defines “best” in terms of integrity, professionalism and industry knowledge. “Ongoing education and training are important, and many of our employees hold industry designations,” says Joe. “The operation itself has held a CMGA Designation from the American Association of Managing General Agents since 1997.”
We believe that partnering with quality insurers looking for long-term relationships, as well as understanding completely the classes that ATU underwrites, fosters success and longevity in the specialty transportation business.
The company’s overall strategy has weathered more than one insurance cycle, thanks to its experienced staff. “Unlike many of our counterparts on the carrier and program management side, we understand the challenges,” explains Joe. “And, although the state of the current economy is a bit different from those of the past, what has distinguished our performance is our continued ability to react to market changes quickly and take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves. We are very nimble,” says Joe.
To illustrate ATU’s flexibility and responsiveness to the marketplace, Joe describes how the company’s average premium size has gone from $40,000 to $7,000 in just a couple of years. “When the larger fleet business became too competitive for our markets to generate the underwriting profit they needed, we changed our focus to the single-shot/owner-operator business and have grown in the process. Submissions had to be turned around in less than 24 hours versus the 5-to-30 days needed on fleet business, and the processing end needed to be significantly streamlined to handle the additional workload. Our staff was prepared and equipped to do this.”
Diversification is another cornerstone of ATU’s plan, not only in product offerings but also in insurance company markets. “We have the ability to completely meet our retail agents’ commercial auto needs, becoming more valuable to them and eliminating problems incurred when writing a single class, such as trucking, in this economic environment. By diversifying our markets, we offer slightly different products for insureds, allowing us to continue to provide a market should one of our company’s appetite change.”
ATU’s specialties include: Commercial Trucking, available in the Southeast, Midwest and California; Limousine, currently in 14 states with a new public auto program in 12 states being added in August; Truck Brokers Contingent Liability and Cargo on a national basis; Taxicab Liability, available in many states; and Public Auto, which is available in most states.
What distinguishes ATU in these niches is market and product knowledge and a staff ready to work with its retailers to find a way to write the business and provide the necessary coverage. “Because we are specialists, we understand the business, and we have longevity in the field,” says Joe. “In some cases, new companies come in, they don’t understand this highly specialized business, they write coverage cheaply, disrupt the marketplace and then stop writing the class, leaving agents and insureds without a market to place their business,” says Joe. “You then have agents and customers looking for a new home.”
AmWINS Transportation Underwriters’ marketing programs have included all forms of advertising — from print in the national trade magazines to direct mail to e-blasts, with a focus on implementing specific target ads. “We have been very successful with ProgramBusiness in targeting specific classes and products in distinct geographic territories. Our click-through response on PB.com to ads is very good and the help provided by the staff in streamlining our ads to make them more effective has been excellent,” says Joe.
For more information about programs provided by AmWINS Transportation Underwriters, please contact Mark Maucere, Senior Vice President, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit http://www.amwins.com/atu.