Posted on 02 Jun 10
This week we’re featuring New York-based Delos Insurance, one of the top program insurer's in the United States, combining superior underwriting expertise, advanced actuarial capabilities and cutting-edge technology to give clients a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Delos was formed in 2006 by an experienced, seasoned senior management team whose goal was to establish a company that was completely dedicated to program business. With a group of investors the team purchased Sirius America and in 2006 rebranded the firm as Delos. Delos is admitted in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and has a financial strength rating (FSR) of A- (Excellent) from A.M. Best Company.
We spoke with Grace Meek, Chief Business Officer, about the company, its philosophy, and what distinguishes it from the rest. Grace began her career in the actuarial field with Home Insurance and later joined Clarendon in 1992 when the company was entering the program business world. She held positions as program manager, senior program manager and reinsurance manager with Clarendon, until joining Delos in ’06.
Delos’ fundamental operating principle is based on putting profitability first. “We retain a significant risk position in all of our programs so we underwrite each program on a gross underwriting basis,” says Grace. We are not looking to shed any of the risk through reinsurance. We maintain an impeccable balance sheet and all earnings are reinvested into the underwriting operation,” explains Grace.
Further, Grace underscores that “all Delos does is write program business. We don’t write any business direct, we only write business through Managing General Agents or General Agents (GAs) which function more or less like a branch office for us.”
There are 52 employees in the Delos organization, each encouraged and motivated to think like owners and dedicated to program business. “There are many companies that dabble in program business and then also write business on a direct basis or create their own channels,” says Grace. “We have no channel conflicts. Many of our GAs have exclusives with us in a line of business in specific geographic regions. Our philosophy is that we will not compete against ourselves. When we enter into a relationship with a program manager it is with a long-term outlook. We work together to make the business work.”
Delos outsources to its program managers all of the functions of a normal insurance company, such as the marketing, underwriting, loss control, policy processing, etc. This provides Delos with flexibility and the ability to reduce costs. “We have strict internal controls of what GAs can do,” says Grace. “We monitor what our GAs are doing through constant auditing to ensure that they are underwriting what they’re contractually obligated to do. On a monthly basis, our GAs submit data to us so we can monitor financials and every aspect of the business. The goal is to partner with entrepreneurs who have a expertise in their line of business and/or geographic region and let them do what they do best.”
All programs go through a vigorous due diligence process. “We focus on seasoned books of business and are not looking to do start-ups,” explains Grace.
Additionally, there is no focus on a specific line of business. “We are opportunistic,” says Grace. “If we can demonstrate that a given opportunity can produce profitable business and that we are comfortable with the exposure, then we will enter the market. Our ultimate goal is to diversify our portfolio across many lines of business and geographically.”
During these difficult economic times and prolonged soft market, Delos stays on track. “It’s about sticking to what we do, and not making any exceptions. We are focusing on controlling each of our program’s pricing and underwriting,” says Grace. “We’re fine with staying with what we have and helping our GAs retain as much of the renewal business as possible, as this is the most profitable. We are accomplishing this by rounding out some of the coverages, offering additional services and making doing business as easy as possible. But the bottom line is that we will not sacrifice profitability during the soft market.”
The majority of Delos partnerships are as a result of prior relationships with senior management and staff members. “Much of this business has to do with trust and understanding program business,” says Grace. “The foundation of the Delos portfolio has been built on the strong, trusting relationships many of us have in the program business field over many years.”
Delos has hired a marketing person in 2010 to develop new partnerships and get the company’s name out there. ProgramBusiness.com’s platform is another avenue for Delos to brand its name and get top-of-mind awareness among retail agents. “We are also active at many conferences that specialize in program business, such as Target Markets,” says Grace. “We also advertise in publications that go out to general agents.”
Grace’s Business Operations department, which is responsible for both underwriting and marketing, also works in meeting new entities and expanding business with existing partners. She explains that the most significant growth during the soft market has come from working with existing partners to expand geographically and develop new products. “With our existing partners, we have already done the due diligence; you have a successful relationship already,” says Grace. “Therefore it’s simply a question of whether a partner has the marketing and underwriting expertise to launch a new product.”
Although there are no specific lines of business Delos targets, the company is more focused on Commercial Lines. Additionally, Delos is looking to further develop its Professional Liability lines.
To learn more about Delos or if you’re interested in partnership opportunities in program business, please contact Grace Meek at 212.702.2133 or via email at email@example.com. You can also visit: www.delosinsurance.com for more information about the company and its management.