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Insential: An Outside-the-Box Approach Offers Agents Creative Niche Programs, Specialty Solutions, and Opportunity for Growth

Featuring Darwin Lucas, President/COO


Posted on 07 Jul 10

Texas-based Insential is a full-service wholesale broker, providing insurance solutions and consulting for retailers, carriers, and associations. Founded in 2007, its President/COO Darwin Lucas, has roots in the brokerage, underwriting, and niche program arenas. The organization is comprised of professionals with years of proven experience. Insential’s goal is to exceed its agents’ expectations with competitive programs and comprehensive carrier access through financially sound companies.

We spoke with Darwin about Insential, some of the programs it provides, and what distinguishes the organization in the marketplace. With 26 years in the industry, Darwin brings a wealth of experience in running Insential, including a career that began in underwriting on the carrier side, working for several of the major insurers, including AIG, Liberty Mutual, Fireman’s Fund, and CNA. About 12 years ago, Darwin began developing and growing programs and entered the wholesale side of the space in 2003. Insential has 14 employees with its headquarters in Plano, TX and offices in Westchester, and Chicago, IL, and Palm Springs, CA.

“A significant part of our business strategy is focused on building programs and creating niches for our retail network,” says Darwin. “We have the resources and the ability to create programs that set us apart, whether they are local, regional, or national.”

Darwin explains that part of what Insential provides is the ability to help their retail customers parlay an existing book of business into something larger. “We have been very successful in finding markets for these agents, providing them with an avenue to grow in a particular niche,” says Darwin. Insential also provides its expertise to associations to help them develop added-value insurance programs for their member base.

One of Insential’s niche programs is their Liquor Liability Solutions for bars, taverns, nightclubs, restaurants, and many other classes of business; which is offered through wholesale brokers and retail brokers. They also have a Roofing program with an A-rated admitted carrier for residential and commercial roofing clients. In addition to these programs they provide access to some of the best carriers for liquor, contracting and many other clients. Insential also offers a national Precast Concrete Program, and Binding Authority Programs (for about 200+ classes of business) through non-admitted carriers. You can see a complete listing of Insential’s programs at: http://www.insential.com/Insurance_Solutions.html. In the coming months Insential will launch a new program in the entertainment arena.

“We have exclusive programs that continue to differentiate us and are always looking to create programs in a difficult marketplace,” says Darwin. “For example, the roofing industry has always been fairly difficult to find coverage. The bar and nightclub business is a difficult business to insure, once liquor receipts exceed 30%. Insential offers exclusive carriers for these industries, which has endeared us to our brokers while giving us the opportunity to expand our agency distribution.”

Providing first-class customer service is critical for Insential. “We pride ourselves on the stellar service we provide to our agents and their clients, and we will never lose sight of that,” says Darwin. “We’ve been able to grow rather quickly as a result of our attention to detail and to our clients.”

An integral part of Insential’s strategy is to continue to grow through acquisitions. “We’re looking for strategic acquisition partners, whether it’s an MGA, Program Administrator, or brokerage operation. Our acquisition strategy is a little different,” continues Darwin. “We’re not looking to come in and take away the owner’s dream, vision, or their autonomy. We’re also not looking to cut staff or change the identity of an organization, if it isn’t necessary. We want organizations that want to continue to work and grow, but perhaps don’t have the human capital or resources to expand in difficult economic times, and in this soft insurance cycle. We have the financial resources, skill, distribution network, and connections to help organizations grow and achieve their goals.”

Recently, Insential acquired Source One Benefits, Inc., a Chicago-based wholesale general agent of some of the nation’s largest providers of ancillary group benefits. Retail agency partners of Insential will have immediate access to ancillary group products, which will help round out their product offerings for their clients. (In the next issue of Insurance Unplugged, we will tell you more about Source One Benefits. You can also contact Terry Byrne at tbyrne@source1b.com or 312.454.6008 for more information about SourceOne Benefits.)

Insential’s marketing includes an integrated mix of relationship marketing with industry-specific regional and national associations, direct marketing, and an aggressive e-blast campaign. Immediate future plans include creating a firm digital footprint that includes some of the social networking sites and other social media platforms.

To find out more about Insential’s various programs, please call 888.571.6160. If you’d like to discuss mergers and acquisition opportunities, you can call Darwin at: 972.535.6701, or via email at: dlucas@insential.com.


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