Posted on 05 May 10
This week we’re featuring Storefront USG Insurance Services, founded in 2001 by Gerald Horton, President/CEO, and Susan Horton, Vice President. Their vision with USG was to create a unique provider of innovative insurance solutions nationally, which they offer through a variety of subsidiaries and divisions. Headquartered in Tampa, Florida, USG today has 14 offices nationwide and six subsidiary companies with more than 140 employees and growing. The USG subsidiaries include:
• USG Insurance Services (USG) — is a national wholesaler for commercial property and casualty insurance with a broad range of brokerage and MGA products.
• Allied American Underwriters (AAU) — provides program based solutions thru a variety of distribution channels and is divided into three categories: AAU Comp, AAU Programs, and AAU Personal Lines. All fairly new initiatives, established in the past three years.
• Broker Financial Services (BFS) — a premium financing company in the 14 states in which USG is located.
• USG Re - the reinsurance arm for programs offered through AAU or directly from USG.
• Innovations — a marketing and advertising consulting company that offers solutions for insurance and related industries.
• AAU Financial Group — currently in the testing phase, offers financial services to a select group of agencies in Pittsburgh, Pa; expansion plans are underway.
We spoke with USG’s National Marketing Director, Kristen Taylor, about the firm’s philosophy and vision as well as some of its newest products and services. Kristen began her career at the retail insurance marketing level, having worked for ThompsonBaker Agency, Inc. and later as a marketing consultant for Oyster Creek Marina, Habitat for Humanity, AXA Advisors, Inc., and other clients for “intangible products” marketing. She joined USG in 2006 and leads the marketing department in strategy development for the parent company, USG, as well as all its subsidiaries. Her expertise lies in developing innovative marketing strategies, mid-size to large accounts, training and staff development. She is also on the Board of Directors of the Insurance Club of Pittsburgh and is the president of NAPSLO Next Generation.
When speaking about USG, Kristen underscores the philosophy that the Hortons began when founding the company. “Our objective is to offer new, creative solutions and to consistently develop innovative products for the risk management industry. Because we are such an entrepreneurial company, our success lies with our employees who have built the company from the ground up. We look for people who have insight, creativity, and motivation to perpetuate the vision that has helped get us to where we are today. We also value the relationships we have with our customers, investors and partners. We nurture these relationships by simply doing what we say we will.”
One fairly recent USG product includes AAU Comp, launched in 2009 and available on a national basis. “Chuck Holdren, a true Workers Comp expert, joined our team to develop custom products for us,” says Kristen. Based in El Segundo, California, Chuck created several Workers Comp platforms for USG: an exclusive product for the Auto Repair and Service industry in California; standard coverage on over 400 different types of businesses; Hazardous Workers Comp, which includes coverage for roofing and contractors; a program for staffing companies, typically a hard-to-place risk; United States Longshoremen’s & Harbor Comp, providing coverage for employees such as shoremen, harbor workers, ship repairmen, shipbuilders, and more; and a custom risk management plans for large accounts. “We are continuously working with Chuck to add new programs,” says Kristen.
Another new initiative AAU Personal Lines offers programs that are written on a national basis, includes an array of coverages such as; Homeowners, Rentals, Condos, Umbrella, Flood, Builders’ Risk, Jewelry, Boat/Yacht, Auto, Antique/Collector Cars, etc. for any size account — from normal household exposures to multi-million-dollar, high-value homes. “We focused on having broad market access with both admitted and non-admitted products. We have a dedicated specialist in Personal Lines out of our Pennsylvania office,” says Kristen.
Additionally, in March 2010, USG launched a Transportation division to provide solutions for trucking and heavier commercial auto accounts, with expansion plans slated in the future to broaden the offering to other risks. Available in most states during this initial launch, the program will be expanded nationally in the next quarter. It’s underwritten out of USG’s Arlington, Texas office and headed by Jeannie Walker, an expert in the Transportation sector. “Jeannie’s expertise adds an additional dimension to many of our retail partners,” says Kristen. “Many of the retailers don’t have a dedicated Transportation unit, and Jeannie brings her knowledge and understanding of the business to them and offers various ways to place the business on accounts.”
When asked how USG has dealt with a prolonged soft market and the economic downturn, Kristen emphasizes that the company’s business model and strategy has focused on offering a diversity of products and access. “We have a wealth of options for our customers on a national basis. We provide unique products such as the ones discussed earlier as well as offering admitted and non-admitted products to help combat the soft market and state of the economy. Overall, our value is in our relationships with our agents and customers and continually keeping track of trends in the marketplace and responding to them quickly. For example, as we began to see the medical marijuana climate change on a national basis whereby 14 states now allow dispensaries to operate, we responded with four different product offerings for that exposure. We are very quick to respond to the needs we see in the insurance marketplace.”
USG’s marketing strategy is described as on-line and relationship based. “We designed our own agency management system – Brokers Management Exchange (BMX) – to provide a state-of-the art platform so that all data and carrier information is at our fingertips at all times. This enables us to be quick, get an account out to market in seconds, relay information to our agency customers, and keep up to date on our carriers’ appetite. Because we’ve been historically technologically based, our agency customers have up-to-the-minute updates on accounts. Through the My USG section of our website, we have several on-line quoting options; agents and brokers can search our entire library of database applications and download an application or customize a marketing piece with their agency name. We will continue to expand the My USG section in 2010 with new features such as the ability for agents to log on and view account statements and invoices. We will also have a portal where agents can look up an SIC code they’re interested in and the product options we have available for those codes. We look to stay in contact with customers through ProgramBusiness, My New Markets, Silver Plume, as well as our own internal broadcast system.”
For more information about any of USG’s programs, please contact Kristen at 724-754-9007, or email her at email@example.com. Also, you can visit: www.usgins.com.