Posted on 08 Feb 12
This week we’re featuring our storefront WAHOO Insurance Programs, a program administrator and wholesale insurance broker based in Haddonfield, New Jersey that specializes in infrastructure contractors. Founded by Scott Kegler in 2011, WAHOO was borne out of the need for retail insurance agents to work with a partner that has the breadth and depth of knowledge in the infrastructure construction industry, access to many markets with a broad risk appetite, and the experience required to custom tailor coverages – all essential in this niche. That partner is WAHOO.
Prior to founding WAHOO, Scott spent 15 years working in finance and insurance, including the last eight years for retail property and casualty insurance broker The Graham Company in Philadelphia. His primary focus at Graham was selling to New Jersey infrastructure contractors through active association involvement. Scott currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors for the New Jersey Asphalt Pavement Association (NJAPA) as the only non-contractor on the committee. He also serves on the Executive Seminar Committee of the Utility and Transportation Contractors Association (UTCA) and both the Membership and Government Affairs Committees of the AGC of New Jersey.
“I wanted to start my own company while at the same time continue to work with the retail brokers and their contractor clients with whom I’ve established solid relationships over the years,” explained Scott. “Having worked on the retail side, I experienced first hand the need for contractors who work on public projects [building and maintaining bridges, roads, tunnels, underground utilities, and drinking water and waste water treatment facilities] to have their coverages tailored to meet contractual requirements. You’re dealing with many different carriers, all of which offer different coverage forms, endorsements, and underwriting appetites. The retailer usually has to go to one carrier for the GL and auto, sometimes another carrier for Workers Comp, a third carrier for umbrella, a fourth for property and inland marine coverage, and then a new group of companies for pollution coverage. Balancing all of this is time consuming for the retailer, with a great deal of back and forth and negotiation, and can take perhaps six to eight weeks to put together a good insurance solution for the contractor.
“My idea was to help streamline the process. We help the retailer by finding the right markets and by custom tailoring the policies to meet the contractor’s needs. We make it real easy for the retail broker and provide the client with a quality product at a competitive price.”
WAHOO operates as an MGU for its Workers Compensation carrier, and as a wholesale broker for all other coverage lines. The company focuses on the mid-Atlantic region (Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and Connecticut), and plans on expanding in the future. “If something comes up that is outside our geographic focus and the fit is right, we can write the account on a case-by-case basis,” explained Scott.
WAHOO works with all A-rated carriers, and has access to over 90 insurance companies, including exclusive underwriting programs. The targeted minimum account premium is $250,000 ($100,000 on Workers Comp), though they can write smaller accounts when the need arises. In addition to the Workers Compensation, coverage lines available include: General Liability, Auto, Umbrella, Pollution, Property, and Contractors' Equipment. “We can write the entire account or the just the Work Comp,” said Scott. “But if you have a great Workers Comp program but don’t have the GL and Auto to go with it, it may be less attractive to the client. We want to be able to pair up the Workers Comp with the other coverages needed.”
When discussing the industry in general and how Scott sees it shaping up in terms of growth, he explained that there is an incredible amount of backlog of infrastructure work that has to be done throughout our country. “The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) produces a report card of the nation’s infrastructure. The nation’s overall Grade is ‘D’,” said Scott. “And although you see a lot of attention focusing on bridges, our roads also need repairing as well as our sewer system, wastewater and drinking water systems. Our underground systems are very old and need replacement. The ASCE estimates it will require an investment of $2.2 trillion to bring our infrastructure up to par. The demand is there, it’s a matter of getting the funding.”
In addition to providing retailers with an ease in doing business, WAHOO also helps its partners get policies quickly. “Sometimes a retailer is dealing with one of the big carriers and is working with an underwriter who may not understand all the changes needed in order for a contractor to comply with the requirements of a particular job. We understand what’s needed and will work to get that policy tailored and issued quickly.”
What’s more, WAHOO is partnering with carriers with which a typical retailer broker may not have a relationship or may not be able to easily access. WAHOO opens the door to these carriers.
“We also bring safety training and management consulting from some of the best and brightest minds in the industry as part of our Infrastructure Contractor Program, said Scott. “We’re bringing a whole account solution to brokers so that they can write the business and offer a product that is done right the first time.”
If you’re a retailer with a focus on the construction industry and are interested in expanding your footprint in the infrastructure contractor market, contact Scott at WAHOO. He can be reached at 856.288-2401, or via email at email@example.com.