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FEATURE: WRM America - Going Beyond the Policy with Agency Partners and Insureds

By Annie George


Posted on 17 Mar 2011

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ProgramBusiness.com storefront WRM America is a leading full-service specialty insurance and alternative risk program management company headquartered in New York with over 180 employees dedicated to risk management, underwriting, marketing, and claims and litigation management for the unique exposures that education institutions face.

We spoke with Steve Sims, one of the founders and president of WRM America, about the company’s ongoing commitment to innovative underwriting and the development of loss prevention and cost-containment programs tailored to protect not only the reputational risk of an educational entity but also the young men and women that attend these institutions. Steve also spoke to us about WRM America’s commitment to independent agents and brokers in providing a program that goes beyond the policy…to provide a synergistic partnership with a level of service that is second to none.

Wright Risk Management, a respected insurance management company providing underwriting, claims, and risk management services to schools and municipalities for more than 30 years, formed WRM America in 2007. Wright Risk Management is known for its development of the New York Schools Insurance Reciprocal ("NYSIR") in 1989, one of the most successful school insurance companies in the country; and the creation of the New York Municipal Insurance Reciprocal ("NYMIR") in 1993, which provides specialized insurance coverage to approximately 600 municipalities in suburban and upstate New York.

“WRM America comes from a very mature and successful foundation in the educational arena,” explained Steve. “We not only understand the space, but we provide programs and services that are greatly needed and highly unique. For example, a vast majority of schools today do not employ risk managers. With WRM America, you get your own risk management department, supplemented in some instances by the broker’s capabilities. We provide any and all of the services that an educational institution needs that it couldn’t typically afford on its own. We also provide a significant attorney-guided claims and risk management facility, and will also work with an educational institution’s law firm of choice.”

WRM America has risk management professionals in different parts of the country, claims investigators in every state, and marketing field staff throughout the country. Underwriters are assigned to each insured risk on an ongoing basis so they can quickly recognize adverse loss trends and communicate those concerns to WRM America’s loss control and claims departments for actions that could help reduce future exposures.

WRM America programs provide coverage and risk management services for: colleges and universities, K-12 private independent schools, public schools, charters, trade, and vocational schools. All lines of coverage are provided in the program, including: Property – Fire and Allied, Commercial General Liability (including a number of enhancements), Educators Legal Liability, Excess Liability, Commercial Auto Liability and Physical Damage, Crime, Inland Marine, and Boiler & Machinery.

“We’re a true one-stop shop,” said Steve. “We provide all coverages and without any gaps.  A number of competitors have programs for educational entities, but a component is always missing. For instance, a program may have sub-limits on its Educators Legal Liability cover, or it won’t provide excess coverage.  Or, you’ll find a program that offers 90% of what you need, and you have to find the other 10% elsewhere. Our suite of coverages and services are unique and comprehensive.”

Currently, WRM America offers no-gap coverage in 27 states with plans to expand over the next several years to 38. What’s more, the program is available through a limited distribution system. “We go through a thorough vetting process,” explained Steve, “in which the brokers ascertain who we are and we ascertain who they are.  Typically, the process involves doing a quick phone survey with the broker; conducting an interview; and providing the broker with the information they need about WRM America, including an overview of our service capabilities and product offering. The broker will usually do a test case with us to see how we’d quote the account and the terms and conditions we’d offer. A survey is also sent to the agency/brokerage to provide us with their background, capabilities, financial stability, and, most importantly, an indication of their level of commitment to what’s most critical to the schools we serve – the care, custody, and control of the children. We’ll also look at the book of business an agency has and the willingness to build a book if they have the expertise. Expertise is a critical component because it’s a complex risk to insure.”

WRM America works with a wide range of brokerages and agencies. “We work with some large brokerages, but the majority of our partners are independent agencies that specialize in insurance for education institutions,” explained Steve. “The larger brokers are involved with college preparatory schools or larger universities.”

The high level of service WRM America provides is also what separates their offering from others. “Agencies are coming to us not only for the quality of our product but for the service we provide,” said Steve. “A broker has a number of variables that will give him or her a competitive advantage, and we provide those differentiators:  You get the service, risk management, claims management, commitment to cost containment, the program itself, and a competitive product to boot. There’s an excellent quid pro quo between the brokers and us, and we feel that this synergy is a way of building scale.”

WRM America markets its programs through display ads, magazine interviews, ProgramBusiness.com, networking within the education industry, broker referrals, and agency face-to-face visits. “We have two full-time field reps, one in the Eastern region and one in the Midwest-West,” said Steve. “We visit every one of our distributor’s offices once every quarter, meeting, planning, and providing and sharing market intelligence. We have high contact, high visibility with our distribution partners. And when needed, we’ll join a broker in making a presentation during the RFP process.”

For more information about partnering with WRM America, please call Brian Fishlinger at 516.750.3903. You can also visit: http://www.wrmamerica.com/producers/index.htm.


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