The Main Street America Group is a mutual insurance holding company that writes business through nine P/C insurance carriers. Based in Jacksonville, Fla., MSA writes more than $1 billion in premium exclusively through independent agents in 38 states. The company has $1.1 billion in surplus.
This article is part of a Wells Media Team report on mutual insurance company challenges.
Wells Media editors Andrew G. Simpson, Stephanie Jones, Amy O’Connor and Elizabeth Blosfield spoke with top mutual executives for their views on growth and related hard and soft issues.
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Jeff Kusch, executive vice president of Insurance Operations at Main Street America, noted that the company has more consistent growth in commercial lines, but it also recently got past some personal lines growth hurdles.
As for the industrywide challenge of attracting talent, being a mutual and “not beholden to owners or shareholders” has its advantages, he said.
“We can do what’s right. We don’t have to make certain numbers. That environment, certainly in the insurance world, is an avid advantage for us to attract some better talent,” he said.
A new auto product, company affiliations and new agency appointments are all helping MSA to grow.
Kusch said: “We’ve had a…really good stretch in commercial lines, where we’re growing anywhere from 4 percent to 6 percent each year in recent years. We had a couple of tough years in personal lines, but we’ve been able to turn the corner and are now growing our personal lines again as well.
“We had strong growth in 2016 that’s carried over to 2017…We have a brand new auto product that we put out in several of our states, a few of the southeast states—Virginia and South Carolina—that we’re having really, really strong success with.”
“We’re very happy with our direction right now as far as premium growth. Since 2009, the MSA Group has added four companies through affiliations, so we’re now stretching into 38 states and have grown significantly in the past few years by affiliation, as well. We’ve spent a lot of time absorbing that. We’re now beginning to put new products and new distribution sources in those new states, too. We’ve been able to capitalize on those affiliations and turn those into a source of growth…
“We’ve added to our territories, but even within our territories we’ve had good success adding agencies, distribution points within our own territories. We’ve put on probably in excess of 700 new agencies in the past three years or so. We’ve had good growth, really, on all fronts.”
While not directly offering digital distribution, Kusch highlights the fact that the company is a founding member of TrustedChoice.com, seeing it as a way to level the playing field for its agents.
“We’re not blind to what’s going on in the marketplace in terms of Internet sales points. That will be a challenge for us and for our customers as we go forward, but we’re part of…TrustedChoice.com, which is a vehicle to give independent agents a method to compete against some of these Internet sales points. We’re having good success with that, and we’re very proud to be part of that group.”