When you are in the early stages of starting your company, your one focus is to get things rolling. To do that, you prioritize: raising capital, getting your Certificate of Authority, obtaining reinsurance and, of course, growing the policy count. And don’t forget about agent licensing, regulatory compliance, hiring people, and all of the systems, processes and other moving parts that make an insurance company work.

Executive Summary

Many regional and specialty carriers focus on growth without stopping to look at the scalability of their processes, people and tools—increasing the risk that they won't be able to fulfill their responsibilities to policyholders and regulators over the long term. Here, Carol Williams, CEO of Strategic Decision Solutions, advises carrier leadership to set milestone markers—periodic checkpoints triggering breaks in the action to re-evaluate how well their systems, processes and staffing can support current and future stages of development. She also provides a five-point checklist with specific items of focus.

A few years go by and the company has grown tremendously. Premiums and policy counts, and therefore market share, continue to grow. On the surface, things seem to be going quite well, but when you begin peeling the onion layers back, a different picture emerges.

In spite of the appearance of success, the company is actually reeling on the inside. It is operating at a loss, reinsurance rates keep going up by double digits each year, and the threat of a ratings downgrade is looming. Regulators are frequently knocking on the door to examine every nook and cranny, and a growing number of lawsuits drain the company’s energy. Months and even years go by where it seems the only thing you and fellow executives do is put out one fire just to move on to the next.

Everyone acknowledges there are problems, but no one seems to know where they are coming from or how to begin fixing them. You only know that something needs to change, or else the company’s long-term success could be at risk.

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