Growing fast and giving back
Getting ahead in the insurance industry requires a brokerage to be strong in multiple areas.
Insurance Business America’s Fast Brokerages are all-round top-performing insurance brokerages.
Peter L. Miller, president and CEO of The Institutes, who provides thought leadership and education to the insurance sector, details the standards required to stand out:
- “Providing insights to their customers, particularly data-driven insights that help reduce their clients’ cost of risk”
- “Seeing opportunities that other brokerages do not and strategizing on how to take advantage of them”
- “Focusing on the right data and how to turn that into consumable insights for their clients in ways that other organizations have not yet caught up to”
- “Having a deliberate focus on acquiring and developing talent with the right skillsets to excel in a rapidly changing landscape”
“There are hundreds of employees that work for my clients, and if I do a policy that is not correct and they don’t get paid, there are hundreds who will not go home that Friday with a check to feed their families”
Saray Uribe, CharSan Insurance & Consulting
Growing quickly in trying times
Like the rest of IBA’s 2023 Fast Brokerages winners – all top insurance brokerages – CharSan Insurance & Consulting persevered to achieve more than 20% growth in revenue volume from 2021 to 2022.
Having been in business for less than three years, CharSan has also been recognized as a Fast Starter.
Owner Saray Uribe arrived in the United States in 2004 from Cuba. “One thing you don’t see in Cuba is new construction,” she explains.
Ultimately, she gravitated to the construction insurance business as the owner of the Charlotte, North Carolina-based firm.
“We have a mantra, ‘excellence and integrity is our priority,’” she explains. “So, we try to do things the best way possible with honesty and integrity for our customers.”
IBA also lauded Outsourced Risk Managers, which has won Fast Brokerages and Fast Starter awards.
“Surrounding ourselves with great people is the main thing that has helped us grow our clientele,” says the firm’s president, Billy Bray, based in Houston. “And I have strived to become a pillar in my community and continue to attempt to do that.”
In less than 30 months, Bray went from zero to 100 clients. He also hired six employees and various contractors.
Milestones reached over past 18 months
IBA asked the top insurance brokerages to cite their milestones of the past year and a half.
For Uribe, that was hitting $1 million in direct written premiums, which she accomplished by targeting construction companies in the Charlotte metro area. In addition, she was able to:
- Earn four insurance designations
- Become a board member of Professional Insurance Agents
- Establish herself as an agency owner
Meanwhile, Bray’s Outsourced Risk Managers grew by more than 30% in the following areas:
- Client base
- Number of policies written monthly
- Service staff
“We increased our staff exponentially,” he explains. “We’re still small but we added staff because we added clientele. We’ve had a couple awards that we’ve won – not for being fast growing but recognized in our local marketplace for being outstanding.”
Other milestones include:
- Moving to downtown Houston to be closer to clients
- Expanding to 22 states
- Continuing professional development
Top growth areas
All of IBA’s Fast Brokerages have prospered, but they also have a niche that has paid dividends in particular. Miller emphasized how this is a fundamental building block: “They should understand what is truly driving the market and have a strategic plan that sets where you are going and what success looks like.”
Uribe cites the E&S market as the construction contracts require more coverage than those that can be obtained in the non-admitted market.
“I would say an area that has been growing is the business of my clients,” she adds. “Once they grow, we grow. They start with gross sales of about $150,000 and I see numbers of $2 million after two or three years – that is impressive for me.”
For Bray, the growth areas were risk management and consulting business and staff.
“I started as a one-person agency, and we have added staff as clients have come on board… And in preparation for success, we utilize contractors as well. So, our contractor base has grown outside of our full-time and part-time W2 staff on a project-by-project basis.”
As part of a focus on adding new clients, Larry Lipman, founder of Fast Brokerage Benadvize, took advantage of a new Amazon policy to build his business. “Amazon implemented a rule requiring that their resellers buy insurance. I have brought on almost 200 Israeli Amazon resellers,” he explains.
“Surrounding ourselves with great people is the main thing that has helped us grow our clientele. And I have strived to become a pillar in my community and continue to attempt to do that”
Billy Bray, Outsourced Risk Managers
Reflections on market conditions
Bray is bullish regarding market conditions and the economy. He sees the following as new challenges:
- Cyber liability, which is becoming more important for business owners to focus on
- Being ready for new business challenges as they develop
- Maintaining a good relationship with one’s broker
Regarding the last, he adds, “I think the relationship between the client and the broker is more important than it’s ever been historically.”
Uribe echoes Bray’s statements while adding some details. “Based on 2021 to 2022, the premium for policies were a little bit higher in 2022, and that was due to a lot of competition. Some companies were exiting the markets… So, all companies are increasing premiums because they need to be solvent, they need to be profitable. So, there’s a lot of competition but the rates are killing customers.
“Regulatory changes – that’s affecting the industry, too. The economic part is inflation – that’s something that’s affecting every aspect of the insurance industry,” he says.
“It’s still a hard market, and I see more strict regulations for contractor requirements, so I see more policies going to the excess.”
Top insurance brokers value culture
When Uribe launched her business, she had a laptop in her bedroom. Now, she has an office with five employees. That puts her in a better place to give back.
“Being an immigrant is something that is an experience,” she says. “There is a connection for many of my customers. They have employees that are waiting to get paid on Friday so they can feed their families and there is a big responsibility on my shoulders to do my job right.
“There are hundreds of employees that work for my clients, and if I do a policy that is not correct and they don’t get paid, there are hundreds who will not go home that Friday with a check to feed their families.
“So that is something I really think about every day, and that is part of the excellence and integrity that we do. We have to do our job, our work.”
Stepping outside of profit and loss is something Miller encourages brokerages to do in order to succeed. He adds, “One of the biggest competitive advantages a brokerage – or any organization – can have is a great corporate culture that is flexible, focused on client needs, and can adapt while still holding true to its core values.”