Last year at this time, Karen Trudel, chief operating officer of the Valley Forge, Pennsylvania-based GMI, described the property and casualty insurance marketplace as "a difficult one for everyone." Many of the MGA's competitors were closing up shop. Nevertheless, GMI, which specializes in the transportation industry, was doing well, she says, particularly with the agency's monoline business auto program.
"This year, the market is stabilizing," she says. "We're doing better than last year. Our monoline auto business has doubled, our auto rental is up 30% and we have reached our goal in the contingent leasing business, which was a start-up operation last year. Our focus in underwriting results has been the key to our longevity. We are looking to bring on more programs that are transportation-related."
GMI is a family-owned business, founded in 1980 under the leadership of Norman Trudel. Karen and her brothers, Mark, Michael and Carter, operate the business. Mark is president, Michael is vice president and legal counsel, and Carter is chief financial officer.
Under Norman Trudel, GMI began as an agency specializing in auto rental fleet insurance. GMI offers a complete package to auto rental operators including liability, physical damage, garage, GL, property and rental counter coverages such as CDW coverage, supplementary liability coverage, personal accident and personal effects coverage.
Over the years, the MGA branched out into monoline business auto for fleets that involve the use of commercial vehicles and private passenger cars to support business activities where the primary goal is to sell and distribute products, perform contract operations and provide services to customers. Coverages under this program include statutory and additional personal injury protection, uninsured motorist coverage, automobile physical damage and miscellaneous coverages such as medical payments, hired auto liability, rental reimbursement and "drive other car" coverage.
As mentioned, the agency also offers contingent insurance for leased vehicles, where coverages are provided for long-term automobile leasing companies including liability, physical damage, interim, garage and property. GMI offers GAP coverages--protection against financial liability for individuals who lease or finance a new or used vehicle.
"This year we have focused on loss prevention," says Karen. "We implemented a telephone follow-up risk management call which automatically will send a recommendation letter of best practices if needed. FARA, the company we have contracted with, will also be following up to get a signed acknowledgement of the recommendation letter from our customers. We have also put together an account-specific loss control presentation that is given individually over the Internet and on the telephone to accounts that are running over a 50% loss ratio. We hope to be able to 'turn them around' before it is too late."
Karen says that the educational opportunities are what first drew her agency to Target Markets. "I have attended all the Target Markets meetings, and I go to as many of the educational seminars as I can. That is true of most of the attendees. People are there to work and learn. And, the networking is so important. Where else can you find so many MGAs or program administrators under one roof? And I listened to roughly 20 different carriers that do program business tell us what they were looking for. By knowing in advance what carriers have an appetite for, an MGA can save an inordinate amount of time. We know which carriers are looking for the types of business we specialize in, and we can make appointments with those carriers. From a practical standpoint, we have received numerous leads for new business from Target Markets. Every day we have people coming to us because they have seen us on the Target Markets Web site. Sometimes, they are interested in a specific coverage. Sometimes, they just want to find out more about us."
Karen concludes: "All of us who are members of Target Markets are specialists. And Target Markets is an association specifically geared to specialists in program business. The association does a great job of giving you pertinent information and useful ideas and tools to bring to your business. The association has been a long time coming, but it's here now and GMI intends to benefit from it." *