For this Advisory Report, AAIS spoke with Charlie Makey, President of Merchants Insurance Group and New York Insurance Association (NYIA) Chair, ahead of the NYIA 2023 Annual Conference. He discussed the biggest challenges facing the U.S. market, how Merchants Insurance Group is responding to these challenges, and what to look forward to at this year’s Annual Conference.
Biggest Challenges Facing the U.S. Insurance Market Today
Makey cites three big issues facing the U.S. market today. The first is developing and finding talent in the industry. “Independent agents and insurance companies are facing big challenges with identifying talent and growing their leadership teams,” he said. “We need to unite and work together with colleges and our industry trade associations to invest and train our future workforce.” The second is the hard market that exists today. “The increase in severe storm activity from global climate changes, reinsurance pricing, and capacity constraints, coupled with the rising claim costs due to inflation, has put pressure on increasing policy pricing in the market,” Makey reported. The third challenge is security training and secure cybersecurity. “With the increase of remote work and employees having the ability to work and communicate anywhere comes a higher exposure to a breach,” warned Makey. “Companies will need to invest more into protecting the data from attacks. Having employee cyber awareness training is also critical as a protection against these attacks.”
How Merchants Insurance Group Is Responding to Market Conditions
The market has been very challenging, but Merchants continues to achieve its goals in different areas. One of these areas is employee engagement. “Capturing our employee feedback and responding promptly to what they need is critical,” said Makey. “We've increased the number of employee connection activities as well to include many wellness initiatives and we're proud to have earned the Best Place to Work Award recently in Western New York for our company size.” Merchants is also continuing to invest in insurtech and online technology. This includes a new agent quoting portal as well as a policyholder portal to include texting. “Our new customer relationship management system will allow us to customize our customer service by policyholder and customer service excellence,” Makey explained. “We're reducing the response time and service handling through AI technology and cross-functional efficiency teams. We've increased our customer service underwriting and claims training to include and review our value-added services at Merchants and within the insurance industry.”
NYIA 2023 Annual Conference
Makey is excited for NYIA members to be together in his hometown of Buffalo, New York. “NYIA has a terrific venue planned with very good speakers on various topics facing the industry,” he shared. “I believe the attendees will unite to create an incredible opportunity for us to learn from each other and continue to move this industry and NYIA forward in the face of challenges that lie ahead.”
Registration is now open for the NYIA 2023 Annual Conference on May 31-June 2. Click here to register online.