On the Horizon
FCCI Specialty Insurance Company: Extending FCCI’s Promise with E&S
Patrick Watland, Vice President, Excess & Surplus Underwriting Kristin Swineford, Senior Vice President, Excess & Surplus
FCCI was founded in 1959 with a strong belief in taking care of people and putting them first. The business it writes is more than just a policy. It’s a promise to continue providing financial protection, a swift response and total transparency when investigating claims thoroughly and processing them fairly. FCCI upholds its commitment to excellence by helping mitigate exposures and guiding policyholders through the claim process with our local presence, expertise and exceptional service every step of the way.
This promise, made and kept, is why FCCI exists today. In an ever-changing insurance landscape, FCCI will proudly unveil a new chapter in its journey in the fourth quarter of 2024 – FCCI Specialty Insurance Company, an Excess and Surplus (E&S) lines company. It’s where innovation meets opportunity.
The purpose of E&S lines is to provide insurance coverage for risks typically considered too hazardous or unconventional for standard insurance markets.
This addition reinforces FCCI’s legacy, extending that promise of doing what it says it will do.
The strategic expansion was announced in August 2022 by Cina Welch, President and CEO. Then, a dedicated team was assembled, led by Tracey Pfab, Executive Vice President and Chief Regional Officer.
“There's no YouTube video for starting an E&S company, but we have the best people on our team to make it happen. We’ve been working since the fourth quarter of 2022 to develop the E&S operating model, product definition and underwriting appetite,” said Donna Ryan, Market Solutions Consultant. “Someone from every department has been involved in building this company.”
From that moment on, the E&S team has been relentlessly dedicated to the rollout. Kristin Swineford was appointed Senior Vice President, and Pat Watland was appointed Vice President. Kristin joined FCCI in July of 2023 and brought a host of experiences with her. Pat has been in the business for over 40 years, including E&S. Together, their visionary leadership was put to work.
Both Kristin and Pat explained that an E&S company would play a crucial role by providing specialized coverage for risks that fall outside the scope of standard insurance markets.
“This opportunity landed on my desk, and it’s what I said I wanted to do. It’s where I've spent my whole career. We're in this space where we see the big hairy risks and find solutions,” said Kristin. “Which means we get to be the heroes when we can work something out.” FCCI has an A.M. Best rating of A (Excellent). Regarding what to expect from FCCI Specialty Insurance Company, Pat explained that excellence remains at the forefront.
“It’s a natural fit. Agents and policyholders can expect the same quality of service from FCCI to transfer to FCCI Specialty. It will feel like a direct relationship, and we will use our own claim and underwriting teams, which is a big selling point,” said Pat. “This will be a direct-to-retail play through FCCI Agency, Inc.”
Starting a new company from scratch certainly comes with challenges, but Kristin and Pat are confident in building the foundation.
"It’s a natural fit. Agents and policyholders can expect the same quality of service from FCCI to transfer to FCCI Specialty."
PAT WATLAND, Vice President, Excess & Surplus Underwriting
“We are developing workflows, guidelines, coverage forms, supplemental applications, payment plans, staffing and surplus tax handling system integrations. That wasn’t there before. We’re doing it with a small team of incredible individuals,” said Pat. “Additionally, we’ve also established an Agents' Advisory Council with 12 valued partners from across our footprint. Initially, the company will be open to all agents in Florida, Georgia and Texas. We want to ensure everything runs smoothly before we flip the switch to the rest of the states.”
Along with a focus on continuing to build strong relationships and leveraging the ones that exist today, FCCI Specialty Insurance Company will appoint its E&S line to existing FCCI agents. “It’s an exclusive offering to our FCCI agents. The levels of service and individualized relationship-building is going to be important to us,” said Kristin. Combined with forging solid relationships, FCCI’s E&S team is prepared to implement effective underwriting strategies.
“We will hire the best underwriters because that’s what we do. We hire the right people who understand the market, its volatility and stability,” said Pat.
Kristin added that FCCI Specialty Insurance will “come out of the gate” with experienced underwriters. “We are already thinking about development and training programs for the future, so we are set up for success,” said Kristin. “We will grow and evolve, but we are starting with experience. As a newcomer to FCCI, I am impressed by how collaborative it is. Our E&S company will follow suit. We will make sure to fill the gaps where we can. When you look at the small players in the E&S market, a lot of them go out of business within the first few years, but we are very well leveraged. We have the FCCI brand, and it’s a powerful thing. When it comes to small players, we’re just going to do a better job. That’s why it’s taking a while to build. We are building this the right way.”
Agents and policyholders can expect a direct line to its underwriters, direct billing and access to FCCI’s risk control services from day one. “Make no mistake, we will get our business, and we will win our business from what currently is placed through a wholesaler because of what we will offer and how we will do our business. We have a proforma that says $60 million in five years. I know we’d be very disappointed if we don’t knock it out of the park beyond that,” said Pat. To get there, optimizing speed and service is crucial, explained Kristin.
“We absolutely cannot miss on speed and service. That is the secret sauce that’s missing in the market right now. Everyone complains about the lack of urgency and the lack of quality relationships from the wholesale side. We’re building a policy administration system from scratch. We will have our systems in place to optimize both the underwriter and producer’s experience so they can spend most of their time building relationships and closing deals. I don’t know how long this will take, but I want to see our company in 46 states with a straight-through process for our agents. This is an exciting and rare opportunity to build something special with the full support of our executives and board members. They’re throwing everything at this to make sure we are successful, and we will be,” said Kristin.
Kristin added that E&S profitability trends at a sub-100% combined ratio.
“When you do the math and think about what that will do to our overall combined ratio for the company, the writing is on the wall. If we do it right, learn from how others have failed, balance the portfolio, take all the pieces and line them up in order, it will be really hard for FCCI Specialty Insurance Company to fail if we hold the line and do not waver. If we deliver what we say we will deliver, we will not fail,” said Kristin.
The horizon for FCCI Specialty Insurance Company appears remarkably bright. With a steadfast commitment to excellence and the hunger to deliver, FCCI Specialty Insurance is poised not only to weather storms but also to thrive amidst them.
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