“Markets will stabilize, but at very high levels” – Oakbridge CEO | insurance business usaThank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!
Oakbridge CEO Robbie Smith outlines expectations for the year ahead
by David Saric
Looking at what the insurance market might shape in 2024, Oakbridge Insurance president and CEO Robbie Smith (pictured) is expecting rates and premium levels to drop, albeit with a caveat.
“The market will stabilize, but at a very high level,” he said. “Prices have been inflated as rates set by carriers have increased in order to make a profit, while inflation has overwhelmed buildings and replacement costs are very high.”
While Smith believes the industry has weathered the storm of rapid growth, he doesn’t expect those numbers to slow down.
This results in fewer outliers in a tough market to offer more competitive pricing than other carriers.
“Having been in the industry for 35 years and experiencing tough markets in the past, there is very little competition that is trying to gain market share by pricing below market standards,” Smith said.
“Let’s face it, most insurance carriers have to answer to a board of directors and a shareholder group – and if they’re not getting a return on their invested capital and their equity, someone else will come in and be in charge of making sure that happens. More Profitability.”
in an interview with insurance business, Smith talked about why specialized brokers/brokerages can help clients find better solutions. He also discussed Oakbridge’s continued expansion into southern Georgia with its latest acquisition, Akin Insurance Agency.
“When you speak their language, they gain confidence in doing business with you.”
As major threats including climate change and cybercrime continue to cast a shadow over various industries, Smith believes specialized brokers are a great resource to strengthen client confidence in the insurance industry and its products.
“First, metrics show that specialized brokers grow faster, have higher customer retention and have greater customer satisfaction,” he said.
Smith points out that specialized brokers also offer more specialized advisory skills, contrary to the public perception that the profession is entirely transactional.
“When you speak their language, it gives them confidence to do business with you,” Smith said.
If a client is providing a specific service or has a more unique risk profile, he or she may benefit from looking for a broker who has more creative problem-solving skills to find the best solution and get the best coverage to the consumer. Be completely proficient in using. And service is possible, especially in a tough market.
Additionally, it is expected that customers will see benefits in the partnership between both specialized brokers and carriers to bring greater clarity to the end-to-end insurance process, especially claims.
“While some carriers may offer cheaper options, a particular insurer with a slightly more expensive package has the history and knowledge of paying claims and making decisions on any issues that may arise,” Smith said. “This is where the advice and consultation moves away from the commoditization of insurance and turns it into something that is a real product.”
“We want to live in the southeast”
With the announcement last month that Oakbridge was acquiring Akin Insurance Agency, a multi-line P&C agency with offices in Vienna and Cordele, Georgia, Smith and his team are looking to build a larger presence in the region.
“We want to stay in the southeast,” he said. “Agriculture is one of the sectors that is driving growth in that sector, along with hospitality, healthcare and construction, and Akin is the leading provider of this type of coverage in that sector.”
While there are certainly opportunities for growth, particularly in agriculture, there are still challenges that will require more creative solutions.
Smith said, “Carriers’ appetite for capacity is changing, the amount of risk they are willing to take on for any individual risk is decreasing, and the days of being able to ask for favors or combinations on individual risks are really gone. “
This is caused by increasingly destructive weather events, including hurricanes coming off the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.
“The hurricane issues are very real,” Smith said. “In addition, we are dealing with more wind issues associated with tornadoes and what are known as straight-line winds. “Georgia is at risk due to storms coming from Louisiana and Texas.”
“We’re making sure we have the right spread of risk so we can treat our carriers fairly,” Smith said.
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