Ryan Specialty National Programs: Finding success by identifying and serving niche industries

“Our model really is to find niche expertise in our industry classes and build products around that expertise and offer multi-line solutions for our segments,” Ryan Specialty National Programs’ co-president Bill Evans has told The Insurer TV.

“In franchised auto dealers, we have specific coverages that address the needs of a dealership, similarly for dealer open lot type of coverages. In our pest control operation, we have coverages that address things like wood-destroying insects, termites, that sort of thing.”

This approach has served the team well over time, according to Evans and fellow co-president Chris Kelleher.

“We offer specifically tailored programs for building service contractors, dealer service operations, temporary staffing, and niche property programs, such as self-storage and real estate investors,” said Kelleher.

Ryan Specialty National Programs serves everything from auto dealers to pest control to fire suppression, and the team has expanded to nearly 40 underwriters, each focused exclusively on their class of business. The firm said this approach allows them to serve their retail agencies with specific products that closely align with client needs.

“The advantage of working with a firm like ours is that the underwriters that they are encountering and are reviewing that risk, have expertise specifically in that space,” said Evans.

National Programs was an early adopter of the program administration model, and it’s been operating as a delegated underwriting authority unit for nearly 30 years, according to Evans and Kelleher.

It started as a security guard program, then expanded into ancillary classes of business for programs that service commercial operations, like alarm contracting firms and janitorial firms, in addition to the other sectors already mentioned.

That kind of expertise can help the firm to track geographic anomalies and respond quickly to trends, said Kelleher.

“Our regular routine actuarial review allows us to stay ahead of some of those trends and modify our approaches, by program segment, based on the geographies that we're seeing, that we're maybe having challenges in.”

That actuarial analysis also helps the team to identify growth pockets in which they can underwrite on behalf of their carrier trading partners.

“We may attempt to change the terms and conditions or the deductible structure or the pricing that we're charging for those programs, based on the results of that book of individual niche classes,” added Evans.

Along with trendspotting and expertise, the team also benefits from its longevity and the stability that goes along with such a long track record.

“We've been doing this for 30 years … and having a very long-term carrier provider, like we do with our longest carrier relationship, demonstrates that we are a trusted partner for them, and they are a trusted partner of ours, and that we do what we say we're going to do,” said Kelleher.

Both co-presidents say expert talent attraction is key to their future success, and that’s why they obsess over it.

“The infrastructure that's in place at Ryan [Specialty] that's afforded us through our operations team, through our infrastructure that's been built, allows us to create an opportunity for people to come in and focus on what they do best, which is underwriting business,” said Evans.

“We're constantly looking for people that have an expertise in a certain space that may be complementary to businesses that we're already in … And that I think allows us to attract the most talented and most successful individuals or teams of people to join us.”

Watch this 15-minute video to learn more about:

  • How Ryan Specialty National Programs succeeds by focusing on niche expertise
  • How the team’s history has prepared it for a changing marketplace
  • How adopting the program administration model early on helped the firm succeed
  • Why longevity and stability help the team respond to trends quickly
  • Why talent is key to Ryan Specialty’s future