Navigators’ Garrison: Carrier looking to take advantage of strong property conditions

Navigators’ head of wholesale Mike Garrison doubled down on his firm’s interest in growing its property footprint, and said the carrier is no longer getting questions about its commitment to the channel after being purchased by The Hartford in 2019.

Speaking to The Insurer TV at the WSIA Annual Marketplace 2023, Garrison highlighted Navigators’ expanding presence in the E&S market and said he and his team had decided to “make a bigger impact” at the event this year, with 70 colleagues in attendance, up from 20 to 25 in previous years.

“We're not answering those questions any longer,” he said of the firm’s commitment to wholesale.

“We are embracing it. The perception of the wholesale producer platform is that Navigators is here, they're responsive, they're commercial, they answer the phone, they're coming up with creative solutions to the business,” he said of his team.

Garrison described Navigators as one of the longest-standing markets in the primary casualty segment, but said the carrier was diversifying in casualty beyond construction, having doubled the size of its property team.

“We're looking to grow in that space,” he said of property, noting all of the attention firm property conditions have earned in the media.

“We're looking to take advantage of [the hard market conditions] and take advantage of the opportunities,” he commented.

Navigators looks to leverage its brand

Garrison also said he and his team are working to leverage the Navigators brand.

“[We’re] bringing more and more business our way [with] the commitment of Navigators and the Hartford overall and what we bring to the table – claims services, risk engineering services – to drive our products,” he explained.

Part of leveraging the Navigators brand, he said, has included shifting the wholesale unit’s operations “from transactional to strategic”, adding that underwriters are “not waiting around for submissions to come in” and have been more proactive in articulating appetite.

“For our people that are here, this isn't about increasing submission flow. This is not about increasing quote flow. This is about working those relationships, increasing the binding of the business that we're working on,” Garrison said of his team’s goals at the WSIA event.

Talent remains in focus

Amid strengthening relationships with the firm’s distribution channel, Garrison also acknowledged that the flood of business into the E&S market has been a “strain” for the industry.

“The workload is a challenge,” he said, but added that initiatives led by the firm’s data science and actuarial teams to identify the opportunities most likely to bind had made it “manageable”.

“A major focus for us is to be able to get through submissions faster, and respond quicker,” he said.

Garrison said his firm is making “great strides” in the talent war, and that Navigators has become a frequent subject of recommendation for underwriters to consider.

“That specialised nature, that authority, the autonomy that's provided [here], that trajectory, that team environment,” he said, ticking off a number of reasons the firm had become more attractive for talent.

Garrison touted the success of the firm’s intern program, and those of its wholesale broking trading partners.

“Let's face it, two or three years in, and we're starting to see those people come through now,” he commented.

“They provide a great level of loyalty in the organisation amongst each other, and we're seeing that drive and snowball,” he added.

“We still have the need, and the industry does, to pick up senior talent in the market. But… we really need to cultivate the young talent coming in.”