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Insurance Marketplace updates online format

Format allows for continual updates of information

By Dennis H. Pillsbury

Following its introduction nearly 50 years ago, The Insurance Marketplace (IMP) rapidly became an invaluable reference source for independent agents looking for coverages written by the specialty and surplus lines markets. Originally started as a section in Rough Notes magazine by the legendary Wallace (Wally) L. Clapp, CPCU, IMP grew so quickly that it was spun out of the magazine and became a regular annual publication that, today, lands on the desks of 46,000 independent agents.

Over the half century of its life, the publication changed to meet the needs of both the independent agents looking for markets and the entities providing the markets.

One of the first enhancements was the addition of specific definitions for each of the coverages included in The Insurance Marketplace so that agents would be able to home in on the exact coverage needed by their client. In many cases, these were coverages that were needed by only a unique group of clients and that many agents were unfamiliar with or, in some cases, had never known existed. IMP made it possible for agents to speak intelligently about the coverage and find markets with expertise in the area.

Probably two of the biggest changes came with the advent of the Internet and the emergence of automated underwriting that allowed standard companies with no experience in surplus lines coverages to enter the market. The Rough Notes Company responded to these changes by making The Insurance Marketplace available on the Internet starting in 1996, as well as providing periodic updates electronically.

That was then.

The continued soft market has created unprecedented competition in the specialty and surplus lines market. While 50 years ago, an annual update was sufficient, that quickly changed. And so did IMP.

The need for speed

Now we face even greater change where companies are altering coverages, introducing new policy provisions, adding new lines of business, expanding coverage options, and even introducing new coverages to protect against risks that didn't exist yesterday. And IMP has responded by making it possible for companies that provide markets in the specialty and surplus lines marketplace to log onto the IMP Web site and make instantaneous changes to their listing. Users of IMP are thus assured that the information in the electronic version reflects the most current information available. To protect against improper usage of this new service, The Rough Notes Company is automatically alerted whenever a change is made and checks to make certain that it is one that provides useful information that affects the marketplace.

"We're dealing with a moving target," says Tom Ruddy, president of The Ruddy Group, Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, a public relations, advertising, marketing and communications firm specializing in the insurance industry. "Coverage enhancements seem to be occurring daily, as companies compete for a place in the market. The ability to go to the Web site and update information is essential. Just recently, I had a client that received approvals on a program that boosted its territory from 11 states to 25. We were able to go into the IMP Web site and make that change."

Aligned with agents

Tom continues, "For more than 20 years, I've worked exclusively with IMP for my clients in this marketplace and it's been great for us. The Rough Notes Company has always responded to the need to stay ahead of the curve. The company sees itself as aligned with the brokers and agents who read its publications. Their philosophy can be simply stated as 'How can we help our brokers succeed?' And every day, they answer that question with a service or product enhancement.

"My clients have a similar attitude," Tom adds. "They succeed when the brokers and agents they work with succeed. The alignment is perfect. When one of my clients introduces a new coverage, The Insurance Marketplace doesn't tell us that it doesn't fit into one of its categories. Instead, they work with us to develop a new category because they understand that if the marketplace has developed a new coverage, it's because agents and brokers are looking for it and IMP needs to have information on it."

Helen Kiser, director of marketing for Arlington/Roe & Co., a managing general agent and E&S broker based in Indianapolis, says the company has "depended on IMP. It's done a very good job for us. We like to work with a forward-thinking company like Rough Notes. They're very much in tune with all aspects of the industry.

"We're impressed with the new opportunities at the Web site and will be getting highly involved. Being in The Insurance Marketplace enhances our credibility in the market," she concludes.

An enhanced experience

The redesigned Web site ( offers many other extras that will enhance the experience of the users and the companies that list their services.

Users entering the site can find markets for a particular niche by state. Once there, the companies that offer markets in the niche are listed and the user can learn more about each company by clicking on the company name, which will take the user instantly to the company's storefront.

The storefront lists pertinent information about the market's offering in the niche, as well as the states in which it is available, the company's location and phone number, the principal contact, the type of entity (MGA, MGU, insurance company, etc.) and other niche markets offered by the company. It also provides access to the company's Web site and an e-mail address if you have questions about a potential risk.

The market providers can further enhance their storefront with streaming video and audio presentations, animated ads, current news and other information.

"Basically, we've upgraded The Insurance Marketplace Web site so those entities that list their services in our directory can take full advantage of all the Web has to offer," Walter Gdowski, president and CEO of The Rough Notes Co., Inc., points out. "The new design is clean and user-friendly, while still allowing advertisers the opportunity to present their message in virtually any format available on the Net."

Rough Notes' redesigned Web site ( offers many extras that will enhance the experience of the users and the companies that list their services.

Users entering The Insurance Marketplace Web site can search for niche markets by state.



Once a choice is made, the user is taken to a page for the market that includes a description of the coverage as well as companies offering the coverage in the state chosen.


The storefront provides the address, phone number, principal contact, e-mail, territory and other coverages written by the company chosen, as well as a link to the company's Web site. Companies also have the option of providing additional information through a banner ad or a video presentation.





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