4 Surplus Lines Organizations You Should Join & Tips for Getting Involved
Whether you’re a seasoned surplus lines broker or just starting out, professional development and networking are essential for gaining exposure in the insurance industry as well as the Excess & Surplus Lines market. To assist you in this endeavor, we have compiled the top four surplus lines organizations and insurance industry groups that you should consider joining. Each offers unique educational resources and networking opportunities to help you grow your business. We’ve also included tips for getting involved and making the most of your membership. Let’s dive in!
Top 4 Surplus Lines Organizations & Insurance Groups to Join
1. Wholesale & Specialty Insurance Association (WSIA)
About: The Wholesale & Specialty Insurance Association (WSIA) is the largest specialty and surplus lines service organization in the U.S. Excess & Surplus lines market. With more than 700 member firms representing tens of thousands of surplus lines insurance professionals, WSIA focuses on strengthening the surplus lines industry through active involvement in legislative processes and creating meaningful educational and networking opportunities for its members.
Benefits: WSIA hosts several well-attended events each year, including the WSIA Annual Marketplace, Underwriting Summit, InsurTech Conference, and the U40 Annual Meeting targeting members under 40. These events feature educational presentations from industry experts, training sessions, and valuable networking opportunities.
In addition to annual events, WSIA frequently offers webinars on various topics, including leadership, emerging issues, and the state of the E&S industry. Membership in WSIA also provides access to a professional government affairs team, compliance resources, and more. There are also multiple committees and chair positions requiring willing volunteers for those looking for even more involvement.
Learn more: https://wsia.org
2. Securities and Insurance Licensing Association (SILA)
About: The Securities and Insurance Licensing Association (SILA) is a non-profit association dedicated to providing “the knowledge, skills, and work environment of licensing, registration, and education professionals” in the insurance industry. With more than 1600 members, SILA is a well-known organization for providing insight into industry best practices for compliance and platforms to develop relationships with peers and state regulators.
Benefits: Membership in SILA provides access to advanced education and training programs, chapter events designed for networking and best practice sharing, subgroups designated for specific topics of interest, podcasts, webinars, notices of state regulatory insurance updates, and more. There is also an active discussion forum for members to exchange ideas and network with peers. SILA hosts the annual SILA National Education Conference, prefaced by a week of virtual classes and training geared towards professionals of all experience levels, from beginner to advanced.
Learn more: https://sila.org
3. The Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers (CIAB)
About: The goal of the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers (CIAB) is to “foster industry-wide relationships with lawmakers, regulators, and stakeholders to promote the interests of our member firms.” The organization provides thought leadership on market intelligence and government regulations and places a significant emphasis on developing insurance professionals into effective leaders who can adapt as the industry evolves.
Benefits: CIAB offers countless opportunities for professional development, including leadership forums, webinars, working groups created to help you connect with peers to resolve day-to-day challenges, and more.
Learn more: https://ciab.com
4. National Council of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL)
About: The National Council of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL) is primarily composed of legislators serving on state insurance and financial institution committees. Their primary goal is to educate state legislators on industry hot topics, bringing stakeholders together in a forum to effectively interface to discuss solutions for improving the quality of insurance regulation.
Benefits: NCOIL is committed to educating, improving, asserting, and speaking out on congressional legislation and initiatives. Membership participation in NCOIL supports the work of the legislators advancing policies impacting the insurance industry. NCOIL holds three annual meetings attended by state legislators, industry attorneys, and state regulators.
Learn more: https://ncoil.org/
Get involved! Tips for Business Networking Success
You’ve signed up, paid your dues–now what? Don’t let your only involvement in the organizations you join be paying an invoice once a year. Reach out to organization contacts and find out how you can get involved, and make sure you’re aware of all of the benefits available to you as a member.
Member Directories: Listing the most appropriate contact person in your organization in the member directory is a great start, but utilize that list to its fullest! Review the list and connect with relevant contacts on LinkedIn; send an email introducing yourself, ask how they get value from the organization, etc.
Speaking Opportunities: Most surplus lines organizations are hungry for qualified speakers who can provide industry insight, teach on best practices, share innovative ideas for common problems, etc. Reach out to the organization to see what opportunities may be available to share your knowledge and establish yourself as a thought leader among your peers.
Guest Articles: Hand-in-hand with speaking opportunities, many organizations will welcome a guest article on a relevant topic. Keep the content informative and non-promotional–something that your peers would derive value from.
Advertising Opportunities: Ultimately, you join an organization for additional exposure. The ability to promote your services to your target audience is part of the value proposition of your membership fees. The best way to know what options are available is to ask! Just keep in mind as you’re determining your messaging that no one likes to be spammed–keep your advertising focused on the value you add to your users and the problem you solve.
Serve on a Committee: The surplus lines organizations listed above all have committees staffed by volunteers. Reach out and get involved! It gets your name out there but also helps support the initiatives that spur growth and support the industry. Win-win!
Group Forums: Group forums are a great way to connect with peers. Being actively involved in discussions helps establish your credibility and showcases your expertise, setting the groundwork for connections and referrals. Others will recognize your involvement, and when questions arise that you are knowledgeable at addressing, others will reference you as the go-to for answers.
Networking Events: Networking events can be vital in building business relationships–but they can also be intimidating. Networking doesn’t have to be difficult, and you don’t have to fake being an extrovert to be successful. The key is in advance planning. Examine the attendee list and determine who would be most beneficial to connect with. Reach out in advance to schedule appointments whenever possible.
For networking at the event, ensure you have prepared your “elevator pitch”–your 30-second overview of who you are and what you do so you’re not caught off guard when someone asks you (trust me, I’ve seen it happen–brains turn to mush and coherent sentences can’t be formed!) Practice in advance so you can naturally deliver the pitch. And when all else fails, acknowledge the awkward! Misery loves company, and there’s nothing like breaking the ice by acknowledging that networking events can be uncomfortable. But they don’t have to be.
Take the Leap
As with anything in life, you get what you give. If you’re willing to put in the work to research what options are available to maximize your membership benefits in the surplus lines organizations you choose to join, you’ll reap the rewards. So what are you waiting for? If you’re serious about growing your surplus lines business, joining one (or more!) of the surplus lines organizations we’ve outlined above is a great way to get started.
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