The company: With headquarters in Miami Lakes, NSI Insurance Group is one of the country’s largest privately owned insurance agencies and provides services to individuals and businesses.
Insurance agents or brokers are intermediaries that link clients to insurance companies.
Some agents are “captive,” which means they only sell policies for one insurance company. NSI is independent and its staff of professionals — many with 10 or more years on the job — work with more than 40 insurance companies worldwide.
“We have clients all over the U.S. and in 40 other countries,” said Oscar Seikaly, who took over as owner and CEO of NSI earlier this year. He spent more than 25 years at the company and had an earlier career in international shipping and insurance.
“Our main business is managing risk for our clients,” said James McCue, who this year moved from the top Florida management post at Marsh, a global insurance broker, to become COO at NSI.
“We work for our clients, we’re advocates for our clients,” Seikaly said. “Our job is to compare every company and rate and find what is the best for them,” he said.
Seikaly’s brother, Rony Seikaly, was a star player for the Miami Heat and now is a professional DJ (DJ Rony) and music producer. “Because my brother was in sports, people think we insure a lot of NFL athletes,” NSI’s owner said. “But we don’t.”
Products: The company sells policies mostly to wealthy individuals (personal coverage and protection for their homes, yachts, jewelry, art, cars), to family companies (firms that represent wealthy family groups and have assets all over the world) and to high-end companies working in construction, real estate, manufacturing and distribution, marine transport and other sectors.
One fast-growing area is excursion insurance, which provides coverage for the many tour industry operators that work with cruise lines. If a guest is injured during a tour, the company’s owners are protected.
The company’s business is about 60 percent commercial coverage and 40 percent personal.
Getting started: The company was started by insurance agent George Nenezian in 1958 as an agency under his own name. Seikaly, who had worked in his family’s international insurance and shipping business, based in Greece, joined Nenezian’s fast-growing firm in 1990, in sales. Nenezian and Seikaly expanded the company together and eventually became 50-50 partners. They changed the company’s name to NSI Insurance, whose initials represent each partner, plus insurance. In May the company announced that Seikaly purchased the founder’s 50 percent holding and that Nenezian was retiring.
The difference: “We’re not just selling insurance,” Seikaly said. “We take time to know the client and find out what is important. We ensure that the client is always treated fairly.” NSI’s leadership and staff thoroughly understand their clients’ policies and the scope of their coverage. They sometimes deal with insurance company claims adjusters who are relatively inexperienced and may not understand exactly what a policy covers and what it does not. “We’re diversified and our staff has deep pockets of experience in all areas,” Seikaly said.
Revenue: In 2015, NSI collected premiums of $175 million, up from $165 million in 2014. The company earns only a small share of the premium total in commissions — most of that money goes to the insurance company. NSI’s income is based on different commission rates. For example, the standard commission the company receives for lower-risk policies is 3 percent, but that can rise to 15 percent for insuring riskier sea and land cargo. The average commission NSI receives is 8 percent.
Competitors: NSI competes with a variety of companies depending on the coverage area. For high net-worth private clients, Marsh; for construction, Collinsworth, Alter, Lambert LLC; for hospitality, Brown & Brown, plus others.
Analyst: “There’s more institutional knowledge at NSI than in most places in Florida,” said Jeff Grady, the president and CEO of the Florida Association of Insurance Agents, a nonprofit state trade association founded in 1904 that now has about 2,100 members. “They have real knowledge about their craft … it’s often not just about the price of insurance, it’s about the right coverage and finding the right company.”
NSI is well-regarded all over the state and handles some very large and sophisticated accounts. “You have to be good to keep those accounts,” Grady said.
What customers say: Jay Phillip Parker, CEO of Florida Brokerage at Douglas Elliman Real Estate, switched his personal and business coverage to NSI five years ago. “My experience with NSI was mind-blowing in terms of service, diligence and how they provide a higher level of care,” Parker said. “Oscar and the members of his team are constantly looking to provide me with added value, not to upsell me but to provide more comprehensive service at a lower price — higher coverage, more types of coverage, lower deductibles and a better umbrella.”
Parker gave one example of the service he received from NSI. After his expensive sports car was flooded and damaged in a downpour, the insurance company refused to pay to replace it. “It would take weeks to repair and I knew the car would be damaged goods even after the repairs,” Parker said.
Seikaly and his team battled with the underwriter, and they finally agreed to replace the car at full purchase price.
“Most people do the minimum to get by,” Parker said. “Oscar has proven time and time again that he does the diligence and protects his clients.”
Miami-based real estate developer Sheldon Lowe, who has properties in South Florida and New York City, has been working with NSI for 20 years.
When Lowe first asked NSI to review his coverage in 1996, the firm came back to him “with better coverage and lower costs than my previous insurer,” Lowe said.
“My decision to choose NSI was based upon Oscar’s professionalism and, moreover, his commitment to be personally involved when needed,” he said. “He also assigned me one of his top agents, who responds immediately and treats me as if I am NSI’s only client.”
As an example of Seikaly’s personal involvement, Lowe said he had a serious mold problem in his Florida home. “I called Oscar, and within one day, he arranged for the insurer to hire a project manager to handle all aspects of the remediation,” including removal of furniture and reconstruction of areas that were torn down, he said. “This was all done at the insurer’s expense.”
Challenges: “The biggest risk for insurance agencies is complacency,” McCue said. “We have to evolve to meet the changing needs of our clients and the insurance companies.”
Outlook: NSI sees new growth opportunities in employee benefit plans and in international business, especially in insuring yachts and companies that run tours for cruise lines.
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NSI Insurance Group
Business: NSI is an international insurance broker that links individual and business clients with more than 40 insurance companies. It provides coverage for areas like manufacturing, hotels, airlines, shipping, airports, seaports, commercial real estate, museums and other nonprofits, financial institutions, construction businesses, private homes and yachts. Its individual insurance portfolio caters mostly to wealthy individuals, families and their holdings. NSI operates in the U.S. and 40 other countries.
Headquarters: 8181 NW 154th St., Miami Lakes.
Leadership: Oscar Seikaly, CEO; James C. McCue, COO.
Employees: 80, including 60 in Miami and 20 in other parts of the country and the Caribbean.
Owner: Oscar Seikaly.
Source: NSI Insurance Group