Skip To The Main Content

Introducing the

Learning
Center

SLA's new
online center for broker
education and broker license
renewal assistance.

SLA's new online center
for broker education and
broker license renewal assistance.

SLA's new online center for broker
education and broker license
renewal assistance.

Learn More

Introducing the

Emerging Risks
Discussion Forum

A new way to
have dialogue about
emerging risks in the
surplus line industry.

A new way to have dialogue
about emerging risks in the
surplus line industry.

A new way to have dialogue
about emerging risks in the
surplus line industry.

Learn More

What's New with the SLA

  • Transformational 2017 SLA Chair Tom Ciardello Plans to Retire

    Aug 27, 2020

    Tom Ciardello


















    With a mixture of celebration and sadness, the SLA has learned that former Chairman of the Board Tom Ciardello plans to retire at the end of 2020. When he steps away from his role as senior vice president with Worldwide Facilities in a few months, it will cap a 45-year career in the surplus lines industry.

    Tom started his career in his native Boston with what is now Aon Boston and worked for, amongst others, Lexington, Tri-City, and Worldwide over his long career. He was one of the first people to join Tri-City, a start-up, and is remembered for playing a significant role in its growth and success, particularly in professional liability. Currently the head of Worldwide’s San Francisco and Seattle offices, he leads the company’s customer relationship strategy, and has also been pivotal in troubleshooting issues with carriers, coaching staff, and managing relationships and procurement with E&O and management liability underwriters with respect to Worldwide’s corporate insurance.

    Tom served as chair for the SLA board in 2017, where his hallmarks were good fiscal stewardship, starting the board focus on the quality and care of SLA employees, and bringing young people into a graying industry. On all counts, he guided the SLA in a positive, proactive direction, setting the tone for ongoing budget discipline and planning that persists to this day, as well as numerous initiatives to help the industry identify and recruit young talent. The SLA is building relationships with college and university risk management departments, helping endow such programs, creating a “Next Generation” committee, and has started an internship program.

    In addition to his chairmanship, Tom served on the SLA Board of Directors from 2014-18, serving as vice chair in 2016 and secretary/treasurer in 2015. Tom also served on the Stamping Committee from 2011-13 and 2016, the Audit Committee from 2016-18, and the Technology Committee in 2013. He chaired the Stamping Committee in 2016 and the Audit Committee in 2017.

    “Tom has always brought tremendous energy and a hard-working, common-sense blue-collar mindset to our industry and brought the same qualities to our board,” said Benjamin J. McKay, the SLA’s CEO and Executive Director. “Whenever I brought a close question to Tom, he always asked me the same question: ‘Ben, what is the right thing to do? Do that.’ He wanted fiscal discipline, but always with a human side. He wanted what was best for our employees, and his goals were always to trim fat, not to cut muscle or bone. Under his guidance, we made smart fiscal choices without cutting a single employee or any vital member services. It was also characteristic of Tom that even near the end of his career, he was still looking to the future of the industry, and he was very keen on getting young people involved. He made our industry better, and he made the SLA better. We will miss him, but we are happy that he is embarking on a well-earned retirement, and we wish him all the best.”

    Ciardello’s successors as chair say they will remember him fondly for all of his contributions to the industry and his personal characteristics.

  • SLA’s Cliston Brown Testifies Before Assembly Insurance Committee

    Aug 22, 2019

    Capitol Photo Aug 2019

    On Wednesday, August 21, 2019, the SLA’s Cliston Brown testified at the State Capitol before the Assembly Insurance Committee on homeowners’ insurance issues, which are front and center in Sacramento right now due to the ongoing market dislocations resulting from wildfire issues.

    In his testimony, he briefed the committee members on the SLA, what it does, and who it represents, and then provided some statistics on how much of the surplus line industry’s business is in homeowners’ coverage. Brown’s testimony was well received by the committee and committee staff.

    The SLA continues to take every opportunity to make itself known to key decision-makers in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., and increasingly, it is earning a seat at the table when issues pertinent to our industry are discussed. It is the SLA’s goal to establish a reputation as helpful and reliable participants in these policy deliberations with good data and useful perspectives.

  • SLA CEO Ben McKay Participated In A Panel At The APCIA Western Region General Counsel Conference

    Jul 26, 2019
    SLA CEO Ben McKay participated in a panel discussion at the APCIA Western Region General Counsel Conference today in Los Angeles, joining Dan Brown and John Finston of Drinker Biddle and Joel Laucher of the California Department of Insurance. The panel discussed homeowners insurance issues, which has been a major topic of discussion as admitted insurers have continued to reassess their risk in wildfire-prone areas.
  • The SLA’s Advocacy Team Represents The Industry At Key Hearings and Events

    Apr 04, 2019

    The SLA’s advocacy team was in action on Wednesday, April 3, as CEO Benjamin McKay and the SLA’s Communications and Government Relations team represented the industry at two important hearings.

    At the request of committee staff, McKay testified before the State Senate Insurance Committee in Sacramento during an informational hearing on the insurance industry. The purpose of the hearing was to give new committee members a briefing about the various facets of the industry. McKay explained the surplus lines industry to the committee and also provided an update on the increased homeowners’ insurance business going into the surplus lines market in recent years, a key issue for California legislators. In so doing, he demonstrated the SLA’s value as a credible source of marketplace information and data on important and timely issues. Communications and Government Relations specialist Caroline Gilbert joined McKay in representing the SLA at this hearing.

    Cliston Brown, vice president, Communications and Government Relations, attended a hearing of the Commission on Catastrophic Wildfire Cost and Recovery in Santa Rosa, a Sonoma County community that suffered massive wildfire losses in 2017. Mindful of the increased role for surplus lines in the homeowners markets after major wildfire years, Brown attended to monitor the discussions and to correct any erroneous statements that may have been made about the surplus lines industry. Fortunately, no speakers during the hearing presented any misinformation about surplus lines. Prior to the hearing, Brown worked with the Personal Insurance Federation of California (PIFC), which testified at the hearing, to ensure that it had the most recent available statistics on the role of surplus lines in the state’s homeowners insurance market.

    Brown also attended the PIFC’s Legislative Reception a week earlier in Sacramento, discussing the basics of the surplus lines industry with numerous state legislators and Governor Gavin Newsom. 

    Additionally, McKay and Brown are regulars at the thrice-yearly National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ meetings, and both sit on important committees of the Wholesale and Specialty Insurance Association (WSIA). McKay sits on WSIA’s Legislative Committee, and Brown has just been named a member of its Political Action Committee. 

    The SLA’s attendance at, and participation in, these events gives us an opportunity to make the surplus lines sector known to key decision makers whose votes, rulings and/or recommendations may impact our industry. This is just one of the important ways we work to support our members and to advance a healthy, fair and competitive surplus lines marketplace in California.

  • The SLA’s Cliston Brown Meets Governor, Key Legislators at PIFC Legislative Reception in Sacramento March 27, 2019

    Mar 28, 2019

    Cliston Brown, the SLA’s vice president for Communications and Government Relations, represented the SLA on March 27, 2019, at the Personal Insurance Federation of California’s 30th Annual Legislative Reception in Sacramento. Cliston talked with several key legislators and Governor Gavin Newsom about the SLA and the California surplus lines marketplace. The SLA is engaged in an ongoing awareness campaign to help educate lawmakers about our industry and the vital role it plays in protecting Californians.