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Top 7 "Hot" Insurance Markets for 2015

Check out the top market sectors that promise opportunities for the property/casualty insurance industry in 2015. The list includes some tried-and-true growing markets, as well as a few interesting additions! 

 

Hot Insurance Markets for 2015

April 14, 2015 - By Andrea Wells & Amy O’Connor, Insurance Journal

This year’s “Hot Markets” report for property/casualty insurance agents and brokers includes some not-so-usual suspects along with tried-and-true markets enjoying growth. Insurance Journal examined industries experiencing recent change and expansion. Here are the top market sectors that promise opportunities for the property/casualty insurance industry in 2015.

  1. Construction

Overall, construction might be the hottest market in 2015. Construction payrolls are increasing, more projects are coming online and the scope of work is increasing. And according to Lockton Co.’s construction insurance specialists, insurance coverage is generally available for both commercial and residential projects and pricing is stable with a few exceptions.

Construction experts say that the 2015 outlook is good.

Total U.S. construction starts for 2015 are predicted to rise 9 percent to $612 billion, almost double from the 2014’s estimated 5 percent increase to $564 billion, according to the 2015 Dodge Construction Outlook, published by Dodge Data & Analytics (www.construction.com).

The Dodge report predicts that in 2015:

  • Commercial building will increase 15 percent.
  • Institutional building will advance 9 percent.
  • Single family housing will rise 15 percent.
  • Multifamily housing will increase 9 percent.
  • Public works construction will improve 5 percent.

Only electric utilities (9 percent decline) and manufacturing plant construction (16 percent decline) are predicted to see drops in construction starts in 2015, according to the Dodge report.

A good construction market is good for many ancillary industries, too.

According to Sageworks’ analysis – a financial information company – nine out of the top 10 fastest-growing industries in the country are related to residential and commercial construction.

Sageworks’ list ranks the fastest-growing industries based on annual sales increases. This year, real estate and broker offices topped the list as the fastest-growing industry in the United States for 2015.

Other fast-growing home construction-related industries listed were: residential building construction; other wood product manufacturing; foundation, structure, and building exterior contractors; utility system construction; lumber and other construction materials merchant wholesalers; other specialty trade contractors; and architectural, engineering, and related services.

Non-residential building construction also ranked in the top 10 as one of the fastest-growing industries for 2015.

The construction industry in general is one to keep an eye on, given these signs of recovery.

  1. Mergers & Acquisitions

    The merger and acquisition (M&A) space has attracted some new capacity recently as several insurers have launched new transactional risk practices. This increase in capacity is most likely in response to a huge increase in demand.

According to Marsh’s Annual Transactional Risk Report released this month, there was a 36 percent increase in policies placed and a 51 percent increase in limits placed globally by Marsh to $7.7 billion in 2014. The limits placed in the U.S. rose to $2.7 billion in 2014, up 103 percent from 2013. Marsh’s Private Equity and Mergers & Acquisitions Services Practice Transactional Risk Solutions: Global Update, released in November 2014, found that the amount of buyer-side reps and warranties insurance, another coverage that is typically used in M&A deals to protect clients against a breach in an acquisition agreement, increased 225 percent during the first half of 2014 compared to the same time period in 2013.

Craig Schioppo, managing director in Marsh’s U.S. Private Equity and M&A Services Practice and leader of the transactional risk team, said buyers in the U.S. are increasingly using representations and warranties insurance strategically to differentiate their M&A bids.

In addition, “Seller-initiated buyer-side representations and warranties policies, which have traditionally flourished in Europe, are also increasingly being used in the U.S. to enable sellers to free up capital for new acquisitions,” he said.

U.S. insurers don’t want to miss out on the action. So far this year, two major carriers have announced new transactional risk products:

  • ACE introduced three new transactional risk insurance products for buyers and sellers participating in M&As and other transactional deals throughout North America internationally.
  • QBE North America launched its Transactional Liability Practice to under write reps and warranties insurance and tax liability on primary and excess basis. Ambridge Underwriters, a managing general underwriter based in New York City, also formed a new team to focus on reps and warranties coverage for small-to medium-sized transactions.

“We have seen a significant increase in placement requests for transactional risk products over the past couple of years. In some instances, these have doubled from one year to the next,” Steven Goldman, senior vice president, Professional Risk, ACE USA. “Deal participants recognize that these coverages offer the high degree of sophistication that complex transactions require.”

  1. Small Business

    The small business market is a huge driver of economic growth, historically representing about half the private U.S. gross domestic product and accounting for half of the total private sector workforce.

That trend changed during the recession as huge numbers of firms and jobs were lost. The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) data suggests that the surviving firms are regaining stride and BLS data now shows more starts than terminations, supporting job growth. Some 60 percent of NFIB member organizations have five or fewer employees, and 55 percent of NFIB members report gross sales of $350,000 or less.

NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg said earlier this month that in spite of slow economic activity, small business owners are finding reasons to hire and spend.

“During the recovery, this sector did not pull its historic weight, slowing the recovery in employment substantially,” Dunkelberg said. “Huge numbers of firms and their jobs were lost in the recession, nearly 900,000 establishments in each of the years 2008 and 2009.”

Today’s environment is much better for small business owners, he said. In the NFIB’s Small Business Optimism Survey for February 2015 – which polls its more than 350,000 small and independent business owners across the nation – reported that optimism rose 0.1 points to 98.0, a solid result despite some unfavorable conditions, Dunkelberg said.

“Owners are finding reasons to hire even though the ‘macro’ indicators are not showing a lot of growth,” Dunkelberg wrote in the recent report.

NFIB predicts the fastest growing industries for small business in 2015 will be: software as a service, mobile payments, construction and online resources.

Hiring growth in the small business sector means added opportunity for insurers and their agents.

The overall small business market premium hit $81 billion in 2013, according to a November 2014 report by Conning. Excluding specialty and high-hazard business, the principal small business market premium is at $58 billion. That comes down to 20 percent of the total U.S. property/casualty commercial market premium. The Conning report projects 8.4 percent growth over the next five years for the principal small business market, from $58 billion premium in 2013 to $63 billion by 2018.

Ben Sloop, president of AmWINS Access, a new division focused entirely on the small business segment, agrees there’s opportunity ahead in small business.

“From looking at our overall submission flow, premium trend, combined with our segment data in terms of what we are seeing, there definitely does seem to be some rejuvenation,” he said.

  1. IT: Software and Service

    It’s no surprise to see tech-related industries in any hot market report. Computer technology in general is an industry enjoying healthy growth, but IT services are performing particularly well.

Whether it’s offering on-site management systems or designing systems, the sales growth in this sector grew by 15 percent in the past year. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the computer system design and related services industry will see a 15 percent rise in employment from 2012 through 2022 as well.

Business investment specifically geared toward extending the capabilities of cloud, social, mobile and big data will accelerate and account for 30 percent of total IT spending and nearly all of the industry’s growth during 2015, according to the report “Top Industry Trends to Watch in 2015″ by GE Capital.

According to International Data Corp. (IDC), the worldwide market for software, services and analytics related to big data will reach $125 billion in 2015. The edge of the network will continue to extend into the physical world with more “smart” cars, commercial buildings, homes, industrial equipment and wearables connecting to the Internet. IDC estimates the overall global market for Internet-of-Things-related hardware, software and analytics enabling nearly 15 billion “Internet aware” devices will grow 14 percent to $1.7 trillion during 2015 and the global market is expected to grow to 30 billion devices and $3 trillion worth of related spending by 2020.

  1. Data Security

    Data security and protection is and will continue to be a hot market as well delivering opportunities for agents and brokers selling cyber related coverages.

The rising number of cyber-attacks is a growing threat to the business community. High-profile cyber incidents in 2014 reflected the expanding spectrum of cyber threats – from point-of-sale (POS) breaches against customer accounts to targeted denial-of-service (DoS) attacks meant to disable a company’s network.

According to a recent report by Marsh, “Benchmarking Trends: As Cyber Concerns Broaden, Insurance Purchases Rise,” a growing number of insureds sought financial protection through insurance, buying coverage for losses from data breaches and due to business outages. In 2014, the number of U.S.-based Marsh clients purchasing standalone cyber insurance rose 32 percent over 2013. The cyber take-up rate – the percentage of existing Marsh financial and professional liability clients that purchased cyber insurance – rose to 16 percent. Marsh says early evidence in 2015 shows a continued acceleration in the demand for cyber insurance.

The challenge for this market is smaller firms who have yet to play big in the buying trend. According to a recent poll on InsuranceJournal.com, 69 percent of readers report that less than 10 percent of their small business policyholders are buying cyber coverage today.

Studies show that most cyber insurance is purchased by larger companies with more than $1 billion in revenue. This concern has not gone unnoticed. U.S. Treasury officials have asked the Federal Advisory Committee on Insurance (FACI) in Washington, D.C., to examine ways in which the industry can make cyber insurance more accessible to companies of all sizes.

ISO’s new cyber insurance coverage options for small and midsize businesses, which became available March 1, is one way the insurance industry is responding.

The optional cyber endorsements are for use with the ISO Businessowners Program, a package policy used by insurers to provide broad property and liability coverage for small and midsize businesses. It allows insurers to tailor coverage for customers by offering set packages that protect against data breaches, data replacement and restoration, cyber extortion and business interruption.

ISO businessowners customers can also receive preferred pricing on services from IDT911, which is ISO’s preferred vendor for data breach avoidance and remediation services. IDT911 provides identity and data risk management, resolution and education services.

  1. Marijuana

    A hot market for some niche specialists is marijuana.

According to governing.com, 23 states and the District of Columbia currently have laws legalizing it in some form. Four of those states – Washington, Colorado, Alaska and Oregon – have legalized it for recreational use. And parts of the country that have historically said “no” to allowing the legal use of the drug for medical purposes are now evaluating laws to allow it, including Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.

Legal cannabis markets in the U.S. are expected to grow 700 percent over the next five years, according to an industry report, “The State of Legal Marijuana Markets 2nd Edition,” published by The ArcView Group.

The report values the total U.S. legal marijuana market at $1.53 billion, and it’s projected to grow to $2.57 billion by the end of 2014. The five-year national market potential is $10.2 billion, according to ArcView. Gains will stem from increased demand in existing state markets, as well as from new state markets coming online within a five-year horizon.

So what does this mean for the insurance industry? Plenty of opportunity, say those already in the business.

“These business owners need help figuring out issues like: Where can I set up a dispensary? What are the state regulations? What is my workers’ comp liability? And what are the liabilities that other businesses have like theft, fire, business interruption, etc. They have unique issues and those need to be seen and be addressed,” said Ed Kuhn, president of Creative Edge Nutrition (CEN) and the newly-formed Wellness Medical Protection Group/Liability Insurance Solutions in Chicago.

Insurance coverage requirements touch on all lines of business, including: workers’ compensation, business interruption, theft, products liability, cargo insurance, business owners policy (BOP) coverage, equipment breakdown, and cyber liability.

There is also opportunity for agents beyond the marijuana-related businesses themselves, because they work with vendors that welcome the expertise an agent that specializes in the marijuana industry can offer, says Mike Aberle, vice president of sales and marketing for Next Wave Insurance Services, the program administrator for the marijuana-focused entity MMD Insurance.

Aberle says MMD’s core program started with indoor/outdoor cultivators and retailers and has since grown to cover the businesses that work with them like construction, security and supply companies.

  1. Extreme Sports

The trend toward more dangerous and extreme sports like “Tough Mudder” and “Iron Man” triathlons and non-traditional sports activities has been staggering, according to a 2014 report by the American Bar Association (ABA). Tough Mudder has grown from three events and 20,000 participants in 2010 to 35 events with more than 460,000 participants in 2012, the report found.

Runningusa.org reports that non-traditional running events drew a record 4 million participants in 2013, surpassing the record 2.5 million finishers of both the half-marathon and marathon combined the year before. With each event charging a per participant registration fee of $50 and up, these races are turning into big business.

But these exciting sport opportunities come with risks like major injuries, paralysis and even death of participants, according to the ABA. That risk hasn’t deterred the growth of these sports, nor has it deterred new entrants in the insurance market.

Sports Insurance Group began writing the segment in early 2014. SIG is a member of Everest Re and was started by sports and entertainment veterans, including David Harris, founding partner of sports and entertainment insurance company American Specialty Insurance and Risk Services.

Harris, who serves as senior vice president of SIG, says most of the capacity in the market currently is for the “plain vanilla” part of the segment, not the more extreme sports and events side that they target.

“There are not a lot of people jumping over tables to write the ‘Tough Mudder’ kinds of risks. These are challenging activities that are relatively new to the industry,” he says. “Much of what you have to do in terms of pricing and how you design the product has to be experienced outside the industry you are considering. That is part of the whole discussion of emerging sports.”

Yet Harris thinks the emergence of these new risks can be a fun, albeit risky, distraction in the insurance world for those who are looking for a challenge.

“This is an exciting, fast-paced business and an evolving business. People want to go faster and be more challenged in sports so you have to be on your toes…and there is a certain excitement with that,” he says.

To view the original article, click here.


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10 Unusual Property Insurance Terms You Need to Know!

Do you know the meaning of “barratry”, “bumbershoot” or “bobtail liability”? Whether you’re new to insurance or have been in the business a long time, there may be some insurance terms that you haven’t heard before or aren’t completely sure what they mean. Check out these ten unusual property insurance terms you need to know! 

 

Do you know these 10 property insurance terms? Do your clients?

April 16, 2015 - By Rosalie L. Donlon, PropertyCasualty360

Whether you’re new to insurance or you’ve been in the business a long time, there may be some insurance terms that you haven’t heard before. In some cases you may have heard them but you aren’t completely certain of what they mean.

We’ve gathered some of those terms here along with their definitions. We invite you to add unusual terms you’ve encountered to this list in the comment section.

Captive Insurance Company. You may have heard of a “captive” insurance company, but you may not be completely clear on the definition. Generally, a captive insurance company is one that is owned and controlled by its shareholders; the policyholders and the shareholders are one and the same. Using a captive can be a form of self-insurance for some companies.

Did you know that there are subcategories of captive insurers as well? For example, you could be doing business with one of the following:

  • Association Captive. This is a group captive formed by or under the auspices of a particular group or association designed to provide insurance to members of the association.
  • Rent-a-Captive. This refers to a captive insurer that is not owned by its members but by an unrelated third party. Rent-a-captives provide the core capital, usually the domicile’s minimum, and require members to capitalize their own risk. They are “one-stop shops” in that they provide fronting, reinsurance, administration, and claims handling services.
  • Cell Captive. A cell captive is a multi-participant rent-a-captive that maintains legally separated participant accounts. While rent-a-captive members’ accounts are separated only by contract, cell captives have a legally defined separation.
  • Direct-Writing Captive, This kind of captive insurance company issues insurance policies directly to its policyholders without the use of a fronting insurer.
  • Reinsurance Captive. With a reinsurance captive, the fronting insurer cedes reinsurance to the captive, issues the policies, and makes the appropriate regulatory filings. 

Source: Practical Risk Hedging, Donald J. Riggin, © National Underwriter

 

Retrocession. This term refers to reinsurance of reinsurance, that is, when reinsurance companies cede risk to other reinsurance companies. A reinsurer that reinsures other reinsurers is called a “retrocessionaire.”

Sidecar. No, we’re not talking about motorcycles or drinks here. In insurance terms, a sidecar is a special purpose vehicle designed to assume certain catastrophic property risks, such as earthquake or hurricane, from a specific reinsurer. Sidecars are short-term investment vehicles created to take advantage of high catastrophic insurance rates. They’re set up for a short period of time, and when rates are low they’re not set up at all.

Source: Practical Risk Hedging, Donald J. Riggin, © National Underwriter

Barratry. This little-known term refers to severe misconduct by the captain or crew of a ship, including fraudulent and criminal acts that cause loss or damage to the ship or its cargo. This is usually some kind of fraud or theft, but not piracy.

Bumbershoot. This may sound like the word used for an umbrella a British novel from the 1920s. For insurance purposes, though, the term actually means an excess liability coverage for insureds with major wet marine exposures, also referred to as ocean marine exposures. The policy covers both nonmarine and maritime liability exposures—that is, protection and indemnity, general average, collision, sue and labor, and general liability hazards.

Source: International Risk Management Institute, Inc. (IRMI). Glossary of Insurance and Risk Management Terms, Insurance dictionary online

 

Bobtail liability. Although this term may have you thinking of a cat with a genetically short tail, the term applies to auto liability coverage for an owner/operator after a load has been delivered and while the truck is not being used for trucking purposes. This usually occurs when owner/operators use the truck to get from one location to the other (on the way home, for example), and not in the course of transporting property for the motor carrier under whose operating authority they haul, and on whose liability policy they depend while they are engaged in trucking.

Source: International Risk Management Institute, Inc. (IRMI). Glossary of Insurance and Risk Management Terms, Insurance dictionary online

Hard fraud involves the staging of an accident or other form of a claim. It’s intentional and well planned, often with connections to organized crime.

Soft fraud, also known as “build up,” is more opportunistic, involving insureds or claimants who will pad an otherwise legitimate claim. This can be anything from burying a deductible to running up medical bills in hopes of inflating pain and suffering awards. In some cases, claimants have gone so far as to obtain needless surgeries to maximize the value of their claim.

Source: Christopher Tidball, an executive claims consultant and the author of multiple books includingRe-Adjusted: 20 Rules to Take Your Claims Organization from Ordinary to Extraordinary! and his latest book, Swoop & Squat.

Alien insurance company. This doesn’t refer to an insurance company from another planet. It refers to one that is incorporated under the laws of a foreign country, as opposed to a “foreign” insurance company which does business in states outside its own.

Source: Insurance Information Institute Glossary

Inland marine insurance. This sounds as though it would cover ships moving cargo on inland waterways, like rivers, but it doesn’t. This broad type of coverage was developed for shipments that don’t involve ocean transport. It covers articles in transit by all forms of land and air transportation as well as bridges, tunnels and other means of transportation and communication. Floaters that cover expensive personal items such as fine art and jewelry also are included in this category.

Source: Insurance Information Institute Glossary

 

To view the original article, click here.

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Why U.S insurers may start feeling the heat on climate change mitigation.

European insurers have long been outspoken about how the insurance industry might help mitigate climate change risk, as it’s often insurers that have to pay for the increasing frequency and severity of weather-related damages. However, U.S. insurers have been comparatively quiet on the issue. That’s likely to change, as new demands from regulators and rating agencies are putting pressure on the U.S. insurance industry to deal more comprehensively with climate change risks. 

External pressure on the industry to deal more comprehensively with climate change risks is likely to rise due to new demands from regulators and rating agencies.

U.S. insurers may start feeling the heat on climate change mitigation

March 02, 2014 – By Sam J. Friedman, PropertyCasualty360 

The U.S. property and casualty industry may be nearing a crossroads in its approach to climate change, perhaps prompting a more proactive strategy on the part of individual carriers and insurance associations to limit the threat to the environment and company bottom lines over the long term.

The causes, pace, and repercussions of climate change may remain controversial for some. However, since it is often insurers that have to pay for the increasing frequency and severity of weather-related damages, delay in responding due to skepticism might prove costly. Indeed, it would be prudent for carriers to prepare for the worst when it comes to climate change, just in case the consensus of the vast majority of scientists in the field prove to be correct.

U.S. insurers and their associations have long been at the forefront in terms of adaptation to the effects of shifts in weather patterns, testing disaster-resistant construction materials and techniques while advocating stronger building codes, updated flood mapping, and more hazard-sensitive zoning laws for property development. A number of insurers have also looked to support sustainability efforts by issuing new types of “green” insurance products that facilitate construction of more environmentally friendly buildings and retrofitting to upgrade existing facilities.

However, up until recently most have tended to take a far lower profile than a number of their European counterparts in efforts to limit global warming at its source by increasing sustainability efforts and cutting carbon emissions.

External pressure on the industry to deal more comprehensively with climate change risks is likely to rise due to new demands from regulators and rating agencies. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners, for example, has a Climate Change and Global Warming Working Group in place to investigate the possible effect of weather pattern changes on insurer catastrophe modeling and investment portfolios, among other concerns.

Some insurance groups have been assuming a higher profile on their own initiative. The International Insurance Society devoted an entire day of its 2014 annual seminar in London to co-host a United Nations Financial and Private Sector Disaster Resilience Global Summit, and will discuss sustainable insurance and “climate smart investing” at U.N. headquarters during its upcoming conference this June in New York.

In addition, a number of actuarial groups have joined forces to develop an Actuaries Climate Change Index. The benchmark is designed to help insurers and policyholders better assess climate-related exposures, while prompting more proactive risk management.

Industry efforts to quantify and limit the impact of climate change will likely proliferate over the next few years, although not necessarily on a voluntary basis. Carriers can expect heightened scrutiny and more data calls from overseers evaluating how the phenomenon is being accounted for in underwriting and pricing models, reserving decisions, investment policies, and business continuity planning. These considerations could fit neatly into broader enterprise risk management transformations.

However, beyond any mandatory compliance responsibilities, the likelihood of increasing frequency and severity of climate-related disaster losses should motivate insurers to voluntarily expand their research efforts into how climate change may be disrupting the communities they serve and raising their claim costs, while exploring how they might encourage root cause mitigation.

In any case, carriers will likely need additional capabilities and skill sets to get a better handle on weather trends. One can imagine climatologists routinely serving as valuable members of an insurance company’s modeling team and underwriting department as carriers look to become more adept in pricing climate-change-related exposures.

One major opportunity may be greater privatization of the flood insurance market. Given the growing number of exposed areas and the relatively low take-up rate on federally-insured policies, this underserved market potentially represents the largest single growth opportunity in the property-casualty industry today—but only if carriers are able (and permitted to) assess the exposure with a high degree of confidence and charge actuarially-sound rates.

The bottom line

Climate change is not a new topic of conversation, particularly in international insurance company circles. Indeed, European insurers have been outspoken about how the industry might help mitigate this risk for quite some time, and to lead by example with their own operations and investments. However, U.S. insurers have been comparatively quiet on the front end of this issue. That’s likely to change.

Carriers should expect mounting pressure—from regulators, rating agencies, federal and local lawmakers, media, and the general public—to help fill the void in getting a better handle on exactly what the risks of climate change are, how to better predict their consequences, and what might be done to limit exposure and losses. Some may choose to launch their own initiatives, while others could contribute through industry-wide efforts already underway or yet to come.

Beyond risk management, however, insurers should be able to seize an opportunity around product innovation, perhaps even building a brand that resonates with sustainability-conscious consumers.

Sam Friedman (samfriedman@deloitte.com) is insurance research leader with Deloitte’s Center for Financial Services in New York. Follow Sam on Twitter at @SamOnInsurance, as well as on LinkedIn. These opinions are his own.

 


Why Insurance Agents and Small Agencies Are At Risk for Cyber Exposures

February 24, 2015

 

In today’s world of 24/7 communication, consumers expect around-the-clock access to everyone and everything, including their insurance agent. And while technology has been proven to be very beneficial in increasing business for agents, and has even helped to eliminate some of the main E&O exposures that insurance agents encounter, there are many new exposures that must be faced. It is important now more than ever for agents to be diligent about when and how they respond to clients, how they store sensitive client information, and to ensure that they have adequate cyber and privacy liability coverage. Read on for more information from E&O experts about the risks that insurance agents and small agencies face, and tips for ensuring you are adequately covered.

E&O Experts - Agents Not Immume From Cyber Segment Exposures

By Insurance Journal. February 09, 2015.

In today’s digital world of constant communication through methods like email, texting and social media, consumers expect 24/7 access to everyone, including their insurance agent. And while this access can increase business for agents, it can also create exposures if agents are not diligent about when and how they respond.

“Agents are struggling with how to communicate with customers so they can still have that relationship and document their conversations with customers,” says Sabrena Sally, senior vice president and head of agent and broker business for Swiss Re Corporate Solutions in the U.S.

Sally says even with the big changes in communication, the main E&O exposures agents face actually haven’t changed that much in the past 20 years. The leading causes of E&O claims still remain the failure to provide coverage that a customer requested or the failure to effectively communicate and explain the coverage being offered.

Technology has also helped agents cut back on E&O problems in many ways, but they still need to have acceptable documentation of the conversations they have with their clients, says Sally.

They don’t perceive it’s a problem based on the size of their business. But I believe that’s going to change

Another facet of technology that has created E&O exposures for agents is in the storing and proper handling of sensitive client data, and ensuring that clients are adequately protecting their own sensitive information.

Sally says agents have become more educated about these issues in recent years.

“In our discussions with agents, we have seen an increase in awareness of their obligation to protect their customer’s data and with all the industry discussions around customer data they are more aware of the products available to [agents] in the marketplace,” she says.

Swiss Re Corporate Solutions’ insurance agents E&O policy, offered through the Big “I” and underwritten by Westport Insurance Corp., offers a $25,000 per policy period limit for first party personal data breach and a $1 million sublimit for third party personal data breaches on their insurance agents E&O program.

Small Agencies at Risk

The exceptions to this awareness, according to Jay Martin, president and CEO of Professional Underwriting Group (PUG) in DelRay Beach, Fla., seem to be the smaller agencies who do not perceive themselves as having a need for this coverage.

“They are not really concerned about cyber coverage… they don’t perceive it’s a problem based on the size of their business. But I believe that’s going to change because of the issues going on across the board,” he says.

Martin says PUG added the option for cyber coverage to its new admitted insurance agents E&O program that is currently available in 14 states in anticipation of an increase in demand for the coverage and at the request of some clients. The managing general underwriter focuses on the small- to mid-size agency niche, and Martin says as a specialist they closely follow what is going on in the marketplace.

“With new technology and cyber problems we thought this coverage was something we should make available to our customers,” he says.

Christopher Lucas, account manager of agents & brokers E&O for insurance broker Dealey, Renton & Associates in Oakland, Calif., says more E&O carriers are adding coverage via endorsement for nominal additional premiums. The broker is an exclusive marketing agent for the Liberty Mutual Insurance Agents E&O program, which added data compromise coverage to its insurance agents E&O program last year as an endorsement for no additional cost to insureds.

The coverage includes an annual aggregate limit of $100,000 for response expenses and an additional $100,000 annual aggregate limit for defense and liability for suits and damages resulting from a data breach. Response expenses can include costs associated with notifying applicable parties of a breach, credit monitoring services, identity restoration case management services, and help line services.

To read more of the original article, click here.


 

 

Know the Risks of Adding Additional Insureds to an E&O Insurance Plan

February 24, 2015

 

RISMedia states that in recent years, there have been an increase in requests for policy holders to add third parties such as banks and management companies as additional insureds on their errors and omissions policies. Before your client requests to add additional insureds to their E&O policy, it’s important for you (and them) to be educated about the potential risks this creates. 

Click here to read the full article from RISMedia.


 

 

Wise Advice for Commercial Property Owners in 2015

February 24, 2015

 

The article below from Commercial Property Executive discusses that it would be wise for commercial property owners to have a strong understanding of the property and casualty insurance market as they plan for 2015 and consider making changes to their real estate portfolios. The article suggests that the property and casualty insurance market is predicted to be favorable for property owners this year, and therefore property owners “need to consider the current state of the market, what impacts insurability and prices, and strategies for securing desirable coverage, particularly in locations considered to be high risk”. Read on for some useful advice to share with your insureds.

Guest Column: A P&C Insurance Playbook for Property Owners in 2015

By Kevin Smith. Featured in Commercial Property Executive. January 19, 2015.

Commercial property owners would be wise to have a solid understanding of the property and casualty insurance market as they plan for the year ahead and consider making changes to their real estate portfolios. They need to consider the current state of the market, what impacts insurability and prices, and strategies for securing desirable coverage, particularly in locations considered to be high risk.

Following the insurance market can best be described as taking a ride on a pogo stick; however, if you take a closer look at the market’s history, you’ll see that although at times it is volatile, it is also cyclical. There are many factors that impact these fluctuations in the insurance market: interest rates, inflation, economic growth and natural disasters, all of which are difficult to predict. That said, the property and casualty insurance market in 2015 is poised to be favorable for property owners, since the insurance industry has benefited from steady growth over the past few years as well as lower natural disaster insured losses.

The industry has benefited from the economic recovery over the past few years, with an increase in new developments as well as additional capital entering the market. With the volatility of the insurance market, property executives should take into account potential insurability and price changes for properties they are constructing or acquiring now or in the future. While property insurance rates have been relatively flat or declining—in some cases dropping by as much as 5 percent going into this year—history would suggest this should not be viewed as the new normal.

The property insurance market is heavily impacted by major insured disasters. For example, insurance company profitability declined and rates subsequently rose following events such as Hurricane Andrew in 1992, the Northridge earthquake in 1994, the 9/11 terrorist attacks of 2001, and Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Conversely, we had the extended soft market period of the late ‘90s, which was largely due to the lowest catastrophic insured losses in 15 years combined with economic growth. Historical data suggests that the one constant with the property insurance market is change. While the previous year’s insured disasters are certainly a leading indicator for the performance of the insurance market and rates going forward, change is difficult to predict over the long term.

While location, location, location always reigns true for the marketability of real estate, location can also be the driving factor for a property owner’s exposure to risk. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the insured value of coastal property in the United States has risen by nearly 50 percent since 2004, to an excess of $10 trillion. In addition, properties in cities such as New York, D.C. or Los Angeles face a significantly higher risk of terrorist attacks than properties in Cleveland, Des Moines or Pittsburgh.

Properties in high-risk locations will see the most volatility in pricing, following wind, flooding and other catastrophe-driven events. It is extremely important when approaching insurance companies that a proper analysis has been done to model properties and segregate them by location (state, county, etc.), age, construction type and concentration with a particular emphasis on catastrophe-exposed properties. On a portfolio basis, understanding where property values lie will better prepare owners for discussions with insurance underwriters, as well as setting the proper limits and deductibles that have a direct impact on costs. Risks that can emphasize the geographic spread of the properties will be viewed more favorably than a risk with a large concentration of exposures—or worse yet, a concentration of property in a catastrophe-exposed territory.

Focus should also be on the construction aspects of the properties, and improvements to and protection of those properties. While there is little property owners can do about the actual construction of a property that has been acquired, there are many improvements that can impact the risk profile of a building—for example, updates to electrical systems and fire protection. Disaster planning also becomes an important component of an overall risk management plan to be prepared to react quickly to a loss and for a speedy recovery.

Among the measures commercial property owners can take to remove some of the volatility of the insurance marketplace is utilizing alternative funding mechanisms for their property insurance. By taking on more risk, property owners will in turn purchase less insurance from the marketplace and be in a position to smooth out large increases or decreases caused by market conditions. These strategies are typically utilized for larger portfolios that can withstand higher deductibles and have a spread of risk. Since these alternate funding mechanisms are not without risk, property owners should focus on sound risk management techniques to protect their properties from loss. Frequent inspections, maintenance schedules and capital improvements can all help ensure that the properties are well protected.

While we don’t know what will be the driving factor behind market fluctuations, history has told us that insured disasters have had a large impact on the insurance market. Commercial property owners should consider this volatility when building or acquiring in catastrophe-prone areas. The fluctuations in the insurance market can mislead property executives into thinking that the rates for insurance they currently carry on a property will continue into the future. While direct losses at individual properties will have the most impact on pricing, it is not the only factor to consider when forecasting insurance costs for properties. Global disasters impact the entire insurance marketplace, which in turn impacts property rates across the industry. While it is felt much more with properties exposed to catastrophic losses, the performance of the insurance industry as a result of insured disasters certainly moves the needle on rates across the board.

 

Kevin Smith is a vice president and leader of the real estate division at The Graham Co., a property and casualty insurance and employee benefits brokerage firm. He can be reached at ksmith@grahamco.com or (215) 701-5323. Follow The Graham Co. on Twitter at @TheGrahamCo. 

To read the original article, click here.


U.S. Spring Outlook: Is the Midwest Going to Catch a Break?

February 24, 2015

Although winter has well and truly settled in here in the Midwest, severe storm season is right around the corner. However, don’t lost heart just yet! According to AccuWeather reports, while the forecast for the 2015 spring season predicts more severe storms than the last three years for most of the nation, the Midwest and Northeast are predicted to catch a break with a milder spring than last year! 

Click here to read more and don’t forget to spread the good news to your insureds.


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1 Month, 1 Percent, 1 Fight!

October 07, 2014


The "Impending Talent Gap" - The Top 10 States with the Oldest Employees

October 07, 2014

Did you know that over 40% of staff members in the average U.S. insurance agency are over the age of 51? The article below from Insurance Business America highlights the states with the oldest workforces by percentage and how this translates to the insurance industry’s “impending talent gap”. Read more below to learn what some insurance agencies are doing to recruit, and keep, younger talent.

Top 10 states with the oldest employees

By Kendall Greenwood, September 24, 2014, ibamag.com

More than 40% of staff members in an average insurance agency are older than 51, according to Marshberry research.

For those following the industry's impending talent gap, this number comes as no surprise. Insurance companies across the board need new talent and several organizations are paving the way to find it. However, finding the right talent will be difficult unless insurers know where, and where not, to look.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2013 preliminary annual employment demographics report pinpoints the states with the highest ratios of employees 65 years and older.  

At 8.3%, Montana shows to have the greatest population of employed persons in this age group. Of its 483,000 active employees, 40,000 are 65 years or older. This is almost 3% greater than the United States as a whole.

With the highest percentage of older workers, Montana is certainly not exempt from the need for young insurance hires.

Tim Davis, sales manager at The Insurance Shop, says there are a few things agencies can do to inspire young applicants and uses his own company to prove that it’s true. The Insurance Shop’s producers and CSRs are all under the age of 40. Total, 21 of the agency’s 24 staff members are within that same age group.

“Our agency principal is young. I’m the sale manager and I’m 34..I mean  33,” Davis said. “I can’t believe I’m lying about my age!”

Located in Missouri, where employees 65 years or older amount to 5.4% of the market, this shop proves to be an anomaly in the insurance industry.

Ironically enough, it all happened by accidentally creating a company that forms to young generation interests. “It wasn’t necessarily a planned thing,” Davis said. “But our agency is perfectly suited for millennials because we are built around technology, speed and ease of doing business.”

Outside of their core business model, The Insurance Shop has many other factors that Davis attributes to their office age.  For one, they thought out of the box when looking for the best people to fit their atmosphere.

“We’ve been so successful because we don’t try to find or recruit people with insurance experience,” Davis said. “We are just looking for the best sales people.”

They also offer a salary for the first five years of employment for producers, pay their CSR’s hourly to avoid loads of overtime and flaunt a casual dress attire. “Today I’m in shorts and tennis shoes,” Davis said during the interview.

He describes his producers as aggressive, highly motivate employees who are there to write business.

Jim Lynch, the chief actuary and director of research and information services at the Insurance Information Institute, has experienced the same type of enthusiasm in property and casualty insurance.

“I was doing volunteer work at the Actuarial Society of New York for college students who want to be actuaries,” Lynch said. “And just the line to talk to the recruiter next to me was about 30 people deep.”

According to Lynch, students are learning that insurance isn’t the boring industry it’s been stereotyped as.

Nonetheless, those employed at 65 years and older have increased in the last three years greatly. Almost all of the “oldest” states had an increase in older employees by at least 1%. Wyoming’s ratio increased from 4.31% to 7.12%.

To encourage more young professionals to get involved, Davis said agencies need to adapt to a new way of life.

“We don’t want producers to have to work long hours. If they are working more than 45 or 50 hours a week we have a conversation about work flow,” Davis said. “I am very afraid of burn out.”

University connections are what will also keep you current according to Lynch.

In the past five years, just two producers have left The Insurance Shop.

“You have to be willing to provide younger hires a good reason to join your agency and show them why they’ll be successful there,” Davis said.

To view the original article, click here.


Move in on New Business with VGMSU's Apartment House Program

October 7, 2014

VGMSU’s Apartment House Program is offered by our specialty carrier, rated A+XV by A.M. Best. The program features comprehensive coverage for apartment buildings or complexes with five or more units, apartment hotels, and boarding or rooming houses. Learn more below. 

Program Features:

Property Coverage Available:

  • Building
  • Business Personal Property
  • Business Income
  • Basic. Broad or Special Form
  • Replacement Cost or ACV
  • Inland Marine
  • Equipment Breakdown
  • Accounts Receivable
  • Computer Equipment
  • Outside Signs
  • Valuable Papers

CGL Coverage Available:

  • Primary Limits up to $3,000,000 Occurrence/ $5,000,000 Aggregate
  • $5,000 Medical Payments Coverage – Included
  • Additional Interests – Included at no charge
  • Hired and Non-owned Auto
  • Excess or Umbrella Limits up to $25,000,000

Crime Coverage Available:

  • Inside the premises – Theft of Money and Securities
  • Inside the Premises – Robbery or Safe Burglary of Other Property
  • Outside the Premises

Contact VGMSU today to learn how we can tailor a solution for you! 

Phone: 800-203-3233    Fax: 844-425-5735

Send submissions to: quotes@vgmsu.com

www.vgmsu.com 

To download a printable version of our Apartment House Program, click here.

 


Who are the Top 5 Largest P & C Insurers in the U.S.?

Curious to learn which P & C insurance companies are writing the most business in the U.S., as of 2013? The article below from PropertyCasualty360.com highlights the top five largest P & C insurers and what their percentage of the market share is. The article points out that in general, U.S. insurers continue to show resilience in the aftermath of the financial crisis. Learn more about the top five below:

Here are the 5 largest P&C insurers in the U.S. as of 2013

By Arthur D. Postal, September 24, 2014, PropertyCasual360.com

WASHINGTON—State Farm Mutual Insurance Company was the largest property and casualty insurer in 2013, according to data contained in the 2014 report of the Federal Insurance Office, with a 10.29 percent market share of all personal lines and commercial PC insurers based on premiums written.

The report said U.S. insurers in general “continue to show resilience in the aftermath of the financial crisis."

The report said PC insurance sector premiums have “grown consistently” since 2010, and reached a record high of $71 billion on a net earned basis in 2013. The PC sector’s combined ratio for 2013 dropped below 100 percent for the first time since 2007, which was largely attributable to a reduction in catastrophe losses.

As for market share, Liberty Mutual Insurance was the second overall largest, with a 5.31 percent market share, with Allstate Group third with 5.07 percent of the market, and Berkshire Hathaway fourth with 4.26 percent share of the market. Travelers is fifth, with a 4.20 share of the market. The data was provided the FIO by SNL Financial.

American International Group is the largest commercial lines insurer, with a 6.09 percent share of the market.

Travelers is the second largest commercial insurer, as of 2013, with a 5.95 percent of the market, with Liberty Mutual third with a 5.37 percent share of the market and Zurich Insurance Group fourth with a 3.99 percent share of the market, and ACE Ltd. fifth with a 3.99 percent share of the market.

State Farm has a whopping 19.07 percent share of the personal lines market, according to the data, with Allstate second with a 9.55 percent share of the market. Berkshire is third, with a 6.98 percent share of the market, with Progressive Corp. fourth with a 5.77 percent market share. Farmers Insurance Group is fifth, with a 5.58 percent market, according to the data.

To view the original article, click here.


Is Your Risk Covered for the Upcoming Festive Season?

August 26, 2014

The fall and winter season is soon approaching, and brings with it a host of special events and festivities, not to mention a multitude of associated risk. VGM Specialty Underwriters has a vast portfolio of customizable solutions for every special event this holiday season, including:

  • Hay rides
  • Haunted houses
  • Pumpkin patches
  • Christmas tree lots
  • Fairs
  • Festivals
  • Firework stands and displays
  • Bicycle/running events
  • Concerts
  • Dances
  • Turkey shoots
  • Wedding receptions
  • Art and craft shows
  • And many more!

Property and Liability coverages are available from a variety of carriers on a monoline or package basis to exceed the needs of your insured.

CGL coverage available includes:

  • Primary limits up to $3,000,000 Occurrence/$5,000,000 Aggregate
  • Liquor Liability
  • $5,000 Medical Payments – Included
  • Excess or Umbrella limits up to $25,000,000
  • Rain-Out Coverage Available
  • No deductible required

Property coverage available includes:

  • Building
  • Business Personal Property
  • Business Income
  • Basic, Broad, or Special Form
  • Replacement Cost or Actual Cash Value
  • Equipment Breakdown
  • Food Spoilage
  • Inland Marine
  • Accounts Receivable
  • Computer Equipment
  • Outside Signs
  • Valuable Papers

 

Need quotes for special events FAST? Check out our Quick Quote Webrater to access one of our many carriers directly online through our website.

Not seeing what you’re looking for online? To access our full array of carriers and find the perfect solution for your client, contact us at quotes@vgmsu.com or 800.203.3233.


Cross-Selling 101 - Four excuses for Not Doing It, and Six Ways to Get Started.

August 26, 2014

Are you an active cross-seller? According to the experts, many agents are not cross-selling insurance as often as they should—despite the fact that their survival in today’s customer-driven market place may depend on it. Cross-selling increases profits, improves retentions, and strengthens customer relationships. It really is a no-brainer. So why are we still not doing it?

The article from PropertyCasualty360.com below highlights four common excuses agents use for not cross-selling, including a lack of efficient processes, a lack of trust between staffers, and the agent’s reluctance to learn new skills and failure to see the big picture. However, in order to effectively expand your book of business and thrive in today’s insurance environment, six tried and tested cross-selling strategies are recommended. These include:

1. Target the discriminating buyer

2. Examine your processes

3. Create a system

4. Lean on technology

5. Target products based on client needs—not insurer mandates

6. Encourage teamwork

Read more in the full article below.

Cross-Selling 101 - Four common excuses for not doing it—and six ways to get started

By Laura Mazzuca Toops, PropertyCasualty360, August 1, 2014

It’s a no-brainer: Cross-selling insurance improves retentions, increases profits, and strengthens relationships by offering customers everything from life to pet insurance. But while there are no statistics on how many independent agencies are actively cross-selling to their customers, many experts say they’re not doing it as often as they should—in spite of the fact that their survival in today’s customer-driven environment may depend on it.

“With commoditization of personal lines auto and the coming assault from the direct channel on small business, agents must realize that it is difficult to position themselves as efficient and profitable when operating as an insurance vendor who takes orders and quotes business rather than as a professional trusted advisor providing guidance,” says Tom Barrett, president of the Midwest and Southeast regions of the SIAA Inc. agency network. ”The majority of agents are not cross-selling, but the informed ones serious about their future are.”

Convincing the average agency owner to cross-sell is still an uphill climb—even though failure to do so can result in your competitors stealing your lunch, says Shirley Lukens, principal at Reagan Consulting. More to the point, effective cross-selling can retain business, even in tough times. “At a workshop I did for Central Insurance Co., one of the agents said they had lost the commercial lines business of a large account when the economy tanked but was able to keep the personal lines business of several of the key people in that company,” Lukens recalls. “Once the economy improved and rates began to harden, that agent was able to come back and win the CL business they had lost just because they kept that door open through the PL business.”

Excuses, Excuses

The reasons some agencies are reluctant to cross-sell can be boiled down to:

Lack of efficient processes

Cross-selling can’t happen in environments where employees feel “overworked and overwhelmed,” says Jack Burke, president of Sound Marketing. “The more you overload the back office with trivial jobs, the less time they have to move into a strategic role with your clients.”

Lack of trust between staffers

Destructive distrust—between personal lines and commercial lines, or employee benefits and commercial lines—can stifle cross-selling when producers on one side fear their counterparts will “screw up” their client relationships, says Lukens of Reagan Consulting: “The big issue still comes down to service—if an agency can’t effectively service both lines, then it is best to not cross-sell. But it sure opens the door for other agencies to come in and take all the business.”

Reluctance to learn new skills

“Many agents aren’t keen on learning new skills but rather cling to ‘doing as they have always done,’” says SIAA’s Barrett. “They need to relearn the skills and reinvent themselves as a problem solver and guiding specialist to those they serve.”

Failure to see the big picture

Most agency owners don’t look at their firms as a business, but as a “sales organization designed to support their lifestyles,” Burke says. When they need more money, their solution is to attach a new niche market or get a new product to sell: “This doesn’t go to the heart of the problem but actually complicates it.” Visionary agents who succeed at cross-selling don’t approach it through hard sell, but as another way to meet all of the risk mitigation needs of their clients.

Time to get started

So how can agencies get started in or accelerate their cross-selling? Click through for six strategies that can help expand your book of business.

Six strategies that can help expand your book of business:

1. Target the discriminating buyer

Independent agents are increasingly targeting the high-net-worth individual as a great opportunity to cross-sell. When cross-selling to business owners, first focus on coverage for the “business of the business,”

such as key person insurance, Burke says. “But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, because each key man is usually a high-net individual. Why haven’t you gone after their personal life, financial strategy, $2 million home and their toys?”

2. Examine your processes

Too many times, agency owners tell the back office they want a certain line to be cross-sold to existing clients. But overburdened CSRs who don’t like selling won’t do a good job with this method. “The agency must take a holistic look and determine workflow backlogs that could prevent that nurturing support of the client,” says Burke. The first step is to conduct an analysis of the office’s infrastructure before going strategic with a cross-selling plan. Once glitches are corrected, examine the book of business for the strongest markets, examine how well-rounded each client account is, and determine what other products the agency can bring to the table.

3. Create a system

Whether it’s color-coded process sheets to help producers pinpoint clients’ needs or a formal action plan for cross-selling five or six specific lines of business, ditch the order-taking mentality and refocus on giving the client a no-hassle experience and adding value, Barrett says. Instead of looking at specific lines of business to cross-sell, “focus on a revenue target per account in addition to multiple line sales.”

4. Lean on technology

Tech tools make cross-selling easier than ever. Automated marketing products provide structured ways to contact clients—not just at renewal time, but on birthdays, anniversaries, and other life events to help nurture the relationship and present cross-selling opportunities, Barrett says. In addition to putting automation to work for you, using social media to build a sense of engagement is also important.

5. Target products based on client needs—not insurer mandates

Legendary insurance salesman Cosmo Conte of State Farm set the standard for cross-selling to personal lines customers by proactively asking if they were happy with their current coverage. Today’s agents must shift from proactive mode to “providing nurturing support, which will create reactive cross selling to clients who request it,” Burke says. It’s a subtle difference, but one that shifts the emphasis to put the client in charge.

6. Encourage teamwork

If Joe is a workers’ comp specialist and Mary is a benefits specialist, and Joe brings in a big account and gets a big commission, he may feel threatened when Mary tries to cross-sell benefits because he fears it will jeopardize his relationship with the client, Burke says. It’s the principal’s job to spot this friction and encourage all producers to collaborate on customer accounts.

 

To read more of the original article, click here.


A State of Disaster: The Top 10 Most At Risk States

August 26, 2014

We know all too well the devastating effects severe weather can have on people, property and the environment. While no location is completely safe, some U.S. states experience more than their fair share of disaster. The article below from propertycasualty360.com highlights which 10 states have suffered the biggest estimated property losses from disasters over the past eight years, according to data from Kiplinger and the National Weather Service.

Read the full article below.

The top 10 states most at risk of disaster

By Melissa Hillebrand, PropertyCasualty360.com, August, 4, 2014

Which states experience the most flash floods, tornadoes, thunderstorms, hurricanes and other severe weather?

Some locations experience more than their fair share of severe weather. While no location is completely safe, read which 10 states have suffered the biggest estimated property losses from disasters during the past eight years, according to Kiplinger and the National Weather Service.

10. ARIZONA

Estimated property damage from 2006 to 2013: $3.5 billion

Most frequent disasters: thunderstorms, flash floods, drought, dust storms

Weather related fatalities 2006 to 2013: 93

Drought conditions have plagued Arizona for the past few years, and as a result, the state has seen outbreaks of wildfires, including the largest on record that burned 500,000 in 2011. In June 2013, a wildfire in the small mountain town of Yarnell, Ariz., became the deadliest disaster of its kind since 1933, claiming the lives of 19 firefighters. In 2010, a series of thunderstorms produced tornadoes and hail across Phoenix, causing $2 billion in damage.

9. COLORADO

Estimated property damage from 2006 to 2013: $3.7 billion

Most frequent disasters: winter storms, hail, drought, floods, flash floods

Weather related fatalities 2006 to 2013: 70

Record rainfall in September 2013 led to floods that killed nine people and caused widespread destruction in several Colorado cities. Wildfires broke out in the summer of 2012, causing more damage to the Centennial State than any other Western state that year.

8. LOUISIANA

Estimated property damage from 2006 to 2013: $3.9 billion

Most frequent disasters: hail, tornadoes, tropical storms, floods, flash floods, thunderstorms

Weather related fatalities 2006 to 2013: 66

Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corp. and State Farm each received about 17,000 claims after Hurricane Isaac hit the state in 2012. Louisiana drops from the 2013 list’s No. 1 spot, which it earned due to damage from 2005’s Hurricane Katrina.

7. MISSISSIPPI

Estimated property damage from 2006 to 2013: $4.3 billion

Most frequent disasters: thunderstorms, hail, tornadoes, floods, flash floods

Weather related fatalities 2006 to 2013: 88

Mississippi is frequently hit by tornadoes and severe storms. In April 2013, multiple tornadoes touched down in the state, killing one person. Mississippi also is in the path of Hurricanes, most recently from Hurricane Isaac in 2012.

6. OKLAHOMA

Estimated property damage from 2006 to 2013: $4.5 billion

Most frequent disasters: hail, thunderstorms, tornadoes, drought

Weather related fatalities 2006 to 2013: 162

Tornado Alley, no doubt. An EF5 tornado devastated Moore, Okla., on May 20, 2013, and the widest tornado on record hit El Reno, Okla., 11 days later, causing more than $470 million in claims payouts. Severe storms are so much a part of the weather in the area that the National Severe Storms Laboratory and National Weather Service’s Prediction Center are located in the state.

5. ALABAMA

Estimated property damage from 2006 to 2013: $4.9 billion

Most frequent disasters: thunderstorms, hail, tornadoes

Weather related fatalities 2006 to 2013: 333

Tornadoes hit the state in April 2011, especially in Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, where more than 120 people were killed. Alabama is only second to Oklahoma in the number of EF5 tornadoes that have struck the state.

4. MISSOURI

Estimated property damage from 2006 to 2013: $5.0 billion

Most frequent disasters: hail, thunderstorms, winter storms, floods, tornadoes

Weather related fatalities 2006 to 2013: 346

Missouri has the most weather-related deaths in the past eight years. The tornado that swept through Joplin on May 22, 2011, was one of the deadliest in U.S. history and generated $2.2 billion in insurance claims, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

3. TENNESSEE

Estimated property damage from 2006 to 2013: $5.1 billion

Most frequent disasters: thunderstorms, hail, winter storms, tornadoes

Weather related fatalities 2006 to 2013: 224

Severe storms are common in the state, which was among the many hit by the super outbreak of tornadoes in April 2011. Nashville suffered more than $1.5 billion in damage due to flooding in May 2010 and Memphis had millions of dollars’ worth of damage when the Mississippi River flooded in spring 2011.

2. TEXAS

Estimated property damage from 2006 to 2013: $23.7 billion

Most frequent disasters: hail, thunderstorms, drought, tornadoes, flash floods

Weather related fatalities 2006 to 2013: 313

Cities close to the southern coast, such as Galveston and Houston, are often in the path of hurricanes that gain strength over the Gulf of Mexico. Wildfires are common because of extreme heat and drought. In 2011, losses from the Bastrop fire resulted in 1,500 claims and more than $325 million, making it the costliest fire in Texas history.

1. NEW JERSEY

Estimated property damage from 2006 to 2013: $26.4 billion

Most frequent disasters: damaging wind, winter storms, floods, flash floods

Weather related fatalities 2006 to 2013: 87

New Jersey earns the top spot on this list, in large part because of damage wrought in October 2012 due to superstorm Sandy. The state was among the hardest hit by Sandy, which was the second-costliest storm after Hurricane Katrina. Many homes and businesses were destroyed along the Jersey shore and 2.1 million people and businesses were without power. Shortly after Sandy hit, another storm brought snow that caused more power outages and damage.

To read the original article, click here.


Comprehensive Health Care Solutions from VGMSU

August 26, 2014

Are you looking for a comprehensive solution for your business health care clients? VGMSU offers a competitive insurance program designed specifically for the following Allied Healthcare Operations.

Preferred Classes

  • Home Medical Equipment Dealers
  • Orthotics & Prosthetics Distributors/Manufacturers
  • Retail Pharmacies
  • Home Healthcare/Temporary Staffing
  • Hospices
  • Medical Testing and Imaging Laboratories
  • Dialysis Centers
  • Outpatient Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation
  • Outpatient Therapy
  • Massage Therapy/Non-Invasive Spa Services
  • Guardianship/Court Appointed Special Guardian
  • Training for Medical Professionals (Other than Physicians, PAs or NPs)
  • Weight Loss Clinic
  • Acupuncture
  • Holistic Therapy
  • Non-residential Social Services

Features and Benefits

  • Primary limits up to $3,000,000/$5,000,000
  • Monoline professional or combined professional liability/general liability
  • Prior acts coverage for qualified accounts
  • Sexual/physical abuse sub-limit options up to $1,000,000/$1,000,000
  • Non-owned auto coverage is available for most classes of business

 

Contact us today learn more about this comprehensive program or to submit a quote.

quotes@vgmsu.com

Ph: 800-203-3233 | Fax: 844-425-5735


VGM Specialty Underwriters – More Staff, Expanded Markets, Faster Quotes!

June 26, 2014

We are pleased and excited to announce the merging of two managing general agencies. Rising Star and Davidson-Babcock have united to form VGM Specialty Underwriters!

What does this mean for you?
  • More staff for even greater service.

We now employ an even larger team of in-house underwriters who specialize in underwriting on the local and regional level.

  • Expanded markets.

We work hard to provide our customers with the best policies at competitive rates, and we now have access to more markets to help us deliver on that promise.

  • Faster quotes.

Our state-of-the-art operating systems enable us to provide quotes at faster rates.

  • Direct access to carriers.

Our quick quote online web rater provides quick quotes online to your customers by offering direct access to carriers through our website.

 

VGM Specialty Underwriters specializes in tailored risk solutions, including:

• Commercial GL

• Commercial Property

• Commercial Inland Marine

• Commercial Package Policies

• Crime and Fidelity

• Sports Accident and Liability

• Liquor Liability

• Professional Liability

• Excess / Umbrella Liability

• D&O Liability

• Personal Lines

• Vacant Properties

• And much more!

 

At VGMSU, we turn risk into opportunity. Our dedicated and experienced team specializes in offering tailored solutions to exceed your clients’ needs.

 

Our insurance companies carry an A (Excellent) rating from A.M. Best Company, one of the nation’s leading independent insurance analysts.

 

We also offer binding authority capabilities and are licensed in all 50 states.

 

Contact Us Today!

 

16011 College Blvd, Suite 203 Lenexa, KS 66219 | Ph: 800-203-3233 or 913-469-1188 | Fax: 844-425-5735

www.vgmsu.com | Email submissions to: quotes@vgmsu.com

 

Tailored Solutions for Your Unique Insurance Needs -- Your Risk is our Specialty!

The Challenges and Opportunities for the Property and Casualty Industry in 2014

June 26, 2014

As an insurance agent, it’s important to be aware and stay ahead of industry trends. Knowing the marketplace allows you to make the best, most informed decisions for your clients and stay ahead of the game. Want the inside scoop on the challenges and opportunities facing the Property and Casualty Industry for 2014? Check out what Steven Weisbart, chief economist for the Insurance Information Institute, had to say as part of the State of the Industry Address on May 6. The article below from propertycasualty360.com outlines his thoughts.

Among the challenges for 2014, Weisbart discusses:

1. Persistently low interest rates

2. Significant catastrophe claims

3. Adapting to tech developments/trends

4. Affordability

5. Spillover from the Affordable Care Act

6. A black swan

Most importantly, the opportunities for 2014 include:

1. New exposures to be insured – Including cyber exposures and identity theft

2. Current exposures and current underinsured - In particular, business interruption and flood insurance

Do you have high risk Property and Casualty insurance to place? Contact VGM Specialty Underwriters! Our dedicated team of insurance and underwriting experts can tailor a solution for your high risk needs.

2014’s P&C Challenges and Opportunities Outlined at ACORD LOMA

BY MELISSA HILLEBRAND, PROPERTYCASUALTY360.COM, May 6, 2014

Speaking at ACORD LOMA 2014 in Orlando, Fla., Steven Weisbart, chief economist for the Insurance Information Institute, details 2014’s challenges and opportunities for P&C insurers, as part of the State of the Industry Address on Tuesday, May 6.

Steven Weisbart

2014’s CHALLENGES:

Persistently low interest rates: Low rates come amid intense industry competition, which makes it difficult to raise policy rates to cover investment shortfalls.

Significant catastrophe claims: Since 2001, six years have had $30 billion in cat claims. 2013 was the best year, by far, in the post-financial crisis era, with $13 billion in total catastrophe losses, a number which would have been considered high before 2001. If 2014 turns out to be a typical cat year, expect $25 to $35 billion in catastrophe claims.

Adapting to tech developments/trends: Particularly in claims, underwriting and back-office operations, this won’t be an easy thing to maintain because the target is moving, Weisbart says.

Affordability: This a new idea gaining ground among regulators and legislators, he says. What does it mean to have an “affordable” auto insurance premium, and what does it mean if it’s not affordable? Weisbart points out that flood insurance and healthcare are subsidized, so as far as auto insurance affordability, this may grow to a broader concept.

Spillover from the Affordable Care Act: ACA stipulates that if loss ratios are not high enough, you are charging too much in relation to the premiums that you collect. This concept of affordability, if it leaks over to private insurance, homeowners and auto, could have a major impact, Weisbart says.

A black swan: Covering his bases against the unexpected, Weisbart says a black swan event “is something I never expect to see, but is devastating and does occur.”

2014’s OPPORTUNITIES:

New exposures to be insured: People are beginning to recognize cyber exposures and identity theft as massive interruptions. “This is the nature of insurance to protect against a large, not terribly frequent, financial-based interruption,” Weisbart says. Buying insurance against these perils is a rational way to behave.

Current exposures and current underinsured: In particular, business interruption and flood insurance. “Flood insurance continues to be a mystery to me,” Weisbart says. “When Sandy hit, a map of the most affected coastal areas showed that less than 15% of people on the shore had flood insurance.”

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