The personal umbrella market had been steady for many years, with lots of choices available in the market when it came to finding the right coverage for customers. However, recent changes are turning the market upside down and creating additional work for agents and making it harder for agents to find coverage for their customers.
For many customers an umbrella is a crucial part of their overall insurance needs and agents need to find the solutions to protect their customers’ financial assets.
Here are five trends in the personal umbrella market that agents need to know about.
1. Major carriers have either left the market or they have restricted their underwriting appetite. These changes have left a void for many agents.
Nautilus Insurance announced their decision to withdraw from the personal lines market, including personal umbrella, several months ago. Other carriers have become more restrictive with older drivers, younger drivers, and drivers with tickets and/or accidents. While these changes make it difficult to find coverage, there are still numerous markets available to help solve these problems.
The key to protecting your book of business and taking care of your customer is to get ahead of the changes. First, make sure your customers do not have a lapse in coverage by working at least 60 days ahead of the effective date. A solid wholesaler will have several alternate markets that can usually provide coverage.
2. Select carriers are raising rates that could create a shopping opportunity for your customer.
If your customer is experiencing a large rate increase, don’t wait for them to call you. Many customers will simply start shopping on their own and you could lose the customer and their supporting lines of business. Get in-front of the rate increase by working to find an alternative market before your customer calls. Just like with auto insurance, rates and coverage for personal umbrella vary from carrier to carrier.
3. Some carriers are requiring underlying auto liability limits of $1 million. Many companies do not offer this option and it takes time to move the auto to another carrier.
Very few auto carriers offer liability limits of $1 million and adding a layer between the underlying auto and the umbrella can be very expensive. One solution is to move the policy to an umbrella carrier that requires lower, more customary underlying liability limits of $250,000/$500,000 or $500,000/$500,000. The best way to find these options is to work with a wholesaler with access to numerous mono-line personal umbrella markets. To avoid any confusion, lapse in coverage or gaps in coverage, work at least 60 days ahead of the renewal.
4. Many agents no longer have access to mono-line personal umbrella markets through their prior network or they lost access for a period of time. As a result, agents have less choice when it comes to mono-line personal umbrella.
While some agents no longer have many options, there are plenty of wholesalers with access to multiple, mono-line personal umbrella markets. If necessary, seek out a new wholesaler by asking other agents for recommendations, searching the web, or checking out the “Markets” section of Insurance Journal. When selecting a wholesaler look for one that makes it easy to do business by offering direct to customer billing, multiple personal umbrella carriers and online rating options.
5. It is becoming harder to find coverage for “target” customers such as politicians, actors, and athletes.
While some carriers have decided they no longer want to provide coverage for these individuals, there are still numerous carriers who will offer coverage for “target” customers. Agents should work with partners that have access to numerous mono-line umbrella markets to find coverage for these insureds.
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