Conn. Private Coastal Insurance Market Works, Say Commissioner and Insurers

By | December 27, 2007

Acknowledging the ongoing concern over coastal property insurance in his state, Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Thomas Sullivan maintained that the state’s coastal property insurance market is in pretty good shape with more than 100 insurers still writing in the state, even though the cost of coverage is high.

“We have a problem with affordability, not availability. Some increases are steep but we do have a competitive market,” he said, suggesting markets in neighboring New York and Massachusetts are much worse.

Suyllivan’s assessment of the property marketplace was supported by insurance carriers represented at a recent meeting of the Independent Insurance Agents of Conn..

Richard Van Edsinga, General Casualty Northeast regional vice president, was among the executives vowing to continue writing coverage in coastal areas. “We have an open market and are accepting new business,” Van Edsinga told agents “We have a pretty strong appetite.”

Sun Prairie, Wis.-based insurer General Casualty is owned by Australia-based QBE Insurance Group. He noted that his company has gained better flexibility for such business since being bought back in January by giant QBE, which wields group power in the buying of reinsurance.

Peerless Insurance also “intends to remain open and stable market” in Connecticut, according to Michael Christiansen, president. Peerless Insurance is a member of Liberty Mutual Group’s Agency Markets business unit.

According to Jonathan Bennett, executive vice president for personal and small business lines, The Hartford also remains “open for business” but with distance to shore constraints. It is also watching rates closely. “We are very interested in remaining an open and viable market,” Bennett told agents.

Regarding coastal commercial property risks, the carrier executives echoed Sullivan that the issue in the commercial property market as in the personal market is affordability, not so much availability.

The carriers rejected the suggestion that Connecticut needs a property insurance residual market for wind exposure or a FAIR Plan.
“With 100 companies, Connecticut can handle it,” said Van Edsinga.
“Let the private market solve the problems,” agreed Bennett of The Hartford.

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