Van Wagoner Entering Oklahoma Commercial Earthquake Market

Texas-based managing general agency, Van Wagoner Companies, plans to begin selling “monoline” commercial earthquake insurance as a surplus line in Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Insurance Department announced.

Van Wagoner’s earthquake insurance will be available in Oklahoma through selected independent agents.

Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak said Van Wagoner’s entry into Oklahoma represents the success of his “Open for Business” initiative, intended to improve consumer choice and lower policyholder premiums by increasing the number of insurance companies competing for business in Oklahoma.

Doak and the Oklahoma Insurance Department launched the “Open for Business” initiative on Aug. 1 in order to bring new companies, unique and additional insurance products, and greater competition to Oklahoma’s insurance markets. Keith Kelley was hired as the department’s marketing director for the program.

At an Oklahoma insurance industry gathering on Sept. 28, Kelley was approached by an independent agent who noted that she was struggling to find a carrier of earthquake coverage for homeowners. Though Kelley is still pursuing other insurers to fill the homeowners niche, he was able to facilitate an increase in Oklahoma’s commercial earthquake offerings after meeting Van Wagoner’s marketing chief Brian Dakota at the same Sept. 28 convention.

While becoming acquainted, Dakota told Kelley that Van Wagoner’s parent company, the Chesterfield Group, is a Lloyds of London-accredited broker. He said that if there was a particular coverage need in Oklahoma, Van Wagoner’s General Managing Partner Gary Hirst could explore options through Lloyds.

“Mr. Kelley immediately inquired if we wrote monoline earthquake coverage, which has generated great interest among the public due to the recent earthquake events in Oklahoma,” Dakota said. “Although we did not currently offer the coverage, I agreed to pursue the issues with London. Within several hours, our broker colleagues were able to respond with a program.

“Keith worked diligently with Van Wagoner Companies in a joint effort to construct the insurance product required to serve the needs of his Oklahoma constituents,” Dakota said.

Doak emphasized that in the case of Van Wagoner, the “Open for Business” program worked exactly as he envisioned: Agents, consumers or the OID identify gaps in coverage available to Oklahomans, then the “Open for Business” program finds reputable companies with products well-designed to fill those gaps.

Dakota suggests that Doak and the OID can build upon the recruitment success with Van Wagoner because the “Open for Business” approach is unique among state insurance departments.

“This was the first time in my 20-plus years of marketing and exhibiting at trade shows across the country that I can remember having ever spoken to a representative of a state insurance department at a convention,” Dakota said.

Source: Oklahoma Department of Insurance