What is the best way to market homeowners insurance in Florida?

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I”m a relatively new property and casualty insurance agent in Florida.

There is a perceived homeowners insurance crisis in Florida. Many of the big boys (ie Allstate, State Farm, Nationwide) are not writing any new business, policies are being nonrenewed, and if you’re lucky enough to not get dropped, premiums are going up by more than 30% a year. Because of this, the average consumer “thinks” there’s no alternative but pay what your Allstate, State Farm, or Nationwide agent gets you, which is usually a high rate with Citizens (the state run insurance company of last resort).

However there ARE several small companies writing policies in Florida with great rates, but the captive agent of the big boys can’t write them so people don’t really know.

I honestly haven’t had a single lead who I couldn’t save hundreds, maybe more than a thousand dollars a year. But I just don’t know how to get the word out. Any ideas?

5 Comments
  1. Reply
    dryheatdave
    July 21, 2011 at 1:39 am

    Include comprehensive hurricane & flood insurance – I bet you’d get more buyers with that !

    And yet, all the insurance companies want ME to buy flood insurance – I live in Arizona, 40 miles from the nearest flowing river & we’ve had 2.71 inches of rain this year.

  2. Reply
    Sue
    July 21, 2011 at 2:38 am

    I would take out an ad in a local paper, or call your local cable company. They sometimes can get ads on TV pretty cheap. I know of some small businesses in my area that do this. They are small so I’m sure they don’t have a lot of money to spend on advertising.
    Also, are the companies your are using rated by AMBest or S&P? I know they are small but if they start writing a lot of business, will they have the financial backing to pay out for a big cat loss (like a Hurricane Andrew)? Will they be financially able to pay out millions in claims for one storm? Who are their reinsurers? If they are underpricing their product, will they be there for another big one? Does FL have a Guaranty Fund (that will pay a claim if the insurer becomes insolvent)? There is a reason the big boys are pulling out, FL is not profitable & they have the financial backing to take a big hit.
    I know of a few companies that my insureds have been looking at (I have a few that have properties in FL) that are not rated by AMBest or S&P. What does your E&O carrier say about these companies. Our E&O carrier says that every policy we write MUST be with a B or better rated company with AMBest. If it is not, we have no E&O coverage for that policy, so if something goes wrong, our agency has to pay, we wouldn’t have the backing of our E&O policy. We have had that situation, we had 2 companies whose ratings were downgraded & we had to scramble to rewrite all of the policies that were with them & drop the company. The vice president of my agency was offered a policy with Royal Palm – NOT rated by AMBest, he DIDN’T buy it, he got a policy with Citizens, which was actually less expensive than with Royal Palm. He is an insurance agent & knows what he is doing.

  3. Reply
    mbrcatz17
    July 21, 2011 at 3:11 am

    MIchael, I’ve seen some of these new small startups. They aren’t rated by AM Best, which would mean (in every e&o policy I have ever seen), that your e&o won’t cover any claims related to issuing that type of policy.

    The last one, where I looked at the financials (a captive of Allstate, I believe) had enough reserves to pay for 500 houses. Not something I’d recommend.

    SO, IMO, Florida DOES have a homeowners crisis.

    If you’ve got an A RATED CARRIER, that writes new homeowners in Florida, within 10 miles of the water, PLEASE let me know who. Heck, email me your contact information, and I’ll send business your way. I won’t recommend unrated carriers, and I won’t recommend any carrier rated lower than an A with AM Best.

    Which is why I STILL recommend Citizens, for new business.

  4. Reply
    Dimples_in_NJ
    July 21, 2011 at 3:38 am

    I had much sucess in property insurance prior to moving to the carrier side of the business. I used to market areas that had heavy losses at one time or another. I found this a very favorable technique given that the potentional client had losses fresh in their mind. Also, they are bound to get some considerable rates up shortly.

    As you are aware, insurance is not easy in this competition world. Best thing to do is focus in areas where tornadoes, hurricanes or other disasters occured so you catch their attention.

    I would renew what others have said about the financials. Stick with solvent carriers especially those accepting big chunks of risk in FL, LA, GA & NC.

  5. Reply
    Lamonica
    July 21, 2011 at 4:23 am

    Great question!

    Thanks for being so honest in your posting.

    If more people were taking advantage of your services and simply shopping their policy, the free market could correct some of this florida homeowners insurance mess.

    I don’t know why anyone would keep going back to the same agent, year after year and putting up with these increases.

    I found a brand new website that just launched that is helping to get the word out:

    http://www.homeinsurancebuyers.org

    It is the only website I know of that tells you exactly who is writing Florida home insurance in your county and has a system for rating the companies that are still writing new business.

    This site is getting a ton of members and subscribers and it will help get the word out about using independent agents like yourself.

    I subscribed and got rid of an expensive policy I had been wanting to dump for years.

    And it has a section specifically focused on the captive insurance companies and their agents:

    http://www.homeinsurancebuyers.org/ShouldYouKeepYourHomeownersInsurancewithAllstateNationwideAndStateFarm

    The captives have a stranglehold on the Florida homeowner insurance market but that is going to change. Something has to give!

    Good luck with your business. We need more agents like you!

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