While the personal insurance needs of high net worth families differ from those of most people, you, like most people, have probably chosen the same individual year after year to manage your personal insurance. This allegiance may stem from loyalty, or perhaps you know that because personal insurance rates are filed with the state in which your home or auto is located, basically every agent’s price is the same. You may conclude that, given this price parity, it matters little who manages your personal insurance. But before you reach that conclusion, we suggest you answer a few questions.
Is your insurance program managed by an independent broker or a direct writing agent?
Direct writers work on behalf of the insurance company they represent. Allstate, State Farm and Nationwide are examples of companies employing direct writers. Since these agents typically represent just one insurance company, they may only offer products from a single provider.
In contrast, an independent broker represents a wide range of insurance companies. This enables the broker to consider a broad selection of products and secure policies for your homes, autos, valuable items and watercraft, plus personal umbrella coverage, which will best protect your property and your family.
Are you dealing with multiple direct writers or is your personal insurance program managed by one agent/broker?
If you own multiple residences, vehicles and watercraft in different states, and choose to work with direct writing agents, you will need a different agent in each state. They may only sell insurance products in the state where their agency is domiciled. So you will end up managing a scattered network of agents, which could create gaps in coverage.
Working with independent brokers, you’ll no longer need to coordinate coverage among providers.
By working with independent brokers who may provide insurance products in any state where they are licensed to do business, you no longer need to coordinate coverage among multiple providers. An independent broker, not you,is responsible for managing your entire insurance program and making sure no gaps exist.
Is your insurance program managed by a service center or in-house by the agent/broker who structured the policies?
More and more, even high net worth clients find that their insurance program is managed by a “service center” where you may have to deal with an anonymous individual who may or may not be familiar with your account history or particular need. When choosing a personal insurance manager, confirm that when you have an inquiry, you will speak with an agent who knows your account.
When was the last time your agent/broker conducted a thorough review of your insurance program?
Life changes, and so do insurance needs. Children start driving, domestic staff turns over, renovations are made, trusts and LLCs are established or perhaps you volunteer on a board of directors. To avoid gaps in coverage and take advantage of new services, products and pricing that providers offer, you should consider a comprehensive annual review of your personal insurance mandatory.
Is the experience of your agent/broker sufficient and sophisticated enough to handle your complex needs?
Selecting a competent and qualified agent requires diligence and the willingness to ask potential brokers about their education, experience and average client profile. And does that profile resemble yours? Also, carefully check their technical credentials, since expert knowledge can prevent problems.
In sum, the person best equipped to handle your personal insurance needs is an independent broker who understands the needs of high net worth families and will provide maximum protection for you and your loved ones.
Insurance services provided through NFP Property & Casualty Services, Inc., doing business in California as NFP Property & Casualty Insurance Services, Inc., License # 0F15715.
This article was originally published in the June/July 2016 issue of Worth.