Report Identifies P/C Insurance Companies with Best Reputations

The insurer landed in the top spot based on criteria including strong reputation, relevancy, expressiveness (brand strength, informativeness, relevancy), products and services, governance, citizenship and innovation.

MetLife, New York Life and Blue Cross Blue Shield grabbed the second, third and fourth spots, respectively, on the 2018 U.S. Insurance RepTrak ranking that covers property/casualty, life and health insurers along with investment firms.

After USAA, the only property/casualty insurer with a strong rating, the next P/C insurers on the overall list are Hanover Insurance Group at number 5, and then Progressive Corp. in 6th place. (The Reputation Institute pulled out the top P/C insurers in the special chart below.)

Source: Reputation Institute, P/C Insurers Only

In issuing the report, the Reputation Institute said that insurers have reputational challenges that other industries don’t.

“The insurance sector has unique challenges. What drives insurance is not identical to other industries,” said Brad Hecht, executive vice president and market leader of Americas at Reputation Institute. “Innovation, workplace, and performance have higher impact on reputation for the insurance industry when compared to healthcare and financial industries. If insurance companies want to differentiate from financial services and healthcare companies, they should focus their efforts on these dimensions.”

The research that informs the RepTrak report is based on more than 2,920 individual ratings from U.S. consumers, addressing 44 nominated companies. According to the Reputation Institute, the survey quantifies the emotional bond consumers have with “leading companies and how these connections drive supportive behaviors such as intent to purchase, trust, work for or invest in the company.”

The insurance industry has an average 71.3 reputation score as of September, up from 65.9 in February 2018, according to the survey.

As the top insurance company, USAA scored a 75.7 ranking. The next highest P/C carrier – Hanover Insurance – scored a 69.8, followed by Progressive, at 69.4, Farmers at 69.2 and Allstate at 68.9.

The Reputation Institute describes itself as a “data-driven, reputation insights advisory firm, and provider of peer-to-peer membership services.”

Source: Reputation Institute

View this article online: https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2018/11/20/509729.htm

Florida CFO: Insurers Must Step Up Response to Hurricane Michael Claims

Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis, who leads the Florida Department of Financial Services, called on the insurance industry to “step it up” in aiding consumers in their Hurricane Michael recovery in a conference call on Nov. 20 with more than 40 insurance company representatives and Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier.

“Before Hurricane Michael hit, I put Florida’s insurance industry on notice that I expected they would move quickly to help residents recover. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been the case all around,” Patronis said. “My office has noticed several alarming trends since the storm made landfall, including delays in processing claims. What is even more troubling is that 13 percent of complaints to my office were related to claim denials.”

Insurance consumer complaints are handled through the DFS Division of Consumer Services.

Patronis, who is originally from Panama City, Fla., compared the number of complaints related to Hurricane Michael at this point to that of Hurricane Irma, which touched almost every county in Florida when it hit in September of last year. He said approximately 30 days after Hurricane Irma, DFS had received approximately 200 consumer complaints. Hurricane Michael impacted a smaller area – just 12 Florida counties – yet DFS received more than 100 consumer complaints through the 30 days after the Cat 4 storm made landfall on Oct. 10.

“There is no reason that we should have this many complaints for an impacted area that is a small fraction of Irma’s. It’s completely unacceptable,” Patronis said.

Hurricane Michael’s Destruction in Photos

Patronis added, “I expect insurers will step it up so that families and businesses can get back to normal. If insurers don’t step up, not only will recovery be delayed, but consumers will be even more vulnerable to fraud.”

As of Nov. 16, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation reported a total of 125,356 claims for all lines of business, including residential and commercial properties. The total estimated insured losses had reached $3.4 billion with 55.3 percent of the total claims received closed.

Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier echoed Patronis’ statement to insurers saying, “all insurance-related needs held by impacted consumers must be addressed swiftly and without delay.”

For their part, the insurance industry says they were there as soon as possible after the storm and are still working to resolve claims.

“Hurricane Michael brought a great deal of devastation, and insurers are working diligently to settle claims quickly and thoroughly,” said Logan McFaddin, regional manager for insurer trade group PCI. “As soon as it was safe to enter, adjusters were deployed across the impacted areas … Insurers are actively working with policyholders on alternative housing needs and processing and paying claims for home, auto, and business[es].”

In the days following Michael’s wrath, the majority of affected policyholders reported being pleased with their insurance carrier’s response, according to a survey of insurance industry performance after Hurricanes Florence and Michael from J.D. Power, which found 87 percent of Florida policyholders said their insurer had “met or exceeded expectations,” in its response efforts.

The J.D. Power Pulse Survey was conducted between Oct. 19 – Nov. 2 and included 650 responses from individual home and policyholders affected by Hurricane’s Florence and Michael across four states: North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida and/or Georgia.

The survey found 89 percent of respondents reported that their claims had either been fully or partially covered, with 5 percent reporting their claim was unresolved. Just 4 percent had their claim denied and 2 percent were “not sure.”

Trey Hutt, president of Hutt Insurance Agency, which has two locations in the Panhandle, said for the most part, he has been pleased with the industry’s response to Hurricane Michael.

However, he noted there is typically a lull in the recovery process about a month after the event where people have submitted their claim, had their initial visit from an adjuster and then have to wait to hear from a desk adjuster, which can take up to 10 business days in some cases.

“People are very nervous when there is silence at the other end of the phone,” Hutt said.

Altmaier said OIR continues to work alongside DFS to monitor the progress of the post-storm response to ensure residents impacted by Hurricane Michael are protected throughout their path to recovery.

“Insurance companies must fulfill the promises they’ve made to their policyholders,” Altmaier said.

McFaddin said that will be the case.

“Insurers will continue to be there until properties are rebuilt and Florida communities return to normal,” she said.

5 Things Not to do This Thanksgiving

A burnt-to-a-crisp turkey served along a side of political discourse is just one potential disaster your insureds might face this Thanksgiving.

Help things go without a hitch by sharing these quick tips.

1. Don’t drink and drive

This should be a no-brainer, but drunk driving still causes 28% of all traffic-related deaths in the U.S. according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Arrange a designated driver or use a ride-hailing service when traveling on Thanksgiving.

2. Don’t loan someone your car
Be mindful about who drives your vehicle. It’s easy to give a friend or family member keys to the car while they’re in town, but this “permissive use” leaves the insured in the driver’s seat when it comes to responsibility for a claim.

3. Don’t serve alcohol to minors
Under social host liability laws, party-givers can be held responsible when minors drink, even if the hosts were unaware that they were doing so. If a minor was drunk, chose to drive and caused an auto accident, the host could be liable. Keep a watchful eye during parties and be sure guests who imbibe are 21 or older.

4. Don’t subject your pets to holiday stress
Pets can be easily overwhelmed by visitors during Thanksgiving; the extra noise and activity can be upsetting and people often aren’t educated about how to act around animals, which can result in unwelcome behavior by both the person and the pet. Give pets a quiet “sanctuary” behind a closed door, complete with a bowl of water, comfy blanket and special treat. They’ll be grateful.

5. Don’t leave tools laying around
Tackling winterizing to-dos is a top priority this month, especially with house guests on approach. Be sure shovels, rakes and ladders are kept well out of the way to avoid slip-and-falls and store them properly after use.

Your clients depend on you to tell them about the coverage they need.

By taking 3 minutes to give them a personal umbrella quote, you’ll show them how this indispensable policy can help protect their assets and pay for medical and legal expenses should the worst happen, whatever the season.

About Daina Kawchack Smith, Chief Marketing Officer, PersonalUmbrella.com
Daina Kawchack Smith is a respected leader in the field of personal umbrella insurance. With over 24 years of experience in the insurance industry, Daina brings a breadth of experience to help agents grow by sharing innovative ideas. Before being named chief marketing officer at PersonalUmbrella.com, Daina was an independent agent, CSR and an underwriter for a Fortune 500 wholesaler. She is a licensed Nevada agent and holds a CISR designation.

Source: https://www.insurancejournal.com/blogs/personalumbrella/2018/11/01/505876.htm

Florida Insured Losses from Hurricane Michael Top $2B, And Growing

The current number of claims from Hurricane Michael, a Category 4 storm that hit the Florida Panhandle before continuing a path of destruction through several other Southeast states, had reached 110,183 with 26.1 percent of that total number of claims closed as of Oct. 30, 2018. OIR compiled aggregate information from claims data filed by insurers covering all claims based on filings received.

The lines of business included in the total number of claims are residential property, commercial property, private flood, business interruption and miscellaneous other lines.

Residential property losses account for the majority of the total claims at 78,045 – 57,088 of that number is homeowners claims. Only 20.7 percent of residential property claims were closed as of Oct. 30.

The percentage of commercial property claims closed was lower at 10.3 percent of the 4,471 claims received. Only 460 business interruption claims had been filed so far, with 9.1 percent of those closed to date.

Just 64 flood claims had been filed as of Oct. 30, with 37.5 percent of those claims already closed.

The Florida Department of Financial Services said in a statement Wednesday that Citizens Property Insurance Corp., the state insurer of last resort, had 3,231 claims as of Oct. 29.

The number of claims will continue to be updated by OIR, which began requiring insurers to submit data on Oct. 12 with additional data calls scheduled to occur daily through Nov. 2, 2018.

Catastrophe modeling firms have estimated the total cost of Hurricane Michael claims will range from $4.5 billion to $10 billion. Those numbers include losses in Florida, as well as several other states that were impacted by the storm.

Karen Clark & Co. estimated private insured losses from Michael could approach $8 billion. Catastrophe risk modeling firm AIR Worldwide said its industry insured loss estimate resulting from Hurricane Michael’s winds and storm surge will range from $6 billion to $10 billion. CoreLogic estimated losses could reach $4.5 billion.

While losses will be substantial, industry experts and ratings firm say they are not enough to cause problems for insurers or impact the Florida insurance market. Most losses will be paid by companies’ reinsurance programs.

Ohio-based ratings firm Demotech, which rates 52 Florida-based insurers as well as others in surrounding states affected by Michael, said these companies are well positioned to handle losses. “Demotech believes that each of the carriers that we review and rate that are exposed to loss and LAE from Hurricane Michael have in place a rigorous and vigorous catastrophe reinsurance program,” Demotech President Joseph L. Petrelli told Insurance Journal.

Howard Mills, Global Insurance Regulatory leader of Deloitte, said Michael was the most powerful storm to ever hit the Florida Panhandle, but, “it’s not going to be a market moving storm.”

He said the insurance industry and the global reinsurance industry are “very well capitalized … there are hundreds of billions of dollars in capital and surplus and they are well positioned to handle this storm.”

What’s Happening and What Lies Ahead for P/C Insurance Pricing: Moody’s

“Through 2019, we expect rate increases to exceed loss cost trends in auto lines, to roughly match loss cost trends in property lines and to lag slightly behind loss cost trends in commercial casualty lines,” Moody’s analysts say in the survey report.

Moody’s says personal auto rate increases of 7.0 percent in 2016, 7.5 percent in 2017 and a targeted 6.5 percent for 2018 should decline toward the low-to-mid-single digits, given the improving combined ratios.

Moody’s sees 2018 catastrophes including Hurricanes Florence and Michael extending the moderate upward pressure on property rates, especially in areas that suffered the most losses.

Here is more from the Moody’s insurer survey and analysis:

Personal Auto
Personal auto insurers’ rate increases of about 6.5 percent in 2018, after 7.5 percent in 2017, should support continued improvement in underwriting results. Moody’s expects these rate increases to slow as auto loss frequencies and combined ratios decline toward 100 in 2018-2019. Underwriting results deteriorated in 2015-16 due to more miles driven, more distracted drivers, and higher repair costs for vehicles with sensors and cameras. Insurers expect loss frequency trends to decline over the next few years thanks to collision avoidance technologies. Moody’s sees large national personal auto insurers continuing to gain market share at the expense of smaller regional companies with large, low-cost direct writers continuing to grow the fastest.

Homeowners insurers, which sought overall rate increases of 4.5 percent in 2018, expect rates to keep rising by low-to-mid-single digits to keep up with rising costs for construction labor and materials. Moody’s believes the 2018 catastrophes will keep the upward pressure on homeowners and other property rates. At the same time, abundant capital will keep a lid on overall rate increases.

Commercial Property
Given catastrophes and rising construction costs, watch for rates to continue upward on a moderate pace. Commercial property insurers sought overall rate increases of about 4.0 percent in 2018, an improvement from overall declines in in 2015-16 and flat pricing in 2017. Moody’s expects insurers to continue boosting rates by low single digits. While the 2018 catastrophes will keep the upward pressure on loss costs and rates, the P/C market has “ample capital to absorb the latest events and limit the overall rate increases,” says the report.

Commercial Auto
Despite significant rate increases since 2012, commercial auto remains one of the worst performing P/C insurance lines, although there has been gradual improvement, according to Moody’s. Rate increases of about 9.5 percent in 2018, following increases of 7.0 percent in 2017, will help reduce combined ratios from recent highs to about 105-106 in 2019. Insurers see commercial auto loss costs rising by 4 to 5 percent in 2018-19, reflecting increased miles driven, higher attorney involvement in claims, a jump in large claims (over $10 million) and a tight labor market with transportation firms hiring inexperienced drivers. “We believe the rising loss costs have led to an overall reserve deficiency for the commercial auto line,” Moody’s says.

Workers’ Compensation
Moody’s surveyed insurers expected workers’ compensation rates to fall by 2.0 percent in 2018 after more gradual declines in 2015-17. Moody’s expects the lower rates will cause accident year combined ratios to deteriorate from about 98 in 2017 to 101 in 2019. As the tight labor market leads to higher wages, payroll-based premium increases will likely outstrip indemnity cost increases. Insurers expect the medical cost trend to remain in the mid-single digits. Moody’s noted that for the second quarter The Hartford reported higher loss frequency for the first time in years, citing employers hiring inexperienced workers. But the overall loss cost trend is expected to remain low. Moody’s says insurers have been cautious about growing their workers’ compensation books given the long duration of loss and LAE reserves, low investment yields, and uncertainty regarding medical costs. Reflecting this caution, one large carrier, AIG, has reduced its U.S. workers’ compensation market presence from third largest in 2014 to ninth largest in 2017. Moody’s says caution among major players and AIG’s actions “have helped limit the price competition in this line.”

Commercial General Liability
Moody’s surveyed insurers have sought commercial general liability rate increases of about 2.5 percent in 2018 compared with 1.5 percent in 2017 and 1.0 percent in 2016. Moody’s expects combined ratios to deteriorate from about 101 in 2017 to 103 in 2019 as rising loss costs outpace the rate increases. Moody’s warns of higher non-products liability (slip and fall) claims among smaller insurers that serve middle market businesses, increased lawyer involvement in claims and adverse auto liability trends within commercial umbrella policies. The ratings agency adds that CGL writers are hurt by low investment yields and “aggressive litigation against insured parties or expanded interpretations of insurance coverage.”

Professional/Specialty Liability
Moody’s surveyed insurers have sought professional/specialty liability rate increases of about 1.5 percent in 2018 after slight declines in 2016-17. Yet Moody’s projects that combined ratios will deteriorate from about 102 in 2017 to 104 in 2019, partly because of rising costs of directors & officers and errors & omissions claims.

Commercial Multiple Peril
Moody’s surveyed insurers have sought rate increases of about 3.0 percent for the commercial multiple peril line in 2018, up from 2.0 percent in 2017 and 1.0 percent in 2016. Commercial multiple peril is split about 63%/37% between property and liability coverages. Catastrophe losses pushed the combined ratio up to about 107 in 2017 after four years in the mid-to-high 90s. Insurers expect the non-catastrophe loss ratio trend to remain slightly below the long-term average of 1.3 percent. Moody’s said insurers indicated “some increase in risk appetite for this line” for 2018-19. Meanwhile, increased attorney involvement in claims as well as rising construction labor costs pose potential challenges.

Source: https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2018/10/30/506028.htm

Hurricane Michael to Test Florida’s Unique Insurance Market

Most home damages will be paid by small-to-midsize insurers backed by reinsurance companies

Much of the damage to homes from Hurricane Michael will be paid by an array of small, little-known insurers, backed up by larger reinsurance companies around the globe.

Florida is an oddball insurance market for homeowners, where household-name companies like State Farm and Allstate Corp. don’t have the outsize roles they do in other states. Officials had to develop a new strategy after these brand-name insurers shrank their presence in the wake of Andrew, Katrina and other hurricanes from 1992 through 2005.

Today, Florida is heavily reliant on a group of about 50 small-to-midsize insurance carriers to protect homeowners. These carriers are required to buy ample amounts of reinsurance because they don’t have plump capital cushions like those of bigger insurers. Reinsurers are specialists in sharing the risk of policies sold by primary insurers, funding claims once they reach designated levels.

In sizing up damage from Michael, homeowners can take some comfort that Florida’s system was tested last year, when Irma slammed into the Florida Keys as a Category 4 storm. While consumer advocates say many individual claims from Irma remain in dispute, Florida’s arrangement proved financially soundoverall, according to state officials and industry analysts.

“Reinsurers all over the world are paying those claims,” said Elyse Greenspan, an insurance stock analyst at Wells Fargo Securities, “including players in Bermuda, European reinsurers as well.”

Early estimates of Michael’s insured losses range from $2 billion to more than $10 billion. In contrast, estimates for Hurricane Florence, which hit the Carolinas last month, range from about $2 billion to $5 billion.

The national carriers now account for only about one-fifth of Florida’s market, far less than the more than half they commanded in 1992, according to Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings. The replacements include such companies asUniversal Insurance Holdings Inc., Heritage Insurance Holdings Inc.and HCI Group Inc.

Joseph Petrelli, president of Demotech Inc., an insurance-ratings firm with a specialty in Florida’s homeowners market, said that the small-to-midsize companies rated by his firm have greater surplus—an insurance-industry equivalent of net worth, or assets minus liabilities—than before Irma. Irma-related losses, net of reinsurance, currently total more than $360 million at these insurers, he said.

The results “should assuage concerns related to wind damage from Michael,” he said.

While Michael’s winds topped 150 miles an hour at landfall, one lucky break for the state is that the storm hit an area with relatively modest population density. Numerous Wall Street analysts say that the insurance losses would be limited to a manageable level for insurers and their reinsurers. While quarterly earnings could be depressed, the two industries have hundreds of billions of dollars in capital and surplus.

Haunting the state is that 13 insurers were ordered liquidated after Category 5 Hurricane Andrew in 1992, according to ratings firm A.M. Best Co. Andrew, which landed in heavily populated South Florida, caused about $25 billion of insured losses in today’s dollars.

State Farm, Allstate and other giants retreated in the aftermath of Andrew. Florida initially was forced to then rely heavily on a state-run “insurer of last resort,” Citizens Property Insurance Corp. It peaked at 1.5 million policyholders in 2011, said Citizens Chief Financial Officer Jennifer Montero.

Over time, the state’s insurance regulators worked with other insurers to “depopulate” Citizens by taking customers onto their books, reducing Citizens to approximately 441,000 policies as of this week, Ms. Montero said. Citizens remains in the top five of market share with about 5% of homeowners premium volume, according to A.M. Best.

Key to the arrangement is buying large amounts of reinsurance to ensure that claims can be paid.

The state runs a reinsurance company itself, the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, that provides much of the reinsurance. Other large providers to insurers in the state are Munich Re , Bermuda-basedEverest Re Group Ltd. , Lloyd’s of London, Tokio Marine Holdings Inc.in Japan and Germany-based Allianz SE , according to Fitch Ratings.

Kroll Bond Rating Agency “takes a deep dive into its rated companies’ reinsurance structure and conducts multiple stress tests itself,” said Fred De Leon, a director at the Kroll agency. At Demotech, the firm confirms among other things that each insurer uses appropriate catastrophe-risk models, and scours details of reinsurance contracts and catastrophe bonds, if any, that are part of the reinsurance program, Mr. Petrelli said.

On the downside, Florida’s home insurers are exposed to potential disputes with their reinsurers over claims payments, industry analysts note. Their heavy use of reinsurance also ties their fates to the financial health of their reinsurers.

John Rollins, an actuary with Milliman Inc. and a former chief risk officer at Florida’s Citizens, said that some of the homegrown Florida insurers have niches insuring the vacation rentals and condo units that abound in the Panhandle. The area also is home to “older beach structures that were not built to current codes,” he said.

Still, these insurers are backstopped “by the same reinsurers that support the rest of the Florida market,” Mr. Rollins said. “Financial strength should not be an issue.”

Source: https://www.wsj.com/articles/hurricane-michael-to-test-floridas-unique-insurance-market-1539250200