Bob Abramson, a managing director at Bliss & Glennon, recalls that his first specialty-insurance program idea—a package of coverages for alarm installers—was the outgrowth of his prior job as a salesman for Security World magazine.
Moving to the insurance industry in 1984, he explored the package-program idea and found there wasn’t a lot of competition. “We went after the class vigorously,” he says, reporting that the program “had a good run,” with the endorsement of an alarm- installer’s association coming along the way.
“We managed to write $5 million at a very good loss ratio—about 50—[until] a competitor decided to take our program over at half the price in 1998. They failed miserably,” he says. “A 50 percent loss ratio at half the price makes 100 percent. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out.”
Among its current specialty programs, Bliss & Glennon manages a program for transporters of mobile homes in Texas and a nationwide program for mall kiosks.
Does Abramson worry that the kiosk program might suffer the same fate as the alarm program? “The premiums are so low that it would be strange for a carrier say, ‘Oh yeah, I want to go out and write $39 policies,’” he says.
In spite of the low premium dollars collected for each individual risk, the program has the potential to deliver $2 million in overall volume to the current carrier, Diamond State, a unit of United America Indemnity, he said. “It peaked out at about $2 million before the economy went bad [and] probably will be back in the $2 million range again this year,” Abramson says.