Filed Under:Agent Broker, Commercial Business

Small & Regional Carriers: Still Raring to Go, After 2011 Cat Losses

Local knowledge, personal touch help little guys go up against insurance Goliaths; mutual structure is also an edge, execs contend

Even before the Bastrop conflagration came to be known as the costliest wildfire in Texas history, Dave E. Talbert and employees of the insurance company he leads were on the scene, handing out hot dogs to the blaze’s victims.

“We took shifts,” says the CEO of Hochheim Prairie Farm Mutual Insurance of Yoakum, Texas, recalling the aftermath of the September 2011 devastation. “We’re less than 100 miles away. You could smell the fire at our office.”

Parrillo notes that within 90 days of Hurricane Irene, 90 percent of her company’s claims were settled. Perhaps even more telling, 98 percent of its policyholders say Providence Mutual performed as expected or better than expected, she adds.

Talbert says Hochheim Prairie fused “stronger connections” to policyholders because of the company’s response to claims.

Interestingly, despite the losses they endured in 2011, many small or regional insurers say they would write the same risks again, given the chance. Talbert says Hochheim Prairie isn’t going to change a thing—that the fires were an anomaly: “We couldn’t have underwritten against this. We know what we have. We’re standing firm.”

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