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Short-Circuited… Almost

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Short-circuited... almost

Just when you think an account is placed, it’s not…

Personal lines manager Jacque Dungan of the Burns & Wilcox St. Louis office faced that situation recently with a palatial, century old home in Missouri.

It all began when a wealthy homeowner, unhappy with the premiums he was paying for his home and other personal property, asked his agent to try to find him a better deal. Since that agent primarily writes commercial insurance and this was an important client for him, he turned to Dungan. It was especially important to the agent that the various pieces of the account all be placed with the same company and carry the same expiration date for simpler renewals, better retention, better pricing and to avoid coverage gaps.

The task seemed straightforward at first. There were two autos, personal inland marine, personal umbrella and of course, the house to place, and Dungan secured good quotes from three different standard-market domestic carriers. The account was placed with a carrier who offered a better price and better coverage features than the old policy carried. Everyone was happy and Dungan crossed it off her to-do list.

That was in early December. By the end of December, Dungan was advised of a problem that prompted her to go back to the agent to tell him his client would be receiving a cancellation notice from the insurer. The carrier’s inspection (insurers usually have a 60-day window in which to inspect a new risk and cancel a policy) had turned up wear-and-tear and other issues common in homes of this vintage. As soon as she saw the notice, Dungan was on the phone seeking details.

One problem was the retention of some of the original 1912 knob-andtube wiring, which sits outside a wall and can present a fire hazard. Homes typically go through renovations over time where wiring is changed, but sometimes a small portion of the old wiring remains. The carrier also had concerns about cracked shingles on the slate roof and broken tiles in the home. Such issues tend to be a red flag for carriers.

As unique a challenge as the case presented, strong carrier relationships make working through tough challenges far simpler. Dungan advised the agent what needed to be done, and the homeowner engaged an electrician to complete the work. “By showing the carrier that the homeowner’s electrical repairs were exceeding the minimum requirement and that everyone was working hard to resolve the other stated issues, I was able to get the carrier comfortable with the risk,” recalls Dungan. Six weeks after the inspection, the problems were resolved and the policy reinstated. And the agent remains a hero in the client’s eyes, she says.

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