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PIA National President-elect Donna Pile Comments on Markets in National Underwriter

The hurricane-fueled property-catastrophe crisis materializing along the Gulf Coast has not translated into a market issue for independent agent carriers in America's heartland, but it...
May 26, 2006

The hurricane-fueled property-catastrophe crisis materializing along the Gulf Coast has not translated into a market issue for independent agent carriers in America's heartland, but it is having some effects. Those are among the observations made by PIA National President-elect Donna Pile, in this week's cover story on property markets in the National Underwriter

"There has not been a dramatic change in rates, but it's still early in the season," Pile noted. She said homeowners insurance is stable in her home state of Kentucky and the Midwest, but carriers are changing their underwriting criteria, requesting more information and using a greater number of risk factors (such as credit scoring) in pricing. The result is higher premiums - especially for risks with prior claims. She also noted that commercial prices in the Midwest are softening, construction risk remains very expensive and on the personal lines side, auto is "extremely competitive" as insurers fight to boost their share with their own direct market advertising - intentionally or not competing with their own independent agents as well as rival carriers.

Pile said her biggest issue with insurers and the industry is the education of consumers. On personal lines auto, she believes carriers are commoditizing the coverage to such a degree that consumers believe it is the same as buying a loaf of bread. "We call it progress, and maybe it is, but I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop," she said. "If we assume that everyone can do this without the expertise or advice from an agent, then what are we actually creating?"

Cover Story: Watch Out for Speed Bumps As Softening Market Gains Momentum (National Underwriter 5/22/06)
 
Donna Pile Quote & Photo (National Underwriter 5/22/06)

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