March 14, 2011

Affluent Clients Need to Match Insurance to New Risks: Fireman’s Fund

Personal and property coverage must keep pace with changing lifestyles

High-net-worth individuals and families often are not aware that their risk profiles have changed in ways that require them to reconsider their insurance coverage, according to Darryl Page, president of personal insurance at Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co.

David Page of Fireman's Fund InsuranceOne area is liability coverage for those who have become public figures or whose public profile has broadened significantly, Page (left) said in a recent telephone interview. The concern here is exposure to such things as libel suits, household employee issues and even the need for directors’ and officers’ coverage for service on a nonprofit’s board of directors. Insurance must also be adequate to protect a family’s fortune, say, against personal injury lawsuits.

Fireman’s Fund, as well as other niche insurers such as Ace, Chartis and Chubb, provides policies that are tailored to individuals’ specific style-of-life and property requirements. “No one size fits all,” Page said.

He said representatives of Fireman’s sit down with potential clients or their representatives to do an initial assessment of their overall needs in order to ensure there are no gaps in coverage. The insurer offers a broad policy contract that can be tailored around each client’s particular needs.

Property insuranceis another area where individuals or families may be underinsured as their circumstances change, Page said. People with unique homes or ones with many customized features must be sure their insurance covers the replacement value rather than the current home value in the event of a disaster as well as the time required to make repairs, something for which most policies have strict limits. Fireman’s offers protection for the existing features of green-certified homes by replacing them with similar green materials after a loss.

A policy on high-end homes would also offer protection against damage to art and furnishings during remodeling. And families with multiple homes may prefer working with one insurer to obtain coverage appropriate for each region.

Page pointed out that even gold coin collections are sometimes underinsured. Collectors must be sensitive to changes in the price of gold—it has risen significantly in recent years—and make sure their coverage against loss keeps up with price changes.

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