You have clients who are environmentally savvy. And now they want insurance that will help them stay green, or even help them add environmentally friendly features to their homes if catastrophe strikes.
Thanks to Fireman’s Fund, that’s now possible–and for not much more than the price of a standard policy. According to Mitchell Ziemer, property product director for personal insurance, the new policy grew out of feedback from both agents and customers. Fireman’s Fund had already introduced its green commercial insurance two years ago, and the company was hearing, particularly from the more affluent, that they wanted the same options for their homeowner’s insurance.
Ziemer says that, among focus group attendees, the level of interest in “green living” rose with their level of affluence. The green option, he adds, was something that came out of those focus groups “as something that Fireman’s Fund and the industry in general should get a move on.” The commercial side had just introduced green insurance for commercial buildings, he explains, and it was successful; he describes the homeowner’s coverage as “a mirror image,” and adds that Fireman’s Fund felt “the residential side [was] about to blossom.” Fireman’s Fund’s Green Consumer Awareness Study, conducted in 2006, demonstrated that affluent customers, while they have a variety of motivations that range from health concerns to a desire to give back, have already taken steps of one kind or another to “green” their lifestyle. And they care more about social responsibility than they do about tax rebates or service costs.
Top concerns for these folks, according to the study, included energy efficiency and cost, health, and lowering their carbon footprints. And even then, it seems, they were on the cutting edge of the trend; a Forbes study done in October of 2007 ranked the country’s states based on how green they were, and one of the prime factors in determining where a state placed on the list was the number of buildings certified green.
Even before the coverage actually existed for residential properties, the company gave it a trial run in the wake of the San Diego wildfires of 2007. Says Ziemer, “We lost several [insured] homes in those fires, and we offered this as an option during the claims settlement process. We had 20-30% take [it] up right there. Some of those customers are now rebuilding with green features.”