Believe or not, oftentimes the agency that wrote your policy may have written it through an entirely different carrier than you think. Just because you called a Nationwide or Allstate agency doesn’t mean the quote came from those carriers. These companies have the ability to write through multiple providers including “surplus lines” carriers that are not backed by the state guaranty fund in Virginia.
Now most of these carriers can still be exceptional providers and may be the only option for some insureds based on their risk profile. (More risk = fewer options) What’s disturbing is that we recently had a customer that received a quote from one of the top 5 captive agencies in the country. The quote was for a policy through VPIA. VPIA, the Virginia Property Insurance Association, essentially the “Insurer of last resort,” is designed as a safety net for individuals with property that cannot be insured anywhere else. The policies they issue are designed to protect insureds in the event of serious losses and are no frill policies that do not protect against theft, have limited liability coverage, provide for actual cash value insurance on personal property, and do not offer the options available under traditional home policies.
The agent did not tell the client that the policy was a VPIA policy so they were subsequently under the impression they were getting a quote from a top 5 name recognizable player. The agent quoted the policy verbally so that the client couldn’t see the actual provider. Be aware that all insurance providers at times struggle to write policies based on their underwriting restrictions and that some of those agents will unethically write a policy that is not in their client’s best interest simply so that they can write a new policy.
Remember the phrase “CAVEAT EMPTOR” and always ask to see your policy before you sign up.