Most real estate projects require builders risk insurance, both during the course of new construction and when remodeling.
A successful specialty practice can increase agency revenue and retention. A niche opportunity that's been bolstered by the growing demand for new and renovated housing is builders risk insurance.
In 2021, the 30- to 34-year-old age group was the largest segment of the U.S. population, at 23.1 million, and the 25- to 30-year-old population numbered 22.4 million, reports Statista. Those 45.5 million adults are the nation's prime homebuyers, driving demand for apartments, condominiums and single-family housing. And when residential construction skyrockets, the corresponding need for infrastructure and commercial establishments increases as well.
U.S. construction totaled $1.8 trillion in 2022, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This number suggests a stream of sales opportunities for independent agencies. Most real estate projects require builders risk insurance during the course of new construction and many need it in remodeling as well.
Here are four steps—which are involved in starting most any specialty lines—that can help you take advantage of the niche opportunity in builders risk:
1) Learn the product. Builders risk offers distinct coverages that are only relevant during the course of construction that most permanent property products do not provide. It protects an individual or organization's insurable interest in materials, fixtures and equipment during the construction or renovation of a building or structure. Coverage applies if any of those items undergo physical loss or damage from a covered cause of loss.
In addition to taking advantage of the educational resources a provider might have on hand, reading and understanding a carrier's coverage form to learn the product, especially exclusions, is a great place to start.
2) Understand the nuances. Permanent property insurance, like a homeowners policy, is not intended to insure the course of construction. Even if construction is within the scope of the permanent property policy, generally, the coverage limits are not sufficient and a renewal option—should the project take longer than anticipated—almost never exists.
Since you'll be acquiring copies of providers' coverage forms, the best way to understand the nuances is to compare coverages between different policy types and providers to ensure you're offering the most suitable one for your client's project.
3) Target existing customers. Mine your current database of clients, whether in commercial lines or personal lines, to identify potential sales opportunities. From homeowners and contractors to business entities, builders risk insurance can be secured in the name of nearly anyone with a financial interest in the project under construction.
For instance, a new coffee shop that is opening an additional location might need coverage for renovations or the construction of a new property. Homeowners who renovate an existing space, build a new house or downsize to a home that requires structural improvements might not realize they need builders risk insurance. If these types of accounts are already your clients, you can start to build your niche within your current network.
4) Cast a wide net. When constructing your specialty practice, look for ways to acquire repeat business. Target homebuilders, contractors and subcontractors whose regular work in construction can provide a stream of opportunities.
To initiate a builders risk insurance conversation with commercial or personal lines clients, send them an email asking if they're remodeling or expanding and explain that they might need coverage that their homeowners or commercial property policy does not provide.
It's also good business to get involved with the local chamber of commerce and the wider community to learn where real estate developments are being planned. Additionally, building-leads websites, such as constructconnect.com, will help you access information about upcoming construction projects by ZIP code.
Mary Stiglic has over 30 years of experience and is a marketing manager at US Assure, which exclusively distributes, underwrites and services Zurich's builders risk insurance program across the U.S.