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From the Front Lines: Homeowners

When it comes to homeowners insurance changes, "you will see coverage being reduced and added back in for a price," says independent agent Brian Stauffenberg. "Premiums are increasing hand-in-hand with wind and hail claims."
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Brian Stauffenberg

HomeStar Insurance Services
Manteno, Illinois 

How did you get started? 

I started in 1989 at Stauffenberg Insurance Agency, which my father and grandfather opened in 1964 in Kankakee County, Illinois. We became part of HomeStar Bank in 1998. We now have two branch offices in Kankakee County with 15 staff members.

Why homeowners?

Homeowners is the first foot in the door with any client. We do about 50% personal lines in our agency.

Biggest changes in homeowners?

Smart houses and actual cash value loss settlements on roofs over 15 years old. Some carriers have expanded coverages to include siding and roof matching coverage. They will pay for the undamaged portion of the siding or roof if they cannot be matched.

You will see coverage being reduced and added back in for a price. Premiums are increasing hand-in-hand with wind and hail claims.

Biggest challenges in homeowners?

With licenses in most states, we have to be aware of the different risks in every state. Where we are located, the bulk of our business relates to flood, tornadoes, hailstorms and a lot of rain. Knowing what coverage our clients have and the percentage deductible they have is key to meeting challenges.

Future trends? 

Marketing and the Internet of Things. For the generation that includes my 30-year-old son, who works at the agency, expanding marketing to mobile apps and digital ads is important. Ninety percent of marketing to that generation is digital.

Most carriers are offering discounts for connected devices that could help prevent potential losses, as well as alert people to potential loss areas such as water back-up issues.

Advice do you have for a fellow agent?

Educate yourself on what the customer is looking to purchase. Agents, along with CSRs, have a key role to play in increasing business. Agents will find success by being educated in what people are paying for.

Favorite success story?  

Over the years there have been plenty of situations where people have suffered a loss and realized their coverage lapsed two months ago. For us, having a quality contract in place ensures that a client is covered and won’t go to another agent. All the agents and carriers that are doing well and growing do the right thing by customers.

Olivia Overman is IA content editor.