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From the Front Lines: Product Liability

Self-proclaimed "coverage geek" Kent Anthony knows product liability insurance is vital for a wide range of clients—and makes it a personal goal to fully understand the unique exposures of each.
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Kent AnthonyKent Anthony

First Group Insurance, Inc.
Sterling, Kansas

How did you get started at your agency?

I’ve been in insurance since 1977. Just like most, it was not my chosen profession—I happened into it.

Why product liability?

As a coverage geek, I just want to know what I’m selling. Product liability is so important to anyone that manufactures a product. It is very important to understand what your customer is making and also to make sure they are protected correctly.

Biggest product liability challenges?

Finding coverage for a new manufacturer of a product. So many companies are concerned about this liability that it can be hard to find. Without the coverage, many startup businesses can’t get off the ground. Sometimes it is also a challenge to know how the product is going to be used, which can greatly affect the exposure. For instance, if someone makes a metal part and that metal part is used on a combine, it may not pose much of an exposure. Take that same metal part and use it on a landing gear for a commercial airline. The exposure becomes tremendous.

What do you say to a first-time product liability client?

I just try to stress the importance of the coverage and educate them about why they need it.

Advice for a fellow agent who’s new to product liability?

Know what your client is making and how it will be used, and know the coverage you are selling. Too many agents today are good salespeople but don’t necessarily know what they are selling their clients. It is important to know the coverages and exclusions for all coverages you’re selling.

Favorite success story?

Small plane manufacturing was dead in the ’80s and ’90s. Cessna was one of the largest manufacturers of small two- and four-seat aircraft but quit building them because of the liability exposure. In 1994, Congress passed the “General Aviation Revitalization Act,” which limited the number of years a plane manufacturer could be held liable for its product. The legislation resulted in renewed manufacturing of small planes in large numbers. The airline industry is a huge part of the Kansas economy. This one change in product liability revitalized an industry and put thousands of people to work.

Future of product liability?

My hope is the same as what happened with the airline industry for small planes. I would like to see year limitations for products so a company manufacturing a product knows the number of years of exposure. This would also lessen the cost of product coverage because companies could better determine costs based on the length of exposure.

When it comes to pharmaceutical drug manufacturing, I would like to see limits put in place ensuring that anyone harmed would be compensated, but still allowing companies and manufacturers to control their exposure and be willing to come up with new and better drugs.

Jordan Reabold is IA assistant editor.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020
Product Liability