From the Front Lines: RVs

Tom Lucas1Tom Lucas

Burns Insurance Agency
Cheyenne, Wyoming

How did you get started at your agency?

I was with Prudential from 1979 to 2003. When they demutualized, it just became a little different. I was able to meet the rule of 85, so I ended up taking early retirement.

But then I started working at Burns Insurance because I knew the manager here. What was really nice was that the job was from 8:30 to 5:30—no evenings and no weekends like at Prudential. People didn’t call me at home, so after about a year, it was like, “Holy cow! This is a lot better than what I was doing before.”

Why focus on RV insurance?

A lot of people possess these vehicles and are looking to insure them. In Wyoming, we have quite a few motorhomes, quite a few campers and a lot of travel trailers, so it’s an opportunity to cross-sell. On my street where I live, I can count six people who have RVs. There is a market for that here.

Biggest RV changes?

In terms of who’s purchasing them, I’m seeing more retirees. It’s the older populations who are buying them. You do have some people who are just avid outdoors people, but it’s not unusual to see an older couple in a pickup truck pulling an RV pulling a boat.

On the carrier side, we’re seeing companies coming in with replacement cost and disappearing deductibles that we didn’t see before. And we’re seeing more replacement cost as opposed to actual cash value. We’re also seeing coverages where if you take it down to Mexico or up to Canada, they’ll give you some minimal coverage.

Biggest RV challenges?

In general, it’s price. People shop. They’re looking for the best coverage for the least amount of money.

The other big challenge is most companies will not let you do a month-to-month policy. In the winter, the client is just parking the RV, so they cancel the policy midterm. I have a lot of people cancel and call me up to repurchase the policy, and of course they have to fill out a whole new application before they can drive it again.

I try to convince them that what you need to do is just drop it down to comprehensive in case somebody steals it or if there’s a fire. The hardest thing to do is to convince people to spend money on something that’s just sitting in their yard.

Future of RV insurance?

I would say the price is unlikely to go down. Where we are in Cheyenne, Wyoming, we get hail that will come through and do a number on vehicles. I think what you’re probably going to see is more companies looking at what different companies offer, and then trying to figure out how to price it competitively to do the same thing. What you’re doing as an agent is selling coverage first and price second.

Favorite RV success story?

Whenever I can talk people into keeping their insurance all year round.

Will Jones is IA assistant editor.