From the Front Lines: Personal Umbrella

PriyaAroraPriya Arora

Personal Lines Sales Agent
McGriff Insurance Services
Charleston, West Virginia

How did you get started at your agency?

I was a liberal arts major in college and learned quickly that I didn’t really have any professional training. I thought working insurance would provide me with a lifelong skill. I started working in insurance in 1993 as an underwriting trainee. After 15 years of working in a number of underwriting, marketing and sales roles, I left the industry to start my own business. I returned to insurance in 2015 as an underwriter.

About a year ago, my husband and I moved to Charleston, West Virginia for his job. I started with McGriff as an account manager, but with my background, I was given the opportunity to move into personal lines sales.

Why personal umbrella insurance?

It is such an important and overlooked coverage. With advancements in technology and social media, people are putting themselves out there, which means individuals are more likely to face slander, libel or defamation lawsuits. If a client is active on social media, has more than one residence, is a parent or guardian to a teenage driver, or serves on a board, they have a higher exposure. They often overlook how this affects their personal liability. 

Biggest personal umbrella insurance challenges?

People buy homeowners insurance mostly because they are required to. Since personal umbrella is not required, people think they don’t need it. 

Even when people have an umbrella, they often don’t have enough limit. If a client has a $500,000 homeowners liability limit and a $1-million umbrella limit, that doesn’t go very far if they get sued.

Biggest personal umbrella changes?

Lawsuits and judgment amounts keep getting bigger, and medical costs and legal expenses keep going up. But surprisingly, the market has remained soft. Personal umbrella pricing is still very affordable.

Future of personal umbrella insurance?

I see demand for personal umbrella going up. I also see coverages being added for emerging exposures like self-driving cars.

Advice for a fellow personal umbrella insurance agent?

Keep educating your client. You are doing your client a service by encouraging them to protect their assets. It only takes one bad accident to turn someone’s life into a financial nightmare.  

Favorite personal umbrella success story?

A friend, who is an executive at a big pharmaceutical company, didn’t think he needed a personal umbrella policy until I convinced him to buy one. A few years ago, he hit a cyclist with his car. The cyclist did not seem injured at first, but they later sued for bodily injuries and complications from surgery. The claim exhausted my client’s homeowners limit and pierced the umbrella policy. Since this incident, he has increased his umbrella limits. 

Will Jones is IA assistant editor.