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Insurance Industry News from ProgramBusiness.comHome Is Where The Risk Is
Storefront owner Dauntless Specialty Brokerage has been featured in an article in the December 2007 issue of Rough Notes.
Our thanks to Rough Notes and Dauntless for allowing us to reprint this article which explains the historical perspective and core appetites of Dauntless, as well as their relationship with MiddleOak and Country Insurance & Financial Services.
Home Is Where The Risk Is: Underserved residential and habitational risks find a home with Dauntless Specialty Brokerage
By Elisabeth Boone, CPCU
There isn’t an agent alive who doesn’t know how to write a basic homeowners policy. But not all residential risks can be handled by a standard HO-2. Consider antique homes with irreplaceable architectural features … vacation residences located in charming seacoast villages or near popular ski slopes … housing for seniors, students, and disabled persons … public housing … apartment and condominium buildings . . . the list goes on.
Owners of vintage homes are often affluent individuals who also may collect classic cars or enjoy sailing in a sleek private yacht. Here too, plain vanilla personal lines policies won’t do the job.
For many agents, risks like these may be unfamiliar territory—and they’re also not usually target markets for standard property/casualty carriers.
Such exposures are, however, meat and drink for Dauntless® Specialty Brokerage. Based in Middletown, Connecticut, Dauntless is the in-house specialty brokerage for MiddleOak, which is the group trade name for Holyoke Mutual Insurance Company, founded in 1843, and Middlesex Mutual Assurance Company, established in 1836. Dauntless also places business with outside markets on both an admitted and a nonadmitted basis.
“We created Dauntless to implement our strategic specialty plan, which has two prongs,” explains Bill George, chief operating officer and executive vice president of MiddleOak. “One was to provide a high level of complementary brokerage capabilities to MiddleOak’s specialty product offerings. Our objective was to create barriers to entry around what MiddleOak offers from a specialty perspective and give our agency partners world-class access to market leaders in a way that would allow them to maintain comfortable relationships with their underwriters,” George says.
“Our secondary thrust was to offer wholesale distribution capability at a national level,” he continues. “Our wholesale brokerage allows us to give every agent access to the same specialty capabilities that MiddleOak’s appointed agents enjoy.” MiddleOak currently operates in 22 states, with 16 more to be added in 2008, and a goal of writing business nationwide within the next few years.
George joined MiddleOak in 2000 as senior vice president and general manager of specialty business, which at that time, he notes, “wasn’t a business yet.” George brought 15 years of underwriting, sales, and marketing experience to his new position. He works closely with Bob Mueller, a 30-year industry veteran who is executive vice president of corporate underwriting and strategy at MiddleOak and who was the primary architect of the specialty initiative.
Serving as vice president and general manager of Dauntless Specialty Brokerage is Rick Cote, who has been with MiddleOak for 10 years and has held positions in sales, sales management, marketing, and underwriting. Rob Keller is distribution manager for the brokerage, which also has an office in Salem, Massachusetts.
The “undeservedly underserved”
Dauntless Specialty Brokerage prides itself on addressing the needs of what it calls “undeservedly underserved” markets, primarily residential exposures.
“That phrase was coined several years back to express our thinking about creating a specialty capability,” Mueller says. “The idea is that, even in soft markets like we<Click for the whole story...