Risk Management

Niche Insurance: The Needs of the Few

New players getting into the market for customized business policies.
Joan UrdangOctober 30, 2001

Move over, Lloyd’s of London. The broker, renowned for offering oddball policies such as one that compensates a company should two or more workers win the U.K. national lottery and resign, isn’t the only company offering niche coverage. These days, advanced intelligence-gathering technology and new target-marketing techniques allow insurers to offer reasonable premiums for tailored programs that cover everything from turkey stampedes to automobile parts.

Niche insurance isn’t new, says Rick Lindsey, president and CEO of Chicago-based Prime Insurance Syndicate Inc.; rather, it’s a response to an economic cycle. “Claims go up as the economy goes down,” says Lindsey, who notes that more claims are filed against corporations when the economy slows. What is new is the increased interest in specialty insurance by small and midsize companies. That’s why Prime offers corporate policies for as low as $500 a year. One of the company’s more unusual policies: poultry insurance, which includes coverage specifically for turkeys. The birds have a tendency to stampede when spooked, resulting in a significant loss of assets.

One of the newest players in the niche market is Detroit-based Goss LLC, a joint venture comprising The Goss Group Inc., Marsh Inc., and GMAC Insurance Group. Goss deals exclusively with the needs of the automotive-supply industry, including environmental liability, design liability, and consequential damages insurance, as well as product recalls. The venture originally was to target tier-one suppliers ($100 million to more than $2 billion in sales), says president and CEO Greg Goss. However, tier-two ($50 million to $100 million) and tier-three ($10 million to $50 million) suppliers are also revved-up about the insurance.