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Number of Insurers in State on Rise

April 13, 2008

The Post and Courier - 05/14/08
By Peter Hull

"...In many cases they are lesser-known companies that are focusing on niches in the market, rather than blanketing the state with policies ranging from homeowners to auto coverage.

By controlling their exposure, these companies say they can offer coverage to property owners in places some of the country's largest insurers have shied away from in recent years.

The state Department of Insurance has approved nine companies to do business in South Carolina during the last year, with two more applications pending. Of those nine, seven are admitted carriers, meaning their rates are regulated by the Insurance Department.

Also, four of the nine have said they will write property and casualty business along the coast. Of the two companies with licenses pending, one will write coastal coverage.

Two of the new companies will specialize in what have been some of the tightest sectors of the market in recent years.

Pure High Net Worth Insurance, based in Plantation, Fla., will specialize in properties that are worth more than $1 million, including those along the coast, and are at least 3,000 square feet. The company will offer comprehensive coverage, including windstorm coverage, for large homes that meet the latest building codes.

Bobby Collins, senior vice president and South Carolina general manager with Pure, said the company will inspect all properties before taking on a policy, but large, well-built homes usually withstand storms better than smaller, less well-built houses.

The company is selective about the type, age and construction of a house, so it can specialize in areas that other insurers won't touch, Collins said. "In the long run, when you have better risk you pay less premium," he said."