Multifamily Insurance – Insurers Take Multiple Approaches for Multifamily Housing MarketBy Britt Hamill
Insurers Take Multiple Approaches for Multifamily Housing Market
In the real estate segment, one of the areas showing promising signs is multifamily housing, which has seen vacancy rates drop to 5.6 percent, according to Reis. Willis reports new development activity in this area after seeing virtually none for quite some time. The broker attributes this to immigration, new households, people moving from single family to multifamily housing and a general lack of development in this area over the past few years.
As a result, insurers are paying close attention to this segment. When the 5.6 percent vacancy rate in multifamily housing is compared to the 9.3 percent for malls and 11 percent for shopping centers, it’s understandable that insurers would be bullish on the segment.
Part of this has to do with the poor economy. Multifamily housing is simply less expensive than single-family housing. However, the Anderson Forecast from UCLA reported recently on a shift in mentality, especially among young people who now prefer urban apartments and condos.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Barclays Capital reports Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae will likely account for $38 billion in multifamily financing next year, which would be an increase of $4 billion over this year.
The diverse risks present a variety of opportunities for the insurance industry, and companies are taking different approaches. They run from comprehensive property and casualty products to very specific risks such as lease defaults and crime and liability risk management.
The LeaseTerm Insurance Group is one of the most recent companies to introduce a multifamily policy. The company’s LeaseTerm insurance was designed to protect multifamily property owners and managers reduce the risk of lease defaults and turnover expense.
LeaseTerm is teaming up with Great American Insurance Group to offer the product. Walter Shealy, CEO of LeaseTerm, said the product should generate interest as it ultimately should help companies reduce expense and increase revenue.
“In today’s economic climate, property owners and managers are looking for new and innovative ways to reduce their risk and improve their bottom line,” Shealy said.
Some of the things the product can help with include administration of security deposit, collections, eviction and recovery expenses.
The coverage will be available through a network of preferred insurance brokers across the country. In October, LeaseTerm created a preferred broker network to market their insurance products to multifamily property owners.
Another new product for a niche within the multifamily real estate sector comes from Assurant Specialty Property and SureDeposit, which last month launched a risk management product for the multifamily housing industry.
Assurant purchased the Livingston, N.J.-based SureDeposit in June. Now Assurant is integrating SureDeposit’s security-deposit alternative through surety bonds with its line of renters insurance.
The product will target multifamily housing managers and owners and lean on the combination of the expertise of both companies and business bases to build premium. SureDeposit is already offered in nearly 5,000 apartment communities, totaling 1.5 million units.
The renters insurance protects property owners and managers from resident-caused damages. The surety bond covers companies against lost rent, damages and other lease violations.
On a broader level, Willis has been paying close attention to the multifamily market for some time. The broker launched an online portal developed exclusively for these risks earlier this year. Accoording to Willis, since 1998 the country has added 3 million renters, and it expects 3 million more to be added by 2015.
The portal is designed to offer risk management tools for the company’s multifamily clients, such as free access to the Business and Legal Resources website, something that would normally cost users almost $3,000 a year.
Willis is helping multifamily owners and property managers pay attention to specific risks, too. Recently, the broker touted crime and liability risk management with a new framework and process that can be applied to large hotels and 200-unit multifamily communities. It includes including incident tracking and response and budget rationale.
Willis also offers multifamily insurance clients access to the CAP Index CRIMECAST reports at a significant discount through its online discount portal.
Wells Fargo Insurance Services also caters to the broad multifamily housing market. Last month it added a specific program for affordable housing, which is generally part of the multifamily sector.
The Multifamily Affordable Housing Insurance Program was launched in conjunction with the National Affordable Housing Management Association. It offers broad coverage for virtually all the affordable housing needs and is available nationwide through approved sub-brokers.
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This is a re-post of an article by Jonathan Schwarzberg. For more information go to:
Britt Hamill, Blog Owner & Insurance Agent
Licensed in Florida, Mississippi, George, Alabama, and Texas