“It doesn’t matter who your insurance agent is…until it does!” Lang Insurance’s slogan may seem ominous, but to Kevin Lang, who founded his Seaford-based agency more than 30 years ago, it reflects the fact that he perceives himself as part of his clients’ insurance equation. Lang caters to more than 7,500 individuals and companies in all 50 states, but he takes pride in meeting with each policyholder. Lang’s high net-worth clients need that kind of personal attention, he said, because their difficult-to-insure assets—waterfront properties, artwork, planes, trains and automobiles—must be addressed through multi-policy choreography. We asked Lang to explain the essentials of custom insurance.
Long Island Pulse: You claim you never use standard formulas to evaluate any asset, why is that important?
Kevin Lang: Many times, clients really do not know or understand the value of their assets—whether it is the cost to rebuild their home, or the value of their art or jewelry, or how much excess liability (umbrella coverage) they need. These are just a few examples of what we jointly determine, in addition to using risk managers and appraisers in some cases.
Pulse: One of your specialties is waterfront home insurance. How can these policies get tricky?
KL: Waterfront properties “get tricky” when the home is located in a high-hazard flood zone. The most common high-hazard flood zones are areas with a 26 percent chance of flooding over the course of a 30-year mortgage. Some carriers strictly underwrite these homes while others are less concerned with flood losses due to the limited coverage in their policy contracts. Each home and homeowner has different needs and wants. It’s important that these policies be customized to provide coverage that addresses all of our clients’ needs.
Pulse: What are some common challenges agents encounter when formulating a policy for a waterfront home on Long Island?
KL: Determining how close the home is to the water, the elevation of the home, the opening protection (such as impact glass) and what flood and excess flood coverages are needed.
Pulse: How have major weather events like Irene and Sandy affected the way agents think about policies for other luxury assets?
KL: Prior to past catastrophes, many carriers focused on savings with very little emphasis on claims, contract quality, coverage versatility and so on. The central question was “How much do I have to pay?” not, “Who will protect me the best?” This caused many people to strip away essential coverage to bring down the bottom line. Then they were faced with irate customers when it was time to put in a claim. Things weren’t covered that would have been had the policies been crafted correctly.
Pulse: What factors are considered when creating a customized insurance policy for a boat or plane?
KL: Watercraft and aircraft coverages are similar in some ways and very different at the same time. The coverages are determined by the actual boat or plane, the engines and where they navigate, in addition to who is operating the boat or plane. There are also other exposures in waterskiing, chartering, tenders and personal property. All of these factors play a role in what kinds of insurance a company is willing to offer and how they construct their terms.
Pulse: Let’s talk about multi-policy choreography. Do you recommend this for difficult holdings such as the ones we’ve discussed?
KL: The better carriers all sell “package policies.” This includes home, auto, collections ( jewelry, art, etc.), excess liability (umbrella) and watercraft. The policies create multi-policy discounts while making it very convenient, as all of the policies are on one statement bill.
Pulse: What is the most important
thing Long Islanders should know when considering insurance?
KL: It’s important for all clients, regardless of their location, to approach their insurance with the mind-set of “What coverages are most important? Who will take care of me the best in the event of a claim?” The last thought should be about price.