Today we're featuring our storefront The Herbert H. Landy Insurance Agency, a recognized national leader in Professional Liability and Errors & Omissions insurance. Founded in 1949 and based in Needham Massachusetts, Landy provides thousands of accountants, real estate professionals, real estate appraisers, tax preparers, bookkeepers, attorneys, and other professionals throughout the United States with coverage. We spoke with John Torvi, Vice President of Marketing & Sales, about the company and its products and services. John began his career in insurance 25 years ago, which included owning a multi-line Property/Casualty business for ten years. He joined Landy in 2006 and is responsible for all aspects of sales and marketing, including managing the firm's advertising, developing relationships with their many professional affiliations throughout the country, and overseeing the firm's network of 1,500 independent agents.
"Our focus has always been on Professional Liability," says John. "In fact, in 1962 we were the first company to provide Professional Liability insurance for accountants and since then our focus has been on program business. We have decades of experience managing programs on a national basis, and we're very good at it."
Landy is so good at it that they are the National Program Manager for Navigators for Real Estate Appraisers, Agents and Accountants. Landy is also the State Coordinator in all six New England states for Darwin National Assurance for their Lawyers Professional Liability product. In addition, Landy works with a number of carriers for MPL and other professional products, and provides supportive services and products for Directors & Officers, Employment Practices Liability, and Privacy coverages.
A high degree of professional and personal service distinguishes Landy among their agency partners, including the development of internal systems that facilitate the placement and servicing of accounts. "We have developed a number of systems that enable us to automate key processes," says John. "We're completely paperless, with our systems tie-ing in to client servicing, accounting, underwriting, etc. This allows us to be responsive and efficient. If something is needed from an underwriting perspective or an agent/client requires information on a specific issue, the information is easy to access. What's more, our comprehensive management system frees up our staff to provide personal service to those who agencies that need it. Our agents greatly appreciate this."
Landy is also known for its experienced underwriting staff, with each individual having an average of 12 to 15 years working on professional liability accounts. "We have excellent individuals who are very knowledgeable working in this space," says John.
Furthermore, leadership and innovation are also hallmarks of Landy's success. "We realized years ago that some lines of business can be underwritten hassle-free," explains John, " so we developed self-rating Express Applications to expedite the process. These are online applications that have just a few qualification questions and include the coverage options and pricing right on the application to allow for easier quoting and binding. Our agents love the Express Apps, as they are able to get their clients coverage with minimal effort. We have many agents, in fact, that have set up the Express Apps on their own websites in order to speed up the process. Moreover, agents receive the same commission on these apps as they do for our standard applications. It's been extremely successful."
The Express Apps are designed for smaller firms who are engaged more or less in straightforward professional services. The firms don't have any claims or disciplinary proceedings, and they shouldn't be engaged in certain types of activities that would require underwriting the account more closely. "For example, a real estate agent that's also doing property management would require additional underwriting," says John. "For this type of account we would want a standard application submitted. The same would apply for an accountant doing SEC work or performing public audits. We cover these risks but through our standard application process."
Landy provides coverage for firms of any size, up to $5 million in limits, with higher limits available. And, during the past three years, they have been working with Navigators Insurance for their real estate and accountants programs. "Our association with Navigations has allowed to improve coverage, with our policy forms among the best out there."
In talking about the market in general, John affirms Landy's commitment in the niches they serve. "We are heavily invested in the real estate professional, and during the last several years we have seen a great deal of upheaval in the market as it affects our clientele and claims experience, especially when it comes to real estate appraisers and real estate agents to a lesser degree. Attorneys who practice real estate law have also been affected, with their claims experience up over the last years.
"In some cases, the rise in claims for appraisers was significant as a result of the mortgage and foreclosure crises of 2008. Today, we're seeing a leveling off of claims related to foreclosures, and consequently the industry is stabilizing, which has had positive effects on our book of business. But three years ago when things were very challenging, we had to do some soul-searching and have serious discussions with our carriers about our commitment to the real estate industry - to appraisers, in particular, who were in the cross hairs of everyone, including real estate agents, home buyers and sellers, and banks. We had to assess our commitment to these professionals, and we all agreed were in it for the long haul. We knew we would have to ride it out, and went through one small price increase in 2010. We have not raised our prices since then nor have we reduced our underwriting appetite for appraisers and by extension for real estate agents. As we come out of this phase, we find ourselves very strongly placed to provide E&O insurance for the real estate professional. Some chose to get out of the market, some significantly raised their prices, and some restricted underwriting. We chose to stay strong in the game and have benefitted from that along with our agency partners."
Landy's focus is on service and providing good coverage and rates. They have an open access program with a simple registration process for agents. There are no minimum premium requirements. Additionally, they provide marketing support and underwriting assistance to agents to help them get off the ground.