“Sawmills, wood treating plants, and large drying operations can have a harder time finding competitive insurance solutions. With big machines handling and cutting logs and lumber along with the concentration of numerous buildings in one or more locations, most insurance companies and brokers often don’t understand the complexity of forest products’ manufacturers. There are definitely benefits to working with insurance people that have expertise within the wood industry. These people understand and know the insurance marketplace and can communicate clearly with insurance company underwriters. They also work daily around the wood industry and will share your story in a way that helps underwriters understand and get comfortable with risk. This means more interested insurance carriers, better pricing, more welcome coverage conditions and the willingness to talk through questions. Having that expertise really moves you through the annual process of insurance buying more quickly so you can get back to the yard.”~ Bernie Kurtzweil, Director of Underwriting.
Richmond, VA – This is where Continental Underwriters, Inc. stands out. Founded in 2013, the Continental team brings 175+ years of insurance experience to the table, including more than a century of work specifically with the forest products industry. This expertise can pay off for you no matter where you are located and can help stabilize your insurance programs over the long haul with partners who understand what you do. As Continental Underwriters Inc.’s Marketing Director Melissa Berry put it, we are “The National Solution to Your Local Risk!™”
Corey Bounds, Director of Risk Assessment Services, explained that the company works within the various sectors of both the Softwood and hardwood lumber industries.
“There is heavy manufacturing, which is working with very heavy wood products, logs, and that type of thing, as well as sawmills, pole peeling, wood treating and kiln drying associated with the lumber and poles,” Bounds said. “Then there is the lighter manufacturing where they’re actually making products from lumber purchased, such as, cutting boards and making items, be it millwork, wood trim, furniture and wood flooring, etc. And then the third sector is the people that are moving it around from place to place, both wholesale and retail; moving to the consumer, moving to buyers such as builders, moving to foreign markets, shipping products overseas and domestically across the U.S.”
When it comes to the heavy manufacturing sector, Bernie Kurtzweil, Director of Underwriting, noted that Continental looks deeply into their customers’ operations. “We’re helping assess risk and evaluating insurance for the buildings, equipment, mobile equipment and stock.” The asset value of property adds up quickly and it is not uncommon to bring in multiple insurers that participate in quota share and layering approaches to reach the levels of limits needed for the client’s operation,” he said.
Bounds added that the key to success for all parties involves building solid relationships and that the team at Continental Underwriters, Inc. is committed to getting to know its customers and their needs.
“It is very common for me and an underwriter to make an onsite visit to see one of our customers. It is also common for us to go sit down with the business owners and decision makers,” he said. “That’s part of what makes us very different because there’s a lot of people in our space that don’t do that directly. For all of our customers, we’re going to have somebody walk the facility. We are always available by phone. We welcome working with people on their special projects. It’s very common to be in touch with them on the phone, through e-mail, video conferencing or whatever works best. We are extremely accessible.”
Bounds noted that Continental is not trying to be all things to all people; that they are focused on working with the best within the lumber industry. Kurtzweil also noted that at Continental, employees strive to understand the wood industry’s macro picture, as well as the individual customer’s operations.
“Our strategy is to bring the business off of the paper or application so insurance companies have a detailed understanding of what is important to know and this helps you get better quotes based upon what you do well and not what an underwriter in an office assumes is going on or not,” Kurtzweil said. “People have built these businesses and are proud of their success and want their story to be heard.”
Continental Underwriters, Inc. also keeps in contact with the industry by being strong participants at association conventions throughout the country, both Softwood and hardwood. These events bring together industry leaders and are a great way to build relationships and trust along with providing the opportunity to discuss challenges and opportunities on the horizon.
Kurtzweil added that Continental Underwriters, Inc. engages in a communication style that bridges the gap between the insurance industry and those buying forest products insurance. He said that the team at Continental pride themselves on helping customers have a clear understanding of what they are buying and what they can expect. Along those lines, he said the current economic and social conditions should be giving lumber industry professionals some pause, as this is introducing the need to adapt and think through the impact going forward.
“We hear about inflation, supply chain problems, and the labor challenges. I think those three things should be causing everyone in the wood industry out there to stop and think about those things,” Kurtzweil said. “Think of the impact from the standpoint of how much insurance should you be buying and is it enough? What do you need if something happens? If an insurance-type loss happens, how long will you be affected before you can get back to normal? The magnitude of the loss and the length of time to recover from a loss is more likely to increase because of these current events.”
Bounds said he feels the people at Continental are uniquely positioned to help lumber industry professionals meet these challenges.
“It’s more than us selling them a product. It’s really and truly being there with them, whether they’re buying insurance, whether they’re building new facilities and trying to figure out what’s the latest and greatest thing that they need to be considering to help them just manage their overall risk and exposures,” he said. “I would say that we are probably more accessible than our competitors who are out there. We feel it’s our responsibility to have an open dialogue with all of our customers so that we understand what they’re doing and we can then translate that as to the impact it may or may not have on insurance. There have been a lot of situations where we’ve provided information to our customers on the front end of a project that has allowed them to save a tremendous amount of money, not just on year one, but in perpetuity.”
Continental Underwriters, Inc. is an associate member of the following organizations: National Hardwood Lumber Association, Indiana Hardwood Lumbermen’s Association, Appalachian Hardwood Manufacturers Inc., Wood Products Manufacturers Association, North Carolina Forestry Association, Hardwood Manufacturers Association, Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association, Southeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association, Mississippi Lumber Manufacturers Association, Virginia Forestry Association, National Wood Pallet and Container Association, Western Wood Products Association, Lake States Lumber Association, Western Hardwood Association and West Virginia Forestry Association.
For more information visit www.contund.com.