An alternative to the Fair Plan Rogers & Gray establishes new insurance carrier to meet needs of Massachusetts homeowners

Filed Under: August 2018 Issue

By Doug Karlson
Changes in the insurance industry often leave homeowners in the lurch. That’s especially true in coastal areas like Cape Cod and the South Shore, where many insurance companies, afraid of widespread destruction from storms like Hurricane Sandy in 2012, stopped offering coverage. With nowhere else to turn, many purchased insurance from the Massachusetts Property Insurance Underwriting Association, otherwise known as the Fair Plan. As many as 45 percent of Cape and Island homes are now covered by that plan – or about 65,000 homes. It may be fair, but it’s not ideal. Fair Plan policies offer limited coverage and have high deductibles. “It’s referred to as the insurer of last resort, and that’s exactly what it is,” explains Lynn Mason-Small, Chief Marketing Officer at Rogers & Gray Insurance. “Not all agencies are created equal. Most small agencies only represent a handful of homeowners carriers and as a result, in some cases the MA Fair Plan is the only option they can give to a client.” That wasn’t good enough for Rogers & Gray, a Massachusettsbased agency with nine offices from Nantucket to Wareham. Instead of settling for the Fair Plan, Rogers & Gray began brainstorming about how it could meet the needs of its clients. The company formed a team of people who worked for 18 months to create a new insurance carrier. The team travelled to London to partner with underwriters, found a partner in New Jersey, and obtained the blessing of the State of Massachusetts. The result is the Monomoy Insurance Group, described by the company as a competitive alternative to Fair Plan. Monomoy homeowner policies were made available to existing clients in April, and new clients in June. “Time and time again, we hear ‘Is the Fair Feature Story | August 2018 | Cape & Plymouth Business 29 Plan my only option?’ from our clients and in many cases, we had to say yes. But not any longer,” says David Robinson, President and CEO of Rogers & Gray. So far, the response has been very favorable, especially from homeowners who were previously covered by Fair Plan, reports Mike Redfield, Personal Insurance Sales Manager at Rogers & Gray. Monomoy is a standard homeowners policy, the sort that most homeowners with mortgages are required to have. It will replace the home if destroyed. Coverage also includes liability and contents, among other things. While it’s difficult to compare cost because there are so many variables, such as the amount of coverage, Mason-Small says Monomoy costs “the same or less than Fair Plan.” It also provides much better coverage than the barebones Fair Plan. Monomoy also offers lower deductibles, which were one of the main concerns about Fair Plan. Under the Fair Plan, the deductible for wind Feature Story damage is 2 percent of coverage A (dwelling). That means if a tree was knocked down during one of last March’s nor’easters and damaged the roof of a $400,000 house, the deductible would be $8,000. Unlike Fair Plan, Monomoy offers a hurricane deductible, meaning that the higher deductible only applies when there is a hurricane as named by the National Weather Service. Otherwise, wind damage is subject only to the standard deductible, which is usually $1,000 or $2,500, depending on the policy. Redfield notes that he has one client in Harwich Port with a $500,000 house who was extremely nervous about the $10,000 deductible for wind damage. “That was his biggest concern, with winter storms coming through. So it was a huge relief, they don’t have to worry now.” Mason-Small points out that the last hurricane to hit Cape Cod was Hurricane Bob in 1991. “We know that that’s a rare occurrence,” she says “so having a hurricane deductible is the preferred option for most.” According to Redfield, getting a Monomoy policy is easier than the Fair Plan, too. Rather than schedule a home inspection, homeowners can use a mobile app to upload photos of their home to obtain coverage. “There are agencies waiting for solutions to help their clients. We’re defining our own future success, not waiting for someone else,” said Mason-Small. The products available through Monomoy are backed by the Spinnaker Insurance Company, an A.M. Best Rated company. Best’s Ratings, which are issued through A.M. Best Rating Services Inc., are a recognized indicator of insurer financial strength and creditworthiness. “As an independent agency, our goal is to always do what’s best for the client. With Monomoy, Rogers & Gray now has a better option and we look forward to helping clients enhance their coverage and protect what is so important to them,” says Robinson.