Berkley Asset Protection has grown strong since its inception just five years ago. It’s a young company with a venerable foundation as part of W.R. Berkley, which was founded in 1967.
The idea behind forming Berkley Asset Protection centered on providing specific market knowledge – and seeking out the insurance industry’s leading professionals to join the team.
“The people running our company have extensive insurance industry experience,” says Andrew Chipman, who leads Berkley Asset Protection’s Jewelers Block division. “Five years ago, they said there’s probably a better way to do things and decided to go out on their own and form their own company. The premise behind it was let’s concentrate on a group of core specialty products: fine arts, jewelers block and crime. Those are the big three. Then, they said, let’s go out and find the best people to specialize in those kinds of insurance. The results have been outstanding.”
Berkley Asset Protection is working hard to get its message out to jewelers throughout the United States. “We’re expanding across the country and looking forward to working with jewelers and insurance agents to let them know we’re a strong insurance company,” Andrew says. “Our company is here to help them meet their insurance needs.”
Highly Rated & Growing
Berkley Asset Protection, headquartered in New York City, writes across all 50 states. Its A.M. Best rating of A+ and Financial Size XV reflect a strong foundation. Besides operations in New York and Appleton, Wis., the company has employees in Virginia, Ohio, Arkansas, Georgia, California, Illinois, Connecticut and New Jersey.
“We also have an international division, a syndicate in Lloyd’s of London,” Andrew notes. “Having domestic and international platforms affords us a lot of flexibility in writing jewelers of any size. For five years we’ve concentrated on domestic, and now we’re diving into the international side of things. We have a nice, healthy international book and we’re hoping to grow that over time.”
Three major points set Berkley Asset Protection apart from other insurers. One is the person who leads the company’s claims division, Executive Vice President Greg Smith.
“Greg Smith has been the claims specialist handling jewelers block claims for 20 years,” Andrew says. “He is a well-respected, renowned claims individual. Any company can issue a policy. You want to be sure you work with an insurance company that pays claims when they need to be paid. When I decided to work for Berkley Asset Protection, working with Greg Smith, I knew that would happen. Things were going to be timely, and we would be paying when it was our responsibility to pay. I feel that’s one of our biggest strengths, the timely payoff of claims.
“The second thing is replacement cost. With jewelers, there are a lot of different ways they can be paid when something unfortunate happens to them, and we offer more flexibility than most companies. For example, gold has really fluctuated in price, and when that happens, it has a significant impact on jewelers. If they took their inventory in August, then the price of gold increases between August and November, instead of paying them what they reported on their last inventory we would pay them what it would cost to replace in November. This is a huge benefit to jewelers; it offers peace of mind, especially in the uncertain times we live in.
“The other benefit we offer that some companies don’t is the single deductible. If a jeweler buys a jewelers block policy to protect his jewelry, and also purchases a package policy that covers business property like carpeting and showcases, we offer a single deductible so if there were an unfortunate loss that affected both policies, we would only charge them one deductible.
“These three things – our claims guru extraordinaire Greg Smith, replacement cost and single deductible – are the three things we really hang our hat on.”
Company on the Move
Berkley Asset Protection is out there – everywhere - offering specialized protection for precious metals and jewelry for retailers, wholesalers, manufacturers, designers, contractors, personal jewelry collections and the watch trade.
“We’re a nimble company, with between 30 and 40 people in our organization,” says Andrew, who has been underwriting jewelers block risk for more than eight years and now operates out of Berkley Asset Protection’s satellite office in Appleton. “If someone is interested in meeting with us, we like to do face-to-face. So we travel extensively to meet with insurance agents and jewelry companies.
“We strongly believe that’s how proper business is done: forming partnerships, looking people in the eye. I’ve flown over 50,000 miles this year, meeting with people, explaining our product and getting word out nationwide to let people know about the exciting things happening in our company.
“We’re a company based on hiring qualified, knowledgeable people. We’ve had tremendous success in five years. We’re looking to grow successfully throughout the country and hope that when jewelers look at different insurance options, they’ll contact us to have a conversation. Large or small, we do it all.”