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Insurance
Business Observer Friday, Nov. 16, 2018 1 year ago

Economic forecast: Laura Webb, president, Webb Insurance Group, Tampa

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The Tampa firm finds itself in growth mode as 2019 approaches.
by: Brian Hartz Tampa Bay Editor

Company: Webb Insurance Group is in full-on growth mode going into 2019. The company recently acquired an agency in Englewood and eyes St. Petersburg for its next expansion. “I want to add at least one more location,” Webb says. “I think we can grow on an exponential basis.” Another goal is to increase face time with clients — “building relationships as opposed to processing data,” Webb says. She plans to help her staff accomplish that by increasing the firm’s use of technology, which she thinks will help customer retention. “Insurance is a purchase that’s required," she says, "so therefore we want to make it as painless as possible.”

Industry: “When companies are doing well, insurance agencies are doing well.” says Webb. Commercial insurance policies, she says, are based on factors such as payroll, square footage and sales, so as businesses grow, so too does the risk — and the insurance premiums. Webb says the insurance industry has so far weathered the storm of “insurtech” – tech companies trying to disrupt the traditional insurance agency model. “There’s a lot of opportunity in insurance, but you still have to underwrite for the risks you’re taking on; you still have to pay claims,” she says. “And if you get a bad reputation for not paying claims very quickly, especially considering how litigious we are here in Florida, you will not be profitable.”

Threats: Insurtech, to Webb, represents both a threat and an opportunity. “What we’re seeing now is that some of these companies want to partner with us instead of be disruptive,” Webb says. Another threat is driverless cars. Automated vehicle technology “shifts the risk from the driver to the company” that makes the cars, Webb says. That means fewer auto insurance policies will be written. Also, costs for vehicles could go way up because automakers will be shouldering massive insurance policies, which in turn could lead to fewer people being able to afford cars – and car insurance. “The companies are taking on the risk for their product,” Webb says.

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