New Name, Service and Coverage the SameWritten By: Mary Sedor
Article Date: 08-01-2007
Copyright(C) 2008 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.
Universal Underwriters Group is now Zurich.
Mention the name "Universal Underwriters Group" in construction industry circles and everyone knows what you're talking about - a high quality insurance carrier with a knack for customer service.
In January, Universal Underwriters Group adopted a new name - Zurich. And while the name may be different, the company has retained its legacy of customer focus and tradition of excellence.
A "Universal" Start
Universal Underwriters Group was founded in 1922 by a group of Ford dealership owners in Chicago. They pooled their money together to create a fire insurance fund for their buildings. The moniker Universal Underwriters was created from the nickname Ford automobiles had back in 1922 - as the "universal car." It was only a matter of time before the new insurance group became the Universal Underwriters.
At the start, Universal Underwriters only insured car dealerships. However, at that time, the line between an automobile and an equipment dealership was blurred, since car dealers also sold tractors. For over 50 years, Universal Underwriters remained a family-owned business. It wasn't until the early 1980s that Zurich purchased the company. After another 25 years, Universal Underwriters has adopted its parent company's name and took the final step in its ongoing integration with Zurich North America Commercial. Zurich has been in business for 135 years.
"After 25 years we have adopted the Zurich name in order to become one Zurich," said Steve Cline, director of marketing for the dealer division within Zurich. "While we've changed the name on the outside, we're still the same people and the same company."
The name change became official Jan. 2, 2007, and the company unveiled its new name to the industry at the 2007 AED Annual Meeting & CONDEX. Over the last seven months, Zurich has spent time converting their materials to the new name.
"The time was right," said Cline. "The reception we've had (of the new name) outside of our organization has been very positive."
The policy that dealers receive will still say Universal Underwriters, and dealers will continue to receive the same great service.
Zurich's dealership insurance covers four main markets: equipment dealers, automobile dealers, motorcycle dealers and heavy truck dealers. The coverage centers on parts and service, new and used equipment, and rental and leasing.
With the number of insurance providers in the market, what sets Zurich apart from its competitors is its ability to write its own policies - from scratch. Zurich's dealer division only provides products and services to dealerships located in the United States.
"From Page 1 to the last page, the copy is written and filed by us," said Cline." No one else can use the words we write. Some insurance carriers use generic policies and stamp their name on it, but we build ours from scratch. Having an original copy-written policy is like having a patent - no one else can copy your product."
The policies cover everything in the dealership, including new equipment, rentals, attachments, mechanics' tools and toolboxes, and the building itself. Zurich products also cover the liability side of the business, and provide protection against discrimination, wrongful termination, sexual harassment and pollution liability. Basic fire, wind, tornado, hurricane, theft and vandalism coverage is also available.
Zurich also has trained loss prevention specialists who visit dealerships to perform site inspections and safety training. These specialists will advise dealers on loss prevention, safety issues and compliance with OSHA regulations.
"We're always trying to help dealers prevent claims and accidents," said Cline. "That way, we all win."
Because Zurich began with a focus on dealerships, they have a unique knowledge of dealerships other companies may not have.
Zurich agents, or account executives, are not independent agents or brokers - they work directly for the company. Zurich has 27 offices across the country dedicated to assisting local customers. Each local Zurich office handles claims, and the people there know and understand the unique risks of the area.
"It's not just one office for the whole country," said Cline. "We understand what dealers face. Our clients can come into the office, and our claims underwriters are right there. The account executives visit the dealerships, talk to the owners and walk through the dealership - instead of just reviewing a file."
Universal Underwriters/Zurich has been an active AED member since 1999, and is a CONDEX exhibitor and sponsor. At the 2007 Annual Meeting & CONDEX, Zurich sponsored a continental breakfast and hosted a booth in the tradeshow.
"We've exhibited at the AED convention for at least 10 years in a row," said Cline. "It's good to talk with our existing customers face-to-face and answer questions for dealers who are not familiar with us. CONDEX generates a lot of leads for our account executives."
Cline says Zurich's AED membership is very important because AED represents their main interest - the dealers.
"We enjoy supporting AED and participating in their industry events, because we know it helps the dealer body as a whole," said Cline.
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