When disaster strikes an area, insurance premiums often increase.

Insurance companies must pay numerous claims while working to remain profitable. When catastrophes repeatedly happen in a region, property owners can be left struggling to find affordable insurance.

Suppose a region has experienced several hurricanes or several wildfires. In that case, insurance companies may not be able to sustain policies with so much risk, and homeowners may find that their policies exclude damage from those high risks. When homeowners can't find coverage for natural disasters on the competitive market, they are left to find government-sponsored coverage.

--Melanie Musson, U.S.-based property insurance professional with The Truth About Insurance

In high-risk areas, independent insurance agents and brokers may be the solution to obtaining coverage.

What is an Independent Insurance Agent?

An independent insurance agent works with multiple companies rather than one insurance company to write policies. By representing several carriers simultaneously, independent insurance agents and brokers can offer customers a choice of insurers, policies, and pricing.

A broker represents the policyholder and is not employed by the insurance company. As a result, they can place coverage in a broader marketplace.

Agents often complete company-specific training when applying for approval to sell each company's insurance so that they can then offer customized support and streamline the insurance shopping experience.

How Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers Work

When you need an insurance quote, an independent insurance agent or broker will shop various insurance companies to match your needs with a policy. Side-by-side pricing and coverage options will be provided so that you can see the pros and cons of dealing with each company. The insurer pays a commission to the independent agent when a policy is purchased or renewed. Conversely, a broker's compensation/commission is paid by you, but it is usually built into your bill for the premium.

Renewal policies with their customers are the lifeblood of independent insurance agents and brokers. A bad experience will likely cause the customer to shop around for someone else to place their insurance coverage.

Writing Policies in Catastrophe-Prone Areas

If a hurricane or firestorm damages a region, that event could impact premiums. Rates will likely increase for the identical coverage, and homeowners may suddenly learn, post-catastrophe, that their policy no longer covers that specific damage. Carriers may use tactics to mitigate the future effects, such as lowering coverage for a comparable premium, creating new sub-limits, or raising deductibles. Some have been known to pull out of a region altogether.

In a typical region of the U.S., most homeowners will have insurance covering all aspects of a natural disaster. However, once a disaster has happened, things can change drastically. I've seen insurance companies changing their policy so that natural disasters become add-ons with a rider policy, usually at very high monthly costs.

--Jenna Carson, Founding Partner at MoneyLucid.com

Independent agents and brokers frequently have access to carriers that average shoppers won't find online. This capability makes them a valuable source for finding coverage in catastrophe-prone areas.

How Public Adjusters Can Help

Public Adjusters are often advocates for independent insurance agents and brokers when they place coverage for the public adjuster's clients. A public adjuster can provide feedback on how a policy could be constructed to avoid deficiencies in policy coverages.

Dealing with insurance policies every day, public adjusters are well-versed in what is typically covered in a policy and what is not. The public adjuster acts as the go-between for the insured and the insurance company allowing the agent/broker to avoid being involved in the details of the claim and any potential disputes. They may even identify additional coverages within a policy that can result in a better outcome for the policyholder, making for a more satisfied customer.

A skilled public adjuster can help an independent insurance agent or broker satisfy and retain clients by assisting them in obtaining fair settlements. Public adjusters and independent insurance agents/ brokers are ideal allies.