While innovators, installers and manufacturers are opening new solar businesses every day, Assurant became the first insurance company to launch a solar industry business this week.
Assurant is a straight-up insurance company that provides insurance for homeowners, healthcare, life and specialty products or items.
It will now offer insurance and warranty services for solar projects, particularly those between 100 kilowatts and 3 megawatts.
“We did quite a bit of research in the whole universe around solar projects,” said David Schroeder, who led Assurant’s new solar project.
He comes from a background in renewable energy and knew there would be a market for an insurance product like the one Assurant launched this week.
What existed before wasn’t specifically designed for the solar industry, he said. And the premiums, especially for mid-size solar projects like the ones Assurant will target, are high because they aren’t individualized.
“We are able to right-size our product for specific projects,” Schroeder said. “That way it’s right for them economically and it’s what they actually need.”
Schroeder said that Assurant’s background in specialty insurance makes it a good fit for this niche, but it also has a history in warranty management.
That warranty management is a key piece in the insurers new solar industry product.
“Instead of needing to talk to each individual manufacturer and have everyone say it’s someone else’s problem, if it breaks, we take care of it,” Schroeder said. “We fix it and then we have those conversations with the manufacturers.”
The research process for Assurant, before getting into the industry, was deep. The company became a customer and put out requests for proposals to solar installers for a 1.8-megawatt solar installation on one of its call center.
“It’s been a good learning experience for our entire team,” Schroeder said.
Being a customer gave the company insight into what an insurance product will really need to include if it’s going to adequately address the concerns and needs of solar customers.
The call center system is due to break ground this spring.
In the meantime, Schroeder said Assurant’s first solar insurance project, located at the University of Arizona, is about to flip the switch on a 6-megawatt thin-film solar project.
Image courtesy of Assurant