Berkshire Hathaway’s Insurance Group is launching a new comprehensive insurance product for small businesses that combines multiple coverages, and the conglomerate’s legendary chairman has endorsed it.
The product, dubbed THREE, is three pages long and combines coverage for workers compensation, multiple liability coverages (including general liability, errors and omissions, and cyber), property and auto, according to the product announcement. THREE will be rolled out nationally as Berkshire Hathaway obtains state regulatory filings and approvals and can be previewed in the interim at threeinsure.com.
Quotes from Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett aren’t often found in the company’s product announcements, but they were in this case.
“Insurance is important protection for any business, but few small businesses have the time to actually read through the policy forms that are supposed to protect them,” Buffett said in prepared remarks. “With THREE, a small business can be confident in the protection it is getting because the whole policy can be read in a few moments. Every day, America’s small businesses prove that great things come in small packages. Now they can get insurance on the same basis.”
One analyst said the product has potential, despite an anticipated slow launch as a direct channel offering.
“Although direct channel penetration will likely be slow (as has been the case with personal auto), we expect some weakness today among competing small commercial insurers and brokers,” analysts Meyer Shields and Sean Reitenback from Keefe, Bruyette & Woods said in a Feb. 11 note.
Berkshire Hathaway said the product addresses the reality that small businesses typically need several types of insurance to protect their interests. To do so, the company said, businesses typically have purchased multiple and unconnected policies, which individually can be dozens of pages long.
THREE is being billed as a more efficient alternative, purchasable in one stop and also available directly to small businesses, so they don’t need to go through a broker or third party. By combining the coverages, Berkshire Hathaway said that small businesses can minimize the risk of not knowing what is being covered and what individual policy might apply.
Berkshire Hathaway’s new coverage could generate a pretty strong response. Accenture research published in late 2018 concluded that business owners were frustrated with the process of purchasing commercial insurance, a process they called “overwhelming,” “confusing” and “not fun.” Among the findings: Small business owners wanted a far simpler and easier purchase process than they currently face.
Berkshire Hathaway itself has focused on small business customers in other areas. Its biBERK unit, for example, allows small business owners to shop online for commercial vehicle, general liability, property and workers compensation insurance, among other coverages.
Berkshire Hathaway said that it will be using licensed agents to help with the THREE coverage.
Source: Berkshire Hathaway