UPDATED: Mar 18, 2020
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Markel has its roots in the 1930 founding of Mutual Casualty Association and Mutual Casualty Company by Sam Markel. Created in Norfolk, Virginia to insurance jitney buses, the family business grew and expanded over the following decades, and Markel went public in 1986.
Markel first appeared on the Fortune 500 in 2016, and it ranked at number 464 for 2018. The holding company is comprised of seven insurance-related companies, with an investment. They operate in 20 countries.
The companies that are part of Markel insure and reinsure specialty risks both commercial and personal. The commercial lines include things like railroads, wineries, hunting and fishing lodges, martial arts schools, shipyards, and slot machines. Personal lines include motorcycles and collector cars, boats, special events, and specialty dwelling.
Products are sold through independent agents across the service area. The company’s headquarters is located in Glen Allen, Virginia.
Markel’s products are both commercial and personal, with a variety of niche product categories in each of these areas.
Personal products include:
- Bicycle insurance that covers not only the bike but provides liability, vehicle contact coverage, and medical payments
- Boat, personal watercraft, and yacht insurance, including high-performance boats
- Dwelling fire policies for homes that do not qualify for traditional homeowner’s insurance, including owner-occupied, vacant, rental, and seasonal homes
- Manufacture home insurance
- ATV and snowmobile
- Special event coverage for parties, weddings, and other events
- Pet insurance through a partnership with Figo
- Motorcycle insurance
- Classic cars
Classic cars and some boat insurance are underwritten by Hagerty, a partner and separate insurance company that specializes in these policies.
Markel’s commercial products are widely varied and specialized. Among the available specialty options are:
- Worker’s Compensation
- Camp and Youth Recreation
- Horse and farm including show animals, therapeutic riding, and horse clubs, as well as livestock coverage
- Public entity coverage for municipalities, schools, specialty districts, public housing authorities
- Energy and Environmental liability
- Winery and Vineyard
- Sports and Fitness including martial arts, dance schools, personal trainers, and cheerleading
- Museums and fine art galleries
- Investment Advisors liability
- Pest Control
- Accident Medical for groups
- Fishing and hunting lodges and other outdoors-based organizations
- Commercial and in-home child care centers
- Lawn care company insurance
- Marine and Marine Tradesman
- Business Owner’s Package Policies
Markel also offers a range of global reinsurance services.
Not at all surprisingly, Markel does not offer online quoting for their products. This is common for specialty insurance companies where policies are less cookie cutter and tend to require a lot more specific information in order to create an accurate quote.
Claims contact information varies depending on the type of policy. There is one main claims phone number that can be used to get the ball rolling on just about any U.S. policy of any type. The company has several claims offices, but the central line can get the claim sent to the correct location.
Claims for classic cars, boat, and pet insurance are handled by the partner companies that underwrite them, and not by Markel.
A general claims form is available online and can be used for any claim other than horse insurance, accident and health, pet, classic car, or boat, and worker’s compensation policies.
There is specific information available regarding each different type of insurance Markel sells – and there are a lot of different types. This should make it easy for the insured to figure out what they need to do in order to get their claim to the right place.
Ratings and Consumer Reviews
Markel has been Better Business Bureau (BBB) accredited since 2001, and they have an A+ rating currently. There are eight complaints on file in the past three years. The nine reviews on the BBB page cite complaints of poor claims handling and policy non-renewal. For a company as big as Markel, this is a low complaint volume.
Markel has 19 reviews on Yelp, with an overall two-star rating. There are some positive reviews describing an excellent claims experience, and others citing the opposite.
Overall, we found Markel to have a fairly positive reputation based on the few reviews we could find. Complaint volume is low and there are several positive reviews to provide some balance.
The Bottom Line
Markel may be on your list if you need specialty insurance, and they are well worth a closer look. We are unable to compare them on rates, but specialty insurance often requires a little extra legwork on the part of the insurance shopper to find the best value. As with all specialty policies, we recommend taking some time to talk to an agent with experience in the area of interest to determine what coverage is most needed and which company can provide it.
For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.