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Markel Insurance Company Review

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UPDATED: Mar 18, 2020

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Markel Insurance Company
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Markel Corporation is a holding company for several insurance companies that write a variety of specialty insurance products. Markel’s focus is on hard to place risks, and they offer both commercial and personal lines.

About Markel

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 Products

Markel’s products are both commercial and personal, with a variety of niche product categories in each of these areas.

Personal Lines

Markel does not write any of the standard personal insurance products like personal auto insurance or traditional homeowners insurance. Like their commercial lines, personal products are specialty.

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.

Commercial Insurance

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
  • Surety
  • 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.

Rates

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

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.

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Review Information

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Markel Insurance
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About Eric Stauffer

Author: Eric StaufferI am a former insurance agent and banker turned consumer advocate. My priority is to help educate individuals and families about the different types of insurance they need, and assist them in finding the best place to get it.

16 Comments

  1. Absolute worst boat insurance company. Steer clear.

    I insured with Markel on 7 boats in the past 30 years with no claims until my latest boat sunk in a hurricane in DE of all places and they refuse to pay !!!!

    I am out 700K…..Thanks, Markel…..

    Regulatory shut down would be appropriate for this company.

    Reply
  2. We’ve had homeowners insurance with them for a number of years.

    Recently filed our first claim ever with any homeowners insurance.

    Small claim (< $5500) for some fire damage.

    Took over a month to get a check.

    Today, two weeks after receiving the claim check, we received notification that Markel will not be renewing our coverage because of claim history.

    Ridiculous!!!

    If this is the best they can do, then I'm glad to be moving on to another company for coverage.

    Goodbye and good riddance.

    Reply
  3. Markel has extremely terrible customer service, claims handling, and oversight.

    I highly recommend you use literally any other option you have available to you.

    Reply
  4. Terrible company

    They took my workman compensation insurance away after collecting $3600 in the first year, no claims at all.

    Their decision was based on my company being high risk because I don’t have employees.

    I had similar insurance in Philadelphia for 20 years, never issue and half price and here big shots are running their own show.

    My history of zero claims in business history has a zero value to these people.

    Reply
  5. Markel are thieves who overbill for services then try to attach additional charges for their audit which they claim to have not received despite email confirmations and direct evidence of audit receipt. Never ever use them!

    Reply
  6. This company is not ethical or transparent from their sales team up to their audit team. They have a worker’s compensation program that has an initial monthly rate, which then is adjusted upon an audit. Let me just begin by saying that my numbers and job classification percentages came in fairly close to what they were billing me originally. However, after the audit, they began adding and increasing my policy cost and ended up billing me twice of what they initially estimated, that had already been paid. During the audit, they mentioned that they could not bill me using different charge codes, so they charged me by the most expensive. Only after speaking with their manager and multiple calls, did they budge on that but only with massive amounts of documentation and a statement on my behalf. But, they still have not refunded any of the double charges… Not to mention their auditors go to your website to find things to increase your rate. I have family pictures on my page to give a family feel to my site, and they billed me for employees that are not on my payroll. They requested my siblings provide them with an ID, W-2 and their employer’s worker’s compensation certificate. This is aside from the fact that they were making decisions on a 2018 website for a 2016-2017 policy. All in all, I would be very careful about their worker’s comp program, unless you have a solid rate from them that won’t change I wouldn’t use them. They’re crooks and thieves, taking hard earned money from small businesses.

    Reply
  7. This company really is pathetic. Apparently, they do not want to help when there is a problem. Our homeowners policy was canceled because of 2 claims in 3 years. I don’t really understand how all that works, but I am happy to find insurance elsewhere, but I wish that I could prevent others from buying their insurance

    Reply
  8. Worst company Ever. I would not recommend this company to anyone.

    Reply
  9. We are having a lot of difficulty getting an objective review from FIGO Pet Insurance which is underwritten by Markel. I would say that if FIGO really escalated our claim to Markel, as they stated, they have reacted like pansies and will not give us objective consideration, probably reflective of the complaints I read above. Both poor choices for anybody who wants objective insurance coverage.

    Reply
  10. Would NOT recommend this company to anyone. They are extremely difficult to communicate with and have unethical practices. Since insuring a commercial property with them, we have had nothing but issues with the company. Now that the insurance policy has been discontinued by us (over two months ago), they still have not issued a return check for the balance overpaid. Please research and use a reputable company for your insurance needs.

    Reply
  11. Markel company takes advantage of small companies with their payroll service. Underlying fees that they do not explain and charge a large fee if you don’t run payroll, which for a small business can really hurt your business.

    Reply
    • Nikki, I’m a small business owner out of Texas and they were trying to charge me over 10% of my payroll for Worker’s comp. Their sales agent sold me on the fact that they could apply multiple rates since our company does various tasks. When they did their audit at the end, they doubled my rate so I immediately canceled. Paying 5k of worker’s comp on 40k of total payroll per year is a bit much.

      Reply
  12. These people are ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTING in their business practices. This company should be disintegrated and all of the money paid out to the peoples’ lives they’ve ruined. Should not even be permitted to operate as a legit business.

    Reply
  13. I will leave terrible review after or if my claim is settled, bbb rating will reflect, I wouldn’t recommend them to my worst enemy!!

    Reply
  14. I had a claim in March, It was a theft and vandalism, The claim amounts were settled a few weeks later. 3 months after claim amounts were settled through the adjuster the claims examiner still has not issued a check. Worst company I have ever worked with.

    Reply
  15. I would rank Markel as a -1 on their claims handling. TERRIBLE service. I had a commercial client insured with them that had a parked vehicle hit by an uninsured motorist on 11/28. Today, 12-8 we are still waiting on Markel to make contact with the insured. Of course the claims rep never returns calls. I would never recommend Markel.

    Reply

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