Markel Insurance Review

Markel Insurance Company offers non-standard individual and commercial policies like bicycle, boat, and ATV coverage. Like most specialty insurance companies, Markel Insurance quotes are not available online.

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Eric Stauffer is a former insurance agent and banker turned consumer advocate. His 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.

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Written by Eric Stauffer
Founder & Former Insurance Agent Eric Stauffer

Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years Leslie Kasperowicz

UPDATED: Jun 1, 2022

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Markel Insurance Company

Financial Strength

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

What is 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 insurance operations reinsure specialty risks for both commercial and personal casualty insurance lines. The commercial lines as a provider of niche insurance coverage include niche property things like railroads, wineries, hunting and fishing lodges, martial arts schools, shipyards, and slot machines. Personal lines include motorcycle insurance coverage policies and dirt bikes, collector and classic car insurance, 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.

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What are Markel specialty products?

Markel specialty 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 a specialty.

The types of insurance on personal property damage 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 coverage options
  • 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 for niche markets. 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.

Are Markel’s rates reasonable?

Not at all surprisingly, Markel does not offer online quoting for their products. This is common for specialty insurance companies where policies for niche property and are less cookie cutter and tend to require a lot more specific information in order to create an accurate quote.

If you want Markel to be an option for an insurance policy, you’re going to have to get in touch with an agent in order to talk about what type of coverage you want. You’ll also be able to get a better sense of what sort of discounts and rates they offer.

Most insurers offer discount opportunities in order to give you a better rate, including bundling or safety course discount. You’ll be able to ask whether or not they have these discounts, optional coverages that you can reduce, and other ways for you to save money. In this way, talking to a agent can give you more peace of mind.

How are claims processed with Markel?

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.

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Are ratings and consumer reviews positive for Markel?

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 customer claims handling and policy non-renewal. For a company as big as Markel, this is a low complaint volume.

Markel Corporation 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.

What’s 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.

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