Costanza Insurance Agency
For more than a decade, the Dallas-based Costanza Insurance Agency (CIA), headed by its founder, Peter Costanza, has been providing insurance for security-related businesses throughout the United States. Clients include security guard firms, private investigators, alarm companies, insurance adjusters and salvage companies. CIA's programs include fidelity/crime insurance and workers compensation.
"I started my insurance career right out of high school," says Costanza. "I began as a bill collector for an insurance company and then went on to become an underwriter. I moved to the retail side in 1982, and that's when I began to work with niche markets, specializing in insurance adjusters, salvage companies, process servers and insurance investigators. That led me to the general private investigators market, which in turn led to security guards. By the mid-1980s, I controlled a $15 million book of business out of California."
In 1989 Costanza moved from California to Texas, where he worked for a risk purchasing group, the National Association of Private Security Industries. In 1992 he opened his own office in Dallas.
"Staying within the same niches, I began to develop programs for security guards and consultants, private investigators, polygraph operators, and burglar and fire alarm installers," says Costanza. "Some of the areas we cover are false arrest, invasion of privacy, domestic investigations, civil investigations and negligence. We also do bodyguards, celebrity protection and home babysitting. Our carrier markets include First Specialty, Westport Insurance, AIG and Lloyd's of London."
One of the programs CIA offers is Secure Comp, which Costanza describes as "an affordable workers compensation program that is designed specifically for guards, alarm companies, investigators and other security services."
Says Costanza: "Firms in this industry have generally been unable to obtain this protection, and certainly not at a reasonable cost. We believe Secure Comp has changed all that. Our insurer for Secure Comp is rated 'Excellent' by A. M. Best. Under our commercial crime program, we offer fidelity/crime insurance, which protects against employee dishonesty, forgery, alteration of outgoing checks, theft, disappearance and destruction of money, and securities and computer fraud. We offer primary or excess coverage, blanket protection on all employees, per-occurrence coverage with no aggregate limit and multi-year policies for most small and mid-sized risks. In addition, we have coverage enhancements for third-party fidelity, ERISA fidelity with an inflation guard, and coverage for volunteers and outside directors added as employees."
Costanza says CIA has performed well in the last few years, even as other businesses have been in the doldrums. For the last four years, he says, CIA has experienced annual premium growth of 30%. Because of this growth, CIA has just completed a move from 4,500 square feet of Class B office space to a 6,500-foot Class A space.
"Security needs to grow with the rate of crime, and the new security needed after 9/11 created new opportunities for us--new security businesses that needed to be insured," says Costanza. His 20-employee agency, with offices in Dallas; Glendale, California; and Russellville, Missouri, writes annual premium of $25 million.
CIA, Costanza says, concentrates on providing services for the security industry while making an underwriting profit for carriers. "Carriers can no longer depend on investment income generated from the stock market," he declares.
"My association with Target Markets began in the fall of last year," says the CIA executive. "I feel it is important to have access to other niche market specialists. I want to stay in contact with program administrators and underwriters throughout the United States. The insurance marketplace has leveled off in terms of pricing, and carriers' appetites for niche market business are increasing. We intend to expand into other program areas, and being a member of Target Markets is certainly advantageous," Costanza says. *