Commercial Insurance That’s Right For Your Business

Unless you are a very small business running without a lot of overhead and liabilities, it is a very good idea to have commercial insurance. Indeed, your financial safety could very well depend on it as commercial not only allows you to recoup your losses in the event of a disaster outside your control, but allows you get your business up and running again. Commercial insurance can also save the ruin of your business by those who would seek to benefit by suing you for damages they have sustained directly in your workplace or through the products and/or services that you market.

There are three components to commercial insurance, and you can buy policies that cover one or all of them according to the type and size of business you own. The first one of these, property insurance, is most similar to homeowner’s insurance. It reimburses you for damage to your place of business, whether through fire or damage from burglary. As with all insurance policies, you must be careful in making sure that you get the coverage you think you might need. Indeed, it can often be a good idea to get coverage for things you don’t think you will need, if the extra cost is reasonable.

Commercial liability insurance is also an important component of commercial business insurance. It guards against lawsuits brought on by customers, and allows you to be reimbursed for things like legal fees and settlement money. Some professions need liability insurance more than others. The healthcare profession, for instance, needs malpractice insurance as they work directly with patients’ health and a mistake here could be very costly. Malpractice insurance affects other professional fields as well, from architecture to accountants. Even businesses that sell a product may benefit from this insurance in the event that a customer suffers some injury or damages due to their company or product. Indirect damage, such as Errors and Omissions, can be covered under liability insurance. You can also be reimbursed if your product causes harm to a customer, or if a company vehicle causes the damage. Under commercial vehicle insurance, you can also get coverage that will reimburse you if your vehicle suffers any damage or is broken into. Remember that there are many frivolous lawsuits these days and even legal fees can have a devastating effect on a business. Commercial liability insurance can make the difference between whether or not your business survives such a lawsuit.

The third type of commercial insurance is worker’s compensation insurance, and this is to protect you as the employer from exorbitant expenses if your employee is injured while on the job. Most states in the U.S. require some form of this insurance, and it reimburses the employer for medical bills and days of work missed due to the injury, as well as lawsuits for employer negligence.

Some Facts About High Risk Life Insurance Plans

A high risk life insurance plan is a special type of insurance designed for those people, who are exposed to risky jobs. For instance, jobs such as piloting plane, scuba diving, car racing, firefighting and stunt jobs are dangerous, as they always involve risk. People doing high-risk jobs often put their lives at risk. They thus require special life insurance packages as compared to people doing an ordinary 9 to 5 job. In addition, people fighting against diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart ailments and others can buy high risk life insurance plans. Such plans are specially customized to handle the risks involved. Life insurance provider calculates the risk factors by incorporating them into the plan. Generally, people buying high risk insurance pay higher premiums.

Some people carry an opinion that people buying impaired risk insurance plan have to shell more money to find very little or less in return. Although, it is not completely true. People buying such plans may have to shell more money in the form of premiums, but they too gain similar benefits as one gets in ordinary life insurance plan. Following are some facts about high risk life insurance plans:

  • Answer It Right: While asking for a plan, you need to answer some important questionnaires that decide whether you are a high risk customer or not. It is ideal to answer the questions in a straight and simple way. For instance, if rock climbing is your hobby and not profession, then you may avoid talking about it during the questionnaire rounds. Such answers may confuse insurance providers while calculating the risks related to your plan.
  • Specialized Brokers: Always choose specialized broker while choosing an insurance. They are well equipped with knowledge on right policies, which would help you reap all the benefits from the plan. Their advices are indispensable and might help you in saving unnecessary premiums.
  • Beware of NSR: Some providers offer Non-Standard Rates (NSR) to people with high risks. These rates are considerably lower than what you might expect. It is ideal to compare quotes from different life insurance providers before investing in a plan. In addition, you may take help from specialized brokers.
  • Clinical Medical Underwriting: Choose quotes from providers that stick to using up-to-date methods for calculating risks in a plan. Some insurance providers use old formulas while calculating the risks. Clinical medical underwriting is a fair concept, which takes possibilities of modern treatment and facilities in curing your existing disease. This helps dissolve the risks in your plan.
  • Online Quotes: There are different impaired risk insurance plans available over Internet. You may use a good search engine to locate and compare online quotes from online high-risk insurance providers.
  • Limited death benefit: Most people are aware that risk factor plays an important role in deciding the premium rates of your plans. Owing to higher risks, you may require to pay more money as compared to ordinary plans. Also very high risk offer limited death benefits as compared to low risk plans.

Commercial Insurance Distribution Channels on the Internet

If you worked for a UK Insurance company just twenty years ago or anywhere else in the world for that matter, you would not have heard the term Internet distribution channel, except perhaps in the idle chat of the IT department boffins and analysts in the company cafeteria.

There were only two main distribution channels, or ways of moving insurance products to the market and the Internet as a serious sales and marketing contender would have to wait another ten years to appear.

At the time, the main channels were the direct channel, which meant producing insurance products that could be sold directly to the public from a call centre, thereby cutting out the costs and expense of managing a middleman, and the broker or intermediary channel.

The broker channel was further sub-divided into insurance brokers, agents, tied agents, consultants, sub-brokers, managing agents for Lloyds and the affinity corporate market.

Both channels offered different propositions for the same products dependent upon the way a policy was sold.

At the time only personal lines insurance products such as car and home insurance were available via the direct channel.

It was also considered that commercial insurance and business insurance were too complicated a product to sell direct over the phone, would take up too much time and would require a bank of approved underwriters with scripts to man the phone lines, as no commercial insurance autoquote systems existed. Consequently nearly all commercial insurance was sold via the intermediary channel.

This dual path situation for the sales, marketing and deliverance of insurance polices continued until Insurance finally became a product that could be bought and sold on the Internet. The earliest offerings around the turn of the Century were for personal lines insurance and there was barely a mention of Commercial insurance, save for the odd contact us button.

Ironically as personal lines insurance developed over the Noughties and became a much larger channel of distribution, the two previous direct and broker channels re-established themselves online, this time in much closer competition.

However both the insurance companies and the insurance intermediaries were caught napping as a new distribution channel emerged on the Internet; the aggregator or price comparison site, and in record time accounted for over 90% of online Internet insurance sales.

The public love to compare prices and the fact that most personal lines products could autoquote without the intervention of an underwriter, meant they could all be aggregated into an online insurance price comparison site, such as we see everywhere in the media today. This is a testament to the comparison sites success as a channel in its own right.

Commercial Insurance in the meantime was still in its infancy as a channel on the Internet, until very recently.

The inertia was mainly due to the reluctance of the large general insurance companies to standardise and autoquote for commercial products. They felt the risk was too high and underwriters resisted the change.

The change came about by market forces as the Broker channel started to sell commercial products using its own web-enabled back office systems.

This meant that online business insurance brokers could collect information about a businesses insurance requirements on a website form, and pass the data to its internal systems. These back office comparison systems are composed of a panel of insurers and providers that provided autoquotes.

Straight through processing to an insurance company could be carried out by the existing EDI or electronic data interchange mechanism.

The single broker business and commercial propositions soon became the target of the price aggregators and the large and now very rich comparison sites, who started to offer online insurance comparisons using broker panels in 2009, which rapidly became popular with small business.

The large composite commercial insurers were forced to respond and last year released a string of autoquote products into the Internet channel including packages for shops, offices, pubs, commercial let property, tradesman, professionals and commercial liability to name just a few.

The fact that it is nigh on impossible to watch television for more than an hour or two today, without seeing an advert for a builders public liability and tools policy from a dotcom is proof that the Internet has finally arrived as a commercial insurance distribution channel.

Restaurant Insurance – Current Market For Commercial Insurance Favors Restaurant Owners

The insurance industry enjoyed record profits of $60 billion less than two years ago. In the wake of these prodigious returns, the commercial insurance market was flooded with hundreds of millions of dollars worth of capital. This created an increase in the amount of carriers, as well as a greater capacity to take on risk. Ultimately, the influx of capital into the insurance market has resulted in an insurance environment that is extremely soft, with prices falling quickly. For restaurant owners who approach this soft commercial insurance market correctly, some of the largest premium decreases in years are available.

To understand why such attractive premiums are out there, understand a couple points:

First, insurance pricing is cyclical. The inflated prices simply cannot be maintained in the new commercial insurance environment of 2008. A major reason for this is that most commercial insurance companies are public companies. Thus, their shareholders demand growth. In order to grow, prices must be reduced to entice new clients and retain current ones. In addition, insurance carriers must enter new areas that they have no been active in historically. These carriers are then forced to write new lines of the coverage for industry segments like foodservice, hospitality, and franchise programs.

The second point to understanding the reason for the availability of lower premiums is that in the world of commercial insurance foodservice and hospitality is a niche area. Consequently, there is a limited amount of insurance carriers competing against one another to write a restaurant insurance account when the market is stable or hard. Now consider the reality of 2007 and 2008. You may have found that the number of carriers seeking your business doubled. The impact of this insurance market on niche industry segments like foodservice and hospitality can be exponentially greater than what is happening in the standard insurance market. This large supply increase as demand stays static leads to the falling prices that restaurant owners are now finding.

Why is it that buyers are usually the last people to realize the state of the commercial insurance market? Most policies only get renewed one time each year. The can lead to an information gap because the reality is that buyers rely on their brokers to let them know this critical information about the direction in which the market is headed. With markets shifting course substantially, and quickly, insurance buyers sometimes are not made cognizant of the shift until nearly a year later.

Furthermore, select industry groups, brokerage houses, and insurance carriers themselves usually are the ones formulating reports about the insurance industry. Oftentimes, these reports can lag six months behind. Rarely do they portray a precise picture of the current environment in the market. However, consumer expectations are driven by these reports. Many large companies who settled for a 10% pricing reduction will find out later than they could have gotten reductions of 25-30% instead.

There is no doubt that this inefficiency is the Achilles’ hell of the commercial insurance industry, especially at a time when the industry seems to be cannibalizing itself. For foodservice and hospitality companies it is also a situation that should be taken advantage of, especially in light of the fact that it will eventually swing the other way.

While we are currently in a buyer’s market, do not allow yourself to become careless when it comes to risk management. You can keep your insurance expenses at levels 25-40% lower than your competition by paying close attention to details and working with an expert. Controlling the basic elements of your risk will allow you to enjoy the benefits available in the market regardless of what cycle it is in.

Here are three additional questions you should be asking that your broker might not be answering adequately, or at all:

1) What is my renewal strategy? Keep in mind that you want to work the commercial insurance cycle, not the other way around. In soft markets, it is sensible to cancel a current policy in an effort to capitalize on lower rates. However, when the market hardens, you may want to negotiate 18-month or multiyear rate terms. You have the potential to reduce your restaurant insurance costs by 20-40% over a five-year period simply by paying close to attention to insurance cycles and acting appropriately.

2) Am I overinsured? You have little to no chance of losing every building you insure in any one single event. However, some people continue to purchase coverage for that very unlikely occurrence. If you have ten $1 million buildings in a state, you do not need a $10 million insurance policy. This is wasted coverage and can be extraordinarily costly, especially in a hard market. Your broker should run a Probable Maximum Loss to determine what the appropriate loss limit should be. Depending what your locations are, you realize that you only need between a $2-$3 million policy to cover the $10 million in buildings.

3) How can I effectively manage my loss history? A good broker will assist you in this endeavor, but most do not even mention it. Understand that your insurance losses stick with you for five years, regardless of whether you have two locations or 1,000 locations. Commercial insurance companies use these past losses to help them predict what your future losses may be. This can have a tremendous effect on your insurance prices. If you are like most companies, you have limited knowledge of the details behind the insurance companies’ loss runs. In essence, you are still being charged for a claim that occurred three or four years prior. Have them audited to be sure that details and numbers are accurate.

One point that cannot be overstressed is the importance of choosing the right broker to partner with. Unfortunately, most brokers simply do not handle enough restaurant insurance claims to maintain up-to-date knowledge on the insurance market for the industry. Obviously, the firm you partner with must understand your business, but you need to also be confident that they also are competent in understanding the environment and knowing the markets.

Keep in mind that these people are your representatives. You should choose them as meticulously as you would choose your legal representation. Try not to be a firm’s lone client, but also make sure that you are not a “small fish in a big pond.” A great broker will keep you ahead of your competition, keep you safe, and ultimately add to your bottom line.

You should also make every effort to meet your insurance carriers. Have a relationship with them, in addition to your broker. The carriers need to know you and understand what expectations you have. Not to mention, being on a first name basis will be a big help if you ever need a favor; inevitably you will at some point.

Finally, make sure you are maintaining open dialogue with both consultants and internal employees regarding customer-and-employee injury issues. You have to be tough on claims; but remember that communicating proactively and listening empathetically can turn cut fingers and strained backs into loyal employees and lifetime customers.