Endorsements matter!

As the business world tries to “commoditize” insurance, there are more and more opportunities to differentiate and stand out.  All risks are not created the same and you need to look a little deeper in those “contracts” you are selling (Yes, we are ultimately non-lawyers selling contracts).  Different industries have different exposures and what may be a “hot” issue for one class of business, may not be for another.

 

One of the industries we specialize in is the Records Storage Industry.  This class of business was a natural off shoot of our messenger and courier program since a number of the clients we write, are in both areas of the industry.  One of the unique exposures of the records storage industry is the potential amount of time it takes to “recover” from a significant loss (Keep in mind that specific to this industry is a pricing structure where storage facility makes so much per box stored).  Take the scenario of a records storage warehouse having a large fire.  It will take time to do the debris removal, set up and operate a temporary location and rebuild the warehouse.  All this is similar to other types of businesses.  What is different is that the 10,000 boxes of records you had stored (that were lost in the fire) do not “instantly” show up when the warehouse is rebuilt and ready to open.  In fact, it can take years to amass those 10,000 boxes of records and have the same “revenue stream” that you had prior to the fire.  Many carriers that will write record storage firms offer extended period of recovery of up to 18 months, which most of the time is insufficient to protect these type of firm and leave the insured in a precarious position.  Offering an option for longer extended period of recovery will help the client cover the deficit they will have till they accumulate more boxes of records.  We were able to negotiate an extended period of recover of 3 years in our program.

 

It never hurts to ask if an endorsement can be modified or deleted (bought back).  The worst thing the carrier can say is no.  If you are able to get that enhanced or modified endorsement are you then adding value to your services to the insured?  YES!!!  Helps you to keep accounts too when you can point out enhancements to the coverage when going up against competing quotes.  Many times it is worth taking the time to find out what the “pain” is in their current program and what keeps them up at night.

Advertisements

Top 8 Reasons We Can’t Quote Your Submission

Every day we receive new business submissions from agents.  We love seeing new accounts come across that we can delve into!  Some agents really know their stuff and get us fully completed apps with all the extra bells and whistles needed for that spectacular submission.  But many times we, as brokers, find the submissions fall short and we have to go back and forth to get all the necessary information that wasn’t provided. Perhaps you have to do that, too, with your insureds.  We know how tough it can be!   It ends up being time consuming for all involved.

So, in order to form a more perfect union between us, here’s a list of reasons we normally find we can’t quote your submission:

  1. There is no Insured name on the application. Trust me, knowing the name of the insured you are going to write insurance for is important.  I know sometimes it seems we are mind readers but our clairvoyance doesn’t always extend to Insureds.
  2. The address is missing. Do they not have any address at all?  Are they living and working in their parent’s basement and are afraid to tell anyone? If that’s true, we still need their parent’s address.  I promise we won’t call their mom.
  3. Sales or receipts information is absent or just a guesstimate. It’s kind of important to give us that information so the account can be rated properly.  Also, there’s a big difference between $100,000 and $1,000,000 in receipts.  That extra zero can do a lot.
  4. The class codes are non-existent on the application. Yet another important piece of the rating puzzle.  Those codes give our carriers a better understanding of what the liability exposure is.  It also helps them determine the premium and any necessary exclusions.
  5. There is a bad explanation of the risk. Or no explanation of the risk.  We really do want to know what the insured is doing!  Plus sometimes the explanation helps solidify the class code to use, as there may be something that’s outside the norm.  If the company has a website that’s the most helpful – make sure you put that down!
  6. Property apps don’t have any pertinent information. You can’t just write down the address and hope for the best.  We have to know the year built and when the last updates were on ALL things (plumbing, electrical, roofing, etc.).  Is it a single home or a duplex?  A vacant building or a warehouse?  These are the questions that keep us up late at night.
  7. The loss history hasn’t been included. I would LOVE to just take the insured’s word that they have never had a loss.  Unfortunately, we need proof in this business. And please, please, send loss runs that have just been run within the last 30-60 days.  We can’t hope that those loss runs you received in 2014 are still the same today.
  8. Expiring and Target premium hasn’t been advised. Nobody likes to spin their wheels, getting nowhere after a lot of hard work.  If we know the insured’s expiring premium and what number we need to work at being at or under, then we have a better chance of getting you a quote that your insured will like.

When it comes down to it, we’re here to help you give your insured the best coverage for the best price.  I know it may seem like we’re grumbling about these submissions, but it’s only so we can offer you our best.  We want you and your insured to be happy!

cathyCathy Thurber has over 10 years’ experience in the insurance industry and likes to think she’s learned a few things along the way, one of which being to not take herself too seriously.  She would love to say she has as many cool expertise’s as her fellow blogger, Ken Kukral, but she’s just not as old as him.  Cathy is a voracious reader and a total word nerd.  Most importantly, she’s been married to her favorite person for almost twenty years and has two kids that she actually likes.  However, the dog is her favorite child and she’s been wheedling for a cat for years.  Perhaps this is the lucky year?

Time to read the ISO Manual again…

When I started in the insurance business some 30 years ago, I began as an underwriter.  This meant I needed to learn the “rules” and how to do rating if I was ever going to put out a quote.  As a wholesale broker I needed to figure out pricing, terms and how to sell the underwriter on accounts that were “submit”.  I always felt I needed to know a significant amount of information if I was going to have the “upper hand” with both carriers and clients.  This was my basis of eventually becoming a “coverage guy”.

Part of my initial training was reading and understanding specific sections of the ISO Commercial Lines Manual.  Without this, I wouldn’t have the necessary foundation of which to build on and understand the technicalities of this business.  I can’t tell you how many times I searched through the classification tables in order to find the most appropriate classification for an account.  There was not always one, so I needed to find the most appropriate one and then convince the underwriter to use that classification.  There were many times that there were additional “rules” associated with a classification and I needed to know how that impacted the account.

Some of the areas that were the most important were the following:

  • Minimum state payrolls. Each state has their own minimum owner payroll and many carriers had modifications to that.  A mistake here could result in a mid-term endorsement increasing the payroll and the agent and insured would certainly NOT be happy.
  • Premium basis. Understanding what each type of premium basis is and what was included was important.  Knowing if it was “each”, per $100 or per $1,000 could make all the difference in rating up the account.  A mistake here could result in a premium 10 times too high or too low.  Carriers also had modification to this such as contractors where they might rate per employee instead of payroll.
  • Details of what was included in payroll. Should executive payroll be included?  Clerical payroll?  Salesmen payroll?  Overtime or holiday double time?  Other forms of remuneration?  Knowing the rules here could help significantly reduce the premium basis and subsequently the premium.  This could mean the difference between writing an account or just narrowly missing it.  Since carriers allow for up to three years to audit an account, you can go back that many years and possibly get significant return premiums by properly applying the rules.  Do not assume the auditor knows all the rules.  You may also want to “school” your client on these rules so they properly keep track of proper payroll and do not have any surprises at audit time.  Also make sure your carriers do not have any modifications to these rules.  Know what Rule 24 is?  A clue, it gives many of the important payroll rules.  When you get bored one day, do an internet search or e-mail me and I will send you a copy.
  • Square footage. There are a few quirks here too.  Sometimes carriers base their premium basis on “customer accessible” square footage.  Calculating this out can sometimes make a significant difference.  I have also found that relying on county property records can be an issue.  The county property records may not have included a recent addition or change and will be picked up when the carrier inspects the property.
  • Additional insured endorsements. In over 90 percent of requests we receive to add additional insured’s, we are NOT given the specific endorsement that should be added.  This begs the question, if the wrong one is used, whose fault is it?  All requests for additional insured status should give what endorsement form number to be used, when it is to be effective, the interest of the party looking to be added as additional insured and any other specifications that are needed.  Using the wrong additional insured could even cost your client a bid for a job if they catch this detail and reject their bid, no fault of their own.  Keep in mind that certain additional insured endorsements are “free” and some may incur a charge per additional insured.  Talk to your client up front about how many they expect so you know if you should pursue a blanket additional insured or not.
  • Rule 85 – Know what this is? This the rule that defines the criteria for a specific risk on if the fire rate will be specifically rated or class rated.  A good risk is eligible to be rated after ISO inspects it and takes into account all fire protections.  This can make a risk come in with a much lower rate than if it was class rated.  You need to check the effective date of the rating and check with your customer to see if any changes were made since that time that would improve the fire rating.
  • Debits or credits – The ISO manual defines what the potential credits are bases on certain criteria. Of course carriers may have their own criteria that supersede this criteria so also know the modifications your carriers make and your authority to use this debits or credits.
  • Package credits – Who doesn’t like credits. There is a wide range of package credits based on classification.  Your carriers may also have modifications to these.
  • Deductible credits – Does your client have a higher tolerance to retaining risk? If so, you can quickly figure out how much they might save by going to higher deductibles.
  • Construction definitions – Questions on masonry versus masonry non-combustible? Definitions are here so you can properly determine the proper construction class.
  • Changes – ISO goes out of their way to discuss changes being made to classifications, rules or forms. You need to read and understand the changes so then when your clients ask about them, you are on top of them.  This is especially true if there is a reduction in coverage.  Keep in mind that carriers do not immediately accept changes and you need to watch for their adoption date.
  • Exception pages. There are always exceptions.  Many do not apply to what you are doing, but you need to make sure if they do.

While reading the ISO manual may not be an exciting read, it could help you out in writing business.  Knowing the rules will help you to use them to your advantage and show your client that you understand the minutia of your business so they don’t have to.  How much would your client love you if you were able to get them a return premium from the policy they previous wrote with another agent?  Think helping them out would help solidify the new relationship?  Just like in golf, it is important to know the rules so you can use them to your advantage.   Happy reading….

Ken KukralKenneth Kukral, CIC – VP of Special Risks – That means, call me if you need help on placing a unique, difficult, large or more complex risk. Kennethkukral@intlxs.com  800-937-3497 ext 2079

Should Ohio Agents Be asking about their client’s workers compensation?

By Ken Kukral

Being a monopolistic state (no private carriers allowed to write in Ohio), most agents have completely ignored discussing workers compensation with their clients.  Is this wise?  I do not hear about any movement to take Ohio to a competitive workers compensation state, but that does not mean you should completely ignore this aspect of your clients risk profile.  Some things to think about:

 

  • Most likely you have discussed group rated workers compensation with your client and have placed them in one of these programs. Did you realize that not all group rated WC programs offer the same amount of discounts?  Have you researched other programs to see what might be best for them?
  • Did you know that high deductible programs are available within the Ohio Workers Compensation Program? If your client is looking to control losses and costs of coverage, this may be an option you want to explore.
  • Did you know that “retro” programs are available through the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation? A more sophisticated client may want to explore how this option can control their losses and costs over the long run.
  • If your client is over 500 employees, have you explores self-insuring for WC? (Including and excess WC policy). This is only for larger insured’s, but is a very viable option to control their WC cost for the long run.
  • Does your Ohio insured ever have employees that go outside Ohio? In the past an endorsement was offered by the OH BWC but a number of states may not be willing to accept this as “valid” coverage.  Here is a document that lists what states “recognize” this coverage:  http://www.ohiopia.com/Uploads/Documents/Advocacy/BWC_OSC_Reciporocal_Exempt_Statutes.pdf  Since March 1, 2016 you can now purchase “All other States coverage” through the OH BWC.  If they have locations in other states you would not need this, but just about every insured I know of does some traveling outside Ohio.
  • Do they have stop gap liability coverage? I am running into more accounts that do not have the coverage on their policy and have a significant coverage gap.  While exposure for intentional torts has lessened, there are still the other gaps (action over claims, compensatory damages and dual capacity claims) and clients need the coverage.
  • Does your client travel internationally on business? If so, then you should look at an international package which provides voluntary employers liability.  There are so many other lines of coverage provided in these policies that it is super cost effective and should be discussed with a client.
  • What about loss control and risk management in the workers compensation area? What difference does it make since you aren’t writing coverage in this area?   First of all if a client’s loss ratio goes up they could be dropped from their group rated WC program.  This can bring about a shocking premium increase.  Secondly, wouldn’t this help differentiate you from other agents?  If you or a trusted vendor could provide these services at a reasonable cost, wouldn’t this help tie you more to a client?  Also, isn’t WC a portion of your clients overall cost of risk (Premiums, deductible portions of losses and uncovered losses)?  It is still money going out of your clients pockets and anything you can do to help control those costs is ultimately helping your client.
  • Is your client less likely to go to another agent when they do expand outside Ohio? If you have been involved with the WC for your client, it is just natural they will contact you rather than looking for another agent in the new territory.
  • Can WC claims lead to EPLI claims? Getting an injured employee back to work is important and the risk of a separation of employment (wrongful termination) increases the longer they are out.
  • What about OSHA compliance? OSHA fines are not covered by insurance and could hurt your client’s bank account, not to mention their image and reputation.  Same with exposure to VSSR (Violation of Specific Safety Requirements) claims, which can be significant.

 

Think these issues are not important to your clients?  Think again.  Helping your client with their workers compensation exposure and coverage is of great importance to them.  Be ready and involved so that if the Ohio workers compensation market goes to a competitive market, then you are already involved and helping them out in this area.

Ken KukralKenneth Kukral, CIC – VP of Special Risks – That means, call me if you need help on placing a unique, difficult, large or more complex risk. Kennethkukral@intlxs.com  800-937-3497 ext 2079

Crazy Claims

By Cathy Thurber

Have you ever had a claim come through that just made you stop and stare?  You actually have to re-read the form just to make sure you read it correctly!  There have been a couple that I’ve read through the years that just made me laugh in disbelief.  Especially the claim regarding the drunk guy that fell off his friend’s balcony while he was relieving himself….he passed out during his ablutions and toppled right over the rail!

I was perusing the internet as I sometimes do and googled ridiculous insurance claims.  Here were a few of my favorites that came up:

  • A couple vacationing in southern France filed an insurance claim for the paint on their car after it got licked off by a herd of cows.
  • While vacationing in Malaysia a couple had their clothes stolen and scattered around the jungle by a thieving band of monkeys.
  • A woman in Sri Lanka was knocked out cold by a falling coconut as she sat reading under a palm tree. Apparently this incident isn’t uncommon and apparently every year about 150 people are killed by falling coconuts.
  • A farmer in Minnesota filed a claim on his iPhone when he lost it in the rear end of a cow when he was helping with calving in the middle of the night.
  • A couple made a claim on their camera after they lost it over the side of cruise ship trying to film themselves recreating that scene in Titanic.
  • A man on vacation in Australia put in a claim on his car after a wild camel supposedly kicked in the door.

Coconuts, the unexpected killer – who knew?!?  Perhaps on your next tropical vacation you should stay away from coconut trees.  And seeing as half the claims were animal related, you may want to think twice around them, too!

cathyCathy Thurber has over 10 years’ experience in the insurance industry and likes to think she’s learned a few things along the way, one of which being to not take herself too seriously.  She would love to say she has as many cool expertise’s as her fellow blogger, Ken Kukral, but she’s just not as old as him.  Cathy is a voracious reader and a total word nerd.  Most importantly, she’s been married to her favorite person for almost twenty years and has two kids that she actually likes.  However, the dog is her favorite child and she’s been wheedling for a cat for years.  Perhaps this is the lucky year?

 

6 Reasons Freight Brokers Need Insurance

Check out our handy infographic letting you know the top 6 reasons all Freight Brokers and Freight Forwarders need insurance. Feel free to save and pass along!

freight-broker-infographic

The Top 3 Reasons You Should Be Insured On St. Patrick’s Day

Though St. Paddy’s Day came and went quickly, there’s always time to be prepared for next year! Did you or your insureds run  into any of the below incidents this past week?

Las week we celebrated one of my favorite holidays– St. Patrick’s Day!  While I’m Irish every day, it’s always fun to celebrate my “Irishness” with a special day.  There’s nothing like eating corned beef, drinking something green, and dancing to a lively Irish jig.  Plus, I got to wear my “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” shirt!

There are, however, a few reasons you and your insured need to be insured on this green holiday.  Without further ado….a drum roll and some bagpipe music, please!

  1. Someone over-indulges while at your bar. Yes, we know this is a foregone conclusion.  However, while you may be smart enough to have liquor insurance on your location, let’s think about that individual.  There’s always the DUI to consider – which, hopefully they get pulled over before they do any damage.  Your car insurance company certainly won’t like you –if you’re not dropped then expect an aggressive increase in premium!  And what if they are smart enough to leave their keys and walk home?  Then to top that off they start dancing and singing Irish tunes while stopping traffic.  Well, that’s when they’re arrested for public drunkenness.  I’m not sure that any insurance will help them at this point.
  2. Assault and battery. Listen, just because we’re all enjoying ourselves while we get our Irish on doesn’t mean that you can start acting like a complete idiot.  I know some of you will want to!  But please, I ask you to refrain from making fun of short, red-headed people.  We are not leprechauns.  We do not have a pot of gold hidden somewhere.  What we are is Irish – and that means we have a temper.  So, be prepared to be taken down at the knees and then pray that we’ll stop there.   I’m also hoping that the bar we’re in has A&B coverage because they’ll probably need it after I get through with you.
  3. Green food problems. I know….everything is green on St. Patrick’s Day, even the Chicago River!  But what if your corned beef and cabbage turns into something toxic in a patron’s stomach?  Those potatoes shouldn’t have been green, either.  Well, get out that property and casualty insurance, because you’re going to need it!  File the claim, inform the health department if it’s more than one customer, and make sure everyone on staff has already taken their food-handling course.

cathyCathy Thurber has over 10 years’ experience in the insurance industry and likes to think she’s learned a few things along the way, one of which being to not take herself too seriously.  She would love to say she has as many cool expertise’s as her fellow blogger, Ken Kukral, but she’s just not as old as him.  Cathy is a voracious reader and a total word nerd.  Most importantly, she’s been married to her favorite person for almost twenty years and has two kids that she actually likes.  However, the dog is her favorite child and she’s been wheedling for a cat for years.  Perhaps this is the lucky year?

Tips for Quicker Insurance Quote Turnaround

Let us help you get quicker turnaround for your new business submissions! Take a look at some of our hints below:

Print

Co-Workers – Your Other Dysfunctional Family

 

“Remember – as far as anyone knows, we’re a nice, normal family.”

Ah, families.  Are there any truly “functional” families left or do we all have a smattering of dysfunction in them? Even when you leave the bosom of your family you end up at work….and with the people that have become like a second family to you.  We all know they’re just as dysfunctional!

According to the internet – which never tells a lie – a dysfunctional family includes conflict and misbehavior. We get those at work somehow or another, don’t we? Conflict arises occasionally between individuals who stand firm in their beliefs.  And misbehavior?  Well, I’m not going to tell any stories here but we all know those one or two people who may be slightly inappropriate.  In a good way, of course. But hey – those dysfunctions make us interesting!  And we are definitely a fun bunch of people.  We put the “fun” in dysfunctional!

In the office space there is always someone who has all the answers.  They have a sense of perfectionism.  Follow that one up by those one or two people who have all the problems.  Nothing ever seems to go right for them.  Then we have the few people that usually try to make everyone feel better.  They like to joke around and get people to smile.  And finally there are those that are quiet and keep to themselves.  We always wonder about those people…what are they really up to?  But, each of these individuals somehow works together and creates a whole, which moves the company forward in a positive manner.  We don’t know how it happens, but it does!

One way or another these people become more than your co-workers.  They become your friends and your “other” family.  You enjoy seeing them daily.  Some may be like that drunk uncle you only want to see on Thanksgiving, but you still find a place in your heart for them.  And when people ask you why you like your job, one of your top reasons becomes “I love the people I work with.”  And who would have thought that was possible?

cathyCathy Thurber has over 10 years’ experience in the insurance industry and likes to think she’s learned a few things along the way, one of which being to not take herself too seriously.  She would love to say she has as many cool expertise’s as her fellow blogger, Ken Kukral, but she’s just not as old as him.  Cathy is a voracious reader and a total word nerd.  Most importantly, she’s been married to her favorite person for almost twenty years and has two kids that she actually likes.  However, the dog is her favorite child and she’s been wheedling for a cat for years.  Perhaps this is the lucky year?

Should I be offering my clients professional liability or cyber liability?

In a perfect world, we know the answer is yes.  We should offer them every coverage available in order to cover our potential E&O exposure, but that is not reality.  So what should you do?

Well, there is not really a way to make your client’s insurance program “airtight”, so you should discuss the GAPS in their program and ask if they want to explore an option to fill them.  Does this mean getting more applications filled out and submitting for quotes? Thank goodness, no.  Otherwise, we might do a lot more “practice quoting” than we need to.  So what should be your plan of action?

  1. You might want to come up with the top 10 insurance gaps or shortfalls in most small business insurance programs. I would put, lack of cyber insurance (network security and privacy) on that list, and depending on what type of service they provide, professional liability insurance.  Of course add higher crime limits, business interruption insurance and insufficient property limits to that list.  Keep in mind this list will evolve over time and you need to stay up to date on changes going on in the industry.
  2. Learn the markets available to you for some of these coverages and get an idea on the minimum premiums for these coverages. Cyber liability can start at $260 a year and professional liability can start as low as $750.  I think your clients may have a much higher expectation of what these coverages cost and by opening their eyes you will them to move forward with taking a serious look at potentially filling these coverage gaps.
  3. Lean more about these coverage options, especially cyber liability. Many agents are not “techies” and do not have a comfort level getting into deep discussions about this coverage.  I took a 9 hour online course to give myself the “building blocks” I needed so that anything I learned would help deepen my knowledge of this type of coverage.  There have been a large number of trade journal articles on this subject in the last few months and they will help to build a comfort level too.
  4. By looking at carrier claim examples and industry loss scenarios, you can have material to discuss with your client.  Most clients do not think it can “ever happen to them” and have not played through loss scenarios, how they would react, how long they might be out of business or how they would recover.
  5. Quick indications. There are a number of markets who have online platforms that allow you to get a quick indication with a minimum amount of information.  You may not be able to get a firm quote, but you will have something more in depth to discuss with your client.
  6. Explore tools out there that help clients realize their actual exposure. There are even some testing services that will help clients realize how “open” they actually are to claims.  There are also tools that can show the actual costs associated with a data breach and how much it would cost them based on how many records where breached.
  7. Purchase it for your own agency. It is always easier to go in with confidence if you believe in the product and carry it in your own agency.  You may be surprised on how little it costs.
  8. Don’t rely on “throw in” coverages that are in many carriers’ enhancement endorsements. A $25,000 limit will be woefully inadequate in the event of a loss.
  9. Ask more questions. Like how much data do they have on their phone, on their laptop or on jump drives?  Do they collect “personally identifiable information”?  Are they subject to specific regulatory or privacy requirements such as HIPAA or red flag rules?
  10. Start to think that these coverages should be an essential part of the client’s complete insurance program and not just an “optional coverage”. Just stating things in this manner may get your clients to start thinking more like you do and head the advice you are giving them.

 

You have to start somewhere.  You may surprise at how easy this coverage is to sell and how much clients really want and need the coverage.  One of my favorite TV shows now is CSI Cyber.  It alerts me to new and evolving exposures out there and how much the world is connected.  It surprised me that people would want to hack or destroy data but it is just a part of life any more.  Learn a little bit more about these evolving exposures every day and you will build confidence in suggesting this coverage to your clients and properly protecting them.

A list we compiled of all the professional liability exposures out there can be found at:  http://www.intlxs.com/intlxs/assets/pdfs/errors-and-omissions.pdf  Over 400 classifications!

Ken Kukral

Kenneth Kukral, CIC – VP of Special Risks – That means, call me if you need help on placing a unique, difficult, large or more complex risk. Kennethkukral@intlxs.com  800-937-3497 ext 2079