Monday, April 28, 2014

Contractors Insurance Quotes and Getting the Most From Them

In respects to contractors shopping for contractors insurance there are two type of contractors, what I like to call knowledgeable and learning contractors. The knowledgeable contractors tend to have some years of experience in searching out their contractors insurance policies while the learning contractors tend to be within their first couple years of business. The knowledgeable contractors get right to the point giving their agents precise information and looking for exact figures of coverage which ultimately makes them easier to work with while the learning contractor can be difficult to be able to cover properly. Insurance is a language that some find hard to understand so the learning contractors don't seem to articulate their needs very well to their insurance brokers which leaves room for errors. As insurance brokers, part of our job is making sure to protect our contractors to the best of our ability and to help educate them as to what insurance might best be suited for their particular needs. For this to happen, both the contractor and the Insurance Agent need to be on the same page. Here I will go into some of the key points that I feel will help contractors find the best insurance quotes available from their Agent or broker.
First you will need to get an idea of what you are looking to insure. All contractors insurance policies are not the same. A painting contractor in Oregon might not require the same type of insurance policy as a General contractor would in California. Stop and ask yourself what it is exactly that you do. Think about what could go wrong in your operations. Find out if your state has construction defect laws that directly affect your type of work. Contact your state or local licensing agency to find out about any warranty that they require of your products after installation. If you find any, you would want to have an insurance policy that offers that coverage without excessive limitations.
Know your limits of insurance. This is different for everyone but a good place to start is to look around you and mentally add up everything you are worth. Then, take that as the starting figure and don't insure yourself for anything less. It wouldn't make sense to be worth a million dollars and be insured for only fifty thousand. I hear all the time that my clients only want their contractors liability insurance to be $10,000 since their project cost is only $10,000 but they fail to understand that the project cost doesn't dictate the cost of a claim and a $100 job could cause $500,000 in damages.
Don't be shy about telling your insurance agent everything. Remember, we as insurance agents work for you. We are here to make sure that you get insured for what you are doing. If you don't communicate to us what you need, then we won't know to provide it for you.
Make sure your broker is working with your best interest in mind. Insurance agents are like anyone else and can get lazy. Make sure you get the most competitive insurance quotes possible. Ask to get comparison quotes so that you know they are really shopping around for you and not just handing you the first quote they get back. Ask your agent what kind of experience in contractors insurance they have. Unless they specialize in contractors insurance, it might be a good idea to look for someone who does so that you know that your particular needs are understood. Ask if the quote comes with any added features such as free additional insured certificates, free waivers of subrogation etc. I have heard clients tell stories about their prior insurance agents charging them for regular certificates of insurance and because it was not placed on the proposal the insured signed, they could do nothing about it. Lastly, ask for different payment options. Along with the old pay in full option, most carriers allow for payments to be made throughout the year which lessens the financial burden for contractors insurance policies.
Being a knowledgeable contractor looking for insurance will ultimately save you money and possible coverage headaches in the future. Just by taking a little time to do some research on your local construction requirements can head off many costly problems down the road and helps build the confidence to ask your insurance agent for exactly what you need. Understanding contractors insurance is like learning a new language and may seem a bit intimidating but don't fret, your insurance agent or broker is there to help you along the way. Don't be afraid to call and ask whatever questions you may have, after all, that's part of what you're paying for.

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

General Liability Insurance For Contractors - 4 Tips to Avoid Coverage Surprises

General liability insurance is one of the first types of policies you will need if you are starting a new business. At Clinard Insurance we are seeing many new small business startups.  Starting your own company is popular these days with the layoffs we are seeing in our economy. The best choice is often to pursue something that you love doing and so we are seeing lots of people starting new businesses around their building skills. But just because you love to build things doesn't mean you know the best way to protect yourself and your company from lawsuits.
Here are some tips for pitfalls that you should avoid when buying general liability insurance.
Choosing the right agent. The first place people generally go for their business insurance is the insurance agency that handles their home and auto insurance. In some cases this will work out well. But the risk is that your current agent may be licensed to sell you general liability insurance on your new company while really possessing very little experience in evaluating the hazards and risks of your specific type of company. I would suggest that you go out there and look for an agent that specializes in insuring other small businesses like yours. Ask your competitors who they used. At Clinard Insurance we have a niche specialty in small contractors and we speak their language and understand their needs. If your agent doesn't specialize in your business, I suggest you find one who does.
Claims Made or Occurrence Policy Type: Construction claims made policies became popular in the mid 1980's and have been around ever since. The promise of these policies were lower rates, but at what long-term damage? In some instances there is no cost savings. Claims made polices for a contractor are the worst possible policy you can buy. Let me explain: Claims made policies allow you to make claim on your policy only during the year they are in force. Contractors have claims down the road, not always just in the same year as the project is built!  Also, if you want to leave that company and go to another company, you will have to purchase additional insurance to cover you for the next 10 years... that's right, 10 years! Why? Because the law allows customers to file a lawsuit for construction problems for up to 10 years after the project was completed.
An Example:
You build a new room addition, everything goes well and you and your customer are very happy with the final outcome... 4 years later your customer calls you and says that the roof is leaking and water came in the house and ruined his new $25,000 grand piano. He expects you to repair the roof, the drywall, wallpaper, carpets and, of course, replace the grand piano....
A claims made policy will not allow you file a claim 4 years later unless you stayed with that same company the whole time. If you intend to change companies after you have had a claims made policy, you must make a decision. If you want to have protection for any claims that have not occurred yet, but will in the future, you will have to purchase "tail" coverage. This coverage will extend the time in which you can file a claim. And tail coverage is not cheap. 
If you decide not to buy the "tail" you will not be able to report a claim against the claims made policy. And to make matters worse, some companies do not offer the 10 year extension.
So.... When your claims made policy comes up for renewal, you must decide: 
  • Do I leave the company and pay the additional insurance for coverage for the next 10 years, or go without protection.
  • Do I stay with the same company? Their prices on the new year may stay the same or go up sharply.
  • Do I switch to another company who has better rates and coverages?
This limits the marketplace available to you, and makes it harder to accept a better bid from another insurance company. Claims made policies may work in other industries, but for Contractors they are a disaster. Take time after reading this report to see if your current policy is either an occurrence form or a claims made form.....
Insurance Company Rating It is up to you to do the due diligence and ask your agent about the financial health of the company from whom you are buying your general liability insurance. As the previous tip implied, sometimes the claims may be very much delayed and you need to know that your company can pay a claim for you 10 years from now. Use only A rated or higher insurance companies to protect your business.
Exclusions, Understand Them Clearly   Be sure to take the time to ask your agent about the policy exclusions and what they may mean for you. Here are some exclusions that contractors should consider when purchasing a general liability insurance policy:
Pesticide, Herbicide and Fungicide Exclusion, Employment Practices Liability Exclusion, X.C.U exclusion, Contractors Warranty Exclusion, Professional Liability Exclusion, Asbestos, Independent Contractors. If you don't know exactly what these mean for you on your policy, contact your agent and get the help you need to understand it clearly. This may change the way you run your business.
Subcontractors   Be sure that you understand just how your policy treats subcontractors. Are you covered if they have no insurance or not enough for the loss?  How much coverage should you require of your subcontractors? How often should you obtain certificates of insurance? How can you be sure that the certificate of insurance is legitimate. (I have seen fraudulent certs for sale on eBay before). If you are not clear about the answers to these questions vis-à-vis your business and your general liability policy, you should call your agent right away and get the answers you need to sleep well at night.
As you can see buying general liability insurance is not a simple as calling your agent and asking for a quote. You need an experienced professional that understands the policy forms and your business.

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Monday, April 21, 2014

4 Things Contractors Should Know About Contractors Insurance

Any company involved in construction work, building maintenance or installation and repair services is in need of contractors insurance. Contractors will be ill-advised to forego contractor insurance in a climate of high crime statistics, unpredictable weather conditions, negligent workers, faulty equipment, defective materials and a million and one other thing that can go wrong in the contracting business.
There is also an ever-growing propensity to be held responsible and accountable for damages caused to third parties. Think about it this way: Insurance premiums cost a mere fraction of stolen materials, damaged projects or compensating clients or third parties for losses incurred through the negligence of workers or the forces of nature beyond anyone's control. By having the prudence and foresight to take out builders' insurance, contracting businesses are safeguarding themselves against possible losses and lawsuits that could end up by severely crippling the company financially or, in the worst case scenario, even bankrupting it. A contractor's policy actually costs very little in terms of premiums and is worth its weight in gold.
The basics of builder's insurance
1. Builders' Risk Coverage (also known as construction coverage)
Builders' risk insurance indemnifies the contractor for losses or damages to a building while the building is under construction. Insurance usually covers the building for a specific time period and applies only while the building is under construction. This type of insurance usually covers fire damage and vandalism. The policy may also include materials in transit to the building site as well as materials and equipment stored on site. Tools, equipment, vehicles, materials and any other assets used on site may also be covered. For the amount of protection it affords (and the peace of mind that goes with it) builder's risk insurance is relatively inexpensive (as against general liability insurance).
2. Insuring Materials on site and in transit
Given the cost of modern building materials, it is common practice for constructors to insure their materials either on site or while in transit. However, the onus is on builders to make sure that all reasonable precautions are in place to protect materials from theft or storm damage as much as possible. This coverage can also include materials stolen in transit due to the vehicle being hijacked while en route to the building site.
3. The most common insurance claims made by contractors
The most frequent claims made by contractors entail materials theft, damaged materials while in transit, storm damage, or surrounding properties being damaged while construction is in progress.
4. Most expensive Claims
The most costly claims most commonly filed by contractor are usually damages incurred by third parties and their properties due to the contractor's "negligence" for example, materials being blown off structures in storms or high winds and landing on nearby cars or buildings. Also damage caused to existing underground pipes or cables. Other high claims are damages caused by fire, rainwater damage to structures, lightning damage or severe storm damage. All these liabilities can be covered by an All Risks contractor's policy.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Welcome contractors

Welcome contractors and thank you for the opportunity to earn your business. We have made serving small to medium size businesses our first priority since opening our doors in 1997. Today, thousands of satisfied clients trust us with the coverage they need and rely on us for the service they want.

We earn our reputation by providing what you want and then going beyond to deliver the unexpected. Here’s what you get: First, you are handed your own dedicated support team made of licensed pros who really know construction coverage. Next, you get our fully-staffed certificate department at the ready. After that, anytime you need us you have the most highly-experienced group of specialty insurance people in the business. Wrapping it all up, you get a guarantee that puts in writing that you will continue to get this service all the time.

With us, you get the specialist in the field. The best. You usually expect to pay more for this level of service, but the people we serve happily report that our premiums are actually better. And, of course, no one else has the huge advantage of our experienced service and our written guarantee on top of it all.

Remember, with us it’s more than a slogan, we are 

Working for Contractors™.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Contractors: General Liability

Thousands of contractors save with First Service! We have special programs with low pricing and strong coverage along with first-rate service that is guaranteed.
If you prefer to call, reach us at 800-591-9692.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Informed Citizen: Renters Insurance

The premier episode of the Informed Citizen series! Justin explains the important of renters insurance and how it can save you lots of money and headache.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Tips About Discount Auto Insurance

f you have a vehicle that you plan to drive on an American highway then you have to buy auto insurance. It is illegal to drive an uninsured car on the highway and if the vehicle is financed through a bank, credit union, or any other lending facility, then you will have to have full coverage insurance.
Before you buy discount auto insurance then you need to know a few facts about insurance, the way insurance coverage works, so that you buy adequate coverage. The majority of people that buy discount auto insurance do so because they have automobiles that are completely paid for.
When you buy auto insurance you pay more for this coverage if you are a single male than if you are a single female. Married couples pay less for auto coverage than single people do. This is because married people are said to be more stable and secure than non-married people are.
Whenever you get a price quote on discount auto insurance from an online company be sure that the coverage they are offering is the same as the coverage other companies are offering. Full coverage means that should the automobile be damaged the insurance will pay to have it repaired or pay off the amount of money owed on the lien against it. Full coverage costs more than liability coverage does.
Liability Policies offered as Discount Auto Insurance
• Liability insurance is what most of the television commercials that you see advertising for you to buy auto insurance from them because of their really low prices.
• Liability coverage will keep you from getting a ticket if you are stopped by the police for a traffic violation.
• Liability insurance will pay for the damages you do to another person's vehicle if you are in an accident.
• Liability insurance coverage will pay a small amount of the medical costs of the passenger in your vehicle when you have an accident.
• Liability coverage will not pay a dime on any repairs your vehicle may require after an accident.
• Liability coverage will not pay for any damages you may suffer physically in an accident
• Liability coverage will not provide you with a rental car should you require one
• Liability coverage will not pay the lien holder any money if you total the vehicle
• If someone with no insurance, or not enough insurance were to hit your vehicle liability coverage will not pay to have the damages repaired
• The amount of liability insurance that you need varies from state to state
Be careful that you read all of the particulars concerning your coverage before you pay for the policy. Sometimes you will discover that the discount policy is not offering enough coverage. You may only be paying nine dollars a month, but if you do not have enough coverage to make your vehicle legal to drive then you are wasting your money altogether. You will need a printer to print your own cards for proof of insurance

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