Commercial Insurance Quotes Online Pitfalls

It is a very straight-forward process today to compare commercial insurance quotes online for virtually every type of business and trade.

There are many very fast and efficient websites operated by insurance agents, brokers, companies and comparison sites that offer quote comparisons for both liability and property cover, However when buying commercial insurance for your business online there are many not so obvious considerations and often hidden costs, that you should be aware of before you purchase.

The major problem with all online quote comparisons is that products are differentiated by price, most often with the cheapest quotes displayed first. Inevitably this will mean that quality insurance products with more cover that maybe cost a little more, will often not make the top five results displayed.

Whether you are looking to purchase liability protection or commercial property insurance for your stock, buildings and contents the most important consideration when applying for quotes is to disclose all the material facts. Many policy contracts can later be deemed null and void because a business owner was not one hundred percent truthful when applying for quotes.

If you fail for example, to declare the full value of your buildings in an attempt to reduce the premium prices quoted, in the event of a claim for an insured loss, your settlement figure will be reduced by the insurer proportionally to the amount of under-insurance, invoking what is known as the average clause.

Another example is a failure to declare all your staff including part-time staff for liability cover purposes.

it is also equally important when comparing policies by price quoted, to compare the actual covers offered by these policies. Invariably there will be differences in the levels of indemnity for loss, sums insured and additional covers offered.

Likewise each commercial insurance company will also tend to have its own levels of voluntary and policy excess, set to attract or deter certain types of business.

Compare policy wordings and keyfacts documents so that you fully understand the levels of cover offered by each of the quotes, before you buy.

Avoid paying for additional covers that you do not need. For example, new businesses in their first year would not be able to claim on a business interruption section of a policy for loss of profits, as there is no trading history. Similarly businesses that do not give advice have no requirement for professional indemnity insurance which may be included in some all risks packaged polices.

Other hidden costs to be aware of, are companies offering monthly payments or credit facilities at high interest rates. Beware sites that do not display the monthly premium breakdown at quote stage for those wishing to pay by monthly debit.

Before purchasing or even obtaining quotes, you should check that the provider is regulated and authorised to conduct commercial insurance business.
For example in the UK the site should display an FSA registration number, which shows the site is covered by the Financial Services Authority compensation scheme, should things go wrong.

The Different Types Of Commercial Insurance Brokers

To the average man or woman on the street, the world in which commercial insurance brokers live and operate will be little more than a mystery. The field of insurance in general is still barely understood by laymen and women, and with commercial insurance being one of its most specialised branches, this effect is felt several-fold.

Few people seeking to take out this type of insurance will be aware, for instance, that there are several types of commercial insurance brokers on the market, each with its own specific ways to operate, strengths and limitations. At best, most of these men and women will be aware of the existence of the main, larger insurance companies, with the countless smaller operators being known to only a minuscule portion of the overall demographic, mostly through research or word of mouth. Yet, on occasion, these alternative types of commercial insurance brokers may actually be more suited for what an individual or business is after than the more ‘mainstream’ alternatives; it is with that in mind that the present article seeks to introduce prospective clients to the different types of commercial insurance companies available, so that they may assess which will best suit their specific situation.

Insurer-Owned Brokers

Insurer-owned companies are perhaps the most widespread and prolific sub-section of the commercial insurance market, and many of the most popular and best-known commercial insurance brokers fall under this category. As the name indicates, these outfits are owned by large insurance companies, who typically dictate their standards and practices. In certain countries, this model was considered the industry standard for commercial brokers for decades; it has, however, recently begun to lose ground, as the effectiveness of these types of outfits began to dwindle. Nowadays, many experts make a case for the model being outdated, and it is predicted that insurer-owned commercial insurance brokers will continue to lose market space in years to come.

Broker Networks

Broker networks comprise several small commercial insurance brokers, all of which share resources, assets and market opportunities between them. In its ideal form, this is considered to be a beneficial model for companies that choose to join one of these networks, with many of them advertising better commissions for individual brokers and service conditions for the companies as a whole; however, adhesion to this type of network remains uneven between countries.

Consolidated Brokers

Consolidated commercial insurance brokers result from one company assimilating, buying out or otherwise consolidating any number of smaller ones, in similar fashion to a corporate merger. At one point, these types of companies were the most common type of commercial insurance brokers in certain markets, with consolidations happening as frequently as once a week. The practice has significantly lost steam since then, however, mainly due to the fact that the exact benefits to be reaped from consolidation processes are not always clear. This has caused many brokers to sour on the practice, and much like insurer-owner brokers, it is thought that this type of brokerage firm may lose even more ground in years to come.

Independent Brokers

The fourth and final type of brokerage firm are independent brokers, that is, brokers which are not associated with either of the three types described earlier in this article. These tend to be smaller, often family or owner-run companies, with smaller and more personalised client bases, and frequently focused on more specialised or less explored areas of the field. Customers resorting to an independent broker can expect a more personalised service, with a higher rate of face-to-face interactions and more time devoted to each case. This type of company is less prevalent in the modern landscape than any of the previously listed ones, but there are still a few independent commercial insurance brokers left, and they tend to attract a small yet loyal customer base.

These are, in broad strokes, the main types of commercial insurance brokers available to customers. It is, therefore, up to each individual to work out which business configuration would be most suitable to their specific needs, in order to avoid disappointment down the road.

Choosing A Commercial Insurance Policy

Choosing the correct commercial insurance for your business needs can be daunting enough even for a seasoned businessman or negotiator. For a start-up enterprise ensuring that the business has full and proper protection against all risks, it is an even larger minefield.

There are however some basic rules of insurance, which if born in mind while looking for the right commercial policy, will ensure that the enterprise is neither under or over insured and has the necessary cover in force.

For a commercial insurance contract to be valid the proposer must have what is known in the industry as ‘an insurable interest’ in the object of the cover. This immediately helps define the type of property insurance policy that a businessman might require.

The business risks to be insured under the policy are not the physical object themselves but the financial value of such, which is defined as the interest that a policyholder has in the objects should they suffer loss if the insured risks occur.

Clearly then the type of policy that a business will require depends upon whether the proposer is the owner of the commercial property, or a leaseholder or tenant.

An owner of a commercial premises who lets or leases a building, no matter the type of business activities that may be pursued there, would only have an interest in the buildings fixtures and fittings of the property concerned and any liabilities to the public that may arise from these.

A lease-holders interest in the buildings may be dependent upon contract of lease and should be checked thoroughly with the agreement. Often a contract will make it the responsibility of the lessee to provide cover for the lease term.

Owner occupiers of commercial premises will have a financial interest in both the buildings and contents of the property and will require insurance for both.

Rented commercial property buildings cover is not usually the concern of the tenant who will only have an insurable interest in any contents of the building and in any improvements that they may have made to the property in order to carry out business.

Before getting any commercial property insurance quotes it is necessary for the businessman to calculate the values of all the buildings, contents and stock. Buildings value should be based upon the rebuilding costs following a total loss and allowing for inflation. Accurate annual turnover figures will be required for contents insurance. If high value stock items are kept at the property, then the value of these should be determined individually.

Applying for commercial insurance quotes online might only take a minute or two to complete, however the preparation needed to obtain accurate data to supply to the insurance company could take a lot longer. It is unlikely that even the small businessman has calculated the value of his office contents for replacement purposes.

Ensuring that the information you supply on a commercial insurance proposal form is correct, is not only legally required, but is essential if you wish to avoid problems if a claim has to made at a future date. Problems can quickly arise with disagreements over the value of stock or office equipment values following a major loss, especially where the declared values are not sufficient and an average or proportional reduction to a claim is imposed.

Having established any property risks that a commercial enterprise may be exposed to it is then necessary to look at all the potentialities and risks that the business might be liable for, in the course of carrying out its commercial activities.

Liability insurance is essential for all enterprises, large or small.

Public liability insurance protects the business against any claims from the public for loss or damage suffered, for which the business could be held liable. Employers liability, a type of workers compensation insurance, protects a business against being sued by its employees and is a legal requirement.

Most commercial liability insurance is sold by trade or professional type with risks and covers that are specific to that business type. Additional liability insurance such as professional indemnity insurance which covers professionals against negligent advice or product liability for shops providing goods, are examples of such.

Buying a combined tradesman or professional service stand-alone liability product is today a simple process using one of the many liability insurance comparison websites that exist online.

It is possible to buy commercial insurance for both liability and property combined for any type of business, under what is called a ‘combined commercial insurance policy’. This type of flexible contract allows specific risks to be added and limits of indemnity chosen and is often known as ‘all risks’ cover.

For specific types of commercial insurance risks such as shops and offices, where property values and liability cover can be easily assessed, it is now possible to compare many covers and buy online what are known as packaged policies.

The Internet offers many full ‘all risks’ commercial insurance policies covering every eventuality and consequential loss, which are available from online insurance brokers, comparison sites and direct from commercial insurance companies themselves. If you have any doubts about the necessary cover for your particular business it is advisable to consult a commercial insurance broker who will offer advice and the latest market information.