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why we need a copy of your contract to issue a certificate

why we need a copy of your contract to issue a certificate

You may feel like your insurance broker is being nosy when they ask for your contract in order to issue a certificate— but this is not the case!

Watch Benchmark’s own Rob Cohen and Peter Katkov discuss why your insurance broker might ask for a contract to issue a certificate below.  

 

why do we need to review your contract? 

A certificate of insurance (COI) is simply a form of evidence of the liability policies that our client may have. Generally, it consists of:

  • General liability
  • Auto liability
  • Workers’ compensation

We also need to know what the terms and scope of your agreement are in order to provide the best service possible.

As insurance brokers, we have a choice on the additional insured endorsements we allow. Some of these endorsements may incur additional costs. In reviewing your contract, we’re able to better understand what obligation is required of our clients and of the insurance company. 

does the certificate convey coverage? 

It’s important to note that a certificate doesn’t convey coverage. It is simply evidence that coverage exists in order to enter into the agreement. A certificate is taking an extra step to ensure that both parties are properly informed and covered during an engagement. 

why would I need a certificate of insurance?

Generally, a certificate is needed because a third party is involved. The certificate itself is evidence of coverage. It is the supporting documentation that actually transfers the rights of coverage to that third party when our clients are contractually obligated to do so.

For example, if you hired a plumber, you would want to make sure their coverage would cover any damage to your house.  Let’s say the worst-case scenario happens— Sweating pipes burn the house down. If you’re additionally insured, their insurance will cover the cost of the damage.  

homeowner contractor questions answered

We often get questions from our clients about what limitations there are with homeowners who are hiring contractors. As mentioned above, being a homeowner brings on a new set of challenges. 

For example, if a handyman is hired (lucky you, you found a handyman!), most handymen will need general liability insurance.

Another example that has been presented by clients is about employing a housekeeper. If a housekeeper is working at a house then domestic workers’ compensation would have to be added by endorsement. In general, this add-on is inexpensive, around $150 per year. This is a small price to pay to avoid a very expensive bill if injury or harm occurs while on your property. 

We answer more frequently asked questions on our FAQ page here

going the extra mile

If your broker is not performing those tasks for you and looking deeply into the requirements that are being asked of you, then they may not be doing their full job.

Just to be very clear— your broker should be going the extra mile and understanding your contracts in order to provide the best possible service. 

If your current insurance broker is not doing that, or you have questions, feel free to reach out to benchmark commercial insurance and talk to one of our trusted brokers. 

Curious to know about what happens when you do go through a commercial insurance claim? Read one of our recent blogs, describing the process and how you can protect your business.

earthquake insurance: shaken not stirred

earthquake insurance: shaken not stirred

Do You Need Earthquake Insurance?

Your home and your business are some of the largest investments you will ever make.

California is known as a hotspot for earthquakes. With multiple fault lines running through the state, it’s no wonder that earthquake insurance costs can be so pricey. In both personal and business insurance planning, it’s important to ask, “Do I need earthquake insurance?” 

Unfortunately, most business and homeowner insurance packages do not include earthquake coverage, and investing in earthquake coverage can be costly. 

Southern California, specifically, is typically at high risk for experiencing earthquakes. Earthquakes with a magnitude of 6 or greater may cause serious damage to areas that are densely populated. 

How can you begin to prepare for an earthquake before it occurs? Do you have a disaster plan ready to go? Want to improve your earthquake preparedness? Read on for more.

how much does earthquake insurance cost? 

Most homeowner and business insurance policies don’t cover earthquake damage, you will need to invest in an added layer of protection. Earthquake coverage is offered as a separate coverage option, in which you pay based on your location’s risk. If you’re in Southern California on the San Andreas fault line, your earthquake insurance costs will be much higher than if you’re in a lower risk area, far from any kind of fault line. 

The NAIC states “the deductible for earthquake insurance is usually 10%–20% of the coverage limit. For example, if your home is insured for $200,000, a 10% deductible would be $20,000.”

what isn’t covered with earthquake insurance

As we mentioned above, most homeowners insurance fails to cover earthquake damage. Earthquake insurance is recommended if you live in an area that has a high risk of experiencing an earthquake.  This coverage includes structures close to the house (i.e. a garage or shed).

As you look to invest in earthquake insurance, it’s important to understand where you may still need additional coverage.


Most items not covered under earthquake insurance, are surrounding what could occur after an earthquake occurs. For example:

  • Fires
  • Flooding
  • Vehicle damage

Damage to land is also not typically covered under your earthquake insurance. For example, if the earthquake caused a sinkhole to appear, that cost would not be covered by your earthquake insurance.

how your premium is determined

At the end of the day, your insurers determine your premium. There are a few factors that will impact your premium: 

  • Your home’s location
  • The age of your home
  • The construction of your home
  • The cost to rebuild your home
  • The deductible

How to stay protected

There are a few steps you can take to begin limiting the risk associated with earthquake damage to your business and your home, which can in turn lower your insurance premium.

earthquake survival kit

Start with an earthquake survival kit. Your office or home could be without electricity, internet, phone, water, gas, and sewage services when an earthquake hits. The American Red Cross gives a few items that should be included in your earthquake survival kit:

  • Water: A two week supply of a gallon per person
  • Food: Things that are non-perishable and easy to make
  • Flashlight
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Batteries
  • First Aid Kit
  • Any medications or medical items
  • Multi-purpose tools
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
  • Personal documents: Medication lists, medical information, address, lease or deed to your home, passports, birth certificates, insurance
  • Cell phones and chargers
  • Emergency contact information
  • Cash
  • Emergency Blanket
  • Map of the surrounding area

Inform staff and family

Host regular staff meetings to discuss how your team can stay safe during an earthquake. Be sure everyone knows to drop, cover, and hold during an earthquake and proceeding aftershocks. 

It’s important that they know that underneath furniture and against walls are likely the best places to be. Be sure to inform everyone to steer clear of windows and bookcases or large pieces of furniture. 

All frames, mirrors, and large cabinets should be anchored to their foundation. Gas appliances and water heaters should be secured with wall studs.

retrofitting your property

One of the best ways to tackle your earthquake risk is to retrofit your property. As mentioned above, it’s important to have large furniture anchored down, and secured in case an earthquake does occur. Here are a few ways to get started retrofitting your property to decrease your risk of injury during a natural disaster.

  • Bolting down bookcases, dressers, and televisions. Securing these heavy items, as well as other heavy items throughout your home can reduce property damage, and reduce the risk of injury during an earthquake.
  • Secure and brace the water heater to the dwelling frame.
  • Install automatic gas shut-off valves.

If you want to go even deeper into retrofitting your home, here are a few things you can do: 

  • Anchoring your house to the foundation through seismic bolting. 
  • Install bracing to cover cripple walls (in the space between the foundation and the floor where the crawl space is) with plywood. 

next steps

We at benchmark commercial insurance company can assist you in finding the right coverage for your specific business and personal needs. With insurance costs rising, it’s important to understand ways in which you can start to stabilize or reduce your insurance costs, read one of our recent blogs, here.

a day in the life of a benchmark broker

a day in the life of a benchmark broker

 

What does your insurance broker actually do for you? 

The daily tasks that a Benchmark insurance broker performs fall into the categories of:

  • Coverage analysis
  • Risk control
  • Hr services
  • Insure-tech

Here’s a deeper look into what the role looks like when it comes to commercial and personal insurance.

Client Communication

Like the old American proverb says, “To keep a customer demands as much skill as to win one.” 

Client communication is essential as an insurance broker in continuing a trust-filled relationship. One of the first steps a Benchmark insurance broker takes on during the day is taking client calls and emails and answering any concerns in a timely manner. 

This included us following up with any open items we need to complete underwriting or claim files. 

There are smaller questions that are easier to respond to, but sometimes a client emergency comes up, then industry advice is needed ASAP.

Client Emergencies

Benchmark insurance experienced this recently with Lyon & Associates Creative Services, Inc, who reported on their experience in a recent email describing their unfortunate “Pandemic Burglary.” 

Lyon & Associates Creative Services, Inc was out of office for three weeks during the pandemic back in March 2020. Then they fell under the healthcare communicators category and returned back to the office. 

“Our editing computers are largely empty shells, running the software alone. As a result of this structure, an early morning thief snatched all of our editing workstations.

When we reached out to our insurance broker, Carlsbad-based Benchmark Commercial Insurance, they took care of getting a claim opened with our insurer, Travelers.

Due to Benchmark’s previous good counsel, we had excellent replacement value and business interruption coverage. When the Travelers claim adjuster got in touch the same day, they had a significant starter check on the way before the weekend. 

Replacement value means exactly what it says, and then some, by the way. They covered things like the dozen new USC-C (Thunderbolt 3) to Thunderbolt 2 adapters we needed to keep our considerable investment in unstolen hard drives connected to the new computers. Of course, the claim was so well-covered that we exceeded their allowable percentage loss limit and they declined to renew our policy. (Chubb had our workers comp policy and they scooped us up with no increase in rates).” 

In any field of business, unpredictable events occur, so this can often take up time during the insurance broker’s day.  

Negotiation 

One task that generally occurs daily is negotiating with underwriters for best terms on new and renewal business quotes. 

Team Communication

Babe Ruth said “The way a team plays as a whole determines its a success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.”

Even though insurance is a tiny bit different from baseball, the same concept applies in the workforce. 

Communication within the Benchmark team is also crucial throughout the day. This can look like answering internal questions related to claims, billing, certificates, and underwriting. 

Coffee Breaks

Yes, a Benchmark insurance broker does require multiple coffee stops throughout the day— cappuccinos are preferred. 

Client Contracts

Another daily task is reviewing client contracts. The insurance world is constantly changing, so staying up-to-date is important for client communication. When reviewing client contracts, our broker will check to make sure that any insurance or indemnity-related contractual stipulations are consistent with the client’s coverage. 

This also included following up with claim adjusters on open claims on behalf of the broker’s clients and advocating on behalf of our clients to claim adjusters on difficult claims issues. 

Prospect Clients

Finding new clients that will be a match with Benchmark Commercial Insurance, and that we are a match for takes effort. Throughout the day a broker will field calls and emails from new business referrals and prospect call-ins. 

Policy Review

An insurance broker will perform policy reviews to make sure policies have been issued correctly. This includes policy reviews for prospects so they can understand how their current program integrates with the scope of their current operations, which exposes any gaps in coverage. 

A Benchmark insurance broker will also initiate, and continue to follow up on the underwriting status for all renewals 90-days in advance of the policy expiration date. 

Third-Party Communication

Keeping relationships with other companies is important to our brokers. This includes Zoom meetings with our marketing agency and promoting our excellent relationships with the underwriters who support us. 

Wondering why your insurance has skyrocketed this year? Find out the factors that might be directly impacting you on the Benchmark blog. 

How to Stabilize or Reduce Your Insurance Costs

how to stabilize or reduce your insurance costs

Insurance costs are high. There’s no denying it. If your broker didn’t reach out to forewarn you, you likely had a shock when you opened your most recent insurance bill.

Is there anything a business owner can do to reduce those high coverage costs?

Yes, let’s review some of the options.

As a commercial business, the looming year of higher premiums and the unknown can be daunting. However, there are ways to reduce your insurance costs and take proactive steps.

Pay Attention to your Risk Profile 

Your risk profile can be a collection of factors including: 

  • Who you hire
  • How many steps are in place to protect your data
  • Whether or not your employee lists are accurate for insurance
  • Your overall security precautions

These are all small factors that influence your risk profile. Keeping an eye on them can, in turn, avoid long-term costs.

HR Handbooks 

Avoiding a flood of claims helps your reputation and bottom line. Investing in Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) is crucial to protecting your business, however, it can be costly.

An HR handbook can be an active document that provides guidance for employers and employees as a way for your company to stay protected outside of EPLI insurance.

Your handbook can cover topics such as: 

  • Password Policy
  • VPNs
  • Safety Policies and Procedures
  • Intellectual Property

Evaluate Policies Annually

Policies are bound to change in the next year, so keeping a close eye on ones that pertain to commercial insurance will prevent future risk (and future costs).

As your business evolves throughout the months and years, it is important to check in with your Risk Management consultant. In addition, the landscape of legislation is ever-changing in California.

For example, Proposition 22 in California has been ruled unconstitutional, so there may be some changes in the hiring process for W-2 employees vs. 1099 workers.

Do you know why your insurance prices have increased this year? Check out our recent blog post explaining what exactly is going on.