By Bart F. Higgins, Principal/Attorney

How do you make sure that your company receives competitive quotes for the type and amount of insurance coverage you requested, especially if you have to buy a surplus lines policy?

The key is to work closely with your insurance retail agent and insist that the following information is shared with you and with the wholesalers. Doing so will smooth the process while ensuring that you receive the insurance coverage you need.

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To get the process started, send a letter to your retail agent at least ninety (90) days before the expiration date of the insurance policies, asking what information they need for renewal. This allows sufficient time to prepare a complete submission of your company’s information and history (detailed below).

Step 1 – Complete Submission

Your retail insurance agent should use the standard Accord application forms, to give to the wholesaler a complete understanding/picture of your needs. A complete submission should include the following pieces of information:

  • a typewritten fully-completed application (no blanks);
  • photographs;
  • complete loss history;
  • rating information;
  • copies of safety programs and training manuals;
  • financial/ appraisal information; and
  • a cover letter describing the nature of the insured’s operation or business, the expiring policy information, the target premium and target quote date.

Step 2 – New Assets or Property

If your company has added new property or assets during the current policy period, you should timely notify your retail agent so that additional insurance coverage can be obtained. If either the retail agent or wholesaler asks you to provide values for the company’s assets, it is always wise to ask the retail agent, the wholesaler, the insurer or the appropriate appraiser/expert chosen by the insurance agents/insurer to inspect the company’s property and assets. Remind them that they have the right to inspect the property to be insured. This makes is much more difficult for the insurance agents and the insurer to claim later that the property values are not correct.

Step 3 – Other Steps to Take During the Application/Submission Process:

There are several key matters to ask your retail agent in writing, including:

  • Request an Agent of Record Letter be forwarded to you for signature by your authorized representative;
  • A complete copy of the submission at least 60 days before the renewal or policy issuance date. This request will require your retail agent/agency to check and make sure the submission is complete. It also gives you and the agent time to correct or add any additional information that the wholesaler may need before they can obtain a quote. This is standard practice in the insurance industry.
  • Copies of all acknowledgment letters from the wholesaler when they acknowledge receipt of the submission.
  • Copies of all emails and all insurance quotations that the retailer receives from a wholesaler during the placement process. You also want to ask for an actual copy of the policy forms that are a part of the insurance coverage offered in the quotation.
  • A marketing survey that compares the insurance coverage and costs from the existing policy to the quotes that have been obtained.

Remember, your insurance retail agent is acting on your behalf and will receive a sizable commission from their representation of your company. Insisting on the information outlined in this article is just the start of what you should expect from your agent. Finding competitive quotes is where they perform a valuable service.

Step 4 – Have Other Insurance Companies been Considered?

Competition between insurance companies is always beneficial to you, the potential insured. But you and your retail agent should be cautious when comparing quotes from different companies, to make sure that you are comparing apples to apples. A low quote may be compelling, but if it does not provide the coverage your company needs, then the cost savings is just not worth it.

Conclusion

Standard insurance practice is for the retail agent to provide a complete submission of your insurance needs to wholesalers more than 60 days before the end of the current policy period. Your agent should also provide you with copies of all quotes received, as well as sample policy forms and a marketing summary comparing your current coverage with the proposed coverages.

By following these steps and obtaining the information outlined in this article, you and your company will reduce the risk of a coverage dispute or potential litigation if or when a claim is submitted.

When conflict or litigation entangles your company, contact Shields Legal Group to learn more about how we may help you navigate those waters. Please visit ShieldsLegalGroup for more information.

Please note: This article is for general information purposes only and should not be considered legal advice.  You should not act on any information contained in this article without first seeking advice from your legal counsel.

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