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SHORT TERM RENTAL INSURANCE

We will discuss insurance policies for short term rentals or seasonal homes.  This can commonly be referred to as Airbnb insurance, VRBO insurance, or vacation rental insurance.

Short term rental homes are not a new phenomenon, but there has been a large increase in these as of late. This is due largely to the advent of companies like Airbnb, (Airbnb.com) and VRBO (vrbo.com). These companies make the job of leasing your home out a breeze. A lot of people don’t want to turn down the opportunity to make the extra income on their seasonal or secondary homes. If you own a home that you use as a seasonal or vacation home and also rent out, then you should make sure that your insurance policy covers you accordingly.

A lot of people don’t understand that you need to have a specific policy in place to make sure short term rental properties are covered. You need to notify your home insurance company if you move out of your home and lease it to a tenant or have it unoccupied or coverage can be denied. You also need to notify your insurance company of any changes in usage of your secondary home as well.

Most home insurance policies will exclude coverage for business pursuits on your home. This makes your standard home insurance policy inadequate for covering such losses on short term rental properties. Further, if you have a commercial policy in force, but you also use your home as secondary residence for yourself, a commercial policy won’t be sufficient coverage either. This is why you need a specialized policy that acts as sort of a personal and commercial policy hybrid.

Quite frankly, most insurance companies have yet to offer coverage for such a risk. That is just one of the reasons that a large percentage of people do not have proper insurance on their short term rental properties. Another reason is consumer education. Don’t fret though. We have multiple markets that will take on this risk and we are able to close the knowledge gap on this topic.

There are many properties that can constitute a short-term rental policy. Some of the more common types are listed below.

Common Seasonal Homes and Short Term Rental Types

  1. Beach house or condo
  2. Lake house
  3. Mountain house or cabin
  4. City condo
  5. Golf course house or condo

What coverage types should you focus on when getting a policy? There are several endorsements that should be considered. The 4 most important types coverages for short term rentals are the following:

  1. Dwelling
  2. Contents
  3. Liability
  4. Business Income

DWELLING

The dwelling is the structure you want to cover. For your home or condo to be covered it is important to make known the use of the building. Like your primary home insurance, this will cover things like fire, water losses, falling objects, lightening, wind, etc. If you use it as a vacation home and a temporary rental, this should be disclosed to your agent. Insurance companies may deny coverage even on these losses if they discover you are renting your house out, even on a short-term basis.

In many cases you can also cover detatched structures such as sheds, barns, guest houses, and garages. You want to make sure to tell your agent about these to make sure they are listed on your policy. Some policies will cover up to 10% of the primary dwelling amount. Some, but not all. You may also find that these detached structures need to be covered for more than this amount.

CONTENTS OR PERSONAL PROPERTY

These items include clothing, appliances, furniture, lawn care items, etc. It is highly recommended that you add a replacement cost endorsement to your policy so these items can be replaced instead of just receiving the depreciated actual value of them today if there is a claim. That way if you had a fire loss, you could truly replace everything with like items that are brand new.

LIABILITY

This might be the most important coverage type. If you are leasing out your home and you are sued for negligence of any kind, your liability coverage will protect you. Keep in mind you don’t even have to be at fault to get sued. Lengthy court battles can get expensive and your liability will cover these expenses. They will also cover settlements if the courts rule in favor of the plaintiff.

Do yourself a favor and choose the highest liability limit the company will offer. The cost differential is not that much and the reward for having the higher limits can be huge. Many companies will offer a limit up to $1,000,000 for liability.

BUSINESS INCOME

Sometimes referred to as loss of use coverage, business income covers expenses you would incur by not being able to rent a property due to a covered loss. For example, if you had a fire and the home had to be renovated or replaced, your business income coverage would pay for loss of rental income during this time of reconstruction. This is not always standard so be sure to ask for this if you want the coverage.

Two final recommendations.

  1. If you plan to rent out a property of any kind, you may want to consider transferring that property into a business name or LLC. This will further protect you from anyone being able to access any of your assets in your personal name. Just make certain your insurance policy is in the same name as the property owner.
  2. Consider an umbrella policy that will pick up where your underlying property policy leaves off. Again, make sure you have the correct name listed as named insured on this policy as well.

For any questions on anything discussed please feel free to give us a call at 704-494-9495. Our agents can help explain these matters to you and get you a free quote on this coverage.

AMAZON DELIVERY INSURANCE

Amazon has recently introduced Prime Now to the Charlotte, NC region. This has opened up a need for more drivers and an important insurance implication that should be carefully considered. We will focus on Amazon delivery insurance in this article.

Amazon employs independent contractors to help assist the US Postal Service and other large package delivery services like Fed Ex and UPS. Independent contractor drivers are commonly referred to as Amazon flex drivers. Amazon also uses delivery providers. For more information on this you can go to https://logistics.amazon.com/ or https://flex.amazon.com/.

Amazon has certain requirements to become a driver that vary depending on if you are considered a subcontractor or a direct employee of a delivery provider. Some of the main requirements are shown below for each.

Delivery Provider

  1. A cargo van with at least 300 cubic feet of cargo space
  2. Complete a safety and driver training course
  3. Wear a uniform
  4. Have minimum insurance requirements

Flex Driver

  1. Have a smart phone and be able to download the app
  2. Be able to complete a background check
  3. Have the minimum required vehicle such as a mid-sized 4 door sedan, SUV, mini-van, or pickup truck with an enclosed bed
  4. Have the required license to drive and minimum insurance requirements

For a list of frequently asked questions on becoming a driver you can go to https://flex.amazon.com/faqs/

With all those requirements in place, there currently appears to be a coverage gap on being properly insured though. Delivery providers typically have minimum requirements for having commercial insurance. Flex drivers, not so much. Proof of a personal insurance policy may be sufficient for Amazon, but it is not for you and your insurance company.

One of the main exclusions on your personal auto policy is any kind of business use with your vehicle. A personal auto policy will allow a business use class endorsement for certain business uses, but package delivery is not one of them. To be adequately covered to use your vehicle for any kind of package delivery, you would need to have a commercial auto policy in force. Some commercial auto policies will also cover you for personal use if that is requested on the policy. That way you are covered for business and personal use under one insurance policy.

Just as transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft have recently arrived and created a new era of insurance concerns, Amazon’s changes to package delivery has also opened up these same concerns. Just because you are fine in the eyes of Amazon, doesn’t mean you are fine if you have a claim.

For example, if you back up your vehicle after delivering a package and run over someone or something, your insurance company will want to make sure that you are covered under a commercial policy before paying out on such a claim. This would effect not only damages to your vehicle, but also the liability for the damage you did. Don’t expect Amazon, Uber Eats, or any other company you are delivering for to pay for your loss.

With the recent purchase by Amazon of Whole Foods, this will also create even more opportunities for more drivers, which in turn brings more insurance questions. We mention Amazon when referring to these package delivery opportunities because of their relative market share for home delivery. They are absolutely not alone though. Virtually every large retailer has plans implemented, if they haven’t already begun to deliver items. Whether it is restaurant food, groceries, general merchandise, or any other items, a personal auto policy will not cover you for delivery of any kind.

It is very important to make sure you are adequately covered before starting to work for any company doing delivery of any kind. Many people hear commercial insurance and get scared thinking your premiums won’t be affordable. That isn’t really the case at all. Many commercial policies can be quite similar in premium to your personal auto policies. Don’t wait until you have a claim denied before looking into this. Call us at 704-494-9495 if you have any questions and one of our friendly and knowledgeable agents will be happy to discuss options with you.

CONTRACTOR AUTO INSURANCE

If you are a contractor in NC using your personal auto insurance policy for business use, then you may not be adequately covered if you are using that vehicle for business use when a claim occurs.  Most insurance companies will deny coverage on your personal auto policy if you have a loss while using your vehicle for business use.
We will discuss some of the more common types of contractors in NC that may need a commercial auto insurance policy.  We will also help dispel some of the common myths regarding commercial auto insurance for these contractors.
TYPES OF CONTRACTORS NEEDING COMMERCIAL AUTO POLICIES
Below are some of the more common contractors that may need to have commercial auto policy.
 
Painters
Carpenters
General Contractors
Roofers
Plumbers
Electricians
HVAC Repair
Handypersons
Janitorial Services
Concrete Contractors
 
MYTH 1
A COMMERCIAL AUTO POLICY IS EXPENSIVE
Many people are afraid that if you purchase a commercial auto policy, that you will pay more for auto insurance.  This is a myth.  In fact, in many cases a commercial auto policy may actually be less expensive.
If you have points on your license from tickets or accidents, then certain commercial policies actually weigh less heavily on rates on a commercial auto policy then on a personal auto policy.
Contractor auto insurance is one of the more competitive industries.  Right now, this is a target market for many of the larger companies.  This in turn makes the rates much more competitive.  Most of our customers are pleasantly surprised when we give them the rates for commercial auto insurance.
 
MYTH 2
MY PERSONAL AUTO POLICY WILL PAY OUT IF I AM USING MY POLICY FOR WORK
Depending on the type of loss that occurs, many companies will deny your claim if the policy is not written correctly.  Even if you are a painter, and you back your pickup truck into property of any kind at a job site, your claim can be denied.
MYTH 3
THERE IS NOT A POLICY THAT COVERS ME FOR BOTH PERSONAL AND COMMERCIAL USE
Many companies offer hybrid policies that will cover you if you are using your vehicle for personal or business use.  This is true for most business types.  You just need to disclose the use of the vehicle to your agent so that you will be covered in any possible claim.  We have a company that has actually recently instituted this for ride share companies such as Uber and Lyft.  There is a coverage gap that will not cover you unless you add this endorsement to your personal policy.  Without this policy, you are exposing yourself to one of the more recent causes of denied claims.  You don’t have to purchase an expensive taxi cab policy if you are using your car sporadically for this purpose.  Just add this endorsement to your personal auto policy.  Use caution though, as this is so new that many companies do not offer this endorsement yet.
MYTH 4
MY CAR IS NOT IN A BUSINESS NAME, SO MY PERSONAL AUTO WILL COVER ME
Your vehicle does not need to be in a business name to require a business auto policy.  If you have advertising on your vehicle or if you use your vehicle for business use, then you should contact your agent to see if you should update your policy.  In some cases, you can just add business use to your personal auto policy and be adequately covered. In others, you would need to have a business auto policy in place.
 
MYTH 5
IF I HAVE A COMMERCIAL AUTO POLICY, THEN IT WILL COVER ME FOR PERSONAL USE OF THAT VEHICLE
It is important to disclose to your agent that you use your vehicle for personal use as well. In most cases, the difference in premium could be minimal and it could be the difference in being covered or not.
There are so many reasons to make sure that you have the right policy in place so that you will never have a claim denied.  Why pay for insurance if there is a chance they won’t pay out for a claim?  Quotes are free and it can’t hurt to educate yourself fully on the matter.  If you have any questions on the matter or would like a free quote, please call us at 704-494-9495.

OWNER OPERATOR INSURANCE


Owner operators are individuals who own their own trucking business. They may operate under their own authority under their own MC number or they may lease on to another motor carrier.  We will discuss owner operator insurance coverage types.

If you want your own authority, you will need to apply for this through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). You will need to prove that you have the minimum liability limits as required by FMCSA and pay a $300 filing fee. You can go to their website at https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration/get-mc-number-authority-operate to see the steps to apply for your own authority.

If you do haul under your own authority, then you will need to have these required limits of auto liability, (in some cases) cargo liability, and an active MC number. The proof of insurance, as sent to the FMCSA by your insurance company, are referred to as filings. These filings are delivered to the FMCSA as proof that you have the minimum liability limits.

For those not hauling under their own motor carrier authority, we want to discuss several coverage options.

NON-TRUCKING LIABILITY and BOBTAIL LIABILITY

If you decide to lease on to another motor carrier and haul under their authority, then they will carry the primary liability insurance. If this is the case, you still need to have a non-trucking liability insurance policy. This covers you when you are not under dispatch for that motor carrier. Non-trucking liability is also commonly referred to as bobtail liability. This is not accurate. We will discuss the difference later in this article.

The cost is typically much less for this coverage type then truckers liability insurance due to the limited time that coverage come in to play. You do not want to be without this coverage in the event that you are in accident when you are not driving under another carrier’s authority.

PHYSICAL DAMAGE COVERAGE

If you are financing your truck then the lienholder or bank will require you to have physical damage coverage to cover the damage to the vehicle in the event of a claim. This comprehensive and collision coverage will cover those losses.

Even if you are not financing the vehicle, you want to seriously consider this coverage to put you back to where you were before the accident occurred.

CARGO INSURANCE

Cargo insurance covers the load you are hauling. Depending on several factors, the FMCSA may require you to have a certain amount of cargo insurance. Even if this isn’t required by the FMCSA then you may be required to have it by the contract you are in with the motor carrier. There are various coverage and deductible options for cargo insurance. You will need to explore these options versus the requirements you may have along with what suits your needs.

TRUCKER’S GENERAL LIABILITY

Trucker’s general liability or motor truck general liability covers losses to property damage or bodily injury due to your negligence, not related to operating your truck. This is the least common coverage type of those discussed but you may have a contract requirement that would cause you to purchase this insurance.

The expense of this policy is generally much cheaper than the other coverage types so you should consider purchasing this policy even if it is not required, to protect yourself from any coverage gaps.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN NON-TRUCKING LIABILITY AND BOBTAIL LIABILITY

Non-trucking liability typically comes into play when you are using your truck for any personal use whatsoever. If you are involved in a large accident then it will be up to the insurance carriers, and in some cases, the courts to determine who is responsible for paying for the damages. The motor carrier you are hauling for would be responsible for the liability while you are driving under their authority. It is also in the opinion of the court in many instances that they would also be responsible for liability losses during your drive home.

Bobtail liability will cover you when you not hauling a load or trailer. If you drop off a load for one carrier and you are on your way to pick up a load for another carrier, this is when your bobtail liability would come into play.

The FMCSA will not require you to have non-trucking liability or bobtail liability since you are not under motor trucking authority. Many contracts will also not require this coverage from you since they are only responsible when you are hauling for them. This leaves the choice up to you. Since you own your truck, when there is a loss you will be responsible. When a loss occurs while driving a large truck, the loss amount can be significant and could cripple you and your business financially. Don’t wait until after the loss to consider this very important coverage.

Trucking can be a very lucrative career and the need for this industry doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. The start-up of a trucking company can be a daunting task. The insurance part of that start-up is probably one of the most common areas of confusion to new businesses and trucking veterans alike. We realize this and have therefore put a trained staff in place to help you with any questions. Please contact us at 704-494-9495 for any help with these topics.

 

BAR AND NIGHT CLUB INSURANCE

Bars and night clubs have various insurance coverage needs that are exclusive from those of many other kinds of businesses. We will talk about many of those different coverage options that will protect your business from various types of insurance claims.

Many companies shy away from offering coverage for certain types of risks like night clubs, restaurants, wine bars, topless clubs, cigar bars, lounges, hookahs, sports bars, dance halls, comedy clubs, and pool bars just to name a few. You will want to make sure that you do your research and find a company that will not only give you a reasonable premium, but will also offer the coverages you need.

You never know when you will have a claim and you don’t want to be at risk for having certain exclusions on your policy when it is too late. You should at least understand the many different coverages that are available. Once you educate yourself on what these coverages are, you can determine what chance you think that you will incur any of these claims.

Some of the more popular coverage options for bars and nightclubs are:

General Liability Insurance:

Insurance for bodily injury or property damage on your premises.

Liquor Liability Insurance:

Provides liability coverage for bodily injury or property damage by intoxicated patrons of your establishment. General liability insurance will not cover you for losses pertaining to intoxicated guests.

Bouncer Liability Insurance:

Covers physical harm by employed bouncers to your patrons. Also covers injury to your employed bouncers.

Assault and Battery Liability Insurance:

Provides liability if fights occur while on the premises and patrons are injured. This coverage must be in place if you want coverage for these types of losses as a general liability policy will exclude these losses as well.

Workers Compensation Insurance:

Covers injuries to your employees while on the job. Working in a fast paced environment with food and beverages can greatly increase the likelihood of an injury to your employees.

Cyber Security:

Insurance coverage on things like the misuse of data or illegally obtained client data. Don’t expose yourself to a claim scenario like your clients credit data being illegally obtained and used.

These are just some of the coverage options that you could choose from. Understand that, as is the case in many commercial policies, there are many endorsements that can be added to your policy that can cover losses like employee dishonesty, damage to outdoor signs or windows, employee discrimination complaints, and many, many others.

Rates can vary greatly depending on several factors.

Some of these factors include:

Hours of operation

Types of entertainment

Capacity of patrons

Location of your establishment

Annual sales

Annual payroll

Types of coverage chosen

Years experience or years in business

Loss history.

Every establishment is different and you want to make sure that you discuss your needs with an agent that specializes in these forms of coverages and policy types to make sure that you minimize your losses. Whether you have a quiet lounge or a tavern with a mechanical bull, bad things can happen that can put you out of business unless you are properly insured.

Call and talk with an agent today to see what coverages would be recommended for your establishment. Our agents can be reached at 704-494-9495.

Commercial Auto Coverage Options

Commercial auto insurance has several coverage options that you should familiarize yourself with and determine if they are right for your business. We will discuss several of these below.

Hired Auto

Gives Liability coverage for a non-owned or unlisted vehicle that is leased, rented, hired, or borrowed by the insured for incidental operation of the business.

Owned Auto Coverage

Provides Liability coverage for vehicles owned by the named insured and any owned vehicles acquired during the policy period.

Non Owned Auto

Extends Liability coverage to any non-owned vehicle that is used by an employee in the operations of the business.

Any Auto Coverage

Extends Liability coverage to any vehicles acquired or bought during the policy term until the end of the policy term.

Pollution Liability

Covers bodily injury or property damage coverage due to the discharge of pollutants that are being transported or towed.

Trucker’s General Liability

This coverage gives bodily injury or property damage coverage sustained in the course of business while using products or services on premises.

Drive Other Car Coverage

Excess coverage for an executive of a corporation or partnership when driving a non-owned vehicle.

Step Down Liability Coverage

This coverage reduces the liability limits to state minimum requirements for drivers not listed on the policy.

Non-Trucking Liability or Bobtail Liability

This is liability coverage for policyholders who are under lease to a motor carrier which provides the primary liability coverage.

On-Hook

Provides coverage for the vehicle or vehicles being towed or hauled.

Garagekeepers Coverage

Provides Physical Damage coverage for a customer’s vehicle left in the care, custody, and control of the insured while at a covered location or in transit between covered locations.

Cargo Liability

Provides Liability coverage for the covered property in the care and control of the insured and being transported by the insured’s covered vehicle.

Trailer Interchange

Trailer Interchange covers physical damage to any non-owned trailer while in the care, custody, or control of the insured.

These are just some of the various coverage options for commercial auto insurance. Some of these may or not be available for your business type and some may or may not be required. It is important that you speak with your agent on what would be suitable for you. You can also call us at 704-494-9495 with any questions.

UBER INSURANCE

The wait is over. Uber insurance is available in NC! Uber and Lyft drivers in Charlotte and other surrounding cities in NC have waited patiently for a solution to the coverage gap for ridesharing insurance, also referred to as transportation network insurance.

As of 12/19/2016, we can now offer a personal insurance policy with an endorsement that can be added to it that will cover drivers who sometimes use their own personal vehicles to drive for Uber or Lyft. Insurance carriers on all personal lines auto insurance policies exclude coverage while driving for a transportation network. If you were driving for one of these companies up to this point, you were likely driving around without insurance for part of your trip.

Uber has taken the stance where they would cover a claim only while you had a passenger that you were transporting or when the Uber app matched you with your passenger you were to pick up. Your personal lines insurance policy would cover you only while you were using the vehicle for personal use. This left a gap in coverage while you were sitting with the app on waiting for a fare.

BEFORE:

Not Covered

*The app is turned on and you are waiting to be matched with a passenger.

Covered

*Match is made and you are on the way to pick up the passenger.

*Passenger is in your vehicle.

NOW:

No coverage Gaps on endorsed policies. Uber still covers you during the times stated above. Your endorsed policy will cover you while the app is on and you are waiting to be matched with the passenger.

Transportation networks are brand new, and we will without a doubt see changes in the future as the industry grows and changes. This sort of hybrid policy is a step in the right direction. Up to this point, drivers only had 2 choices.

  1. Purchase a true livery or taxi cab policy that was rated much higher than a personal auto policy due to a much higher exposure. You would also need to find a company that would allow you to add an endorsement to your policy that would allow you to use the policy for personal use as well.
  2. Take a chance and drive uninsured.

With a more affordable policy available in NC, there is no excuse for transportation network drivers driving for Uber, Lyft, or various other companies to drive without the proper coverage.

Anyone who has ridden in a vehicle for one of these ridesourcing companies cannot deny the ease of use of the app and, in most cases, the low fare cost. With so many users opting for Uber and Lyft over taxi cabs these days, we know that this form of transportation is here to stay.

If you have any questions or would like a quote on Uber insurance or Lyft insurance, please give us a call at 704-494-9495. There is no reason to have a gap in insurance coverage any longer. YOU MUST PURCHASE A POLICY WITH THIS ENDORSEMENT ADDED TO BE COVERED.

We will continue to update you on this exciting change with future articles regarding this subject.

Workers Compensation Ghost Policies

If you are a contractor that does not have any employees and you have a contract that requires you to have a workers compensation policy, then you have likely heard of a ghost policy. What does this term mean though? A ghost policy is an industry term that typically refers to a workers compensation policy that is issued in the residual market through the North Carolina Rate Bureau. The term ghost policy is used as a reference to a workers compensation policy that has no employees. With an increasing number of contractors requiring their independent subcontractors to have a worker compensation policy, there needed to be a policy that these subs could get even if they didn’t have employees themselves. These policies were created to give these independent subs a way to get the needed certificate of insurance.

Why do contractors need you to have a workers compensation policy if you have no employees?

The reason you are being asked to have this policy is because it transfers the liability to you if you are hurt while you are on a job. If you have your own workers compensation policy in place, then it would be your policy to pay out if you are hurt. The main reason you are being asked to have this policy though is because it keeps the general contractor’s workers comp rate down. If they pay you as a 1099 independent sub contractor then your pay from them will not figured into their audited workers comp premium.

What is vital to know with ghost policies?

  1. Do your audit. When asked for information from your workers compensation company it is very important that you respond in a timely manner. The insurance company can increase your rate, withhold a refund, or mark you as non-compliant which hinders your ability to get a policy in the future.

  2. Make sure to 1099 any subcontractors under you AND make sure you get a certificate of insurance for them in order to keep your overall workers compensation rate down. If you have W-2 employees then their pay will count towards your workers comp premium. If you don’t get a certificate of insurance for your independent 1099 subs then their pay will also count towards your workers compensation premiums.

  3. The workers compensation policy will not cover you and your injuries as the owner if you don’t elect coverage for yourself. In an effort to keep the rate down, most owners exclude coverage for themselves. You must remember this if you are ever hurt though as there will be no coverage at all for your injuries if you reject coverage for yourself.

  4. The NC Rate Bureau will assign your policy to a specific company. If you have had a policy in the past then it will likely be the same carrier since they have your policy history.

  5. Workers comp policies are always estimated premiums. We never know what our true payroll will be unless we have 0 employees. It is for this reason that your policy premium is estimated. The true cost of the premium will be settled after the audit.

Why are workers compensation policies so expensive?

These premiums can be expensive depending on what your class code is. Typically exposures such as office work are very inexpensive because the risk value is so low. This is not true for classifications such as carpentry and roofing risks. The reason for the hefty premiums is due to the risk level and the fact that it will not only payout for their medical bills if they are injured, but also to their loss of time at work. When there is a claim, these total payouts can be very significant.

What kind of items are needed for an audit?

Below are a list of some of the more common items that are requested when you are completing a workers compensation audit. It is important that you keep accurate records leading up to the audit.

  • 941 payroll reports

  • Schedule C of your income tax return for the business

  • Ledgers and journals for the business

  • Business check books

  • List of independent 1099 subcontractors

  • Bank statements

North Carolina Rate Bureau residual policies, known as ghost polices, can be a very important part of your business requirements in getting work from other contractors. It is important that you take them seriously and that you arm yourself with all of the information needed to ensure that you don’t see extremely high rates. You also want to protect yourself as an employer from very expensive lawsuits. You should have a lengthy discussion with your agent to see if this policy type is something that will be beneficial to you.

Independent Insurance Agents

Independent insurance agencies represent multiple companies and sell multiple products. By being able to present various options for their clients, they are usually able to save their clients money on policies such as auto, home, business, motorcycle, and boat insurance.

What is a captive agency?

A captive insurance agency is typically an agency that sells almost exclusively through one company. Think State Farm, Nationwide, Geico, or Allstate. These companies can have very competitive rates provided you meet their criteria for their target market.

What are some reasons to go through an independent insurance agency?

More Insurance Companies to Shop

By representing numerous companies, they can typically quote them all and give you better pricing. Most independent insurance agents have some form of comparative rating software that allows them to shop various insurance carriers at the same time without having to quote each one individually. This saves time and money during the shopping process. The law of numbers proves that if you get quotes through 12 different insurance companies then you will likely find a better rate with one of the 12 rather than just calling 1 company.

What are some of the companies that independent agencies sell through?

People ask a lot what companies we write through since we market our individual agency name.

Some of the more common ones that we write through are shown below. These companies are commonly used in other independent agencies as well

  • Progressive
  • National General (GMAC)
  • The Hartford
  • Travelers
  • Safeco
  • Liberty Mutual
  • Universal Insurance
  • Foremost
  • Met Life

Less Stringent Underwriting Guidelines

Whereas captive insurance companies can be very particular about their target market, going through an independent insurance agent gives you various companies and policy options. Some examples of situations where your rates might be negatively impacted by certain captive agencies are shown below.

  • Poor credit
  • Tickets or accidents
  • A suspended drivers license in the last 5 years
  • A recent home claim
  • Inexperienced operator
  • No prior insurance
  • Insurance on older home
  • Business insurance on certain business types

You Need an Expert

Insurance is complicated and you need an expert to help explain coverages and give advice. Just like you would hire a medical doctor for health problems or an attorney for legal concerns, you should put your trust in an insurance professional to help explain terms you may not understand or be familiar with.

One Stop Shop

Your typical independent insurance agency can offer you most or all of your insurance needs under one roof. This way when you have questions on your various policies you won’t have to call around to multiple agencies to get answers. Your independent agent can shop your rates for all of your insurance policies giving you several options.

An independent insurance agency is a valuable source for all of your insurance needs. Too often people feel safe by going with one of the 4-6 insurance companies that you see advertisements for almost daily. Those ads are expensive and that typically means you could be paying for them to find their future clients. I currently have all of my personal and business policies through 7 different insurance companies and this saves me the more money on my premiums versus bundling it with one company that may charge me a lot more on certain policies. If you are worried about your bottom line than you should consider getting a quote through a local independent agent.

We work directly with a lot of captive insurance agencies and when we feel like our clients are better served by placing their policy or policies with one of those companies, than we refer them. Many captive companies return the favor and refer clients to us when they may not be able to offer them the most competitive rates.

It is up to you to make that choice because you cannot rely on others to provide you what is best for you. I recommend at least putting an independent insurance agency on your list the next time you are shopping for insurance.

Insurance Discounts

There are many types of discounts that can be offered on various insurance policies. We will discuss some of them and the things you may be able to do to qualify in further lowering your overall rates. Most agents will ask you questions to see if these discounts apply.

Not all insurance companies will offer the same discounts. NC does regulate discounts that can be applied in some situations due to insurance rate regulations. Over the years the number of discounts allowed has significantly increased.  You should take advantage of each and every one that applies as it will not only effect your overall premium in the current term you are in, but in future terms as well.

Homeowners discount- This is a discount given on your policy for simply being a homeowner.

Incident-free discount- This one provides a discount for not having any driving incidents at all, including non-chargeable violations and not-at-fault accidents. It is true these days that a lot of companies charge a higher rate even if you were hit from behind due to this discount being removed.

Proof of prior insurance- If you have had prior insurance for at least 6 months you will likely pay less with most companies. There are higher discounts for being with your prior carrier for 3 or 5 years.

Multiple policies discount- This discount can be applied to all of your insurance policies for carrying your different policies with the same insurance company or insurance agency.

Automatic payment deduction discount- Most carriers these days will give you a relatively large discount if your policy is deducted automatically from your checking account.

Paid in full discount- This discount is even higher in most cases and applies to your overall premium if you pay the policy in full. In addition, you will avoid payment service charges each month on your insurance.

Security system discount- This applies to your home insurance policy and will provide a credit to your premium if you can provide an alarm certificate from your security company showing the home alarm is monitored by a central station alarm.

Claim free discount- Applies when you have not had any claims for a specified period of time, usually 3 or 5 years.

Paperless discount- Most companies that are set-up to deliver bills and other documents through e-mail instead of through the US Post Office will provide a discount for choosing this method of delivery.

Good student discount- This discount is provided by insurance companies through various criteria giving a reduction in your premium for drivers that are good students.

Air bag and various safety equipment discounts- Auto policies will provide discounts for certain safety features on your automobile. These are usually automatically generated once your VIN is provided.

Claim free renewal discount- Certain companies will give a discount for each renewal that you are claim-free and in some cases they may offer a diminshing deductible.

Rider association discount- Motorcycle policies will often give a credit if you belong to a rider association.

Safety course discount- Certain safety courses that you have completed will lower your rates such as a motorcycle safety course.

Pleasure use discount- If you use your vehicle for pleasure use then you will likely get a reduced rate.

New home discount- The age of your home can play a factor in your overall rate. Newer homes receive better rates in most cases.

Good credit discount- NC does allow reduced rates depending on your overall credit score. The credit score that is run is a soft hit on your credit and will usually not effect your credit score in any way. If you have excellent credit then you will see a large decrease in your overall rate and this is typically one of the largest discounts of the ones we have discussed.

These are just some of the more common discounts that can be applied on all types of insurance policies. If you stack these discounts then it can make a significant difference in your overall rate. It is good practice to ask what discounts can be applied on each of your insurance policies when you are getting an insurance quote.