How a Commercial Insurance Broker Can Help You

Insurance brokers have become increasingly more important today compared to many years back. Given the heavy loads of competition in the California insurance market, customers should be kept well-informed so that they won’t be led astray into getting frivolous deals. Most especially in the aspect of commercial insurance, entrepreneurs are usually better off with brokers beside them.

What is a Commercial Insurance?

Commercial insurance is just an insurance to protect businesses in the state. It is considered as one of the most vital investments for business operators. Depending on the specific type of commercial insurance, this security protects various aspects of the business. It can provide financial security in times of theft, liability, property damage, work-related employee or customer injury and even during times of business interruption. Those who have not secured insurance for their business are at risk of sudden financial depression. It has also been observed that uninsured businesses place the personal assets of the owner at risk.

Before setting out for an insurance hunt, make sure that you are already equipped with ample knowledge of what you really need. For example, you may be better with one specific type of commercial insurance, rather than having all forms of commercial insurance in one package. If you don’t have company vehicles for operating your business, you can do away with auto insurance and just go for property insurance instead. But you still need to know everything about these specific insurances because nobody is certain when your business might expand. Together with this growth is an expected change in insurance needs.

Looking For an Insurance Broker

Finding the right commercial insurance in California involves tapping the services of a trusted insurance broker who, as much as possible, is specializing in business insurance. It is important that you interview more than two brokers and check who among them makes you more at ease when it comes to dealing things. It is expected that he discusses the different options that surround commercial insurances.

As there are various classes of business insurance, your broker can guide you through the entire process. Using his expertise, he can easily recommend the most suitable plan for your immediate needs. A good place to start looking for brokers is the Internet. If not, search for them via networking organizations for local businesses. Your friends in the industry or business advisers may also refer you to seasoned brokers in the state.

Insurance brokers are in place to make it easier for business owners to get the right insurance. However, even with their ability, it may be difficult for some to get one most probably because of their company background. For example, if the business has already suffered some degree of loss in the past then it may be considered a high-risk entity. This means most insurers will back out from making any deals with you. Another reason for the increased difficulty in procuring commercial insurance is the owner’s history of making frequent claims, which easily makes him a liability. In addition, new businesses will surely have a harder time getting insured because of not having a proven history of business sustainability and strength compared to more established businesses. Still, business owners have higher chances of sealing the best deals with a broker nearby.

Online Commercial Insurance Brokers Offer More Than Simply Business Insurance Price Comparisons

Consider a commercial insurance broker the next time you buy insurance online, until a recent resurgence of interest due to new online commercial products, they have not had a good Internet experience.

Brokers provide service, knowledge, quality products, claims help and advice as well as comparing insurance quotes, qualities that are rare or missing in the alternative self-service world of the online price comparison websites.

When direct personal lines cover became an acceptable method of selling and delivering insurance via the Internet, the soothsayers of business doom were crying the tolling of the death knell for the insurance broker as a profession. Even more so for the business insurance specialist intermediaries.

Commercial insurance was notoriously difficult to provide auto-quoting underwriting systems for and it was believed by the mandarins that commercial policies could not be sold online to an ignorant public.

It was imagined that all insurance business would be dealt with direct either by phone or online and the broker trade would decline.

What these people failed to realise at the time though, was that the broker business model, one based on comparing covers and tailoring policies to suit individual needs, was a time tried and trusted method that would re-emerge online as the peoples favourite method of buying insurance, albeit in a new bigger form of the price comparison site.

Commercial insurance price comparison websites were then predicted to replace the broker, as in effect they are providing the same comparative quotation service as the brokers but on a much larger scale.

Commercial Insurance Brokers realised that they were missing out unless they embraced the comparison site competition. Many of the larger and more Internet savvy brokers decided to take on the comparison sites and offer comparison websites of their own, often with great success.

They took their back office comparison systems and web-enabled them to provide a user-friendly interface. The larger commercial insurance sites now rival the big four price aggregators and many offer a wider range of covers.

With the ability to offer specialist products a broker has an advantage over a price comparison site, however many Specialist schemes from commercial insurance brokers can now be found on price comparison sites. You will often need to look deep and really research the market of quotes offered, to find them though.

Although many smaller brokers have signed up to the large price comparison websites, when you search for their products you are rarely shown these offerings. This is because many brokers have put tight underwriting criteria to the type of business they want from the comparisons site.

Often these restrictions mean that the price aggregator cannot quote their policy because of the restrictive terms imposed.

All online commercial comparison websites suffer from rigid acceptance rules defined by the underwriting company.

The fact that if for example, an office does not reach strict security requirements, then the office package comparison system is algorithmically instructed to decline the business.

Computer says No!

Consequently when the comparison sites quotes compared are returned to a prospective buyer, they are usually displayed in the order of cheapest first, showing those without any endorsements or cover restrictions.

Those smaller but maybe more relevant schemes that are maybe slightly more expensive or need some adjustments to the information entered to quote, are not getting a look in against the large insurers who can compete on price.

Many people, especially small businessmen on a tight fixed budget, mistakenly believe that the cheapest insurance is sufficient for their business needs.

This is particularly true of the sole-trader or self-employed tradesman who resents being told he must have public liability insurance to work on a building site for example.

His likely first port of call will be a search engine followed by a big brand price comparison site looking for the best deals.

Most commercial insurance brokers do not want this type of cheap liability business anyway, which is more trouble than it is worth if there is a claim.

They do want good bona-fide small business and registered companies for which they have the advantage over the price aggregators of offering not just specialist packed policies for shops,office, restaurants, pubs and commercial property but also a human face.

Today, more and more trade specific packaged policies are appearing on commercial insurance websites each month as bringing the product to market becomes easier.

Online brokers can offer telephone help, callback services, claims services, market knowledge and advice over price, human versus computer or simply just service. All things that are missing from the price comparison sites.

The new online commercial broker is taking back the initiative and levelling the playing field for the distribution of Insurance on the Internet.

On the whole the future looks rosy for the forward-looking broker who is willing to adapt and change from his Main Street outdated business practices and embrace the Web for all its potentiality.

On a cautionary note, many a local broker with traditional product offerings who does not adapt, will not be found by the general public and his market reach will always be local.

The Internet has allowed online commercial insurance brokers to introduce specialist risks and cover to the business market that would probably not previously been aware of the policies.

It has also spawned new risks itself such as cyber risks cover, professional indemnity and liability for consultants in every IT and online profession, and even commercial property insurance for web server farms.

The local broker is now international if he has the placement facilities.

Niche brokers with niche schemes are now providing these services to new global markets.

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.