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.

How Commercial Insurance Price Comparison Sites Compare Business Insurance Quotes

You may think that one commercial insurance price comparison site is much the same as another. Some people swear by them, others cannot stand them but not all price comparison sites are the same. There are two distinct types and each has its own benefits, advantages and disadvantages.

This is why different businesses and commercial enterprises have very different user experiences, depending upon which type of comparison or price aggregator site they have visited. They may well prefer one brand comparison site over another, purely because they prefer the way that particular brand’s website works and this often has nothing to do with the quotes it returns.

In order to understand the large differences it is necessary to get under the bonnet and look at the anatomy of a commercial insurance price comparison website’s internal engine.

Inside a Commercial Insurance comparison

Leaving aside the prices quoted which are subjective and variable, the major factor that differentiates price comparison sites user experiences, is the location of the rating and underwriting engine that produces the quotes.

This engine is the rules based logic that produces the commercial insurance quotes you see in your browser. It can be either local with centralised processing, or remote with what is known as distributed processing.

Centralised comparisons hold all the commercial insurance policy and rating information local to the web server where a prospective businessman can compare quotes.

Distributed comparisons have to visit each insurance company or business insurance broker website to retrieve quotes and all the policy information which is then displayed on the comparison website. Distributed processing comparison websites are known a ‘Scraper sites’ because they scrape data from the fields of one form and pass it into equivalent form fields at a remote web server.

When someone visits a commercial or business insurance comparison website, they will initially be asked what type of cover they require for their business. For example a shop or office policy or perhaps just simple public liability cover. Commercial insurance is particularly difficult to underwrite, so the type of policies that are available on Internet tend to be packages where blanket levels of cover can be offered, in order to be suitable for the widest range of business activity and customers.

However all commercial risks have some common elements such as levels of cover required, which need to be captured in order to auto-rate and make comparisons. These are called rating factors.

Comparison Screens

The user is next presented with a screen that has been tailored to ask specific questions that are necessary to rate the chosen commercial insurance. Both types of comparison website offer variations on a theme for data capture, however both will use a typical form that requires filling.

As a businessman completes the online application form, the data entered requires validation. The values entered need to fit standardised parameters and exclude all those businesses that do not fit this standardisation. This is achieved by limiting the choice of the user. For example, the comparison site when asking the applicant to describe their business activities or trade type, will only present to the user the businesses and trades it can quote for, in the form of a drop down list.

Centralised processing comparisons are much more likely to do all the policy and underwriting criteria validation on the front-end form, with for example validation of postcodes, addresses, eligible business types, and numerical validation on sums insured. The centralised comparison system uses Javascript and calls to local tables This gives the system a very quick user experience and assures that the system can return a range of quotes for the prospective business. It also allows the system the provide as much data about available polices before the quotation process is complete, because it knows as the form is being filled out, what policies offer what covers for each of the questions asked.

Conversely, scraper processing sites need to feed data into the screen fields on a variety of remote websites, all which tend to require varying details and user input, in various sequential orders. Scraper sites therefore need to ask many more questions in order to be able to try to satisfy as many rating factors and underwriting rules required for as many different competing companies. The complexity of a commercial insurance policy often requires certain information that you cannot ask for later in the process.

Rating

When all the information has been collected, the data is sent to the rating logic to calculate the rates and premiums.

Trade, Turnover and other factors provided by the user about the business are used by the system to define coverage, policy clauses, excesses and limits of indemnity, which can be returned to the user as part of a quote offer.

Rating tables are held online either locally for a centralised rating system or on the remote websites for scraper style distributed rating. The premium price is calculated from the values of the rating factors provided by the user when compared against the online tables. The actual rating factors vary depending upon the type of commercial insurance policy being applied for, suffice to say that if the system is asked to provide quotes for commercial property cover, the risk address postcode will be used to define the theft rate and flood rate, which combined with the rate for the risks of fire for the trade concerned, will produce a rate for the property perils risk. Rates for commercial property, for example, are usually expressed as percentages per hundred pounds of sum insured.

Processing

It is at this point in the process that the differences in the two types of comparison site become apparent to the user.

When a comparison rating engine sat on a local server, processing is much faster. A locally rated panel will return quotes commercial insurance quotes and covers instantly. The system has all it needs at hand to calculate premiums and also return comprehensive policy comparisons of cover and risk options in micro-seconds.

A scraper site however will consist of extensive ‘middleware’ processing, which inevitably slows down the process. The role of this ‘in the middle’ software is to communicate with the remote websites where the rates are held, and pass all the users details. It then needs to collect the quotes and associated data coming back from the broker or insurance company server and structure and order it into a webpage that shows a price comparison.

The process may take a few minutes when multiple business insurance providers are being asked to quote. The upside is that distributed processing scraper sites generally compare far more policies or companies offerings and more often than not, will return many more quotes. If you can be prepared to wait! You have to wait for the processing to complete on the remote brokers servers and for the quotes, excesses, and terms and conditional clauses to be returned to the comparison website..

Distributed processing comparison sites may have a lot more companies competing and returning quotes, although this does not necessarily mean more choice of commercial insurance. Quite often they are offering the same product from the same company, the only variance being a price differential.

Offering too much choice can also have its downside and create technical and promotional problems. Many of the smaller brokers offering more specialist business insurance propositions, have joined large, well-known brand name commercial insurance comparison sites that employ the scraper methodology. However they often complain that they do not have the server processing power to be able to handle a flood of multi-stringed requests for remote underwriting and processing and by time the quotes are returned to the comparison site, the user has already been offered perhaps thirty or more policy propositions and gone elsewhere.

Comparing Business insurance Quotes

After all the processing has been completed the quotes are presented to the user, usually in order of cheapest first.

Both types of quote and policy comparison site allow the user to compare prices and premiums quoted, however only the centralised sites allow in-depth policy comparisons and to make changes to the original data entered.

Locally centralised comparisons allow the user to compare premiums and also adjust the propositions, add or remove covers and tailor a policy to a particular business needs.

Scraper sites do not allow this as they require all the information beforehand and demand that the user chooses any options or additional covers before the quotation process.

In this sense they only provide a range of premium prices and attached policy conditions for the user to choose from. The scraper sites make no provision to compare policy covers, whereas a centralised local processing comparison site will have all the information to hand for a complete policy and cover comparison. These features are not available for a comparison site that uses remote underwriting. In order to do this it is necessary for the user to visit each individual site, make the adjustments and return to the comparison site to compare quotes, before repeating the process, which is obviously very time-consuming.

Security should be a concern for all those using commercial insurance comparison websites. Although all comparison sites use secure servers and SSL sockets for transmitting the information supplied about the business, by its very nature a centralised processing site will be more secure. With scraper sites your details are being passed around possibly to up to fifty or more different sites around the web, each which could be compromised at any stage of the data transmission, including payment. Furthermore passing your details to fifty companies is effectively adding your business details to fifty mailing lists.

In summary, the user experience is much faster and more informative for businessmen seeking to compare commercial insurance quotes if they use a centralised price comparison website where everything is in one place. Better deals may be had from a distributed processing scraper site, however the process is long-winded with too many questions and too much waiting time. Too often insufficient policy information is returned with the quotes for the prospective buyer to make an informed decision about which business insurance product to purchase.

Commercial Insurance – A Business Guide

In searching for the right insurance, a business owner may contact any number of companies, either in person, over the phone, or online. Or, they can contact a commercial insurance broker. Commercial insurance brokers not only find the policy that best fits the particular business and its risks, but they will also find the best priced policy. Brokers, unlike agents, do not have a contract with the insurance company to sell that company’s insurance. Instead, they work for the client, or business owner.

One of the quickest and easiest ways to find the best commercial coverage is over the internet. Commercial insurance companies have created some of the most all-encompassing websites on the entire web. When it comes to the amount of information and the ease with which potential customers can resource that information, it is truly amazing. By visiting the websites of some of the larger companies, even if they don’t purchase their policy from them, business owners can get a more comprehensive view of the types of commercial coverage that is available for their particular business. By checking on several different websites, anyone who is seeking commercial insurance quotes will find that they can swiftly and readily locate the best and most competitively priced commercial insurance quote. They should always keep in mind that cheap commercial insurance is not always the best insurance, but using the web certainly makes it easier to find.

There are many kinds of commercial coverage available to many different kinds of businesses. Insurance for commercial operations is separated into two categories: property and casualty. Property insurance will cover possessions that are stolen, damaged, or destroyed by any covered cause listed in the policy. Casualty insurance covers the business’ liability if it is responsible for property damage or bodily injury to a third party as a result of negligence or omission.

Most businesses will not need every kind of coverage that is out there. Perhaps one business has several cars, vans, or trucks that are used each day in its operation. In that case, they would need car commercial insurance. On the other hand, a business might be conducted out of the home and all the work is done on a computer and sent out by way of the internet. A vehicle is not used at all for this business so the car coverage is unnecessary as far as the business is concerned. Even though not all coverage is needed, it is a good idea for the business owner to learn about the different types of coverage that are at hand. In this way, it is possible for them to make wise choices as to what coverage is needed. Also, the business owner can make any changes in coverage that may become necessary as his business flourishes.

Commercial Insurance Quotes

If you operate or are responsible for any type of business entity or commercial enterprise, in order to obtain the right insurance for the company you will need to find and compare suitable commercial insurance quotes. A quote is an offer of certain defined insurance covers in a policy for a monetary price.

Quotations can be obtained from numerous sources including locally from specialist high street insurance brokers, over the phone from insurance companies or brokers, or from the many online companies and comparison sites offering all types of insurance cover.

A commercial insurance quote forms a legal offer and is the basis of the contract of insurance between the proposer and the underwriting company. The information you provide on the quotation form is used to calculate both the premium quoted and the levels of cover offered on a policy. The quote data a company provides will be used to complete the policy documents. It is therefore very important that when applying for commercial insurance quotes that the information you supply about your business activities is correct and truthful.

Most companies offering quotes will agree to honour the price offered for a period of thirty days or one month following its issue. When obtaining a quote, regardless of the source, ensure that you retain the reference number which will enable you to either take up the or recall and revise the offer at a later time. Prices offered can fluctuate and a premium offered one week may not be available the next.

Quotes and premiums can be obtained for all business types and all business and commercial risks for both business liability and property insurance, either separately or combined in what is known as a package.

Commercial property insurance will typically provide cover for buildings and contents of business premises of varying types and sizes. For example a shopkeeper would be interested in covering his glass shop front and shop stock whilst a small draughtsman business would require a price for covering the business office equipment. For this reason quotes for a business are often given by insurance companies for packaged policies that are property specific, such as shop insurance quotes or office insurance quotes.

When looking for cover search for companies that offer quotes for your particular type of building. Let property buildings only insurance quotes are available for landlords who just want to cover the buildings, fixtures and fittings. Equally commercial property tenants and lease-holders can obtain quotes that only cover the contents, stock or liabilities.

Liability quotes can be obtained with either combined property insurance packages or as a standalone quotation for individual business liabilities. The most popular liability products quoted for are public liability insurance, employers liability insurance, product liability insurance and professional indemnity insurance.

Commercial liability quotes are widely available online for most trades and professions. Packages often offer all risks cover and if you are looking online most systems allow you to pick and choose various liability coverage options

When comparing quotes online you will not have the assistance of a broker to advise you. It is vital therefore to ensure that you check that the levels of indemnity and covers offered are sufficient for your business, because levels of commercial insurance cover quoted for, can vary as often as the price.