Turn Change into Opportunity
An annual review of your insurance coverage may be the time to make changes in coverage, endorsements, or carriers.
Any time you make changes in the way your business runs, you can also change your exposure to risks. As your organizational needs evolve over time, it’s a good business practice to consider whether there are other carriers that can offer reduced premiums or expanded coverage better suited to your requirements as you grow, move, or expand your offerings.
Fortunately, the insurance marketplace is responsive to changing risks that buyers face. In some cases, it may make more sense to remain with your current carrier but update the terms of your program agreements to reflect your current operations. In other cases, a new carrier may be able to provide coverage more tailored to the new risks your company is encountering. Transitioning to a new insurer could have unintended consequences, however. The experience of your insurance advisor can be invaluable.
Should you choose to make a change, a strong relationship between you, your insurance broker, and the carriers will make the transition as smooth as possible.
Here are four ways your insurance broker can keep you informed about your choice of carrier to help you avoid any surprises.
1. Stay Ahead of New Market Conditions/New Insurers/New Coverages
Your broker can keep you apprised of factors impacting the overall market to prepare you for possible premium increases or decreases with your existing carrier well in advance of renewal. The broker should also be aware of insurers that are offering new lines of coverage and should approach the carriers for quotes on your behalf.
In addition, brokers can help you stay ahead of emerging coverages and potential exposures that may affect your business, which is critical to avoiding losses that may not be covered under your current policies. Understanding the differences among your policies, knowing what they do and do not cover, and advising you on what endorsements you should obtain for your standard policies can help ensure that your company isn’t exposed to unnecessary or avoidable risks.
Recently we worked with a new client to provide coverage for social engineering fraud (SEF), which occurs when a hacker imitating a senior executive, sends a phishing email to an employee telling the employee to wire company funds to a bank account on an emergency basis. The business owner mistakenly believed that either the cyber policy or the crime policy covered the loss. But neither of the policies had been endorsed to provide SEF coverage, and the business was left with a gap in coverage that the risk manager hadn’t realized until we brought it to the manager’s attention.
2. Update the Fine Print of Your Program Agreements
Most carrier agreements stipulate that in the event you transition to a different insurer, the collateral amount can be reset at the carrier’s discretion. If your policy is on a large deductible or other type of loss-sensitive program, you might experience substantial cost implications. Your broker can thoroughly review your program agreements with your insurers and, if possible, amend this wording by setting specific parameters around how the collateral will be calculated. For example, the calculation might include predetermined loss-development factors or consideration of the insured’s outside actuary calculations.
3. Review Outstanding Claims
When you change carriers, there will inevitably be outstanding claims to process, but standard agreements typically nullify any special claims-handling procedures that were put in place while you had your coverage with the insurer. As a result, you will still be dealing with claims, but you might lose the ability to have any or all of the following:
- Free claims reviews
- Use of a pre-selected defense counsel
- Notification of reserve changes
- Ability to have input on settlement amounts
- Continuity of adjusters because the insurer will most likely move any open claims to a different unit
Your broker should review the agreement around what happens if you move from the insurer and, when appropriate, modify the agreement to create as much certainty as possible around the way outstanding claims will be handled.
4. Adjust for Changes in Insured Operations
Many insurance policies limit coverage to events that occur in a certain geographic area. The insured area is often referred to as the “coverage territory.” If your company expands its operations outside the United States, your broker will need to review the coverage territory in all policies to ensure there are no exposures in your new areas of operation that aren’t covered in the existing policy. Similarly, if your company begins offering new products or expands on the scope of existing services, an in-depth review of your existing coverages is necessary to make certain no new coverage is needed.
Here are two examples of changes in insured operations that we’ve helped our clients with recently:
- An insured established a new 401(k) plan and began providing health coverage to employees. They now needed fiduciary liability coverage because these plans are subject to ERISA and present possible personal liability to plan administrator.
- An Insured decided to hire a sales force who will be driving on company business. After reviewing their options, they elected to increase the limits carried on their automobile liability coverage and added to their umbrella coverage limits.
Anticipating and planning for change is part of business. Don’t be lulled into a sense of complacency and simply renew with the same insurer year after year. You have options. Your broker is a trusted business partner who can help you actively avoid any of the potential insurance minefields that come with change, as well as choose the right path forward for your continued business success.
About the Author
Joe Tatum is the CEO of Relation Insurance Services, a premier insurance brokerage that offers risk-management and benefits-consulting services through its family of brands across the United States.
This article originally appeared on the PropertyCasualty360 website here and in a printed edition of National Underwriter.