Before he entered the commercial insurance world, Ben Page of Page Insurance got beat up as a business owner.
“I didn’t have employment practice liability insurance, and it turned into a $50,000 problem.”
Being underinsured is a common problem for those getting business insurance. Unlike auto insurance, where the same policies apply to most drivers, commercial insurance is extremely customizable to the type of business you run. It’s very easy to be underinsured and missing important coverages, or overinsured and paying too much for policy add-ons you don’t need.
The key to making sure you find the sweet spot between being underinsured and overinsured is working with an expert who knows about your niche industry. An independent agent—one who represents multiple insurance agencies—is typically a good resource for a business owner to identify the best policy at a good rate.
But not all independent agents are your best bet.
“If a business picks the wrong agent, it could go south quick. They’re relying on somebody who becomes part of their team, someone to protect everything they’re working for,” Page says. “A business could lose everything they’ve worked for if they don’t have solid insurance, so it’s so important to make sure you’re choosing the right one.”
Having an independent agent who is an industry expert and truly on your side is an important member of your team. Page recommended asking an independent agent these three questions to determine if he or she has your best interests in mind:
1. How many businesses in my industry have you worked with?
“One of the tricks some agents will do is they pretend to specialize in everything,” Page says.
The best independent insurance agents will really know your industry backward and forward, and they’ll have worked with multiple businesses like yours. Don’t be afraid to ask an agent for the name and contact information of a few businesses in your industry that they’ve worked with, then do your due diligence by calling those businesses to ask about their experience working with the agent.
Commercial insurance is extremely customizable, meaning a different set of policies could be right for businesses even within the same industry. Pay attention to the types of questions an agent is asking you in order to evaluate whether they’ll be able to get you proper coverage.
2. What do you recommend beyond coverage for my business?
“A good commercial insurance agent will care about the business from a comprehensive standpoint,” Page notes. “This is so rare; 99% of agents don’t do this.”
An agent who’s really doing a good job is doing a full coverage check to make sure you and your family are in a good position personally should something happen in your business.
They’ll ask about your life and disability insurance. They’ll ask if you serve on the board of any other companies, and whether they have directors and officers (D&O) liability insurance. They will identify any gaping holes in your coverage from a risk management standpoint.
3. What credits or discounts can you help me get?
A good independent agent will get a company all the credits and discounts they can get. A couple common discounts and credits include:
- Saving on workers’ compensation insurance by doing employee drug testing.
- Saving on general liability and property insurance by showing that the business is under good management and there’s not a lot of turnover.
“A good insurance agent could save a business 20-30% off their policy just by going to bat for them with the insurance company to get the best discounts,” says Page.
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