Owning and managing real estate has many positives and negatives, requiring the performance of varied responsibilities and wearing of many different hats. Most of my clients typically view the insurance renewal process with a sense of dread. Navigating the minefield of carriers, coverages, exclusions, sub-limits, etc. Contracts can be time consuming and frustrating, filled with technical jargon and terminology that can leave you exhausted. After you manage to finalize your renewal, you may still lay awake at night wondering if there is an uncovered claim lurking out there waiting to strike.
What can you do to make the renewal process easier for you and your staff, while also reducing overall insurance costs and maximizing coverage?
Having a trusted, knowledgeable professional working to secure your interests can make this process much easier. Well trained, professional insurance brokers take their careers and their clients accounts very seriously. Focus on finding a broker that specializing in working with real estate accounts, and has appropriate designations, such as CPCU. You can learn more about insurance designations and find lists of qualified brokers at http://www.aicpcu.org. Asking colleagues and competitors for recommendations can also prove valuable. Most people are very willing to make an introduction if they are pleased with their broker. They will carefully review your schedules, limits, coverages and exclusions, making recommendations on the package of coverages that will most benefit your account. There are tools available that will confirm your buildings limits are adequate, such as www.marshall swift.com A good broker will also closely monitor what is happening in the insurance market, tracking trends and carrier appetites.
After you have found a good broker, allow him to select the markets he would like to approach on your behalf. Your broker will work hard for you every year, but the market is fluid and can change quickly. Allowing a second broker to review your account every 3 to 5 years will ensure that your account is placed with the best carrier for your needs.
Keep clear records
Use Microsoft Excel or another spreadsheet program to keep clear and current details of your building(s). Keep records of when updates and repairs are performed, along with details of building basics such as total square footage, number of units, number of stories, sprinklers, elevators and construction type of the buildings. Retain clear and current records of contracts and certificates of insurance from all sub contractors and third parties you do business with in the event they cause any damage or claims. Ask your broker and attorney to review these documents for proper wording and limits. You should also keep details of past claims if you have any. This will make it easy for a potential carrier to assess your account quickly.