Author dberry

Author dberry

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Dallas Insurance Rates

Thank you for Visiting

Thank you for visiting TXINSURANCEPRO.COM.  If you reached this page, then you either filled out a form on this site or you watched one of my YouTube videos.  Either way, thanks for visiting.  Numerous paths exist for those that are interested in the insurance world.  Whether you want to be an agent, entrepreneur, customer service representative, property adjuster, or auto adjuster; the insurance world is truly vast.  I guess that’s why so many interested people ask, “What’s next?  I want more information?”

 

Quite frankly, I find answering that question to be the most difficult one of all.  As a result, I generally respond with the following question:

What do you want to do in the insurance world?

If your goal is to own a traditional captive agency like State Farm or Allstate, most agents start by choosing between careers in Property Casualty and Life Health Insurance. (Many captives require their agents to obtain both P&C and LAH General Lines licenses.)   While the Texas general lines insurance licenses have their lesser cousins, , let’s start by talking about General lines first. Where we go from there is up to you.

If you figure that part out, that’s half the battle.  Each license type has it’s Pros and Cons.  You have to choose which is best.

Property & Casualty

I won’t get too technical with my descriptions because I’m hoping you already know what you want to sell or who you want to work for.  Property & Casualty (P&C for short) is the type of license you’ll need if you selling or servicing auto, home, umbrella, business, or commercial auto insurance.  Consider this the insurance where you insure your “Things” and the liability associated with your things.  When you think of insurance, most people’s first response is a P&C insurance product.

Life and Health

Unlike P&C, most people forget about life and health insurance; with the exception of health insurance and medicare.  The life and health world also has benefits that are worth considering.  However, because of misconceptions and general public ignorance, life & health is usually offered sold by the agent versus shopped for by consumer.  Since agent initiated sales are generally more difficult, new agents tend to shy away from this side of the world.  Regardless, Life and Health products are extremely necessary and valuable.  Choosing this world could lead to more difficult sales but higher average commissions.  So the choice is yours.

I chose a license type. What’s next?

After choosing a license type, you need to get a license.  In order to do that in Texas, you only need to pass the test, get fingerprinted, fill out the application, and apply online or by mail.  There’s a catch.

Insurance Pre-licensing Test Prep Classes are a must!

If insurance made sense to everyone, there would be no need for insurance agents.  Since most people either misunderstand their policies and make poor coverage choices when left to their own understanding, we need agents.  As a result, I always suggest taking some sort of test prep course.  It’s easier to pass the test if you get help. Here are a few exam prep organizations that I’m in the process of reviewing for publication

  • Texas Insurance Training
  • Insurance School of Texas
  • ProSchools.com
  • ExamFX.com
  • Texas Insurance Training Academy
  • 360training.com

I am in the process of reviewing each of these schools for the 2017-2018 insurance licensing comparison and review.  Some schools offer a pass guaranty, while others offer online and classroom service, while others are simply lower prices than their competition.  Let us know below if you’re interested to get a copy of “David’s dummy’s guide Insurance training school in Texas”.

After studying, pass the test and apply

After studying, with one of the pre-licensing schools above, your confidence level should be high enough to pass your licensing exam.  To do so, you’ll need to visit Pearson Vue Insurance to schedule your  licensing exam at an approved testing center. If you get a 70 or better on the test you’re studying for, you pass.  Then it’s on to your fingerprints.

Just like you have to schedule your licensing exam, you also have to schedule a time get fingerprints through Identogo.com.  Once that’s done, complete the individual insurance license application in paper found here or visit Sircon.com to apply for your license online.

As a side note, the state of Texas requires that you are appointed by either another experienced General Lines agent, agency, or insurance company to get a license in Texas.  Without that appointment, your license could be denied for lack of appointment.  If this changes, we will update you.

That’s it, your license is on the way

After you complete the steps above, your license should arrive in 3 to 4 weeks depended upon the workload and depended upon how you answer the application questions.  There you have it!  More information than just, the basic stuff you see.  Do you have additional questions?  Are you looking for appointments, insurance carriers, a job, or other opportunities?  If I can answer your questions, comment below.

We are working on a a number of additional things that you may be interested in.

  • Evening Licensing Test Prep
  • Flash Card Simulators
  • Licensing Class Discounts

If any of these things interest you, feel free to add into the comments as well.  I truly appreciate your visit and feedback.

 

SCROLL DOWN TO ADD COMMENTS OR QUESTIONS!  THANKS FOR VISITING.

Consider Builders Risk Insurance on your next project

Dallas Insurance Rates

Speaking from an insurance agent’s perspective, I don’t believe real estate investors take the builder’s risk policy seriously enough.  I can imagine conversations go something like this, “I hate to purchase insurance, because I never file claims,” or “I’ll just get the minimum I need and the cheapest rate because they don’t want to pay…”  Does that sound familiar?

 
If you’re like most real estate investors,  you’ve at least thought it.  That’s no crime.  To most rational human beings, saving money on insurance is more important that eating their next meal.  Then again, you’re a real estate investor.  You’re not normal.  But why should it be different for your real estate rehab and renovation projects?

I understand your perspective as an investor.  I know the statistics for the Dallas area.  Supply is down. Demand is up.  Labor costs are up by 18%.  Now add insurance.  With ever tightening margins in an even tighter market, the Texas real estate investor must reduce expenses whenever and wherever possible.   When you’re looking at your builder’s risk expense and cost, consider the following case.  This is a real case, this is my case.

I purchased a property in Plano last year.  When I purchased the property, the roof was in good condition.  I was going to focus on the remainder of the home.  My budget included work repairing everything from the foundation and plumbing up to and including the fascia and soffit.  We closed the property in late February and began construction right away.  Everything looked good until April and May hit.

Springs storms came.  With those spring storms came several storms with hail.  The sizes of hail ranged from marble size, to golf ball sized, and even baseball sized hail.  Luckily, my house did not have any skylights.  I could only as fortunate as my neighbors.  Much to my chagrin, that didn’t matter.  Our roof looked as if nature had batting practice and used our roof as a backstop.

Gotta love the weather in North Texas. #Dallas #hail

A post shared by David Berry (@berrydallasrealty) on

We needed a new roof and I didn’t have the extra cash or financing to replace the roof.  My partner (and dad) reminded me that we had this builders risk policy and it should cover some of our losses.  He then asked, “Will it cover wind and hail damage?”

Suddenly, the light bulb turned on.  I also began to worry.  What if I clicked the wrong button,” and “Did I properly write the coverage?” were just a few of the questions that went through my head.  That’s very strange considering that I’m the insurance agent.  That worries last until the moment I called my builders risk claims department.

The insurance company I used has an 800# claims department as well as the ability to report via agent.  I called them directly as the insured.  After things settled down, I identified myself as the agent.  The company assigned a claims adjuster within 24 hours and advised me to look for a phone call from the claims adjuster.

A few days later, the claims adjuster arrived and thoroughly examined the property.  He was reasonable in his examination and evaluation.  However, I had to do a few things.  He wanted me to prove that I was not going to replace the roof anyway.  The insurance company will not replace your roof or damage if the damage was scheduled to be completed anyway.  In that case, you would be profiting on the loss.  This is why they ask you the property cost, renovation costs, and final cost and value.

I provided the adjuster with my original scope of work documents, budgets, and estimates to prove I wasn’t trying to pull a fast one on the insurance company.  As a result, I received a large enough claims settlement to replace my roof.  In this case, the odds were in my favor.  Perhaps this will help you if you’re investing in real estate.

As I look out my window and see the February rains, I realize this could happen on my next real estate project.  The weather in North Texas in unpredictable.  Builders risk insurance is the easiest way to protect your real estate projects.  In my case, my project was a small $300,000 project.  Regardless of the size, the rules are the same.  A small premium, properly structured, can protect your business from financial loss. Carefully the consider, coverage and policy with the same regard

Term life insurance policy made just for kids

Tags: , , Dallas Insurance Rates, Life Insurance

Have you been searching for life insurance for a child?  In researching the topic term life insurance for children, I noticed there are few options available to today’s consumer.  Either you have to get a whole life insurance policy or the policy has to be a term rider dependent upon the parent having life insurance.  In my opinion, the most common options seem to be fundamentally flawed.

What if the parent is uninsurable for some reason?  What if a parent can’t afford to purchase life insurance for some reason?  The lack of child term life insurance options surprised me.  But when you think about it, it makes sense why there are no options.  Look no further than the economics of selling life insurance for children.

In fact, a brief internet search search yielded the following January 2016 Forbes article, Barbara Marquand quoted financial advisor Joseph Alfonso as saying, “I struggle with thinking of reasons why it would make sense,” and Rutherford Asset Planning’s CEO, Keith Amburgey, as saying” A smarter financial move than buying life insurance is to stash money into an emergency fund, which could be tapped for any type of crisis.”

In all of my insurance agent sleuthing, regarding life insurance for kids, I found that 99.9% of the insurance and financial services professionals vacillate between the following schools of thought:

  • purchasing life insurance for children is badinvest your money elsewhere.
  • it’s a good idea but look for strings attached like high premiums and dependency on parents policies.
  • Grandparents like it because they know they should have purchased it when they were younger

In reality, like any insurance policy, no answer is absolute.  What approach is the right approach?  Are financial planners right?  Is investing every extra penny the right thing to do?

Let’s face it, the odds of childhood deaths are so extremely low,  it makes it hard for insurance companies to set a fair premium without over-charging.  The economics of selling standalone term life insurance policies for children say, its’ too cheap.  Monthly payments are too costly unless its a whole life policy.  On the other side, insurance companies can ill afford to pay agent commissions on a term life policy for kids.

As a result, generally you can only get life insurance on a child if either the parent has a policy, or you purchase a whole life policy. Fortunately for me, I have that advantage over the typical journalist.  As a licensed insurance agent, I have friends that sell life insurance.  As a result, we can dive a little deeper into the world of life insurance and find the hidden gems.

Forbes should have interviewed David Walker

David Walker is a general agent and Branch Manager for Catholic Life Insurance Company.  In our conversation, he told me that his company has a novel approach to the problems associated with providing life insurance for kids.  Their policy,  is called a “Just for Kids” and it features a standalone term life insurance policy for children between the ages of 14 days and 16 years old.

Child term life no brainer

I’m going to make a bold statement and say that this by far is the lowest cost life insurance you can get for a child.  This policy answers the affordability questions posed by financial planners.  At the same time, this is truly a standalone children’s term life policy.  When I say there are no strings attached, the price says it all.  Catholic Life’s Just for Kids policy only costs $100 for a $10,000  or $200 for a $20,000 policy.

If there was one catch, I would say that you have to pay it in full.  So, imagine this, you have a newborn child or grandchild and you want to make sure they get life insurance.  While your financial planners tell you not to buy it, it will cost too much, you can now tell them you can get a convertible policy from a 117 year old insurance company issued in just a few days and for a one-time payment of $100 and get coverage until age 22.  What do you think your financial planner is going to say?  If he’s smart he’d tell you to call Catholic Life Insurance.

How to get a Just for Kids policy

In our discussions, Walker stated that the policy has a one page application with a few questions. So getting a policy is as simple as filling out the application and sending it in with a $100 payment.  Policies are usually issued within a few days.  From there, based on location, policies are either mailed or delivered by a local agent.

Additional Benefits

The Just for Kids term policy is a full blown term life insurance policy.  As a result, like the more expensive industry standard policies, this policy is also convertible (up to 5 times the face amount of $10,000 or $20,000) to any other Catholic Life Insurance product at age 22 without evidence of insurability.

As a result of these guarantees, Walker says that both parents and grandparents love the policy.  “Not having to worry about paying a monthly premium for a child removes a lot of stress especially for new parents that can’t afford a lot of insurance…”  As for grandparents, Walker says that grandparents love the one time payment. For a retired parent or grand parent that doesn’t want ongoing payments. The Just for Kids solves an tremendous problem in the quest to insure children.

A class by itself

This policy Catholic Life Just For kids term life insurance policy is truly in a class by itself.  In my research to confirm that this is the only policy of its kind, I found one other company that does this.  At three times the cost with fewer benefits and limited coverage for deaths before age 5, the policy was not worth mentioning.

Founded in 1901, Catholic Life Insurance provides a full portfolio of life insurance policies backed by over $1.1 billion in assets with $2 billion in policy premiums in force.  Let’s just say, this company isn’t going anywhere any time soon.  Because the company is a Fraternal, premium dollars go back into local communities through scholarships and community activities.

On the downside, Catholic Life only operates in the Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida.  Unless you live in one of these states, you’re out of luck.  Maybe that’s why so many insurance and financial services professionals have no clue this policy exists.

In the end, there’s no right or wrong answer, whether you go with the $100 life insurance policy, the policy equity index policy, or the whether you invest your money.  It’s up to you.

For Inquiries about the Catholic Life Just For Kids, click here to request more life insurance information.

How does your auto insurance compare

Tags: , Auto Insurance, Dallas Insurance Rates
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How does your auto insurance compare to the what’s available?  Let’s face it, if you’re like most people, you want great rates; right?  The problem is that reality is far different in many cases.  In order to make sure you get the right rates, and the best protection,  we explore your options and compare your policy to the competition.

The Office of Public Insurance Counsel has a comparison tool to help you understand the categories you should consider.  This tool will help you understand why company X can advertise with a cartoon character and offer low rates.  Coverage matters most.  Let’s look at a few differences, that way you understand why this is true.

Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability

Coverage under liability applies to injuries and damage to property caused by you or another covered driver.  In this case, you are legally liability for causing an accident.  It may surprise you to find that there are a few noticeable differences between covered drivers on Texas Auto policies.

A good example is the way insurance companies handle liability claims on Temporary Substitute Vehicles.  This could be a rental car, or it could be a car borrowed from a friend while on a trip. Some companies cover a temporary substitute auto for any reason in which you are liability.  Other companies limit this coverage to cases involving breakdowns, repair, loss, or destruction.  So no coverage on the trip.

Liability Permissive Drivers

Coverage for drivers that have permission is another place in which some insurance policies differ.  Odds are, if you purchased your car insurance from a place that offers a 1 month or 3 month auto insurance policy, you could have a coverage gap.  Some insurance policies only cover drivers that are listed in the policy; while unlisted drivers have no coverage, even in emergency cases.

How can you tell if you have exclusions or reduced coverage for unlisted drivers?  Get your ID card and look for the wording that doesn’t look right.  Texas insurance companies are required to list excluded drivers on your ID Card.

Uninsured Motorist and Personal Injury Protection

Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage will reimburse you, or a covered driver if hit by an uninsured or hit-and-run driver. Personal Injury Protection (PIP) pays for reasonable medical related expenses as well as lost income.  These protect you, personally.  Quite frankly, this is where many consumers cut corners. Before, you get worried, check your most recent declarations page or renewal.

If you notice the words “rejected”, “refused”, or “not covered”, then you probably signed or initialed something in writing.  That’s the only way to remove UM and PIP.  Now you have to ask yourself, “If I am injured in an accident, how much cash do I have saved?”  Without UM and PIP, you could wind up paying the first $5000 in medical expenses out of pocket.  Ahem, remember your Obamacare deductible?

In the end, the lowest rate is not always the best rate.  Coverage matters most. Financial protection should is more than just getting it cheap and fast.  If you’re like most people, you want coverage when it matters.  Regardless of the type of car insurance, the pennies you save on the month premium, could cost you thousands after a claim.  30 days prior to your next renewal, review your coverage and your company.  If you’re paying for car insurance, get the biggest bang for your buck and with the coverage you need and deserve.

5 Surprising Facts About Auto Insurance

Tags: , , Dallas Insurance Rates
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The Texas Department of Insurance recently published the following facts about auto insurance.  Since each company is a little different, I thought it would be a good idea to expand on the video from an insurance agent perspective.

Mexico doesn’t accept U.S. auto insurance

Yes, believe it or not, our neighbors to the South have very different rules when it comes to insurance.  As a result, your auto insurance will have very limited coverage (if any) when you cross into Mexico.  As a result, I normally suggest finding a company located near the boarder if you’re looking to drive into Mexico.  Even if your Texas auto insurance policy says it will cover within so many miles of the U.S. – Mexico Boarder, it’s better to be safe than sorry.  Make a mistake here, not only could you wind up paying for a claim out of your pocket, but you could also wind up in a Mexican jail.

Going green could save green.


Many insurance companies now offer a number of “Green” incentives.  If you go paperless, companies like Progressive will offer a discount for using their online services.  Also, if you rideshare, walk, or bike to work, the reduced commute could also result in lower rates.  Always discuss daily commutes and annual mileage when looking at your rates.

While driving less is a traditional means for saving money on car insurance, insurance companies are now getting a little more innovative.  Thanks to technology, car insurance companies have begun using devices to collect data on driver habits.  As a result, companies like Progressive and Safeco have introduced programs that provide immediate discounts in exchange for a little work on your part.  The next time you’re shopping for car insurance, you may want to ask whether your company offers additional discounts through electronic means as well.

Don’t feel rushed to sign a release after an accident

Under Texas Law, an insurance company that accepts liability (or fault) must promptly pay your claim.  The insurance policy prohibits them from doing otherwise.  As a claimant, you are not required to sign a liability waiver in order to receive damages.  If you feel that you are being pressured to sign a release in order to get paid by an insurance company, you should advise claims adjuster that it is unlawful to pressure a claimant into signing a release after a claim.

You Pick the repair shop

After a car accident, it is in the best interest of all parties involved to quickly settle your claim.  Keep in mind that you still have consumer rights; even if the other person’s insurance company is paying damages. While many car insurance providers have a network of claims and repair facilities, where you get repairs is up to you.  Keep in mind that an insurance company can only suggest or provide you a list of authorized facilities.  Regardless of who you choose, the repairs should be done in a manner that correctly repairs all damage caused in your accident or occurrence.

You can challenge the settlement offer.

Let’s give the insurance company the benefit of the doubt here.  The person adjusting your claim and offering a settlement is a human.  If they make a mistake or offer you too little for your settlement, you have the right to challenge the company’s offer.

While challenging the initial claims settlement offer if within your rights, that right comes at a cost.  In order to challenge an offer, you will have to hire your own appraiser.  Also, you’ll have to pay half the costs associated with the independent reviewer.  Before going through this step, contact the Texas Department of Insurance Consumer Help Line at 800-252-3439.

 

4 things you should know about Flood Insurance

Dallas Insurance Rates, flood insurance, Homeowners Insurance
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Texas Department of Insurance recently published an article regarding flood insurance.  Keep in mind that your home owners insurance policy does not cover damage from flood.  TDI suggests the following tips  when deciding if you need flood insurance in Texas.

Tip #1:  Determine your level of flood risk.

By visiting the FEMA Flood Map Service Center, you can determine whether you’re in a low, moderate, or high risk flood zone.   This gives you an idea of whether you’re at risk to flood according the government’s latest data.  As an insurance agent, we can obtain this data through one of our many flood insurance providers.  Our software interfaces with NFIP databases as a part of the rating process.  Making it easy to simultaneously get zone determinations and rates.

Tip# 2:  Buy it before you need it.

With the exception of lender required flood insurance, flood insurance has a 30-day waiting period before coverage takes effect.    Treat flood insurance like a credit, get it before you need it.

Tip #3: Average Cost

Before you do the normal consumer thing and call around to different agents, here’s a tidbit that will save you time.  If you’re like most people, saving time is also saving money.  According to TDI, the average flood insurance policy costs around $700 per year.  The cost is based on a number of factors including home value, flood zone determination, deductibles, and other factors.

Tip #4:  Where to get  flood insurance?

Luckily, we have that covered.  If you need coverage, you can start by filling out the form below.  From there, we will contact you to get the ball rolling.

Flood Insurance

Online Prelicensing Courses

Agents

We are pleased to announce our partnership with Testeachers Online and Testeachers Publishing.   We now offer high quality insurance pre-licensing courses right here.  If you’re looking for a method to study for your insurance licensing course but don’t have the means to drive to a pre-licensing training center, look no further.  Not only can you obtain the necessary materials to pass an insurance licensing exam, but you can also use Testeachers to pass securities licensing exams as well.

100% ONLINE INSURANCE LICENSING EDUCATION

logo_tto If you’re looking for a completely online solution, this solution is for you.  With over a 90% pass ratio, Testeachers Online has helped provide test specific prep materials for insurance and FINRA/NASAA securities exams for over 40 years.  The best part about all your studying is now available online. Depended upon the license type, packages start at $99.00.  Click the Tessteachers Online link to select the package for the license you’re looking for.

100% ONLINE INSURANCE LICENSING WITH CLASSROOM FLAIR

logo_ttpAre you more of a paper and pen person?  Do you prefer using traditional study materials over online materials and exam simulators?  If you’re that kind of person, you should consider Testeachers Publishing’s traditional licensing material packages.  With Testeachers Publishing you can purchase the materials you need in order to pass your insurance licensing or securities exam.  Whether you’re looking for study materials, exam simulator CD-ROM, Audio CDs or DVDs, we now have a solution for you.  Click the link to the left in order to get started.

Both licensing programs for Texas life & health and property & casualty are created and designed for the Pearson Vue insurance exams.  As a result, Testeachers ensures that you will pass your exam the first time regardless of whether you use the online video lecture, self study, or online materials.

To help facilitate your training, you can also get upgrades to have access to crosswords and even live instructors.  That way you can also get access to all archived and current instructor reviews while your course is active.  That way, you’re online with an instructor that can answer your questions.  Look for the “Live Reviews” for this upgrade.

Both links offer insurance and securities exam preparation in all 50 states.  While they default to the state of Texas, if you haven’t found what you’re looking for, simply contact our office and we can help you find the proper exam prep training to get you going.

Determining your Amazon commercial insurance costs in Texas

Business Insurance, Truck Insurance
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Lately, I’ve received a number of calls from budding entrepreneurs across the nation.  Everyone wants to know, how much does it cost to carry insurance for Amazon and Amazon Prime Delivery drivers.  Since I’m getting so many phone calls, I thought it would be a good idea to put post this article.  Before I dive into that, here are few basic disclaimers.

  1. I am an insurance agent licensed to appointed to write insurance in the State of Texas.  If you’re inquiring about other states, find an agent there.
  2. The following information is based on general information and actual clients.  Your could differ a little; your rates could vary tremendously from ones on this article.
  3. Everything is subject to approval by the perspective insurance company.
  4. Questions about Amazon contracting and bidding should be directed to Amazon.  I am in no way affiliated with Amazon, Amazon Prime, Amazon Prime Now, Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin or anything else in that family.

Now for the stuff you’ve been wondering about.  First thing’s first, if you haven’t seen my other video, you need to know their basic requirements.  You can find them at this link here.  If you don’t feel like going there, I’ve taken the liberty to post below.

Part 1:  Train Your Drivers

Amazon wants you to have some type of “written training program that includes safety policies, procedures, and training for your drivers.”  If you’re looking to grow your fleet, this is key in avoiding unnecessary claims.  The last thing you want to do is have drivers causing damage, having motor vehicle accidents, accidents and injuries.  Lots of claims makes your insurance difficult to obtain and afford.  If you can’t keep the insurance you can stay in business.  If you’re a start up, you may be able to get away with not completing this step.  The moment, you get another driver, the game changes.  So you owe it to yourself to put this in place.

Part 2:  Meet The Insurance Requirements

To meet the insurance requirements, understand the following first:

The most common complain I hear is that Amazon doesn’t help guide you through their process.  They ask for insurance first and then they’ll talk to you.  That’s because, they don’t have time to hold your hand in the process.  They’re Amazon!  So the most successful companies have delivered or  currently delivery for other companies.  New ventures beware!  Here’s a tip:  If you can sign up with other companies as well, you probably stand a better chance because you know the ins and outs of being a courier or delivery driver in Texas.

Now the insurance requirements.

  • Commercial General Liability: $1,000,000 per occurrence and $2,000,000 aggregate
  • Business or Commercial Auto Liability:  $1,000,000 combined single limit
  • Cargo Liability: $25,000 per occurrence
  • Workers’ Compensation:  $1,000,000

Part 3:  Vehicle Recommendations

As posted on their logistics site, Amazon wants you to have a cargo van of at least 200 cubic feet of volume.  Keep in mind that in your business auto costs, you should consider physical damage, uninsured motorists coverage, and even towing or rental if your vehicle qualifies for it.  The last thing you’ll want to do is get a policy, have an accident, and not have the money to replace or repair the vehicle after an accident.  This means you’re no longer in business.  We both know that Amazon will find the next person to take your spot if your company cannot fulfill its obligation.

Rate Observations

That’s a loaded question.  Since it depends on so many factors, I’ll try to give you an idea of extremes in North Texas.   The best  bet is to call me if you live in Texas and you have the necessary information.

Scenario 1:  The Solo Delivery Driver

“Delivery/ Courier Service”

Time in Business: New Venture

Estimated Driver Age 33-40  years

Vehicle Type: Cargo Van – Value $36000

Cargo Liability Limit:  $25,000

Estimated Payroll:  $58,000  There are minimum payroll numbers you cannot go below

Radius: 50-100 miles

In this scenario I’ve seen the following rates:

Commercial Auto & Cargo Liability

$300-$700 per month

General Liability

$700 to $1100 per year.

Workers Compensation

$2700 to $5000 per year.

Scenario 2:  Truck Driver that does other Delivery

“Light and Local Trucking”

Time in Business:  3 Years

Estimated Driver Age 35-40  years

Vehicle Type: Straight Truck or Box Truck – Value $50000

Cargo Liability Limit: $100,000

Estimated Payroll:  $40,000 per person

Radius: up to 500 miles (could vary the rates)

In this scenario I’ve seen the following rates:

Commercial Auto & Cargo Liability

$600 – $1000 per month

General Liability

$900 to $1500 per year

Workers Compensation

$7000 to $9000 per year per driver based on payroll audit

Scenario 3:  Trucking Company with Interstate Commerce

“Trucking Company delivering between logistics centers possibly carrying loads across state lines”

Time in Business:  4 Years

Estimated Driver Age 35-40  years or older

Vehicle Type: Truck Tractors with Dry Van Trailers

Cargo Liability Limit:  $100,000

Estimated Payroll:  $40,000 per person

Radius: up to 500 miles (could vary the rates)

In this scenario I’ve seen the following rates:

Commercial Auto & Cargo Liability

$600 – $1000 per month

General Liability

$900 to $1500 per year based on the number of truck and payroll

Workers Compensation

$7000 to  $9000 per year per driver

Business Auto Rating Considerations

For the delivery business, this is the foundation of your plan.  As a result, leasing a vehicle and using the lease company’s insurance will not work.  The companies you contract with want to see that your business has its own commercial auto policy in case you’re stopped or have an accident.  Regarding pricing, a number of factors go into premium calculations.  For the business auto is the most complicated of all the other requirements.  The owner’s insurance score, address, radius, age, and driving record affect business auto insurance rates.  Other considerations that affect the auto rates include the vehicle ages, type, size, operating radius,  value, and whether the owner or driver decides to carry coverages like physical damage (including comprehensive and collision), uninsured motorists, personal injury protection (PIP), towing, rental etc.  While Amazon only requires you to carry $25,000 cargo legal liability, some delivery drivers carry higher limits as they may delivery for multiple companies that have different requirements.

General Liability Coverage and Rating Considerations

More than likely, the general liability coverage is going to be based on either your estimated gross revenue or your estimated payroll.  For that reason, I ask both.  Generally, the rate has returned somewhere in the $1000 range per driver.  As I previously stated, it’s important to have the auto liability in place.  Otherwise, your policy stands the chance of being rejected by the underwriting department.  Personal auto insurance does not count.  Neither Amazon, nor the general liability company will accept it.

Workers’ Compensation Rating Considerations

To get this quote, you will need to provide a social security number or a federal employer identification number.  There are no exceptions to this requirement with any company.  Your rates will be based on the type of business you operate as well as your total payroll exposure.  Also, if you’re to office person or the boss, you can include yourself in the workers comp rate as well.  If you’re the only person, insurance companies dislike rates for one driver with that person excluded as the owner.  They call those ghost policies, and they’re frowned upon.  So, for single person risks, you’ll end up paying for it regardless.  If have employees, officers have the ability to exclude themselves.  However, you have to specify whether you want to exclude officers or owners from coverage.  That’s up to you.  In Texas, you may opt out by filing as a non-subscriber to workers comp.  I don’t know if Amazon will accept the non-subscriber form.   Keep in mind that regardless of whether your drivers are 1099 or W2 employees, you’re responsible as the employer if they’re injured on the job.  So consider carefully before you opt out of workers’ compensation for any business type.

Customize the quote for your company

Ultimately, these numbers are only as good as the information submitted.  As with all insurance policies, rates must be approved by insurance companies before they are finalized.  I hope this helps demystify the Amazon insurance process a little.  As you already know, the company will not talk to you until you show that you have met their minimum requirements.  If this helps, give it a share, thumbs up, or +1 on your favorite social media..   If you’re in Texas and need a quote, feel free to contact me for quotes.  I would love to help you grow your business.

 

Update your insurance before your next Facebook post

Tags: , Homeowners Insurance
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While Facebook can be a very useful tool for sharing photos, updating your status, and catching up with long lost friends; an errant post could lead to legal action.  Consider the actions of a Melbourne Australia woman who thought she was warning people about a child predator taking photos of children at  the Westfield Knox Target.  The woman (who wishes to remain anonymous) took a photo of a many and shamed him on Facebook; calling him a ‘creep’.

Facebook post about Melbourne man

Subsequently, the Facebook was shared over 20,000 times.  In fact, woman even called the police to notify them of a child predator. However, the man, and father of three, had a perfectly honest explanation for his actions.  After one of his friends told him that his picture was being shared on Facebook, he went to the local police to clear his name and explain his actions.  That’s not the end of the story.

After finding out that she made a mistake, the woman removed the post and attempted to contact the man and ask for forgiveness.  Too late lady!  By that time, the man had already begun receiving death threats for his “activities”.  Now, the woman that shared the post is also receiving death threats for her mistake.

Facebook Image of Melbourne Man

The insurance perspective?

In this case, the woman could face civil litigation for her actions.  While trying to do her civic duty, the woman could face a lawsuit for libel.  Many umbrella policies provide protection against libel and slander accusations.  Have you ever posted something in error?

Consider the following definitions:

li·bel – a published false statement that is damaging to a person’s reputation; a written defamation.
  1. synonyms: defamation, defamation of character, character assassination,calumny, misrepresentation, scandalmongering; More
(in admiralty and ecclesiastical law) a plaintiff’s written declaration.
verb
 1. LAW
defame (someone) by publishing a libel.
“she alleged the magazine had libeled her”
synonyms: defame, malign, slander, blacken someone’s name, sully someone’s reputation, speak ill/evil of, traduce, smear, cast aspersions on, drag someone’s name through the mud, besmirch, tarnish, taint, tell lies about, stain, impugn someone’s character/integrity, vilify, denigrate,disparage, run down, stigmatize, discredit, slur; More
2.  (in admiralty and ecclesiastical law) bring a suit against (someone).
Since the woman’s post caused damage to the man’s reputation, she could face future legal challenges.  The unnamed Star Wars fan has a good case against the woman. Even though she’s attempted to contact him numerous times and offer an apology, death threats and 20,000 shares on Facebook may do irreparable harm to his image.
Hopefully, this woman has a good home insurance and umbrella policy to protect her in case of the possible legal charges she’s about to face. This should serve as a reminder before you share your next Facebook post.  Get your facts straight before you post, share, tweet or re-tweet.  Also check your homeowners insurance and your umbrella policy.  If you make the same mistake, and your policy doesn’t cover libel or slander, your next post could cost you millions!

 

Big construction insurance tips for trade contractors

Tags: , , , , , Business Insurance
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Dallas is booming if you have an affinity for the construction business.  Insurance requirements have a way spoiling the mood for small business owners.  When it comes to construction trade contractors, it’s much worse.  Most construction trades purchase general liability insurance policies expecting that to be enough to complete a job and get paid.  As construction exposures continue to increase in complexity, contractor insurance now require more complex endorsements and policy changes to match.

What does a smart small business person do to combat ever increasing coverage complexities?  Not be trite, but knowledge is power.  So, I’ve come up with a few tips to help you understand what to look for when you’re negotiating a deal.  This article will help you sign up with more contractors and get paid for the work you do.  If you understand the insurance pitfalls, you can get more jobs, and make more money.  If you’re like most small contractors, more money is a good thing.  So read on.

General liability is a good start

Remember the Oldsmobile slogan, “It’s not your father’s Oldsmobile”?  Consider that the slogan for today’s insurance requirements.  “It’s not your father’s general liability”.   In the past, you could simply provide your liability certificate of insurance and move on right?  While obtaining liability might be a good start for most small businesses, for many this policy type is only a starting point.  If you expect to perform recurring services, you can expect your contractor to add them as additional insured by way of policy endorsement.

Aside from the additional insured policy, we’re seeing other endorsements including waivers of subrogation, primary and contributory endorsements, and several others.  Ultimately,  The addition of these endorsements to your liability are important in several key ways including:

  • Special endorsements must come from the insurance carrier.
  • Contractors can contractually withhold payment for failing to meet requirements.
  • These endorsements quite often lead to increased insurance costs.

While General Liability is a good start for you business, always review your contract’s insurance requirements to ensure you have the right additions to your general liability policy.

Consider commercial auto insurance for job site driving exposures.

While most small subcontractors starting out attempt operate business with liability, many businesses now require their trade contractors to carry general liability and commercial auto liability.  We’ve noticed an increased number of construction management, general contractors, and property management companies require either personal auto liability limits or commercial auto liability with combined single limits of $1,000,000 or more.

If you’re like most small trades, you’re probably thinking, “Why do I need commercial auto liability?”  The truth is our society has become complex enough that one could be sued for a slip and fall in a parking lot.  As a result, larger companies want to ensure that all contractors working for them have a standardized minimum amount of coverage; just in case. Aside from increasing contractual requirements, commercial auto policies extend liability to employees and vehicles whether your business owns the vehicles or not.  On a personal policy, if an employee or contractor has an accident your vehicle, it is not covered.  Imagine this happening on a job site.  I’ll let you fill in the blanks.  Besides, all the contracts that pay money require some sort of business auto liability.

Tax status has nothing to do with Workers Compensation

When it comes to workers compensation, the common mistake small businesses make is to not consider 1099 contractors as employees.  In Texas, because the state does not mandate workers compensation, many small businesses ignore this coverage all together.  With many construction trades, this is a recipe for disaster.  So, with workers comp, consider the following before you consider omitting this from your insurance portfolio

You’re still liability for job-related injuries

If a subcontractor has an injury on your job site or under your contract, you are liability.  While they are working for you, a court would consider them to be your employee.  The fact that chose not to pay payroll taxes is a matter of contract and tax law.  It has nothing to do with financial responsibility.

Make sure someone gets it workers comp

If you decide that your business is too small to obtain workers compensation, make sure that all subcontractors obtain workers compensation and provide copies of their insurance certificate.  Not only does this send a strong message, but it also ensures the guys on your job site have the necessary protections in place in case of injury.  If you are the subcontractor, consider getting workers compensation.  An injury could close your business’ doors for good.

Review your contract before pricing your product or service

While it may seem to be a hassle, reading job contracts is one of the most important things you can do as a small business owner.  Signing a contractor prior to reading it could make difference between making and losing money; just because of the insurance requirements.  Also, it could make the difference between getting paid and being placed on vendor hold due to insufficient insurance requirements.

Have your insurance agent review your contract

We suggest our clients send us a copy of any contract that has insurance requirements.  This gives us the opportunity to review the contract for unnecessary insurance coverage endorsements.  We also have the opportunity to discuss any added exposures due to the type of work being completed.  In the end, if the insurance goes awry, at least you can blame your agent and call him to make it right.

Everybody is doing it

For example, a large number of national home builders require subcontractors to add them as additional insured for completed and ongoing operations.  In this case, the subcontractor’s coverage provides coverage for the contractor after the product is completed and job is done.  What about the spray wash guy or the person that fills in a cracked tub?  These types of businesses are service related.  As a result, the completed operations endorsement would be a bit unnecessary since a concrete power washer is simply servicing the finished concrete.

The previous example is one of many examples we witness when dealing with small construction insurance requirements.  The key is to catch them and address them before you start work.  The last thing we want to do is perform work and not get paid; right!

To Sum it all up

There you have it.  4 things tips for trade contractors that will make your insurance life much easier.

  1. Start with General Liability and expect more requirements
  2. If you drive to a job-site, you and your employees or subcontractors may need commercial auto
  3. Consider workers compensation for your employees or subcontractors; tax status does not matter.
  4. Review insurance requirements in every contract with your insurance agent

Have questions, contact my office at 214-717-4326 or comment below!  We’re ready to assist you and answer your questions.