October 31st, 2008
by Chris Oakley | No Comments »
In the state of Florida there are three premium credits available to employers to reduce the cost of workers’ compensation insurance. To receive these credits the employer must establish these programs within their business and apply for them through their insurance carrier. These credits have to be reapplied for each year through the carrier to be awarded the credits.
The first credit is a “Safety Program Premium Credit” which saves 2% of the total premium. This credit is available for employers who have certified that they have established a workplace safety program that satisfies the requirements of Section 440.1025 of the Florida Statues. It also should be noted that this program could save you from incidents resulting in claims that could increase your premium in the future years and has the potential to minimize your premium for having minimal claims.
Another 5% credit could be established for developing a “Drug Free Workplace”. This credit is applied to the insured’s policy pro rata as of the date of receipt of certification by the carrier.
The third credit available is for companies that perform landscaping duties under the class code 0042. This credit is called the “Florida Contracting Premium Adjustment Program” or FCCPAP. Payroll must be composed of wages greater than $10.00 per hour to qualify for this credit that can range anywhere between 5% and 25%.
Please click here to download these premium credit forms.
October 30th, 2008
by Drew Roberts, CPCU, ARM | 1 Comment »
Our Branding Partner
We receive many compliments about our branding of BearWise
and design quality of the website and brochures. We put a lot of thought into the program and wanted quality pieces that would demonstrate the attention to detail that we give to our landscaping clients. However, we cannot take full credit for this work. Our agents have a great understanding of insurance, but their graphic design skills are less than exceptional. We worked with a company out of Atlanta named Matchstic
to create the BearWise logo and all of our materials.
Matchstic is a premier design company that does work on many large projects and for a variety of businesses. We were very pleased with the service and exceptional work they provided and we highly recommend them. Here is an overview of the work they did for BearWise Landscapers. Matchstic specializes in creating brand identities that will standout and they allow your business to have a consistent image that differentiates the products and services you offer from those of your competitors. Here is a quote from the Matchstic website:
“Branding is all about mindset. It’s what people think, feel, and say about you. It’s why they will or won’t do business with you. So we always begin by thinking strategically and looking for ways to define your brand in an honest, fresh, and engaging way. Once we define what makes your brand standout, we begin the process of creating a visual identity that effectively communicates who you are to the rest of the world.”
What does the name and identity of your landscaping business say to prospective clients? It is very important that the identity and reputation of your landscaping business is reflective of the quality services that you offer.
The same thing is true for BearWise Landscapers. We created a brand that would reflect the quality insurance service our agents provide to landscapers. We did not want a flashy logo and brochures that gave false promises to prospective clients. Our focus is and will always be on the service we provide and we created a brand identity that would reflect our specialization and attention to detail. At BearWise Landscapers, we look forward to the opportunity of having a positive impact on your landscaping business and also look forward to earning your trust as a client.
October 29th, 2008
by Drew Roberts, CPCU, ARM | 4 Comments »
Yesterday, the Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty issued a final order approving the new workers’ compensation rates for Florida that will be effective January 1st, 2009. The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) submits proposals to the state whenever rate changes are needed. The state of Florida reviews these proposals and issues new rates.
The new workers’ compensation rates in Florida will be reduced by an average of 18.6, which is even lower than the 14.1 percent proposed by NCCI. This is great news for business owners (estimated to save businesses $610 million this year) and it demonstrates the improvements in Florida’s comp market since the 2003 legislative reforms. At that time, Florida had the highest rates in the country on workers’ compensation and now it is no longer even in the top ten states. This will be the sixth reduction in rates since 2003 with a total impact of more than 60 percent. The current rates on workers compensation are still in effect for landscapers until January 1st and we will let you know the specifics rates for your industry as we approach that date.
This could potentially be the last rate decrease, as a recent Florida Supreme Court case (Murray vs. Mariners Health/Ace USA) was recently ruled in favor of increasing lawyers fees. Capping these fees was one of the biggest causes of decreased rates in that 2003 reform. The impact of this ruling on rates is still unkown and will be seen over the upcoming years. In the meanwhile, enjoy the reduced rates. If you would like a workers’ compensation quote for your landscaping business, please click the ‘Get an Insurance Quote’ tab in the menu at the top of our webpage.
October 29th, 2008
by Drew Roberts, CPCU, ARM | No Comments »
Umbrella and excess liability policies are used to increase the liability limits above the underlying policies of your landscaping business. The basic distinction between excess liability insurance and umbrella liability insurance is:
- Excess liability policies are designed to provide coverage above the limits of the underlying coverage. It offers no broader protection than that provided by the underlying policy. In fact, the excess liability coverage may even be more restrictive than the underlying coverage.
- Umbrella liability policies are a type of excess liability that not only provide additional limits (as excess liability policies do) but also provide coverage not available in the underlying coverage. When additional coverage is provided by the umbrella liability policy, it is usually subject to the insured’s assumption of a self-insured retention, or retained limit.
The image below demonstrates the basic difference between excess and umbrella liability policies. In this example, both the excess liability policy and the umbrella policy provide $1 million of additional liability coverage for the same losses covered by the underlying policies. In addition, the umbrella policy covers some losses not covered by the underlying insurance, subject to a self-insured retention of $25,000.
Diagram of Umbrella vs Excess Liability Coverage
Most umbrella and excess liability policies are not written on standardized forms, so it is always important to read your policies to see what they actually cover. In actual practice, the line between excess and liability coverage is often blurred. Many excess liability policies are referred to as umbrella policies and since the coverage definitions are developed by individual insurance companies, umbrella and excess liability policies can vary greatly in what they actually cover. Another thing to note is that most excess and umbrella policies are written as a self-contained policy, but some are written as a following-form. In following-form policies, the coverage is not defined and simply stated that it applies only if the loss is covered by the underlying insurance.
If you ever have any questions regarding excess or umbrella liability policies for your landscaping business, please do not hesitate to contact an agent at BearWise Landscapers.
October 28th, 2008
by Drew Roberts, CPCU, ARM | 3 Comments »
Dividend plans are used on workers’ compensation policies as a way to lower premium. Since the Florida workers’ compensation rates are determined by the Office of Insurance Regulation, it is hard for many insurance carriers to compete with each other on price. One way in which they can do this is through dividend plans.
Dividend plans are also a great way a great way to align to goals of the insurance company and the insured business to prevent and control workers compensation claims. These plans motivate employers to keep a safe working environment and to manage risks for their employees. In return for successfully accomplishing this goal, employers are returned a percentage of their premium after the policy period. Many workers compensation carriers will offer dividend plans to insureds that have surpassed a minimum premium amount and have minimized their losses. Dividend plans are a great opportunity for landscaping businesses to lower their insurance expenses because a large portion of their premium dollars goes to this line of insurance. We have access to carriers that offer dividends that will return up to 40% of the premium to your company if claims are prevented for an entire policy period.
The two most common types of dividend plans available are a flat-dividend plan and a sliding-scale dividend plan. A flat-dividend plan returns a flat percentage of the premium back to the eligible policies. Under a sliding-scale dividend plan, the size of the dividend returned depends on the insured’s loss ratio. The lower the loss ratio is at the expiration date; the higher the dividend payment will be.
It is important to point out that dividends cannot be guaranteed. Dividends are not paid out until the end of the policy and the rate has to be declared by the insurer’s board of directors. The board of directors occasionally will reduce dividends and also has the ability to declare no dividends at all. This is why it is important to look at the rating or financial strength of the insurance company.
Once again, an employer who implements proper safety training and procedures and manages employee risk will over time minimize losses, which potentially can result very high dividend payouts.
We represent several great workers compensation companies that are offering some wonderful dividend plans and would like the opportunity to offer workers comp quotes to your landscaping business with options of dividend plans. Contact one of our agents or complete our easy online form so we can get started on your quotes today.
October 27th, 2008
by Drew Roberts, CPCU, ARM | 3 Comments »
It is important to know and consider the financial stability of your insurance carrier and the stability of those from whom you are comparing quotes. This information is available to the public. You should look this up and take the precautionary measures to avoid a potential situation of having your policy with an insurance carrier that is financially unable to pay claims.
Feel free to contact the agents at BearWise Landscapers about the rating of any insurance carrier. You may also use a one of the primary third party financial rating companies that provide this information:
- AM Best – This is the premier rating authority on insurance carriers. They review current financial data on insurance carriers and trends in the data over the past years. You can receive reports on insurance carriers through their website, www.ambest.com.
- Demotech – This is an alternative rating source for newer insurance carriers that have not been included in the AM Best rating. For more information about Demotech, please read this article. You can also receive reports on their website, www.demotech.com.
You can be assured that our agents look up the financial data on every insurance carrier through which we offer quotes and we stay current on new rating releases from a variety of sources. Feel free to contact us with any questions you have regarding insurance carriers.
October 24th, 2008
by Drew Roberts, CPCU, ARM | 2 Comments »
Insurance is the best option for businesses wishing to transfer the risk of certain exposures to another company. It replaces the unknown and varying costs of these risks for a stable insurance premium that is known in advance. This allows landscaping businesses the opportunity to plan expenses and reduce the uncertainty of providing continual services to clients.
Insurance is not designed to cover all of the exposures faced by your business. Certain risks are better suited to be covered by insurance than others. Below are six characteristics of ideal risk exposures to be covered by insurance:
- 1. Pure Risk
Pure Risk is a chance of loss or no loss, but no chance of gain. Insurance is designed to pay for damages and is not intended to allow insureds the ability to profit from the coverage.
- 2. Fortuitous Losses
The associated loss should be fortuitous (or accidental) from the insured’s perspective. Insurance policies normally exclude coverage for losses that are expected or deliberately caused by the insured.
- 3. Definite and Measurable
Insurance typically provides coverage for a specified period, after which the insurer is not obligated to pay for the insured’s losses. Similarly, the insurance policy contains limits of liability that allow the insurer to limit loss amounts.
- 4. Homogenous
The loss exposure must also be homogeneous, that is, one of a large number of similar exposure units. Similar exposure units improve loss predictability.
- 5. Independent and Not Catastrophic
Insurance is based on the premise that only a small percentage of the loss exposures will experience a loss at any one time. Similarly, the loss must not be catastrophic; a situation insurers avoid by limiting the accumulated value of insured properties in a particular area.
- 6. Affordable
Insurers sell insurance and organizations buy insurance only when it makes good economic sense to do so. Exposures involving high loss frequency or low loss severity often fail to meet that criterion.
These insurance characteristics are the ideal and not necessarily required for a risk to be insurable. Many loss exposures do not meet all of these characteristics and can still be insured through a variety of options. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about exposures faced by your landscaping business and to get premium quotations on covering your insurable risks.
October 23rd, 2008
by Drew Roberts, CPCU, ARM | 2 Comments »
There is nothing worse in insurance than reporting a claim to your insurance carrier and finding out that it is excluded from coverage under the policy. Because of this, policy exclusions receive a lot of bad publicity, but in reality, they are very helpful in lowering premiums and making insurance practical for those wishing to purchase it. The primary purpose of exclusions is to clarify the coverages granted by the insurer by specifying what the insurer does not intend to cover. Most of the exclusions can be removed from the policy or coverage for them can also be added through endorsements. Here are six reasons for having exclusions on an insurance policy:
- 1. Eliminate coverage for uninsurable loss exposures
Some loss exposures (such as intentional acts) possess few if any of the ideal characteristics of an insurable loss exposure. Exclusions allow insurers to preclude coverage for these loss exposures.
- 2. Assist in managing moral and morale hazards
Moral hazards are defects or weaknesses in human character that lead some people to exaggerate losses or intentionally cause them to collect insurance proceeds. Morale hazards exist when the likelihood or severity of a loss is increased because a person is not as careful as the person should be in preventing losses from occurring. Some exclusions aim to minimize both of these types of hazards.
- 3. Reduce likelihood of coverage duplications
In some cases, two insurance policies provide coverage for the same loss. Exclusions ensure that two policies work together to provide complimentary, not duplicate, coverage and that insureds are not paying duplicate premiums.
- 4. Eliminate coverages not needed by the typical insured
Exclusions sometimes allow insurers to exclude coverage for loss exposures not faced by the typical insured. This means that all insureds would not have to share the costs of covering the loss exposures that relatively few insureds have. These exposures can be added to coverage under the policy for those few insureds by eliminating the exclusion.
- 5. Eliminate coverages requiring special treatment
Exclusions eliminate the coverages that require substantially different insurer services from what is normally required.
- 6. Assist in keeping premiums reasonable
Exclusions allow insurers to preclude insuring loss exposures that would otherwise increase costs. By keeping costs down, insurers can offer premiums that a sufficiently large number of insurance buyers consider reasonable.
Knowing the purpose and reasons for exclusions allows you to have a better approach to insurance and understanding of how it can benefit your business. Always check the exclusions in your insurance policies to make sure they do not eliminate coverage for exposures faced by your landscaping business. If you have any questions regarding your insurance coverage, please feel free to contact the agents at BearWise Landscapers.
October 22nd, 2008
by Drew Roberts, CPCU, ARM | 1 Comment »
Insurance Policy Design
Insurance policies can be complicated to understand. Determining what the policy covers and does not cover is easier when you know how insurance policies are typically structured. The majority of policies are composed of pre-printed documents that are attached and referenced through the custom declarations pages. Please view the image to the right for a diagram of how the policies are structured. Below is a description of each part of the policy:
The “declarations” page is usually the first page of the policy. It is often typed instead of being on a pre-printed form. It will show who the “named insured” of the policy is, and will list the type of coverages that are provided in the policy (such as “liability” or “commercial auto” or “workers’ compensation”). The declarations also list coverage limits for each type of coverage (in other words, the amount of coverage that has been purchased), and will list the endorsements that are part of the policy.
The “definitions” explain how the insurance company has used certain words or terms in the policy. For example, the policy is likely to refer to the insurance company as “us.” The term “us” will be a defined term in the policy. Similarly, the policy will refer to “you” and that term will be defined to mean “the named insured described in the declarations.”
The “coverages” contain the promises that the insurance company has made. They explain what the policy provides coverage for.
“Exclusions” are provisions that take away coverage that would otherwise be provided by the policy. For more information about exclusions, read this article.
The “conditions” explain what the policyholder must do in order to qualify for coverage in the event of a loss, and explain how losses will be paid. Some conditions in the policy will be strictly enforced. Others, by contrast, will be subject to statutes or legal rules that effectively make them unenforceable.
“Endorsements” are special provisions added to the policy to change its terms. They are most commonly used to modify the terms of a policy after it has been issued. Rather than issue an entirely new policy, the insurer will simply issue an endorsement that refers to the part of the policy it is changing, and which will replace that provision. Sometimes, insurance companies will issue a basic policy, but will allow the policyholder to purchase additional types of coverage by paying an increased premium. These special coverages will often be added by endorsement.
It can sometimes be difficult to differentiate between the parts of a policy. Insurers may limit coverage by defining policy terms in a special way. Or they may include language in one section of the policy that would seem to belong in a different section. For example, they may limit the scope of a coverage with exclusionary language contained within the insuring clause, instead of in a separate exclusion. Or they may limit the scope of an exclusion by inserting language that creates an exception to its operation (called an exception to an exclusion).
As a result, it is often difficult for business owners to read and understand their insurance policies. At BearWise Landscapers, we are available to assist your landscaping business in understanding the coverage terms offered by each policy. Please review your policies and feel free to contact our agents with any questions regarding your insurance.
October 21st, 2008
by Chris Oakley | No Comments »
After determining the insurance needs of your business
and selecting BearWise Landscapers as your insurance agency, it is time to begin the process of quoting the insurance for your business. Our agents will need to gather information about your business exposures and operations. The fastest way to do this is through our online quote request form
Once this information is obtained by our agents and they have reviewed the coverage specifications determined from the unique insurance needs of your business, our agents will create applications for your landscaping business. These applications are used to present your business exposures to the insurance carriers we access. It usually takes a couple of business days to receive final quotes from these carriers and once they are received, our agents will take the time to review each quote. The insurance coverage offered in the quotes are evaluated to confirm that each offer is correctly rated and that it conforms adequately to the desired specifications. The stability of the insurance carrier is also reviewed along with any additional coverages offered in the quotes. Final decisions are usually based on value and the goals of your business. Our agents will sometimes share multiple quotes with our clients, but we usually select the most appropriate quote to present to you.
The final insurance quote is presented to your business in a proposal that outlines the coverage offered. Our agents strongly suggest clients to ask questions regarding this final quote and others that were eliminated. Often times, the best analysis of coverage is through discussing hypothetical claim situations. When your business agrees on the final quote, there are documents that need to be signed and the insurance contract is bound between your business and the insurance carrier.
After your business enters into the insurance contract, it is also important to review the policy documents and keep in contact with our agents to discuss any changes in business operations that would affect your coverage and premium amounts. It is also important to familiarize yourself with the way the insurance carrier handles claims and the steps you need to take in the event of a claim. Always feel free to contact our agents with any questions.
We look forward to serving your business and thank you for the opportunity to establish and handle your insurance program.