Credits and Discounts to Personal Lines Auto Policies for COVID-19

In a time of constant change and uncertainty good news is always welcome.  Most Personal Lines Auto Carriers are offering the “Stay-at-Home” credit to auto policies as a relief during COVID-19.  This is a great gesture to assist in easing the stress and financial hardship faced by consumers during this unprecedented time. Carriers realize people are driving less under the Stay-At-Home order. Some are issuing refunds, some are giving percentages of premium as discounts, and others are offering a specified lower amount per vehicle listed on the policy.

Some Carriers will extend these discounts and credits beyond April and May 2020. No action is required on your part to receive the discount. You will see your premiums due are lower as a result of this discount.  Several Carriers are also suspending any cancellations because of nonpayment and waiving late fees.  Please contact us if you have any questions regarding your specific account.

If you have not received notice from your Personal Auto Carrier yet, you have some other options.

  1. We are happy to assist you to re-rate your policy based upon lower annual mileage. Lowering miles driven for the current policy period may reduce premiums.
  2. We never recommend lowering coverage such as liability or collision to save money. We could increase your deductible to lower premiums while you are driving less miles. A higher deductible will lower premiums.
  3. We are always happy to shop our multiple Carriers to ensure you are receiving the best coverage for the best price in the current market.

We hope you and yours are all healthy and well and please know that even though our doors are still closed we are open for business.  Our team has all the technology and resources to offer the same great service and solutions virtually.

We appreciate your business and look forward to being of service to you,

The ISA Team

Understanding How the Vacancy Clause in your Insurance Policy Affects your Coverage During COVID-19

Amidst COVID-19, several common areas of coverage are questioned:  Business Interruption, General Liability, Workers Compensation, Cyber Liability, etc.  One less commonly addressed issue is the comprehension of the Vacancy Clause within policies.  The Vacancy Clause recognizes the vulnerabilities to a property’s vandalism, undiscovered damage, and increase in severity of loss for a “covered peril”.  If a property is unoccupied or vacant, it is naturally more susceptible to loss. Therefore, carriers have provisions within the policy to address these issues. It is crucial to be mindful of vacancy definitions, exclusions and provisions; particularly during COVID-19.

What is Considered a Vacant Property?

“Vacancy” can be measured in multiple ways depending on your policy verbiage. Examples include:  Personal Lines/Homeowners: “How much furniture is in your home or business location?” “Was the damage by a covered cause of loss exaggerated by lack of attention or attendance at the property?” To illustrate: If pipes burst in your home, your second home, or a rental dwelling you possess, that you have not been able to travel to during COVID-19, and the damage becomes significant as a result of inability to visit or maintain accordingly.

Commercial Lines: The typical Commercial Property is considered “vacant” unless a minimum of 31% of its total square footage is rented or used to conduct operations per the policy’s “description of operations”.  Many Lessors are experiencing a drop in occupancy rates as businesses downsize and enable staff to work remotely.  It is imperative to understand the conditions to which your policy responds.  With most policies allowing a time frame ranging from 30-90 days, you may need to discuss obtaining a separate vacant policy for your home or building.  If a home or building is unoccupied longer than the time frame allotted in the policy, the policy can be null and void.

Most carriers, whether personal lines or commercial lines, offer buy-back options (endorsements) with vacancy permissions. A lack of these endorsements can lead to reduced coverage or no coverage in the event of a property loss claim.

Tips for Mitigating Risk

With many working remotely and not traveling, properties are harder to monitor. This naturally increases the risk for vandalism and theft. Consider installing video surveillance/cameras if possible.  It is important to evaluate what utilities are essential to maintain the building/home and which ones can be shut off to prevent potential damage.  Then, upon return, you must plan for reoccupying homes and buildings and maintaining/restarting systems and equipment.  Be mindful to check plumbing systems.  If they were shut off or drained, restore slowly and if possible do it section by section. Restart electrical systems/components and equipment gradually.  Be sure to have fire protection systems inspected.  Have your HVAC systems inspected to ensure they are working properly.

Insurance language and verbiage are complex.  It is important to understand that carriers offer varying conditions, exclusions, coverages, limits and deductibles that apply to each definition within the policy form.  Your time is consumed building and protecting your family and  your business. All assets you hold dear and have worked so hard to obtain.  Be sure to discuss the vacancy clause with your current agent/carrier; or know our experienced consultants are available to assist you in navigating all COVID-19 concerns.

For more information please contact ISA today or visit:

https://www.cna.com/web/wcm/myconnect/3b485510-f18c-4800-aaa2-c701d0e6d49e/RC-IdleVacantFacilities-Guide.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTlRBeVl6WmpOMkkwTjJVeSIsInQiOiJEOUNWYmtkTXF0ZWpwV3oyaEpMWWR1cnJFXC80UlFOZWtmZHV4K2l0TWlpaXZSMXpzSHpOMmlOMlwvUEJFV1VnRVY5c1VQUlhORWx4ZHp5XC9WY29YUjFxWjFCYnhxS2gwWDdwRmlUbjhsN1dFdGxnOHVidWJxXC9XMW42dGFnVTFqNzcifQ%3D%3D

As Industries increase remote workers in response to COVID-19, they need to be aware and mitigate vulnerability to Cyber Attacks.  Links to articles below with additional information.  Please contact our office with any questions or concerns.  828-253-1668 | info@isa-avl.com.

Coronavirus Work-from-Home Response May Expand Cyber Risk

As U.S. employers ask employees to work from home to avoid exposure to coronavirus, they may be exposing themselves to another kind of risk: Cyberattacks.

Watch Out for Virus-Tied Cyber Attacks on Remote Workers, Warns Tech Professor

The heightened fear and anxiety that COVID-19 is causing people worldwide brings vulnerable targets for cyber hackers.

No Business is Immune to Cyber Crime

What is Business Income Coverage?

 

To summarize the coverage, it is coverage for lost income that your business would have made had it been open.  Expample:  There is a fire in your restaurant and you have to close for three months.

 

Does Business Income Coverage apply to the Coronavirus?

 

Unfortunately Business Income Coverage will not apply to a virus outbreak because the coverage is triggered when there is a direct physical loss to property due to a covered peril such as fire, smoke, water, theft, vandalism, etc.  The virus is not causing direct physical loss to property preventing businesses from operating.

 

What about the Civil Authority clause in my policy and the government mandates requiring me to close my business or cancel my business events?

Unfortunately the Civil Authority clause in Commercial Lines Policies is triggered by direct physical loss to property just as the Business Income/Business Interruption coverage.

 

Will P&C Insurers Pay Out Coronavirus Claims?

https://www.insurancejournal.com/blogs/academy-journal/2020/02/19/558705.htm

 

Coronavirus Fears at Work: What Employers Need to Know

 

Please contact our office for more information.

Like many others, ISA is dealing with the realities and specter of the Coronavirus spread. We are taking a Risk Management approach to the impact on our employees, visitors, clients and business partners.  The safety of all is our top priority and concern.  As consultants and advisers, we will continue to be available to support and service all of our clients and prospects. Any meetings we have currently scheduled will be held virtually in an effort to stop the transmittal of the virus.  We are available to all of our clients but wish to limit visitors to our office when possible. Please contact us as you normally would via email (including scans), office phone, cell phone, text or teleconferencing. We can also set up virtual meetings as needed.  Should you have an immediate need requiring an in-person meeting, please schedule with one of our associates in advance.  Should the need arise, our staff has every means to work remotely and respond. 

Below are links and articles for updated information on employer compliance, how Workers Compensation claims will be handled, and much more.  

Coronavirus Insurance Compliance & Information

CDC

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Summary

World Health Organization

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public

OSHA

Safety and Health Topics: COVID-19

I’m pretty confident that if you asked anyone who has ever owned a rental property you would get an overwhelming response that it’s not as lucrative or easy as they thought it would be. In fact, owning a rental property can be a major pain, and end up costing you a ton of money!

I certainly don’t mean to be a “Debbie Downer”, and I know that if it’s done right it can be lucrative, but from an insurance agent’s perspective, I don’t see a lot of people doing it right.

So you’re probably thinking, “Well Chris, you are an insurance agent. What do you know about real estate or rental properties? Why should I take advice from you?”

I’m not a real estate agent, and I don’t own a rental property. However, several of my friends/family/clients/co-workers own rentals, and because I insure a bunch of their properties, I’ve had a first hand account of the process, and I’ve learned what to do, and what not to do.

Continue reading →

I was recently asked this question by one of our Insurance Service of Asheville clients, and thought I would share the answer here for our readers.

There are a lot of things that go into homeowners and auto insurance rates, one of them being credit. I’ve heard a lot of complaints from people who don’t like the fact that insurance companies use credit in their underwriting.

Some people have absolutely no idea that it’s used in the rate at all.

At the end of the day, there’s not much we can do about it though. Insurance companies have been using credit in their rates for decades, and that’s not likely to change.

By the way, insurance companies don’t pull your credit like a mortgage company or credit card company does. There is no negative impact on your credit as a result of an insurance company looking at it.

When I say “pull” what I mean is that the insurance company is doing what’s called a soft inquiry, which is not the same thing as having your credit pulled (hard inquiry).

When does credit play a role in insurance rates?
It’s important to understand that insurance companies don’t continuously check or monitor your credit. Usually, they only check it when you first get a quote and/or sign up with them in the very beginning.

This means that if your credit score increases (or decreases) your insurance company does not automatically know about it.

So, to my customers question of whether or not his increased credit score will lower his rates, the answer is not automatically.

What has to be done on our side as the agent is contact the carrier the insurance and ask them to do what’s commonly referred to as a “re-score”. This is when the insurance company can re-run the person’s credit (soft inquiry) to see if there is any positive bearing on the rate.

This isn’t something that the insurance company is going to let the agency do every single year, so it’s not worth even asking unless there has been a significant change in your credit score, and only you as the customer would know if that was the case.

If you’d like to get a better handle on your credit rating, it could be helpful to setup credit monitoring. We hope this was helpful! As always, leave us comment below if you have any questions.

Why do my auto insurance rates keep going up even though my car is getting older?  At Insurance Service of Asheville, many of our clients ask this question so I would like to address it from a couple of angles.

First things first, even though it’s called car/auto insurance, it covers more than just your car. It should technically be called “auto-owners” insurance, similarly to how home insurance is actually called “home owners insurance”.

It’s important to understand that there are a lot of variables that go into insurance premiums, and with auto insurance, it’s no different.

The insurance company is much more concerned with you crashing into someone and causing them (or yourself) bodily harm, or death, than they are about your car. A car is a material possession which can be replaced.

A human life is not.

When is the last time you looked at your auto insurance policy?
If you look at it you’ll notice there are a lot of different coverages on your auto policy.

Bodily injury
Property damage
Un-insured motorist
Under-insured motorist
Medical Payments
Loss of Income
Funeral Expense
Loss of use
Rental Reimbursement

These are all things that you are covered for on your auto policy. How many of them have to do with your car?

None.

How many of them have a price next to them on your policy?

All of them.

Your car isn’t the only thing you’re being charged for on your policy
That’s because auto insurance covers far more important things than your car as mentioned above.

Let me re-phrase that: your car insurance rate isn’t just based on your car.

You’re not the only one…
It’s also important to understand that you are not the only person your insurance company insures. You are one fish in an ocean of other fish, sharks, and sea creatures, all who have different characteristics and risk profiles.

Insurance is all about spreading costs over a large number (risk pool) of people, which each person paying their fare share. That risk pool is constantly changing, and is impacted by a ton of different things, including the overall economic climate.

This means that you are sharing in the cost of millions of other people, many of whom may have poor loss history and/or credit.

That’s what insurance is though — sharing in the cost.

The next time your auto insurance rates go up, take a look at the big picture. Make sure you’re looking at ALL of the coverages, and corresponding rates.

Hope this helps!  If you would like to know more about Car Insurance be sure to visit our page dedicated to it.