The start of a new building or remodel can move quickly, and insurance for course of construction projects is often purchased at the last hour (or at least the day before it begins). So, it’s no surprise if you get a last-minute call for builders risk insurance.
Even with the quick online policy issuance process available through the Builders Risk Plan insured by Zurich, every moment counts. What, if anything, can you do to influence the speed at which the policy is issued?
There are a few ways to do it! And, it hinges on information sharing. With more than 40 years in the insurance industry, we’ve certainly heard a lot of feedback and drawn some conclusions of our own about how communication impacts your experience during the policy issuance process. We asked Steve Bristow, our senior vice president of operations, for tips that will help agents manage client expectations and the relationship.
- Choose the Right Policy Issuance Method for Clients’ Needs
First things first, Bristow said: make sure you’re using a policy issuance system built to provide robust coverage with quick turnaround.
Through our online portal, you can start a builders risk application online for any construction project valued up to $75 million, some of which require little-to-no human intervention if you don’t want it. And if your client’s project is valued between $10 million and $75 million, you can get individualized attention from a dedicated underwriter to help you process the policy. So whether your client is an owner or contractor, starting a $10,000 home remodel or building a $10 million retail complex, you can secure the coverage through the online system.
Not sure how our policy stacks up to competitors? Use this checklist to compare coverages and terms.
- Get Important Project Details Early On
To do this, it might be as simple as explaining why it is so valuable for the client to educate you and the carrier about the scope of the project up front—it will help the application process move along smoothly and help ensure the account is underwritten properly should a loss occur. In many cases, the construction agreement between the owner and contractor will provide more than the basic information you need to know, which will also limit back and forth conversations.
“While our underwriting method is thorough, we strive to maintain a process that is efficient for you and your client, including pinpointing ways to ensure our application questions aren’t repetitive or unnecessary,” Bristow said. “We want you to feel confident working with us, knowing there aren’t surprises down the road.”
In addition to acquiring a copy of the construction agreement, some additional questions you may want to probe your clients beforehand include:
- Is the client the owner or a contractor?
- Is this project for 5 or more family units per structure?
- Is this policy for 25 or more builds in a year?
- If this is a remodeling project, does the existing structure need coverage?
- What are the separate values of the existing structure and the renovation to be done?
- What is the percent complete on this project?
For insights to help quickly choose the right builders risk policy for your clients’ projects, check out our free policy type guide.
- The More They Share, the Better
Honest misinterpretations—like in the above project, assuming a client is adding the new story to the top of the home, rather lifting it 30 feet in the air to build under the existing structure—may cause complications if a loss occurred. This is just one example of why it can be helpful to ask even the most tedious of questions, such as where exactly the addition will be built.
“The more information you can provide at the start, the faster things will move,” he said. “And if you’re not sure about all the specific project details, just try a quick quote to facilitate the conversation with your clients.”
And in the event of a hold, providing ample project information on the application can enable the underwriter who reviews your application to move more quickly on it and potentially resolve it without further follow-up.
- Some Projects Need Extra TLC
Some risks may take more time than others to secure an insurance policy. For example, remodeling builders risk typically takes the longest, simply because we need more facts about the scope of work. This can lead to holds, and some back and forth between underwriter, agent and client, to ensure all the necessary information is provided for the right coverage. This can often be mitigated by requiring clients to provide as much detail as possible about the specific work they plan to do, whether they need coverage for the existing structure, request photos of the structure, and so on.
And when it comes to holds, there is a common misconception that a hold is a declination.
“Ninety percent of risks are eligible—we decline very few projects,” Bristow said. “The hold is there because the application needs more underwriting attention to make sure the best coverage and rating are applied.”
Final Thoughts: Tell Us What You Think
Agent recommendations have shaped our products in countless ways. If there are aspects of the Builders Risk Plan or the online policy issuance process that could work better for you, let one of our specialists know!
“We always welcome new ideas that will boost the success of our customers,” Bristow said.
This is intended as a general description of certain types of insurance and services available to qualified customers. Your policy is the contract that specifically and fully describes your coverage. The description of the policy provisions gives a broad overview of coverages and does not revise or amend the policy.
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