Real Estate Agents Insurance Alaska Policy Information
Real Estate Agents Insurance Alaska. Real estate agents list, advertise, promote or arrange the sale of real property or land for a seller or locate properties to purchase for a buyer. The agent often helps negotiate the price and conditions of the sales transaction. Real estate agents traditionally work on a commission basis, but fee arrangements are becoming more common. A real estate agent enters into a contractual relationship either with a buyer seeking to purchase property or with a property owner seeking to sell or lease a property. Some states permit an agent to represent both the buyer and the seller in a transaction.
The agency may work only through employees or through independent contractors. The status of each must be determined since it may impact how coverages apply. Real estate agents may offer other services including insurance sales, mortgages, or valuations. In most states, real estate agents need to successfully pass an exam and maintain a license. Many states have reciprocal agreements allowing a licensed real estate agent to work in other states.
If you are a real estate agent, you are not immune from liability during the course of your business' operations, even if you work from home. A business owner's policy, or BOP policy, provides the protection you need to face lawsuits and claims against your business without sacrificing your business' reputation and finances. In your line of work, you likely face specific risks, including property damage, data loss, employee errors, and accidents. With a business owner's or real Estate Agents insurance Alaska BOP policy, you can mitigate those risks and protect your business' assets.
Real estate agents insurance Alaska protects your office from lawsuits with rates as low as $27/mo. Get a fast quote and your certificate of insurance now.
What Can a Business Owner's Policy Do For Your Business?
This real estate agents insurance Alaska combines three basic coverage types into one policy, making it easy to choose the coverage level that your business needs and stay protected without a lot of research into specific policy types. As a real estate agent, you likely know that you face inherent perils every day. You may damage a client's home while showing it, or a customer may walk into your office and trip over a throw rug. Finding the right level of insurance protection for your business while avoiding unnecessary coverage is a smart move and a big part of running a successful real estate business. With a BOP policy for your real estate business, you can enjoy the benefits of three necessary business insurance policies in one streamlined package. The most common coverage types included in most BOP policies are:
- Liability coverage. Protect yourself from liability in your own building or when you're showing properties to others with this type of coverage, which comes standard in most BOP policies. This coverage protects you from lawsuits arising from injuries caused to clients and employees during the course of operations. For example, if a client in your office for a meeting falls in your place of business and breaks a leg, this policy protects you from any liability claims arising from the event.
- Business property damage coverage. If your business or any of your furnishings and equipment are damaged due to a covered peril - such as a tornado or fire - then this policy helps you replace the lost items.
- - Loss of business income. When your business is forced to shutter its doors due to a covered event, this policy type pays for the lost revenue your business would have received if it were operational. For example, if the wind tears your roof off, forcing you to close for repairs, then the amount of income you lose as a result is payable under this type of insurance.
Do You Need A BOP Policy?
Most all small businesses need a BOP policy, at minimum, to ensure that their businesses are fully protected from potential perils. You should consider purchasing such a policy if any of the following apply to your business' particular situation:
- You have the potential to face a lawsuit or claim from someone else. For instance, if it is possible that a client could become injured in your office.
- You do business from a physical location. Whether you have an office downtown or you run things from home, a BOP policy is essential.
- You or your business own assets that could be damaged or stolen. This includes any furniture, equipment, or even digital information.
Other Real Estate Agents Insurance Alaska Coverages
Most standard BOP policies offer the coverage outlined above, but your real estate business may require additional coverage types. A seasoned insurance agent can help you identify the types of Real estate agents insurance Alaska coverage your business needs and help you bundle them with your BOP policy for all-around protection from every angle. Based on your situation, your agent may recommend:
- Professional liability insurance. This type of coverage is also called errors and omissions coverage for a reason. If your error or the omission of information when dealing with a client leaves a client with damages or losses, then you can be sued. Mitigate that risk with this type of coverage.
- Data breach coverage. You store sensitive data, and hackers want it. Consider data breach coverage to protect yourself and your clients from any loss that results from jeopardized data.
- Commercial auto insurance. You insure your personal vehicle for personal use, but if you use your vehicle in the course of business to drive between open houses or for other purposes, your personal policy may not be enough. Commercial auto insurance provides the most reliable means of coverage for the vehicle you use during the course of running your business.
In addition, if you employ other agents in your business or other employees in general, then you may be required by law to carry worker's compensation insurance on those employees. This insurance pays monetary awards to employees who become injured or ill due to a work-related cause.
No one package of business insurance fits each business, but a BOP policy is a start. Work with a licensed insurance agent to find the best level of coverage and coverage types for your individual needs.
Alaska Real Estate Agent's Risks & Exposures
Premises liability exposure is often minimal at the office location if most of the client contact is electronic or by mail. If clients visit the premises, they must be kept in designated areas that are well maintained with floor covering in good condition. The number of exits must be sufficient and well marked, with backup lighting in case of power failure. Parking lots and sidewalks must be in good repair, with snow and ice removed, and generally level and free of exposure to slip and falls.
Off-premises exposures arise from sales visits, inspections, open houses, and similar work at customers' premises. Since both buyer and seller are often represented by different realtors, any damage that occurs during open house showings may result in disputes with customers, prospective buyers or sellers, or other realty firms as to who is responsible for damages. Hazards increase in the absence of controls regarding keys, the use of lockboxes, or other devices that permit easy entry, and record keeping regarding access and visits by agents from other realty firms.
Professional liability exposure is extensive. The exposure increases if the agency fails to conduct thorough background checks to verify employees' credentials, education, and licensing, permits clerical workers to do tasks that only the professionals should handle, or if error checking procedures are ignored or are inadequate. Very serious losses may result from failure to document decisions and actions or to secure client approval. For services such as property management, the insured will have a fiduciary responsibility to act in the client's best interests.
Personal injury exposures include assault, battery, libel, and slander, and invasion of privacy. An important consideration is the status of employees vs. subcontractors as the relationships and contracts vary by agency. Contracts should be clear as to which services are provided by the agency to the subcontractors and the expectations the agency has of the subcontractor. If agents are independent contractors, any injuries they incur on premises are part of the premises liability exposure instead of workers compensation.
Workers compensation exposures include both office operations and off-site work for sales work, property showings, and similar activities. As office work is done on computers, potential injuries include eyestrain, neck strain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and similar cumulative trauma injuries that can be addressed through ergonomically designed workstations. Travel may be extensive. Workers who travel offsite can be injured by slips and falls or in automobile accidents. Agents may show properties at unusual hours to prospective customers whom they may not know personally, posing a potentially serious risk from assault. The contractual relationship between the agency and any independent contractors helps determine the workers compensation exposure, although regulatory definitions of the employee may supersede the contract terms.
Property exposure is generally limited to that of an office, although there may be some incidental storage or an area for meetings. Ignition sources include wiring, heating and air conditioning, wear, and overheating of equipment.
Crime exposure comes from employee dishonesty, including risks to theft of customers' property. Realtors have access to customers' financial information. Potential for theft, directly or by means of identity theft, is great. Hazards increase without proper background checks, along with monitoring procedures and securing of all records to prevent unauthorized access. All job duties, such as ordering, billing and disbursing should be separate and reconciled on a regular basis. Audits should be performed at least annually.
Inland marine exposures consist of accounts receivable if the agency offers credit, computers and valuable papers and records for clients' information such as listings. Clients' records and approvals are typically originals that are difficult to recreate. A morale hazard may be indicated if the insured does not keep valuable papers and disks in fireproof file cabinets to protect them from smoke, water, and fire. Power failure and power surges are potentially severe hazards. Duplicates should be kept off-site to allow for re-creation following a loss.
Commercial auto exposure may be limited to hired and non-owned. The exposure increases if clients are transported to showings. If vehicles are supplied to employees, there should be written procedures in place regarding personal use by employees and their family members. All drivers must have appropriate licenses and acceptable MVRs. Vehicles must be maintained, and records kept in a central location.
Alaska Economic Data, Regulations And Limits On Commercial Insurance
If you're an entrepreneur who is thinking about starting a business in Alaska, it's important to have a basic understanding of the state's overall economy before you set up shop. Regardless of how high-quality the products and services you are planning on offering may be, if the location where you open your organization doesn't offer a target market that your products and services will appeal to, chances of success are slim. Furthermore, if a workforce isn't available to support your business, you'll have a hard time staying afloat.
With that said, it's important for business-minded individuals who are thinking about starting a company in Alaska to familiarize themselves with the state's economy; it's also a good idea to have an understanding of the commercial insurance requirements.
Following is an overview of economic trends and commercial insurance policies that business owners are required to carry in The Last Frontier.
Economic Trends For Business Owners In Alaska
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in Alaska was 6.1% in December of 2019. While that's significantly higher than the national unemployment rate, which was 3.4% in December, 2019, it's lower than it was one year prior, when the rate of unemployment was 6.5% in December of 2018. Though the workforce is growing slower than it is in other states, economists do predict that the rate will continue to decline in the coming years.
Despite Alaska's remoteness and cold climate, it's actually a great start to start a business. According to the Tax Foundation, Alaska is the second most tax-friendly state for business owners in the United States, as there's no individual income tax or state sales tax. Additionally, Alaska has the second highest rate of new business owners, as well as the second highest percentage of available employees (as per 2016).
As in most states, the best spots to start a business in Alaska are the state's biggest cities and the surrounding areas. This includes Anchorage, Juneau, and Fairbanks. Other key areas that are seeing a boost in business development in recent years include Homer, Sitka, Prudhoe Bay, and Ketchikan.
While there are several industries that are experiencing growth in The Last Frontier, specific sectors thrive more than others. Businesses that are related to the following industries are booming in AK:
- Fishing, which is also one of the largest contributors to the state's economy.
- Mining, which provides more than 4,500 jobs in Alaska.
- Petroleum, which is responsible for 34% of jobs in the state. In fact, Prudhoe Bay is North America's largest oil field.
- Tourism is the second largest private sector employer in the state. Each year, millions of people from around the globe travel to Alaska to marvel at the numerous natural wonders that can be found here.
Commercial Insurance Requirements In Alaska
The Alaska Division of Insurance regulates insurance in AK. Alaska mandates very few forms of insurance coverage by law. They enforce worker's compensation.
Alaska requires you to have worker's compensation insurance if you hire even one employee on a regular basis. This includes part-time employees, family members, minors, and immigrant employees. It is not required for independent contractors or domestic employees, though you should check to make sure any contractors you have are true contractors, and not employees.
Alaska also requires all business-owned vehicles to be covered by commercial auto insurance. Other types of business insurance that business owners should carry depend on the specific industry.
Additional Resources For Real Estate Insurance
Learn about small business real estate insurance coverages including liability and commercial property policies for realtors, mortgage companies and more.
For real estate professional liability policies, the insurance company agrees to pay amounts the insured is legally obligated to pay as damages because of a wrongful act. However, this insurance must cover the wrongful act.
The insurance company not only has the right to defend any suit brought against the insured, it also has a duty to do so. That duty, which can be very expensive, does not apply to suits brought for wrongful acts that this insurance does not cover.
What type of coverage is available for real estate agents who provide insurance advice? Any claim related to the sale or purchase of insurance is not covered. In addition, there is no coverage for any recommendations or advice regarding insurance or any failure to procure or maintain appropriate insurance.
Who is considered an insured under the Real Estate Agents and Brokers Professional Liability Policy? The named insured is an insured. The named insured is the entity or individual listed on the declarations. There can be multiple named insureds.
Any entity listed in the application as a predecessor organization is an insured. The named insured must be the entity's majority successor of interest with respect to the predecessor organization's financial assets and liabilities.
Are Real Estate Brokers Professional Liability policies written on an "occurrence" or a "claims-made" basis? Insurance is written on a claims-made basis, requiring that a claim must be reported to the insurer during the policy period or during the extended reporting period.
Minimum recommended small business insurance coverage: Business Personal Property, Business Income with Extra Expense, Employee Dishonesty, Money and Securities, Accounts Receivable, Computers, Valuable Papers and Records, General Liability, Employee Benefits Liability, Professional Liability, Umbrella Liability, Hired and Non-owned Auto Liability & Workers Compensation.
Other commercial insurance policies to consider: Building, Earthquake, Equipment Breakdown, Flood, Computer Fraud, Forgery, Cyber Liability, Employment-related Practices Liability, Business Auto Liability and Physical Damage abd Stop Gap Liability.
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