Washington Insurance Agents And Brokers Insurance Policy Information
Washington Insurance Agents And Brokers Insurance. Insurance agents and brokers sell insurance products to individual and commercial clients, including property, casualty, health and life insurance products, on a fee or commission basis. Some sell annuities or products with an investment component. Agents can be captive and represent one company only, or be independent and represent a number of companies. Agents must be licensed in the states they represent for the type of insurance products they sell.
Agents may have draft authority to pay smaller claims on behalf of the companies they represent. An agent selling investment-based products is also regulated under the jurisdiction of the Federal Securities and Exchange Commission. Agents are held to a high degree of professional knowledge and skill because of the possibility of major loss if the client is not properly protected.
As an insurance agent or insurance broker, you provide an invaluable service for your clients: you assist them with choosing and securing the right type of insurance coverage. Due to the nature of your work, you know how important insurance is, but your clients aren't the only ones who need to be insured; you need to be, too.
As with any business, insurance agents and brokers face numerous risks, and whether you own and operate your own brokerage or you are an agent for an insurance agency, you're legally responsible for the risks those risks. But what type of coverage do you need? Below, we provide an overview of the some of the key Washington insurance agents and brokers insurance policies that agencies should carry.
Washington insurance agents and brokers insurance protects your agency from lawsuits with rates as low as $27/mo. Get a fast quote for errors and omissions (E&O), general liability, workers comp and your certificate of insurance now.
Why Do Insurance Agents And Brokers Need Business Insurance?
As mentioned above, as an insurance agent or broker, you face numerous risks. Despite your best efforts to provide your clients with the proper coverage, you or one of your employees could make a mistake that could result in legal action. A third party, such as a client or a vendor, could slip and fall on the premises of your commercial property and sustain an injury. Your computer system could be hacked and your clients' sensitive information could be compromised. These are just a few examples of some of the issues that could arise; issues that you are liable for.
Legal fees, medical bills, repairing damaged property; the costs that are associated with business-related liabilities can be exorbitant, and that's why having the right type of insurance coverage is crucial. Without insurance, you would have to foot the bill for any mishaps that you're liable for; imagine the repercussions that you'd face if you had to shell out tens of thousands - or even millions - of dollars out of your own pocket?
If you're properly insured with a Washington insurance agents and brokers insurance policy, however, instead of having to pay for these costs yourself, your insurance carrier would cover them for you. In other words, being insured can save you from serious financial losses (but you already know that, because after all, you work in the insurance industry).
What Type Of Insurance Do Insurance Agents And Brokers Need?
The type of Washington insurance agents and brokers insurance that agencies and brokerages should carry depends on a variety of factors; where you're located and whether or not you own the business, and premium volume for example.
Other examples includes what type of insurance are you selling? Specifically on the errors and omissions side (E&O or professional liability); personal lines, commercial lines, property & casualty insurance, life insurance, health insurance, annuities, registered products like mutual funds etc. - the makeup of your book can determine what type, how much and where you can get the insurance to cover your agency.
To ensure you have the right coverage, consulting with a reputable commercial agent or broker (yes, someone just like you) is recommended; however, the following are examples of some of the key policies that insurance agents and brokers should carry:
- Professional Liability - While you make every effort to avoid them, mistakes can happen. Your employees can make errors or you can make errors yourself, and those mistakes can be costly. For example, if a member of you staff doesn't answer a key question or an agent you employ fails to inform a client about exclusions on their policy, you could be facing legal problems. Professional liability insurance will cover the cost of legal defense fees, settlement fees, and any other expenses that are associated with mistakes that may occur.
- General Liability - General liability insurance covers client injuries, client property damage, and related lawsuits. It's often required for commercial leases and contracts.
- Commercial Property - If you own and operate the agency or brokerage, you'll also need to carry commercial property insurance. This coverage will help to repair or replace damages that the physical structure of your property sustains in an act of nature or vandalism. It will also assist with the repair or replacement of business supplies, materials, furnishings, and even personal effects that are damaged or stolen in an act of nature, theft, or vandalism.
- Workers' Compensation - If you are the owner and operator of your insurance agency or brokerage and you employ a staff, you'll need to carry workers' compensation insurance. This type of coverage will protect you from having to cover the cost of medical bills and lost wages out of your own pocket should a staff member sustain a work-related injury or illness.
- Data Breach - Computers make operating your business a lot easier; however, they can also cause serious problems. For example, a hacker could break into your system and steal your clients' sensitive information. Recovering from a data breach is extremely expensive, but if you invest in data insurance, those costs will be covered by your carrier.
WA Insurance Brokers And Agent's Risks & Exposures
Professional liability exposures are extensive. Working with individual clients presents fewer professional exposures than working with corporate clients. Hazards increase if the agency fails to conduct thorough background checks to verify employees' credentials, education, and licensing, ignores or has inadequate error checking procedures, or allows clerical workers to do tasks that only the professionals should handle.
Ongoing training must be required for all employees. Very serious losses may result from failure to document decisions and actions or to secure client approval.
Premises liability exposure is often minimal as most of the client contact is done over the phone, electronically or by mail. If clients visit the premises, they must be confined to designated areas to prevent them from observing other clients' confidential information or overhearing private conversations. To prevent slips, trips, or falls, all areas accessible to customers should be well lighted with floor coverings in good condition. The number of exits must be sufficient, and be well marked, with backup lighting in case of power failure.
Parking lots and sidewalks need to be in good repair with snow and ice removed, and generally level and free of exposure to slips and falls. Off-site exposures arise from sales visits, training sessions, and similar work at the customer's premises. There should be policies and training as to off-site conduct by employees.
Workers compensation exposures are primarily those of an office, although some firms have significant off-site work for sales presentations and similar activities. Travel may be extensive. Since 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. Employees who travel can be injured by slips and falls at clients' premises or in automobile accidents.
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 electrical wiring, heating and air conditioning equipment, wear, and overheating of equipment. Computers and other electronic equipment may be targets for theft.
Crime exposure comes from employee dishonesty, money and securities, and various types of fraud to both clients and insurers. Insurance agents frequently have access to their clients' personal and proprietary information and may have draft authority from carriers to pay smaller claims. Potential for theft, directly or by means of identity theft, is great.
Hazards increase in the absence of background checks and monitoring procedures. All job duties, such as ordering, billing, and disbursement, should be separate and reconciled on a regular basis. Receipts should be issued for any cash payments received. Audits should be conducted at least annually.
Inland marine exposures consist of accounts receivable if the agency offers credit, computers, and valuable papers and records for customers' and carriers' information. Clients' records and approvals are typically originals that are difficult to re-create. Power failure and power surges are potentially severe hazards.
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. Duplicates should be kept off-site to allow for re-creation in the event of a loss.
Business auto exposure may be limited to hired and non-owned. 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.
WA Insurance Agents And Brokers Insurance - The Bottom Line
When you are an WA insurance agent or broker you face many risks. Having the right insurance for your agency or brokerage protects you when you face a lawsuit. The right insurance package can be the difference between losing everything in a lawsuit and keeping your business's doors open.
Washington State Economic Outlook & Business Insurance Requirements
For anyone who is thinking about starting up a business, it is important that they choose a location that suites the industry that they wish to work in. With that said, in order to determine whether or not a location is the right choice for your business, you should have an idea about the state's economic status. You should also have an understanding of the WA state regulations related to the types of commercial insurance that you are required to carry.
If you are thinking about starting up a business in the State of Washington, below, we offer some insight into the state's economic status. We also offer a glimpse at the WA insurance requirements that business owners must abide by.
State Of The Economy In Washington
Washington state may be famous for its gloomy weather, but when it comes to the economy, things here look bright. The economic outlook for Washington is healthy. It is expected that there will be more jobs added in the 2022 calendar year. There will be an increase in the productivity of labor. There will also be an increase in the state's unemployment rate during the year 2022, with a forecasted rate of 4.7 percent.
Washington is regarded as one of the top for businesses in the nation. In fact, it is listed at the 11th best state for business by Forbes. The industry that is expected to see the most growth are related to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). Among the top industries in this state include information technology. Education, healthcare, finance, and travel and tourism also contribute largely to the awesome economy of this state.
Commercial Insurance Requirements In WA
The Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner regulates the insurance industry in WA. Businesses are legally required to carry workers' compensation insurance. This type of coverage is required for any business that employs either hourly or salaried employees, and either part-time or full-time employees. You are also required to carry commercial auto insurance if you use a vehicle to conduct any type of business in this state. That means that if you are using a car to transport goods, make deliveries, or meet with clients, you must carry business auto insurance.
While commercial general liability insurance is not required in Washington, it is highly recommended. This type of insurance offers protection from lawsuits and other legal fees that may arise.
Additional Resources For Professional Services Insurance
Get informed about small business professional services insurance, including Professional liability, aka errors and omissions (E&O insurance), that protects your business against claims that a professional service you provided caused your client financial loss.
- Answering Service
- Armored Car
- Attorney Lawyer
- Background Music Services
- Business Consulting
- Chemical Engineers
- Civil Engineers
- Claims Adjuster
- Commercial Laundries
- Commodity Broker
- Corporate Wellness
- Court Reporter
- Credit Bureaus
- Debt Collection Agency
- Detective Agency
- Diaper Services
- Electrical Engineering
- Environmental Consultant
- Executive, Career & Life Coaching
- Executive Search Firm
- Expert Witness
- Financial Planner
- Financial Services
- Funeral Directors
- HR Consultant
- Inspection Bureaus
- Insurance Agents & Brokers Insurance
- Mediator - Arbitrator
- Medical Billing
- Music, Drama & Dance Therapy
- Office Machine Repair & Maintenance
- Piano Tuners
- Project Management
- Safety Consultants
- Speakers Bureaus
- Temporary Staffing
- Tax Preparer
- Title Abstractors
- Valet Parking
Let's face reality. People today are claims conscious, resulting in a significant share of malpractice lawsuits against professionals.
Liability resulting from the rendering of or the failure to render professional services is excluded in most liability coverage forms. This means that a policy covering a account's or lawyers' office will cover liability arising out of the maintenance or use of the premises, but specifically exclude liability arising out of the rendering of a professional service or the omission of such a service.
In addition to the professions in which actual physical or mental injury may be caused to clients, certain other professions are exposed to claims for malpractice.
Claims may be brought against lawyers, accountants, architects, and similar professional persons for errors or omissions in their professional capacity. Errors & Omissions insurance pays damages that might be awarded to a plaintiff alleging professional negligence.
Professional liability policies are made available to such risks, and these policies provide essentially the same protection as is afforded under the physicians, surgeons or dentists professional liability policy.
Minimum recommended small business insurance coverage: Business Personal Property, Employee Dishonesty, 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, Business Income with Extra Expense, Earthquake, Equipment Breakdown, Flood, Computer Fraud, Forgery, Money and Securities, Special Floater, Cyber Liability, Employment-related Practices Liability, Business Auto Liability and Physical Damage and Stop Gap Liability.
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Also find Washington insurance agents & brokers, WA local small businesses by General Liability Class Code and learn about Washington small business insurance requirements for general liability, business property, commercial auto & workers compensation including WA business insurance costs. Call us (206) 801-0021.