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Risk Management in Commercial Auto Insurance

Written by W. Lane Startin. Posted in Definitions Last Updated: 08/22/2011

What risk management in auto insurance is, how it works pertaining to auto insurance, and basics of commercial auto insurance every risk manager should know.

The risk manager acts like an agent for the company rather than the insurance carrier.

Not all insurance jobs involve working as an agent or in a company home office. Larger companies may need insurance experts to help them navigate the ins and outs of insurance they face every day. Auto insurance being no exception.

These professionals are known as risk managers. One of their duties is to make sure the company is getting the most of its insurance premium as well as minimizing its exposure to adverse claim conditions.

Risk Management Defined

Risk management is a career path that can involve pretty much everything the financial sector has to offer; insurance is just a small part of it, and auto insurance just a small part of that.

Risk mangers can be generalists, working in a full range of financial fields such as financial law, accounting, compliance, contracts and other areas, or as specialists dealing strictly in areas such as insurance. It depends on the company and its needs.

Of course, risk management as it applies to auto insurance necessarily deals with commercial and fleet auto insurance. A risk manager dealing in auto insurance needs to be familiar with commercial auto insurance and how to best utilize it not only to prevent adverse insurance conditions such as claim denial, but also how to get the most out of the company’s insurance expenditures.

Knowing the Basics of Risk Management

A risk manager in essence can act as an insurance agent of sorts for his or her company rather than for an insurance carrier. Because of this, it is important for him or her to know the basics of commercial auto insurance and apply it to everyday company policy, even if the company’s “fleet” consists of only one vehicle.

Because commercial insurance requires a company to keep a current list of both vehicles and drivers on file with the insurance carrier at all times, it is of paramount importance for the risk manager to keep on top of both changing inventory and personnel and report it to the insurance company in a timely manner. This is inclusive of trailers and any equipment covered on inland marine policies. The risk manager should keep a file of VINs, serial numbers and drivers licenses as well.

The risk manager should know the insurance company rules regarding drivers, especially age restrictions. Most commercial policies require drivers to be between the ages of 25 and 74 with no exceptions. Drivers should also be properly licensed for the vehicles they drive.

Truck Insurance Considerations

If the company employs large trucks over 26,000 GVW, a different set of rules come into play, especially if their trucks travel out of state. The risk manager will want to ensure that all vehicles have valid and proper interstate trip permits and that all drivers have appropriate CDL licenses.

He or she will also want to make sure that these vehicles are covered appropriately with coverages such as bobtail coverage, or coverage for big rigs which are not pulling trailers, which is often excluded in standard truck policies.

Prized Possessions- Travelers Insurance

Written by Michele Wilmonen. Posted in Advertising, Research Last Updated: 08/24/2011

Travelers Insurance is bringing us back to what insurance is really about.

Summary

We follow the adventure of a very worried dog as he tries to find a secure place to hide his bone. At first he tries to hide his bone around the house. No matter where he hides it, the bone is either obvious or he doesn’t feel secure about the hiding place.

He tries to bury the bone outside and a cat goes running by. Now that the cat has seen the hole, the dog keeps watch overnight thinking that the cat is going to come back for the bone.

Taking a bus into town, another dog that is on a walk spies the bone in the dog’s mouth. The dog on the bus quickly ducks down below the window level to hide the bone.

The bus takes the dog to a bank where he deposits the bone in a security box that goes into a locked bank vault. During a following nap the dog dreams that the dog he saw on the walk and the cat both have gotten into the security box and took his bone.

Running back to the bank he gets his bone back and takes it home. We find that the dog is no longer worried about his bone as it is safely out in the open in his dish with a Traveler’s Umbrella protecting it.

Narrator: When it comes to things you care about leave nothing to chance. Travelers: insurance for auto, home and business.

Point of the Commercial

Travelers Insurance is presenting to the consumer the original concept of insurance; protection of your assets. They use the dog to portray us and how protective some of us are with our “stuff” and also how paranoid we can get over making sure it is okay.

If you watch the commercial closely, you will notice that they throw in the line “leave nothing to chance”.  This is a nice point being made by Travelers, especially if you are already distrusting of your current insurance company or if you have any items that are uninsured.

What They want you to Do

Travelers Insurance wants you to trust them with your stuff. This means placing your insurance coverage with them so it is all protected. As the end of the commercial points out also, they aren’t just after your car insurance. They are letting you know that they can protect it all for you.

My Opinion

A fun commercial to watch, but once you see it a handful of times the novelty definitely wears off and it just feels long. The point that the insurance company is making though is put to the consumer in a very entertaining way. It is also not a commercial that will be forgotten quickly.

Overall, I feel that it deserves a thumbs up.

Which Insurance Company is the Cheapest?

Written by Michele Wilmonen. Posted in Ask An Insurance Question Last Updated: 09/01/2011

Getting insurance quotes would be much easier if we already knew which insurance company was the cheapest.

As much as I would love to tell you exactly who you can get the cheapest insurance from, I can’t. There are too many factors involved in putting an insurance package and rates together that the cheapest insurance company will vary from person to person.

First, your rate depends on the location in where you live so the cheapest company for your neighborhood may be different in someone else’s neighborhood. Second, what you drive and how you drive will also determine who your cheapest insurance company is.

Insurance companies even sometime specialize in certain markets also. They may offer better rates to bad drivers or even drivers of high performance vehicles than other companies do.

So as you can see there is no one cheapest insurance company because insurance is not a one-size-fits-all product.

Is a Newly Purchased Policy Refundable if Cancelled?

Written by Michele Wilmonen. Posted in Ask An Insurance Question, Research Last Updated: 08/30/2011

No matter if the policy is new or old; if there is unused premium you should get a refund.

If you have just purchased a new insurance policy for your vehicle and then found better coverage or cheaper coverage with another company, cancelling the initial policy is going to be your first reaction. If you have paid for the insurance coverage with the first company in advance, you are owed a refund.

The refund should be for the insurance coverage that you have not used yet. As an example, say that you paid for the full 6 month policy period and you cancel after the first week of coverage. The time period after the first week through the end of the term is refundable.

The insurance company will not be covering you if you were to get into an accident for this time period so the unused premium should be refunded immediately.

However, there are companies that charge “penalty fees” for cancelling your policy early. Is this fair? No, it is not.

But, it is a way to get you to not cancel your policy. It also gets you to pay for the cost of  writing your new policy in the first place, the paperwork that was sent and also the work that has to be done to process the cancellation and any refund.

This is why it is so important to read the fine print before you buy a policy from an insurance company. If you do cancel your policy and then they claim that there is a penalty for cancelling early, check your insurance papers.

If there is nothing in your papers about this penalty, complain to a supervisor at the insurance company.  If that doesn’t resolve the issue file a complaint with your state’s Department of Insurance or Insurance Commissioner.

What is Insurable Interest for Cars?

Written by W. Lane Startin. Posted in Definitions, Research Last Updated: 08/19/2011

The definition of insurable interest, examples of insurable interest in auto insurance, and how it’s applied by different insurance companies.

Nope. No insurable interest here.

Without something to insure, insurance is pointless. That should be a no-brainer. So what exactly does one insure? It’s not as dense a question as it seems.

You can’t insure just anything and expect to recover a claim from it. This is why no auto insurance company will cover the junker rusting away in your front yard which doesn’t even run.

The insured must also have a tangible interest in the entity insured. This is why you can insure your own car and place your spouse and children on the policy as drivers, but not the guy across the street just because you want to.

In order to properly indemnify the insured in a claim situation, an insurance company must make sure it is insuring something of value such as a car, a house or a life, the loss of which would cause financial hardship. This is the concept of insurable interest.

You must also own the item in question to have insurable interest. For example. If a storm knocks over a tree which damages both your car and your neighbor’s, you would have insurable interest in your vehicle but not your neighbor’s.

Examples of Insurable Interest

In auto insurance, the most obvious example of insurable interest is the auto itself on a full coverage policy. As your auto has intrinsic value, it can be insured for up to that value as determined by the insurance company. This is usually determined by its “blue book” value at the time of loss. Ask your insurance agent to see if specific losses are covered by “replacement cost” or “actual cash value” criteria.

Insurable interest can also be represented by liability. Say you’re in an automobile accident and found at fault. The insurable interest in this case is the damage to the other vehicle up to its value and the liability costs incurred for any bodily injury up to the pre-determined limit in your policy. Bodily injury coverages incurred in your vehicle such as medical payments and PIP work in a similar manner.

Insurable interest also applies to aftermarket auto accessories on inland marine policies. If your car stereo is stolen, the stereo has insurable interest and you can be indemnified for it per the terms of your policy.

Insurable Interest by Company

Unlike many other concepts in insurance, insurable interest is pretty much universal across companies. Differences in underwriting requirements, however, may make it look different as one company may take one vehicle while another won’t. Even so, the concept remains the same. Remember, insurable interest is a key concept in auto insurance. No claim can go forward without it.

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Car Insurance Guidebook Unravels the Car Insurance Mystery

Unless you work in the car insurance industry, the topic is probably a mystery to you. The words deductible, comprehensive, collision, liability, premium, loss of use and bodily injury are all gibberish when they reach your ears.

Unfortunately, insurance is something that you are required to have by law if you want to drive. Because of how confusing it is many people go around in almost an insurance daze while they get car insurance quotes from the auto insurance companies that they have heard of. In reality, they are completely lost as to what they are actually buying.

Instead of looking at what each insurance company offers in the terms of protection for both themselves and their car, they are instead looking for cheap car insurance. Finding the cheapest car insurance coverage makes having to buy the required product all that much less painful, but misses the whole point of having insurance.

Learning about insurance through your insurance agent or websites like Car Insurance Guidebook will give you the upper hand when you looking for car insurance. You can take your knowledge and not only find the best price for insurance, you can use it to find really great insurance to protect you and your assets. Then you aren’t stuck settling for just average car insurance that can hurt you financially if you ever need it because there isn’t enough protection.

For example, when looking for insurance the car insurance rates are just the first of many factors that need to be taken into account when you are shopping around for car insurance. You also need to take into account the type of vehicle that you are driving. Many people don’t know this.

Are you driving around a vehicle that is a new sedan and can be protected under any blanket insurance policy? Or do you have an old car that you fixed up that needs special protection and could be better covered under classic car insurance?

Don’t just assume that when you compare car insurance that it will be a one-size-fits-all policy. This is where the insurance knowledge will come in handy; you will know what you need to protect yourself and your vehicle.

You will understand what your insurance agent is talking about when they use insurance terms and you will actually be able to make an informed decision. This is much better for you instead of the “nod and smile” approach people take in their insurance agent’s office.

Also just like your life changes your insurance needs will change. This year you may just need to learn about the best deductible to have. Next year you may need to educate yourself on car insurance for young drivers. As the years pass, motorcycle insurance may be something you will need to know.

Many wise people say that you never stop learning, so take their advice and educate yourself on the insurance that you spend a lot of money on and can’t get away with not having.