SPOTTING AN INSURANCE COMPANY IN TROUBLE:  Agents & brokers know that when the premium finance companies refuse to loan on a carrier's policies, they've seen something they don't like. Failed insurance carriers are a serious threat to premium finance companies, so they monitor carrier health very carefully.  Although premium financing is usually not a good idea, merely asking about availability can be wise. Another red flag goes up when the excess insurers refuse to write over a carrier's primary policies.

USING YOUR AGENT'S INFORMATION RESOURCES:  It's almost always free.  Driving records on your employees are routinely ordered when you supply a list of names and license numbers. (And Fair Credit Reporting Act compliance.)  The information can give you an early "heads up" about people with problems.  Certain criminal offenses may appear on these records.

USING YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY'S BENEFITS:  Your workers' comp insurer usually can provide you with a wide variety of safety programs, literature, documents, accident kits, posters and other materials which would otherwise cost money to buy.  Many of these things are state or federal regulatory requirements you'll be fined for missing.  Your insurer will usually keep up to date on OSHA changes, rules, etc. Commercial vehicle insurers sometimes offer useful accident kits for placing in your trucks.

RECORDKEEPING OFFSITE: Duplicate records on disk, photos, inventories, etc. which you maintain for insurance purposes can be stored for free in your agent or broker's offices, as long as they do not occupy a large physical space. You broker may be willing to keep custody, as it makes his job of tracking your values much easier, not to mention proving loss if needed.

TOSSING OLD POLICY RECORDS: Commercial insurance policies can occupy a lot of file space. In discarding expired policies, tear off just the typed face pages which list policy number, policy period, limits, forms, etc.  That usually means only 2-3 sheets.  Your agent and/or the carrier has all of the forms for reference & regulations require them to hold everything for years.

SUBMITTING ALL CLAIMS: Any time you suffer an accidental loss or unexpected claim, call your agent, WHETHER YOU THINK IT'S COVERED OR NOT.  You could be pleasantly surprised. Business insurance history is full of cases where insured property was replaced or insured lawsuits answered without so much as a call to ask.  Insurance carriers must worship these policyholders who make impulsive assumptions about their coverage.

GETTING A LEGAL DEFENSE WITHOUT INSURANCE: Carriers regularly put up a legal defense on behalf of policyholders whose liability claims are not believed to be covered.  The legal system has historically exacted painful revenge on insurers who wrongfully denied a defense, and insurers then resorted to offering legal counsel "Just in case."  This has come to be a sort of legal hedge bet by insurance companies, calculated to avoid worst possible results when they deny coverage. This may be expected when an insurer is not entirely confident in making a coverage denial stick.  You would typically receive a "Reservation of Rights" letter from the carrier, citing various bases for potentially denying insurance, notice that you may be pursued later for the recovery of costs, amounts paid out, etc., and offering you legal counsel or options.

GETTING CHEAP MEDICAL/LIFE INSURANCE FOR PRINCIPALS: If your business is incorporated, you may have the option of accepting or rejecting coverage under the workers' comp insurance as a principal. (Depending on your state's rules.)  Depending on the rate you pay, electing to be covered under workers' comp can be the cheapest form of supplemental medical-life-disability money can buy.

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