The Different Types Of Commercial Insurance Brokers

To the average man or woman on the street, the world in which commercial insurance brokers live and operate will be little more than a mystery. The field of insurance in general is still barely understood by laymen and women, and with commercial insurance being one of its most specialised branches, this effect is felt several-fold.

Few people seeking to take out this type of insurance will be aware, for instance, that there are several types of commercial insurance brokers on the market, each with its own specific ways to operate, strengths and limitations. At best, most of these men and women will be aware of the existence of the main, larger insurance companies, with the countless smaller operators being known to only a minuscule portion of the overall demographic, mostly through research or word of mouth. Yet, on occasion, these alternative types of commercial insurance brokers may actually be more suited for what an individual or business is after than the more ‘mainstream’ alternatives; it is with that in mind that the present article seeks to introduce prospective clients to the different types of commercial insurance companies available, so that they may assess which will best suit their specific situation.

Insurer-Owned Brokers

Insurer-owned companies are perhaps the most widespread and prolific sub-section of the commercial insurance market, and many of the most popular and best-known commercial insurance brokers fall under this category. As the name indicates, these outfits are owned by large insurance companies, who typically dictate their standards and practices. In certain countries, this model was considered the industry standard for commercial brokers for decades; it has, however, recently begun to lose ground, as the effectiveness of these types of outfits began to dwindle. Nowadays, many experts make a case for the model being outdated, and it is predicted that insurer-owned commercial insurance brokers will continue to lose market space in years to come.

Broker Networks

Broker networks comprise several small commercial insurance brokers, all of which share resources, assets and market opportunities between them. In its ideal form, this is considered to be a beneficial model for companies that choose to join one of these networks, with many of them advertising better commissions for individual brokers and service conditions for the companies as a whole; however, adhesion to this type of network remains uneven between countries.

Consolidated Brokers

Consolidated commercial insurance brokers result from one company assimilating, buying out or otherwise consolidating any number of smaller ones, in similar fashion to a corporate merger. At one point, these types of companies were the most common type of commercial insurance brokers in certain markets, with consolidations happening as frequently as once a week. The practice has significantly lost steam since then, however, mainly due to the fact that the exact benefits to be reaped from consolidation processes are not always clear. This has caused many brokers to sour on the practice, and much like insurer-owner brokers, it is thought that this type of brokerage firm may lose even more ground in years to come.

Independent Brokers

The fourth and final type of brokerage firm are independent brokers, that is, brokers which are not associated with either of the three types described earlier in this article. These tend to be smaller, often family or owner-run companies, with smaller and more personalised client bases, and frequently focused on more specialised or less explored areas of the field. Customers resorting to an independent broker can expect a more personalised service, with a higher rate of face-to-face interactions and more time devoted to each case. This type of company is less prevalent in the modern landscape than any of the previously listed ones, but there are still a few independent commercial insurance brokers left, and they tend to attract a small yet loyal customer base.

These are, in broad strokes, the main types of commercial insurance brokers available to customers. It is, therefore, up to each individual to work out which business configuration would be most suitable to their specific needs, in order to avoid disappointment down the road.

Types Of Life Insurance Policies – Which Is Right For You?

Term Life by definition is a life insurance policy which provides a stated benefit upon the holder’s death, provided that the death occurs within a certain specified time period. However, the policy does not provide any returns beyond the stated benefit, unlike an insurance policy which allows investors to share in returns from the insurance company’s investment portfolio.

Annually renewable term life.

Historically, a term life rate increased each year as the risk of death became greater. While unpopular, this type of life policy is still available and is commonly referred to as annually renewable term life (ART).

Guaranteed level term life.

Many companies now also offer level term life. This type of insurance policy has premiums that are designed to remain level for a period of 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 or even 30 years. Level term life policies have become extremely popular because they are very inexpensive and can provide relatively long term coverage. But, be careful! Most level term life insurance policies contain a guarantee of level premiums. However some policies don’t provide such guarantees. Without a guarantee, the insurance company can surprise you by raising your life insurance rate, even during the time in which you expected your premiums to remain level. Needless to say, it is important to make sure that you understand the terms of any life insurance policy you are considering.
Return of premium term life insurance

Return of premium term insurance (ROP) is a relatively new type of insurance policy that offers a guaranteed refund of the life insurance premiums at the end of the term period assuming the insured is still living. This type of term life insurance policy is a bit more expensive than regular term life insurance, but the premiums are designed to remain level. These returns of premium term life insurance policies are available in 15, 20, or 30-year term versions. Consumer interest in these plans has continued to grow each year, as they are often significantly less expensive than permanent types of life insurance, yet, like many permanent plans, they still may offer cash surrender values if the insured doesn’t die.

Types of Permanent Life Insurance Policies

A permanent life insurance policy by definition is a policy that provides life insurance coverage throughout the insured’s lifetime ñ the policy never ends as long as the premiums are paid. In addition, a permanent life insurance policy provides a savings element that builds cash value.
Universal Life

Life insurance which combines the low-cost protection of term life with a savings component that is invested in a tax-deferred account, the cash value of which may be available for a loan to the policyholder. Universal life was created to provide more flexibility than whole life by allowing the holder to shift money between the insurance and savings components of the policy. Additionally, the inner workings of the investment process are openly displayed to the holder, whereas details of whole life investments tend to be quite scarce. Premiums, which are variable, are broken down by the insurance company into insurance and savings. Therefore, the holder can adjust the proportions of the policy based on external conditions. If the savings are earning a poor return, they can be used to pay the premiums instead of injecting more money. If the holder remains insurable, more of the premium can be applied to insurance, increasing the death benefit. Unlike with whole life, the cash value investments grow at a variable rate that is adjusted monthly. There is usually a minimum rate of return. These changes to the interest scheme allow the holder to take advantage of rising interest rates. The danger is that falling interest rates may cause premiums to increase and even cause the policy to lapse if interest can no longer pay a portion of the insurance costs.

To age 100 level guaranteed life insurance

This type of life policy offers a guaranteed level premium to age 100, along with a guaranteed level death benefit to age 100. Most often, this is accomplished within a Universal Life policy, with the addition of a feature commonly known as a “no-lapse rider”. Some, but not all, of these plans also include an “extension of maturity” feature, which provides that if the insured lives to age 100, having paid the “no-lapse” premiums each year, the full face amount of coverage will continue on a guaranteed basis at no charge thereafter.

Survivorship or 2nd-to-die life insurance

A survivorship life policy, also called 2nd-to-die life, is a type of coverage that is generally offered either as universal or whole life and pays a death benefit at the later death of two insured individuals, usually a husband and wife. It has become extremely popular with wealthy individuals since the mid-1980’s as a method of discounting their inevitable future estate tax liabilities which can, in effect, confiscate an amount to over half of a family’s entire net worth!

Congress instituted an unlimited marital deduction in 1981. As a result, most individuals arrange their affairs in a manner such that they delay the payment of any estate taxes until the second insured’s death. A “2nd-to-die” life policy allows the insurance company to delay the payment of the death benefit until the second insured’s death, thereby creating the necessary dollars to pay the taxes exactly when they are needed! This coverage is widely used because it is generally much less expensive than individual permanent life coverage on either spouse.

Variable Universal Life

A form of whole life which combines some features of universal life, such as premium and death benefit flexibility, with some features of variable life, such as more investment choices. Variable universal life adds to the flexibility of universal life by allowing the holder to choose among investment vehicles for the savings portion of the account. The differences between this arrangement and investing individually are the tax advantages and fees that accompany the insurance policy.

Whole Life

Insurance which provides coverage for an individual’s whole life, rather than a specified term. A savings component, called cash value or loan value, builds over time and can be used for wealth accumulation. Whole life is the most basic form of cash value insurance. The insurance company essentially makes all of the decisions regarding the policy. Regular premiums both pay insurance costs and cause equity to accrue in a savings account. A fixed death benefit is paid to the beneficiary along with the balance of the savings account. Premiums are fixed throughout the life of the policy even though the breakdown between insurance and savings swings toward the insurance over time. Management fees also eat up a portion of the premiums. The insurance company will invest money primarily in fixed-income securities, meaning that the savings investment will be subject to interest rate and inflation risk.

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Do You Need Commercial Insurance For Your Vehicle?

When it comes to insuring vehicles, individuals usually purchase personal auto insurance, while businesses buy commercial insurance policies. But whether or not you should have commercial auto insurance varies greatly depending on how you use your vehicle. Individuals who engage in certain business-like activities with their car should definitely contact their insurance company to check to see if they need to purchase additional insurance. Additionally, any small business owners who have employees drive vehicles as a part of the job need to look into commercial auto insurance as well.

What Do You Use Your Personal Vehicle For?

Any personal vehicle that is used sometimes for business purposes probably needs commercial vehicle insurance. While it is true that some personal auto insurance policies may cover damage that occurs during business to an extent, you need to check with your insurance provider. Make sure you are dealing with a well-qualified independent insurance agent who understands your needs and has experience in dealing with both commercial auto and personal auto insurance issues. If you are unsure whether or not your policy covers your automobile, your best option is to utilize the wealth of knowledge that your agent holds. Bring your policy to your agent and ask them to review the your policy and coverage with you. Don’t leave your coverage to chance.

If you use your car or truck for any sort of business activity, you should consider purchasing commercial insurance for the vehicle. Do you deliver pizzas or other food with your personal car? What about delivering newspapers? Are you an event photographer that uses your own car to carry equipment? Any catering company, door-to-door consulting service, day care van service, real estate agent, or landscaping and garden service should definitely look into commercial auto insurance policies.

Businesses Need Commercial Insurance

Any vehicle that your business owns, leases, or rents, needs to be covered under commercial vehicle insurance. It’s required in most states to cover any financial responsibility if you or an employee is at fault in an accident. Basically, if you or your employees drive company vehicles or personal vehicles to conduct business, you also will most certainly need commercial vehicle insurance. A benefit of commercial auto policies is that they allow you to list anyone that you employ as a driver, an option you don’t always have with a personal auto policy. This way, any listed employee who needs to drive your vehicle can, without getting into issues that may come up should that person get into an accident.

Truckers in particular need to look into commercial truck insurance. Because trucks are much bigger vehicles and require special training to drive, truckers are held more liable for damages. They need to make sure they’re covered under a commercial policy.

Consider Commercial Auto Insurance

Commercial auto insurance is also needed if you need more liability coverage than a personal insurance policy provides. In general, you’ll need commercial auto insurance if the vehicle is owned by a corporate partnership, used to haul tools or equipment weighing more than 500 pounds, used to make deliveries, or is heavy enough to need state or federal filings. If this applies to your business, or if you use your personal car for any sort of business activity, look into commercial insurance today to protect yourself and your wallet.