12 terms to familiarize yourself with before your next renewal.

Twelve tips for the next time you purchase Small Business Insurance.


The person, group, or organization whose life or property is covered by an insurance policy.


Insurance company that issues a particular insurance policy to an insured. In case of a very large risk, several insurance companies may combine to issue one policy.

Named Insured

Any person, firm, or organization, or any of its members specifically designated by name as an insured(s) in an insurance policy.  .

Learn these terms to help your business at your next commercial insurance renewal.


The price or amount paid for insurance.


A formal request to an insurance company asking for a payment based on the terms of the insurance policy.


A company that offers and underwrites insurance policies.

Insurance Carrier


A document detailing the terms and conditions of a contract of insurance.


The person who decides whether to provide insurance and under what terms.


A person licensed by a state and employed by an insurance company to sell insurance policies on the company’s behalf.

Find out if you really need Umbrella Insurance Coverage at www.myinsurancequestion.com

Umbrella Coverage

Umbrella coverage protects your business when your existing liability insurance policy limits can’t cover all the expenses of a claim.

Hired and Non-owned Auto

A coverage that is commonly added or endorsed onto a commercial auto insurance policy. This endorsement adds additional coverages for the insured in the event there becomes a liability issue for an automobile accident involving a vehicle they don’t directly insure (rentals or employee owned cars).

Experience Modification Rating

An employers’ Experience Modification Rating refers the factor calculated from actual loss experience. It is used to adjust the businesses premiums (higher or lower) based on the businesses loss experience relative to the average underlying manual premiums for workers compensation coverage. The Modifier (Mod) compares the insured experience to the average class experience.


Additional Terms to consider familiarizing yourself with before your nest renewal

Waiver of Subrogation

A Waiver of Subrogation is a contractual provision whereby an insured waives the right of their insurance carrier to seek redress or seek compensation for losses from a negligent third party.

Certificate of Insurance

certificate of insurance is a document that is used to provide info on specific insurance coverage and provide verification insurance is in place at the time of issuance. The certificate contains the types and limits of coverage, the carrier, policy number, named insured, and the policies’ effective dates.

Certificate Holder

The certificate holder is the person, business, or nonprofit organization who is provided with a certificate of insurance to prove coverage is in place at the time of issuance. The certificate holder will be notified if at any time the policy is cancelled before the listed policy effective date.

Additional Insured

The Additional Insured is the person or organization who is not automatically included as an insured on an insurance policy, but who is included under the policy at the request of the named insured.


Underwriting and What It Means to You

I have taken many calls from business owners in search of Work Comp. I would like to say that I have always been able to help. One common exception is when a business can only purchase coverage through the assigned risk pool and the truth is there are many businesses who have no other option.  Assigned risk is outside the volunteer insurance market.  Underwriting these industries is risky for the carrier and that makes it extremely difficult for an agent to find a carrier willing to quote the business.

Insurance agents typically interact with a minimum of 20 workers comp clients per day.

What ultimately puts a business into the assigned risk pool is what is called, underwriting guidelines. What can sometimes be a hurdle is explaining to potential clients that I am not the underwriter. I ultimately do not have the say on if a carrier will take on a particular business (risk).  What makes a business a “risk”, whether it be a high risk or a low risk, is determined by the underwriter with the insurance carrier. There are many factors that determine if an insurance carrier will take on the risk of you and your business.

Insurance Underwriters research and assess the risk each prospect presents. Get all of your questions about underwriting answered at myinsurancequestion.com

Underwriters also research and assess the risk each prospect presents.  This helps to create the market for securities by accurately pricing risk and setting fair premium rates that adequately cover the true cost of insuring policyholders. If a specific applicant’s risk is deemed to be too high, underwriters frequently refuse to cover it.

The most common reason a business is declined coverage on the open market is due to the business not having enough payroll for the exposure. Most construction businesses are going to need between $20 and $30k in payroll to be offered coverage by a carrier on the open market.  Many of my potential clients ask me to just quote with $25k in payroll so they can get the policy they need.  However, the policy will most likely be cancelled in a year due to not enough payroll or premium too small for risk.

The next reason for a business to be declined is because of 1099 or sub exposure. I should say that the amount of sub exposure to w2 employees makes a difference.  Most carriers want no more than 20% of sub or 1099 employees.   Just because a business has chosen to issue 1099 rather than W2’s does not automatically mean the employee is an independent contractor and should not have rights to work comp coverage. Many business owners assume that they do not have to provide coverage for the subs however if the sub or 1099 is not providing a Certificate of Insurance to the contractor or business owner, than the payroll will be picked up at audit. because of this the policy owner will owe in to the carrier for that employee.  Ultimately what carriers worry about most with the subs is if there was a lapse of coverage the contractor would be on the hook for any claims that were to happen.

If I had to pick one other reason for a business to be declined coverage it is because of travel exposure.  By travel exposure I mean using a vehicle to do work related to the business. Carriers deem this a larger risk because when the employees are driving there is a higher rate of claims and the claims tend to be more severe.  It seems these days’ contractors need to go where the work is.  If there is multi-state exposure where employees are traveling out of state or live near the border of two states, that is something that many carriers are not interested in writing.  For instance, if a contractor sends 5 or 6 employees more than 50 miles away to do a job and they all ride together that is 5 or 6 claims that would have to be paid if they were all riding together and were injured in a car accident.  Many employers think that while their employees are driving to work they are not covered under an employer’s work comp policy.  That is accurate if you drive the same route to work every day and generally go to the same place every day.  However, if you as a business owner send your employees on jobs that in tails driving exposure. The driving exposure is anything that would not normally be a part of everyday work. If the employee is solely driving for the reason of doing a job then the insurance carrier would indeed need to pay for the claims that arise out of a car accident.

Insurance is the most common example of underwriting that most people encounter. In order for insurance to work well, risk has to be spread out among as many people as possible. Underwriting helps insurance companies manage the risk that too many policyholders will file claims at once by spreading out the risk among outside investors. Once an underwriter has been found for a given policy, the capital the underwriter puts up at the time of investment acts as a guarantee that the claim can be paid.  This allows the company to issue more insurance to other customers.  In exchange for taking on this risk, the underwriter is entitled to payments drawn from the policyholder’s premiums.

Long story short the 3 reasons for businesses being declined by an underwriter are not enough payroll, too much 1099 or sub exposure and too much travel exposure. These risks are just a few that could result in your business being placed in the Assigned Risk Pool.

Workers Compensation Insurance Expert

Personally, I have written workers compensation insurance across the U.S. for 10 years. I have partnered with multiple industries and multiple insurance providers. While doing this I have realized the difficulty and importance of finding an insurance agent that specializes in this line of insurance.  Especially finding an expert who has a positive relationship with the underwriters they work with. For most business owners, Workers Compensation Insurance is one of their biggest insurance expenses. It can be a nightmare to find if the business experiences’ a substantial change in payroll, or if the business has claims or a bad audit experience.   Most insurance agents do not specialize in workers compensation insurance and because this they do not fully understand how it operates.  Therefore, these agents do not want to jeopardize their relationship with their client and potentially lose the other lines of insurance such as general liability or auto by giving bad advice.

While speaking with business owners about workers compensation insurance I feel it’s important to explain the process of how the policy works. I attempt to explain what a classification code is, what the rate per $100 means and how uninsured and insured 1099’s are handled by the audit process.  I do this in an attempt to help the business owner understand how the policy can change throughout the policy term. After the audit is completed, most workers compensation policies change in total pricing after the policy period expires. Since the policy is audited following each policy term it’s important for the business owner to understand the potential changes that could have a significant financial impact on their pocketbook. Do you want to work with an agent that doesn’t take the time to explain these potential changes to you?

When working with a workers compensation expert, the agent will be able to determine or research the correct workers compensation classification code. The correct workers compensation code determines the businesses pricing for workers comp insurance, it’s the most important first step in the process. After the classification code is determined the agent should explain the importance of estimating your employee wages correctly at the beginning of the policy due to the audit. If a business uses 1099 labor, it’s important for the agent to explain how that 1099 is either added or excluded from the business owners audit. After the policy period expires and the audit takes place, it’s important for the agency to be able to explain why the audit resulted in the way it did OR be able to help with disputing the audit.   Business owners can typically accomplish this with the insurance company directly, however, I feel it’s important for your insurance agent to be able to review, educate and assist with correcting after an audit is finished.

One component that most business owners do not understand about insurance quotes is the relationship between the agent and the insurance company is very important. If the agents relationship with the insurance company is untrustworthy, it could cause the insurance underwriter to decline instead of quoting because they don’t trust the information given by the agent. If the agent doesn’t specialize in workers compensation insurance, it’s possible the agent is not providing the relevant information to the underwriter. It’s important to make the underwriter feel comfortable with the business they are reviewing before they are willing to quote, especially when it’s a more difficult or unfamiliar industry. Loss ratio of the clients that agent has insured with an insurance provider is extremely important. If an agency continues to insure bad businesses with an insurance company, suffering bad losses or them finding dishonest information at audit, that insurance underwriter will be less likely to quote for that agent and will not be as aggressive with pricing.

Work with an expert when trying to find optimal pricing for workers compensation insurance. Not only will an expert know how to explain and assist but they will have the relationships established with insurance providers that will give you the most competitive pricing.