Business Insurance Inspection in Maine: What to Expect

Business insurance inspection is common in Maine. Commercial insurance companies routinely inspect businesses that they protect. Inspections allow them to make sure that they insure businesses that fit their guidelines and that their policyholders are adequately protected.

Is a Business Insurance Inspection Mandatory?

Inspections are expensive for insurance companies. They only perform them when they feel it’s necessary. Often, one of three conditions can cause an underwriter to order an inspection on your business:

  • You recently switched insurance to a new company. The new company wants to make sure that your business meets their underwriting requirements.
  • You recently had a claim. The insurance company may want to make sure that you have repaired any property damage or addressed the cause of a liability or workers comp claim.
  • Your business has expanded or moved. Businesses change, and so do their exposures to loss. Insurance companies inspect periodically to keep up.
  • The insurance company hasn’t inspected in several years. Things can change, even if your business stays about the same size and in the same place. The insurance company wants to make sure that your policy stays up to date in case they have to pay a claim.

inspectorCan I Opt Out of a Business Insurance Inspection?

Every insurance policy is a contract. Each policy has an “inspection clause”, which gives the insurance company the right to inspect your business with reasonable advance notice. If you refuse, it’s a violation of the contract. The insurance company can cancel your business insurance as a result.

Does the Insurance Inspector Need to Get Inside my Business?

Almost always. There are two types of insurance inspections: exterior only; and interior/exterior. The company underwriter decides which report to order based upon what they insure, your claim history, and other factors. Unless your property is a rented apartment building, the inspector will probably want to see all the areas.

What Does an Inspector Look For?

Insurance Inspector Should

Some inspectors are employees of the insurance company, but many are independent contractors. During a routine inspection, the inspector looks for features of your property or operation that can affect insurance claims. Items they typically inspect include:

  • Condition of roof, plumbing, electrical, HVAC and similar systems.
  • General property condition, paying particular notice to maintenance and general housekeeping.
  • Special hazards such as commercial cooking, chemicals, pollutants and machinery.
  • Controls and PPE to protect workers.
  • Dimensions of structures, so they can estimate the cost to rebuild them.

What Happens During a Business Insurance Inspection?

The inspector sends their report to the insurance company underwriter. If no deficiencies are noted, you will probably not hear from anyone. If the underwriter has concerns, they will ask you to address them. It’s important to pay attention and respond to these. Failing to do so can cause insurance price increases, or even policy cancellation.

If you have a question about Greater Portland Maine business insurance,  contact a Noyes Hall & Allen agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We offer you a choice of Maine’s preferred property insurance companies. We’re independent and committed to you.

What is Maine Non-Admitted Insurance?

“Non-admitted” insurance companies are not approved by the Maine Bureau of Insurance. But they play an important role in Maine’s insurance market. Non-admitted carriers are often called “surplus lines” or “excess lines” insurers. They take higher risks than admitted insurers. That comes at a cost. Here are the pros and cons of the non-admitted insurance market.

The Risk of Non-Admitted Insurance

  • Non-admitted insurance companies’ coverage forms are not approved by Maine regulators. Their customers don’t enjoy many of the Maine Insurance Code’s protections. But they are subject to federal regulation through the Dodd-Frank Act (.pdf, 800+ pages).
  • In case of insurer insolvency, the Maine Guarantee Fund does not apply. Even if a policy is active, claims might not be paid if the company goes bankrupt.
  • The Maine Bureau of Insurance doesn’t review or approve non-admitted insurance rates. They do with admitted insurers. Non-admitted insurers may charge what the market will bear.
  • Many non-admitted insurance policies have a “minimum earned premium” of 25% of the annual premium. Even if you cancel your policy right away, the insurer will keep 3 months’ premium.
  • Non-admitted insurers may add separate policy fees to premium. Those are usually non-refundable. They must add Maine surplus lines tax to the premium, too.

Non-admitted insurance is often more expensive and provides less coverage. That’s why Maine only allows non-admitted carriers to insure risks that admitted carriers refuse.

Value of Non-Admitted Insurance

Purchasing insurance from a non-admitted carrier isn’t ideal. But it is a valuable service.

  • Some protection is better than none. While non-admitted insurance coverage is restrictive, it can protect customers against catastrophe.
  • Non-admitted coverage can be a temporary solution. It can give you time to make improvements and qualify for insurance from an admitted insurer.
  • Most lenders will accept non-admitted policies as proof of insurance. Lenders require insurance from their borrowers in order to make a loan.

Be a Smart Insurance Consumer

Purchasing insurance from a non-admitted carrier can be risky. Since non-admitted insurers are not covered by the Maine Guaranty Fund, it’s important to research your insurer’s financial strength. But many non-admitted insurers have excellent A.M. Best financial ratings (.pdf). Ask your agent about yours.

Non-admitted insurance proposals list all applicable exclusions, warrantees and coverage forms. You should at least understand them, even if you can’t change them. Your agent should be able to explain them to you. If you’re a client, your Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent can answer questions about your insurance. We’re independent and committed to you.

Increasing Construction Costs – Do I Have Enough Home Insurance?

Increasing construction costs may mean you don’t have enough insurance. Building costs are very high now. The 2020 pandemic caused material supply shortages. Meanwhile, many people wanted to improve the homes where they were spending so much time. The increased demand and supply shortages caused increased building material costs.

Increasing Construction Costs in Maine

Construction costs have two components: labor and materials. Both factors have increased during COVID. Contractors have been very busy. That drove up labor costs. Material shortages and supply chain interruptions pushed material costs higher, too. There’s no doubt that it would cost more to rebuild your home if a disaster struck this year.

My Home’s Worth More than It’s Insured For

Your insurance amount is almost never your home’s market value. Real estate values include acreage, desirability of location, landscaping, hardscape and excavation. These don’t affect the cost to rebuild your home. Your insurance amount should cover reconstruction costs, and no more.

How Do Insurance Companies Set the Value of My Home?

Insurers and agents use software to estimate the cost to rebuild your home. The largest vendor of this software is MSB, now owned by CoreLogic. Using MSB, agents input your home’s dimensions and features to calculate the rebuilding cost. This software isn’t perfect. Neither are agents. The program uses historical building data. In a fast-changing market, past data can differ from actual current costs. If an agent enters incorrect information, the result can be wrong, too.

Almost every homeowners policy has a built-in inflation guard factor. Many insurers change these every year in response to current cost changes. Others increase by a flat percentage each year – often 4%.

These adjustments help cushion against inflation but they aren’t perfect. It’s a good idea to ask your agent to do a fresh MSB estimate every few years.

How Can My Insurance Adjust to Increasing Construction Costs?

Building costs rise and fall with supply and demand. They can spike after a disaster and drop when contractors are looking for work. It would be a pain to calibrate your insurance coverage every time the market changes. Insurance companies know this. That’s why they build extra coverage into many policies.

Look for something called “specified additional amount of insurance.” A common additional amount is 25%. That means that your policy has up to 25% more building coverage than the limit shown on the front page. This insulates you from cost spikes and estimating errors that could leave you without enough insurance to rebuild.

Concerned About Your Insurance?

If you live in Southern Maine, contact a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland. We offer a choice of several of Maine’s top insurance companies. We can help you find the proper coverage for your home and your budget.

Looking for new home insurance, but not ready to talk to a human yet? Get up to 5 Maine insurance quotes online here.

We’re independent and committed to you.

3 Tips for Buying Portland Maine Business Insurance

Portland Maine business insurance doesn't have to be complicated

Buying Portland Maine business insurance doesn’t have to be complicated. If you own a business, it’s important to protect your asset with commercial insurance. These policies can protect your building and vehicles against liability, theft, fire and more.

Whether you just started a business or need to upgrade your existing commercial insurance, the team at Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance has put together this short list to help you get started. 

1. Find a Reputable Business Insurance Agent

Working with a friendly and reputable local insurance agent takes the hassle out of buying a new commercial insurance. They will ask you some questions to get a better understanding of what coverage you need.

Many Maine people prefer to do business locally. A good local agent knows the area, and what Maine’s unique hazards and opportunities. They can help you compare quotes, understand your coverage and bundle your policies. Check their online reviews to help you choose. 

2. Compare Several Quotes

It’s smart to compare three or more quotes during the commercial insurance buying process to find the right one. Go over each in detail with your reputable agent, asking questions for clarification as needed. Policies will differ on price and coverage so be sure to understand what you’re getting and for what price.

Fortunately, Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance offers a choice of 10 of Maine’s top business insurance companies. That means we can do the shopping and comparison for you, with one stop. 

3. Bundle Your Business Insurance Policies

If you need more than one type of insurance, consider bundling with one insurance company. For example, insuring your business vehicles and your property with the same company can simplify billing and save on your premiums.  

Own a Portland Maine Area Business?

Have insurance questions? Contact a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We offer a choice of  many insurance companies and have served the local business community for almost 90 years. We’re independent and committed to you.