4 Ways to Protect Your Real Estate Business
As the owner of a real estate or title agency, you have worked hard to build up your business, establish your reputation in the industry,
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8 Things to Know before Buying Insurance for Your Real Estate Business
As a real estate or title business owner, you know there are potential risks and
Depending on the specific work you do for your clients, you may need a variety of the insurance types below.
General Liability Insurance for Real Estate & Title Professionals
Nearly every business owner can benefit from General Liability Insurance. This type of coverage protects real estate and title professionals from claims that their business was responsible for physical injury or property damage. For example, if a client sues you alleging that he or she sustained an injury caused by your business, you would be required to defend yourself.
The costs of doing so are many: attorney’s fees, court costs, witness fees, and more. If you are found liable of wrongdoing, you could also be responsible for settlement or judgment costs (sometimes referred to as damages). Your General Liability policy would pay for all of these costs, regardless of whether or not you were actually liable for the event in question.
One thing to consider about your General Liability Policy is that, because real estate and title agents tend to enjoy a fairly low risk profile, you may qualify for a special kind of General Liability Insurance called a Business Owner’s Policy, or BOP.
The BOP combines General Liability and Property Insurance into one package for a reduced premium. If you are eligible for this type of coverage, you could save money by purchasing it.
Whether you purchase a standard General Liability Insurance policy or a BOP, however, it is important to note that you will not be covered for professional errors or omissions that cause a financial loss for your clients.
In order to have coverage for professional negligence and mistakes, you’ll need an Errors and Omissions policy (also known as a Professional Liability policy). Your insureon agent can help you determine which types of General Liability Insurance will adequately protect your business.
Professional Liability Insurance / Errors & Omissions Coverage for Real Estate & Title Businesses
As a real estate or title professional, the work you do has a very real impact on the lives of your clients. Because of that, you undoubtedly understand the importance of paying close attention to detail and following through on meticulous guidelines for completing forms and paperwork.
Errors and Omissions Insurance (aka Professional Liability Insurance) offers you financial protection against such lawsuits. Your Errors and Omissions policy takes effect when you face a lawsuit regarding your professional performance and covers all related costs up to your policy’s limit.
Even real estate and title professionals who are confident in the quality of their work and their ability to avoid mistakes should consider investing in an E&O policy. Your insureon agent can provide you with more details about how E&O Insurance might be able to protect your business from unnecessary expenses.
Umbrella Insurance / Excess Liability Insurance for Real Estate & Title Professionals
Umbrella Insurance (also called Excess Liability Insurance) provides a sort of insurance cushion for real estate and title professionals. Umbrella coverage works by offering additional protection to one or more of your existing insurance policies.
If, for example, you were found liable in a General Liability suit for $500,000 in damages and your General Liability policy limit was $250,000, you would be responsible for paying the remaining $250,000 out of your pocket—unless you had Umbrella Insurance.
In the event that you did have an Umbrella policy in place, it would kick in to cover the difference between the settlement amount and what your primary insurance policy covered. Umbrella Insurance is attractive to real estate and title professionals for two major reasons: first, it’s a fairly inexpensive way to increase your coverage amounts, compared to buying greater coverage on each of your policies separately.
Second, a single Umbrella Insurance policy can add coverage to multiple existing insurance policies.
One important note on Umbrella Insurance: it cannot be applied to Errors and Omissions policies. If you want a higher limit on E&O Insurance, you’ll have to simply buy a policy with a higher limit.
Workers’ Compensation Insurance for Real Estate & Title Businesses
Today, state laws in most parts of the country require almost all business owners to carry at least some form of Workers’ Compensation Insurance. Even if you are the only employee of your business, you may be required to carry Workers’ Comp protection, depending on your business type and where you live.
Workers’ Compensation Insurance protects your business from expenses related to illnesses and injuries your employees incur while doing their jobs. If, for example, one of your associates or assistants pulled out her back while rearranging office furniture, she might sue your business to pay for her medical bills and wages she was unable to earn while recovering from the injury.
Your Workers’ Compensation Insurance pays both the legal costs of defending yourself against such lawsuits and the settlement costs that you’re found liable for in court.
When selecting a Workers’ Compensation policy, be sure to ask your insureon agent whether you can save money on your premium by excluding yourself from coverage (and whether such a move would even be wise). Depending on the structure of your company, you may also want to enquire about whether your policy covers 1099 workers in addition to W2 employees.
Keep excellent records.
Even if you conduct a lot of your business away from your office, keeping records of client interactions and conversations can help you provide documentation in case of a lawsuit. Luckily, mobile computing devices such as tablets and smart phones make this task easier than ever.
Don’t underestimate the value of Workers’ Compensation Insurance.
While real estate and title professionals may seem to have a fairly safe work environment, it’s important to remember that much of your (and your employees’) job might involve driving around and / or spending time in properties other than your office. Protecting yourself and your employees regardless of where you do your work can save you serious money in the event that someone is injured.
Avoid Getting Sued
Real estate agents and professionals can avoid having to deal with litigation by following a few tips, read how here at agbeat.com