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Published in the December 2012 issue of Dealer Magazine

Preparing for an insurance bid process or even your renewal can be time consuming. It seems like every insurance company has their list of required information. The reality is that the majority of the information is required by all insurers.

But what are they looking for in the information you provide? How can you show your dealership in the best possible light?

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Published in the October 2012 issue of Dealer Magazine

Some time ago I predicted that in 2012, the dealership insurance market would become “schizophrenic.” I could not have been more correct. Dealers who renewed their coverage in late 2011 or early 2012 will be in for an unpleasant surprise full of higher premiums, larger deductibles and possibly more restricted coverage when the next renewal comes along. Of course, the proactive dealer willing to seek bids from as many carriers as possible stands the best chance of minimizing the pain.

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Published in the August 2012 issue of Dealer Magazine

There is no question that the dealership insurance market is tightening up. Prices are going up along with deductibles including an ever-growing list of coverage limitations. Dealers Physical Damage or Auto Inventory insurance premiums and deductibles are rising even faster than other segments of the insurance market. Simply renewing your auto inventory insurance (that part not provided by a manufacturer’s flooring source) could be costly in many ways. Here are a few ideas and issues you need to be aware of before renewal.

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Published in the June 2012 issue of Dealer Magazine

Higher premiums cut directly into the dealerships bottom line. Of course, creating competition by annually bidding coverage is the only way to be certain that you are getting the best deal in the marketplace. It is also the only way to put pressure on your insurer to minimize any proposed rate increase and show you are serious about holding the line on expenses and profit. An effective insurance bid process is not as simple as calling a couple of the “usual suspects” and requesting quotes. Here are six guidelines for a successful insurance bid process.

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Published in the April 2012 issue of Dealer Magazine

Every dealer knows there is a relationship between the losses printed on your loss runs and the premiums you pay. If premiums continue to rise as predicted by industry professionals, the first dealers to feel the pain will be those with higher losses.

Many insurers use a loss ratio approach to determining premiums. That means they shoot for a certain loss to premium ratio. As of this writing we are seeing most insurers writing to a 40% – 50% loss ratio for medium to large dealership group. Smaller dealers are being written at 25%-35% loss ratios. If premiums rise, the loss ratio they are looking for will fall. During the hard markets right after the 9/11 crisis, we saw loss ratio pricing fall to 25%-30% even for bigger dealers. To be clear, when I speak of loss ratios, I am referring to your total losses (plus reserves) divided by your total premium. Most insurers look at a three to four year average of losses.

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Published in the February 2012 Issue of Dealer Magazine

After reading the insurance trade journals for the last month, it seems that the operative insurance term of 2012 is firming. Firming, “insurance-speak” for slowly raising rates. A firming market is one where insurance rates go up at a pace that insurance consumers may deem acceptable, under 10%. A hardening market is one where rates increase at an even faster pace.

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Published in the December 2011 Issue of Dealer Magazine

Is the insurance policy sitting on your desk correct? Are all the “Is” dotted and “Ts” crossed? Did all the changes you negotiated and corrections you made actually end up in the policy?

I have reviewed hundreds of policy sets every year and find on average from three to seven mistakes in each of them. These range the gambit from simple clerical errors to serious oversights that, under the right circumstances, could cost your dealership dearly. Often these mistakes go undetected because policies go un-reviewed. If there is no disputed claim there may be no reason to suspect a mistake has been made.

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Published in the October 2011 Issue of Dealer Magazine

The dealership insurance market continues to be vigorous with no new insurers entering or exiting the marketplace in the past couple of months. The vigorous market, much to the dismay of many insurers, is helping to hold the line on prices for those dealers who aggressively bid their insurance program annually. We are however, seeing a few main line dealership carriers increasing deductibles instead of increasing premiums.

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Published in the June 2011 Issue of Dealer Magazine

The good news for dealers today is there is a vigorous dealership insurance marketplace. The challenging news is the landscape is changing and dealers will need to take a nimble and aggressive approach to make certain your dealership has the right coverage at the best possible price.

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Published in the April 2011 Issue of Dealer Magazine

The insurance world is full of “gotchas.” There are “gotchas” in coverage. There are “gotchas” in premiums and there are “gotchas” in claims adjustments. While the glossy presentations agents drop on your desk make dealership insurance look simple and easy, wrapped with a bow it is anything but simple and easy. Here is the problem. If you’ve never had an unexpectedly uninsured claim or aggressively bid your coverage you may think you have the right coverage at the best price. As someone much smarter than me once said, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” So here are a few potential “gotchas” we see fairly frequently.

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Published in Dealer Magazine February 2011

If you asked ten people what loyalty means you would probably get ten different answers. Certainly many couples have a different interpretation of the concept of loyalty as do business partners. Insurance companies invoke the need to be loyal, maybe more than anyone. Today seems like a good time to talk about insurance companies with new insurers coming on the scene and one major carrier packing up their bags and exiting the auto dealer space.

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Published in Dealer Magazine October 2010

Bidding your auto dealership’s insurance can be a headache and everyone hates to do it. However, an effective insurance bid process is the only way to make certain you are not overpaying and sending your hard earned profits needlessly to the insurance company.

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Published in Dealer Magazine August 2010

Over the past few months auto dealers have been asking some very insightful questions and we have seen a few interesting policy quirks. Knowing this information may help your auto dealership make certain you have the right insurance coverage are paying what you expect to pay.

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Published in Dealer Magazine June 2010

Taking on higher deductibles and retentions may sound like an excellent way to save your dealership some serious premium dollars. But is that always the case?

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Published in Dealer Magazine April 2010

In past articles, I have spent much time discussing the types of insurance coverage most dealers carry. As a change of pace, I thought it might be interesting to discuss some lesser-known policies that, in the right circumstances, may be just what you need.

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Published in Dealer Magazine Febuary 2010

Over the past few years a number of dealer specialty companies have been adding some personal identity theft coverage to their forms and a few stand-alone polices are now offered. The coverage varies dramatically both in form, limits and deductibles.

This article will attempt to break out the various coverages offered. It is fair to say that few of the policies offer all the coverages available. It is worth your time to ask your agent specifically what is covered. As I’ve stated any number of times, “The devil is in the details” and that is certainly the case with personal identity theft coverage.

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Published in Dealer Magazine December 2009

What if your garage insurance agent or broker came to you next month and said, “I’ve got really great news. I can guarantee your premiums won’t go up this year and may go down.” How would you react? I think a lot of dealers would breathe a sigh of relief, not worry about getting any other quotes and spend their time focusing on making other parts of their dealership more successful. However, that may be a poor decision that costs you money and ultimately profits.

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Published in Open Road – Colorado Auto Dealers – October 2009

The Stealth Hard Insurance Market sounds ominous doesn’t it? In a way it is ominous and in a way insidious.

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Published in Dealer Magazine – October 2009

The majority of questions since my last article have dealt with the state of the dealership insurance market and in particular the position some insurers have been taking with Chrysler and GM dealers since their respective bankruptcies. The questions have come not only from dealers but from associations and other magazines such as the Insurance Journal and Automotive News.

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Published in Dealer Magazine – August 2009

We are closing a dealership, what do we need to consider from an insurance perspective?

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Published in the Insurance Journal – July 2009 Recently, I was asked by the Insurance Journal to comment on the current state of the car dealership market. My answers might surprise you about how strong I know the market is for car dealership insurance. read the article here

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Published in Dealer Magazine June 2009

Over the past six months, Austin Consulting Group has taken part in a number of webinars regarding auto dealer insurance. How to buy it; how to get the best deal; and what to look out for.
During the webinars, the participants have asked some very good questions. It seems to me that if the folks on the calls wanted answers to these questions, you might too. So here are some of their questions…and the answers.

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Published in Dealer Magazine April 2009

In my last article, I predicted a growing instability in the dealership market along with the possibility of increased premiums for dealers who simply renew with their current carrier. Our experience over the last few months shows that the instability is increasing and therefore price increases are probably not far behind. Here are some of the changes we’ve seen over the past three months.

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Published in Dealer Magazine, February, 2009

It’s been a while since I have reported on the state of the auto dealership insurance market. I am hesitant to do so now because of the uncertainty we see all around us. This piece is being written two months before you will read it. As for the December 1st renewals, we continue to see a vigorous marketplace. All the usual suspects are writing business, some more aggressively than others.

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Published in Dealer Magazine, December, 2008
A few months ago I wrote an article about a number of coverage differences and policy details. To further this idea, I’m going to spend a bit more time on Employment Practices Liability Insurance. The reason is that there are more different policies from different carriers offered to dealers for this coverage than any other.

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Published in Dealer Magazine, October, 2008
The multi-store dealership operation faces the same insurance struggles and challenges as any other dealer. However, with a larger number of stores comes a larger number of issues.

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Published in Dealer Magazine, August, 2008
While most auto dealership insurance carriers offer coverages with the same name, the details in the policy language will determine whether or not your specific claim is paid. As they say, the devil is in the details.

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Published in Dealer Magazine, June, 2008
There is nothing magical about holding on to some of the risk yourself; it’s nothing more than a numbers game or a Vegas bet.

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Published in Dealer Magazine, April, 2008
You must analyze each carrier’s policy to be certain you are not giving up vital and valuable coverage by making a low-cost choice.

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Published in Dealer Magazine, February, 2008
Every dealer knows there is a relationship between the losses printed on your loss runs and the premiums you pay. Insurance companies preach loss control, but what does it get you?

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Published in Dealer Magazine, December, 2007
Health Saving Accounts (HSA’s) do seem to be a topic of great discussion and interest amongst dealers. Although, I must say we have not seen HSA’s live up to all the hype or usually achieve their financial objectives.

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Published in Dealer Magazine, March, 2007
“What do you mean by bidding health insurance, my broker does it for me?” This is a question we sometimes hear. Here’s the problem…

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Published in Dealer Magazine, October, 2006
When the insurance market tightens and premiums are going up, bidding your insurance seems like a good idea and worth the effort. When insurance premiums are stable or falling, the idea of bidding insurance can seems like a good thing to put on the back burner. However, you may be missing out on the opportunity to significantly reduce your premiums and send those savings to your bottom line.

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Published in Dealer Magazine, April, 2005
The snow is falling here in Colorado and so are insurance premiums. Sounds like a car ad, doesn’t it? However, you’re not very likely to hear this from your insurance carrier, although it is often true.

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Published in the November 2004 issue of Automobile Dealer
The property and liability insurance picture is looking rosier all the time. It seems that every day we are seeing insurers and reinsurers reporting record or greatly improved profits.

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Published in the July 2003 issue of Automobile Dealer
It seems like almost every day I read another headline about improved insurer profits, increased insurance and reinsurance capacity and record broker profits.

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