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Insurance a hot topic for property managers.

Insurance is suddenly a hot topic. It's no secret that dramatic rate increases for both commercial and habitational real estate insurance have owners of office buildings and apartments, management companies and other clients out hunting for the best deals and more complete coverage. My company, Kaye Insurance Associates, is one of the biggest players in the area, handling the insurance for over 5,000 apartment buildings in the New York metro area. We're intimately involved in the real estate business, creating customized real estate programs and helping clients with hard-to-find coverages. And given the sliding stock market of the past two years and the events of Sept. 11, real estate insurance is a whole new ballgame.

Now more than ever, clients need to find a trusted broker tuned in to the latest products and programs and tied into a large number of markets to find the proper coverage. With common rate increases of anywhere from 50 to 200% for both property and liability insurance, clients would do well to start actively assessing their insurance needs. There are some specific steps real estate pros should take to take to better manage their insurance needs.

* Start early. A week before renewal is not the time to get the news that your rates are doubling. Policy parameters are changing, some coverages previously included will now be excluded, and there is a tremendous underwriting crunch. Call your broker early and start asking questions.

* Call on someone truly versed in the market. Find a broker who specializes in programs designed for firms just like yours. Not only will that broker have insight into the full range of coverages you'll need, but he'll also have access to more market options that are constantly changing.

* Do your homework. Work with your broker to develop a complete picture. Your broker should act as a consultant, helping you to put together a comprehensive book to give the underwriter an accurate overview for a faster, more appropriate quote. Without clear, concise and complete information -- including your values, building history and information, loss runs for the past five years - underwriters won't quote you at all.

* Make sure you have speciality coverages for all types of potential exposures. Environmental, terrorism, cyber exposures - all represent potential losses that your broker needs to address. The mold issue has become a growing liability problem for building owners, and has typically been excluded from policies. Ask your broker about environmental insurance that will cover not only losses from mold claims, but also pays for claims for bodily injury and property damage caused by pollution. It also pays for cleanup costs of your property and the property of others for which you are responsible, from a leaking tank for example. Most importantly, this coverage pays for the legal expenses involved with defending an environmental lawsuit. Terrorism insurance, as well, is a current hot button. Again, a knowledgeable broker should be able to provide the latest word and deliver a fitting solution. Kaye, for instance, has a program that includes terrorism insurance for values less than $9 million. And we're constantly t alking with all the limited carriers currently offering the coverage.

* Get creative. Ask your broker about creative options. Can you structure the coverage in different ways? Tap into a number of different carriers? Adjust deductibles? A new ballgame means new rules. It's time to rethink and get creative.

Remember: The goal is not to get the cheapest rate. You need the best rate, the right coverage and solid advice on risk management for your properties. Tapping into years of expertise through the right broker is a first step in the right direction.
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Copyright 2002, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:finding best deals and more complete coverage
Author:DeLucia, Frank
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 12, 2002
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