What we do (in a nutshell)
We conduct field services for insurance companies, specifically, but not limited to, inspections. These inspections are performed both physically in the field, and/or from our office via telephone interview. The method used depends on program, or type of coverage, and previously agreed upon parameters with our client companies.
A unique record is created in our database for each specific case; it is assigned to an inspector (either "zip code based" for the field, or worked from the office, or a combination of these methods); information is gathered, it is assembled together in a report, and the report is emailed to the client company in an Adobe .pdf format.
All the actions along the way are logged and recorded, and the report we produce is archived on the individual record. Paper (brochures, field notes, business cards, paper photographs, letters, envelopes) are saved for one year and then destroyed.
How insurance is sold: a primer
Insurance, even though it is an intangible (only a contract) it is sold remarkably like any other merchandise, say, Hershey candy bars: Hershey has a manufacturing plant where the candy bars are produced in bulk. They are sent out to area distribution by the truckload on pallets.
These truckloads are unloaded at an area distribution warehouse where different pallets are sent out to distributors in states, who break them down into cases, and these cases are sent to retailers in neighborhoods, where consumers come in at the street level and buy the contents of the cases (a candy bar) one at a time.
Insurance is not too different. Consumers do not come off the street and deal directly with the large houses. Large houses, such as the Lloyd's of London groups, Scottsdale, Lexington, Essex, and etc., offer coverage, but only through regional distribution.
These regional distributors are called Managing General Agents (MGA). MGAs represent the large houses (called the Carrier) in a state or collection of states, through retail houses (producing agents) at the street level.
These retail houses are the neighborhood agencies. The carrier, or company that actually takes the risk is like Hershey; they do not sell directly to the consumer, anymore than you could go to the plant and buy one candy bar. There are exceptions, like State Farm Insurance, who control distribution from main office to the street level, and their agents can ONLY sell their company's line in very specific ways to a narrow group of customers who fit certain underwriting guidelines.
Where we fit in
If you were to open a restaurant or motel, or buy a house, one of the steps you would take before you open for business would be to visit your favorite retail insurance agency and obtain insurance coverage for your particular business or home. You would fill out an application and give the agent a check to pay for the first installment of the premium.
This check or cash is called a binder. It "binds" the company to cover you from that minute forward. However, the company has the right, under state law, to review the subject property or business to be sure it is what it is represented to be, be sure it is suitable for coverage, and finally decide to keep or deny coverage.
This is where we come in. We are hired by the MGAs to go inspect these new contracts or the properties they cover, and write a report that describes the risk and make recommendations as to suitability or recommend changes or improvements that would possibly prevent a loss.
So we serve two purposes: 1) we more accurately describe the property or business than does the application, so the underwriters can make a more informed decision, and 2) we look out for problems that might result in losses, and make recommendations for mitigating or minimizing the potential for loss.
What our client does
At the inception of coverage, the MGA goes through a process of decision-making, and our report is a major part of this process. They will do one or more things:
How we respresent ourselves to our clients' customers
We conduct inspections as a third party verification service, and are there for an inspection. We never make statements that lead anyone to believe we have any information or make decisions about their coverage that is binding in any way.
We do not represent that we have any underwriting powers, do not lead anyone to believe that they will or will not be canceled or renewed, or continued, and if asked, we defer all questions and/or complaints about coverage, especially about premiums, to the agent.
We are clear, very clear, in our understanding and in our representation, that our only task is to collect information at the request of our client, the underwriter of the coverage. We do not make decisions that bind, continue, or cancel coverage. We normally are not included in, nor have knowledge of, final decisions of our client companies.
If the inspection is refused
We are paid from the policy fee, so we have no pecuniary interest in whether or not the coverage is maintained, thus we can be objective. If an insured refuses to be inspected, our responsibility is to be sure we have accurately informed the insured who we are and why we are there, being careful not to make any threatening comments.
We should make all reasonable accommodations for them, and if they still refuse, our responsibility is to report the fact that they have refused inspection. It is likely that their coverage will be canceled, but we have no surety of this, it is not automatic, and we will not represent that this will be the result.
This disclaimer applies to all reports produced by us, past, present and future. Information contained on reports is gathered by humans in real world conditions and may also contain information reported by other humans, and as such is subject to error and interpretation, and in some cases relies upon the good faith and factual answers of the subject insured. Information is believed to be accurate but is not warranted to be so. Our warranty extends only to a re-inspection and review of reports and re-writing at our expense. We assume no liability or damages resulting from the use of our reports.