If you're renewing your business insurance or changing carriers soon, do some smart, advance planning to earn a good inspection rating. Don't fear such an inspection; it can reduce your premiums 5 to 10 percent.
It's more likely than ever that you'll face a loss-control inspection before signing a policy. Reason: Insurers are eager to reduce risks after several years of mounting losses fueled by Sept. 11 and the continuing terrorism threat.
The more insurance you buy, the more comprehensive an inspection you'll receive. That's especially true for manufacturing plants and businesses using and storing toxic or potentially explosive chemicals.
Inspections typically include interviews with the owner and key managers to verify information, plus a work-site tour. They'll also want to review some records, including safety programs, OSHA compliance and auto accidents.
Final inspection reports cover liability hazards, fire safety, crime prevention, business operations, equipment, commercial vehicles, past claims and recommendations.
Example: The inspection report for a nine-employee Pennsylvania construction firm yielded the following suggestions that would reduce rates: Put a fence around the parking lot. Periodically check employee driving records. Hire a company to inspect and service fire extinguishers. Repair uneven sidewalks.
Advice: Before the inspection, ask which records you should have ready and review them thoroughly. Have your insurance agent present during the inspection to answer questions and ask about ways to lower premiums. Comply quickly with inspector recommendations.