Receiving a notice of an audit can sometimes cause a business owner stress; although, that’s not the intention. An audit is performed to ensure you have the appropriate premium for your exposure, or the thing for which you have insurance. Your initial deposit premium was based on your best estimate of the auditable exposure (payroll, sales, etc.). Insurance companies use a Premium Auditor at the end of the policy period to compare the “actual” auditable exposure against your “estimated” amount.
What is an Insurance Audit?
An insurance audit examines your business’ payroll or gross annual sales and risk exposure. An audit makes sure you’re paying the correct amount for insurance.
What happens in an Insurance Audit?
The word “audit” may sound stressful, but don’t panic. At the beginning of the year, you pay a certain amount for coverage. If you’re asked to go through an audit at the end of the year, an auditor, hired from the insurance company, reviews your business’ payroll and other documents to determine if the premium you paid was accurate.
An audit looks at some or the following:
Your business’ gross annual sales
Job duties of employees and independent contractors
Changes from the prior year
Your annual payroll to W2 and 1099 workers
Depending on the audit results, you could have additional premium due because you needed more coverage, so you’ll have to pay the difference.
Preparing for a Premium Audit
Having the necessary documents and information can make for a smooth audit. Some documents you may need include:
Payroll (for your W2 and 1099 workers)
Certificates of insurance (for your 1099 workers or a waiver signed from them)
Subcontractor or independent contractor documents
Do I have to do an Insurance Audit?
Insurance companies may perform an insurance audit at the end of the year for:
General liability insurance
Workers’ compensation insurance
Commercial property insurance
If you’re notified of an insurance audit it’s important to send your insurance company any documents or information they ask for. Completing an insurance audit, or any type of insurance audit ensures you’re paying for the right amount for coverage.
Be aware that if you don’t complete an insurance audit, your insurer can:
Charge a premium increase. In some cases, this can be a significant amount.
Cancel your policy, leaving you without coverage.
Report you to a collection agency if there’s a balance due on your premium and you don’t pay it.
Learn More About Audits and Coverage
Choosing the right policy and coverages is important and can help you run a successful business. Insurance is backed by years of experience and know every business owner has unique needs. Our specialists are here to help you every step of the way. So, if you need help completing an insurance audit or have any other questions, we’ve got your back.
April showers bring May flowers! We are flying through this year and it’s not slowing down. So let’s SPRING right into this months news. Read on to learn more about increasing auto rates, this months Commercial Spotlight and our referral program and winners!
Rising Auto Rates
As most of you know, auto rates have been increasing. There are several reasons for the rising rates – from inflation to distracted driving, supply chain blockages to labor shortages. Let’s talk about the 4 major trends driving up auto rates.
Supply and Demand. The supply of New vehicles is low due to shortage of raw materials and chips. The demand for Used vehicles is high and with rising prices, it’s causing total loss payouts.
Parts and Technology. The supply of auto parts is down globally, while the cost to repair cars is up. More advanced technology is a big factor.
Labor shortages and costs. The amount of skilled auto technicians is decreasing. It’s difficult to hire, train, and retain people. The auto body repair costs are increasing and with the labor shortages, prices are rising.
Healthcare and Large Verdicts. Bodily injury claims are rising and big jury payouts are also a major factor.
To learn more about these rising auto rates and what you can do, click HERE. Thank you to Travelers Insurance for breaking it down and if you have any questions about how YOU can save, please contact your Ellis Insurance Agent today!
April Commercial Spotlight
Our April commercial spotlight was Garage Experts of San Antonio. Garage Experts offer professional solutions for your garage from floor coating to cabinets and organization! Their business is locally owned and operated, while backed by the nationally respected GarageExperts® brand with over a decade of experience. Their team offers professional solutions designed for your garage that are backed by a Lifetime Warranty. You can get a FREE quote by visiting their website and finding the closest location to you.
Welcome Back, Mary!
We are excited to announce that Mary Postel has re-joined our team! If you don’t know Mary already, you can learn more about her by clicking HERE. She is one of our Client Service and Sales Consultants and excited to be back with our team and family at Ellis Insurance Agency. Welcome back!
EIA Referral Program and Reviews
Did you know that for every referral you send to us, your name is entered in for a chance to win a $100 Amazon gift card for that month? Yes! It’s true! We are so thankful for our clients and appreciate your referrals and reviews. Had a good experience? Let us know! Thank you to our 2023 client referrals we’ve had so far…
January Winner: Debra Galvan
February Winner: Shannelle Roy
March Winner: Jo Garcia
We appreciate you being part of our EIA family and will always strive to give you the best service!
Spring is finally here! We hope you all have had a fun and safe first quarter of the year! Read on to find out the safest vehicles for your teen, our Commercial Spotlight of the month, and how you can help CISSA by purchasing Fiesta medals.
The Best Vehicles for Your Teen
The IIHS and Consumer Reports team up every year to put together a list of safe vehicles for teen drivers. Whether you are looking for a new or used vehicle, this list will help you compare safety, affordability, and reliability. You can find the link here: https://www.iihs.org/ratings/safe-vehicles-for-teens
Safeco also has a useful “Parent Teen Contract” that you can download HERE. This is helpful when parents are looking for advice about how to set expectations with young drivers. Print this contract, go over it together, and make a copy for your teen to keep!
We care about the safety of you and your family and hope you find both of these useful when the time comes for your teen to start driving.
March Commercial Spotlight – GarageExperts of SA
Whether you’re looking to extend the life of your concrete floor or reclaim your space from clutter, GarageExperts® of San Antonio is ready to transform your garage with our proprietary Garage FX® epoxy and polyaspartic flooring systems, custom-made cabinets, and organizational solutions. Our business is locally owned and operated, while backed by the nationally respected GarageExperts® brand with over a decade of experience. Our team offers professional solutions designed for your garage that are backed by our lifetime warranty.*
Get your FREE estimate and learn more about Garage Experts by visiting their website.
*Information taken from their website
Communities in Schools San Antonio (CISSA)
Communities In Schools San Antonio (CISSA) are selling Fiesta Medals to support their mission to break down barriers so that every student can access the resources and opportunities that unlock their fullest potential! Visit cissa.org/donate to purchase a Fiesta medal or make a tax-deductible donation to CISSA today!
Thank you for trusting Ellis Insurance Agency! We love our clients.
Can you believe we are almost through February? We hope you all had a wonderful month. Read on to learn about Winter storm conditions in Texas, meet our Data Support team, learn about ChildSafe’s Cardboard Kids, how your roof’s age can affect your insurance, and our newest Commercial Spotlight (they’re our neighbors)!
Winter Storm Conditions in Texas
It is best to avoid being on the roads and to stay indoors during a winter storm. Here are some quick safety precautions and tips to take into consideration:
If you have to drive, tread carefully…
· Elevated surfaces, such as bridges and overpasses, will likely be the first to become slick and hazardous as temperatures hover around or below freezing.
· Keep gas in the tank at least half full to prevent gas line freeze.
· As outside temperature drops, so does tire inflation pressure. Make sure you have the right tire pressure based on the owner’s manual before driving in cold weather.
· Be sure you have a good spare tire and emergency tire repair equipment in the car.
· Make certain your wipers are working and there is sufficient wiper fluid.
· Have on hand: ice scraper, shovel, jumper cables, sand/kitty litter, flashlight, batteries, warning devices, blankets, cell phone, and charger.
While at home, precaution prevails…
· For your furnace, inspect your air filter to ensure it is clean.
· If using a portable heater, ensure that the cord and plug are not worn or damaged before turning it on. Also, make sure the heater is shut off before leaving the house or going to bed.
· During very cold weather, letting a faucet trickle can reduce the pressure on the pipes that can build up between the faucet and any blockage from ice.
· Opening cabinet doors lets warm air reach water lines under faucets.
· Warm frozen pipes with a hair dryer. Move slowly and evenly, without aiming the nozzle over one spot.
· Run faucets and flush toilets a couple of times overnight to move standing water in both inbound and outbound pipes.
Maxx and Matthew are our awesome Data Support team! Maxx focuses on Commercial Lines while Matthew helps with data entry for our personal lines accounts. We have thoroughly enjoyed having them join our team as well as the amazing support they bring the team at EIA! Learn more about them by visiting our Meet Our Team page!
ChildSafe’s Cardboard Kids Campaign aims to raise awareness of child abuse and neglect. Every year, ChildSafe distributes thousands of cardboard kids for our children and families to decorate. Each cardboard kid represents one of the thousands of children that are abused and/or neglected every year. On April 6th, “Reveal Day”, ChildSafe encourages everyone to “reveal” their Cardboard Kid creations! Cardboard kids are also a sign for those who need help and need someone safe to talk to. We have supported ChildSafe and this cause for several years as ChildSafe is the only child advocacy center in Bexar County. This campaigns starts a conversation that everyone should be a part of. Find out where you can pick up your own Cardboard Kids starting in March by clicking HERE.
Check out some of our creations from years past!
How Roof Age Affects Insurance
Your roof is the first line of defense between your home and environmental hazards such as hail, wind and more. It can also very pricey to repair or replace. Because of this, your roof is an important factor in determining your homeowner insurance rate. Here are some roof factors that can affect your insurance:
Newer roof = lower rate. Older roof = more susceptible to damage, thus making it riskier to insure. Most insurance companies favor roofs that are 15 years or newer but, depending on material, older roofs may be eligible for homeowners insurance coverage at replacement cost. Talk to your agent. Your policy may be written on an actual cash value instead of replacement cost or your policy may be written with coverage for the roof excluded.
The shape of your roof may or may not have have an impact on your insurance, depending on your insurance carrier’s needs for their rating. Certain roof shapes can withstand weather better. The 3 main roof shapes are:
Hip Roof. This angles down on all four sides, making insurance providers happy as the likelihood for damage is less.
Gable Roof. This has two slopes on each side, but the roof line at the front and back of the house stop at a point. While they don’t typically hold water and debris, they are susceptible to wind damage.
Flat Roof. No slope at all. A flat roof may pool water, which can cause damage to the roof in the long run.
The material of the roof can play a part in determining its insurability because some materials are more durable (and more expensive to repair or replace) than others. Common roof materials:
Wood Wood roofs are hard to insure because they are not fireproof unless a fire retardant has been applied. Wood shingles are typically least favored by insurance companies.
Metal A metal roof is the most durable and fire resistant of the roof types, making this a fan-favorite with most insurance providers.
Asphalt Affordable, durable against most elements, and long-lasting, the asphalt roof is the most used roof material. A con to this popular roofing material is they may decay easier than metal or slate.
Slate or Tile Similar to metal, slate or tile roofs are low maintenance and usually hold strong against rotting, insects, debris, and fire. However, unlike a metal roof, slate and tile may be more prone to cracking.
Can you use home insurance for your roof?
If you’re hoping to use your homeowners insurance to get a new roof, you need to know how the coverage works. Your homeowners policy will detail the coverage you have for your roof, but typically a homeowners policy will cover repairing or replacing a roof only if the damage was done by a covered peril (ex. fire, hail, windstorm, etc.). If your roof is old and it’s time to get a new one, it’s your responsibility to handle. Your home insurance will not cover it. Additionally, it is your duty as a homeowner to take care of the roof and replace any decaying or damaged shingles.
Your roof is important, so please call your agent at 210.979.9000 to answer any questions you might have!
February Commercial Spotlight
This month we featured our very own neighbors, Eurasian Auto Repair of San Antonio. Eurasian specializes in European, Asian, and other domestic vehicles. They offer services from auto repair, auto maintenance, tires, and more! With two locations across San Antonio, they are sure to meet your car needs. Be sure to check out their website for weekly and monthly discounts as they know luxury brand cars can get expensive. Check out our friends, neighbors, and commercial clients HERE!
As always, thank you for trusting Ellis Insurance Agency with all your insurance needs. We look forward to Spring ahead!
We are excited to embark on a new year with new faces and new goals! Ellis Insurance Agency continues to offer the best customer experience and always look forward to hearing from you. We are so honored to work with each and every one of you and are grateful for the kind words you shared about your experiences with us in 2022!
What to expect with Auto Rates in 2023 and things you can do to save!
We all know that inflation rates are the highest in decades. While inflation is expected to decline from 2022 to 2023, inflation rates are projected to remain elevated relative to historical averages. Texas has also seen a huge increase in severe auto accidents over the past few years. Compared to 2019, the number of deaths in 2021 and 2022 due to auto accidents have increased by 22.76%. In 2021, the economic loss of all motor vehicle crashes increased by $6.8* million compared to 2020.
These two areas have greatly impacted our Texas auto rates, but there are things you can do to help save now or save later when a claim comes along.
If you have no accidents, consider enrolling in Accident Forgiveness Coverage**, especially if you have youthful drivers that are about to be on or are currently on your policy. Accident forgiveness is a feature of an auto insurance policy that prevents the surcharge for a at fault accident from being added to your next renewal with your current company.
Consider Telematics! Telematics allows auto insurers to evaluate their driving patterns and habits, such as speed, travel distance, harsh braking and driving, and seat belt usage. This data helps them more accurately estimate your liability to the insurance company so that they can offer more personalized rates and discounts based on your actual use. Typically, you get a discount just for enrolling with an opportunity to get bigger discounts at your renewal or after the trial period has ended. Many of these programs are App-based, very intuitive, and will update you daily with tips to improve your score. This is a great option for a young driver on your policy that you want to keep an eye on and coach healthy driving habits.
If you owe money on your car (either a loan or a lease), consider loan/lease coverage, especially since the cost to repair/replace vehicles has increased. Simply put, loan/lease gap coverage is insurance that helps you pay off your loan or lease if your car is totaled and you owe more than it’s worth. If you decide on this coverage, it’ll pay on up to 20% (maybe more depending on your insurance company) more than your car’s actual cash value at time of loss to help you take care of your loan or lease.
Re-shop your auto insurance at every renewal. At Ellis Insurance Agency, we have dozens of auto insurance companies that we work with to find you the best coverages for the best rates. We typically do this on a pro-active basis, but if your renewal is coming up and you need our help to re-market your insurance portfolio, let us know and we will help!
* Economic Loss figures are estimated using the National Safety Council’s (NSC) Average Economic Cost on a per death basis figure for the year identified. Figures are rounded to the nearest hundred million. 2021 figures are based on 2020 cost.
** At fault accidents are still reported to the CLUE (Comprehensive Loss and Underwriting Exchange) and other insurance companies could still rate the policy with the accident and add a surcharge. Rates may still go up if the client had an accident free discount but loses it since accident forgiveness doesn’t prevent this.
Goodbye Personal… Hello Commercial!
We are excited to announce that Jazmin Olivarez has been promoted from Personal Lines to Commercial Accounts Executive in our Business Insurance Department! She has spent all of January training and looks forward to working with Cindy and Amy to bring our Business Insurance clients the best service. Congratulations, Jazmin!
We are excited to announce our newest EIA employee, Marisol! She comes on as a Client Service and Sales Consultant for Personal Lines. You can find out more about Marisol and all our employees by visiting our Meet Our Team page!
January Commercial Spotlight
In 2022, we started featuring 2 of our commercial businesses a month. We value these partnerships and love that they trust EIA with their commercial insurance needs.
This month we featured Fast Wellness – Soft Tissue Center. Fast Wellness offers soft tissue pain therapy. Located here in San Antonio, their therapists are trained to have great communication, patience, and tenacity. They work with your sensitivity level to keep your sessions as pain-free as possible. Be sure to check out all they have to offer!
Our second spotlight this month is Maui Maui Kids Play Island! Maui Maui, located off Stone Oak Parkway, offers everything from birthday Parties to private events for the young (or young at heart)! Be sure to check them out. PS. If you’re a parent, sign up for their emails to find out when they host Parent’s Night Out!
Be sure to visit our Local Partner‘s page to see the different kinds of businesses we trust and insure!
Thank you for trusting Ellis Insurance Agency! We love our clients!
Germania’s Roadside Assistance and the Towing & Labor Service are two separate coverages under personal auto policies. Below you will find what the difference is between Roadside Assistance and Towing & Labor.
Germania’s Roadside Assistance provides coverage for all of the insured drivers on the policy in any vehicle listed* on the policy. *This excludes motorhomes, trailers, and RV’s
Here is a breakdown of everything included in Germania’s Roadside Assistance:
To confirm you have one or both of these services, please email or call your agent. We are happy to help clarify what coverage you have and what works best for you.
You can also learn more by visiting Germania’s blog page by clicking HERE.
SafeCo’s new Wildfire Response Benefit comes with no additional costs. Read on to learn more about this (free) benefit and what it means for you.
Enrollment is completely free. It does not expire unless the customer requests or the policy is cancelled. There is absolutely no impact to your premium (no charge or discount) for this program.
All homeowner and Landlord Protection® policyholders within the designated wildfire states will receive a letter and opt-out form. There is currently no electronic opt in/out form. If you did not receive a form in the mail, please click HERE to download or feel free to contact Ellis Insurance Agency if you have any further questions.
Benefit and Partnership
Chloeta maintains a map of policies-in-force within the benefit footprint and monitors the area to determine wildfire proximity and threat level. The vendor makes operational decisions on which eligible properties are serviced and the types of services provided during a wild land fire response. Once safe access is secured, mitigation vendor services may include:
Removing pine needles and leaves from gutters
Removing flammable vegetation and items from around your home
Deploying a temporary sprinkler system to protect your home
Updating you regarding the status of your property and actions being taken to protect it
Applying a water-based gel* or firefighting foam to your home
Returning any combustible items moved and washing any fire gel or firefighting foam away after the wildfire event
*What is a protective gel barrier? “It’s an industry-leading, fire-preventing, and heat-absorbing fire-retardant gel that personnel may use to help protect your home and property. The gel particles adhere directly to a house or structure and quickly extinguish any flames or burning materials that come into contact with the gel. It creates a gelled water barrier that effectively helps protect a home or structure for several hours and may prevent internal combustion. It can be rehydrated to extend effectiveness, as needed. The gel is used as a last resort when fighting a fire. It is proven to be effective as it adheres to smooth surfaces such as glass.”
Hurricane season is June 1st through November 30th. NOAA forecasters are predicting a 65% above-normal hurricane season this year. Learn more about hurricane preparedness and what to do in the event of a flood/natural disaster.
A hurricane can be a devastating force of nature whether you live inland or on a coast. Being prepared can potentially help save you, your family, and your home from permanent damage. Read on to see what steps you can take to prepare for this hurricane season.
Evaluate Your Risk
Living on the coast is a higher probability to being hit by a hurricane, but inland residents are also at risk. Heavy rains, winds, and storm surges can cause wind damage and flooding. Once you evaluate your location and review historical hurricane information, you can decide whats best for you to prepare.
Preparing Your Family
You and your family’s safety is essential. Follow this guide to ensure you have a plan in place in the event of a hurricane
Develop an evacuation plan.
Prepare for power outages. Flashlights, electric lanterns, and gas-powered generators are a great place to start.
Build an emergency kit. Click here to find a list of basic emergency supplies to have on hand.
Be sure to secure important documents in a fire/water proof safe.
Preparing Your Home
While preparing your family and their safety is most important, it is good to start preparing your house before hurricane season starts. Here are some tips for preparing the exterior of your home.
Check window and door seals. It’s important that these are in good condition to prevent water damage inside your home.
Install storm shutters (if you’re in a high-risk area) or have boards available to put over your windows.
Trim tree branches around your roof. High winds can cause trees and branches to damage your home.
Clean your gutters to help water flow and prevent roof damage.
Make sure you garage door(s) are secure.
Have sandbags available to divert water from your home if you are in a high-risk area.
Now that your home and your family are prepared, be sure to check with your insurance agent to review your home policy. Most homeowners insurance will cover wind damage, but not flood damage as flood insurance is a separate policy. Be sure to ask what the best steps will be in the event that you need to file a claim after a hurricane. You can track current hurricanes and tropical storms by visiting the NOAA tracking site. Stay prepared and safe!
Escrow is money, property or a written document delivered or held by a third party pending the fulfillment of an agreement. Banks and lenders use escrow accounts to make sure borrowers have homeowners insurance and the means to pay for it.
How does it work with my insurance?
Your bank or lender creates the escrow account at the time that you sign your mortgage agreement and manages the account thereafter.
You pay a lump sum each month to the escrow account and your mortgage lender puts the money toward your mortgage payment and pays your insurance premiums directly to your insurer. The components of this payment are mortgage principal, interest, property taxes and insurance.
The data to determine your total payment usually comes from the tax authority in your state, your homeowners insurance company and the bank itself through the mortgage it provides. This way, the banks and lenders know the premium is paid and that the home is insured. Since rates change, at the end of the year, if you paid too much toward any amount owed, your bank or lender will refund your money.*
If you have any questions about following this video, please reach out to us at 210.979.9000 or www.ellisinsure.com
If you’re here, then you know that the San Antonio Real Estate market has been crazy!
We were curious ourselves, so we asked our friend, business partner, and client, Tadd Chapman, to provide some analytics on the current Real Estate market in San Antonio. Please watch the 2-minute video below for some updates and the latest statistics below:
Keep in mind that increasing home market values, often times DOES NOT equal the rebuild value of the home. For more on that, please contact us at EIA. We’ll be happy to educate you on the difference between the market value and rebuild value… and how that could impact your homeowners insurance.
If you would like to reach out to Tadd directly, here is his information below: