FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions


  1. 1. FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions
    1. 1.1. Which Additional Insured Endorsement should I use?
    2. 1.2. FEMA Fact Sheet
    3. 1.3. Aluminum Wiring
    4. 1.4. Waivers of Subrogation
    5. 1.5. 10 Things to Know About Habitational and Dwelling Business
    6. 1.6. How To Complete A Winning Submission
      1. 1.6.1. Relationship
      2. 1.6.2. Applications
        1. Commercial Insurance Application
          1. Years in business
          2. Description of Operations
          3. Prior Carrier/Premium  
        2. Commercial Property Application
          1. Construction/Age/Square Foot Area  
          2. Updates  
          3. Protective Safeguards  
        3. Commercial General Liability Application
          1. Limits
          2. Classifications/Premium Bases  
        4. Commercial Automobile Application
          1. Radius  
          2. Actual Cash Value  
          3. Vehicle Use  
          4. Driver Selection  
        5. Commercial Umbrella Application
          1. Receipts History, # of Employees
          2. Underlying Applications  
          3. Loss Runs  
        6. Supplemental Applications
      3. 1.6.3. Other Tips
        1. Lead Time
        2. Cover Memo
        3. Last Minute Deals
        4. Advise the Wholesaler
    7. 1.7. How to Obtain a General Liability Certificate of Insurance from MHI's Website
    8. 1.8. What is Builder's Risk Insurance?
    9. 1.9. Need help accessing your MHI policies?
    10. 1.10. Dwelling Fire Policies - how do we determine the deductible amounts?
    11. 1.11. Risk Inspection Reports (Artisan Contractors)
      1. 1.11.1. Definitions
      2. 1.11.2.  FAQ’s
    12. 1.12. ISO Causes of Loss Forms - a breakdown of perils in the ISO Basic, Broad and Special Causes of Loss forms
    13. 1.13. Vacant Buildings and Commercial Property Insurance Policies - Concerns and Consequences
    14. 1.14. What information do we need when we ask for "Building Updates"?
    15. 1.15. ISO Building Construction Types
      1. 1.15.1. Frame—ISO Construction Code 1
      2. 1.15.2. Joisted Masonry—ISO Construction Code 2
      3. 1.15.3. Noncombustible—ISO Construction Code 3
      4. 1.15.4. Masonry Noncombustible—ISO Construction Code 4
      5. 1.15.5. Modified Fire Resistive—ISO Construction Code 5
      6. 1.15.6. Fire Resistive—ISO Construction Code 6
      7. 1.15.7. Resources:
    16. 1.16. What is coinsurance?
    17. 1.17. Why does my quote/policy contain a Water Exclusion Endorsement (ISO form CP-1032)?
    18. 1.18. Alabama Wind Pool Territory Definition


Which Additional Insured Endorsement should I use?

Additional Insured Endorsements – Which do we use?  There is a myriad of ISO additional insured endorsements available for use.  Which endorsement is right for a specific situation?  What if I choose the wrong one, do I still have coverage?  Today we focus on the CG 2033 vs. CG 2038.  Both of these ISO additional insured (AI) endorsements afford coverage to an AI on a “blanket” basis and both are providing coverage for liability arising out of the named insured’s ongoing operations so are they inherently the same?  The answer is no.  The primary distinction between these two endorsements is that the CG 2033 provides coverage in a direct contractual relationship whereas the CG 2038 provides coverage to “upstream parties” i.e. persons or organizations above the level where the entity is contracting if the contract requires AI coverage for such entities.  The CG 2038 is a great alternative to the CG 2033 when there is no direct written contract in place.  Don’t just assume your Artisan contractor has appropriate AI coverages available with the CG 2033...research the contract!


FEMA Fact Sheet



Aluminum Wiring

Wondering why your underwriter keeps asking if the buildings on your submission contain aluminum wiring?  The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission has put together some valuable information about aluminum wiring, including how to identify it and details on various methods of repair.  Click the link below to obtain a copy of the US CPSC publication 516 on Aluminum Wiring:




Waivers of Subrogation

Need some help understanding waivers of subrogation?  Check out this article:



10 Things to Know About Habitational and Dwelling Business

1)  Provide a good habitational supplement and loss history with your submission.  Multiple location accounts should be completed on an excel spreadsheet.  Thorough underwriting information is key to getting a quick turnaround and competitive quote.

2)  Do your research on all locations. Look it up online because the underwriter will. Let them know up front any issues they may find such as less than well maintained locations or multiple bad ratings from tenants.

3)  It is important when looking for habitational insurance carriers to consider their position of either excluding, limiting or remaining silent on the habitability of premises.

4)  Thoroughly review the current valued loss runs prior to marketing an account and look at the kinds of losses occurring most frequently. In an effort to mitigate or possibly eliminate claims, insureds are becoming more proactive with risk management.

5)  Understand the state laws and requirements when writing condo insurance. Many states require additional coverages – such as fiduciary – and lack of knowledge can lead to large claims against your E&O.

6)  For those agents working with real estate investors it is constructive use of your time to discuss the feasibility of requiring tenants to purchase renters insurance. Nuisance claims are far more prevalent than total losses and having these shifted to the renters insurance carrier will help in reducing overall premium costs to the owner.

7)  We are seeing a lot of big portfolios of apartment buildings spinning off older, less profitable properties. Get the five year history of the property. If there are a lot of past losses, note any mitigation techniques that may have improved the properties.

8)  Attention should be given to flood exposure.  On locations with multiple buildings you could have some buildings in a flood zone and some that are not.  Flood is typically excluded on Excess and Surplus Lines policies so if all or any buildings are located in flood zones, insured should consider purchasing flood insurance.

9)  The insured should be advised to insure their property for the cost to repair or replace (insurance to value). Consider the worst case scenario when seeking insurance; the price for fully insuring assets should not be second to saving money.

10)  Engage a true expert when working to win multi-family opportunities. A seasoned wholesaler in this class will best be able to navigate the pitfalls.     



How To Complete A Winning Submission


Bottom line, the retail agents that have supported a particular wholesaler in the soft market will get first attention. If you didn’t have a good working relationship with two or three wholesalers prior to the turn in the market, it will be very difficult to get one now.  If you routinely heavily shop your surplus lines business, you will have a difficult time.


Complete applications are the key to getting your submission put to the top of the stack.  The following is an overview of information typically left off most ACORD applications and why it makes a difference when the retail agent provides it.

Commercial Insurance Application

Years in business

Critical information that allows an underwriter to assess the applicant’s experience in the business.  Also, some companies will debit or credit accounts based on years in business or may not offer coverage to risks that haven’t been in business a certain length of time.

Description of Operations

Be as complete as possible and make sure you understand the applicant’s operations.  Don’t refer the underwriter to a website that you haven’t reviewed with your client first.

Prior Carrier/Premium  

Many carriers require that quotes be provided with a certain percentage increase over expiring premium.  Knowing the expiring premium also gives the underwriter a feel for what level of pricing might be acceptable to the insured.


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Commercial Property Application

Construction/Age/Square Foot Area  

This is really basic underwriting and rating information and is probably left off more than half of all property applications.


Information about property updates can make the difference between a company offering replacement cost coverage or actual cash value, or sometimes whether they will even offer terms at all. Roof age is particularly important, especially for habitational classes.

Protective Safeguards  

Information on alarms, sprinklers, and other protective devices is important to determine if coverage can be offered (e.g. fire suppression systems are usually required before a carrier will write risks with commercial cooking exposures), or if coverage extensions can be offered (e.g. many carriers require an operational central station alarm to offer theft coverage).




Commercial General Liability Application



Sounds pretty basic, but limits are often left off the general liability application.


Classifications/Premium Bases  

Critical to obtaining an accurate quote.  Be sure the class codes you use accurately reflect all the insured’s operations and exposures. Understand that many standard markets do not accurately classify accounts, so just copying last year’s schedule may expose your E&O.





Commercial Automobile Application


Be sure to show this in actual miles. Many non-standard auto companies use different radius breaks than TAISO and just showing “local” or “intermediate” may result in an inaccurate premium.

Actual Cash Value  

Many non-standard auto companies use ACV or Stated Amount as the basis for physical damage premiums rather than Cost New.  Showing Cost New on your application will result in unnecessarily high premiums.

Vehicle Use  

Be sure that it’s clear how the vehicles are being used. TAISO class codes aren’t enough.  For public vehicles (those that haul people), be sure to include the passenger capacity of each vehicle.

Driver Selection  

What is the applicant’s criteria for hiring drivers?


Commercial Umbrella Application

Receipts History, # of Employees

This information is used by many umbrella carriers as part of their rating.

Underlying Applications  

Include a copy of the GL application at a minimum. This gives the underwriter a better picture of what the account exposures are. For Real Estate accounts, be sure to include a schedule of properties that includes occupancy for each location.

Loss Runs  

Prior claims history is essential.  Many carriers will not even clear submissions until full and complete loss information is provided. Five years hard copy loss runs are required on most risks and are an absolute must for any account with habitational, construction or products liability exposures.  On some smaller accounts, three years may be acceptable.  A currently valued loss run is one that was produced within the last 90 days.  Many carriers require loss runs which are less than 60 days old, legible and clearly marked as to the line of business and years being reported. Loss summaries are also required by many carriers. Include the annual premium, gross losses (paid and reserved for both claims and expenses), and loss ratio. Be sure to provide an explanation for any claims paid or reserved in excess of $10,000.  Don’t rely on the description on the loss runs as these are typically vague and brief; provide clear and conside loss details to the underwriter. Also detail any steps taken by the insured to avoid similar losses and confirm repairs have been completed on property losses.


Supplemental Applications

Supplements are required on many classes- apartments, contractors, hotels, manufacturing, and day care centers- to name a few. The purpose of a supplement is to provide additional information regarding the exposures of the risk, information that is typically not available even on a meticulously completed ACORD application.  Don’t leave blanks on supplemental apps.  Blanks indicate you don’t know your insured and the underwriter may walk away from the account. Call your wholesaler before you submit any account that you think might need a supplement. It saves time all the way around if the supplement comes in with your initial submission.


Other Tips

Lead Time

Ideally, 30 days lead time is needed on most accounts though up to 60 days may be required for more complex risks. Last minute deals are harder to come by and the last week of the month is chaos for most wholesalers, so the timing of your submission is critical if you want a favorable response.

Cover Memo

Include a brief summary of the account: why is it being submitted to the surplus lines market, what is the expiring carrier offering (if anything), and the target date needed to quote. Underwriters pay more attention to a well thought out cover memo.

Last Minute Deals

Last minute deals can still be done, but please call your wholesaler first to discuss the account. If you want your underwriter to drop everything to work your last minute emergency, you need to give him or her a good reason to do so. What’s the story on the account? What will it take to get an order?

Advise the Wholesaler

Advise the wholesaler of the final outcome on the account.



How to Obtain a General Liability Certificate of Insurance from MHI's Website





What is Builder's Risk Insurance?

Builder’s Risk Insurance is a first-party property coverage for the risk of loss or damage to a new or existing structure during the course of construction.  Coverage incepts at the beginning of meaningful construction and ends when that work ceases.  This coverage often pairs with vacant or other real property coverages based upon circumstance.  Builder’s Risk insurance is complex and nearly every policy is different because the exposures a structure may encounter based on its location, the structures themselves, and construction types and lengths, vary greatly.

Who purchases this insurance?

Builder’s Risk policies are most commonly held by either the property owner or Contractor/Developer.  There is no distinction in coverage either way, so long as an insurance interest is evident.

How much does this insurance cost?

The premium rating will factor many variables depending on the location of the property, type of construction (new vs. renovation), varying valuation clauses (Actual Cash Value or Replacement Cost), and the length of the construction project.  Work with a licensed insurance broker to make sure you have proper coverage. 

If I have a short-term construction project, do I have to purchase a 12 month policy term?

Companies understand projects length can vary greatly and will work with MHI to determine the necessary length of your policy term.  MHI can offer flexible coverage for as little as a few months or well over a year depending on your needs.  Some policies will contain a 100% fully earned premium clause. 

11/09/2016 - sda



Need help accessing your MHI policies?

View this tutorial:  /@api/deki/files/6169/=viewing_your_policies_12_15.pdf




Dwelling Fire Policies - how do we determine the deductible amounts?

When writing a dwelling fire policy through MHI, you may wonder how we come up with the deductible amounts and how those amounts are applied in the event of a loss.  Dwelling fire deductibles are typically a percentage of the dwelling value and contents value such as 1%, 2%, etc.  Percentage deductibles are  higher, sometimes as high as 5%, in catastrophe-prone areas of the state.  In addition, most percentage deductibles are further subject to a minimum deductible.  It's also important to note that percentage deductibles apply separately to each item of insurance (dwelling, personal property).

Example #1:

Dwelling value $100,000.  Personal Property value $50,000

Deductible amount is 1% subject to a $1,000 minimum deductible

Deductible calculations:  Dwelling deductible:  1% * 100,000 = 1000

Personal Property deductible:  1% * 50,000 = 500 1000 minimum applied

The deductible on the dec page will show $2,000 but the deductible breaks down as 1000 for dwelling and 1000 for personal property.

Example #2:

Dwelling value $150,000.  Personal property value $75,000.

Deductible amount is 2% subject to $2,500 minimum deductible.

Deductible calculations:  Dwelling deductible-  2% * 150,000 = 3000

Personal Property deductible-  2% * 75,000 = 1,500  2500 minimum applied

The deductible on the dec page will show $5,500 but the deductible breaks down as 3000 for dwelling and 2500 for personal property.

Each dwelling fire policy that MHI issues should contain form MHI-195 Amendatory Deductible Endorsement, which further clarifies the deductible that applies to each item of insurance and also indicates the deductible amount per item that will apply for Named Storms, Wind/Hail (other than Named Storm) and for All Other Perils.

Should you have questions regarding the deductible amounts, don't hesitate to contact your MHI personal lines underwriter for additional information.

07/10/2015 - edb




Risk Inspection Reports (Artisan Contractors)

The risk inspection report is a form required by the insurance company that underwrites your commercial general liability insurance.  They use this report to verify that the information in their files is complete and that it accurately depicts your operations.


1.  Trade Name – this is the business name under which you operate. (Example:  Joe’s Plumbing, or ABC Landscaping)

2.  Gross Annual Receipts – estimate of your total income for the coming year for your business operations.

3.  Subcontractors – subcontractors are individuals or business firms that are hired by you to perform contracted jobs on an as-needed basis.  Your policy must be endorsed to provide coverage for subcontractors.  Please contact your agent if you are unsure about coverage under your policy.

            a.  Insured subcontractors – carry their own insurance coverage.

            b.  Uninsured subcontractors – do not carry their own insurance coverage.

4.  Contract Labor – contract laborers are individuals or sometimes crews that you utilize on a repetitive basis and for whom you report earnings to the IRS on form 1099-R.  Your policy will not provide coverage for contract laborers unless you have correctly reported their earnings to your agent and insurance company as payroll under the appropriate classification.


1.  Why did I receive a notice of cancellation for non-compliance/non-receipt of risk inspection? 

As noted above, completion of this form is required by your insurance company.  If you have already sent the completed form, please contact Leslie at phone# 800-333-2017 extension 284, or via e-mail at leslie@mhi-mga.com  -- to confirm that it has been received.  If you have not yet sent the form and your policy has not yet cancelled, please use the instructions below to transmit the completed risk inspection form to our office.  If your cancellation date has passed, then your insurance coverage is no longer in force.  We urge you to contact your insurance agent immediately to obtain replacement coverage.

2.  Where do I send the completed risk inspection form?

      You may transmit the form to us by any of the following means:

      Online:            https://www.mhi-mga.com/quick_quote/risk_inspection

      Via e-mail to:  processing@mhi-mga.com

      Via US Mail:    McClelland and Hine, Inc.

                             Processing Department

                             PO Box 700930

                             San Antonio, Texas 78270-0930




ISO Causes of Loss Forms - a breakdown of perils in the ISO Basic, Broad and Special Causes of Loss forms








Fire X X X
Lightning X X X
Explosion (1) X X X
Windstorm or Hail (1) (2) X X X
Smoke (1) X X X
Aircraft or Vehicles (1) X X X
Riot or Civil Commotion X X X
Vandalism (1) (2) X X X
Sprinkler Leakage (2) X X X
Sinkhole Collapse (1) X X X
Volcanic Action (1) X X X
Falling Objects (1)   X X
Weight of Snow, Ice or Sleet (1)   X X
Water Damage (1)   X X
Theft (1) (2)     X
Fungus (2) (3) X X X
Collapse (3)   X X
Property in Transit (4)     X
Water, Liquids, Powder or Molten Material (2) (4)     X
Glass (2) (4)     X

**In addition, the Special Causes of Loss form (CP-1030) provides coverage for all losses except those that are specifically excluded.

(1)  Cause of loss is subject to limitations

(2)  Coverage can be excluded, amended or added by endorsement

(3)  Additional Coverages subject to limitations

(4)  Additional Coverage Extensions subject to limitations




Vacant Buildings and Commercial Property Insurance Policies - Concerns and Consequences

When is a building “vacant”?

Carrier opinions differ with regard to what constitutes a vacant building and the differences – if any – between a vacant building and an unoccupied one.  Some carriers treat unoccupied buildings in the same manner as vacant buildings.  Common definitions of “vacant” and “unoccupied” are as follows:

Ø  “Vacant” building:  a building that contains no contents pertaining to operations or activities customary to the occupancy of the building

Ø  “Unoccupied” building:  a building that contains contents pertaining to the occupancy of the building while operations or other customary activities are suspended

You should always consult your carrier or underwriter to determine their stance on building occupancy and vacancy, but for the purpose of this discussion we will treat unoccupied buildings as vacant buildings.  Any reference in this article to “vacant” should be construed to mean “vacant or unoccupied.”

What if a building owner only uses part of his building or the risk is a multiple-occupant building (such as a strip center) and not all the spaces are leased out…when are those considered “vacant”?

Again, carrier opinions will differ greatly on this subject, particularly in the E&S marketplace.  Some carriers consider a building occupied when 31% of the available square footage is rented to others or used by the owner to conduct customary activities, however many E&S carriers require a much higher percentage of occupancy for the same consideration.

Why does it matter to the insurance carrier if a building is vacant?

Vacant buildings represent a significant increase in risk over occupied buildings.  Vacant buildings are more likely to attract the attention of vandals, squatters, arsonists and other criminal types.  Theft of copper from vacant buildings is a particular problem these days, thanks to the economic downturn and soaring copper prices.  Lack of regular maintenance in vacant buildings can result in damages that multiply quickly because no one is on site to identify and mitigate the loss.  Unheated buildings can suffer from frozen pipes, uncooled buildings from humidity and mold, and the list goes on and on. 

What does the commercial property policy say about vacant buildings?

Whether written through an admitted or a non-admitted insurance carrier, almost every commercial property insurance policy contains some sort of vacancy clause.  The Insurance Service Office’s (ISO’s) commonly used Building and Personal Property Coverage Form (CP-0010, 06/07 edition) contains the following vacancy provisions:

If the building where loss or damage occurs has been vacant for more than 60 consecutive days before that loss or damage occurs:

(1)   We will not pay for any loss or damage caused by any of the following even if they are Covered Causes of Loss:

(a)   Vandalism;

(b)   Sprinkler leakage, unless you have protected the system against freezing;

(c)    Building glass breakage;

(d)   Water damage;

(e)   Theft; or

(f)    Attempted theft.

(2)   With respect to Covered Causes of Loss other than those listed in b.(1)(a) through b.(1)(f) above, we will reduce the amount we would otherwise pay for the loss or damage by 15%.

Note that these modified provisions apply if the building has been vacant for more than 60 days before the loss or damage occurs, NOT if the building has been vacant for 60 days after the policy effective date.  So if you have a building that becomes vacant on January 1st and you write a commercial property policy effective March 1st which contains the above wording with no further modifications, the coverage limitations  in (1) and (2) above will apply at policy inception.  Why?  Because on March 1st, the building had already been vacant for 60 days.

Another consideration is that many policies written through non-admitted (E&S) carriers contain modified versions of the vacancy clause which further restrict coverage or eliminate coverage completely if the building is vacant or unoccupied.  Not all carriers provide a 60 day window of time, either; some limit the period of vacancy to 30 days or even less before coverage is suspended.

How are the vacancy provisions in the commercial property coverage form modified to allow for vacancy?

A vacancy permit endorsement (e.g. ISO’s form CP-0450) is typically used by the insurance carrier to eliminate the vacancy provisions in a commercial property policy and allow coverage in spite of the vacancy for the time period specified in the endorsement.  The vacancy permit can be issued for the entire policy term or for a shorter period of time.  Additional premium charges may apply for the vacancy permit.

So what can I do to help my insured obtain the coverage he or she needs?

KNOW YOUR RISK.  Get complete details from your prospective clients when you interview them and maintain communication with existing clients.  Ask them about building occupancy.  Have they experienced any periods when covered buildings were vacant or unoccupied?  This is particularly important for strip centers and other multiple-occupant buildings.  Keep a list of tenants in your file and update it annually; if tenants turn over frequently, you should consider updating the list semi-annually or even quarterly.  If the client owns rental dwellings, duplexes, condos, etc., ask about turnover frequency and maintenance down-time between rentals. 

KNOW YOUR MARKET.  You’ve obtained complete information from your client.  Now make sure you communicate that information effectively to your underwriter by submitting a fully completed application.  If the building is currently vacant or unoccupied, state that fact plainly and obviously along with the client’s future plans or expectations for the property (is it up for sale, how long does client expect building to be vacant, etc.).    

REVIEW THE QUOTE.  When you receive a quote, review it carefully.  If vacancy provisions are a concern and the quote doesn’t include any information about vacancy, contact the underwriter and ask for clarification of vacancy definition and provisions.  Many carriers and brokers will provide copies of forms or sample policies upon request. 

MAKE YOUR CLIENT AWARE OF THE VACANCY PROVISIONS AND THE POTENTIAL CONSEQUENCES.  The last thing either you or your clients need to face is a claim denial due to an unknown, miscommunicated or misunderstood vacancy provision.  Make every effort to communicate policy provisions clearly and document your files accordingly.        


DISCLAIMER:  This article is general in nature and not intended to address every risk situation.  The information contained herein may not be used to prove or disprove coverage under any insurance policy.  Consult your policy wording and your carrier’s claims and/or underwriting representatives to discuss vacant or unoccupied buildings and the appropriate ways to provide insurance coverage for them.   

05/28/2013 - edb


What information do we need when we ask for "Building Updates"?

When a building is 30 years old or older, the insurance carrier typically asks us to verify updates to the electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems and also to the roof.  So if you receive a quote from us that says something like "Full updates required" or "All systems must be updated", what exactly are we saying?  For a building to be considered "fully updated", all the utility systems and the roof must have been replaced within the last twenty-five (25) years or certified within the last five (5) years.  This means the following:

1) Roof

The entire roof covering has been replaced by a licensed contractor within the last 25 years; or the roof has been inspected and certified by a licensed contractor within the last 5 years.  (NOTE:  There are exceptions to this rule for certain roof covering types.  Metal roofs and some other roof types generally have a much longer life expectancy than the average composition roof.  Contact your underwriter with questions regarding roof updates.)

2) Electrical System

The electrical system is circuit breaker protected, all wiring is copper encased in rigid conduit and has been replaced within the last 25 years, and the electrical system meets current building code requirements; or the electrical system has been inspected and certified by a licensed contractor within the last 5 years.

3) Plumbing System

The plumbing system (including piping and connections) has been replaced within the last 25 years and meets current building code requirements; or the plumbing system has been inspected and certified by a licensed contractor within the last 5 years.

4) Heating/Ventilation/Air Conditioning System

The heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems (including piping and duct work) have been replaced within the last 25 years and meet current building code requirements; or the HVAC systems have been inspected and certified by a licensed contractor within the last 5 years.

So on the Acord or carrier application where it asks for building update or building improvement information:


...we need you to give us either the year the system was last replaced (as described above) or the year it was last inspected and certified, whichever is later.





ISO Building Construction Types

Have questions about the different ISO building construction types?  Need to know how a "Frame" (ISO CC-1) building differs from a "Joisted Masonry" (ISO CC-2) building?  We put together some descriptive information below.  

Frame—ISO Construction Code 1

Buildings where the exterior walls are constructed of one of the following over wood frame:  wood, brick/stone/rock veneer (single layer of brick, rock, or stone façade over wood frame), wood ironclad (wood frame with iron wrapping), or stucco.

Joisted Masonry—ISO Construction Code 2

Buildings where the exterior walls are constructed of a masonry material such as brick, concrete, gypsum block, hollow concrete block, stone, or tile.  Floor and roof structures are generally combustible materials such as wood or light metal.

Noncombustible—ISO Construction Code 3

Buildings where the exterior walls, floor, and supports are made of metal, asbestos, gypsum, or other noncombustible or slow-burning materials.

Masonry Noncombustible—ISO Construction Code 4

Buildings where the exterior walls are masonry (at least four inches thick) or where exterior walls have a fire-resistance rating of at least one hour, with floors and supports made of metal,  asbestos, gypsum, or other noncombustible or slow-burning materials.

Modified Fire Resistive—ISO Construction Code 5

Buildings where exterior walls, floors, and roof are constructed of masonry materials not less than four inches thick, or of fire-resistive materials with a fire-resistance rating that is less than two hours but more than one hour.  Exterior load-bearing walls must be constructed of masonry or of noncombustible materials.

Fire Resistive—ISO Construction Code 6

Buildings where exterior walls, floors, and roof are constructed of masonry or fire-resistive materials with a fire resistance rating of no less than two hours.   Exterior load-bearing walls must be constructed of masonry or of noncombustible materials.  Structural supports will be concrete or steel with no less than a two hour fire-resistance rating.

What is coinsurance?

The following article was printed in the August 2012 edition of Markel Mid-South's newsletter "On the Mark", and is reproduced here with Markel's permission.  MHI is grateful to Markel for allowing us to pass along this extremely helpful information.

Coinsurance…. What Does It Mean and How Important Is It?
By Keith Eggland, Markel Claims Manager

What does the coinsurance provision of the policy mean?  Does coinsurance mean the insured must pay 20%
of any loss they sustain because the policy has an 80% coinsurance clause?  Does it mean the insured must
buy coverage for at least 80% of the amount paid for the building?  The answer to both questions is no.

The following information should be helpful in understanding how coinsurance applies.

First, which of the following coverages was purchased?

  • Replacement Cost - simply stated, is what it would cost to replace the insured property without deduction for depreciation.
  • Actual Cash Value - the cost to replace the insured property with deduction for depreciatio
  • Market Value - refers to what the insured paid for the insured property (this is based upon what is commonly referred to a what a willing buyer would pay a willing seller).  Please note that in Market Value states, the valuation is based solely on the CURRENT market value of the insured property, excluding the value of the land.


Once it has been determined which coverage was purchased, the insured property valuation is computed.  This should be accomplished by using a recognized building replacement guide or software.  The use of purchase invoices or quotes for personal property are the safest and most accurate methods to use.

To determine an accurate value of an insured building, you must include the proper assessment of the class/construction of a building.

Some questions that need to be addressed are:
    · What is the usage/occupancy of the building?
    · What is the construction of the building?
    · What if the building has multiple uses/occupancies?
    · What if the building is constructed of multiple types of materials, part masonry, and part frame?

In addition, it is important to obtain accurate floor square footage, the proper type of roofing, and when updates were done.  The extent of the updates to major components, electrical systems, and heating and air conditioning systems are major items and can affect the valuation of the building as well as the amount of depreciation that would be assessed.

Be careful not to understate the value of the insured property as the coinsurance penalty may present a financial hardship on the insured to the extent that the insured may not be able to replace their property or even continue to stay in business.

The insured must purchase insurance equal to at least the amount of the coinsurance percentage listed on his policy, normally either 80% or 90% of the valuation of the insured property, either on the Replacement Cost, Actual Cash Value (ACV) or Market Value methods.  As long as the insured is in compliance with the coinsurance provisions, his loss would be covered up to the policy limits. If not, the insured would be a coinsurer.

For example, the policy insures a building with a Replacement Cost of $120,000.  It is 10 years old and has had no major remodeling or update work completed. The depreciation is $12,000. Therefore, the building has an Actual Cash Value of $108,000. The policy contains an 80% coinsurance provision (80% of $108,000 = $86,400).  The insured purchases $90,000 of coverage, so he is in compliance, and any loss up to the amount of policy limits would be paid in full.  If the insured had only purchased $75,000 of coverage he would not be in compliance and would become a coinsurer of any loss up to the policy limit at the rate of 87% ($75,000 divided by $86,400).  The insured would receive the amount of the loss, less 13% (not to exceed the policy limit).

It is very important that our General Agent and our Underwriting staff recognize the importance of properly verifying the accuracy of the amount of insurance being purchased as being adequate for the percentage of coinsurance being placed on the policy.  All too often the lack of the proper amount of insurance is discovered after the loss.  It is too late at that point to correct inadequacies in the amount of insurance at that point in time.  Some examples we have found are: “well I insured it for what I paid for it” or, “I brought the amount of insurance that covered my mortgage”.  One of the more common examples is when we have been on a risk for a number of years but the amount of insurance was never changed to reflect higher building costs, or additions and upgrades to the building.

There are many resources available to assist in properly determining the value of the property.  Marshall Swift Boeckh (MSB), Exactimate, Simsol and other companies have excellent computer software programs. Please document what the source was for the amount of insurance.  This is for your protection; it is hard to remember how you determined values four or five years later!  It is not acceptable to simply accept the inspector who says, “I been doing this for years and that amount is about right for this area."



Why does my quote/policy contain a Water Exclusion Endorsement (ISO form CP-1032)?

When Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005, many insureds became involved in "wind versus flood" litigation as they sought coverage under the wind peril of their property policies and carriers denied coverage citing the flood exclusion found in most commercial property forms.  ISO introduced the CP-1032 Water Exclusion Endorsement in 2008 to reinforce the scope of the [flood] water exclusion in their commercial property coverage forms.  The goal was to clarify the current exclusion wording, not to make it narrower or broader than it already was.   Several new terms were added, including "tidal water," "tsunami," and "storm surge."  In addition, the new wording clarifies that the water exclusion applies whether the event is caused by an act of nature or "otherwise."  They include an example in the endorsement wording which explains that failure of a containment system is to be considered an "otherwise" situation and as such is excluded from coverage under the policy.  Flood coverage on commercial property should almost always be sought under a separate flood policy.  (One possible exception - extremely large property schedules with customized insurance plans may be able to negotiate flood coverage under their primary property policies.)  Don't hesitate to ask your underwriter if you have any questions regarding the water exclusion endorsement.







Alabama Wind Pool Territory Definition

Anything that qualifies as a "beach area" or  "seacoast area" qualifies for wind coverage in the Alabama Wind Pool.  These areas are defined by ISO and approved by the Alabama Commissioner of Insurance.  Current ISO rules (@ April, 2017; Rule 70. Causes of Loss - Basic Form) read as follows:

(5)   Inland, Seacoast and Beach Territories:

              (a)   INLAND (ZONE 1)

Inland Territory includes that part of Alabama located outside the Counties of Baldwin and Mobile, and including that portion of the Counties of Baldwin and Mobile lying North of the 31st parallel of latitude (commonly known as St. Stephen's base line).  (This is the "Rest of State" territory.  Zone 1 is NOT eligible for the Wind Pool.)

      (b)   SEACOAST (ZONE 2)

Seacoast Territory includes that portion of the Counties of Baldwin and Mobile lying South of the 31st parallel of latitude (commonly known as St. Stephen's base line).



      (c)   BEACH (ZONE 3)

Beach Territory includes the following and similar localities not specifically named:

             (i)   All areas fronting on the Gulf of Mexico, Mississippi Sound and Mobile Bay

             (ii)   The Bay (Cochrane) Bridge Causeway

             (iii)   Blakely, Dauphin, Mon Louis, Pinto, Pineda and Sand Islands

             (iv)   The following cities, towns and communities and rural areas adjacent thereto:


                   MOBILE COUNTY

Alabama Port
Bayou La Batre
Bellingrath Gardens
Brookley Field
Cedar Point
Deer River Point
Dog River (Both Sides and all the area East thereof)
Dog River Point
Fowl River
Fowl River Point
Mon Louis
Mobile (But only that area South of Bankhead Tunnel and East of Main Line CSX Railroad (formerly L. & N.) which includes Choctaw Point)
South Orchard
Sunny Cove
Bay La Launch
Bayou St. John
Bear Point
Bon Secour
Collins Creek
Cotton Bayou
Edith Hammock
Fort Morgan
Fort Morgan Peninsula
Gulf Highlands
Gulf Shores
Gulf State Park
Hatchett Point
Inerarity Point
Jackson Oaks
Little Lagoon
Little Point Clear
Magnolia Springs
Malbis Plantation
Navy Cove
Old Spanish Fort
Orange Beach
Oyster Bay
Palmetto Beach
Perdido Bay
Perdido Beach
Pine Beach
Point Clear
Ragged Point
Romar Beach
Ross Point
Sapling Point
Seymour Bluff
Shell Banks
Three Rivers
Village Point
Weeks Bay
Wolf Bay
Yelling Settlement

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