Professional Carwashing & Detailing recently reached out to Mike Benmosche, CIC, National Carwash Program specialist for McNeil & Co., to discuss the important topic of insurance in the carwash industry. Benmosche also contributes a regular blog, CarWash Safety 101, to Carwash.com.
Professional Carwashing & Detailing: What are some considerations for new investors when it comes to carwash insurance?
Mike Benmosche: New investors should be sure to select an independent agent whose customer base is at least half commercial business. The person who handles your personal insurance is not always the best option for your carwash business account.
Ask if they specialize in the industry and if they work with a number of other carwash businesses. Get referrals from them. Also, don’t wait until the last minute to select a
professional to design a carwash insurance plan for you. It takes time to develop a comprehensive and competitive program, and it can be costly and lead to poor decision-making if it is not done right the first time.
Carwash owners and operators should also not fall into the trap of getting too many agents involved in a bidding war. Most independent agents have multiple companies, and it is best to let them do the work of getting alternative quotes.
Furthermore, look at getting a program company that specializes in the industry to be included in the comparisons. They can often bring things to the table that standard companies can’t. And, don’t be swayed by price alone; several long-term costs may not necessarily be evident when making your decision. Be sure to ask each agent what the overall cost benefits of his or her
PC&D: What are some of the basic insurance options new investors should consider?
MB: Some of the basic options carwashers should consider include:
- Building and Contents Coverage
- Loss of business income (actual loss sustained)
- Waiver of coinsurance
- Agreed amount limit
- Ordinance or law coverage
- Equipment breakdown coverage
- Off premises utility service interruption
- Garage keepers insurance (legal liability)
- Non-owned auto
- General liability (minimum limit $1,000,000)
- Employment practices liability
- Cyber liability
Note: If a new investor is building a location from scratch, he or she needs to check with a contractor to find out who will be doing the builder’s risk policy for the building. The owner also needs to be added as an additional insured on the contractor’s policy. Finally, they should consider a short-term liability policy.
During the conversation with your agent of choice, when selecting your coverages, remember that several insurance companies include enhancements of which some common coverages are grouped under one endorsement. These often have predetermined limits that might not be adequate for your operations. They should be reviewed carefully so you can be comfortable knowing the coverage, as well as the limit, will be sufficient.
Though damage to property is a big exposure, some risks are associated with bodily injury when it comes to liability claims. The most notable are incidents related to on-site vehicle traffic and trips, slips and falls. These require constant attention and a specific game plan on how to eliminate or mitigate the potential dangers they pose. Written procedures and training are key to creating an effective program. Your vendors can provide a great deal of assistance with this project and should not be overlooked as valuable resources.
PC&D: Is there anything else you think our readers, especially new owners, should know about the basics of safety and insurance?
MB: While preventing injury to your customers from a liability standpoint is critical to your success, just as important is providing a safe environment for your employees. A few significant concerns arise from vehicle traffic, driving, chemical exposure, lifting, slips, trips and falls and electrical hazards which are very real threats to the safety of your workers.
Before opening your wash for business, you most likely spent a tremendous amount of time and energy doing the due diligence necessary to ensure the success of your proposed business model. Unfortunately, in many cases a safety program is omitted from that process. In the long run, you can’t truly reach your goals without one. If you don’t currently have a safety program, it’s never too late.