Proper Home Watch Insurance
When I originally laid out the requirements for inclusion in the National Home Watch Association 14 years ago, the cornerstone for accreditation was insurance. Having begun my own business, Coastal Carolina Home Watch, four years prior to this, I was all too aware of the difficulty and cost of getting coverage for my own business. In 2005, trying to describe a service to insurance companies when you yourself weren’t all that sure of just what you’d be doing? These companies wanted exact descriptions, a contract (which was drawn up by an attorney that wasn’t quite sure, either), any promotional materials, and a website. Now, this was more than 17 years ago. In retrospect, and with the knowledge I have today, I know the policy I had at the time would probably not have provided coverage for the services I was performing. And, boy, was I paying a lot for it. But I did not have the knowledge back then that I have now. This did not change the fact that admission into the NHWA required insurance. As we grew and learned, it became apparent that most members were classified differently.
So, I went to work talking to various brokers about insuring Home Watch as an actual service. Because the Home Watch industry does not possess its own NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) Code, insurance companies truly had no clue about Home Watch. And because there was no data—or track record for them to even look a—I banged my head against the wall trying to put something together for more than three years.
In 2013, that changed when a small broker in Rhode Island contacted me. She had heard of my quest, and we talked and talked. Later that year, the first iteration of the National Home Watch Association Insurance Program was born. It was the best coverage for our group by far, and when we were done, the general liability policy was teamed with Professional Liability insurance, also known as Errors and Omissions (E&O). Since then, coverage has gotten even stronger. When the NHWA created and adopted the officially sanctioned definition of Home Watch**. it was immediately written into the Program. The Program is also designed to provide coverage for certain services that fall under the Home Watch “umbrella.” The NHWA Insurance Program has flourished because it has grown along with our Association membership. It is a perk of membership to be eligible (based on certain criteria) for coverage. You must be an NHWA member in good standing to obtain it. We do not require you to be a part of our group program. We do require that you have applicable insurance. We highly recommend that you obtain Errors & Omissions, as being in our business means that you’ll be making representations to your client. Prospective Home Watch clients should, without a doubt, verify coverage from any company you are considering. Ask questions. Get in writing that their policy will cover exactly what they do. Anyone entering your home should be carrying a policy with a one-million-dollar limit per occurrence (www.homewatchinsurance.com).
Every year we gain more and more recognition and momentum. There is good news on the horizon for Home Watch. We are extremely strict about insurance. Just like 14 years ago, it is still the cornerstone of accreditation.
Thanks for reading.
**Home Watch is a visual inspection of a home or property, looking for obvious issues.
A little about the National Home Watch Association: The NHWA was formed in 2009 in order to establish and maintain the highest industry standards for Home Watch and absentee homeowner services throughout the United States and Canada (www.nationalhomewatchassociation.org).
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