Commercial property insurance for an individual in California
September 15, 2020 3:36 PM   Subscribe

Asking on a friend's behalf: "I'm leasing a <100sq office as an individual, not a business. I need to obtain property insurance for it but have no idea where to start, I've only ever used residential insurance. The office is furnished; total value of my property in it is around $2k (most of that's a laptop)."

The specific text from the lease is:

"Tenant shall procure and maintain, at its sole expense, “all-risk” property insurance, for damage or other loss caused by fire or other casualty or cause including, but not limited to, vandalism and malicious mischief, theft, water damage of any type, including sprinkler leakage, bursting of pipes, explosion, in an amount not less than one hundred percent (100%) of the replacement cost covering Tenant’s trade fixtures, equipment and other personal property."
Friend is in Southern California. I think they'd welcome recommendations either of a specific insurance firm or policy, or an agent or broker, but also guides/resources for how to evaluate them.
posted by brainwane to Work & Money (6 answers total)
If they already have an agent, they might have a rider they could add to their existing policy for such an amount.
posted by nickggully at 3:46 PM on September 15

Sounds very close to renters insurance.
posted by chasles at 4:40 PM on September 15

W/ my company (AllState), I believe that this would fall under the purview of owner's or renter's insurance. My next-door neighbor, whose job is selling insurance products to insurance brokers, thinks that independent brokers who can sell policies from lots of different companies are best, rather than going to your local All-State/StateFarm/whatnot agent.
posted by nosila at 4:54 PM on September 15

This is absolutely a question for an insurance agent, not some internet randos. The form of business (individual/corporation) matters less than the types of losses covered. It might sound like renters insurance, but commercial insurance is a lot different than personal insurance. If you buy renters insurance when it turns out you needed commercial property insurance, you could be pretty screwed.

Find an independent insurance agent (i.e., one who writes with more than one company). It’s not hard; if you have a high school football or minor league baseball stadium in town, there are probably ads for agencies. (Independent agents will only advertise their name. If you see a logo like State Farm in addition to the name, they’re not independent.) Otherwise, you can go through professional organizations like the Big I or the state PIA.

I work for an insurance company, but in IT, and not in California.
posted by kevinbelt at 5:07 PM on September 15

kevinbelt: I am inferring after some web-searching that "PIA" here refers to a state Professional Insurance Agents association, correct? and "the Big I" means Association for Independent Agents?

Given that my friend is entirely at sea when it comes to shopping for this kind of insurance and this variety of broker or agent: in case they have to look at a big directory of agents and brokers, I would deeply welcome guides/resources for how to evaluate them and choose, similar to the "finding an attorney" and "finding a qualified attorney" (how to do the initial conversation, what to expect, etc.) sections of the "Get a lawyer" page on the MeFi wiki.
posted by brainwane at 3:42 AM on September 16

Correct on both counts.

In my experience, both in the industry and personally, the best way to evaluate is to send an agent an email and see how they respond. Some will respond immediately, some will drag their feet, some won't respond at all. Considering the biggest advantage of an agent is the personal connection, an agent who doesn't respond promptly is, by definition, a bad agent. This case is interesting because it won't be particularly lucrative for the agent. If they still pay attention even though you're only going to make them a couple bucks in commission, they'll probably provide great service.

The other alternative would be word of mouth. Not ideal, but marginally better than Google. Ask the landlord if they can recommend anyone, and ask other tenants as well. Especially if there's someone in a similar situation, knowing what they did will be helpful.
posted by kevinbelt at 12:07 PM on September 16

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