Keeping Yourself And Your Business Safe

September 9, 2020

- By Paul Yorkis

It is important to look at Realtor® safety from many perspectives.

Unfortunately, we know that Realtors® have been harmed or even murdered while showing a property or doing an open house so your physical safety should always be paramount.

There are other aspects of personal and business safety that also should be considered.

Errors and Omission Insurance: If you are associated with a firm, check with the principal to make sure you understand the coverage that is provided. If you own your own firm check with your insurance provider to make sure your policy is providing the coverage you need for yourself and the agents associated with your firm. Consider asking your insurance agent to attend an office meeting to explain the coverage. Does your errors and omissions policy provide adequate coverage for Fair Housing and cyber liability? Does it provide bodily injury/property damage protection for an open house? Not all policies are the same according to John Torvi, from Landy Insurance in Norwood, Massachusetts. John said, “Not all policies are the same and not all coverages are the same. It is important to make sure you have the coverage you need based upon your company’s business practices.”

Property Insurance: If you own your building, is your policy coverage up to date based upon  the protection you desire? Check with your insurance agent to see if you have adequate coverage.

If you are renting your office space as a tenant, what kind of coverage should you have to protect yourself, your agents, and property? Jim Fougere from A Better Insurance Agency based in Ashland, Massachusetts strongly encourages firms to have a general liability policy to extend to the building owners, employees and guests.

Data  Protection and Storage:  Have you backed up your electronic records off site or on the cloud? How are you protecting your hard copy records? With more Realtors® working from home using their personal computers, what office policies and software protocols are in place to prevent cyber-crime?

Auto Insurance: Do you take clients out in your vehicle? If you do transport clients have you notified your auto insurance carrier? Some carriers may require a policy amendment.  Document your communication with your agent regarding this.

The NAR Code of Ethics: When is the last time you read the Code of Ethics and discussed the Code with agents in your firm? Understanding the Code may prevent having an ethics complaint or request for arbitration filed against you, or a fellow agent in your firm. Ethics hearings are not fun. Preparing for them is time consuming and can be very emotional.

Fair Housing:  Are you and your fellow agents aware of all the regulations regarding fair housing? Having a state or federal agency investigate your or your firms conduct is avoidable by knowing and complying with the laws and regulations. Does your errors and omission policy include Fair Housing protection? Tenant discrimination insurance is also available for your clients according to Jim Fougere.

Liability Coverage When Showing a Property: When you show a property, residential or commercial, what insurance coverage do you have for yourself and what coverage is typically in place? You may be covered by the errors and omission policy or maybe not or by a professional liability policy.

Brokers Bond: If you hold a real estate brokers license, you are supposed to have a surety bond. Is your bond current?

Educating yourself and your agents regarding applicable federal and state laws, the Code of Ethics, discussions with the principal of your firm, and discussions with your insurance carriers can help keep you and your business safe and minimize risk.