Understanding Commercial Excess Policy vs Umbrella Policy

Understanding the Nuances: Commercial Excess Policies vs. Commercial Umbrella Policies

Insurance is a complex realm with various specialized policies catering to different needs. When it comes to commercial insurance, two terms often mentioned are “commercial excess policies” and “commercial umbrella policies.” While they might seem similar, these two insurance instruments serve distinct purposes. Let’s dive into the differences between them to help you better protect your business.

Commercial Excess Policy: Adding Layers of Coverage

A commercial excess policy is designed to provide additional coverage on top of your underlying primary insurance policies, such as commercial general liability (CGL), auto liability, or workers’ compensation. It acts as a layer of protection, essentially extending the limits of your primary policies. Here’s how it works:

  1. Coverage Stacking: With a commercial excess policy, the coverage is “stacked” on top of your primary policies. This means that if a claim exhausts the limits of your primary policy, the excess policy kicks in to cover the excess amount, up to its own policy limits.

  1. Excess Over Specific Policies: Commercial excess policies can be tailored to provide coverage specifically over certain primary policies. You can have an excess policy that covers extends coverage for your general liability only or it may cover over general liability, commercial auto, and so on.

  1. No Standalone Coverage: Importantly, commercial excess policies don’t provide coverage by themselves. They only come into play once the limits of the primary policy are exhausted. As a result, the excess insurance company will require to see a copy of the underlying policy assuming it is a different insurance company.

Commercial Umbrella Policy: Broader Protection for Your Business

A commercial umbrella policy, on the other hand, offers broader protection that goes beyond your primary policies. While it can extend the limits of your primary policies like an excess policy, it can also provide coverage for certain risks not covered by your underlying policies. Here’s how it works:

  1. Primary and Excess Coverage: Like an excess policy, a commercial umbrella policy provides additional coverage when the limits of your primary policy are exhausted.

  1. Wider Protection: An umbrella policy can also offer coverage for risks that may not be covered by your primary policies. This makes it a more comprehensive option for businesses.

  1. Can Stand Alone: A commercial umbrella policy can stand alone and provide coverage independently of your primary policies. This means it can fill gaps in your coverage.

Key Differences: Commercial Excess vs. Commercial Umbrella

  1. Scope of Coverage: Commercial excess policies focus on extending the limits of primary policies, while commercial umbrella policies provide a broader scope of coverage, often including risks not covered by primary policies.

  1. Independence: Commercial excess policies are dependent on primary policies, whereas commercial umbrella policies can stand alone and provide coverage independently.

  1. Specificity: Excess policies can be tailored to provide excess coverage over specific primary policies, while umbrella policies offer more generalized protection.

Conclusion: Choosing the Right Protection

Commercial excess and umbrella policies are crucial for shielding your business from unexpected threats. Your choice between them hinges on your business’s nature and specific needs. While some businesses deemed ‘high risk’ may only qualify for an excess policy, others benefit from the broader protection offered by an umbrella policy. While excess policies extend coverage on specific primary policies, umbrella policies provide comprehensive, standalone protection. To ensure the right fit, collaborate closely with your insurance provider to tailor a solution that aligns with your business’s unique requirements. With the right policy in place, you can confidently navigate uncertainties and safeguard your business’s assets against potential liabilities.