3 Ways Commercial Carriers Use Permit Data


At BuildFax, we talk a lot about commercial properties. But our conversations typically focus on remodel rates by location or how much data we have – not how commercial carriers actually use BuildFax data.

Here’s a peek behind the curtain – a collection of three stories from a few of our customer engagement managers.

1. Effective Year Built

Commercial carriers often work with older buildings. To make pricing more competitive, they consider factors such as building material, wind zone, and fire protection class, amongst others. Using BuildFax data, carriers can also look into a property’s renovation history for even more insight.

One carrier did just that for an old hotel currently operating as a restaurant. The structure was built in 1880, and after looking through the structure’s BuildFax permit history, the carrier found proof of a major remodel in 2010. It included complete electrical, plumbing, HVAC, and roof updates.

With these variables confirmed, the carrier could override the original build year with 2010 as the effective year built. This also meant they could offer the business inhabiting that space a better price, securing them as a customer for many years to come.

Moral of the story? Building permits reveal tremendous opportunities to benefit customers beyond just proper documentation.

2. Small Business, Big Problems

A locally owned retail shop in the northeast had its showroom fully renovated. A few weeks after the grand re-opening party, the owners came into the shop one morning to discover six inches of water on the showroom floor. It was a major loss, and their commercial carrier had a water damage claim on its hands.

Because of the recent renovation, this water damage was a surprise. The case was referred to the Special Investigation Unit, who dug a little deeper into the building’s past. Their on-site review found the cause of the leak to be from an electrician who had drilled into a major water line. BuildFax property data on the building revealed the names of the contractors who had worked on the property, so the carrier was able to use the information for subrogation purposes.

Moral of the story? Permits offer an easy way to look into the past, even if things get swept under the rug.

3. Roof Access Denied

BuildFax property history reports can also be used to make life easier, not just to uncover surprises. One carrier took advantage of these reports during the underwriting process. They regularly used permit data in situations where it didn’t make sense to order inspections (like when the inspection to premium ratio was too high). But they also found another use when an inspector ran into a problem on a particular site.

When it came time to inspect the roof of a commercial property, the inspector couldn’t get access to it. The door was locked and the building owner was nowhere to be found. Rather risk an inspector scaling the building, the carrier used BuildFax property data to verify that a new roof had been put on in 2011. Luckily, the inspector kept both feet on the ground and didn’t have to make a second trip to the property.

Moral of the story? Permit data gives you a lens to see things that sometimes aren’t visible on the surface – or the roof.

For more information on how BuildFax building permit data can improve your bottom line, contact us today.