As a mortgage broker, you’re the crucial link between future homeowners and the financing they need to secure their investment. You know the tricks of the trade – how to get the best rates for your clients, what to look for in a mortgage contract, and when to sign on the dotted line for a life-changing loan.

But, as we all know, the real estate market is far from static. Just look at what happened when the housing bubble burst back in 2008, and what’s happening now with the economic turmoil caused by the Coronavirus pandemic. Staying competitive in such a speculative industry means protecting yourself against a number of risks with business insurance for mortgage brokers.

Here are just 3 reasons why mortgage brokers need business insurance to operate with confidence and peace of mind.

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I was recently asked this question by one of our Momentum Insurance and Financial Services clients and thought I would share the answer here for our readers.

There are a lot of things that go into homeowners and auto insurance rates, one of them being credit. I’ve heard a lot of complaints from people who don’t like the fact that insurance companies use credit in their underwriting.

Some people have absolutely no idea that it’s used in the rate at all.

At the end of the day, there’s not much we can do about it though. Insurance companies have been using credit in their rates for decades, and that’s not likely to change.

By the way, insurance companies don’t pull your credit like a mortgage company or credit card company does. There is no negative impact on your credit as a result of an insurance company looking at it.

When I say “pull” what I mean is that the insurance company is doing what’s called a soft inquiry, which is not the same thing as having your credit pulled (hard inquiry).

When does credit play a role in insurance rates?

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Augmented reality is a burgeoning industry with frequent advancements and a promising future. AR technologies have impacted nearly every industry, and real estate is no exception. The technology has gone from a futuristic maybe to a realistic way of showing a building in detail on a client’s smartphone. Many agencies have already incorporated AR technology into their everyday practices, introducing interactive demonstrations on-site and on the phone.

Augmented reality has valuable marketing implications that are only just being tapped into. AR is also a unique way of encouraging clients to make a profitable decision.

How is AR affecting Real Estate?

Most real estate agencies struggle with the presentation of their catalog at some point, facing roadblocks including unemotive text descriptions, lackluster photos, and lack of devoted time to visit each site with clients. AR tools and mobile apps can overcome most, if not all of these obstacles with the single touch of a button.

Clients can use an agency’s built-in AR capabilities to view a site from all angles, gaining a better, in-depth understanding of a property without ever leaving their homes. Agencies can set up their augmented reality applications to allow clients to browse different categories, compare various sites, and make informed decisions.

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Borrowers and lenders will face 3 new and unfamiliar ways of doing business

Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. Business leaders in all parts of the US economy are taking bold steps to respond to the Coronavirus pandemic. Those in the mortgage industry are implementing reforms that will be long-lasting in terms of how lenders operate and how consumers obtain financing. Here are 3 ways in which the coronavirus pandemic could change mortgage lending:

Increased Digitization

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in mortgage lenders revisiting and, in many cases, adopting measures to digitize the mortgage process. Many firms favor an omni-channel approach, giving consumers the option to work with loan officers in person or over the phone and online.

The current crisis has “brought forward” some of the internal conversations firms were planning to have about how to massively transform the online digitization and automated underwriting process for borrowers. That time is now, as consumers are opting to research and buy their homes online – not wanting to risk their health with in-person exchanges. One popular home listing website saw its online traffic for virtual tours increase more than 190% in March, compared to February. Another real estate brokerage experienced almost a 500% surge in requests for home video tours. Innovative realtors are even providing “drive-thru closings” in which customers and realtors exchange paperwork and keys while sitting in their own cars.

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In the last few years, customers have come to expect streamlined digital experiences from every company they do businesses with.  Companies are evolving to meet these changes, adopting technology tools to reach out to customers through various digital channels. This year we’ve seen the importance of those technology tools more clearly than ever as companies have had to quickly adapt to doing business remotely. Digital transformation is no longer a far-off ideal; it’s a necessity. Read more about creating your company’s digital presence.

For more traditional companies, it may be helpful to think of your company’s interconnected technology tools in terms of the role they play in your digital “office.” Your company’s digital space can augment your physical office and extend your agency’s capabilities. It can make it easy for clients to do business with you even when they can’t come into your company’s physical office.

Websites: your digital storefronts

Your website is where many customers start their digital journey with your company. As a basic starting point, make sure your website is well-designed and easy to use – just like you would want your storefront to look clean and professional.

It’s also a good idea to test your website’s loading speed and mobile-responsiveness. Potential customers are going to bail if the pages are slow to load or if they have to pinch to zoom in to see the website on their phone.

You can test your website’s responsiveness with the Google mobile friendliness test.

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An active 2020 hurricane season combined with coronavirus is likely to present unprecedented challenges for some coastal communities – what happens when a hurricane meets a pandemic?

Meteorologists have been warning for months that the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is going to be severe, with estimates this year could produce as many as 19 named storms and 10 hurricanes. And based on early activity, there is little reason to doubt their predictions.

Even before the official start of the season on June 1, two named tropical storms had formed – Arthur, then Bertha, which made landfall near Charleston, South Carolina, on May 27.

What this means residents, businesses, and property owners from Texas to New England is that they need to be prepared for the worst.

In addition to the prospect of spending the next six months monitoring satellite images of cyclones forming over the Atlantic Ocean, they may also have to contend with the added challenge of preparing for and recovering from a catastrophic hurricane amid a global pandemic.

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Technological innovation is revolutionizing one of the oldest professions in the world. Augmented Reality has just broken onto the scene and has already been transforming civil construction. The changes are seen not only in designing and modeling but also in building. Augmented Reality benefits the entire construction team: engineers, designers, architects, project managers, and service providers.

Unlike Virtual Reality, which creates a totally new and independent environment of the real world, AR includes virtual elements that interact with what already exists. It is thus possible to combine virtual architectural designs with the reality of the construction site, increasing efficiency and accuracy, reducing the occurrence of errors, saving time, money, and resources.

Construction sites are often chaotic, noisy, and dirty spaces. Although the adoption of the BIM system reduces many of the incompatibilities and unpleasant surprises during the construction process, it is inevitable that doubts arise and errors occur during construction. And, more importantly, every mistake or redo costs a lot of money and time.

The idea is that AR applications can provide a more accurate view of what will be built, including layers of materials and installations that are often complex to understand through drawings. For this, 3D plans and even virtual model holograms are used to improve the understanding of the project and facilitate the execution of projects. And even during construction, the ability to see through walls and understand the path of the technical installations facilitates the process, reduces the possibility of errors, and even guides the construction of complex geometrics.

To fully use AR you need a device (usually goggles or glasses). Currently, several companies manufacture AR hardware, but the most popular used in construction is Microsoft HoloLens. One of the big reasons why home builders choose Microsoft HoloLens is the price and the fact that it is now certified as basic protection glasses. The company DAQRI has developed a safety helmet integrated into the glasses, to facilitate even more use by construction professionals.

Below are some Augmented Reality technologies that can revolutionize the way companies approach the construction industry:

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The COVID-19 pandemic, an unprecedented event in modern history, continues to leave its mark on societies and economies around the world and is actively changing the insurance industry. We have learned many lessons so far, the most poignant one being that we weren’t prepared for this.

The impact on the global economy has been devastating. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says the global economy will shrink by 3%, the worst decline since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Many advanced economies, including the US, UK, Canada, France, and Germany are expected to enter a recession this year. The Dow and FTSE have suffered their worst quarterly drop since 1987. Oil prices have crashed as lockdowns have brought commuting and traveling to a standstill. In the US, the price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) dropped below zero for the first time in history.

Amid the outbreak, businesses are trying to stay afloat, scaling down operations or shutting down altogether. The insurance industry, which supports businesses through crises and disasters, is one of the sectors at the forefront during this challenging time. And like everyone else, insurance companies are drawing lessons from the pandemic and learning to adapt.

Insuring against a pandemic is hard but not impossible

Pandemics like the coronavirus outbreak are inherently different from other natural disasters. While catastrophes such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods hit a specific region, pandemics have no geographical bounds. The timeframe of pandemics of highly contagious diseases such as COVID-19 is virtually unpredictable.

All this makes it harder for insurers to assess and accurately model the risks.

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Even if you need to close due to health and safety concerns, there are many ways of retaining customers during the Coronavirus pandemic. Social distancing, while good for public health, is bad for small businesses. Foot traffic has dropped steeply since the coronavirus outbreak as more and more customers stay at home and self-quarantine. Many business owners are worried that the impact of COVID-19 will be deeper and more long-lasting than anticipated. As a result, merchants in every industry are looking for ways to keep their customers during the coronavirus lockdown. Here are some tips to keep your employees and customers engaged from a distance.

Communicate proactively with your customers

The situation is evolving rapidly, and no one is quite sure what news each day will bring. Customers can empathize with merchants facing a crisis, as long as you communicate with them properly. Let your customers know if you’re closing your doors, changing your hours, and what steps you’re taking to keep your employees and work environment safe and clean. If your store is closing, notify your customers on your social media channels, through email, and on your website. If your store is staying open, describe the steps you’re taking to mitigate risk. Beyond letting customers know the logistics of your approach, give them a way to stay connected. Customers spending more time at home will still need to shop for things. Direct consumers to your e-commerce store, take orders over social media, and be prepared for more people to view your website than in previous months.

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If you’re a business owner you need a plan to shield your business during the coronavirus pandemic. To keep your company healthy during the coronavirus pandemic and positioned well for success when it’s over, take advantage of these contingency and business planning tips.

Put health and safety first

If you’re a sole proprietor, prioritize your health first. Limit your travel and maximize home office communication and collaboration tools.

If you have employees, keep them informed of travel restrictions, government announcements, and offer them work from home options. If that’s not feasible and your business is considered essential, take steps to minimize virus transmission risk at your place of work. This includes social distancing, splitting shifts, and frequent sanitization.

It’s also wise to establish procedures for staff to report if they are feeling unwell, are absent, or if they suspect exposure to the coronavirus or infection.

Assess the impact on operations

What will happen to your business during this crisis? To help answer that question, run best-case and worst-case scenarios and develop contingency plans for each. Include timeframes in your assessment that consider the impacts of the pandemic if it becomes a six-month, one-year problem, or more (let’s hope that’s not the case).

For example, if critical personnel became sick or had to look after family members, how will your business accommodate these changes? Try to identify others who can step in and learn key tasks such as retirees, family members, or independent contractors and freelancers.

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