As a busy owner (or manager) of a small business, the bulk of your energy is invested in ensuring your company’s success. Insurance often becomes an afterthought… something that’s at best boring and at worst confusing. Yet having the right business insurance can, in many cases, be the difference between survival and going out of business. So as we move to the end of 2018 and into the New Year, this is a good time to invest a minute on reviewing your risk profile and basic business insurance requirements.
Basics of Business Insurance
Small companies are all quite different as they reflect the unique characteristics of their owners/managers. And they each grow and contract to varying degrees based on a plethora of circumstances. The reality is that there is no such thing as a “one size fits all” insurance plan. And given the nature of change, an insurance strategy for one year may require substantial changes for the next. So the perfect insurance policy is one that’s created to fit your requirements as you see them for the next year. Some insurance such as worker’s comp may be required. Others my be voluntary. Talking with an independent business insurance specialist is the best course of action to help you understand what kind of insurance options are available an which would be best for you.
Here are some presently popular forms of insurance you should consider…
- Business Interruption Insurance.*
This insurance makes sure companies can continue to earn income following a major external disturbance. Natural catastrophes, mishaps, deliberate actions and more threaten to interrupt revenue. Keeping up with staff wages, loan payments, and more can end up being daunting without the income to pay them. With business interruption insurance, the insurance provider will compensate for lost profits while a business returns to its normalized cash flow.
- Errors and Omissions Insurance.*
If your business is one that relies on getting the details right, this should be considered as mandatory insurance. This helps to protect business owners of unintentional mistakes or omissions that eventually lead to damages. Such damages can be devastating if they have to be paid out of pocket. This insurance protects cash flow.
- Liability Insurance.*
Business owners take on a huge amount of liability,. Whether you run a shop or work in people’s homes, liability insurance can protect you from claims resulting in individuals being injured at your facilities or job sites.
Companies that leverage vehicles as a part of their operations need commercial car insurance coverage as well. Even if employees are driving their own vehicles, commercial auto insurance is required if the vehicle is being driven for a business-related purpose.
- Cyber Insurance.*
Cyber insurance is a more recent development in commercial insurance. It is designed to protect you from liability that result from a harmful cyber attack. This could include the theft of client data, disruption to your operations, etc. In a digital world where we’re all connected, protecting from this sort of event is more important than ever.
Our commercial insurance specialists can help you find the right protection to keep your business running smoothly in case challenges arise. Reach out today for a complete business insurance review…
With leaves falling and cold temperatures filling the air, it’s time to pay extra attention to the road and to potential animal hazards including deer. A deer popping out from the side of the road is a scary proposition at any time of year and especially hazardous when road conditions are slick with fresh rain or icy because of cold temperatures. Peak accident times include both the early and late hours of the day.
In truth it is important to keep a continuous lookout for all kinds of wildlife near or on the highway. And be sure to understand what kind of animal-related insurance claims are covered in your insurance policy.
Insurance coverage from damages associated with accidents involving deer or other animals may be optional depending on your insurance and carrier. Knowing this is important. If you presently lack protection, find out what it would cost to add the optional coverage. It’s typically a small investment that can save you should you suffer a collision with a deer, elk, or other animal.
At the very same time, be sure to practice good safe driving protocols. Indeed many safe-driving advocates say to brake but never swerve to avoid the animal. (You may swerve into oncoming traffic or lose traction on the road.) Exercise caution while driving through wooded areas. Slow down and be prepared to stop if the deer go into the road if you spot deer or other wildlife. If a deer is struck, call the police and your insurance agent as quickly as safe to do so. Take images of the crash site, automobile damage and any damage to the car. Be sure to include images of the animal as further proof of the cause of the accident. And in the event a claim is submitted, be sure to have your care thoroughly evaluated mechanically.
The late fall and winter months bring an increase in driving activity on roads that may already present challenges. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 1.5 million accidents with deer are documented each year. More than 200 of these resulted in fatalities and cost an estimated $1 billion in damages each year… so take care. Be sure you’re protected. Practice safe driving.
And if this causes you some concern, we’re here to help. Be sure to reach out to us if you have questions about your auto insurance.
Business owners have a lot on their plates. It’s unsurprising that many put off getting insurance for their small business. To save time, it’s tempting to grab a quick policy “off the rack” however, that will likely fail to truly protect you from the risks you likely face as a business owner.
You’ve worked hard to build your business so protecting it to preserve your income, credit, and employees is important.
Whether it’s time to purchase a policy or if you’re aiming to compare rates, we can help match the right policy to your business. When acquiring commercial insurance, here are 4 things to remember.
Revisit Insurance Coverage Annually
As organizations grow, so do insurance coverage obligations. Launching new services, growing your sales & marketing efforts, and bringing brand-new staff into the fold adds liability and more. Given this, it’s wise to review your insurance coverage once per year. As an independent insurance agency, we comparison shop from multiple carriers to find the best rate for your situation.
Compare Insurance Policies and Rates
Maintaining appropriate commercial insurance is a continuous obligation. The kinds of policies offered, customer service, and more can differ significantly both by the insurance carrier. This is why working with our team is beneficial. We offer unbiased information about carriers to ensure you get the best policy from a carrier that you can be confident in.
Take Inventory of Risks
The same insurance policy for a dry cleaning operation would be a bad match for a bakery. A policy developed to deal with the requirements of a specific business, with deductibles set at a proper rate, will help entrepreneurs save money on insurance costs, and be better matched to risk profiles.
Bundle Insurance with a BOP
Commercial insurance policies are frequently bundled into what’s described as a Business Owner Policy, or BOP for brief. Integrating multiple insurance securities through a single carrier can save money. With a BOP you can also find other enhanced insurance coverage options to maximize your protection.
As always, we are here to help! If you have questions, call today and speak to an agent.
If you’re a driver in the US, or many countries for that matter, you are required by law to have car insurance. Driving without car insurance is illegal, and for a very good reason. Although a technical US exception is New Hampshire, where drivers don’t have to have insurance per se… they still have to be able to prove that they have enough money put away in order to pay out if a crash happens. For all intents and purposes… you have to have car insurance in the US.
Over 37,000 people die in US car crashes every year, with a further 2.3 million becoming injured or disabled. All of this mounts up to a whopping $230 billion in costs annually, and car insurance is designed to protect drivers (and their four-wheeled assets) in case of unexpected events. Still, if you’re idiotic enough to drive without insurance and get caught, here are some of the consequences you’re likely to face.
If you get caught driving without valid insurance, you’re likely to get a ticket and you will also be fined. Although the fines vary from state to state, some parts of the country charge you thousands of dollars if you’re caught driving without insurance.
The police have the power to remove and suspend your driving license if you’re caught driving without auto insurance, something which no driver wants to deal with! You’ll only be able to get your license back if you pay to have it reinstated (which isn’t cheap) and also provide proof of insurance. It can vary from state to state when it comes to how long you’ll have your license suspended, and repeat offenders can see their license being taken away permanently.
If you’re caught driving without insurance by police, you could be prevented from driving away by them having your car towed. You needn’t be in a crash or serious incident – you might have your car pulled over due minor speeding or a broken taillight, suddenly finding that your car is being towed away and impounded because you’re driving around uninsured.
While you haggle for insurance in the meantime, you’ll also be racking up impound fees too, making any financial struggles greatly exaggerated. In some regions, they begin auctioning your car away if you cannot pay and organize insurance quickly enough! In NYC, your car starts to go through the auction process a mere 72 hours after being impounded!
You could wind up in serious financial trouble
If you have a crash and you’re found to be at fault, you’re very likely to be financially responsible for covering the medical bills and repair expenses of the driver you crashed into, something which would have been made much easier had you possessed auto insurance. If you cannot pay, the victim driver may take you to court, causing you to rack up a fortune on legal fees, damages, and much more.
Police are beginning to get serious
The average uninsured driver rate in the US is around 12%, although some states are trying very hard to crack down on this number even further. For example, in Arizona, the police conduct random tests to see whether vehicles are insured or not. If they aren’t, the police will suspend the car owner’s driving license. Also, in Louisiana, the police are now able to monitor residents’ car insurance status in real time. For example, if pulling someone over at a traffic stop, Louisiana police will be able to check the driver’s insurance status almost instantly.
Getting future insurance
The irony here is that all of these consequences will be noted down and recorded in official documents, making it even more difficult and expensive for you to get insurance in the future. Having had your license suspended, for example, is likely to raise your insurance premiums when you DO look to organize insurance. Lying for your car insurance policy is insurance fraud, something which would also increase your premiums. The moral of the story is to simply follow the law, be honest, and choose adequate coverage. Otherwise, you could find yourself in both legal and financial trouble.
Looking for affordable car insurance which is tailored to your individual needs and circumstances? Get in touch with a member of our expert team today, who can consult with you and offer you top-tier advice.
When developing your security and data privacy strategies for the future, there are numerous vulnerabilities which you need to consider. Here we run you through 4 common risks which you need to consider in 2018 and beyond with regard to your security and privacy regulations.
It’s easy to think of cybercriminals as tech-savvy geeks mastering a piece of code which can steal all your money, but the reality is often very different. Using nothing more than emails, many hackers pose as business contacts and company stakeholders in order to scam businesses out of money. For example, they may ask someone to pay an invoice while posing as a client. It’s predicted that these so-called BEC (Business Email Compromise) scams will scam companies out of more than $9 billion in 2018 alone, with the average BEC scam in 2017 stealing around $67,000.
2. IoT Attacks
IoT (internet of things) attacks used to be used in order to create chaos and confusion, although more and more attackers are using IoT attacks to spread viruses and ransomware. The internet of things refers to devices which use the internet to communicate with one another, such as a modern car or your Amazon Echo. These devices are more vulnerable to attacks than regular computers or laptops, meaning that hackers are now trying to hack these “things” in order to steal sensitive data and use it to make/demand money.
Unless you’ve lived in a cave for the past 6 months, you’ve probably heard of the General Data Protection Regulation, aka GDPR. Any company which conducts business of some sort in the EU (i.e. basically all large companies) has to comply with the GDPR guidelines regarding data security, although it is estimated that around 50% of companies still do not meet these standards. Companies who don’t comply could face fines of 20 million euros (around $24 million) or 4% of their global turnover, whichever is greater. Those are some seriously crippling fines, so it’s best to make sure that you’re complying ASAP.
Some hackers are now using unsuspecting companies’ processing power in order to mine cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. This is known as “cryptojacking”, and it essentially means that your company’s websites/networks are being slowed down so that a hacker can make money off of your processing power. Although it’s arguably less dire than some other cybercrimes, it still slows down your networks and sees you losing money as you look for solutions.
Going further and further into the digital age, it’s more important than ever to safeguard your company and your customers from digital attacks. Arming yourself with cutting-edge anti-virus software (among other precautions) is a good idea, but many criminals acquire your funds and data by simply tricking staff members, such as with the email scams mentioned earlier. Systematic training and precautions are the best way to ensure your security, in addition to regular penetration testing.
Looking for insurance which covers you in the event of a cyber attack? Talk to a member of our dedicated insurance team today and find out more.
We’ve all been there at some point – you’ve just passed your test, you’re excited to finally have some freedom, and then you realize that you’re going to have to pay car insurance. Car insurance, like all insurance, features premiums which are calculated according to risk. Unfortunately, the younger and the more inexperienced you are at driving, the higher the risk is that you’re going to crash. The result? Largely unaffordable car insurance premiums for young drivers.
You see, drivers aged between 15-20 make up only 6.7% of all drivers in the country, yet they’re involved in 20% of all the crashes. The numbers just aren’t in the favour of young drivers and college students! Nonetheless, finding affordable car insurance for college students is still a possibility. Here are some ways to find an affordable car insurance plan if you’re a college student.
Get good grades
Certain insurers, such as Allstate and Geico, will offer car insurance discounts to college students who can demonstrate that they achieve good grades, the thinking being that straight-A students are less likely to be reckless drivers. State Farm even offers a 25% discount for students with high grades! To qualify for such discounts, you usually have to be 25 or younger, enrolled in a school/college/university full time, maintaining a 3.0 GPA (or be on the honor roll/ dean’s list), and be able to provide proof of your grades via a report card, school letter, or another means of proof.
Look into pay-as-you-go coverage
If your car is mainly used for social and recreational use, such as going to visit friends or going to the grocery store, it may be worth considering pay-as-you-go car insurance which costs less if you driver fewer miles. Officially known as usage-based insurance (UBI), this type of insurance uses data about your driving to determine your premiums, meaning that it will be lower if you drive safely and less often. However, if you’re prone to long late-night trips and heavy acceleration, this may not be the best thing for you.
Choose an adequate amount of coverage
The state you’re in will have a minimum coverage requirement, so you should be sure to comply with this if you think that you’re going to need a more traditional driver-based car insurance plan. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has a map which can tell you the insurers in your university’s state, ensuring that you’re adequately protected. For example, Nevada state laws stipulate that you must have a car insurance liability policy which covers $55,000, while in Texas, you need to have at least $115,000 in liability coverage.
After meeting the minimum state requirements, decide whether or not you need extra coverage. For example, if you drive an expensive car or you’re moving to an area which is known for car theft and crime, you may want to consider additional coverage. On the other hand, if you’re a very safe driver who is unlikely to crash, increasing your deductible could dramatically reduce the cost of your premiums.
Think about staying on your family’s plan
Surveys show that around 52% of college students leave their car at home when they leave for college. Even if you’re one of those people, it may be a good idea to stay on your family’s multicar insurance plan. You can be named as an “occasional” driver on the policy, keeping you protected when you drive at home, while still reducing your premiums. This is sometimes called a “resident student discount” or “student away at school discount”, and usually applies to students attending college more than 100 miles away from their parental home.
All things considered, you should consider your budget and your existing expenses when deciding what car insurance you can afford. Are there existing expenses, such as textbooks and groceries, which you may be able to cut down on? Whatever you do, avoid being underinsured, as getting into a crash without adequate insurance could see your claim being rejected, meaning you’ll pay enormous sums of money – often more than you would’ve saved by having too-low premiums in the first place.
If you’re a college student looking for advice of affordable car insurance, why not get in touch with a member of our knowledgeable insurance team today?
As the cost of living rises, more and more employers are looking to offer their employees group health insurance plans, keeping their costs low while still offering healthcare to their staff. Although this continues to be an economically viable means of providing health care for both the employer and the employee, there are certain challenges which your company will face when implementing group health plans. Here we have outlined some of the biggest challenges you will encounter!
Remote working issues
The website International Advisers recently claimed that workforces are becoming more remote and mobile, as evolving technology means that workers aren’t necessarily stuck in their office all the time – they are able to work away from home, perhaps even overseas. As a result, more companies are now relying on international health insurance plans to protect their global team. This can affect group health plans significantly, which are usually designed to be applicable to the US only.
Balancing costs with needs
US companies, of course, want to offer competitive group health plans as it encourages top talent to come to them over a competitor, making their workforce better and healthier overall. However, companies with fewer funds to spare are likely to require bare-bones group health coverage which might not necessarily cover the costs for employees with more complicated or chronic medical conditions.
Although in-patient and out-patient coverage are normally covered under all group health plans, with varying limits, some attractive coverage options are normally omitted from cheaper health plans. For example, maternity cover, dental plans, and other forms of cover will usually not be included in more affordable plans. How much this matters depends on your workforce and their attitude, but you may need to assess how many group health benefits you are willing to offer and how much cash you’ve got spare to pay for them and retain top workers.
Not using plans enough
Once you have settled on a group health plan that you and your employees are happy with, you better make sure that they use it! If you’re paying for your employees to have access to things such as dental care but they aren’t actually taking advantage of it, then you’re simply wasting money for no reason. Be sure to educate your employees on the benefits they are entitled to and how they can use them, making sure that you point them in the right place and tell them the process they need to follow in order to use the benefits.
When it comes time to renew your group health plan, it may be worth taking a look at your policy and how useful it has been over the past year. Do you want to adjust your benefits with the current insurer because some were seldom used? Do you want to change insurance carriers entirely? There’s no right or wrong answer, but renewal periods may force you to look at your group health plan and make some tough decisions in order to save money.
You should ideally compare your group health plan to others within your industry, assessing how valuable it is and whether you’re paying a fair price for what you’re getting. If your premiums are going up come time to renew, maybe you should look into the premiums of similar businesses and see if they are rising too. At the end of the day, you want to make sure that you are getting a good group health plan at a competitive rate, and benchmarking is one of the easiest ways to ascertain this information.
The bottom line
Group health plans worth their salt can undoubtedly put a financial strain on your business, especially if you’re strapped for cash. However, they can also make your employees happier, healthier, and more loyal to you as a company. Although you can’t explicitly purchase a boost in morale, decent employee benefits are a great way to encourage it, with increased employee morale frequently being positively correlated with boosts in productivity from workforces. The question is – can you afford to pay the costs necessary?
Contact us today if you’re looking for advice about group health plans and whether they’re right for your business. We work with dozens of insurance carriers and can advise you on the best affordable group health plans for your company’s unique circumstances.
If you’re looking to buy a new car, there’s an awful lot of factors to consider in addition to the purchase price, and ensuring that you can afford them all is an essential part of the car-buying process. Here we list some factors to consider when buying a new car!
Financing vs Purchasing
If you can purchase a car in full, this is always the better option financially, as you won’t be paying any interest on the price. However, if you’re looking to finance your car, you need to assess the deal carefully and look into the loan term, interest rate, and more. If you must finance, try to put down a large down payment, as this will reduce your interest rate and reduce your monthly payments overall.
Taxes and Fees
Bear in mind that you’ll have to pay sales tax when purchasing a car, and this is calculated differently depending on which state you’re in, so be sure to check the local sales tax regulations. In addition, some states charge your car with an annual tax which is variable according to the vehicle you own. All of this is also combined with registration, license plate, and title fees, which could easily set you back up to $800 per year depending on your car’s make and model.
Insurance companies use a magical formula of never-ending criteria in order to ascertain the monthly premiums on your car insurance, and the power of modern data analytics is helping them to scrutinize drivers more than ever before. Although quotes will inevitably vary from carrier to carrier, younger and more inexperienced drivers will always be charged substantially more for their premiums, and people who have been involved in accidents will have higher monthly premiums too. Some vehicles are cheaper to insure than others due to a range of factors, so be sure to look into which vehicles within your price range are cheap to insure for you. There are also other ways of potentially lowering your auto insurance premiums, such as volunteering to pay a higher excess in the event that you do have to put in a claim.
If you’re looking to buy a huge gas-guzzling SUV, prepare to pay a lot in gasoline every month. Of course, your gas spending will vary widely on your type of vehicle and how often you drive, as well as the type of fuel that your vehicle uses. Buying a smaller car with an efficient engine and driving it rarely will obviously bring your gas budget down compared to driving around in a large SUV for many hours a week.
There are many other things to consider when buying a car, such as maintenance costs when things go awry. If you’re looking to lower the cost of your auto insurance, speak to a member of our dedicated team today!
Business insurance is crucial if you are to protect your company from unforeseen forces in the future, whether they take the forms of fraud, fires, floods, plumbing problems, or a whole host of other potential issues. However, buying the right business insurance is rather difficult, as you need to know exactly what your business is most vulnerable to. Although you could buy an expensive catch-all policy which covers everything under the sun, the premiums may bankrupt you before you even get going!
So how do you choose the right business insurance? Here we offer you some advice.
Think about your specific risks
According to various professionals who have worked in/with the insurance industry, you mustn’t give in to exaggerated fears, but fears which make sense for your industry of choice. Before you go looking for business insurance, do your homework on what perils and risks businesses in your industry usually face. This allows you to base your policies on existing data, meaning it is more likely to be relevant to you one day. For example, if you’re opening a coffee shop and you find that a lot of coffee shop businesses have to claim for problems with their plumbing due to enhanced water usage, be sure to include this in your policy.
Belinda Pillow, a former insurance salesperson, recommends that you call your relevant trade association. She explains: “ask for any risk assessment tools for, papers on, or expert opinions about your particular industry.” This information should guide you toward common types of coverage which are commonplace in your industry, providing you with good guidelines for your own coverage. Nevertheless, there can always be loopholes and confusing jargon buried within business insurance policies, so be sure to speak to an agent or legal advisor before signing off on all of the terms.
Cover yourself for the basics too
Basically every business requires workers’ compensation insurance, although the guidelines differ slightly from state to state, sometimes excluding smaller businesses. Workers’ compensation covers things such as rehabilitation, lost wages, and medical expenses if one of your employees injures themselves in your workplace. Furthermore, in the unlikely event that they die on the job, it will pay death benefits to their named beneficiaries. You don’t necessarily have to cover yourself too, but it’s probably a good idea, and it’s usually very cheap to do so.
Also remember to purchase property insurance, which protects buildings and contents, and is crucial for smaller businesses in times of disaster. Bear in mind, however, that some things such as “acts of God” and utility failures may be excluded from this policy. You should also purchase general liability coverage if you can, as this protects you if a member of the public injures themselves in your business and sues you, with the policies usually covering you for costs up to $1 million.
You can also get business insurance policies which feature a combination of these property and liability insurance models, providing you with a basic umbrella business policy. However, as with any policy, you should be sure to check the wording and confirm that there aren’t any hidden terms or clauses which could be difficult in the event of a claim.
Buy from an independent agency
Buying from an independent insurance agency means that you can shop between multiple carriers, looking for the best rates and coverage options. This is a great way to look for business insurance, as you are working with an unbiased party who can offer you bespoke advice and compare various deals from different insurance providers.
Insurance agencies also have the knowledge and expertise to explain different policies to you and explain why one policy may be more valuable than another despite not seeming so on the surface. Independent agencies are also likely to have experience working with other businesses in your industry, giving them a good idea of what kind of protections your business requires in order to operate safely and not go broke in the event of a claim.
If you’re looking for business insurance which is right for you and your industry, contact us today! We have years of experience in matching businesses with their perfect insurance policies, putting the busy minds of entrepreneurs at ease!
Being your own boss and starting a small business always sounds attractive as a prospect, but few people have the business acumen and work ethic necessary to make a small business survive in the long term. Many entrepreneurs fall into some common mistakes when starting out, and here we have highlighted a few of the most common!
One of the most essential aspects of business, and life in general, is meeting people. It doesn’t matter how independent you think you are – we always rely on other people to keep us going in our times of need. Networking is thus one of the easiest ways to meet future business partners and perhaps even secure major deals.
Having a subpar phone system
If your customers are subjected to a terrible phone system when they call you up, it’s more than likely that they’ll abandon your company in search of someone better-equipped with better customer service. When your company is new and small, you can’t afford to lose out on those initial customers – a decent phone experience can enhance their confidence in your company and see them singing your praises to other potential customers.
Not hiring an attorney
Contrary to popular belief, you should seek legal help from the inception of your business – not just when you’re facing legal troubles. Having an attorney on hand as you set up your business allows you to ensure that you aren’t making any mistakes which could land you in hot water down the road. Accidentally or unknowingly breaking federal/state laws when setting up your business could see it collapsing before it has even begun, something which no entrepreneur desires.
Not delegating tasks
You may feel the need to be a one-man-band and do everything yourself, but you should avoid doing this if possible. Once your staff is well-trained enough to deal with issues and operations, delegate tasks as appropriate, allowing yourself to relax from time to time. If you try to tackle an entire business’s problems by yourself, you’ll probably spread yourself too thin and do a poor job, perhaps even leading to a climactic burnout. Delegating tasks to your team shows that you trust their abilities, especially if the tasks are complex or important. Although it may be difficult to let go of your inner control freak at first, it’s an essential step of running a successful business as it grows.
Alas, not having adequate insurance protections in place could be catastrophic for a business of any size. Although larger companies may have backup funds at their disposal if really necessary, smaller businesses could be completely wiped out if they get taken by surprise and don’t have a decent insurance policy to back them up. Be sure to review your insurance policy and make sure that it reflects the ever-changing needs of your business.
If you’re a small business owner and you’re concerned about insuring your company’s future, get in touch with our team from a free consultation over the phone today!