Entries Tagged 'Commercial Insurance' ↓

Coverage Types Needed for Different Industries

One company manufactures golf balls. Another builds golf courses the balls are used on. These companies have very different needs. Despite their businesses being intertwined, the businesses’ needs vary greatly.

This is also reflected in what they should look for in insurance coverage, as not every company faces the same risks. For some companies, liability is a priority. For others, workers’ compensation is top of mind. While it’s essential that all companies carry insurance coverage, not every policy is the right fit for every company. Some common policies span industries, but each business’s unique priorities contribute to its insurance needs. Here’s a breakdown of the most common needs by industry:

Home and building services: If you offer home or other building services, it’s important to ensure you have commercial auto, workers’ compensation, property and liability insurance. You should have insurance coverage for tools and equipment.

Office: Companies that rely on offices have to protect their assets, employees and intellectual property. With a focus on Internet-necessary services, these companies place a premium on auto, workers’ compensation, property, liability and cybercrime insurance.

Manufacturing: In manufacturing, worker and consumer safety must be guaranteed; thus, liability is high. There are many moving parts, and they must all have proper insurance coverage. Manufacturers must require auto, product recall, property, workplace injury, workers’ compensation, liability and equipment failure insurance.

Education and nonprofits: Organizations that serve others need insurance. Business owners in this field should focus on workers’ compensation, counseling liability, auto, liability, property, and tuition and fees policies.

Retail stores: Retailers are at high risk when it comes to property, liability, commercial auto, and workers’ compensation claims, and they must secure coverage for these issues. Retail store owners should also secure coverage for income loss and crime in addition to business interruption insurance and protection against theft and fraud.

Religious organizations: For this industry that people rely on for crucial decisions, it’s important to cover any property involved and leadership as well. Religious organizations should obtain solid coverage in pastoral professional liability, business liability, business property and business crime insurance.

Hospitality: Business professionals in this industry have many different needs when it comes to insurance. It’s vital to obtain policies that provide business property insurance, business personal property insurance, workers’ compensation insurance and business liability insurance to properly insure your business and your guests.

Real estate: There are unique risks in the business of selling real estate. Make sure you’re covered by policies for business property insurance, business income insurance, sale and disposal liability insurance and rent guarantee insurance.

Restaurants: Your business model poses risks of employee injury and medical issues as well as fires and other accidents that result in property damage. For proper business coverage, it is recommended you obtain restaurant property insurance, restaurant liability insurance, restaurant crime insurance and workers’ compensation insurance.

As you can see, each business is unique, even within its own industry. Speak with our office today to determine the exact needs for your company and how we can help you.

The Ins and Outs of Certificates of Insurance

Certificates of insurance are often something you see required by contract but not something many people typically talk about. Below, we’ll detail what a certificate of insurance is, why you need one, when to ask for one and what one typically entails.

What is a certificate of insurance?

A certificate of insurance is a document from an insurance company demonstrating that you have a current business insurance policy.

Why do I need to provide a certificate of insurance?

A certificate of insurance shows proof that you have insurance, and some businesses or customers may request to see this proof before they consider working with you. Some may have that as a requirement or condition of doing business with them. Insurance protects your business from risks and can protect your clients and customers, too.

Why should you ask for a certificate of insurance?

Any informed client will ask their contractor or other business they work with for a certificate of insurance to make sure the right insurance with the necessary limits is in place for the work.

What should a typical certificate of insurance include?

A typical certificate of insurance should identify the person who has the policy (the “insured”), the mailing address, type of policy, policy limits, insurance company contact information, and additional insured, if there are any. Double-check the certificate matches the name of the company or person you’re working with, has the correct coverage (which will not expire before the work is completed), lists coverage amounts and is issued by an actual insurance company.

Whenever you need a certificate of insurance, we’re here for you. We can also help you review any certificates you receive and make sure they have what’s needed.

Your Business Insurance Review: What to Ask

Your business insurance is vital to ensuring that any potential losses or liabilities are covered if the worst happens. It is entirely too important to just scan quickly and pay when it comes to renewal time. It’s a good idea to review your business annually without the stress of impending expiration dates. Preparing for this annual review is one of the most important things you can do, as missing a crucial part of your coverage could cost thousands of dollars. Below are a few tips on what to ask for your business insurance review so you can save time and a potential future headache.

What do you need to protect?

Many parts of your business may change year after year: property values, equipment, machinery, technology, product lines, personnel, and the list goes on. These changes can all impact the types of insurance you need or the amount of coverage you need. Consider these categories.

Premises: Have you remodeled or made any additions? Have you added or taken away equipment?

Business personal property: Have you upgraded your computers, electronic equipment and other equipment that is vital for the functioning of your business? Do you have new office furniture?

Vehicles: Have you made any changes to your fleet?

Loss of income: Are you covered if your business suffers property damage and cannot operate temporarily?

Technology and data: Are you covered should your company suffer a cyberattack or breach of data?

What liabilities should you consider?

Any business runs the risk of lawsuits. It is crucial to review where your company may have potential exposures and ensure you have insurance policies to cover these. These questions may help you.

Products: Does your company sell, distribute or manufacture goods? You could be sued if you are any part of a chain of distribution.

Workplace injuries: Is your workers’ compensation adequate?

Professional liabilities: Do you have appropriate errors and omissions insurance to cover what is not included in your general liability insurance?

Catastrophic claims: Do you need an umbrella policy to cover unexpected events?

Can you save money on your premiums?

There may be opportunities to save, such as multiple policy discounts or new programs that may lower your insurance costs. When considering how much insurance to obtain, you should also think of your business and your personal financial situation. You may be able to make changes to your policy that will lower your premiums. If your financial situation is solid, you could consider having larger deductibles and lower your premium.

Time and effort are needed for your annual insurance review, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be complicated. We are here to help you along every step of the way. We can review the answers you uncovered and catch any questions that you may not have considered. We can help you look at the big picture and add or make changes to your policies to ensure your business is adequately protected. Call or email us today and we’ll get you set for your annual review.

Does Your Business Depend on a Supply Chain?

Supply chains are a vital part of many businesses that operate. Whether its sourcing parts and materials or reselling goods made in other countries, supply chains make the world go around.

But what happens when that supply chain is interrupted by a natural disaster or other unforeseen event that throws your business into chaos? Pointing fingers, blaming suppliers or transporters, or even trying to make alternate arrangements can cost lost credibility, time, money, and, most importantly, clients. Companies need protection against broken links in their supply chains. The right insurance can’t stop the chain from breaking, but it can stop the business from falling apart if it does.

There are two main coverage options: contingent business interruption insurance and supply chain insurance.

A contingent business interruption insurance policy reimburses lost profits and extra expenses caused by the interruption of someone else’s business. If you rely on one supplier to get you your materials, depend on one manufacturer for most of your merchandise or purchase the bulk of your products from one business, this may be the way to go. The policy is limited, though, in that it only provides coverage if your supply chain is interrupted due to physical property damage at a supplier’s business.

Broader coverage is offered by supply chain insurance. It too covers supply chain disruptions caused by property damage to your supplier’s business, but it can also cover road closures, political upheaval, regulatory action, financial issues, public health emergencies, natural disasters, industrial accidents, riots and labor issues.

If you have any confusion about these policies, please call or email us today. We will look at your options and guide you to the best policy for you based on the supply chain that serves you. We’re always here to help and make sure you have the coverage that’s right for you.

Who Should Consider Contractor’s Insurance?

As a business owner, you need to have all your bases covered to protect your company. When it comes to insurance, this might mean establishing a contractor’s insurance policy. Here are the FAQs to help you determine whether this coverage is right for you.

What is contractor’s insurance? This coverage protects your business from obligations resulting from work-related incidents. If your business is threatened by lawsuits or other liabilities, contractor’s insurance can shelter you from these costs.

What is provided by contractor’s insurance? Basic business liability, worker’s compensation, and commercial automotive coverage may be included with contractor’s insurance. Typically, these policies can also be tailored to meet the unique needs of your business. You may need coverage for mobile equipment, personal property, materials that are being installed, or post-project claims.

Who needs contractor’s insurance? A wide range of professionals can benefit from contractor’s insurance. These include independent tradesmen, subcontractors, and contractors. Trades that most often need contractor’s insurance include construction, plumbing, carpentry, landscaping, painting, electrical, HVAC, masonry, and flooring.

How much does contractor’s insurance cost? Premiums for contractor’s insurance vary by policy. The type of work that you do and the risks you encounter determine the rate. It’s important to customize your coverage to match your specific business. Reach out to our office to review the needs of your business and receive a personalized quote. 

Whatever your industry, the cost of not having contractor’s insurance can easily outweigh the cost of coverage.

Rented and Personal Vehicles: Are Your Risks Covered?

Are you familiar with hired and non-owned auto (HNOA) insurance? If your business involves vehicle use in any way, this coverage could be crucial for your operations. Here are the FAQs.

What is HNOA insurance?

Hired and non-owned auto insurance provides coverage if an employee uses a personal or rented vehicle for business purposes. 

If an employee in these circumstances is in an accident, the company for which they were driving could be held liable for damages. HNOA insurance covers this liability.

Who needs HNOA insurance?

Business owners may assume that if their employees don’t use company vehicles, they don’t have to worry about insurance coverage. This isn’t necessarily true. 

The employee’s personal insurance may not always cover the full liability, in which case the litigators may go after the business for which the employee was driving at the time. This makes it important for any business with exposure to this risk to maintain HNOA insurance. 

While HNOA insurance is most commonly associated with food delivery tasks, the need for HNOA goes beyond pizza and sandwich delivery. Home health care providers, consultants, contractors, and anyone else who uses their own vehicles or rented vehicles for business-related tasks or travel have HNOA exposure. 

Of course, a company with a fleet of inexperienced teens delivering dinners will have a higher risk than a small business with two professionals who attend occasional client meetings. Still, the risk is there, and it should be addressed.

What can business owners do to reduce HNOA exposure?

To reduce their risk, business owners can take several steps. First, they can conduct motor vehicle record checks on employees. This task can be completed twice a year to monitor employee driving. Second, business owners can establish guidelines for who is considered an acceptable driver. The employer can use driving experience, age, and driving records as parameters to set these guidelines. 

Modern technology allows for a third method that could be worthwhile for some businesses. This solution is telematics. Using this technology, an employer can monitor the activity of a vehicle and the driver’s performance. The data will reveal whether drivers speed, how they brake, and other information that can be helpful in determining risk. Because they are being monitored, employees may make greater effort to drive safely. Employers can also create reward programs based on telematics data to further incentivize safe driving among employees.

Is HNOA coverage provided by a standard commercial auto insurance policy?

Business owners who have a commercial auto insurance policy may or may not be covered for HNOA situations. Previously, this coverage was often a standard part of commercial auto policies, but the rising frequency and cost of litigation have forced many providers to make it a separate policy. Business owners should check with their carriers to see what coverage is included and what is available.

What’s the next step?

If you’re unsure about your HNOA exposure and insurance needs, contact our office. We can provide a quick review of your policies and risks and make sure you have appropriate coverage.

Top 10 Small-Business Insurance Claims

There’s a common mentality among insurance policy holders: “It’s a fail-safe, but I probably won’t need it.” Perhaps it’s denial, or perhaps it’s part of a natural self-preservation mentality. For whatever reason, many assume insurance is “for the other guy.” Someone else may need to make a claim someday, but I probably won’t.

While it’s good to take steps to reduce the likelihood of claims, it’s also good to know that many small businesses do indeed rely on their insurance coverage for incidents. In fact, a study by financial services company The Hartford revealed that 40% of small businesses incur property or liability losses each 10-year period. What types of losses are businesses experiencing? Here are the top 10 insurance claims they make (and some tips on how to avoid them).

1. Theft: The top reason for small- business claims is burglary and theft. Some of these crimes are committed by outsiders. Others are the result of dishonest employee activity. Strong, consistent security measures and employee accountability can reduce the chances of these claims.

2. Water: Coming in second is damage caused by water from roof leaks, snow, ice, and frozen pipes. To minimize the risk of water damage, inspect roofing and plumbing features and perform maintenance regularly.

3. Wind: Hail and wind damage are frequent culprits when it comes to small-business damage. These elements can destroy equipment, buildings, and commercial vehicles. To protect assets, store vehicles and equipment indoors as much as possible.

4. Fire: Don’t underestimate the destructiveness of this force. Fire can cause major property damage and even wipe out a business. Always follow fire safety guidelines to ensure warning, extinguishing, and evacuation measures are up to date and fully operational.

5. Accidents: Customer slips and falls take the number five slot. Some businesses are more vulnerable to this risk than others. To minimize risk, keep interior and exterior walkways free of ice, water, debris, and damage.

6. Injuries/Damage: In addition to slips and falls, customers sometimes sustain other injuries or damage to their property. Establish protocols for creating a safe environment to reduce the chances of these occurrences.

7. Liability: Businesses that sell products run the risk of product liability claims. Perform proper testing before releasing anything to the public. Ensure consumer warnings and warranties are worded appropriately.

8. Objects: Some claims are the result of injuries caused by moving objects. Customers or employees may be struck by falling products, mobile equipment, or vehicles. Again, solid safety protocols can help keep your work environment accident-free.

9. Libel: A third party may sue a business for reputational harm. These claims resulting from libel and slander suits don’t account for a huge proportion of claims, but they still make the top 10. Businesses should use caution when mentioning anyone in media reports or marketing efforts in order to reduce the likelihood of libel claims.

10. Vehicles: Auto accidents complete the list of top small-business claims. To prevent these, small-business owners can enact a vehicle safety program. Proper training and qualifications for commercial vehicle operators is key. Is your business prepared for these incidents? Do you have the appropriate policies in place? If you’re unsure, contact your insurance provider to review your policies and make sure your company is covered.

General Liability vs. Professional Liability: The Difference?

Business professionals bear the burden of responsibility in two distinct arenas: general liability and professional liability. Both types of coverage are necessary to secure sufficient protection for your business. Here’s the difference:

General liability offers protection against costs associated with property damage, medical expenses, settlements, and slander.

For example, if a customer comes into your store, slips, falls, and sues your business for his medical costs, your general liability insurance will pay for these expenses. Another general liability situation would be a contractor who causes damage to a client’s home and is sued for repair costs.

Professional liability protects your business against claims that you did not do your job properly. In other words, any time you offer a professional opinion or perform a duty, you are professionally liable for the results and are vulnerable to lawsuits.

For example, an accountant who offers tax advice might be sued by a client who loses money after taking that advice. Another company might be sued after failing to file important documents appropriately.

Professional liability insurance is also called Malpractice Insurance and Errors and Omissions Insurance. When business owners hear these terms, they may assume this coverage is necessary only for doctors and similar professions. However, even an honest clerical mistake can be considered an error in professional services and result in a lawsuit.

To fully protect your business, consider holding both types of policies. My office can help you determine the coverage that is best for your operations.

Workplace Injuries: First Five Steps

An accident occurs at your place of business. Your employee is injured. What should you do first?

Your choice of response can take the situation in entirely different directions. Simple slips and falls can result in clear-cut claims or costly lawsuits. With the proper plan in place, you can achieve the former and avoid the latter.

If one of your employees suffers an injury, take the following initial steps to move the situation in the right direction.

1. Prepare: This step should already be completed before any injury occurs. It’s essential to have a plan in place for workplace injuries.

Your plan should be a written document that is posted for all employees to follow. Provide training to ensure everyone knows what protocols to follow in the case of an accident.

2. Examine: Assess the injury immediately. What type of injury is it? How serious is it? If you have any staff members trained in first aid, involve them in this initial examination.

For severe injuries, enlist the help of emergency medical professionals. For non-emergencies, speak with your employee about what medical care he or she may need in the immediate future, and decide on next steps.

3. Document: The incident should be well-documented. Remember that workplace injury plan you developed? You should have the proper forms readily available, and complete them right away.

Submit these to the appropriate parties, such as your insurance provider. Ensure proper forms are also provided for the employee’s doctor. The physician may need return-to-work authorization forms or temporary work restriction forms. This makes the process go more smoothly and keeps you, the employee, the insurance carrier, and the doctor on the same page.

4. Treat: Make sure your employee gets the medical attention he or she needs. An immediate visit to a clinic or an occupational health doctor will help establish the nature and extent of the injuries.

A delay can result in unnecessary complications, both physically and financially. Because of this, it can be helpful to establish an ongoing relationship with a specific medical facility or physician to handle any and all workplace injuries at your business.

The medical provider can have all your standard forms on file and remain familiar with your incident protocols. This relationship can help streamline the process for both you and the injured employee.

5. Follow up: Let the employee know you care about his or her welfare. Follow up to find out how the doctor visit went. Ask how your employee is feeling. Remove your boss hat for a moment and simply offer person-to-person concern.

Then, replace that employer cap and work with your employee to develop a return-to-work plan. Find out what else, if anything, the person needs from you to facilitate a full recovery.

Workplace injuries are never welcome, but following these crucial steps can make them less disastrous and keep the experience as positive as possible for all parties involved.

Your insurance agent can provide additional assistance with this process. With in-depth knowledge of workers’ compensation claims, your agent is an invaluable resource you should not hesitate to tap in these situations.

Take a Bite Out of Crime (and Your Insurance Premium)

Listing every potential crime that could occur against your business would be a daunting task. Small-business owners face risks from employee crime, nonemployee crime, and cybercrime. Any of these could result in claims that cause your premium to rise.

The good news is, you are not helpless against these crimes. There are effective steps you can take to keep your workplace protected against each type of crime. Putting these safeguards in place will prevent loss, injury, and increased costs. Help keep your business crime-free with the following tips:

Prevent Employee Crime

  • Vet your people: It may involve a lot of legwork, but it’s worth checking into the people you hire. Contact references and perform background checks for any potential employees. Be sure you are hiring trustworthy people.
  • Avoid violence: Do you have a written workplace violence-prevention policy? If not, develop a comprehensive plan that covers the consequences of committing acts of violence in the workplace and procedures to follow if such an event should occur.
  • Require audits: Reduce the opportunity for internal theft by requiring audits for all employees who handle invoicing, receipts, or payroll. These regular audits require extra effort, but the accountability can help prevent major losses.
  • Establish safety: Ensure every employee is properly trained on safety procedures and is aware of all company policies. Business owners who do not meet OSHA standards run the risk of breaking laws regarding safety regulations. Avoid penalty fees and lawsuits by remaining in compliance with all standards.

Prevent Nonemployee Crime

  • Use surveillance: Keep all areas of your business in sight. Use security personnel, mirrors, or surveillance cameras. Encourage employees to engage customers. A vigilant eye is helpful to protect your assets and avoid theft claims.
  • Install security: Apply physical security measures at your business. Install quality locks or a company-wide security system. Limit access to high-risk areas.
  • Light the way: Dark areas invite dark deeds. Ensure all areas of the property are well-lit. Add exterior lighting if none is present. Change all burned-out bulbs right away. Keep things bright and welcoming for employees and customers, and uninviting for crime.

Prevent Cybercrime

  • Back it up: Keep backup copies of all records either on additional storage devices or off-site. A loss of data could mean anything from a minor setback to a major cost. A large breach can spell disaster for a small company.
  • Monitor access: Limit the number of employees who can access all company information. Be especially prudent about access to finances and personal client information.
  • Be software smart: Use strong passwords and proper firewalls to protect your data. Remain current on software updates to keep defenses strong. Change passwords regularly. Negligence in these procedures can prove costly.

As you make these efforts, you will make your company safer, more inviting, and more cost-effective.