Entries Tagged 'Sign Of The Times' ↓

Car Sharing and Auto Insurance: What You Need to Know

More and more car owners are looking to their vehicles as sources of potential income. The family sedan is no longer simply a tool to get to work, and it does more than deliver pizzas.

Peer-to-peer car-sharing services have made it possible to “rent” a personal vehicle to other drivers who are seeking transportation. If you don’t drive your car every day, this can be a fairly simple way to earn a little extra cash.

However, there are a few important considerations to keep in mind regarding car sharing and auto insurance. Using your vehicle in this way can greatly affect your coverage.

First, your policy may not cover your vehicle while it is being driven by other people under a car-sharing agreement.

Your carrier doesn’t have any information about who is driving your car or their driving record, so the coverage cannot extend to them. If someone is in an accident or your car is stolen while he or she is using it, you may not have coverage.

Second, you are making money with this arrangement. This puts your vehicle use into a business category, rather than personal. Again, this might negate coverage from your personal policy.

Due to these circumstances, car-sharing services typically offer their own auto insurance.

If you’re considering offering your vehicle for peer-to-peer car sharing, first consult with my office.

Someone here can advise you about your coverage and help you determine if this is a viable option for the use of your vehicle.

Protect Your Rep or it Could End Up Costing You

How can business owners best protect their companies? You may have heard the most common small business claim is theft. This is true, but it’s not the most costly one. Reputational harm claims top this list. These claims include libel, slander, and violation of privacy.

The average cost for these claims is $50,000. If the claim involves a lawsuit, the price skyrockets. Costs to defend and settle the suit raise the average cost for these types of claims to more than $750,000. Typically, around one-third of all general liability claims result in a lawsuit. For small businesses without proper coverage, these suits can prove devastating.

Of course, the preferred solution is to avoid these claims altogether. To protect your business from reputational harm claims, take the following precautions.

Ask permission, not forgiveness. Would you like to post photos on your website or use them in your marketing materials? Do you plan to use a quote or other content for your next marketing campaign? Before you launch your initiative or post your social media blast, get permission to use these items. Copyright and privacy suits can prove costly. Obtain written permission to avoid reputational harm claims. Additionally, ensure all employees are aware of your permission policies.

If you can’t say something nice… Cutthroat competition can make criticizing competitors a tempting tactic. Don’t do it. When speaking publicly or with customers, avoid criticizing competitors. If you never say anything negative about them, they will not have any ammo to use for a slander suit.

Do I Need Extra Insurance for Exterior Rebuilds?

You’re planning your next remodeling project. Perhaps you’re expanding your home to enjoy more living space. Maybe you’re replacing the 1990s siding. Whether your project is a minor exterior renovation or major roofing repair, it’s important the work is properly insured. This may or may not involve the purchase of additional insurance.

In dealing with a contractor: If you are planning to hire a contractor to perform the work, protect yourself and your property with proper coverage. For example:

  • Ask for proof of insurance. Examine dates and coverage carefully to ensure coverage is current and legitimate.
  • Ask to have your name added in writing as an additional insured on the contractor’s liability policy. Some contractors offer this free, but you may have to pay a small fee for this service.
  • Make sure the contractor’s insurance coverage includes workers’ compensation. You don’t want to have to pay for injuries occurring to contract workers on your property.

By placing yourself as an additional insured on your contractor’s policy, you’re also covering the gray areas that include situations such as a roofer’s ladder falling over and damaging your neighbor’s property. The additional-insured documentation should protect you in these types of third-party cases.

For major projects, such as additions or new homes, you might want to consider purchasing temporary builders risk insurance. This will cover mishaps during construction.

Contact your insurance agent: Whatever type of project you’re planning, contact your insurance agent early in the process. Your agent can advise you on the best type of coverage to add. He or she can also make the proper adjustments to the value of your home.

If you are building an addition, for example, your home will be worth more than when your homeowners policy was originally written. Communicate with your agent to ensure you have appropriate coverage based on the new value of the property.

How to Enjoy a Claim-Free Holiday Season

No one puts “insurance claim” on their holiday wish list. Most would rate this item right below a lump of coal. Yet, due to a lack of safety measures, this is what many people get.

Accidents and fires related to decorations are fairly common during the holiday season, but they are avoidable with the proper precautions. Avoid holiday hazards and enjoy a claim-free season with these tips:

Trim the tree with care: Will you be using a real tree? Keep it stable and hydrated with a large, non-tipping tree stand that holds water. Place the tree away from heating ducts, doorways, and busy areas. Well-placed and well-watered, your tree will stay fire- and accident-free for the season.

Keep your cords nice, not naughty: Exercise caution when working with electricity. Don’t overload your outlets. Use extension cords sparingly. Check flickering lights. Immediately replace those with loose connections or corroded sockets.

Be cautious with candles: Candles add ambiance and appeal to your space, but they can also cause devastation. Keep them away from flammable materials. Never leave them burning unattended. If you don’t want to worry about extinguishing candles before leaving or going to bed, consider using the flameless ones this year.

Don’t fall for outdoor lighting: Yes, your roofline may look great with perfectly strung lights, but don’t risk your life to get them up there. Use proper safety measures and products designed for outdoor use.

Take the time to do décor right. Be happy, healthy, and, most of all, wise this holiday season.

Guess Which Holiday Tops the Fire Claims List?

That’s right. Thanksgiving is the number one fire insurance claim day; claims are typically twice that of any other day in November.

Most Thanksgiving fires boil down to cooking error; unattended stovetops and grease fires top the list. But there is good news: most of these fires are preventable, and all of them can be covered by insurance. To create a safe atmosphere for your holiday gathering, take the following steps:

Don’t get distracted: Many Thanksgiving Day fires occur because the cooks get distracted. Family time, football, and festivities pull them away from the kitchen, and the unattended food goes up in flames. Keep a close eye on anything currently “under fire.”

Put a lid on it: If you experience a grease fire, don’t try to put it out with water. While cooking, keep a lid nearby to smother the fire. Slide the lid over the pan, and turn off the element.

Don’t try to fry: Many hosts want to impress their guests with a deep-fried turkey. It might taste good, but it may not be worth the risky process. If you do go this route, fry the turkey outdoors, away from buildings and trees; carefully determine how much oil you need; and never leave it unattended.

Insure your holiday: Homeowners insurance typically covers your home and its contents if they are damaged by fire. If you aren’t sure what your policy covers, or what the limits are, now’s a good time to review your policy with my office

And have a safe Thanksgiving!

‘I Only Sell Online. Why Do I Need Insurance?’

There’s an easy - and important - answer to this question. The truth is, online entrepreneurs need protection just as much as traditional brick-and-mortar (B&M) businesses. Specific coverage will vary somewhat, but commercial insurance is still a must. Here’s why:

  • Your physical assets, whether inventory or equipment, still need protection.
  • You are not immune to lawsuits simply because you never see your customers in person.
  • You may suffer cyberattacks that cripple your business.

With this in mind, online business owners should discuss with their insurance agent what types of insurance coverage are appropriate for their operations. And soon.

Typically, online business owners should carry:

Commercial property insurance: Many home-based business owners assume their homeowners policy will cover their business assets. This is generally not the case. For proper protection of inventory, tools, materials, or equipment, you should have a commercial property insurance policy. This will provide coverage in case of theft or damage. Without it, one storm or one criminal could bankrupt your operations.

Commercial liability insurance: What happens if a customer sues you? Any lawsuit related to your business operations will not be covered by your homeowners policy. You need commercial liability insurance to provide coverage for the settlement and your defense costs. Even if you win the case, attorney fees add up quickly. Some companies are more likely to be sued than others, but anyone who provides a service or a product (either online or via B&M) is vulnerable.

Cyber liability insurance: Internet security is essential in today’s online marketplace. Even with the best protocols in place, you are still at risk. If your system is hacked, you may lose sensitive information about your business and your clients. You may suffer costly downtime. And it may impact your customers as well. With so much at stake, you can’t afford not to have cyber coverage.

Workers’ compensation: Do you have employees? Even if they don’t work in a B&M location, both full- and part-time employees must have workers’ compensation coverage. Consult with your insurance agent on exactly what coverage you need based on your operations and employee responsibilities.

Professional liability insurance: Those who don’t sell a product can still get sued. If advice provided in a consultation causes harm, or is perceived to have caused harm, you might get sued. This policy will cover you in these potentially costly cases.

Products liability insurance: This coverage is only needed by those who sell a product rather than a service. Even if you believe your product is completely benign, it’s a good idea to have coverage in place. You might be surprised at how children (or even adults) can hurt themselves. As they say: Better safe than sorry.

Loss of income: Do you have a backup plan for a business interruption? Loss of income insurance offers coverage if your online business ceases due to a fire or other covered disaster. With it in place, you can bridge the gap and get things flowing again. Without it, you might be up the creek without a paddle.

Travel Insurance Is Crucial for Those 50+

In today’s uncertain world, a health travel insurance policy makes more sense than ever. But if you’re over 50, you definitely need to consider purchasing it before setting out abroad or on a cruise. Injuries and illnesses arise during travel, and ensuring you have the proper medical coverage to meet your needs is crucial.

New situations, different terrain, and riskier activities, such as parasailing or hiking excursions, can contribute to injuries, particular for older travelers. Even driving in a strange country can be a problem for many.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle crashes are the top cause of death of U.S. citizens abroad.

Medicare and Medigap

If you have Medicare, your coverage applies in the U.S. wherever practitioners accept it. But if you have a Medicare or Medigap supplement, check with your supplemental insurer on overseas coverage. The Medicare.gov website offers travel coverage advice, and warns that Medigap policies have a lifetime travel emergency coverage limit of $50,000.

Evacuation and repatriation coverage

The best way to ensure you have the broadest coverage overseas is with a travel insurance policy. For example, travel insurance provides emergency evacuation and repatriation. If injured overseas, you (and your spouse) may want to return home for treatment and recuperation. This coverage goes beyond transporting you after an injury or illness. It includes advice, coordination of admission to a local facility, medical air transport and escort when needed, and ground transportation coordination at both ends of an evacuation; it also smooths immigration and flight clearances and assists with travel arrangements.

While some travel policies cover both medical and repatriation, you still may require two policies. Also, although some insurers offer coverage for a single trip, if you make frequent trips in the same year, an annual plan may be the best choice for you. Snowbirds in particular may benefit from this type of plan.

New Season, New Insurance Needs?

Fall is a time for getting your ducks in a row and preparing for the future. As summer comes to a close, assess whether your insurance needs have changed. Review them by answering these questions:

Has your family changed? If you got married this summer, you may qualify for a discount on your auto policy. If you combined households, you may need to update your homeowners policy. If you’re newly divorced, be sure to update all your policies. If you had a baby, review your life insurance coverage to determine whether any changes are needed.

Did your household add or lose drivers? If your teen just acquired a drivers’ license, it’s typically cheaper if you add him or her to your policy than it is for the new driver to get a separate policy. Plus, you’ll likely receive a multi-policy discount. If your child has left the nest for college, you can usually adjust your policy to reduce coverage.

Have you renovated? Review any home projects you completed. Home additions or upgrades can drastically increase the value of your property. Consult with your agent to determine if your homeowners insurance is still adequate. Don’t forget to include structures you added to the outside of your home, such as gazebos or pools.

Are you now a renter or a landlord? If you’ve moved into a new rental, or if you’ve become a new landlord, be sure you have the right policies in place. As a tenant, you need renters insurance to cover your belongings, even if the owner has coverage for the building. As a landlord, ensure both property and liability coverages are adequate.

Did you retire? A major reduction in commute time could translate into a significant reduction in auto insurance premiums. Plus, your senior status may qualify you for a 55+ discount.

Report any of these life changes to your agent as soon as possible, and don’t take the chance of being underinsured.

Summer’s Ending but Summer ‘Toys’ Still Need Protection

Summer is a time for toys! Warmer weather means afternoons on the water and evenings cruising in your convertible. Summer invites everyone to pull out classic cars, jet skis, or speedboats.

In warmer states these can be year-round vehicles, but if you use them infrequently in winter, it’s easy to overlook the need for insurance during the off season. Many vehicle owners are unaware of the requirements as well as the options available for boats and summer cars. Here’s the scoop:

Boat insurance: Small watercraft such as canoes and kayaks are typically covered under your personal property through your homeowners insurance. But larger motorized water vehicles such as wave runners, yachts, and speedboats require a separate policy. Boat insurance typically covers bodily injury and medical payments. And while you may not need this coverage after you dock for the season, boat insurance also covers property damage and theft. This is crucial for protecting your boat in storage, so don’t terminate that policy when Labor Day rolls around.

Summer car insurance: If you know you won’t be driving a car once summer has ended, you may be eligible for a reduced rate while your vehicle is in storage. Don’t cancel your insurance entirely; you’ll want to maintain basic coverage, as your vehicle remains at risk for damage when in storage. In fact, this may be required by law in some areas. Ask my office about reducing collision or comprehensive coverage, but be sure to maintain coverage for damage due to storm, fire, or theft.

FAQs on Employee Benefits Liability Coverage

A good benefits package can enhance your business by attracting employees and retaining current staff. But there’s a downside: errors in the administration of benefits can result in lawsuits against your company. If this happens, your employee benefits liability (EBL) policy will kick in. How? Here are some FAQs on this important coverage.

What is employee benefits liability coverage? Employee benefits liability insurance protects your company against suits that result from administrative errors. If someone managing your employee benefits makes a mistake and this error results in a lawsuit, EBL protects you from the associated costs. These types of suits are not covered by general liability policies, making this additional coverage a very important add-on; EBL coverage is typically added to your general liability policy as an endorsement.

What kinds of mistakes? Employee benefits packages can be extremely complex. From life insurance policies to maternity leave, these benefits involve minute details and significant administration. When an error is made, affected employees can suffer major financial losses. EBL is available to cover these situations, including:

  • Descriptions of benefits and eligibility. When explaining coverage to your employees, you or your benefits manager may convey incorrect information, and the employees are more than likely to make benefits choices based on this erroneous info. This decision could cost them down the road, and they may hold you liable for their financial burden. If a lawsuit is filed because of your error, EBL has you covered.
  • Losses of electronic and/or paper records. Maintaining records of all benefit information is essential. If your HR department accidentally loses a benefit file, the loss could prove costly. If your employee suffers because this information is missing and sues you, your EBL insurance covers the costs.
  • Enrollment, maintenance, and termination of employees and beneficiaries. If your benefit packages are complex, it can be easy to miss a detail. One mistake on a form could omit an employee’s beneficiary from that person’s plan. Mistakes such as these are covered by EBL insurance.

What plans are covered? EBL offers coverage for a full range of benefits. These include insurance benefits, financial benefits, disability and worker’s compensation benefits, and other fringe benefits such as tuition reimbursement and maternity leave.

Who needs EBL insurance? If your staff includes a large number of employees and you offer a full benefits package, it’s wise to have this policy in place. If you have few workers and offer few benefits, you may not need it, although it’s always wise to check.

As the goal is to provide coverage against large claims by employees or their dependents should they suffer financial loss due to your mismanagement of their benefits, the size of your risk will determine the coverage required. When in doubt, discuss EBL coverage with your agent, who will help you review your insurance policies and decide whether EBL coverage is necessary for your business.

Mistakes happen. If they do, EBL can provide you with peace of mind. And it may prevent the unthinkable: a suit that will sink your company.