5 days ago ·
by Mrs. Mapp ·
Your property is in shambles. As you survey the damage, your heart sinks. You feel overwhelmed with the amount of work it will take to restore your business.
Where do you start?
It’s at this emotional low point that unscrupulous con artists often swoop in. Knowing you aren’t thinking clearly and may be a good target for a scam, these individuals and companies take advantage of your disastrous situation.
To avoid becoming their next victim, take the following steps.
Learn to recognize a scam. A common post-disaster scam involves convincing property owners that they must pay a large deposit before any work can begin. Desperate to get started, a property owner turns over the sum.
The scammer may start the job, but disappears before finishing it. Contractors who rush the process, demand unreasonable up-front funds, or otherwise attempt to make fast cash are likely trying to scam you.
Work with professionals. In a disaster situation, it may be tempting to work with the first person you encounter. Don’t skip the important step of vetting any contractor you consider.
Investigate their track record. Check references. Read reviews. Call the Better Business Bureau. Do not give any business a deposit until you are confident they are worthy of your trust.
Be cautious about temporary repairs. Consider it a red flag if a contractor wants you to spend significant funds on temporary repairs. Most temporary repairs can be made by the property owner.
Spending a lot on these repairs may result in a lack of funds to pay for permanent repairs. Consult with your insurance agent to determine what you can and should do yourself.
Close the door on door-to-door solicitors. Legitimate adjusters, attorneys, and contractors aren’t likely to go door to door soliciting business. Those who do are often looking to pull a quick scam.
Don’t give in to pressure or scare tactics. Before you hire anyone to handle your claim, do your research and make an informed decision.
Consult with your insurance provider. Often, you don’t need a public adjuster or an attorney to handle your claim. Keep in mind, you will probably have to pay a public adjuster 15% of your settlement, and attorneys charge as much as 30% of your settlement. Instead, go directly to your insurance company.
You may be able to settle your claim directly, without involving these costly third parties. Your agent can help you navigate the process, and will often provide an adjuster at no charge.
Your carrier can also help you find reputable service providers. It can recommend contractors with a proven track record whom you can trust.
Establish coverage in advance. Of course, the best way to prepare for disasters is to ensure you have appropriate policies in place before they strike. Contact your insurance provider to review your policies. Determine whether you have the appropriate coverage, and make any changes necessary to maintain suitable coverage for your current needs.
By partnering with your insurance agent, you can make sure any future disaster recovery is as smooth as possible.
1 month ago ·
by Mrs. Mapp ·
Life insurance is easy to forget when you don’t need it.
As you near retirement, it might be a good time to reevaluate your needs. Is your old policy — possibly purchased decades ago — still serving a purpose?
Life insurance is important as we start our adult lives — get married, buy homes, have children. That’s because we want to provide for our loved ones should a tragic accident or illness prohibit us from providing financial assistance.
But then life goes on. Our children grow up. We pay off our mortgages. We retire, and we’re living (hopefully) comfortable lives provided by our Social Security income and retirement savings. But we have these old life-insurance policies, and we’re still paying premiums for them. What should we do?
One option is to simply stop paying premiums and let the policy lapse. The money you paid in premiums could be used in a number of other ways that are more beneficial given your current life circumstances.
For example, you could use the proceeds to pay down any debt you have. You could use the money to add to your nest egg, investing it in a manner that will, hopefully, grow over time.
Or you could invest it in long-term care insurance (or a dedicated “rainy day” fund to be used for long-term expenses, should you need them as you age).
Of course, the policy may still benefit you. Just because you have no children living at home doesn’t mean you don’t need life insurance. Think of all the ways the people in your life could be affected by your death, and ask yourself how your life-insurance proceeds would help them.
If you can come up with enough ways, it might be worth keeping your policy in effect and reevaluating in another one to five years.
3 months ago ·
by Mrs. Mapp ·
One bed was too small. One was too big. Goldilocks didn’t rest until she found just the right size.
It’s crucial that you do the same for your commercial insurance coverage. A variety of policies are available, and yours should be customized to suit the needs of your business. These needs are different depending on whether your business is home-based, small, medium, or large. Your agent can walk you through the many options to determine what is best for your company. Use the following overview to get started.
These companies are based out of the owner’s home and typically have zero to one additional employee on the payroll. This scenario is extremely common, as many businesses start out this way. Often, the business enjoys success, grows, and relocates to a commercial setting.
In the meantime, it’s important to have appropriate insurance coverage while the business is in the home. Too often, owners assume their homeowner’s policy will cover their home-based business. This coverage may offer some protection, but it will not necessarily provide the full coverage you need. It’s important to discuss the operations of your business with your agent to determine whether you need additional limits or a commercial policy.
A small business is loosely defined as one that employs fewer than 100 personnel and generates annual revenue of less than $5 million.
If this describes your business, you probably qualify for a BOP. This “business owner’s policy” combines several policies. It offers the basic coverages you need as a small business owner in one convenient policy. A BOP generally includes property insurance, general liability insurance, and business interruption insurance. Additional options are available to customize the policy further for your specific needs. This BOP provides adequate protection at an affordable rate.
If your business has outgrown baby-bear size but hasn’t reached papa-bear status, you are running a medium-sized business. This sized company typically employs more than 100 but less than 1,000 staff and earns annual revenues between $10 million and $1 billion.
Because your needs are different than those of small or large businesses, insurance providers generally offer specialized policies for medium-sized business. You may still be able to combine your property and liability coverage, but you may also need extended coverage for equipment or multiple locations. Your agent can review the specifics of your business to customize a policy that offers just the right coverage for your company’s needs.
Most businesses that have more than 500 employees are considered large businesses. Their revenues vary based on the type of business. What they have in common are multimillion-dollar risks. Many have risk management professionals on staff to assess these risks and develop plans to minimize them. An insurance professional can also assist with this task.
Large businesses often require multiple policies, and coverage must be tailored to the industry. Industry leaders often have greater liability risk. Factory-based businesses may have greater personal injury risk. Your insurance agent can customize your coverage to ensure your business has the protection it needs.
4 months ago ·
by Mrs. Mapp ·
Listing every potential crime that could occur in 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 practical 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 utilizing 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 reviews for all employees who handle invoicing, receipts, or payroll. These regular audits require extra effort, but the accountability can help prevent significant 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 rules.
Prevent Nonemployee Crime
- Use surveillance: Keep all areas of your business insight. 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 to 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 a crime.
- 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 significant cost. A significant 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.
6 months ago ·
by Mrs. Mapp ·
Spring Cleaning in your business= review your commercial insurance policy today!
Spring cleaning isn’t just for homeowners. It’s also a good time to review your commercial property to check for seasonal damage, do necessary cleanup, and deal with maintenance issues. A well-maintained building can keep costs down and insurance claims lower.
Here are some tasks to tackle this spring cleaning:
Review the roof: Overlooked issues can lead to leaks and expensive repairs, and seasonal storms and general wear and tear can take their toll. Give your roof a once-over each spring, and make repairs while they’re still manageable.
Explore the exterior: Examine the walls of your building. Is it time for new siding? Is your foundation cracked or crumbling? Make touch-ups as needed to keep your property in top shape. This will help you save money, keep your building looking sharp, and reflect well on your image.
Gut the gutters: If gutters get clogged, they can’t do their job, and your property may suffer water damage. Before the spring rains, make sure your gutters are ready. Clean them out, and replace any loose or broken pieces.
Test your terrain: Spring is a good time to plan landscaping projects for the year. Is your terrain properly graded to divert water away from the building? Do you need to trim trees away from your roofline? Take some time to evaluate your property and schedule any necessary projects.
Secure your safety: Evaluate your property for potential liability issues. Ensure walkways are smooth. Replace loose railings. Inspect electrical systems for safety concerns. These simple steps could prevent lawsuits.
7 months ago ·
by Mrs. Mapp ·
It’s important to understand the crucial connection between your employee handbook and your insurance. In fact, you can think of your employee handbook as a fundamental part of your insurance coverage. Essentially, insurance is much of what the book represents, since one of the top priorities as you create your employee handbook should be to protect yourself against costly lawsuits.
Yes, you provide the handbook to deliver information to employees and help onboard them, but the information is provided to help you as well. You can include fun facts about the history of the business and contest records from company picnics, but don’t leave out the nitty-gritty information that is essential to your operations.
The handbook should clearly spell out expectations in all areas of employment, offering guidelines you can refer to if an employee accuses you of unfair treatment. If a situation escalates into a discrimination lawsuit, you have the handbook to fall back on as proof you fully disclosed your policies and properly handled the situation.
Without these disclosures and guidelines, employers put themselves at greater risk of costly lawsuits. To give your business the best protection, create a thorough handbook that covers all the bases.
Be sure to include:
Equal opportunity statement: This assures employees that you do not discriminate with regards to gender, religion, disability, etc. Therefore, it helps cover your company’s liability on a host of fronts.
At-will statement: This statement informs employees that their employment with your company is voluntary and subject to termination at will, with or without cause, and with or without notice. This will help cover many situations that could otherwise escalate into lawsuits.
Hiring and firing: Provide the details of your hiring process as well as the process for firing an employee.
Discipline: Provide an outline for disciplinary action. What happens after a first offense, second, and so on? Clearly detail what steps will be taken to correct employee behavior and at what point you will terminate.
Job descriptions: Clearly describe the expectations of each position and the skills required to meet them.
Attendance policies: Specify expectations of attendance, including hours if appropriate. Note the action that will be taken if attendance does not meet these standards.
Complaints: Inform employees of the correct procedure to follow if they need to file a complaint against a fellow worker, a manager, or the company. Let employees know what they can expect as a response.
Open-door policy: Let employees know they can report harassment, violations, or other situations without fear of reprisal. Outline the proper procedures for these actions. Make sure employees know clearly what to do if they experience a situation such as sexual harassment in the workplace.
Zero tolerance policy: State in your handbook any zero tolerance policies. Such policies typically include discrimination, harassment, and substance abuse.
Be sure to include a definitive index, but don’t worry if your handbook becomes lengthy. A thorough handbook will protect your business more effectively against potential lawsuits. It will be well worth the extra pages.
Editor’s Note: These are guidelines only. Here are two of the many resources available to help you ensure your handbook covers what is necessary: Need to Know What Goes into an Employee Handbook? https://www.thebalance.com/need-to-know-what-goes-in-an-employee-handbook-1918308 and Top 10 Employee Handbook Updates https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/news/hr-magazine/pages/0216-employee-handbook-updates.aspx
7 months ago ·
by Mrs. Mapp ·
While shopping online for insurance is fast and convenient, there are a few dirty little secrets that might end up making it cost more than you realize. Find out why using an agent or broker beats shopping online for insurance.
Only advertisers: Online insurance quotes compare only the rates of companies that advertise on their website. Although it can be convenient to shop online for insurance, online insurance websites make money by selling advertising space. Insurance providers that don’t participate won’t show up in search results. Since a broker make money only when they sell policies – not when they sell advertising space – you can be sure to obtain the most competitive rates the broker has available.
Personal service: Insurance is complex, so it should come as no surprise that terminology and other contractual situations can be confusing. Work with a broker who is able to inform you about available options that could impact your coverage or cost.
8 months ago ·
by Mrs. Mapp ·
What are the essentials needed to operate a successful business? Qualities like entrepreneurship, creativity, leadership, organization and a strong work ethic probably come to mind. And these are all important traits.
But business owners may want to look beyond these traits to something that is often overlooked: Proper insurance coverage. This is one of the most important instruments in a business owner’s toolkit. Why? Because without appropriate insurance coverage, a business may not be able to weather a disaster. And it could mean the loss of everything he or she has worked so hard to achieve. For many, a Business Owner Policy (BOP) will provide that much-needed sense of security at a reasonable cost.
What is a Business Owners Policy?
BOP stands for business owner policy. A BOP is an insurance package available for business owners that combines basic coverages into one bundle.
What does a Business Owners Policy cover?
BOP policies typically cover three major areas of business protection. A standard BOP includes property insurance for the company’s buildings and contents; liability protection for harm caused by employees, defective products, faulty installations, and service errors; and business interruption insurance, which covers loss of income due to a disaster.
What does a Business Owners Policy not cover?
While a BOP covers many of the basics, it’s not comprehensive. Business owners still may need more-specific policies, depending on the type of company and products or services provided. A BOP also doesn’t cover workers’ compensation, health and disability insurance, professional liability, or auto insurance.
Who is eligible for a Business Owners Policy?
This insurance policy is designed for small to medium-sized businesses. Typically, a company must meet the requirements set forth by the insurance carrier to qualify for a BOP.
These parameters usually include the number of employees, type of business, and yearly revenue. Larger businesses qualify for different types of policies that are more appropriate for their needs.
Who needs a Business Owners Policy?
Some industries may also need special insurance in order to operate. For example, a minimum amount of liability insurance may be required to perform contractor services.
While you don’t have to choose this bundle option, it is an easy solution for many small and medium-sized businesses.
What are the advantages of a Business Owners Policy?
Choosing a BOP typically saves money. By bundling several services in one policy, business owners pay less than the total cost of individual coverages. This option keeps costs down while providing coverage for the business’s basic needs.
How much does a Business Owners Policy cost?
The yearly premium for a BOP depends on many variables. One business may need higher liability coverage, while another may need greater property protection. The pricing for each BOP is determined by these needs and the risk factor of the company. Typical premiums range from $500 to $3,500 per year.
How do I get a Business Owners Policy?
If you live in New York give us a call to discuss the BOP options available for your business. We will discuss how you can bundle the specific coverage you need into an appropriate and affordable BOP that’s just right for your company.
9 months ago ·
by Mrs. Mapp ·
It’s inevitable. As a small business owner, you will wear many, many hats.
Technical support staff.
But while this type of task juggling is to be expected, you have to be aware that not all of your hats are created equal. Marketing outweighs bookkeeping, for example, because without marketing, there will be no cash to manage.
Not only that, but you have to consider how much time you’re spending in each area as well. If you spend all day tweaking the design on your website and put off sending an email to your list, what have you gained?
Sure, you might have a prettier website, but you lost an opportunity to drive traffic to your offer.
In an ideal world, you’d simply put on your CEO hat and delegate the rest, but here in the real world, we don’t always have that option. Instead, we have to work smarter and take care how we’re spending our time.
Prioritize Your Daily Tasks
We all have different skills and sweet spots when it comes to the tasks we want and need to do. You might love customer support and hate bookkeeping, while someone else enjoys the numbers game and doesn’t like dealing with the help desk. But regardless of your personal preferences, one thing is certain: money-making tasks should be at the very top of your to-do list.
That might mean product creation, email marketing, client outreach, webinar development, or something entirely different. Identify those money-making tasks in your business and be sure to prioritize them every single day.
Know the Difference Between Important and Urgent
In his classic book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey recommends prioritizing tasks based on a time-management grid. Every task is assigned to a quadrant of the grid, based on whether it is urgent, important, both, or neither.
Once you know where a task falls on the grid, you’ll immediately know what you should be working on. For example, marketing and planning are important but not urgent. A ringing phone is urgent, but not important. The sales page for your new program, which is launching tomorrow, is both urgent AND important.
So, before you prioritize your daily to-do list, think about where each of your tasks falls in the quadrant, and schedule them accordingly.
Will you always be working on the best task for right now? Probably not. Nor will you always use your time as wisely as you could. But by making a conscious effort to organize and prioritize your days, you’ll find it’s a lot less stressful and overwhelming to manage your small business.
9 months ago ·
by Mrs. Mapp ·
Happy New Year, Entrepreneurs!!!
Have you listed your upcoming New Year resolutions? Here’s one suggestion that business owners may want to add to their resolution list—review your business insurance policies.
It may help boost your bottom line in 2018.
The end of the year is a good time to review your policies in light of the events of the previous year. A quick evaluation of your coverage could help you save next year. And who doesn’t want that? Here are the steps to take:
Step 1. Review your business: What changes have you made this year, if any? Has your business grown? Have you altered any policies that could affect your insurance? Did you add or remove vehicles, employees, or facilities?
Step 2. Make a list: Make a list of any changes that will affect your business going forward. Note any new procedures you put into effect this year, as well as any you will be enacting in 2018. Write down any questions you have about your coverage.
Step 3. Contact your carrier: With your list in hand, contact your insurance agent. He or she will help you review your current policies to determine if they are still the best options for your business. For example, you may have made changes that will reduce your premiums, or you may be eligible for new discounts.
Step 4. Review Your Profit and Loss Statements
This will give you a snapshot of your business financial performance and what you didn’t do well in 2017 financially. These should take place at regular intervals, such as every month, to make sure your business is going in the right direction.
When the year comes to a close, gather all of your bank statements from that year for review. A bank reconciliation can also be used to detect cases where fraud has occurred so that you can then develop better controls to govern your bookkeeping system for next year.
This easy process will ensure you have the appropriate coverage and could help you save significantly on your 2018 business insurance. And saving money is one of the best resolutions you can make. If you don’t have a carrier; give us a call to make sure you’re properly covered.