1 year ago ·
by Mrs. Mapp ·
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.
1 year ago ·
by Mrs. Mapp ·
Do you have a Natural Disaster Plan?
If disaster strikes, you have insurance to cover your costs. This is a great first step in disaster preparedness.
To take your preparations to the next level, it’s important to put proactive measures in place. A proactive approach will aid in the recovery of your business beyond simple financial reimbursement.
Consider what else is on the line when claim-worthy situations arise. Money probably won’t be your only concern.
Would you lose crucial data? Would you be able to organize employees to relocate your business? What steps do you need to take to protect your business from additional loss, crippling chaos, or potential shutdown after a disaster?
To minimize your losses and ensure your doors stay open after a catastrophic event, use the following proactive methods.
Back It Up
What record-keeping system do you use for your company data? If you have paper files, do you have a digital backup? If you have digital files, do you have backup copies or web-based servers in case the files become corrupted or lost?
Everything from customer information to billing to personnel records can be lost in an instant if you don’t have backups of all files.
Make a Plan
Do you know what you would do if you could no longer use your current location to conduct business? Could you establish communication with employees if you needed to relocate?
These are important questions to consider before disaster hits. Have a plan in place for communicating with employees after a disaster, designating responsibilities, and creating a temporary home for your business.
Run a Drill
Employee safety must be a top priority. Would your staff know what to do in an emergency?
Create a disaster response plan, including an evacuation plan, and make sure everyone is familiar with it. Include disaster response as part of standard employee training, and conduct drills twice a year to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Build a Kit
Store emergency supplies at your business. Create an emergency kit that includes flashlights, batteries, water, a fire extinguisher, nonperishable food, a first-aid kit, a whistle, and blankets. If feasible, it may also be helpful to include a generator.
Take an Inventory
If you need to report losses to your insurance carrier, do you have a list of company inventory you could provide?
This goes beyond the products that you sell. Would you be able to recall what is in every room of your office, facility, or store?
Create an inventory of all furniture, equipment, tools, and other items that you would have to replace in the event of a full-scale disaster. Maintain this inventory list, with photos and receipts, at an off-site location for safekeeping.
Place a Call
Do you know exactly what insurance coverage you have in place? Do you know how to file a claim if the need arises?
Remember to keep your insurance agent’s contact information in a place where it can be easily accessed after a disaster. Contact us to discuss your current policies and potential needs so we can help you plan for the unexpected.
2 years ago ·
by Mrs. Mapp ·
It’s been roughly 20 days since the New Sexual Harassment Laws in New York State took effect.
Effective October 9, 2018, all New York State employers are required to adopt written sexual harassment prevention policies and institute annual anti-harassment training for employees.
Model Sexual Harassment Policy
Every employer in the New York State is required to adopt a sexual harassment prevention policy. An employer that does not adopt the model policy must ensure that the policy that they adopt meets or exceeds the following minimum standards.
The policy must:
- prohibit sexual harassment consistent with guidance issued by the Department of Labor in consultation with the Division of Human Rights
- provide examples of prohibited conduct that would constitute unlawful sexual harassment
- include information concerning the federal and state statutory provisions concerning sexual harassment, remedies available to victims of sexual harassment, and a statement that there may be applicable local laws
- include a complaint form
- include a procedure for the timely and confidential investigation of complaints that ensures due process for all parties
- inform employees of their rights of redress and all available forums for adjudicating sexual harassment complaints administratively and judicially
- clearly state that sexual harassment is considered a form of employee misconduct and that sanctions will be enforced against individuals engaging in sexual harassment and against supervisory and managerial personnel who knowingly allow such behavior to continue
- clearly state that retaliation against individuals who complain of sexual harassment or who testify or assist in any investigation or proceeding involving sexual harassment is unlawful
Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy Notice
This poster, which is an optional tool, is one way to direct both employees and non-employees to your Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy and should be displayed in a highly visible place.
Please make sure your business in compliant with sexual harassment laws in New York state today!
You can download the poster, template and toolkit from our website or look for more guidance here.
2 years ago ·
by Mrs. Mapp ·
Write 31 Days Challenge
Welcome to my Write 31 days challenge this year. In the month of October bloggers from all over the world will be discussing one topic for 31 days.
This topic will help small businesses, direct sales representative’s, daycare provider or organization’s and blogger’s as well. Every small business or entrepreneur should know the importance of having the proper insurance to make sure the business is protected. This is very important especially in the time we are in today. When a small business opens their door all they can think of making their first profit, insurance never crosses their mind until the unthinkable happens.
This is why I decided to dedicate the month of October to make sure you know the importance of protecting your business, the right questions to ask your broker and have a checklist to use to make sure you have everything you need to run your business.
For the next 31 days, you’ll be learning about different insurance products that will help protect your business against theft and how to make sure your employees are protected as well. As an added bonus you’ll be receiving business checklists and a sample safety plan to help make sure your business is heading in the right direction. This is also a gentle reminder; it’s time to get your business insured before it’s too late and tax season is right around the corner. This will help save you money in the end :). I’m happy that you decided to come along with me for write 31 days.
If there’s anything you would like for me to address in the upcoming week’s; please leave your comment(s) below.
Here’s an easy way to access our articles.
2 years 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.
2 years 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.
2 years 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.
2 years 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.
2 years 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.
2 years 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