7 days 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 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.
2 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
4 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.
4 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.
5 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.
6 months ago ·
by Mrs. Mapp ·
As a savvy business owner, there’s no doubt that you’ve looked into basic commercial insurance coverage and its cost. So you may recognize the two most common business insurance policies: general liability and property damage.
Depending on the type of business you own, there’s one important thing you may have missed in reviewing the options available. That is, unless your electrical and/or mechanical equipment is damaged by one of the general perils specifically listed on your property damage policy, you won’t be covered if you have to replace or repair it.
A few examples of commonly covered perils are events such as fire, wind, hail, smoke, and civil unrest. However, the average policy usually doesn’t include any coverage for mechanical breakdown. And not having the proper endorsement to properly protect your equipment could shut down your business for days or weeks, during which time your income and profits could all but cease.
Who needs it?
If the extent of your business’s equipment is a small cash register and a phone, and/or if you rent a space where the owner provides maintenance, heat, and air, you may find that you’re not going to need mechanical breakdown coverage as an essential part of your commercial insurance coverage, providing, of course, you have saved up the money towards replacing or repairing your cash register and phone in the event of a non-covered loss.
Those business owners who should be especially concerned about equipment breakdown coverage are companies that have any or all of the following: manufacturing equipment; more than one computer; refrigeration; boiler systems; cooking equipment; generators; motors; fire and security systems.
Equipment breakdown coverage is important whether you own or lease the equipment. To protect themselves, leasing companies will often require you to carry this protection, not unlike an auto lender that insists you carry comprehensive and collision coverage on your auto insurance policy when you’re financing a car.
This policy will cover labor and other costs of repairing equipment, not just replacing it. There are other residual losses that may occur due to the breakdown that are also covered. For example, if you own a restaurant and your freezer breaks, causing you to lose thousands of dollars’ worth of frozen food, that would be covered.
Clean-up services may also be covered if the breakdown causes a mess. One of its greatest benefits is that it will also cover any loss of business you experience while getting the equipment repaired or replaced.
Some insurance companies will offer equipment breakdown as a separate policy, or it can be added as an endorsement – a special addition – to your existing commercial insurance policy.
Ask your insurance professional if there are differences in the coverage limits and options, so you can make a well-informed decision about which option would be better for you.
Prepare and protect the flow of your business to ensure minimal interruption if something or, as sometimes happens, everything breaks down. Your business account (and your personal checking account) will thank you.
7 months ago ·
by Mrs. Mapp ·
Happy Halloween! Today is an important reminder about storing any flammable materials in your business.
If your business involves the storage of flammable/explosive material—even if you’re only storing gasoline for use in company vehicles—it’s essential to obtain the insurance coverage you need to protect yourself from damages in case of an event. Here are guidelines to help you navigate the tricky waters involved in storing hazardous material:
Pollution Liability: If you store any potentially hazardous material, including gasoline, you may be required to have pollution liability insurance to protect you should the material leak into a water source or cause a fire or explosion. Cleanup from these events is extremely costly, as are other liability costs, including injuries or death.
Fireworks Insurance: The storage of pyrotechnics involves myriad regulations. For insurance purposes, general liability insurance will typically cover fireworks storage. However, because of the many classifications and requirements around the storage of fireworks, it’s important to check with your agent to ensure your liability limits are sufficient.
Storage of fireworks is also regulated by the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; the Department of Transportation; and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. It’s vital you are in compliance with regulations from all these agencies. The National Fireworks Association and your insurance agent can give you more information.
It’s important to realize that many products are considered hazardous materials, and you will need the appropriate insurance if you store them. Your insurance advisor will help ensure your limits are appropriate to your business and the policy based on the type, amount, and potential hazards of the material stored.
7 months ago ·
by Mrs. Mapp ·
More companies are outsourcing jobs to freelancers or independent contractors (ICs). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of freelancers and ICs has grown dramatically in the last few years and is expected to continue rising.
Many freelancers and ICs themselves have failed to keep up with the times; these days you need commercial insurance more than ever, but few realize that without it, they’re setting themselves up for big risks. Contractors and freelancers essentially share the same risks as small businesses. Consider yourself a type of small business, and protect yourself as such.
As soon as you start freelancing or work as an IC, you need insurance. Essentially, every freelancer and independent contractor needs professional liability insurance, even sole proprietors, such as writers or accountants. Depending on your job, you may need other types of commercial insurance as well.
Freelancers and ICs are often considered experts. Most projects involve working with another business or individual, meaning that if a business loss results from a project done by an IC, he or she is financially liable for that loss and other resulting damages.
Several types of commercial liability policies are available for both ICs and freelancers, although what is needed depends on your line of work, job functions, and other factors (such as whether you see customers at your own place of business or drive a vehicle solely for work). These factors help determine what coverage is needed.
Types of insurance:
Professional Liability Insurance
Often referred to as professional indemnity insurance, and sometimes as independent contractor liability insurance, this policy protects against possible claims from clients, such as a costly mistake that the contractor may be liable for. It provides liability coverage in different amounts and helps cover costs of liability claims should the claimant prove contractor liability.
Product Liability Insurance
If you create products or items others will use, purchasing product liability insurance is a must. For example, a freelance computer software consultant is hired by a company to build software programs for them. Shortly thereafter, the software crashes, deleting all the information in the company’s database and potentially leading to multiple lawsuits on a number of grounds.
Cyber Liability Insurance
Cyber liability essentially provides protection against losses related to electronic storage – something not usually covered under regular commercial policies. This protects you if one of your clients and/or the client’s customers experience losses due to unintentional or purposeful negligence on your part.
For example, a freelance computer software developer builds a database for a company that stores sensitive, personal information on their customers. It’s hacked, and a customer’s identity is stolen. The customer could sue the company, and the company could, in turn, sue the freelancer for a number of things, such as loss of business, costs of obtaining new databases and security features, and more.
If you’re an IC or freelancer, discuss liability policies, as well as commercial auto insurance, physical premises liability, and other types of coverages with your agent, for your own peace of mind.
7 months ago ·
by Mrs. Mapp ·
If you provide B2B services, it’s not unlikely a client will someday ask the question, “Can you add me to your Errors & Omissions (E&O) Insurance policy?” It’s happened to real estate brokers, financial planners, and even insurance professionals. And the best answer is probably no. Here’s why.
E&O coverage is a type of liability insurance. It protects you if you become legally liable in a situation where a client is harmed in some way due to the service you provide. This includes negligence, misrepresentation, violation of good faith and fair dealing, and inaccurate advice. None of this is covered by general liability insurance.
Sharing your E&O
Your E&O policy will typically cover court costs and settlements up to the amount detailed in the policy. You need it. But when you act on behalf of another company, that company may also be affected by your actions. And sued. So, should you make that company an Additional Insured (AI) so it will be covered under your policy?
There are good reasons why not:
- The contract may not allow the third party to be added as an AI.
- As E&O policies are industry-specific, the AI’s operations may differ from yours, so it’s hard to cover both in the same policy. The coverage may not be relevant to the AI’s needs.
- If the AI decides to sue yo but is on the same policy, its suit will likely fall under an insured vs. insured exclusion clause. And the insurer may not cover either of you.