Your commercial insurance policies protect your business, making your insurance agent an essential resource for your company. While you may not have your agent on speed dial, you will want to contact him or her in several circumstances.
Verify Coverage Details
You can purchase a variety of different policies for your business, and need to understand your exact coverage. Contact your insurance agent to verify which types of coverage you have and your policy limits.
Update Your Policy
When you add a vehicle to your commercial fleet, sell a piece of equipment, move to a new location, or make other changes to your business operations, call your insurance agent. These updates could affect your insurance needs, policy and premium.
File A Claim
If you need to file an insurance claim, contact your agent immediately. You may call the agent’s office, send an email or text, or fill out an online claim form on the company’s website. Remember to submit pictures, too, as you get your claim process started.
Ask Questions About a Claim
After you file an insurance claim, you may have questions about the adjuster’s findings or the settlement timeline. Feel free to contact your agent and ask any questions you may have.
Discuss Your Bill
Whether you pay your insurance bill annually, semi-annually or quarterly, you may inspect your bill and realize that you have questions about one of the charges or fees. Most insurance agents remain transparent about billing, and they can explain anything you don’t understand about your insurance charges, fees or payment date.
Pay Your Bill
If you experience any issues when you pay your insurance bill, call your agent. You may also ask for a change in the policy due date or a change in payment frequency.
Initiate an Annual Review
You should receive a notice a few weeks before your commercial insurance policy’s renewal date. Ask your agent for a meeting to renew your coverage. During this meeting, discuss details about your business and the types of insurance you need, including coverage limits and cost, as you verify that you have the right insurance for your needs.
Request a New Quote
Based on your insurance policies you purchase and your loyalty to your commercial insurance company, you may qualify for discounts or a more competitive rate. Your agent can rework your coverage limits, check for discounts and give you a new quote that meets your budget.
Throughout the year, you may wish to contact your commercial insurance agent for several reasons. Always feel free to reach out and discuss your needs as you purchase the right coverage for your business.
As you go about your daily business, insurance fraud is probably one of the furthest things from your mind. However these all-too-common scams, everything from homeowners who report a non-existent burglary to collect on their policies to drivers who stage auto accidents and file injury claims – are criminal acts that you have a legal obligation to report.
If you’re aware of, or suspect, a fraudulent act that involves insurance follow these steps:
- Inform the insurance fraud bureau in your state either through its telephone “hot line” or online.
- Contact the fraud department of the insurance company involved. Most companies have hotlines for this purpose. If a fraud hotline isn’t available, or if you’re uncomfortable using it, write the fraud department instead.
- If the alleged fraud involves a medical issue – such as a claim for a non-existent condition – contact your state medical board or chiropractic board immediately in order to protect the complainant, as well as other possible victims.
- If appropriate, notify other authorities, such as the police (if someone’s life might be in danger) or your local Social Security office (in case of suspected Social Security fraud).
- Remember that, as a witness, you must report all the details involved: full names, dates, organization, company name, the amount of money involved, etc. Provide any documentation or other information you think might help with the investigation.
- Be patient. Investigating complaints takes time; it might be months before the investigators have gathered enough evidence to bring the perpetrators into court.
A word to the wise. insurance scams costs billions of dollars a year, driving up premiums for everyone – including you.
How can you oversee your employees’ use of company e-mails without violating their privacy?
According to a recent nationwide survey, more than 40% of businesses monitor their workers’ e-mails. If you’re one of these companies, a disgruntled employee might well sue you for invasion of privacy (the number of privacy lawsuits has skyrocketed by 3,000% during the past decade).
The best way to protect yourself against this risk is to create a written policy warning employees that you might be monitoring their use of e-mail. Bear in mind that because your business owns the e-mail system – software, network access, and computers – you have the legal right to oversee workers for misusing it to violate company policy or break the law.
The first step in implementing this policy is to have all employees sign a disclaimer that acknowledges the company’s right to monitor their e-mail. You can do this when an employee is hired, at contract renewal, or at a company meeting – and don’t forget to circulate any updates to the policy throughout the company. Apply e-mail monitoring as uniformly as possible, because singling out an individual without a clear reason to do so could leave you vulnerable to a discrimination lawsuit. Finally, be sure to have your attorney review the policy.
A comprehensive e-mail policy can:
1) provide an effective defense against invasion of privacy litigation
2) educate your employees on the proper use of e-mail – which should go far to reduce potential problems from misusing the system.
If you’d like to learn more about how to balance protecting the integrity of your company’s e-mail system with your employees’ right to privacy, please get in touch with us. As always, we’re here to help.
A survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 69% of U.S. drivers talked on their cell phones – and 31% read or sent text messages or e-mails while driving. “The cell phone can be a fatal distraction for those who use it while they drive,” warns CDC Director Thomas Frieden.
Using cell phones to text behind the wheel can increase the danger of fatal crashes by six to 23 times, and drivers using hand-held devices are four times more likely to become involved in crashes serious enough to injure themselves.
You probably have rules about employees talking on their phones and texting while driving – but are they following them?
According to Jim Evans, president of human resources consulting firm JK Evans & Associates, some bosses turn a blind eye to cell phone use behind the wheel, while others don’t want to cut into their employees’ productivity. His advice to employers: “Dust off the old cell phone policy or unwritten practices and revisit whether employee safety and employer liability is at risk.”
To minimize this danger, your company should require employees who drive on the job to:
- Turn off personal phones or switch them to silent mode before entering a company vehicle.
- Pull over to a safe area if they need to make a cell phone call or send or answer a text message.
- Ask a helper or another passenger to make a return call.
- Contact supervisors or dispatchers when the vehicle is parked.
- Avoid smoking, eating, drinking, reading, and any other activities that distract them behind the wheel.
- Tell people who call them while driving that they’ll call back after reaching their destination.
- Not send or answer text messages, surf the Web, or read e-mails.
Layoffs during the recession have resulted in a shortage of qualified workers in specialized areas of construction – and the problem will probably get worse as the industry picks up during the recovery. In this environment, some contractors might be tempted to stretch their hiring standards to fill out a project roster, increasing the danger of losses from on-site injuries and defect claims, among other risks.
The past two years have seen a sharp drop in the unemployment rate for former construction workers, but not a corresponding increase in construction industry growth. This means that these workers who have been unemployed are often finding other types of work, becoming full-time students, or have given up looking for a job in the building trades industry.
Because each construction company works in a unique environment and culture, a worker from one firm going to another might not have the required expertise. What’s more, construction is a profession that takes time to learn. Tight profit margins and financial problems can pressure smaller and midsize contractors into cutting corners by hiring inexperienced workers. This increases the risk of on-site accidents and injuries –and leads to poorer quality work that can easily result in costly and annoying defective construction claims (see the article “Construction Managers E&O Insurance: Nobody’s Perfect! ”
In addition as the building industry comes out of the recession, OSHA has become far more aggressive and vigilant in monitoring worker safety.
The bottom line: Avoid the temptation of hiring inexperienced workers as a way to save money, and you’ll keep your risk of on-site accidents and injuries – not to mention your insurance premiums – under control. What’s not to like?