Businesses are shrinking or expanding constantly. Start your renewal process today by comparing your policy estimated payrolls with the summary W-2 sheet produced by your accounting department (must be completed by February 1).
Review the 1099s and check these recipients against your files to assure certificate compliance and proper risk transfer techniques.
After reassessing your payroll exposures for the coming year, estimate your current premium. Talk to your agent about optional markets at that premium level, insurance companies have different appetites for different size risks. Find several appropriate insurers.
Many insurers now demand loss control inspections prior to commitment to offering any quote. Get your reports in order. Make sure loss control measures are in place and working. Order loss runs from your current carrier to have on hand.
Most important: leave enough lead time for the inspections to occur. At least ninety days, so new insurers can inspect your operations.
The insurance markets retool every few years and create new identities, new brands within the industry. Currently, insurance companies are deciding what size accounts they will seek, single lines like workers’ compensation or general liability, or supporting lines requirements: like workers’ compensation, general liability or automobile liability. Ask your agent what the current view is among their companies.
The key to having choices is starting early now. Don’t leave yourself at the mercy of the renewal carrier.
While your reassessing your policies, rethink your program as well. Your program consists of the risk management decisions that have subtle but important impacts on your insurance costs. For example: what is your best expiration date? In the construction industry, January first or April first are popular choices in a well-managed risk management program.
One secret within the insurance industry: rates tend to change on calendar quarters. If rates are increasing on April first, you can always renew on March thirty-first if you have enough lead time. But you need to know in advance and have friendly underwriters, and proactive agents.
Calendar quarters allow for government filings to be used as a basis for the insurance auditors, and audits go smoother. Corporate financial years can be good, especially if they fall on calendar quarters. Decide your best expiration date (and you want all liability lines to share that date)and begin 120 days in advance gathering quote information and loss data. Shop early.
The holidays are almost upon us and alcohol will be flowing at company parties throughout the land. Beware! If an employee or guest gets inebriated at a social function sponsored by your business and then injures another person, you could be held liable.
Consider this scenario: After polishing off four eggnogs in an hour at the company’s Christmas party, one of your workers toddles off to his car. The employee almost makes it home when he runs a red light and T-bones a car. The car is damaged and injures the driver. The driver then sues your business for negligence in allowing the employee to drive home although he was clearly “under the influence” at the company party.
What’s more, under state and local “social host” laws, your business might face a fine or even imprisonment for continuing to serve alcohol to an adult who is legally drunk.
Under your comprehensive general liability policy is a clause for host liquor liability. The insurance company will pick up the tab for property damage and bodily injuries, up to “each occurrence” or “general aggregate” limits for the CGL. This coverage will also pay for court costs, legal fees, and other expenses – and these payments will not apply to the limits.
Be sure not to confuse host liquor liability insurance with Liquor Liability coverage, which protects businesses that manufacture, serve, or sell alcoholic beverages (such as liquor stores, bars, and taverns) against claims for injuries caused by intoxicated customers. If you’re in one of these businesses, you’ll need both types of policy.
To learn more, feel free to get in touch with our agency at any time.
Are you planning to welcome trick or treaters to your home this month? Follow these steps that prepare your property for safe Halloween fun.
1. Clean your walkways.
Jack-o-lanterns are cute, but they are also tripping hazards. Remove decorations and all clutter or debris such as toys, yard tools or twigs from your sidewalks, steps and walkways.
2. Clear the yard.
Ideally, kids will stay on the walkway and front porch as they retrieve their candy. However, you will want to clear your yard so curious and excited kids don’t trip on any toys, branches or yard tools.
3. Repair broken sidewalks and steps.
Inspect your entryway and steps carefully. Then repair any broken stepping stones, loose railings or other hazards.
4. Install lighting.
Your front porch light is turned on to welcome trick or treaters, but you may also need additional lighting to ensure safety. Solar-powered walkway lights or a string of lights can illuminate your walkway and porch.
5. Change your location.
Instead of making kids walk up your long driveway or steep steps, stand or sit in a location that’s easy for them to access.
6. Lock doors and windows.
On trick or treat night, your attention is focused on your front door. Lock all the other doors and windows in your house so no one can gain access to your home while you’re out front. Remember to lock your garage and car, too.
7. Secure valuables.
Move your grill, mower and other valuables to the shed or another secure location. With this tip, you prevent potential burglars from adding your home to their future target list.
8. Protect your pets.
Some kids are scared of animals. Also, pets can become startled and bolt or bite when they see strange costumes or dozens of noisy kids. Always secure your pets so they and the kids are safe.
9. Extinguish candles.
Open flames pose a fire hazard. As an alternative, try battery-powered bulbs, or install Halloween-themed covers on your flashlights.
10. Consider allergies when choosing candy.
Many kids are allergic to nuts or dairy. Place a teal pumpkin on your step to show trick or treaters that you offer safe alternatives like books, stickers or toys.
11. Update your property and homeowners’ insurance policies. 🙂
Despite your best efforts to promote safety, someone could be injured while on your property. Be sure your property and homeowners’ insurance policies are updated and include adequate coverage.
Trick or treating is a fun family activity. As you give out treats this year, follow these 11 safety tips. They secure your property and reduce your liability risks.
When you face what appears to be a minor claim, have you ever been tempted just to handle it yourself? After all, the loss is minimal, and you’re “saving” your insurance coverage for when you really need it. Some contractors also feel that filing too many small claims could increase the risk of losing the policy, or driving up their premium.
However, there’s more to consider. Bear in mind that every policy contains language to the effect that “No insured will, except at that insured’s own cost, voluntarily make a payment, assume any obligation, or incur any expense, other than for first aid, without our consent.” This means that that if you pay a small claim yourself, and anything goes wrong, the insurance company can say, “You’re on your own.”
For example, suppose someone walks through your job site and steps on a nail. It appears to be a minor puncture wound, and you agree to pick up the cost of an emergency room visit. You might feel that you’ve closed this incident quickly. However, a few weeks later, the injured person calls to say they have a raging infection in their foot and the doctor is checking them into the hospital for what proves to be a long and expensive stay.
If you then report this claim to your insurance company for the first time, will they step in and take over, or tell you that since you never informed them of the incident they’re not responsible? Even if the insurance company pays the claim, you’ve run an unnecessary risk.
What you should have done – as the policy wording suggests – is to inform your insurance company immediately and ask its consent for you to pay the claim. This approach would have made a substantial difference because notifying the company of the claim fulfills your obligations under the policy.
Why go it alone when you have a partner waiting to help?
The U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that most burglaries occur during the summer months. While some burglars enter your home, others are interested in soft targets, the items stored outside of your home. One in three homeowners do not protect their soft targets, but you can with these tips.
- Vacant Properties
Thieves and vandals typically target vacant homes as they steal scrap metal or take other items to sell. If you’re on vacation, keep your windows and doors locked. Install outdoor motion activated lights and use a timer to turn on indoor lights at random times, too. You can also install a video camera that allows you to monitor your home while you’re away.
- Vehicles and Loose Items
Experienced car thieves can steal a vehicle in less than 10 seconds. Always keep your car locked inside the garage or make sure the alarm is turned on and install an anti-theft device that disables the ignition or locks the steering wheel. You should hide any loose items, too, including electronics, garage door openers, toll booth passes and parking garage passes, either in the glove box or trunk.
- Unlocked Sheds and Garages
Tools and lawn equipment are easy to resell. Always lock your garage, including windows, even if you’re working in your lawn. Be sure your valuable tools and equipment are stored inside the shed or garage, too.
- Sports Equipment
Whether your summer activities include baseball, kayaking or tennis, resist the urge to store your sports equipment outside. Secure it safely in a locked garage or shed, in a locked bin or in your vehicle’s trunk.
Ideally, you should store your bike in a locked garage or shed. If you have to store your bikes, don’t use thin bike chains and wheel locks that are easy to unbolt or cut. A heavy chain threaded through the bike’s wheels and frame and a thick padlock are more secure.
- Air Conditioning Units
Your outdoor air conditioning units contain copper coils and other metal piping that thieves can scrap for cash. Install a bright security light that’s motion activated near your outdoor AC unit or install a locked fence around it.
- Pool Pumps
Pool pumps are easy to resell. Remove the pool pump and store it inside during your vacation. If that’s not possible, install a bright, motion-activated security light near the pump. You should also install a fence around your pool and keep it locked at all times.
Protect your home from thieves when you take steps to protect these seven soft targets. Be sure your homeowners or renters insurance policies are up to date, too, as you protect your home and possessions.
Around 65 million Americans have high cholesterol, a condition that can affect anyone from young kids to senior adults. September is Cholesterol Education Month, and you can improve your health when you understand the definition of cholesterol and the best ways to prevent high cholesterol.
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol circulates in your blood and resembles wax or fat. It supports metabolic processes, such as cell membrane stabilization, vitamin D formation, and steroid hormone and bile acid production. It While your body makes cholesterol naturally, it’s also found in food. If you make or consume more cholesterol than your body needs, the excess will accumulate in your arteries and narrow those passageways, which could increase your heart disease and stroke risk.
You have good cholesterol (HDL – high-density lipoprotein), bad cholesterol (LDL – low-density lipoprotein) and triglycerides. The lipoproteins carry cholesterol to and from your body’s cells.
- HDL – Removes bad cholesterol as it flows through your bloodstream.
- LDL – Becomes part of the plaque that lines your arteries.
Your cholesterol levels can depend on several factors, including a family history of heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure. Smoking, alcohol consumption, stress, and your weight can also affect cholesterol levels.
What are Normal Cholesterol Levels?
The ideal cholesterol level is under 170 mg/dL. Your LDL level should be under 110 mg/dL, and your HDL level should be over 35. Aim for a triglyceride level of under 150 mg/dL. While these numbers are confusing, your doctor can explain them and help you achieve healthy levels.
How do you know if you have High Cholesterol?
You might have high cholesterol and not know it. Visit your doctor for a blood test that shows your cholesterol levels. Typically, adults over the age of 20 should have their cholesterol checked every five years. High-risk children should have their cholesterol checked regularly, too.
How is High Cholesterol Treated?
Often, lifestyle changes can reduce your cholesterol levels. Your doctor may recommend exercise and dietary improvements, such as:
- Engage in two hours and 30 minutes of moderate exercise or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous physical activity each week.
- Eat more high-fiber food, including fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
- Limit the amount of saturated fat and sugar in the foods and beverages you consume.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Quit smoking and lower your alcohol intake.
- Reduce stress.
Your doctor may prescribe medication, too. Statins reduce the amount of cholesterol your body makes and can lower your bad cholesterol levels.
This month, raise your cholesterol awareness levels. Visit your doctor for a cholesterol check, and discuss the steps you can take to achieve a healthy lifestyle that improves your health now and into the future