Starting a business is rewarding, but it’s also expensive. In your haste to pursue your passion or make a profit, you may decide to forgo insurance. However, you need at least basic coverage as you protect your assets and help your new company succeed. Purchase the right insurance products for your startup, and invest in your business and yourself.
General Liability Insurance
Although your business is brand new, you could be sued. Someone may suffer an injury while visiting your property or while using a product you sell. Or you could be sued for libel or slander. General liability covers your financial responsibility from a lawsuit, claim or settlement. This protective coverage is one of the most important insurance policies you can buy.
Commercial Property Insurance
Protect your physical assets with property insurance. It insures your building, inventory, office equipment, and other assets. This insurance product also protects your business from vandalism, theft, fire, and storms. You can purchase property insurance for the items you own, rent or lease, and you can alter coverage limits as your company grows and expands.
Business Owner’s Policy
A business owner’s policy (BOP) combines your general liability and commercial property insurance policies. With a BOP, you can save money while ensuring your business remains protected from theft, fire, lawsuits, and other risks. While all startup businesses do not qualify for a BOP, you can talk to your insurance agent to confirm your options and find the right coverage for your needs.
Commercial Auto Insurance
With your fleet of automobiles, you and your employees can visit clients, make deliveries and perform other company tasks. Your personal car insurance won’t extend to company vehicles, so purchase a commercial auto insurance policy. Otherwise, you risk losing important assets if your company cars are involved in an accident, cause property damage, injure someone, or are damaged due to a theft or vandalism.
Protect employees with Workers’ Compensation insurance. It pays for medical treatment, short-term disability, lost wages, and other expenses employees incur after they suffer a work-related illness or injury. You’ll only need this coverage if you hire employees, but it’s essential coverage in this situation.
Whether your business sits in a known flood zone or at the top of a hill, you could lose valuable assets during a flood. In most cases, your commercial property insurance policy won’t cover flood-related claims. Purchase flood insurance to protect your company.
Flooded barns and lost crops are just a couple of the emergencies farmers have to deal with after a natural disaster. Thankfully, there are federal programs and resources available to help with some of the costs, but seeking them out can be confusing and time consuming. The agency you contact will depend on the type of damage you have, so a farmer may have to go to three separate agencies for help.
Disaster Relief – Helpful Links
3 STEPS TO POST DISASTER RELIEF
It can be overwhelming trying to navigate the different programs available. Here, we break it down into three steps:
Step 1: Take pictures. Disaster programs need documented damage, so take pictures before you clean up, and take note of specific losses. Save receipts for any purchases you need to make during recovery.
Step 2: Know what programs for coverage are available. There are several different programs that address different needs of hurricane relief. For example, the Farm Service Agency (FSA) handles assistance specific to farms and farmland. The Small Business Administration handles disaster assistance for businesses. The Federal Emergency Management Agency handles household damages and reconstruction.
Step 3: Be aware of important deadlines. Each program has different application processes and different deadlines. Make sure you get your applications in on time.
- If seeking the help of an FSA program, be aware that most have an application deadline of 30 days after the damage or loss occurs.
- If damage prevents you from planting, complete a Notice of Loss form and submit it to your local FSA office within 15 days of the planned planting date to determine eligibility.
- If you participate in Risk Management Agency (RMA) federal crop insurance, report the damage within 72 hours of discovery, and follow up in writing within 15 days.
Builder’s Risk insurance, also known as Course of Construction insurance, covers property that’s under construction. As a contractor or construction professional, you must understand this important coverage.
What is Builder’s Risk Insurance?
A homeowner, general contractor or project manager can purchase a Builder’s Risk insurance policy during a home building project. The coverage protects the property from hazards and accidents that could occur.
What Does Builder’s Risk Insurance Cover?
The accidents and hazards a Builder’s Risk insurance policy covers include:
- Burglary and theft.
- Property loss during transport to the job site.
- Scaffolding, temporary structures and construction forms on the job site.
- Structure collapse.
- Sewer or drain backup.
- Site plans, blueprints and other valuable papers.
- Wind, hail or rain storms.
- Impact by aircraft or vehicles.
- Riot, vandalism and malicious acts.
- Debris removal after a covered accident or hazard.
Most Builder’s Risk insurance policies include several exclusions, so read the policy carefully. Your policy probably does not cover:
- Property others own.
- Subcontractor actions or materials.
- Professional liability.
- Water damage.
- Weather damage to property in the open.
- Mechanical breakdown.
- Employee theft.
- Contract penalty.
- Voluntary parting.
- Government action.
What is the Policy Length?
The typical Builder’s Risk insurance policy covers a construction project that lasts from six to 12 months. Coverage ends when the project is finished or the property is occupied.
While the policy may be extended due to construction delays, the insurance company may want proof that you are making progress. Also, only one extension is usually offered.
How Much Does Builder’s Risk Insurance Cost?
Expect to pay between one and four percent of the total construction budget for your Builder’s Risk insurance policy. The type of coverage and materials also factor into the cost. Your insurance agent will work with you to purchase adequate coverage you can afford.
Is Builder’s Risk Insurance a Requirement?
As a contractor, project manager or homeowner, Builder’s Risk insurance gives you peace of mind. However, it’s not usually a requirement. Read your project contract for details.
Purchase Adequate Insurance
As a construction professional, you should purchase the right insurance coverage for your business and projects. Insure the tools and equipment you own in case they’re stolen or vandalized. Also, purchase liability coverage that protects you if you damage the property or cause bodily injury. Be sure the finished project is covered, too, in case something goes wrong with the home you build. Provide copies of your insurance policies to homeowners, too. They need to know that you have the right insurance in case something goes wrong.
Builder’s Risk insurance protects a new home that’s under construction. Understand this coverage as you protect your assets and construction business.
Colorado State University’s Department of Atmospheric Science forecasts five hurricanes and 12 named storms for the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season. Natural disasters like hurricanes can wreak havoc on your company. Update your business insurance as you prepare for natural disasters.
Prepare for Wind and Hail Storms
Heavy storms that feature high winds or hail can damage your property or disrupt operations. Verify that your business insurance includes adequate commercial property and business interruption coverage.
You may also wish to check if your policy includes a separate property deductible that applies solely to wind or hail claims. Some insurance companies add a flat rate or percentage deductible to these policies, especially in areas that are susceptible to wind and hail storms.
Rising water can damage your buildings and property and affect business operations. While your mortgage lender or building manager may require you to purchase commercial flood insurance if your business operates in a flood zone, flood insurance is also important if you operate in a location that doesn’t traditionally flood. That’s because you still could experience high water due to heavy rains, storm surges, melting snow, or broken levees.
Talk to your insurance agent about purchasing flood insurance coverage through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Because this valuable coverage includes a 30-day waiting period, be sure to purchase flood insurance before you need it.
Purchase Adequate Coverage
If you purchased your business insurance longer than a year ago, schedule a checkup. Your company’s needs may change over time, and you want to update your business insurance coverage, too. For example, if you added expensive equipment to your operation or moved to a different location, verify that your current policy covers these changes.
Check the property value coverage on your policy also. When you purchased your business insurance policy, you may have chosen the cheaper actual cash value option that pays to replace covered property minus depreciation and wear and tear. However, replacement cost pays current market value rates and offers better protection, so consider this more expensive option now.
Finally, review your policy limits. Ensure you have enough coverage for your property, building contents, inventory, and business interruption needs.
Review your Policy Carefully
Insurance policies often include dry, boring language, but take time to review every word. You must know exactly what natural disasters your commercial policy covers. Also, be sure you understand details about the deductible and how to file a claim. Your insurance agent can answer any questions you have and help you purchase enough coverage for your specific needs.
Your business insurance gives your company valuable protection. Update your coverage today as you prepare for future natural disasters.
If you’ve ever shopped around for insurance, you’ve likely been asked if you want to bundle your policies—in other words, combine your home or renters, auto and life insurance policies with the same carrier. Although you have the option to shop around individually for each policy, it almost always makes sense to have the same carrier cover as many of your policies as possible.
Benefits of Bundling
- The discount—Most policyholders bundle their policies because of the promise of a discount. The amount varies by provider but can generally range between 5-25 percent.
- The option of a single deductible—With bundled policies, your deductible may be cheaper in the event of a claim that affects multiple policies. For example, if your home and auto policies are with two separate carriers, and a hailstorm damages your home and your car, you’re responsible for paying both your home and auto deductibles before receiving payment. But if you bundle your policies, your provider may offer you the option to pay only the higher of the two deductibles.
- Less chance of being dropped—If you’ve made claims or gotten tickets, having your policies bundled with one provider can decrease the chance of them dropping you.
When it Doesn’t Pay to Bundle
It isn’t always better to bundle your policies with one insurance carrier. Here’s when it may be better to split them up:
- If you have tickets or past claims that make your auto insurance expensive—In this case, it may be cheaper overall to buy each policy from separate providers.
- When premiums increase—Bundling discourages people from price shopping, which makes it easier for providers to increase their rates. Most assume that you won’t go through the effort of shopping around when your policies renew.
- If policies aren’t technically bundled—Some carriers may insure you with an affiliated company. Although you may get a discount with that company, you’ll lose the convenience of paying your premium with one familiar provider.
A Few Tips to Consider
Although discounts are the main reason people bundle their insurance policies, never assume that bundling is the cheapest option. Your needs and circumstances will dictate whether you should combine your policies with one carrier. Consider the following tips:
- Shop for new coverage when your policies renew, and ask for the price of the individual premiums as well as the price of the bundled premium so you can decide whether it is worth it. Just make sure you compare the same coverage when shopping for quotes from each carrier.
- Ask if the provider uses a third-party insurance company. Remember that you may save money but lose the convenience of dealing with one provider and a combined bill.
- Ask an independent insurance agent to get prices from multiple companies so you don’t have to do the legwork. An agent that is loyal to a particular carrier may be able to offer discounts that you can’t get alone.
With multiple factors contributing to the price of your insurance premiums, it is important to shop around in order to get the best rate for your insurance needs. Feel free to contact Scurich Insurance to determine if bundling is right for you and help you take advantage of all available discounts.
On Aug. 3, 2018, the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Treasury (Departments) published final regulations amending the definition of short-term, limited-duration insurance for purposes of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). These regulations:
- Provide a maximum coverage period of up to 12 months; and
- Amend the notice to provide additional specificity, including a list of benefits that might not be covered.
In addition, the final regulations allow short-term, limited-duration insurance to continue for up to 36 months in total, taking into account renewals or extensions.
As a result of these final regulations, issuers can now offer short-term, limited-duration insurance policies that last up to 12 months. According to the Departments, this will provide consumers with more affordable options for health coverage.
Short-term, limited-duration insurance is a type of health insurance coverage that is designed to fill temporary gaps in coverage when an individual is transitioning from one plan or coverage to another plan or coverage. Specifically, existing regulations defined short-term, limited-duration insurance as “health insurance coverage provided pursuant to a contract with an issuer that has an expiration date specified in the contract (taking into account any extensions that may be elected by the policyholder without the issuer’s consent) that is less than 12 months after the original effective date of the contract.”
Although short-term, limited-duration insurance is not an excepted benefit, it is specifically exempt from the definition of “individual health insurance coverage” and, therefore, is not subject to the ACA’s market reform requirements. However, the Departments have become aware that short-term, limited-duration insurance is being sold as a primary form of health coverage, in some instances.
2016 Final Regulations
On Oct. 31, 2016, the Departments published final regulations revising the definition of short-term, limited-duration insurance for purposes of the exclusion from the definition of individual health insurance coverage. Under this revised definition, short-term, limited-duration insurance coverage was required to be less than three months in duration, including any period for which the policy may be renewed. The final regulations eliminated the ability for the coverage period to take into account extensions made by the policyholder “with or without the issuer’s consent.”
In addition, a notice must be prominently displayed in the contract and in any application materials provided in connection with enrollment in short-term, limited-duration insurance coverage with the following language:
THIS IS NOT QUALIFYING HEALTH COVERAGE (“MINIMUM ESSENTIAL COVERAGE”) THAT SATISFIES THE HEALTH COVERAGE REQUIREMENT OF THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT. IF YOU DON’T HAVE MINIMUM ESSENTIAL COVERAGE, YOU MAY OWE AN ADDITIONAL PAYMENT WITH YOUR TAXES.
The revised definition of short-term, limited-duration insurance applied for policy years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2017. However, HHS stated that it would not take enforcement action against an issuer with respect to the sale of short-term, limited-duration insurance before April 1, 2017, on the ground that the coverage period is three months or more, provided that the coverage:
- Ends on or before Dec. 31, 2017; and
- Otherwise complies with the definition of short-term, limited-duration insurance in effect under the final regulations.
States were also permitted to elect not to take enforcement actions against issuers with respect to this type of coverage sold before April 1, 2017.
2018 Final Regulations
Following the 2016 final regulations, there was concern that shortening the permitted length of short-term, limited-duration insurance would drastically reduce affordable coverage options for consumers. As a result, the Departments issued the 2018 final regulations to lengthen the maximum period of short-term, limited-duration insurance, in an effort to provide more affordable consumer choice for health coverage.
These final regulations were issued as a result of the following recent developments:
- On Oct. 12, 2017, President Donald Trump issued Executive Order 13813, which directed the Departments to consider proposing regulations or revising guidance to expand the availability of short-term, limited-duration insurance by allowing it to cover longer periods and be renewed.
- On Dec. 22, 2017, President Trump signed a tax reform bill, called the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, into law, which reduces the ACA’s individual mandate penalty to zero, effective beginning in 2019.
In light of these developments, the final regulations amended the definition of short-term, limited-duration insurance so that it may offer a maximum coverage period of less than 12 months after the original effective date of the contract, consistent with the original definition (that is, the final rule expanded the potential maximum coverage period by nine months). Under this definition, the expiration date specified in the contract takes into account any extensions that may be elected by the policyholder without the issuer’s consent, provided that it has a duration of no longer than 36 months in total (taking into account renewals or extensions).
In addition, the final rule revised the required notice that must appear in the contract and any application materials, due to concern that short-term, limited-duration insurance policies lasting almost 12 months may be more difficult to distinguish from ACA-compliant coverage (which is typically offered on a 12-month basis). Accordingly, one of two versions of the following notice must be prominently displayed (in at least 14-point type) in the contract and in any application materials provided in connection with enrollment:
This coverage is not required to comply with certain federal market requirements for health insurance, principally those contained in the Affordable Care Act. Be sure to check your policy carefully to make sure you are aware of any exclusions or limitations regarding coverage of pre-existing conditions or health benefits (such as hospitalization, emergency services, maternity care, preventive care, prescription drugs, and mental health and substance use disorder services).
Your policy might also have lifetime and/or annual dollar limits on health benefits. If this coverage expires or you lose eligibility for this coverage, you might have to wait until an open enrollment period to get other health insurance coverage. Also, this coverage is not “minimum essential coverage.” If you don’t have minimum essential coverage for any month in 2018, you may have to make a payment when you file your tax return unless you qualify for an exemption from the requirement that you have health coverage for that month.
Due to the elimination of the individual mandate penalty beginning in 2019, the final two sentences of the notice are only required to be included with respect to policies that have a coverage start date before Jan. 1, 2019.
The notice should be in sentence case (rather than all capital letters), and may contain any additional information, as required by applicable state law.