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4 months ago · by · 0 comments

To Bundle, or Not to Bundle

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.
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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.

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5 months ago · by · 0 comments

Review Your Business Insurance Annually

Every business goes through different cycles of profit and loss. This means that your risks and potential exposures are being affected similarly. At the same time, Commercial insurance coverage is also evolving and changing. Nothing in either your business or the insurance industry remains static. This is why you should re-evaluate your insurance coverage at least once a year. A regular insurance audit will help you plug any coverage holes that might impact your bottom-line severely should an unexpected loss occur.
Ask yourself: How much risk are we prepared to accept for our business? Essentially, anything that you are not prepared to take on needs to be covered by suitable insurance coverage. To measure the amount of risk in evaluating the insurance needs of your company, there are a number of key areas you need to examine — in conjunction with one of our knowledgeable insurance agents. The primary areas you should re-evaluate annually are:

General Liability. How much liability protection does your company currently require? The amount of coverage you had purchased previously was probably adequate at the time, but remember: Your business has changed since then and so has your liability exposure. What was suitable for your needs last year might no longer be sufficient if your company has grown and expanded. The larger your growth, the more you become exposed to potential, increased, and significant liability.

Property Insurance. Business property evaluations go up and down as commercial real estate values fluctuate. You could now be paying too little or too much for the necessary coverage. The same applies to your equipment, machinery, and your inventory. Adding or subtracting in these three areas, while factoring in appreciation or depreciation, can affect not only the premiums you pay, but also your overall Property insurance coverage in the event of a significant loss, such as a fire or natural disaster.

Workers Compensation. The premium you pay is largely dependent on the roles of each and every employee — from the shop floor to your managerial staff. If the roles of your personnel have changed relative to how your business has grown, shrunk, or evolved, then you need to re-evaluate these changes relative to the premium rate you pay for each worker. The premium cost changes and/or differences can be substantial.

Business Interruption Insurance. You might have enough insurance to get your business re-built and your equipment replaced in the event of a disaster, but did you also factor in your business operating expenses? Many companies neglect that part of the equation and fail to develop a disaster recovery plan. Even if your company has a plan, what about the vendors that are key to the survival of your business? Your own business might be fine, but in some other part of the state or country, a key manufacturer or supplier could get nailed. Did you know that you could extend your coverage to cover this circumstance, too?

Insurance Protection of Executives. The size of your company doesn’t matter. If you have employees, you can face claims for sexual harassment or wrongful dismissal. You might not have considered the need to purchase Employment Practices Liability insurance before, but if your company has grown, that expansion has increased your risk to potential claims. Similarly, if you sponsor a 401(k) plan for your employees, and its performance has not met expectations or an employee feels the investment was mismanaged, do you have adequate Directors & Officers Liability to handle such claims?

Summary. To safeguard your business from potential risk, an annual insurance audit is a must. You might discover that changes in your business might have exposed you to new risks. Likewise, insurance premiums are a significant expense, and you might find that you are paying too much or covering exposures that are no longer relevant.

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9 months ago · by · 0 comments

Business Owners Policies (BOPs)

Business owners face a variety of risks unique to their specific type of business. Choosing appropriate insurance coverage is key to ensuring that the business remains lucrative, especially when any of those risks become reality. A business owners policy (BOP) takes some of the guesswork out of choosing insurance and can make it easier to safeguard your business.  

A BOP bundles several types of coverage in one package, similar to the way a homeowners policy works, but is designed for small and midsized businesses. Not only does it help businesses cover all their risks, but it can also save money, since the bundle of services typically costs less than the cost of all the individual coverages combined.

Risks Covered by BOPs

BOPs are packaged for businesses that generally face the same type of risks. For example, a restaurant BOP can be designed and packaged differently than a manufacturing BOP.

Typically, a BOP covers a business’s equipment and merchandise while also covering everything that a general liability policy covers. It also covers equipment, furniture and supplies in up to five separate locations, including rented and leased equipment.

Exclusions

Although a BOP is a convenient insurance option for small to midsized businesses, it does not cover professional liability, auto insurance and workers’ compensation. Workers’ life, health and disability coverage is also excluded.

For those exclusions, business owners can purchase separate coverage to add to the BOP. Other risks that a BOP does not cover include the following:  

  • Business interruption
  • Crime
  • Legal obligations as a result of any harm caused to others as a result of faulty business operations

Good Candidates for a BOP

A BOP may be a smart choice for businesses that have the following characteristics:  

  • A physical location, whether home-based or outside the home
  • Assets that can be stolen, including products, cash, furniture and digital property
  • A high risk for lawsuits
  • Less than 100 employees and $5 million in sales

The following types of businesses frequently purchase BOPs to protect from losses not covered by general liability insurance:

  • Manufacturers
  • Religious organizations
  • Apartments
  • Restaurants
  • Technology consultants and solutions providers
  • Wholesalers
  • Retailers

Eligibility

Small to midsized businesses need to meet specific criteria to be eligible for a BOP. When determining eligibility, insurers consider factors that include the type of business, size of its primary location, class of business and revenue. 

Premiums for BOPs are based on eligibility factors, as well as financial stability, building construction, security features and fire hazards.

When purchasing business insurance it’s important to obtain the right amount. Contact Scurich Insurance for guidance as to whether a BOP is a logical choice for your business.

 

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12 months ago · by · 0 comments

Benefits of Employment Practices Liability Insurance

Business leaders make decidions each day on a range of issues including things like hiring, firing, compensation, promotions and the work environment. Every one of these decisions impacts your employees and, depending on the outcome, could result in a claim related to wrongful employment practices.

These claims can disrupt business, hurt morale, damage your reputation and lead to serious financial damages. Thankfully, employment practicies liability (EPL) insurance can provide organizations with protection from the above risks. Specifically, EPL insurance provides the following to policyholders.

Coverage for alleged acts.

EPL insurance not only protects organization from actual wrongful acts, but alleged acts as well. Specifically, EPL coverage can safeguard an organization from claims related to discrimination, harassment, retaliation and wrongful termination.

Timely responses to lawsuits.

Employees suing their employers is common, and orginzations will want to be prepared. This is especially important when you consider that there is no cap on how much a jury can award and that settlements in employment-related cases can easily reach six-figures.

Access to legal help.

Strong EPL policies provide the insured with access to legal resouces. This can prove invaluable if you need advice quickly.


Risk management strategies.

While employment-related lawsuits can arise at any time, organizations that take the time to implement basic risk controls are better equipped to avoid claims altogether. Many insurance companies provide access to risk management training and human resources consulting. These services can greatly reduce the likelihood that your company is sued by an employee.


Additional protection for your directors and officers.

While directors and officers (D&O) insurance can defend against employment-related lawsuits, dedicated EPL insurance is necessary for many orginzations.Having a policy that provides separate coverage for lawsuits connected to wrongful terminations, discrimination, invasion of privacy and similar employent claims ensures that the limits on your D&O policy aren’t exhuasted unnecessarily.

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12 months ago · by · 0 comments

9 Cyber Risk Questions Every Board Should Ask

When a data breach or other cyber event occurs, the damages can be significant, often resulting in lawsuits, fines and serious financial losses. What’s more, cyber exposures impact businesses of all kinds, regardless of their size, area of focus, or status as a private or public entity.

In order for organizations to truly protect themselves from cyber risks, corporate boards must play an active role. Not only does involvement from leadership improve cyber security, it can also reduce liability for board members.

To help oversee their organization’s cyber risk management, boards should ask the following questions:


Does the organization utilize technology to prevent data breaches?

Every company must have robust cyber security tools and anti-virus systems in place. These systems act as a first line of defense for detecting and preventing potentially debilitating breaches.

While it may sound obvious, many organizations fail to take cyber threats seriously and implement even the simplest protections. Boards can help highlight the importance of cyber security, ensuring that basic, preventive measures are in place.

These preventive measures must be reviewed on a regular basis, as cyber threats can evolve quickly. Boards should ensure that the management team reviews company technology at least annually, ensuring that cyber security tools are up to date and effective.


Has the board or the company’s management team identified a senior member to be responsible for organizational cyber security preparedness?

Organizations that fail to create cyber-specific leadership roles could end up paying more for a data breach than organizations that do. This is because, in the event of a cyber incident, a fast response and clear guidance is needed to contain a breach and limit damages.

When establishing a chief information security officer or similar cyber leadership role, boards need to be involved in the process. Cyber leaders should have a good mix of technical and business experience. This individual should also be able to explain cyber risks and mitigation tactics at a high level so they are easy to understand for those who are not well-versed in technical terminology.

It should be noted that hiring a chief information security officer or creating a new cyber leadership role is not practical for every organization. In these instances, organizations should identify a qualified, in-house team member and roll cyber security responsibilities into their current job requirements. At a minimum, boards need to ensure that their company has a go-to resource for managing cyber security.


Does the organization have a comprehensive cyber security program? Does it include specific policies and procedures?

It is essential for companies to create comprehensive data privacy and cyber security programs. These programs help organizations build a framework for detecting threats, remain informed on emerging risks and establish a cyber response plan.

Corporate boards should ensure that cyber security programs align with industry standards. These programs should be audited on a regular basis to ensure effectiveness and internal compliance.


Does the organization have a breach response plan in place?

Even the most secure organizations can be impacted by a data breach. What’s more, it can often take days or even months for a company to notice its data has been compromised.

While cyber security programs help secure an organization’s digital assets, breach response plans provide clear steps for companies to follow when a cyber event occurs. Breach response plans allow organizations to notify impacted customers and partners quickly and efficiently, limiting financial and reputational damage.

Board members should ensure that crisis management and breach response plans are documented. Specific actions noted in breach response plans should also be rehearsed through simulations and team interactions to evaluate effectiveness.

In addition, response plans should clearly identify key individuals and their responsibilities. This ensures that there is no confusion in the event of a breach and your organization’s response plan runs as smoothly as possible.


Has the organization discussed and formalized a cyber risk budget? How engaged is the board in terms of providing guidance related to cyber exposures?

Both overpaying and underpaying for cyber security services can negatively affect an organization. Creating a budget based on informed decisions and research helps companies invest in the right tools.

Boards can help oversee investments and ensure that they are directed toward baseline security controls that address common threats. Boards, with guidance from the chief security officer or a similar cyber leader, should also prioritize funding. That way, an organization’s most vulnerable and important assets are protected.


Has the management team provided adequate employee training to ensure sensitive data is handled correctly?

While employees can be a company’s greatest asset, they also represent one of their biggest cyber liabilities. This is because hackers commonly exploit employees through spear phishing and similar scams. When this happens, employees can unknowingly give criminals access to their employer’s entire system.

In order to ensure data security, organizations must provide thorough employee training. Boards can help oversee this process and instruct management to make training programs meaningful and based on more than just written policies.

In addition, boards should see to it that education programs are properly designed and foster a culture of cyber security awareness.


Has management taken the appropriate steps to reduce cyber risks when working with third parties?

Working alongside third-party vendors is common for many businesses. However, whenever an organization entrusts its data to an outside source, there’s a chance that it could be compromised.

Boards can help ensure that vendors and other partners are aware of their organization’s cyber security expectations. Boards should work with the company’s management team to draw up a standard third-party agreement that identifies how the vendor will protect sensitive data, whether or not the vendor will subcontract any services and how it intends to inform the organization if data is compromised.


Does the organization have a system in place for staying current on cyber trends, news, and federal, state, industry and international data security regulations?

Cyber-related legislation can change with little warning, often having a sprawling impact on the way organizations do business. If organizations do not keep up with federal, state, industry and international data security regulations, they could face serious fines or other penalties.

Boards should ensure that the chief information security officer or similar leader is aware of his or her role in upholding cyber compliance. In addition, boards should ensure that there is a system in place for identifying, evaluating and implementing compliance-related legislation.

Additionally, boards should constantly seek opportunities to bring expert perspectives into boardroom discussions. Often, authorities from government, law enforcement and cyber security agencies can provide invaluable advice. Building a relationship with these types of entities can help organizations evaluate their cyber strengths, weaknesses and critical needs.


Has the organization conducted a thorough risk assessment? Has the organization purchased or considered purchasing cyber liability insurance?

Cyber liability insurance is specifically designed to address the risks that come with using modern technology—risks that other types of business liability coverage simply won’t cover.

The level of coverage your business needs is based on your individual operations and can vary depending on your range of exposure. As such, boards, alongside the company’s management team, need to conduct a cyber risk assessment and identify potential gaps. From there, organizations can work with their insurance broker to customize a policy that meets their specific needs.


Asking thoughtful questions can help boards better understand the strategies management uses to prevent, detect and respond to data breaches. When it comes to cyber threats, organizations need to be diligent and thorough in their risk prevention tactics, and boards can help move the cyber conversation in the right direction.

Cyber exposures impact organizations from top to bottom, and all team members play a role in maintaining a secure environment. However, managing personnel and technology can be a challenge, particularly for organizations that don’t know where to start.

That’s where Scurich Insurance can help. Contact us today to learn more about cyber risk mitigation strategies you can implement today to secure your business.

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12 months ago · by · 0 comments

Liquor Liability Insurance

Serving alcohol is a common practice for restaurants, bars, catering companies, entertainment venues and similar establishments. While providing a wide array of beverage options is important, serving alcohol in particular can create a variety of risks for business owners.

For instance, if a patron of your business becomes intoxicated and injures a third party or causes property damage, you could be held liable for the damages. In order to protect your business from serious financial and reputational losses, it’s important to consider purchasing liquor liability insurance.

What is Liquor Liability?

The term liquor liability refers to an organization’s legal and financial responsibility for the actions of individuals who consume alcohol at their establishment. Under liquor liability laws, a business can be found liable for both the bodily injury and property damage caused by a person they improperly served alcohol to.

What is Liquor Liability Insurance?

Liquor liability insurance is designed to protect any business that sells or serves alcoholic beverages. Specifically, this type of insurance covers damages that result from things like fights, careless behavior or automobile accidents caused by individuals who have consumed alcohol.

Liquor liability is important, as it protects you should your clients or patrons sue your business for damages related to their intoxication—something a general liability policy won’t cover.

Most businesses carry a general liability policy, which covers claims against your business for bodily injury, property damage or personal injury. While these policies often include host liquor liability coverage, they only provide protection related to the incidental service of alcohol. While host liquor liability may protect you if you are simply serving alcohol at a company party, it does not offer the coverage you need if you sell alcohol as part of your business.

What’s more, the majority of states require establishments that serve, sell or assist in the purchase of alcohol to carry liquor liability insurance. As such, it’s important to know what to look for in a policy.

What Should My Policy Account For?

When it comes to protecting your business from any kind of liability, it’s critical that you account for common risks. In order to secure the right level of coverage, keep in mind the following policy enhancements when shopping for liquor liability insurance:

Assault and battery coverage.

When alcohol is involved, fights are a common risk. However, many liquor liability policies exclude coverage for assault and battery. Therefore, it’s important to ensure you account for this protection when building your policy. It should be noted that assault and battery coverage can also be extended to include specific incidents such as sexual assault, stabbings and shootings.

Defense costs.

Legal fees from liquor-related claims can easily exceed tens of thousands of dollars. Be sure that your policy accounts for defense costs outside of the policy limit. Otherwise, legal expenses could quickly exhaust your policy limit, leaving little to no insurance to pay for any damages.

Employees included.

Even if you forbid your employees to drink on the job, there’s a chance that they may disregard your instruction. Look for a policy that will cover your employees as patrons to better protect your business from liquor-related incidents.

Mental damages.

In the event of a lawsuit, claimants may allege they were injured in nonphysical ways. In these instances, patrons could sue you for stress, mental anguish or psychological injury. Ensure that your policy accounts for these types of injuries.

It should be noted that liquor liability insurance won’t cover claims that arise from the sale of alcohol to minors or similar illegal transactions. Be sure your employees are instructed to verify patrons are of legal drinking age.

What Determines Pricing?

The underwriting process for liquor liability insurance can differ depending on the type of business you conduct. In general, the following four factors determine the rating and pricing of coverage:

Type of venue. When examining a business’s risk, underwriters look to identify the primary purpose of a venue. If you own a restaurant, the primary purpose of your venue is to serve food, so you are generally considered to have less risk than a nightclub or tavern.

Location of the venue.

Liquor laws can vary drastically depending on the jurisdiction. Each state has its own scoring system based on the nature of local dram shop laws. Dram shop laws impose certain liability standards on area venues that serve alcohol. Because the strictness of these laws may change from location to location, where you operate your business can have a major impact on how your liquor liability insurance is priced.

Percentage of liquor sales.

As a general rule, the more alcohol sales you make, the higher your premiums will be. This factor tends to have more of an impact on pricing than venue type, as a restaurant that has a high percentage of alcohol sales may be priced similar to a bar.

Individual traits of the risk. There are a number of miscellaneous variables underwriters will take into consideration when pricing out policies, including the following:

  • Types of entertainment offered
  • Experience level of management
  • Formal loss control measures
  • Security measures and procedures for dealing with intoxicated patrons

Serve Your Patrons Responsibly

When serving liquor, the best way to protect your business from potential claims is through proper risk management and liquor liability insurance. These policies can be complex, and it’s important to discuss the nature of your operations with a qualified insurance broker. Contact Scurich Insurance today to learn more.

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Scurich Insurance Services
Phone: (831) 661-5697
Fax: (831) 661-5741

Physical:
783 Rio Del Mar Blvd., Suite7,
Aptos, Ca 95003-4700

Mailing:
PO Box 1170
Watsonville, CA 95077-1170

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(831) 661-5697

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