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2 days ago · by · 0 comments

Cutting costs without cutting corners, now that the new tax year has begun!

The craftsman’s motto, “measure twice, cut once” is a sort of microcosm of everything you need to know in order to bring projects in on time and under budget. Cutting corners, taking shortcuts, neglecting necessary expenses, that might help you save time and money in the short run, but best case scenario, it’s going to wind up costing you more in labor and budget to redo it later on. Worst case scenario, you build a faulty home that collapses in the first year, if it manages to pass inspection in the first place, and then nobody ever hires you again.

The first thing to go when people take shortcuts tends to be safety. A rush job makes for an unsafe work environment, and results in an unsafe living environment. No matter how much time and money you save on the job, it’s no good if you wind up paying it back in legal fees and time spent in the court room.

So how do you save time and money without taking dangerous shortcuts?

Be Pragmatic When Buying Tools And Materials

Simply put: there’s not much that a $200 hammer can do that a $10 hammer cannot. Don’t cut costs on quality, but shop around, and don’t overspend on fancy tools and materials that you don’t need.

Overestimate All Costs

If you promise your client that you’ll have the addition done in a week, and then a nasty thunderstorm hits on day seven, you’re going to wind up trying to finish up the roof in the middle of a heavy downpour. Promise a two week turnaround on the same project, and the client will be delighted to see the project finished six days early. Don’t make “best case scenario” promises. As they say, plan for the worst, hope for the best.

Pay A Little More For Experience When You Need To

A $12-a-hour lackey might be able to install a kitchen sink if you give him the whole weekend to do it. A $30-an-hour professional plumber might be able to get the same sink installed in an afternoon. Saving money often means spending a little more now so you can spend considerably less in the long run.

Don’t Over-commit Yourself

You’re going to burn through a lot of gas and a lot of daylight if you’re running three jobs at a time and driving all over town to get to them. If client #2 can’t wait a few days for you to finish up a job for client #1, they’re probably a pain in the neck to do business with anyways.
It all comes down to common sense, really: Pace yourself, set realistic goals, spend wisely, and always put safety first.

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1 month ago · by · 0 comments

Cyber Liability Insurance

As technology becomes increasingly important for successful business operations, the value of a strong cyber liability insurance policy continues to grow. The continued rise in the amount of information stored and transferred electronically has resulted in a remarkable increase in the potential exposures facing businesses.

In an age where a stolen laptop or data breach can instantly compromise the personal data of thousands of customers, protecting your business from cyber liability is just as important as some of the more traditional exposures businesses account for in their commercial general liability policies.

Claims Scenario: Outsourcing Gone Wrong

The company: A national construction company that outsources some of its cyber security protections

The challenge: A construction firm partnered with a third-party cloud service provider in order to store customer information. While this service helped the company save on server costs, the third-party firm suffered a data breach.

As a result, the construction firm had to notify 10,000 of its customers and was forced to pay nearly $200,000 in incident investigation costs. The incident was made worse by the fact that the firm did not have a document retention procedure, which complicated the incident response process.

Cyber liability insurance in action: Following a data breach or other cyber event, the right policy can help organizations recoup a number of key costs. Specifically, cyber liability policies often cover investigation and forensics expenses—expenses that can easily bankrupt smaller firms who forgo coverage.

What’s more, when third parties are involved, managing litigation concerns can be a challenge. By using cyber liability insurance, organizations have access to legal professionals well-versed in cyber lawsuits and response.

Claims Scenario: Pardon the Interruption

The company: An online retail store that relies heavily on e-commerce

The challenge: A small-sized, online retailer partnered with a data centre to host its website and store its data. This is not uncommon, as many small businesses don’t have the IT infrastructure to host products, process payments and fulfil orders on-site.

Unfortunately, the data centre was targeted in a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. As a result of this attack, the retailer’s website went down for several days. While functionality was eventually restored, business interruption costs from lost sales and website downtime was over $165,000.

Cyber liability insurance in action: DDoS attacks are one of many weapons cyber criminals use to infiltrate and disrupt businesses. These attacks can impact any organization that owns a website, regardless of where it’s hosted.

Cyber liability insurance is one of the only protections organizations have against costly DDoS attacks and similar disruptions. This is because cyber policies offer business interruption loss reimbursement. Following a disruption caused by a cyber event, policies kick in and help organizations recover from any financial losses.

Benefits of Cyber Liability Insurance

  • Data breach coverage—In the event of a breach, organizations are required by law to notify affected parties. This can add to overall data breach costs, particularly as they relate to security fixes, identity theft protection for those impacted by the breach and protection from possible legal action. Cyber liability policies include coverage for these exposures, thus safeguarding your data from cyber criminals.
  • Business interruption loss reimbursement—A cyber attack can lead to an IT failure that disrupts business operations, costing your organization both time and money. Cyber liability policies may cover your loss of income during these interruptions. What’s more, increased costs to your business operations in the aftermath of a cyber attack may also be covered.
  • Cyber extortion defence—Ransomware and similar malicious software are designed to steal and withhold key data from organizations until a steep fee is paid. As these types of attacks increase in frequency and severity, it’s critical that organizations seek cyber liability insurance, which can help recoup losses related to cyber extortion.
  • Legal support—In the wake of a cyber incident, businesses often seek legal assistance. This assistance can be costly. Cyber liability insurance can help businesses afford proper legal work following a cyber attack.

When cyber attacks like data breaches and hacks occur, they can result in devastating damage. Businesses have to deal with business disruptions, lost revenue and litigation. It is important to remember that no organization is immune to the impact of cyber crime. As a result, cyber liability insurance has become an essential component to any risk management program.

Cyber exposures aren’t going away and, in fact, continue to escalate. Businesses need to be prepared in the event that a cyber attack strikes. To learn more about cyber liability insurance, contact Scurich Insurance today.

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6 months ago · by · 0 comments

Disaster Relief for Farmers

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. 

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7 months ago · by · 0 comments

Safety Measures That Prevent Employee Theft

Employee theft, fraud and embezzlement can cause serious financial and reputation damage to your company. Implement several safety measures as you prevent employee theft and protect your business.

Review Your Hiring Practices

Start with honest employees, and you could reduce your theft risk. Consider implementing the following pre-employment checks for all employees, particularly those who work with finances, confidential data or inventory.

  • Criminal history of theft, fraud or violence.
  • Civil history of fraud, collections or restraining orders.
  • Driver’s license report of serious or numerous violations.
  • Education verification of degrees and certifications from accredited institutions.
  • Employment verification of positions, length, performance, reasons for leaving, and eligibility for rehire.

Utilize Internal Controls

Prepare for the possibility of theft with policies and procedures that limit this risk. 

  • Separate duties – Place different employees in charge of transaction processing and recording.
  • Control access – Only authorized employees should have access to accounting systems and physical and financial information and assets.
  • Authorize control policies – Develop a secure process for initiating, authorizing, recording, and reviewing financial transactions and inventory.
  • Update security – Install security cameras, engrave “do not duplicate” on keys to sensitive information, and change locks and security codes when cleared employees leave.  

Perform Impartial Audits

In addition to regular audits, hire impartial parties to conduct random audits. Examine financial, inventory and other records as you encourage employees to resist temptation.  

Create a Positive Work Environment

When your work environment supports collaboration, fairness, and recognition and implements clear policies, organizational structure, and communication, your employees will probably remain honest. They will feel goodwill toward the company and may be less likely to commit theft and jeopardize the supportive, friendly and healthy environment. 

Educate Your Employees

Partner with your employees to avoid and prevent theft. They should know your company’s internal controls, conduct and ethics policy, and discipline process. Ask new employees to review these documents and sign a form indicating they’ve done so, and review the policies at least annually.

Use an Anonymous Reporting System

Equip employees, clients and vendors with the power to report suspicions or proof of theft, fraud or embezzlement. An anonymous reporting system protects your staff while giving you valuable information that protects your company.

Investigate all Theft Reports

Demonstrate that you take theft seriously when you investigate every theft report you receive. The investigation should be thorough, prompt and transparent.

Purchase Adequate Insurance

Commercial crime insurance protects your business as it covers financial losses and liability. Your insurance agent can help you purchase the right insurance coverage and adequate policy limits.

Protect your company from employee theft when you implement several security measures. They can reduce your theft, fraud and embezzlement risk.

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7 months ago · by · 0 comments

Understand Builder’s Risk Insurance

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.
  • Fire.
  • Lightning.
  • Wind, hail or rain storms.
  • Explosion.
  • 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.
  • Accidents.
  • Subcontractor actions or materials.
  • Professional liability.
  • Earthquakes.
  • Water damage.
  • Weather damage to property in the open.
  • Mechanical breakdown.
  • Employee theft.
  • Contract penalty.
  • Voluntary parting.
  • War.
  • 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.

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7 months ago · by · 0 comments

Update Your Business Insurance Before A Natural Disaster Strikes

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.

Cover Flooding

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.

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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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