You own your home, have your own business, and drive a new car. Though you are not rich, you are comfortable. It will be a shame to lose it all if someone sustains injuries by your car or at your home or place of business.
You have insurance you say; you have standard auto liability insurance. The limits are $100,000 for a single person and a total of $300,000 for multiple people. Suppose you are responsible for any accident involving a shuttle taking ten people to the airport. Three hundred thousand dollars allows on average $10,000 per person. That is hardly enough to cover the emergency room fees let alone any surgery, rehabilitation, lost wages and other medical expenses. If there is a fatality, you may consider bankruptcy.
Your business has a small storefront on a busy street. A middle-aged executive comes into your place of business following a rainstorm. Your floor is wet and slippery, and the executive slips and falls. He strikes his head, loses consciousness, and goes into a coma. Your general business liability insurance has the same limit as your auto insurance – $100,000. It may cover part of the hospital bill, but the official says he is permanently disabled and sues you for future wages for $1 million. Since your business is a sole proprietorship, bankruptcy beckons.
Your son invites a friend over for a swim in your pool. He dives into the shallow end strikes his head and suffers traumatic brain injury. Sadly, the damage is permanent — with standard liability limits of $100,000 — well, you know, bankruptcy stares you in the face.
The inexpensive, elegant solution to the problem is umbrella insurance. When a claim exceeds your standard liability insurance limits, your umbrella insurance policy takes over and pays up to your umbrella liability limits. Most people who buy umbrella insurance extend their liability limits to $5 million.
Though you hope never to use it, for a few hundred dollars per year, you can protect your assets, and avoid financial disaster. Umbrella insurance pays when you are responsible for an injury that exceeds your standard liability limits.
Cyber security threats and trends can change year over year as technology continues to advance at alarming speeds. As such, it’s critical for organizations to reassess their data protection practices at the start of each new year and make achievable cyber security resolutions to help protect themselves from costly breaches.
The following are resolutions your company can implement to ensure you don’t become the victim of a cyber crime:
- Provide security training—Employees are your first line of defense when it comes to cyber threats. Even the most robust and expensive data protection solutions can be compromised should an employee click a malicious link or download fraudulent software. As such, it’s critical for organizations to thoroughly train personnel on common cyber threats and how to respond. Employees should understand the dangers of visiting harmful websites, leaving their devices unattended and oversharing personal information on social media. Your employees should also know your cyber security policies and know how to report suspicious activity.
- Install strong anti-virus software and keep it updated—Outside of training your employees on the dangers of poor cyber security practices, strong anti-virus software is one of the best ways to protect your data. Organizations should conduct thorough research to choose software that’s best for their needs. Once installed, anti-virus programs should be kept up to date.
- Instill safe web browsing practices—Deceptive and malicious websites can easily infect your network, often leading to more serious cyber attacks. To protect your organization, employees should be trained on proper web usage and instructed to only interact with secured websites. For further protection, companies should consider blocking known threats and potentially malicious webpages outright.
- Create strong password policies—Ongoing password management can help prevent unauthorized attackers from compromising your organization’s password-protected information. Effective password management protects the integrity, availability and confidentiality of an organization’s passwords. Above all, you’ll want to create a password policy that specifies all of the organization’s requirements related to password management. This policy should require employees to change their password on a regular basis, avoid using the same password for multiple accounts and use special characters in their password.
- Use multi-factor authentication—While complex passwords can help deter cyber criminals, they can still be cracked. To further prevent cyber criminals from gaining access to employee accounts, multi-factor authentication is key. Multi-factor authentication adds a layer of security that allows companies to protect against compromised credentials. Through this method, users must confirm their identity by providing extra information (e.g., a phone number, unique security code) when attempting to access corporate applications, networks and servers.
- Get vulnerability assessments—The best way to evaluate your company’s data exposures is through a vulnerability assessment. Using a system of simulated attacks and stress tests, vulnerability assessments can help you uncover entry points into your system. Following these tests, security experts compile their findings and provide recommendations for improving network and data safety.
- Patch systems regularly and keep them updated—A common way cyber criminals gain entry into your system is by exploiting software vulnerabilities. To prevent this, it’s critical that you update applications, operating systems, security software and firmware on a regular basis.
- Back up your data—In the event that your system is compromised, it’s important to keep backup files. Failing to do so can result in the loss of critical business or proprietary data.
- Understand phishing threats and how to respond—In broad terms, phishing is a method cyber criminals use to gather personal information. In these scams, phishers send an email or direct users to fraudulent websites, asking victims to provide sensitive information. These emails and websites are designed to look legitimate and trick individuals into providing credit card numbers, account numbers, passwords, usernames or other sensitive information. Phishing is becoming more sophisticated by the day, and it’s more important than ever to understand the different types of attacks, how to identify them and preventive measures you can implement to keep your organization safe. As such, it’s critical to train employees on common phishing scams and other cyber security concerns. Provide real-world examples during training to help them better understand what to look for.
- Create an incident response plan—Most organizations have some form of data protection in place. While these protections are critical for minimizing the damages caused by a breach, they don’t provide clear action steps following an attack. That’s where cyber incident response plans can help. While cyber security programs help secure an organization’s digital assets, cyber incident response plans provide clear steps for companies to follow when a cyber event occurs. Response plans allow organizations to notify impacted customers and partners quickly and efficiently, limiting financial and reputational damages.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- 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:
- Religious organizations
- Technology consultants and solutions providers
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.