Tag Archive | "Business Insurance"

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Rates are Rising

News flash! Business insurance premiums have gone up. According to MarketScout rates increased an average of 5% last month. Commercial auto rates increased the most, followed by commercial property and general liability. The rate increases were generally larger for small businesses than for large ones.

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If your insurance premiums didn’t go up last year you can consider yourself lucky. Some insurers increased rates by about 5% in 2012, primarily on workers compensation and property insurance.

Why are insurance premiums rising? Insurers make money in two ways. One is through investment income. Insurance regulators require insurers to keep a substantial portion of their portfolio in cash and other short-term investments. Because short-term investments are low-risk, they don’t generate much return. You already know this if you have a savings account or money market fund. Interest rates are so low you aren’t making much on your investment. Insurers are in the same boat.

Insurers also make money by collecting premiums. Since about 2005 the commercial insurance market has been “soft.” This means that many insurers are offering the same types of coverage. When many insurers compete with each other for business, rates are pushed down. You may feel like you pay a lot to insure your business, but rates have actually been on the low side for the last eight years.

These days many insurers (particularly those that write property insurance) are feeling a bit squeezed. Over the last couple of years insurers have paid out billions of dollars in claims as a result of catastrophic events. For example, in 2012 there were Hurricanes Sandy and Isaac in the East, several major firestorms in the West, and numerous “super cell” thunderstorms in the midsection of the country that spawned damaging tornadoes. There was also a derecho that swept across the eastern half of the country in late June. Until I read the news reports I’d never heard of a derecho. The term means a thunderstorm system that generates very strong straight winds.

The upshot of all this is that insurers have decided to raise rates a bit. The rate increases are expected to be modest (in the 5% range). I have not seen any predictions of the insurance market becoming “hard”. A hard market occurs when few insurers are writing coverage and prices increase dramatically. The market may be “firming” but most industry experts agree that it is still very competitive. Rates should still be reasonable and there’s no reason to panic.

Finally, if you are a contractor or own a company that employs contractors, be sure to read my new article on certificates of liability insurance. Certificates can cause major headaches, so it’s important to understand their what they can and can’t accomplish.

 

 

Source: About.com


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Posted in InsuranceComments Off

How to Get Help with Hurricane Sandy Recovery for Your Business

Many businesses were affected by Hurricane Sandy, and many of these businesses had no recovery plans. If your business had a loss from this terrible storm, you may still be able to get help with recovery. Before you can help from FEMA and the SBA, you should check to see if you are in a county which has been declared a disaster area (look at the information on your state to see if your county is listed).

  • First, you should check your business insurance policy to see if you have business interruption coverage to help with expenses through the time when your business is down.
  • You will need to verify the value of your business property for insurance and tax purposes. The IRS has an article on how to verify the value of business assets so you can use them for a recovery loan or claim them on your business tax return.

For disaster services from the Small Business Administration, you must file an application. You can file online. Read more about the disaster loan process.

While FEMA does not specifically assist businesses, you may be able to get FEMA help. You can find a Disaster Recovery Center to see what help might be available to your business.

Finally, my colleague Williem Perez from Tax Planning has some information about how taxpayers (including small business owners) can get tax relief from the IRS. In particular, the IRS has extended payroll tax returns and payroll tax deposit deadlines (check William’s article to be sure your county is among those listed as qualifying for this relief:

  • Personal, Business and Payroll Tax Returns: any returns normally due to be filed between October 26, 2012 to January 31, 2013 will now be due by February 1, 2013.
  • Payroll Tax Deposits: any payroll tax deposits normally due between October 26 and November 26, 2012, are now due by November 26, 2012.

More about How to Recover from a Business Disaster like Hurricane Sandy.

More about Protecting Your Business Before and After a Disaster

 

Source: About.com


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Posted in EconomyComments Off

If a Business Disaster Hits – Are You Prepared?

Emergency preparedness is more than just a slogan; it’s an essential for any business. With hurricane season starting and the usual summer weather across the country, now’s the time to make sure your business is ready for a disaster or emergency.

Take a minute to answer these questions:

  • Do you backup all your business records in a secure off-site location (not just the Internet)?
  • Do your employees know what to do in case of a business emergency or disaster?
  • Do you know the value of all your business property in case it is destroyed?
  • Is your business insurance up to date and complete?

My new article on How to Prepare for a Business Emergency reviews all of these emergency preparation areas to help you consider everything you need to do to prepare for an emergency or disaster.

Other Business Disaster Preparation Resources:

  • The IRS has YouTube videos to give you information on how to prepare for a disaster, in English, Spanish, and ASL.
  • The Small Business Administration has an Emergency Preparation section which includes information on creating a preparedness program and an emergency communications plan, testing your business systems, and building a disaster preparedness kit.
  • The Red Cross ReadyRating system is for business owners, including an assessment, free tools, and business emergency plans.
  • And the U.S. government’s Ready.Gov site includes an emergency preparation plan (PDF) you can use as a template to create your business emergency plan.

Prepare now and relax this summer, knowing you’ve done everything you can to keep your business and your employees safe and that you can recover from a disaster with minimal loss.

Keep up to date with the latest on business laws and tax changesĀ  – subscribe to my weekly newsletter, my Twitter feed or my Facebook page.



Source: About.com


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Posted in EconomyComments Off

Practical Workers’ Compensation Manual

The Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS) is a great source of information for companies looking to control risk and control business insurance premium costs. The RIMS professional library is a terific way to learn risk and insurance management.

The Society frequently sends me e-mails about product offerings and I do not receive any compensation from RIMS. I mention their publications because I know they are well written and practical.

Workers’ compensation is complicated. It is also mandatory. It is also one area of business insurance where proper preparation and implementation of good company policies can significantly reduce premiums. Often very simple bookkeeping or hiring changes can save 15-20% of premium dollars.

RIMS is offering a 2012 publication entitled Workers Compensation Management Program – Reduce Costs 20% to 50% at its store. “The book guides the user through each aspect of a workers’ compensation program, to learn, step-by-step about a variety of techniques that show organizations exactly how to reduce workers compensation costs.” If your company has a large workers’ compensation premium and doesn’t have a good handle on controling costs, this might be a resource for you.

Source: About.com


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The Butcher With the $1.5 Million Taste Buds

There is this agricultural board in the U.K. called BPEX(British Pig Executive) and it “represents pig levy payers in England. BPEX is focused on enhancing the competitiveness, efficiency and profitability for English pig levy payers and driving demand for English pork and pig meat products in Britain and globally.”

Yeah, I’m not sure I understand all that either.

I probably would have little interaction with BPEX as I live in Ohio and my “bangers” come from Ohio. Our state is typically in the top ten in pork production (Iowa beats us every year). But, there are a number of news reports talking about the butcher with the Board whose taste buds are so valuable to them that they have taken out a $1.5 million insurance policy on his taste buds. Yes, when it comes to business insurance you can insure anything of value.

According to the BPEX “who’s who,” Mr. Keith Fisher is the Butchery Development Manager. He is a master butcher with a lifetime of honed taste buds. In a newspaper interview, Tina Mulholland of BPEX stated, “As a grandmaster butcher and the resident baconologist and head judge for Bacon Connoisseurs’ Week, Keith’s vast experience makes him the ideal person to lead the judging panel of tasters. As part of his role as head judge he and the rest of the panellists had to taste over 200 different cuts and cures of premium bacon for this year’s award. As such, it was imperative that we protect his prize assets for the campaign.”

Source: About.com


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Posted in InsuranceComments Off

Happy Spring!

In honor of Spring, I posted an article about insuring a flower shop.

Whether you own a flower shop or if you yearn to own a flower shop when it starts getting nice outside, always consider the proper business insurance for your business.

Source: About.com


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Violent Tragedy in Chardon, Ohio

Yesterday a 17-year old kid took a gun to school and shot five other kids. Two of those kids have died.

This violent tragedy occurred about thirty minutes away from where I write.

It reinforces the importance of creating a disaster plan and protecting public places from random violence. Between 2004 and 2008 there was an average of 564 people killed at work each year. In 2009, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 521 workplace homicides, accounting for 12% of the total fatal work injuries in the U.S. Unfortunately, workplace and public violence are not isolated events.

Business owners can take steps to secure their workplaces and insure the risk. The typical commercial general liability policy does not cover workplace violence or intentional violent acts. However, there are business insurance products that do provide coverage for such events.

One of the benefits of such business insurance is that the policies typically require the business or property owner to take rudimentary precautions in order to secure coverage. Businesses get the benefit of professional expertise in reducing workplace violence.

And that training and planning cannot be overlooked. One of the only positive things that resulted from this tragedy is the knowledge that pre-planning paid off in saving lives. Chardon school-district Superintendent Joseph Bergant II was quoted today stating, “We’ve had a number of disaster drills in the past. Thank God we put those in place.”

Source: About.com


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Happy Day Before Valentine’s Day (Hint…Hint)

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow February 14, 2012. I thought I would post the day before and mention the holiday so those of you who may have forgotten flowers or chocolate still have time.

It is a tradition without a clear beginning. I was always taught that St. Valentine was a martyr killed for performing Christian marriages in ancient Rome. The date, February 14, being his date of martyrdom. Over time the holiday developed as a recognition of the importance of marriage and bonds between lovers. So, I’m going with that for purposes of this post.

As a tradition, we honor the relationship. We recognize the importance of love and connection with others and set out a day to celebrate those connections.

And those connections are critically important to our well being. In fact, long-term healthy relationships can significantly improve physical and mental health. The effect is significant. Men who are divorced and single at age 48 have a statistically lower chance of living to age 65 compared to their married friends according to studies relied upon by Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher in the book, The Case for Marriage. According to those studies men and women are more prone to alcoholism, heart disease, cancer, and psychological ailments when single as opposed to those people who are in a committed long-term relationship.

Tying all of this into business insurance, a healthy person in a long-term committed relationship is healthier, less prone to error, and more stable. All of these factors save insurance premium dollars for employers.

It all starts with remembering the flowers.

Source: About.com


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Posted in InsuranceComments Off

Is Your Business Covered if a Satellite Hits?

Sometimes I get the best e-mails in this gig! Today was one of those days.

This weekend a German x-ray telescope satellite, ROSAT, is predicted to fall to the Earth. It is reported that large portions of the satellite will survive reentry and strike the Earth. Some reports state that pieces as large as 250 lbs. could strike the ground.

This morning, the helpful folk at the Insurance Information Instituteissued a media release entitled, “REPORTERS WITH QUESTIONS REGARDING INSURANCE COVERAGE FOR FALLING SATELLITES CAN CONTACT THE I.I.I.” Admittedly, at the time I got the release, I was not aware of ROSAT’s impending doom. So, I thought the release a bit…odd.

I am happy to report, according to the Institute:

“Falling objects, including satellites, are covered under standard homeowners and business insurance policies. There would be coverage for the damage the satellite causes to the structure of the home or business, as well as to property or belongings damaged within the building.”

“If a satellite falls on your car, coverage is provided under the optional comprehensive portion of an auto insurance policy. And if falling debris causes an auto accident, the liability portion of the policy would come into play.”

So, go on about your business, satellites crashing to Earth and falling on your car is covered. But, check with your insurance professional to make sure.

Source: About.com


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Posted in InsuranceComments Off

Where to Find Premium Savings?

As we get to the end of 2011 it is time to start looking at ways to save business insurance premium dollars in 2012. I though about this after I finished an article on premium savings for green business practices. There are a great number of ways a business can save on premium expense.

  1. First, safety. Like it or not, the best way to reduce premium costs is by having safe employees and safe business practices and consistently applying those standards.
  2. Your business can review its coverage and existing policies.
  3. Your company can get involved in trade organizations, chambers of commerce, or other organizations and purchase business insurance through the organization for a significant savings.
  4. Employee training, depending on the industry, can reduce premiums. For example, alcohol service training for bartenders and servers.
  5. Security and surveillance at the location of the business, in its vehicles, and anywhere employees have access to cash and valuables can lower premiums.
  6. Health and wellness, smoking cessation, diet guidance and other forms of employee health and wellness education may lead to health insurance premium discounts.

Finally, with all of the ways there are to lower premiums – it is just as easy to engage in bad practices that will raise premiums and costs. So, as we head into the end of the year, a little planning for 2012 with your insurance professional might lead to some premium savings for your business.

Source: About.com


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