Social Media for Business

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn icons.Social media has been growing exponentially in recent years and many businesses are using social media to grow their business.

Despite this, many, especially small businesses, are having a difficult time learning what they need to know in order to take full advantage of social media, they are also not finding the time to do it. Some social media facts are astonishing these days, such as Facebook has over 1.23 billion active users, there are roughly 9,100 tweets every second, and more than 3 million businesses have LinkedIn Company Pages.

Knowing how to use these tools can be critical in growing your business and that is why we are providing you with this piece. This primer offers you the purpose of each social media platform, how you can get started on each of those platforms, how to use each of them long-term, and some basic etiquette for each social media site, along with some “dos and don’ts” as well. These could help you and your business get started on multiple social media platforms and help you grow your business by reaching new customers through social media. As an independent insurance agency, we know that small businesses can use all the help they can get, especially when it comes to relatively new concepts like social media. Our “Social Media Primer – The Basics of Social Media for Business” helps to get you off on the right foot with using social media to extend your reach and help grow your business.

By: Niklas Almström, Insurance Advisors

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Claim Confidence Kit

People in a meeting.Did you know that nearly 54,000 non-construction laborers were injured or suffered workplace related illness in 2011 according to the U.S. department of Labor. Despite statistics such as this one people don’t think it can happen to them but accidents are fairly common and the best way to manage situations such as these is to be prepared. A lot of people get lost in what is covered, what isn’t covered, and under what conditions.

Policies can be confusing and it is common to purchase a policy and then “forget about it.” Three things can that help deal with an auto, home or workplace accident are understanding the policy, having the right tools on hand, and knowing the steps to take immediately following an accident. If the proper steps are not taken or the details of the policy are not known then this can make it more difficult for the policyholder and the insurance company. This can lead to a long difficult road to getting everything squared away.

As an independent insurance agency it is our job to provide guidance on how to safeguard your business from accidents and understanding that they can occur. It is also our job on to prepare you in order to minimize their negative effects.  Our “Insurance Confidence Kit” helps you evaluate your policies, prepare yourself, and your business with the right tools and take smart steps should an accident occur.

By: Niklas Almström, Insurance Advisors

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Prepare Yourself For A Claim

Preparing for an insurance claim.

People meeting in a business casual setting at a round table.As always, it is important to be familiar with your policy and our job is to help make your policy clear to you and to make sure you have the right coverage for your situation. A basic understanding of the four main areas of a typical insurance policy is the first step in understanding and preparing for the claims process; they are the declaration page, the insuring agreement, exclusions, and conditions.

The Declaration page:

Is usually the first part of an insurance policy. It identifies who is an insured, what risks or property are covered, the policy limits, and the policy period.

The Insuring Agreement:

Summarizes the major promises of the insurance company, as well as stating what is covered. In the Insuring Agreement the insurer agrees to do certain things such as paying losses for covered perils, providing certain services, or agreeing to defend the insured in a liability lawsuit.

The Exclusions:

Take coverage away from the Insuring Agreement, three major types are excluded perils or causes of loss, excluded losses, and excluded property.

The Conditions:

Are provisions inserted in the policy that qualify or place limitations on the insurer’s promise to pay or perform; if the policy conditions are not met the insurer can deny the claim.

Determining liability for an accident or injury can be complicated, but often rests on whether someone was careless or negligent. It is easy enough to say that the person or business that caused an accident must pay the injuries. But before you get to that point, it must be determined who was legally at fault. Most accidents happen because someone was careless. The basic rule is: If one person involved in an accident was less careful than another, the less careful one must pay for at least a portion of the damages suffered by the more careful one. We have created a practical guide that can help you familiarize yourself with insurance policy basics, and of what you can expect from a claims process. It’s all in our “The Claims Process 101” and it’s available to download for free.

By: Niklas Almström, Insurance Advisors

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What to Expect When Following A Loss

We know that at times insurance policies can be seen as complicated and difficult to understand.

Even if you are somewhat familiar with the policy prior to a loss occurring, it can be still be confusing. Lack of policy knowledge prior to a loss can make the process more challenging. If you are involved in an accident but don’t know the basics of the claims process then this can result in delays initiating the claim and this can hinder the ability of the insurance company to fully investigate the accident. This can also make it difficult for them to accurately assess the situation. As an insurance agency we know that part of our responsibility to you, the policyholder is to educate you and to help you make the policies and the claims process as stress-free as possible. Because of that we are offering the “5 Steps To Prepare Yourself For A Claim.” This tip sheet gives you important insights into your policy and outlines some of the critical steps to take in the event of a loss to make the claim process easier for you and the insurance company.

By: Niklas Almström, Insurance Advisors, Inc.

Insurance claims process tip sheet.

Liability Insurance

 What does Liability Insurance it cover?

Man in suit slipping on a banana peal.A general liability insurance policy is something that all businesses need. General liability policies reduce the risk of exposure by protecting businesses from personal injury and from property damage. By the business’s actions either not doing or not doing properly. General liability insurance is meant to cover property damage, personal injury bodily injury, and unforeseen circumstances. These could affect the business or work product. General liability will not cover things such as failure to perform duties to your industry standard, professional negligence, or product liability.

People often say that they are excellent worker in their craft, they go above and beyond all the time, but even with all the hard work and cautiousness, accidents still do happen. Even the best workers have off days, may become distracted or clumsy, and that’s all that is needed in order to be wiped out if they don’t have coverage.

Apart from all of that, even if the worker is always perfect at their craft, it is very possible that a client or customer says that the work or product caused them pain and suffering. Even though that client or customer could be completely wrong or just filing a claim in the hopes that you’ll settle with them, that in itself is enough to cost a fair amount in lost time from work, lawyers’ fees, or court expenses. That could be enough to drive the company into debt.

A handful of the types of businesses that most likely need errors and omissions policies include realtors, doctors, accountants and computer repair people. To avoid situations such as this talk to a licensed insurance professional for help in determining what coverage or coverages are needed in order to be protected from these risks.

Learn about Employment Practices Liability (EPL) Insurance.

By: Niklas Almström, Insurance Advisors

Determining the Proper Business Insurance Coverage

Proper Business Insurance Coverage

meeting with commercial insurance agentTrying to determine coverage without the help of a commercial insurance professional can be a daunting task. You need to take the time to meet and discuss insurance needs with the proper information to get maximum value and protection in coverage. Here are some ways to simplify and maximize your time and efforts in determining the proper coverage needed for your business with your broker. Here’s a list of items and documents you should have with you when you meet with your insurance professional:

Business Location(s) Information

Copies of all leases and landlord information
Construction and building types
Square footage / floors
Additional locations where employees may be contracted
Equipment and materials inventory

Vehicles and Equipment

Make, models and color
Mileage and title(s)
Vin numbers
Titles and registrations to any trailers and road equipment.
Approved drivers list with drivers license information

Owners, Officer’s and Employee Information

Names
Spouses and children
Addresses
Date of birth
Social security numbers

Banking and Financial information

Bank records
Cash flow/Profit and Loss statements
Loan documents
Present insurance declaration pages
Attorney and CPA contact information

Putting together this information and updating it annually will save you time when meeting your insurance agent it will also serve as a great review for your business. Taking the time to meet and discuss insurance needs with this proper information will get you the maximum value and protection in coverage.

By: Niklas Almström, Insurance Advisors, Inc.

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Employment Practices Liability (EPL) Insurance

What is Employment Practices Liability Insurance?

Employment Liability Insurance | Insurance AdvisorsEmployee Practices Liability Insurance is a fairly new form of liability insurance. It provides protection for an employer against claims that are made by employees, former employees, or potential employees. It covers sexual harassment, wrongful termination of employment, discrimination (age, sex, race, disability, etc.), and other employment-related allegations. It covers your firm including the Directors and Officers.

When is Employment Practices Liability Insurance needed?

Insurance is needed as soon as you start to hire employees. Directors and Investors often require that you have this coverage as a part of your Directors and Officers Liability Insurance since they too can be held liable in suits regarding to employee practices.

Why is Employment Practices Liability Insurance needed?

Cases against employers are on the rise so it is important to protect yourself in the event of a suit. It is estimated that 3 out of 5 firms will be sued by an employee. Companies are vulnerable from the pre hiring process through the exit interview, even if that employee was never hired, or only with the company for a short period of time. This can happen to any firm, everyone has heard about such situations. Every employer can be the target of legal action from the past, present, and prospective employees. Even if the claim is minor or fraudulent the defense of a suit can be costly over time, financially and in resources. The most vulnerable to these types of claims are new technology firms along with fast growing companies due to their management teams not having yet designed or implemented proper procedures for hiring, firing, and disciplining employees.

Store personal customer information? Learn about Cyber Liability Insurance.

By: Niklas Almström

Insuring Your Home-Based Business

A typical homeowners policy only provides $2,500 of coverage for business equipment, which is most cases is not enough to cover all of your business property. You may also need coverage for liability and lost income. There are three basic choices to insure your home-based business depending on the insurance company and the type of business you have.

  1. Homeowners Policy Endorsement
    You may be able to double your standard coverage for your business equipment such as computers by adding a simple endorsement to your preexisting homeowners policy, you can raise the policy limits from $2,500 to $5,000 for as little as $25. Some insurance companies allow you to increase your coverage up to $10,000 in increments of $2,500. There is also the option to buy a homeowners liability endorsement to cover in the event a client or delivery personnel gets injured on your premises. These policies are usually only available to businesses that have few business related visitors.
  2. In-Home Business Policy/Program
    This provides more comprehensive coverage for liability and business equipment compared to a homeowners policy endorsement. These policies vary significantly depending on the insurer. These policies most often reimburse you for the loss of important papers and records, accounts receivable and off-site business property in addition to the protection for your business property. Some will pay for the loss of income in the event of a fire or other disaster where your home can’t be used for a period of time. Some in-home policies allow up to three full-time employees as well.
  3. Business Owners Policy (BOP)
    These have been created specifically for small to medium sized companies and could be the perfect solution for you if your home-based business operates in more than one location. A business owners policy like the in-home business policy covers business equipment and property, extra expense and liability, and loss of income, but on a much broader scale than the in-home business policy. If you do have employees it does not include workers compensation, health or disability insurance so you would need separate policies to cover those aspects if necessary.

Winter Precautions

Slip and fall precautionsWinter is here in full force, and with your best efforts to keep your driveway and sidewalks shoveled and salted it is tough to keep your premises completely slip free. You can help protect your employees and customers by taking these recommendations under consideration.

Shovel Safely and Thoroughly

Many business owners choose to shovel their own sidewalks instead of opting to pay someone to save some costs. This option opens up increased liability and injuries to employees. Be sure to teach these employees that will be doing the salting and shoveling the proper techniques in order to help prevent repetitive motion, back, and shoulder injuries.

Contract with a Respected Plowing Company

If it is possible it is recommended to hire a local contractor to plow the snow on your premises. When looking who to hire be sure to obtain certificates of insurance. Once you verify that the business carries insurance it is important to sit down and put together a well thought out snow removal plan. This should outline where the contractor should plow, and where the snow should go. Be sure to identify which areas have the most traffic and what times are the busiest for your business.

Document Work Done and Injuries

With the unpredictable weather a great way to minimize liability is to keep a shoveling and salting log. When it is possible, show that you’ve done everything you could to stay on top of shoveling and salting; most courts will dismiss frivolous claims that arise from slips on ice, because no one can keep a sidewalk clean 100% of the time. This shoveling and salting log should include the date and time, which sidewalks were shoveled or salted, and the name of the person who did the work.

A winter slip and fall injury could happen on your premises despite your best efforts. If someone reports to have fallen in your parking lot or on your sidewalk be sure to investigate the situation immediately. Locate where the fall had taken place and take pictures documenting the location. If ice or snow helped contribute to the fall, be sure to shovel or plow the area as soon as possible, if not, look back at your shoveling and salting log and make a note of when the last time that area was plowed, shoveled, or salted.

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Commercial Driving Safety Tips

Commercial Drivers

Commercial Driving Safety TipsBesides the obvious dangers of everyday driving with motor vehicle accidents, drivers are susceptible to injury on long stretches of driving and other events in their day-to-day work activity. Poor diets, lack of sleep or exercise are issues for many drivers and can lead to greater injury. Sitting improperly, handling cargo improperly, or getting into or out of a vehicle the wrong way can cause many injuries such as muscle strains, back and neck injuries and other disorders. Injuries as such can generate costly workers compensation claims with workers being out for extended periods of time. These injuries can lead to the reducing of a driver’s range of motion, which inhibits his or her ability to avoid on road risk. Here are a few tips for your drivers to help them on the road:

Adjusting the Seat Tips

  • Knees should not be higher than the hips.
  • The front of the seat should not contact the back of the knee. Such contact will cause drivers to slide forward into a rounded posture.
  • You should be able to depress pedals all the way without twisting the back or moving away from the seat.
  • If possible, adjust the lumbar area of the seat to provide gentle support. A towel or lumbar roll may be added to support the low back, if needed.
  • Slightly recline the back so the angle between the back and legs is approximately 110 degrees. Shift the body often, but stay close to this position.
  • Position the steering wheel to keep elbows as close to the sides as possible, minimizing reach.
  • Be sure instrumentation is easy to see.
  • Adjust mirrors so you can see all of them without slouching or twisting. Use the mirrors as a cue to sit up when you slouch, instead of readjusting them.

Driving Tips

  • Vary your seat position slightly every 30 to 60 minutes to vary the stress on your body.
  • Change hand position on the steering wheel often. Do not squeeze harder than necessary.
  • Use a steering wheel cover to protect your hands from a cold wheel.
  • Use a gel seat cushion if the truck vibrates too much.

By: Niklas Almstrom