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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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.

Download our free Return-to-Work Program tip sheet!
Insurance Advisors free Return-to-Work Tip Sheet

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.

Extreme Winter Weather Precautions for Businesses

How to prepare your business for extreme winter weather.

Building Covered in Snow| Insurance AdvisorsWith winter right around the corner many businesses are unprepared when normal winter weather turns to extreme winter weather. Many events can occur that could result in devastating losses. During severe cold water or sprinkler pipes can freeze and burst, thus affecting paperwork, records, computers, and machinery. A broken or open window in an un-insulated area can let in enough cold to set off a chain of events, freezing nearby piping and major setbacks. There are some things that you can do to prepare for the winter ahead to avoid these costly problems.

  • Update your Emergency Response Program for winter emergencies to include proper procedures for severe cold conditions. Also have someone monitor the weather forecast to plan ahead for these conditions, and procedures for loss of heat or electricity.
  • Determine which company processes depend on building heat or electricity for safety and need special attention.
  • Identify processes, equipment, and piping that contain or use water or other liquid that is susceptible to freezing, those might need to be drained in the event of loss of heat or electricity.
  • Locate building areas that are more difficult to heat, install an ordinary thermometer to monitor temperature during times of severe cold.
  • Service the heating system before the winter season begins to insure that everything is working properly.
  • Inspect the exterior of your buildings to minimize unnecessary openings, fix windows and doors so that they close tightly. Insulate and weather strip as needed.

 

Workers’ Compensation: Reducing Premiums Check List

Workers CompensationReducing Your Workers’ Compensation Costs

The easiest and most effective way to reduce your workers’ compensation costs is to reduce the number of accidents and injuries in your workplace, but how can you know that you have covered all the bases when working to minimize your Workers’ Compensation costs?  It can be a bit confusing on where to start but actually starting the process can be quite easy, as it should be. By being aware of safety issues in your workplace it will help you control unnecessary costs, increase your productivity, and create a safe environment for your employees. You help this by using the 5 Ps of controlling workers compensation costs:

  • Prevent
  • Prepare
  • Pay Attention
  • Promote
  • Properly Classify

By using these 5 Ps you can increase the safety of your workplace and reduce the number of accidents, consequently reducing your Experience Modification Factor, or Mod.

Niklas Almstrom

Download our Free Reducing Workers’ Comp. Check List

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Business Owners Insurance (BOP): What It Covers

What Does a Business Owners Policy (BOP) Cover?Insurance Advisors| Plymouth, Minnesota

Your business is an extension of who you are and a reflection of all you’ve accomplished so don’t let things damage to the property or injury to others harm it. A BOP combines essential insurance coverage’s, and it also allows for the flexibility to purchase optional, additional coverage to help protect your assets so you can concentrate on what matters most to you, running your business.

The BOP combines coverage for all major property and liability exposures into one package policy suitable for most small businesses. It can be compared to the same way that a homeowner’s insurance policy protects your home and personal belongings. BOP’s combine two of the most important coverage’s for small businesses: Business Liability and Property. This allows you to save money while also protecting your property and belongings.

BOP’s include:  

  1. Property insurance for buildings and contents owned by the company. There are two different forms, standard and there is special which provides more comprehensive coverage.
  2. Business interruption insurance, which covers the loss of income resulting from a fire or other catastrophe that disrupts the operation of the business. It can also include the extra expense of operating out of a temporary location.
  3. Liability protection, which covers your company’s legal responsibility for the harm it may cause to others. This harm is a result of things that you and your employees do or fail to do in your business operations that may cause bodily injury or property damage due to defective products, faulty installations and errors in services provided.

Workers Compensation: Reducing Premiums

How to Reduce Workers’ Compensation Premiums

By taking simple steps to reduce injuries in the workplace, you can reduce and control your workers compensation costs. Workers compensation premiums are calculated based off your Experience Modification Factor or Mod. This formula compares your company’s actual losses to your expected losses by industry type. It includes factors that account for company size, unexpected large losses and the difference between loss frequency and loss severity, to achieve a balance between fairness and accountability. To control your Mod develop a sound safety program, return to work program (for more information and tips on return to work programs see our blog about Return to Work Programs), and proper prevention procedure to reduce loss frequency. The most effective way to reduce workers compensation premiums is having a safe work environment and a proactive safety program to reduce losses. Some other tips include:

  • Train Employees – regularly on the safe and correct use of equipment
  • Safety Manuals - are created and distributed to all employees
  • Return to Work- the sooner the better, but with modified or alternate work

Learn how to increase the safety for your employees while decreasing your premium costs. Download our free Reducing Premiums Workers’ Compensation Tip Sheet today!

Workers Compensation Reducing Premiums

 

Property Insurance: Tips for Owners

Tips for Property Owners:

Property owners can often overlook the potential for losses to or on their property, but it is something that needs to be considered. When a property owner understands the risks, they can be managed better. Some scenarios to consider include:

  • Fire- A grease fire starts in a restaurant in your building and spreads damaging tenant’s contents.
  • Third-party injury or illness- A patron slips and falls in the parking lot, spraining her ankle.
  • Vacancy- Your unoccupied building is vandalized, and there is theft of stored equipment.
  • Natural perils- A tornado sweeps through town, damaging your building and your tenant’s goods.

How can you reduce your risk?

A well designed lease agreement can assist in transferring responsibility for payment due to bodily injury of property damage to the legally responsible party. When evaluating your current lease or other formal contract, check to ensure your agreement includes these:

  • Drafted by knowledgeable counsel and reviewed by your attorney signed by all tenants
  • Authorizes you to develop, change and enforce rules and regulations for the premises
  • Clearly defines which areas you control and which tenants controls
  • Contains provisions regarding use of hazardous substances, dispensing of liquor and other activities that increase the risk of loss
  • Defines the maintenance obligations of all parties while specifying the scope of the operations and the steps you will take if the tenant defaults on these obligations
  • Some property owners require their tenants to hold a Renters Insurance policy

While it is your duty as the property owner to live up to your obligations, it is also smart to make sure your tenants take responsibility for their actions and premises upkeep. By having a clear cut, easy to understand legal binding lease or contract, everyone understands what is expected of them and you at the property you own and who is responsible in the event of a loss.

Get your free property insurance quote today!

Return-to-Work Programs Save You Money

Why is a Return to Work Program so important?

RTW Tip SheetThe Purpose of a Return to Work (RTW) Program is to return workers to employment at the earliest date possible following an injury or illness. Creating a safe work environment is the main factor in keeping employees safe and avoiding costly workers’ compensation claims. But accidents happen, and when they do an employee that misses time can often come back feeling “lost” or “out of the loop” due to the constant change in businesses today. A RTW program can produce results that directly help the returning employee, these include:

  1. Decreasing lost productivity
  2. Increasing morale
  3. Reducing employee lost time and cost associated with an injury
  4. Decreasing costs for hiring and training a new employee
  5. Decreased insurance premiums

There are many uncontrollable variables and finding areas that can decrease costs can have a large impact. Statistics show much higher costs for businesses that do not have a RTW program. Take these and form your own RTW program and reduce your costs:

  • Establish a relationship with medical providers 
  • Update job descriptions
  • Allow recovering workers to ease into a full work schedule
  • Involve the injured worker in the discussions about alternative work
  • Be positive and flexible

By implementing a RTW program you will be able to control the cost of your workers’ compensation saving you money & increasing your profits. Download our Free Return to Work tip sheet and start controlling your workers’ compensation costs today.

Return-to-Work Tip Sheet| Insurance Advisors