Are You Legally Required to Carry Business Insurance?

Most are aware that there are laws requiring drivers carry at least minimum levels of automobile liability insurance. You may even know that your mortgage lender will require you carry homeowners’ insurance as long as you owe on your mortgage. But what about if you own a business? Are there circumstances when you may be required by law to have insurance on your business? The short answer is yes. The full answer is a bit more complicated however. Here are when and why you may be required to have business insurance.

If You Have Employees

If your business has employees, federal law requires you carry workers’ compensation, disability and unemployment insurance. If an employee is injured performing work-related duties and you don’t have insurance, you could be subject to fines.

If You Have Loans to Finance Your Business

If you have borrowed money to finance your business location, buy inventory or purchase equipment, your lending institution will likely require you carry business insurance to protect their interests. This insurance may not be a legal requirement but your lender may require it all the same.

If You Own Your Location

If you own a bricks and mortar location for your business, there are a couple of circumstances when insurance may be required. The first is if you have a loan on your property. Your lender will likely require insurance. The second is if you live in a state that requires business owners who own their properties to carry liability or business property insurance if you live in an area prone to natural disasters.

While all businesses may not be required to carry business insurance, you are putting yourself and business at risk if you don’t carry it. Should a customer slip and fall and sustain and injury while on your property you could be held financially responsible. If your business location or inventory is destroyed, vandalized or stolen, your losses will not be insured. If you are sued due to the actions of an employee, you may be held responsible.

Most business owners have worked long and diligently to start and build their businesses. It deserves to be protected. Business owners’ insurance can help you do that. It may be more affordable than you think. Contact one of our independent business insurance agents to discuss your business and your risks. As an independent agent, they have relationships with multiple insurance companies from whom they can request a quote. You decide on the policy best suited for you and your budget. Contact us today to get the protection you deserve.

Business Insurance for Professionals

If your business provides accounting services, financial advice, legal or medical services, you will likely need the basic protection of a BOP, or Business Owners Package. This will generally cover your business for liability, property loss and even loss of income due to a covered event. Those who provide professional services however, like financial advice, legal or medical services will also want to be assured they are protected by professional liability insurance.

As a legal, medical or financial professional, clients can have a significant investment based  on your professional advice. When this advice, however, goes outside of the norms and potentially causes financial or other damages to the client, you can be held accountable in a court of law. This may be considered professional malpractice and you could be sued.

Professional liability insurance is designed for these professionals whose opinions, advice and counsel are critical, but may be second-guessed if the advice doesn’t have the desired results. It is often referred to as E&O (Errors and Omissions) or Malpractice Insurance.

We have often heard of doctors being sued for malpractice, but the same can happen to financial or legal professionals. This is where professional liability insurance is critical.

Should a liability claim be made against a covered professional, the protection will not only cover any judgment or settlement, but the legal costs involved in resolving that claim. As you can imagine, in the professional services arena, those claims, judgments and legal fees can be significant.

If you are an attorney, financial consultant, accountant, or medical professional, it is important you explore the benefits of professional liability insurance. Our team of independent insurance experts can help.

We can discuss your business and your risks. We can search multiple companies on your behalf to find the best coverage at rates you can feel comfortable with. You, of course, have the final decision on the plan you choose.

Even the most well-intentioned, well-researched advice can have a negative impact.on a client. Should they take you to court, you can have confidence you will be financially protected by your professional liability insurance coverage. Contact us today to get the coverage and peace of mind you deserve.

What is BOP and What Does It Include?

A BOP is a Business Owner’s Policy and is generally considered the starting point for loss protection for most businesses. If you are starting a business or are considering acquiring business insurance, a basic BOP is the place to start. But what all is included in a BOP and how does coverage protect a business?

General Liability Insurance

This critical portion of a BOP protects a business against the financial loss associated with a liability claim. This can include injuries sustained in an accident, damage to the property of another caused due to the actions of your business or one of its employees, and personal and advertising injury claims. General liability coverage not only financially protects a business from judgments that may be made, but any potential settlements that may be reached. It also can cover the legal costs associated with any liability claims against a business.

Commercial Property Insurance

This coverage protects a businesses’ hard assets like furniture, computers, equipment, inventory and property. It will usually provide coverage for a variety of calamities like fires, theft, vandalism and more. This protection is valuable whether you own or lease your business space and will restore property to its pre-calamity condition.

Business Income Insurance

Sometimes referred to as business interruption insurance, this replaces a company’s income while repairs are being made as a result of a covered claim.

 

as a result of a covered claim. to a damaged business.

Keep in mind, the elements of a BOP; Liability Insurance, Commercial Property Insurance and  Business Income Insurance are just the starting point for a business insurance program. Other coverage to consider is professional liability insurance, data breach insurance, fleet or business vehicle insurance, product liability insurance and others.

Like your personal insurance, your business insurance should be customized to your specific business and the risks you are subject to. Our business insurance professionals can help.

As independent insurance agents, our team can review the coverage of multiple companies. They will seek out the coverage that works best for your situation. Whether you want to start out with a basic BOP or put together a more extensive plan, contact us. Get the protection your business deserves today.

Positioning Yourself as an Expert in Your Business

One of the best things you can do to ensure the success of your business is positioning it, and you, as experts in your industry. Consumers seek out the help of those they perceive as knowledgeable and knowledge builds trust. When it came to their business acumen in the past, some business owners took the “If I told you I would have to kill you” approach to their expertise. Today, more businesses and their owners are realizing the value of sharing that knowledge.

Here are some steps you can take to position yourself as an expert in your business.

Start a Business Related Blog

A blog is one of the best ways to communicate with those interested in your product and services. Provide tips, tricks and advice. Offer insider tricks and ways to use your product or service more effectively. Make sure you promote your blog and its latest topics on your website and social media. Send emails out promoting your latest blog. Blog content will also eventually help you improve your search engine rankings.

Offer to Write a Column for Your Local Newspaper

Many local newspapers appreciate getting local content for free. If not, offer to “sponsor” a “How To” article each week. Readers will eventually view you as the “go to” person in your market.

Film a Series of Short Videos

Creating your own video channel and creating quality content is easier than ever. Demonstrate products and show viewers how to get more value from them. “How To” videos are extremely popular. The more knowledge you can share, the more of an expert you will appear to be.

Write News Stories on Timely Topics

If there is an event in the news that impacts your industry, write a short news story about it and submit it to local media. You can provide advice on how to avoid scams, how to take advantage of market situations and where to come for help!

Offer to Speak at Local Service Clubs

If you are in real estate, offer to talk about how low mortgage rates are. If you are in auto sales, talk about the future of autonomous cars. Speak in broader terms about your business without “selling”. Provide knowledge, not a sales pitch.

Positioning yourself as an expert takes time and effort. The benefits however, can be long-lasting.

If you are looking for expertise in business insurance, we invite you to reach out to our team of business insurance professionals. They can take the hassles out of shopping for business insurance. Get just the coverage you need at a price you can afford. Contact us today.

How 2020 Will Affect How We Conduct Business for Years to Come

Business owners are nothing if not resilient, especially small business owners. Businesses have had to bob and weave and alter their businesses as best as possible to survive. In some sectors, they have thrived. Here is a look at how the past year will change the way we do business for years.

Business Owners Have Become Better Managers

When times are good, it can be easier to manage a company. Good cash flow, for example, can make up for some mistakes. No so when times are lean. Like the recession of 2008, business owners have had to become better managers, using limited resources more judiciously. This will likely stay with us for a while.

Working Remotely

Prior to this year, some companies were reluctant to embrace having employees work from home. Now, many realize it can actually improve productivity. There is less commuting time, more flexibility and a diminished need for on-site office space. It seems everybody has something to gain.

Use of Video Conferencing

Video conferencing has become more main stream, not only in employee meetings but in client presentations. We can get more “face time” with clients and potential clients when it is done by video. Presentations can even be accompanied by produced video segments and charts and graphs. Even doctors and lawyers have discovered the value of using this technology more frequently.

Consumers are Willing to Pay for Convenience

Convenience is king as evidenced by the growth of the delivery and ride sharing industry. We can now order virtually any meal from any restaurant and have it delivered to our door. Delivery has also seen growth in other business segments like home improvement, propane tanks, landscaping products and more.

Use of Cash

The pandemic has generated more of a reluctance to exchange cash. This means even small businesses need to prepare by accepting as many forms of non-cash payment as possible.

More Business Is Being Conducted Online

You can now view, buy and have a car delivered to your driveway…all without visiting a dealership. Every day people are viewing and renting living spaces without even seeing them. People spend thousands of dollars on expensive jewelry online. What aspects of your business can be accomplished online?

If your business can take steps to make life more convenient for your prospects and clients while making them feel safe, consider it.

When it comes to your business insurance, our team makes it easy to compare and get a no-obligation quote. We’ll even compare rates from multiple companies for you. Simply connect with us and answer a few questions. We’ll do the rest!

Five Best Movies for Sales Representatives to Watch

More people than ever are in search of movies to fill their time. Especially with the lack of new entertainment options. If you are in a sales oriented business and wanting to kill two birds with one stone, here is a way to satisfy your need for entertainment while perhaps improving your sales skills. Here are five movies for sales representatives to watch.

  1. Glengarry Glen Ross

A ruthless Chicago real estate office is the setting for this film that makes the top of many sales-themed movies. It gave us such classic phrases like “Coffee is for closer’s” and has had many question whether they had to sell their soul to make a sale. The 1992 film’s cast includes Kevin Spacey and Al Pacino. This can be a real thriller for those who appreciate the exhilaration of the sale.

  1. Tommy Boy

This surprising movie starring Chris Farley and David Spade is much deeper than it may appear on the surface. Faced with saving his families business, Farley’s Tommy Boy character must meet some seemingly impossible sales quotas. Along the way, he learns some valuable lessons about life and sales. There are the occasional fat jokes and low brow humor but at its heart the movie demonstrates there is more to sales than handshakes, looks in the eye and snappy slogans. Plus, it’s fun to watch.

  1. Pursuit of Happiness

If you or your sales team needs a boost of feel-good motivation, check out Wil Smith in this 2006 film. Smith finds himself as a father of a five year old who is in a dire financial situation but has a valued internship opportunity at a brokerage firm. Smith battles a seemingly unending wave of bad breaks and tough luck but continues in his pursuit of the American Dream. It is heart touching and inspiring and will certainly help you appreciate what you have.

  1. Jerry Maguire

Tom Cruise and Cuba Gooding Jr. team up in this classic about a sports agent who regrettably, sends a thesis about the state of his industry company wide. Left to begin again, Cruise is left with just one client, Cuba Gooding Jr. He is joined by a wide-eyed admiring assistant and a goldfish as he tries to regain respect as a high-profile sports agent. The movie is known for giving us “You had me at hello” and, of course, “Show me the money”.

  1. The Wolf of Wall Street

Based on a true story, this 2013 movie stars Leonardo Dicaprio as a stock-broker on a meteoric rise through his industry. This energy and profanity filled film is not for the timid but demonstrates the lengths some will go through to make the sale.

Is “Positive Thinking” Valuable for Your Business and Employees?

Ever since author/minister Norman Vincent Peale popularized the concept in his 1952 book “The Power of Positive Thinking”, much has been written and discussed about the concept. The book quickly went to the New York Times Best Seller List, staying there for over three consecutive years while selling over 5 million copies.

The premise of the book is fairly simple. You can reduce stress and improve your chances for success by reducing negative self-talk and having an overall more positive attitude.The concept of the book has been reborn in posters and calendars with positive messages and sayings.

Is positive thinking something that can be of value to your business and your employees?

Consider this. Two equally-skilled basketball players are standing at a free throw line on the opposite ends of a basketball court. They both have headphones, but one is receiving positive messages like “Up and in”, “Nothing but net” and “You are the best basketball player in the world”. The other is being flooded with messages like “Your arms are tired and heavy”, “The basketball is too big for the basket”, “You have no basketball skills”. Each player is given the opportunity to shoot 200 shots. Which one do you think will perform better? Even the most skeptical would have to agree the encouraging messages will likely have an positive impact. Even if it is a small percentage, it could be a positive edge. That could be an advantage in a competitive marketplace.

The other aspect to consider is that stress can be crowded out by positive thinking and a sense of gratefulness. It has been proven that stress can have negative impacts on our emotional and physical well-being.

The key is the sincerity in which positive thinking is displayed. If a person appears to be too much of a Pollyanna or simply ignores problems as if they don’t exist, the effects can be minimalized. If taking a positive attitude and can-do approach becomes a part of a person’s or company’s persona, it can have tangible value.

What is your personal self talk like? What is it like in your company? Maybe it can use a good dose of “We can do this.”

How to Get Clients to Promote Your Business

It is a long-standing adage in business that the best form of advertising is “word-of-mouth”. It simply means there is no better way to spread the message about your products and services is than through one happy customer telling a prospective customer about how satisfied they are with your company.

It was not that long ago that the most used form of word-of-mouth advertising was friends or relatives asking each other about services they used or products they purchased. Radio, television and newspaper testimonials soon followed, increasing the number of people who were exposed to these positive referrals. Of course, with the advent of digital and social media, word-of-mouth advertising took another leap, spreading to forums, message boards, and business rating services where clients could share their experiences. How can you get more of your happy customers to spread the word about your business and serve as your ambassador? Here are some things to consider.

Ask.

Sounds simple enough doesn’t it? The place to start in gathering testimonials, positive reviews, posts and shares is to ask. When a customer expresses a level of satisfaction to you or an employee, view it with value and ask the client if they may be quoted or if they are willing to express their satisfaction in writing. There is absolutely nothing wrong with expressing to happy clients that you value their opinion and they are a major part of how you expand your business. While you are at it, don’t be afraid to ask for referrals.

Collect.

Collect positive comments and testimonials no matter how they are shared. Write down verbal comments and save emails and comment cards. Send out occasional surveys. Any unsolicited letters should especially be viewed as valuable.

Reach Out.

When you get a positive review or comment, reach out to the person expressing your thanks. It can also be a good time to recruit some of these commentors to serve on a customer satisfaction advisory board. You can build on the strength of this group by asking their opinion on products and services you are considering offering and even pricing structures. This is a nice compliment to them while providing valuable input for your company.

Reward.

Reward those who send customers to you with a gift, future discounts or drawing entries. Let them know you appreciate their efforts in promoting your business.

Monitor.

Businesses frequently lose customers without knowing the real reasons why. Monitor your customers and when you haven’t heard from them in a while, reach out. Find out if they’ve switched providers and why. Satisfied customers need to be monitored and nurtured. Don’t simply allow them to disappear.

Cutting Costs Without Slashing Your Business

In an uncertain economy it is prudent to be particularly cost-conscious. The problem is not all expenses are the same. If you have a waiting area, for example, slashing air conditioning costs can lead to unhappy customers. Reducing business hours may have a similar impact on reducing revenues. There are, however, some ways in which you can cut business expenses without slashing your business.

Consider Work From Home Options

Many companies have discovered the benefits of at least having some staff work from home in recent months. This is even causing some companies to make permanent changes to how they conduct business. Having more employees work from home can reduce the amount of office space required and may even have a positive impact on productivity.

Use of Digital Meetings

Digital meetings have not only become popular with staff and employees, but they are becoming an increasingly popular way to conduct business and make presentations. Even medical and legal professionals have discovered the value of video conferencing. It can save time and travel.

Meet with Your Marketing Partners

Cutting advertising costs can negatively impact the future of your business. Instead, use this time to meet with your media partners to see what else they can do for you to help maintain your current spending levels. Many media companies facing budget cuts, are willing to offer clients more for their money to maintain those budgets. They may even be willing to create value added promotions to help you get more visibility for your budget.

Review Your Budget

Now is an excellent time to go through your budget line by line and item by item. Can you do without that excess travel? Can client dinners and entertainment be trimmed? Do you really need all those promotional items and koozies in your closet?

Consider Partnering with Other Businesses

Even independent businesses can benefit from partnering with each other in uncertain economic times. Consider a co-promotion or customer referral program between businesses.

Review Business Insurance Costs

It is possible that by having your business insurance reviewed by one of our independent professionals, you may be able to save on your premiums while maintaining similar coverage. Our agents will seek out quotes from a variety of partner companies providing you more options. You make the choice!

Taking a closer look at business budgets is a prudent step during troubling economic times. We just need to be careful to not do more harm than good in these decisions. Be cautious in your money-saving decisions, knowing that this too, shall pass.

Steps to Better Secure Your Bricks and Mortar Business

So much attention is being paid today on conducting business virtually, digitally and online, it is easy to forget about the number of bricks and mortar businesses that are still being conducted on Main Street America. These are the small businesses that contribute to local taxes, school districts, charitable efforts and civic improvements.

While online security protecting digital assets is critical, it remains important to secure bricks and mortar businesses. Here are steps you can take to better secure your physical business location.

Signage

It may sound basic but protecting your business through obvious security signage can be very effective. Signs that indicate “You May Be Under Surveillance”, “Protected By Video Camera Systems” and “Property Is Monitored by 24/7 Video Security” can be effective. Deterring criminal activity is key and letting unwanted visitors know you may be watching can be extremely effective.

Video Camera Systems

Of course, while signage is important, so is backing it up with actual security systems. Today, video security is less expensive than ever. Explore video camera systems to best fit your needs. They can range from 24/7 monitored systems to in-house video systems with video captured on hard drives or in the “cloud”.

Nuts and Bolts Security

One of the best ways to provide security for your bricks and mortar business is to enhance the physical security of your location. This means deadbolts, steel doors, increased window locking systems, security glass and more. As a business owner, if you can think of a way to enter your building if you forgot your keys, so will a thief. Make your physical building as impossible to enter as you can.

Don’t Ignore Digital Weak Links

While physical aspects like door and window locks, video cameras and exterior lighting can enhance security, don’t forget those simple in-house issues that can create security issues. Make sure employee pass codes are changed frequently, don’t leave passwords on post-it notes on computer screens and educate staff on online security issues like phishing. Even the most diligent security efforts can be thwarted by a moment of indiscretion.

Of course, the best way to protect your bricks and mortar business is through sufficient business insurance. Contact one of our independent insurance agents to discuss your specific business and your risks. We look forward to protecting your business as cost-effectively as possible.