How to put out a Kitchen Fire

How to safely put out a Kitchen Fire

More fires start in the kitchen than in any other place in the home. Learn how to safely put out a kitchen fire. Aside from being common, cooking fires can also be deadly. Kitchen fires caused by cooking equipment make up on average 49% of home fires, 21% of home fire deaths, and 44% of home fire injuries, according to a 2014-2018 study by the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA).

Here are a few ways that kitchen fires can start and some firefighting prevention tips. Read on to learn how to put out a kitchen fire. Also make sure you have home exit strategies in place — and know when to give up. Sometimes getting out and to safety is the best plan of all.

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What is Workers' Compensation Insurance?

What is Workers’ Compensation Insurance?

What is Workers’ Compensation Insurance? Read on to learn more. Prior to the adoption of workers’ compensation laws, employees who were injured or became ill due to their job had to file a lawsuit against their employer for any type of compensation to cover medical bills, disability or lost wages. In the event of the employee’s death on the job, their family had to file a lawsuit against the employer to receive a death benefit. If the employer was not found totally at fault, injured employees or their families could be left with a large legal bill but no financial restitution.

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Is the landlord responsible for snow removal

Is the landlord responsible for snow removal

Who’s responsible when the snowflakes fly and the drifts blow over the walkways at your rental property? Is the landlord responsible for snow removal?  You might have to clear away a few layers to get to the answer. Snow removal is a problem when you’ve got accessibility and public safety issues to consider. As the snow piles grow, so do your chances of being fined or sued for personal injury. Check your rental agreement and local ordinance for guidelines before your liability risk goes adrift.

Read your local ordinance for snow removal laws

It’s best to familiarize yourself with your city codes (usually posted on the city’s website) and, if you’re part of a homeowners association, take time to get clear on its snow removal rules, too.

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Drone Insurance

Don’t fly your drone without insurance.

If you use drones commercially, you should protect your business with liability coverage for drones. Claims for invasion of privacy and espionage can run into the millions, so there are advantages to getting comprehensive drone insurance.

There are many different drone insurance products out there. Some will insure the drone only when it’s in flight, while others will provide year-round coverage, including collision damage or theft whether the drone is in use, transit or storage.

Let’s look at what drone insurance can do for your business.

Coverage for what you do

Whether you buy temporary insurance or standard annual coverage, it’s imperative to insure your drone. A lawsuit could be devastating to your business, and when drones are involved, lawsuits are a very real risk.

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Getting Married? You should purchase Wedding Liability Insurance.

Getting Married? You should purchase Wedding Liability Insurance

Getting Married? You should purchase Wedding Liability Insurance

The average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is $28,000, with venues being the highest-ticket item in the spending breakdown. Venues are also the biggest reason for claims made on wedding insurance policies, according to The Knot’s 2019 Real Weddings Study.

No matter how much you plan, things can go wrong. A bankrupt venue, a slip-and-fall incident involving a guest or a gift table theft can put a negative spin on your big day and for the long term. The cost of property damage, medical bills or a lawsuit can add up fast.

When it comes to wedding risk, there’s more than forgotten vows at stake, so take the necessary steps to protect yourself. Use this checklist to identify possible risk exposures and areas of liability in your wedding day plans. Go to www.massweddinginsurance.com

 

Your wedding includesInsurance coverageRisk examples
Alcohol/open barWedding liability

(host liquor liability is usually included)

Alcohol consumption can increase the likelihood of accidents, property damage and other claims. Most standard wedding liability policies include host liquor liability, but always verify with your agent.
GuestsWedding liability

Medical payments

You can be held responsible for accidents related to your wedding event. A medical payments option can help with medical bills for injured guests.
Wedding party participants traveling to your weddingWedding liability

Cancellation/postponement

 

If a covered event causes a postponement of your wedding, this coverage can help. Be clear on who it covers and any travel distance minimums (some policies may not cover distances under 180 miles, for example).
Wedding dress or formal attire (rented or owned)Wedding liability

Special attire coverage

Special accessories and clothing worn for the ceremony are usually included. Be clear on which wedding party participants are covered.
JewelryWedding liability

Jewelry

The best man lost the ring! Jewelry exchanged in the ceremony is normally covered under the jewelry option. Do not confuse this with a permanent jewelry coverage rider (for the engagement ring, for example).
Gift tableWedding liability

Gift theft coverage

The gift table is often overlooked during the hoopla of a wedding reception. Thieves count on this and target weddings specifically.
Photographer/videographerWedding liability

Photography/videography

Loss of deposits

You may have to restage the wedding if your photographer is a no-show. Be clear on what your policy will pay if you decide not to restage, but want your payment refunded. You may have to fall back on loss of deposits coverage.
VenueWedding liability

Cancellation/postponement

Loss of deposits

Additional expenses

Venue cancellations happen quite a bit (due to a fire or bankruptcy, for example). Getting your deposit back won’t be easy, and finding a new location may be a costly endeavor. Cancellation/postponement coverage can help if you postpone the wedding to a later date. If you decide not to postpone, additional expense coverage can help recoup the extra cost needed to secure a last-minute venue.

Talk to your adviser about what the venue’s insurance covers to avoid gaps between your policy and theirs.

Rented propertyWedding liability

Rented property

Tents, stages, tables, chairs or the photo booth could get damaged by a guest or bad weather. Payment for the damage is your problem. Rented property coverage can help pay for the damage.
VendorsWedding liability

Loss of deposits

If a vendor is a no-show or goes bankrupt, you’ll have a hard time getting your deposit back. Talk to your agent about loss of deposits as an option. Make sure you understand what the vendor’s insurance covers to avoid gaps between your policy and theirs.
Cold feetWedding liability

“Change of heart”

Professional counseling

It’s not something you want to think about, but it can and does happen: The wedding is called off completely and will not be taking place in the future. Talk to your agent about this coverage because the language is detailed with many exclusions.
High-risk weather zoneWedding liability

Cancellation/postponement

Loss of deposits

Tornadoes and hurricanes are more prevalent in certain areas and seasons. Know your zone and talk to your adviser about covered weather events and any exclusions.
HoneymoonWedding liability

Travel or honeymoon

Weather or an illness could delay a honeymoon, so make sure you have the trip covered. Even if there’s not a delay, you’ll want to be covered for medical mishaps during your honeymoon, especially if you’re outside of the country.
Destination weddingWedding liability

Travel or honeymoon

Medical payments

Cancellation/postponement

Special attire

Loss of deposits

Most wedding liability policies cover the U.S. and Canada, but be clear on the exclusions. If traveling outside the U.S., ask about travel or honeymoon insurance that includes medical coverage for you and your new spouse. Encourage your wedding party to get travel insurance, too.
Extreme weddingWedding liability

Medical payments

Cancellation/postponement

Loss of deposits

Rented property

Personal umbrella

Personal medical

If your wedding party is going for an extreme wedding experience (think skydiving or bungee jumping), you might need excess and medical coverage add-ons. Remember that medical payments insurance covers others, but not you. Make sure you have personal medical coverage for yourself. Make sure you understand what the vendor’s insurance covers to avoid gaps between your policy and theirs. A personal umbrella policy isn’t related to wedding insurance, but it’s another option to consider when other policies max out. Talk to your adviser for guidance.

 

Getting Married? You should purchase Wedding Liability Insurance. Now that you’ve looked at your wedding through the risk liability lens, contact us for help. You’ll be planning — and protecting — your wedding day bliss with confidence. You can also go to to our wedding website for more information, get a quote or purchase a wedding liability policy.

To get a quote and purchase a wedding liability policy, go to: www.massweddinginsurance.com

Or give us a call: (508) 997-3321

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Plow Away Snow-Removal Risk

Plow Away Snow-Removal Risk

Snow removal can be complicated. Not every state or locale has laws regarding snow removal, but among those that do, the regulations can vary significantly. Most consequential, however, is that each state assigns different levels of liability to snow removal companies.

Some do not hold snow removal contractors responsible for third-party injuries suffered after snow removal, while others transfer full or at least partial responsibility to the snow removal company both during and after the snow is cleared.

Even if your liability is minimized, it is never completely eliminated. That means commercial general liability insurance is among the most important policies your snow removal company needs.

This insurance helps with the cost of defending your business against claims of property damage or physical injury caused by your company, either at your own offices or at a client’s property during snow removal. Depending on the policy, coverage may also apply even after the job is complete.

If your company is ultimately found at fault, the policy also helps with the cost of any awarded damages or medical expenses.

Confirm with your insurance professional if you need to add a specific snowplow completed-operations endorsement to your policy. This addendum, called an endorsement by insurers, extends liability protection to incidents that happen after you’ve finished removing the snow and are not even on the property. For example, an endorsement would kick in if someone slips and falls in a parking lot you’ve cleared or a pile of snow you pushed to the side causes physical damage to something.

Also make sure your policy covers rooftop snow removal if that is a service you provide, as that activity poses special risks.

Beyond liability

In addition to liability protection, your insurance checklist should include:

Commercial truck/auto

This type of policy covers vehicles, snowplows or equipment used to haul vehicles to your work site. If you have several vehicles, your agent or broker will talk to you about fleet insurance, which is an efficient way to cover all your vehicles on one policy.

If your employees or subcontractors use their own personal vehicles for snow removal, it is important to understand that their personal auto policy does not apply to business use. You can add hired and non-owned insurance to protect your employees’ personal vehicles, and you should require subcontractors to provide their own proof of insurance with liability levels at least equal to your own limits.

Be sure to discuss with your insurance professional any detachable equipment, such as snow blades, to ensure it is included as well.

Of additional note: It is common for landscape companies to augment income in winter months by plowing snow. Do not assume your current vehicle insurance extends to snow removal jobs; you should confirm adequate coverage with your insurance professional.

Commercial property

Whether you own or lease a business space or operate your business from home, commercial property insurance helps with the cost of damage or loss of physical assets owned by the business. This includes computers and technology, tools, furniture and other possessions. Losses related to theft, vandalism, fires, storms, explosions or burst pipes are typically covered, while those caused by earthquakes, floods or wildfires require an add-on policy specific to those perils.

You may want to add other coverages to your commercial property policy as well, depending on your business model. As examples, you may want equipment breakdown insurance to cover the repair or replacement of specific valuable equipment due to an electrical or mechanical issue, and business interruption insurance to replace income lost during a forced halt in operations due to a covered physical loss.

Talk to your agent or broker about off-season use and storage of your equipment as well.

Errors and omissions (E&O)

Also known as professional liability, this type of policy protects you if someone accuses you of making a mistake that costs them money or harm, including issues related to negligence, errors in service provided, omissions, misrepresentations or inaccurate advice.

As examples of potential E&O claims, perhaps your employees failed to show up at a client location following a snowfall or they failed to clear all required surfaces,  making it impossible for a client to open for the day. While general liability would not cover these instances because third-party physical damage or personal injury did not occur, E&O coverage could apply.

Workers’ compensation

Most states require employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Depending on the number of employees you have, you may need to purchase this insurance to provide for medical expenses and/or lost wages caused by a workplace injury. Note that if you use independent contractors, you need to consult a labor lawyer as well as your insurance professional, since the government is cracking down on misclassification of workers. Depending on how you structure your relationship with contract workers, you could be considered their employer — even if for a very short period of time — and you might need to include them on your workers’ comp policy.

Umbrella insurance

There is always risk of a loss greater than your policy limits. To protect against catastrophic loss, an umbrella policy can provide backup protection by picking up where your primary insurance leaves off. An umbrella policy cannot be used as a replacement for primary policies, but it does allow you to control costs by maintaining lower primary policy limits without leaving yourself exposed, should a large liability claim occur.

Customize your options to get the right coverage

As a snow removal company, you have several options for how to insure your business. The policies discussed above are traditional methods, but there are more innovative products that you may wish to consider.

One is an insurance program specifically designed for snow removal (and lawn care) companies. An insurance program typically bundles multiple coverages for a client so you don’t have to build a full suite piecemeal. There are also business owner policies and insurance package polices that achieve a similar outcome — the fullest protection assembled into a suite specifically for your needs.

Call us  about these options since they are designed to be highly effective and affordable.

How to Prevent a Holiday Season Home Burglary

How to Prevent a Holiday Season Home Burglary

Obviously, you want to protect your home against burglary risks year-round. But thieves know that the holiday season is a time when your home is likely to be filled with brand-new gifts, cash and other expensive items, so extra awareness and security measures are needed.

Protect yourself and your belongings (and maybe even save on your insurance premiums) by practicing a few simple safety precautions.

While away from home during the day or evening

  • Lock all doors and windows whenever you leave the house, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
  • Turn on your lights and the radio or television – a timer can help with this.
  • Keep your front door clear of package deliveries. Online shopping is popular this time of year, so don’t give porch pirates the opportunity to snatch your holiday gifts. If you ship something to your house, set up email or text alerts to confirm when packages arrive. Also, consider asking your mail carrier to deliver packages to your back door.
  • Keep your curtains closed so that would-be thieves can’t see inside your house. Similarly, don’t put expensive gifts near a window, which could invite a smash-and-grab theft.
  • Don’t leave any spare keys hidden outside during the holidays. Instead, give the spare key to a trusted neighbor.
  • Put away ladders and tools that could be used to break into your home.

While home

  • Keep doors and windows locked (including on upper floors), even when you’re home.
  • Be wary of strangers at your door. Criminals sometimes pose as charity workers or couriers delivering gifts.
  • If you have a garage, pull your car inside and close the door before you unload all those gifts you purchased. Burglars have been known to watch shoppers leave malls, follow them home and then grab packages from your unlocked car as you are carrying them inside. If you don’t have a garage, always lock your car as you’re carrying packages inside, even if you’ll be right back for more.
  • After the holiday, be careful about discarding packaging that held expensive gifts – thieves will know that those expensive items are now in your home. Instead, cut up the boxes and turn them plain-side out for disposal or recycling.

While traveling

  • Don’t talk about upcoming travel on social media. Wait until you get home to share details and photos.
  • Ask a trusted neighbor to keep an eye on your home and park in the driveway from time to time.
  • Have mail and newspapers suspended while you are away so they don’t pile up outside.
  • Use a timer to turn your lights on in the evening and off during the daytime, so it looks more like you’re home.

Keep in mind, devices that make your home safer, such as dead-bolt locks, window grates or bars, burglar alarm systems and security camera systems, may be a smart option. Most insurance companies provide discounts for qualifying security devices.

No matter how cautious you are and how much you try to keep your home safe, if a burglar wants to break into your home, they’ll eventually find a way. This is why insuring your property against theft is important. Be aware you may need to purchase additional coverage to protect special items like expensive jewelry, collectibles or rare antiques.

Having adequate homeowners or renters insurance is one of best gifts you can give yourself this holiday season. Contact your insurance professional for specifics on possible discounts and to ensure your policy is adequate and up to date.

Save Money

Save Money and Cut Stress This Holiday Season

The spirit of giving is part of what makes the holiday season so special. Too often, however, outsized expectations create financial and emotional stress. Read on for some ideas about how to remain generous without breaking the bank.

Holiday Financial Stress
Even before the pandemic, 61% of Americans said they dreaded the holidays because of the financial strain, according to a 2019 Holiday Spending Survey by LendingTree. And yet, according to the consulting firm BRG, 76% of people expect to spend the same or more this holiday season.

Data from the LendingTree survey show that the pressure to overspend is leading to significant stress:

  • Seven in 10 people feel pressured to buy gifts.
  • One in three people lose sleep over financial concerns during the holidays.
  • About one in four people expect to go into debt to purchase presents.
  • Almost one in five individuals are still paying off debt from 2020 holiday purchases.

Presence Instead of Presents
For many people, the social distancing aspect of the global pandemic has increased the importance of being together. This could be a great year to reset expectations and create new traditions around time instead of money.

There are countless ways to give of your time, but here are some ideas to get you started:

  • As you prepare meals, make extras and then share them with family, friends or neighbors.
  • Provide transportation to medical or other appointments for an acquaintance in need. It can save them money and provide you with opportunities to talk.
  • For friends or family with children, offer to babysit so they can have an evening to prepare for the holidays or just take time for themselves.
  • Decorate, hang holiday lights or offer to do yardwork for a neighbor who needs an extra hand.
  • Get a group together and volunteer at a food bank or another community organization.

Set Limits
Giving of your time is always a wonderful option. But, realistically, you’ll also be making some monetary purchases. As you prepare for the holiday season, keep these tips in mind:

  • Share financial limitations with family and friends. It may be a relief to them, too, if they are also facing financial limitations. Being transparent about finances can be mutually beneficial, and together you can find low-cost gifts for the holidays.
  • Limit the number of gifts you buy. Tell friends that you’ll have to meet for coffee instead of exchanging gifts this year. If you have a large family, draw names so that each person only buys for one other family member.
  • Ask people what they need. Providing funds for rent, utilities, groceries or car repairs could mean more than any store-bought gift.

Be Aware of Your Needs
As you look to make the holidays special for those around you, keep your own financial and emotional needs in mind. For additional help, talk to your employer about financial education, mental health offerings or other benefits that could make a difference this holiday season.

Plumbing Contractors Face Many Types of Insurance Claims

Plumbing Contractors Face Many Types of Insurance Claims

Plumbers perform a wide variety of work, from making residential service calls to subcontracting on large commercial projects. One day you may be repairing a burst pipe, and the next installing a new dishwasher. It’s a job that requires a great deal of training, flexibility and patience.

Plumbing has its rewards – and its risks. You could be cleaning a sewer line, connecting a gas stove, or on your back all day under a sink. There are risks of injury, liability if you make a mistake, and property damage if something happens to your truck or tools.

You need insurance to protect your business, your employees and your customers. An experienced insurance professional who knows the plumbing business can help you select the coverage that’s right for you.

Commercial general liability insurance is a must
Because you service customers and work on their premises, liability is a major risk. A customer trips over a pipe you’re installing and breaks a leg, a valve you worked on fails and water floods an apartment, or a drain you cleaned backs up into a customer’s basement. All of these scenarios could result in expensive claims or litigation. And all could be covered by a commercial general liability (CGL) policy.

CGL insurance protects you against liability for bodily injury, property damage, medical expenses, advertising injury (e.g., someone claims you have said something untrue and damaging about them in your marketing materials) and personal injury stemming from the operation of your business. These events might occur on your own premises or at a customer’s home or business. However, CGL won’t cover injuries to you or your employees. These would be covered by your workers’ compensation insurance.

Because liability claims can lead to lawsuits and costly settlements, most businesses make this coverage the centerpiece of their insurance program. In addition, many project owners will insist that you have CGL and ask for proof of insurance. Banks and creditors want to see evidence of coverage as well.

CGL is but one type of liability coverage. You may also need professional liability insurance and employment practices liability insurance (EPLI). We’ll cover those next.

For all types of liability coverage, you must decide how high the limits should be for your business – that is, what is the most a policy will pay per occurrence and in the aggregate during the insurance period (usually one year).

You also must decide whether your coverage will be “claims made,” meaning a claim is covered only if it is made while the policy is in force, or occurrence-based, meaning any incident that happens or happened during your policy period is covered, even if the claim is filed after you terminate that policy.

Premiums are based on your type of business, claims history, number of employees and whether you have adopted procedures to reduce your liability risk. Your insurance professional can discuss CGL options with you.

Professional and EPLI coverage

If you design and install the plumbing on a project, you may need professional liability insurance. Professional liability policies cover you against errors and omissions, i.e., mistakes or negligence on your part, that lead to injury or property damage.

For example, you might put a drain in the wrong place or forget to install a valve and waterline needed in a kitchen. Depending on the project, a simple oversight can cost thousands of dollars and could result in a lawsuit. Talk to your insurance professional about your liability exposure and the type of coverage you may need.

If you have employees, you could also be exposed to costly employment-related lawsuits. An employee could sue you for discrimination, sexual harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, invasion of privacy, failure to promote, defamation or libel, or breach of employment contract. EPLI covers you from these types of claims and pays for your court costs and legal fees if you are sued.

Workers’ compensation insurance
Since nearly every state requires employers to have workers’ compensation insurance, you may already be familiar with this coverage. If you’re a sole proprietor or have only one or two employees, you may not need it. Check to see what your state requires.

Workers’ compensation covers a worker’s lost income and medical expenses if they are injured or become sick on the job. The injury has to be work-related and usually must occur on the job site. Your premiums are based on your number of employees, type of industry and claims history.

If you’re having trouble finding coverage in the standard workers’ compensation market, you may need to purchase coverage through your state’s assigned risk pool. These pools provide an alternative source of insurance for employers who have been declined due to high risk or frequent claims.

Insurance for your property, vehicles and equipment
You should also review your property insurance coverage. This includes the building you own or lease, your vehicles, your equipment and tools, and the material you store on premises or at your customer’s location. You will likely need to purchase at least these three main types of property insurance:

Commercial property insurance – Similar to a homeowners policy but designed for businesses, this insurance covers your building and business property located at a fixed address. It protects against theft, vandalism, fire and various weather-related perils.
Inland marine insurance – A specialty coverage for contractors that covers equipment, tools and material you transport to or store at a job site. Some commercial property policies provide limited protection for property in transit, so check with your insurance adviser or broker.
Commercial auto insurance – A must if you have your own truck or fleet of vehicles, this coverage is similar to a personal auto policy. It provides liability, bodily injury and property coverage.

BOP plans to bundle coverage
One way to reduce your insurance purchases and save on premiums is to buy a business owners policy (BOP). BOPs bundle many of the separate coverages you need into one policy. The standard BOP has CGL insurance, commercial property insurance and business income insurance. Business income insurance pays for lost income if your business is interrupted by a fire or natural disaster and can’t operate.

BOPs can save you money, but they don’t always include the types of coverage and limits you need. Some insurers allow you to add extra coverage, or you might consider a commercial package policy (CPP). CPPs allow you to bundle the coverage you want and leave out what you don’t need. An insurance professional can explain how bundled policies work and help you decide if they are a good fit for you.

In addition to securing the right insurance coverage, you should work to reduce your risk exposure. Remember, not every risk can be insured and each policy has its limits and exclusions. That’s why it’s important to put safety first and stay up to date on your training and certifications. Sound risk management, coupled with good insurance coverage, will keep you protected and in a position to grow your business.