Category: Business Insurance

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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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.

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.

Social Media Marketing for the Contractor

Social Media Marketing for Contractors

Are you a carpenter, contractor, roofing company, or mason?  Then you’ll want to read this.  Social Media Marketing for Contractors is a How-To on setting up your Facebook marketing.

5 Ways to Get More Customers using Facebook

You know you do great work and your customers know you do great work, but how do you get that out to the masses?  How do you get more customers? You’re great at what you do, but not so good at marketing?  We can help!

Potential customers are doing a lot of research online these days. They like to see your finished work and they ask for referrals!  They’re not likely to just take the first contractor they find in the phone book.

That’s why it’s so important to put together a social media marketing plan to help you get the word out about yourself and show off your work.  To help you do that, we’ve put together our top five tips for getting more customers through social media.

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Personal Umbrella Insurance

Personal Umbrella Insurance

Personal Umbrella insurance is a way to keep you out of trouble in the case of an extreme situation. It goes above and beyond your current policies to provide you with additional liability protection. It’s often the only way of staying financially solvent even when expenses begin to mount in claims against you.

Unfortunately, many people who should have personal umbrella insurance don’t carry it because they don’t understand very much about it.

It’s not required by law, and it’s not often spoken about outside of certain circles. If you’re wondering why now is the right time for umbrella insurance in Massachusetts, it’s time to consider how this precaution can protect you and your family from a worst-case scenario.

Personal Umbrella Insurance Facts

Personal Umbrella insurance is meant to serve as a supplement to other kinds of insurance, such as rental, home, or auto. Standard insurance carries liability limits, and umbrella insurance can extend those limits in the case of a particularly nasty claim against you. It can also go toward indirect financial matters that may arise during a claim (or even after a claim has been settled.) For instance, a lawsuit against you after an auto collision may not only cost you legal fees; it may also result in having to pay the medical bills for a chronic injury. If your auto insurance policy only carries bodily injury limits of $250,000 per person and $500,000 per accident umbrella insurance takes care of any fees that surpass the $250,000/$500,00 limit.

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Frozen Pipes?

FROZEN PIPES

frozen water in pipes can cause pipes to burst due to the water pressure buildup behind the ice blockage.  Pipes that are located in areas more susceptible to freezing temperatures, such as attics, basements, and outside walls, are more likely to freeze and burst.  All pipes should be well insulated, and any damaged pipes should be replaced.  Other things you can do to prevent frozen pipes are:

  • Keep the house warm – interior temperatures should be set to at least 60 degrees.
  • Seal cracks in outside walls and foundations to prevent cold air penetration.
  • Wrap pipes that are more exposed to cold temperatures with heating tape or insulation.
  • Keep cabinet doors open during very cold weather to allow warm air to circulate around pipes.
  • Open water faucets to allow a slow trickle of water, which keeps the water flowing through the lines and prevents freezing.  Make sure the sink drains are open.
  • Know where the main water shut off valve is located, and maintain clear access to it so that the water can be shut off if freezing to pipes does occur.  Water should be shut off at once if pipes have frozen, and a plumber should be called immediately.  The more quickly you take action, the better chance you have to prevent your pipes from bursting and causing damage to your home.  Never try to thaw a pipe with a blowtorch or other open flame device yourself.
  • If you plan to leave your home for several days or longer, shut off the water and drain the pipes.  Alternatively, you can also install an emergency pressure release valve in your plumbing system.