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June is National Safety Month…Are You Safe at Work?

June 19th, 2017

Journey to Safety Excellence
Provided by the National Safety Council

What’s the Worst That Could Happen? Reasons Roofing Needs to Be Specifically Covered

June 6th, 2017

If you’re a general contractor and do any amount of roof repair, you need to be upfront about it with your agent when discussing your insurance quote.

While it may be tempting to leave out references to the roofing aspects of your work in order to save a little money on your premium, doing so could result in coverage gaps that might leave you in the lurch if damage occurs and a claim is filed.

Some general liability insurance policies for general contracting may include coverage for limited roofing. However, if a customer sustains damages from roof leakage, and your policy doesn’t specify that roof work is covered, you could be on the hook for costs incurred.

Contact us today to find out what coverage you need for your business.

Handyman Insurance Basics

June 7th, 2016

At CommercialInsurance.NET, we will assist you with obtaining general liability coverage for a variety of small businesses, including handyman insurance. Whether you own a janitorial or lawn care business, act as a general contractor, artisan tradesman, or landscaper, we can find policies to fit your needs, even if your business seems to change from day to day, as it often does for the jack-of-all-trades who works as a “handyman”.

On a daily basis we at CommercialInsurance.NET encounter folks looking to supplement their income by taking on small projects. Whether you are just fixing a screen door as a handyman, or completely remodeling a kitchen and bathroom as a general contractor, if you are entering someone’s home or place of business, you need a commercial general liability policy. This post will outline some of the reasons why handyman insurance is important.

You may ask yourself, “Why do I need Handyman Insurance? Why do I need a commercial general liability policy for such a small business?” No matter how small the project is, you are putting yourself at risk simply by being in someone’s home or on someone’s business property. For instance, the smallest caulking job can cause thousands of dollars worth of damage due to water leaks if done incorrectly. A fallen broom or tool instantly becomes a bodily injury hazard, to name another example. Handyman insurance is a way to manage these risks.

Now, you may say, “I’m always careful. I’ll never have a claim due to a mistake.” While this may be true, your handyman insurance doesn’t just protect you from your own errors, it protects you when someone blames you for property damage. For example, let’s say you’re repairing someone’s gutter after a storm, and before you leave your customer asks if you can tear off and repair some loose shingles on the roof. Because your handyman insurance does not cover roofing operations, you inform your customer that roofing repair needs to be done by a roofer insured for those operations, and you go merrily on your way. Several months later, you find out you are being sued because of water damage due to that customers’ leaky roof. Of course you will win in court because you always have a contract signed by the customer specifying the work you have completed, but wouldn’t you like to have a handyman insurance policy that will take care of those unnecessary court fees and attorney costs?

One of the most common questions we get from new customers is, “What information do I need to provide for a handyman insurance quote? Can I just get a price?” Even though your handyman service may consist of nothing more than a few small repairs a month, your general liability coverage is based on your location (every general liability policy has a physical location associated with it), estimate of gross receipts, and whether you have any partners, employees, or independent subcontractors working with you. Your agent will also have to confirm the answers for certain questions to confirm your eligibility. These questions usually reference operations like roofing, licensed trades, or work on high-risk properties such as medical facilities, schools, or very large mansions or estates.The process takes just a few minutes of your time, but it might be one of the most important investments you make in your business.

Call one of our specialists today at 1-877-907-5267 to get your same day quote for a handyman insurance policy.

Figuring Out the “Gig” Economy: What Constitutes an Independent Contractor?

May 4th, 2016

The rise in recent years of for-hire business models, like those used for driving services Uber and Lyft, and delivery services like Instacart and Postmate, have put the term “independent contractor” under the microscope.

High profile liability issues (like the class action lawsuit that former drivers are filing against Uber) are only one aspect of the confusion; not only do employers need to understand their obligations towards the different types of workers they hire, but aspiring entrepreneurs should have a handle on what kind of risks and rewards are associated with self-employment.

The IRS has suggestions for defining characteristics that determine whether or not a worker is an employee or independent contractor…

  • - Who controls details of how the work is done?
  • - Who is responsible for negotiating the business aspects of the worker’s job?
  • - Who provides the worker’s benefits? (Vacation, insurance, pension, etc.)

The most basic distinction, tax-wise, between an employee and an independent contractor is that an employer is generally held responsible for withholding income taxes from an employee’s wages, but not for those of an independent contractor. Workers who are hired as independent contractors are often called “1099s”, a reference to the year end tax form they receive. (As opposed to “W2 employees”, who fill out a W2 for their employers and have taxes withheld by them).

But there are distinctions between the two types of workers that have ramifications in the insurance world, as well.

While the IRS may accept your choice to classify a worker as a subcontractor who receives a 1099 from you at the end of the year, if that same worker is injured on the job, or the subject of a lawsuit, it’s the Department of Labor who will determine if the individual is an employee or a subcontractor, regardless of which tax form they’ve been receiving from you.

And if the decision is that they are truly an employee, instead of an independent contractor, you will be held responsible for all medical costs, lost wages, future lost wages, etc, regardless of who has been paying their employment taxes.

The “bottom line” is always a factor in business decisions, and while the short term benefit of not having to pay employment taxes may sway business owners towards a preference for classifying workers as independent contractors, the potential for liability and associated costs should motivate the final decision about how to categorize the people they hire.

In fact, insurance costs for standard employees may actually be lower than those for subcontractors in some cases, although rates will vary from business to business and state to state.

For the individual who is trying to determine what the best status for them would be, the same elements of cost and risk should be weighed.

While the freedom to regulate the amount and type of work taken is a great benefit, independent contractors should also remember that they will shoulder the responsibility for damages or personal injury, and weigh out those costs against the perks of self-employment.

Getting specifics about insurance coverage from anyone hiring you as a subcontractor is highly advised, and keeping a policy in place for yourself that covers you in case of injury or damages could help forestall future financial disasters.

Call one of our specialists today (1-877-907-5267) or use the orange quote box above to find quotes for both worker’s compensation and general liability policies for small business owners and self-employed entrepreneurs.

Employee Benefits Liability Coverage

June 4th, 2014

Employee benefits liability coverage is just what it sounds like: It covers the company against errors or omissions which were made about an employee’s benefit plans.

This kind of coverage is usually an endorsement on another policy such as the commercial general liability policy, but it can be a stand-along policy .

Most claims revolve around clerical errors wherein the employee is not added, added to the wrong benefits, or deleted from coverages. Errors which happen in advice to an employee about a particular benefit or mistakes in calculating the amounts of contributions of the employer or employee are also covered by employee benefits liability coverage.

Such errors are usually in the Human Resources Department, though they can also come from record-keepers, accountants, and trustees.

Here are a few scenarios:

A new employee chooses her benefits in the group medical plan, but the paperwork gets lost at some point after she has finished it. No one notices that it became lost, and there is nothing to trigger an alarm that such a thing happened.

Once the initial enrollment period has passed, the employee is stuck with no health coverage until next open enrollment.

Of course, this in itself is actionable, but if the employee has a chronic illness or has an accident, this becomes crucial, and the company will have to come up with a way to settle the problem.

Employee benefits liability insurance is among the least expensive kinds of coverage, particularly if it is an endorsement. It should, however, be part of your portfolio risk management strategy. Be sure to bring this issue up with your licensed insurance professional.

Employee Practices Liability Coverage

June 2nd, 2014

Statistics suggest that three out of five companies will be sued by an employee or former employee — or even someone who interviewed but never became an employee — at some time. That would suggest that anyone who has a business should consider that it is not out of the question that they could be a target.

Employment practices liability is a newcomer to the insurance coverage world. It provides the employer, directors, officers, and business protection against claims which are made by employees, potential employees, or former employees.

Such claims include wrongful termination, sexual harassment, invasion of privacy, breach of contract, emotional distress, false imprisonment, and wage and hour law violations. It also covers discrimination, whether racial, sex, age, disability, or any other unlawful discrimination, and other employment-related accusations or law suits.

It might be something you or your managers or supervisors are accused of doing or saying, or it may be over an off-color joke someone told in the break room. Or it might be something that a disgruntled employee has exaggerated. Any

As a business owner, you will want to have employment practices liability coverage before you hire your first employee.

All companies are vulnerable, whether small or huge, and even a groundless suit can cause major damage in financial resources, and time if the company is not covered.

If you plan to have have one single employee or 5,000, you will want to look into employment practices liability insurance. Be sure to talk to your licensed insurance professional about what levels of EPL you should have.

Ahoy! Ocean Marine Insurance

May 31st, 2014

Ocean marine insurance is a type of transportation insurance which is intended to protect goods that are transported on the water.

It covers a large range of causes of loss, usually o a named peril basis, including sea perils like collision, stranding, high waves, loss or damage caused by pirates, jettison, or fire.

Marine insurance can cover the loss or damage of ships, cargo, terminals, and any transport or cargo by which property is transferred, acquired, or held between the points of origin and final destination.

Ocean marine insurance can take the form of a number of different contracts, depending on the requirements of the insured.

Cargo Insurance
Cargo insurance covers the shipper of goods or cargo in the event that the cargo has been damaged or lost.

Freight Insurance
Freight insurance protects the ship owner in case the cargo becomes damaged or lost.

Hull Insurance
Hull insurance is best described as resembling collision coverage in a car insurance policy. It provides coverage against against damage to the ship or other vessel. There is a deductible that goes along with hull insurance.

Hull insurance has an extra coverage, known as collision liability coverage which provides protection for ship owners in the event that their vessel causes damage to another vessel and its cargo, if necessary. This clause does not cover bodily injury liability.

Protection and Indemnity Insurance
Protection and indemnity insurance indemnifies the owner of the ship against liability arising from bodily injury or property damage to those other than the owner of the vessel.

Workers Comp: How To Reduce Your Premiums

May 29th, 2014

We frequently hear the complaint that Workers Comp premiums are too high. The fact that it is legally necessary in all but one state leaves only one option: Find ways to reduce those premiums.

The first thing you want to do is to talk to your insurance professional to ensure that you are being billed appropriately.

You want to see to it that your employees are classified properly. The premiums vary, depending on their positions in your business. If they have been promoted or moved to other positions, you want to ensure that this information was received by the insurance company.

Rates are based partly on the amount of benefits paid, so the earlier an employee gets back to work, the lower the benefits paid. Work to get your injured employees back to work quickly. If you need to, you can set up a temporary job for them which is not physically taxing and allows the employee to come back to work on “light duty.”

Start a safety program which is created to keep your insured employees safe. Make sure that the offices are ergonomically correct. If they use industrial machines and equipment, make sure they wear safety glasses and helmets or whatever protective garb is recommended. Require employees who work in a warehouse or delivery truck to wear back braces and make sure they get training in correct lifting.

Whatever you do, you want to keep your carrier informed of safety changes and improvements made to the workplace.

Review your workers compensation annually when you review your other business insurance. Work with your licensed insurance professional and workers comp carrier to make sure your coverage, risk exposure, and premium is where they should be.

So, What If I Get Sued?

May 27th, 2014

We hear it said all the time: We live in a litigious society.

Before we get started, the simple definition of the word “litigious” is: inclined to go to law; tending or wanting to take legal action.

And so we do live in a litigious society! And as a business owner, you should be aware that more likely than not, you will be a target.

In 2010, the number of lawsuits filed in state courts was over 15 million. That is approximately one new law suit every two seconds. In terms of population, that’s one law suit for every 12 adults in this country.

During the same timeframe, the swelling numbers of malpractice law suits and resulting soaring premiums for malpractice insurance forced 10% of American obstetrician/gynecologists to stop delivering babies.

You will want to be sure that your general liability insurance is appropriate for your risk. It is that policy which protects your business when it is sued for something that is alleged your business did or did not do which contributed to property damage or personal injury to another person.

Furthermore, this coverage will pay those damages, but it will also pay toward the attorney fees and court costs, whether the law suit has merit or not.

The exclusions which usually go along with this sort of policy include employees’ claims of wrongful termination or discrimination, harassment, or wrongful termination. These sorts of suits are addressed by professional liability coverage and employee related practices coverage.

Don’t risk all you have worked for by neglecting this important coverage. Your licensed insurance professional will guide you to what coverage is needed today, and more important, how to protect the future as you grow your business.

Business Owner Policy Exclusions

May 25th, 2014

A business owner policy is an extremely comprehensive coverage. It is usually written as an all-risk policy unless the insured requests the named peril policy.

All-risk coverage is an insurance policy which covers losses from any and all causes which are not specifically excluded in the policy.

Named peril coverage is a policy which covers only specific losses which are listed on the policy. It is the opposite of all risk-coverage.

Below is a list of perils which are usually excluded from business owner policies.

  • Nuclear hazard;
  • Operations executed by the government;
  • Military actions;
  • Weather conditions;
  • Smog or pollution;
  • Water, including flood, seepage, or sewer backup;
  • Earthquakes;
  • Intentional illegal actions performed by the named insured;
  • Criminal acts or fraud performed by the employees of the named insured;
  • Errors in the computer system of the insured business owner;
  • Errors and omissions in computer operations;
  • Explosion of machinery such as engines or boilers;
  • Power failure;
  • Damage or loss caused by normal wear and tear;
  • Loss of market;
  • Losses caused by animals, birds, or insects;
  • Decay, rust, or corrosion; and
  • Property loss resulting from faulty design, planning, or development.

    It is important that a business owner understands the exclusions and realizes that it is probable that different coverages need to be obtained to “fill in the holes” left in these exclusions.

    This is best done by working with a licensed insurance professional who understands what you do and how and can recommend the other coverages you may need to avail yourself of.