Many small business owners are so busy these days that they have little time to slow down and properly analyze their risks and business insurance needs. And it’s no wonder. Small businesses from Reading PA in Berks County, to Philadelphia, Allentown, Lancaster, and all across the nation drive a significant portion of the country’s economic growth. However, they tend to be lean, which means the typical small business owner is wearing many hats and putting in long hours. Many are too busy to take the time to properly analyze risks, and to obtain adequate insurance protection to address the risks of their growing businesses.
Just How Big Can a Small Business Be?
Statistics available from the US Small Business Administration (www.sba.gov) indicate that small businesses employ more private sector personnel than mid-sized and large businesses combined. In the US, small businesses are generally defined as manufacturing businesses with less than 250 employees, and non-manufacturing companies with under $7 million in annual receipts.
Engines of Economic Growth
Small businesses are the engines of private sector economic growth, creating approximately 2/3 of new non-government jobs while generating over 40% of the private payroll in the US. Small businesses account for a similar proportion of total US high-tech jobs as well.
Questions Small Business Owners Must Ask to Determine Risk and the Right Level of Business Insurance Protection
Regardless of how busy you may be, busyness is no excuse for ignoring risks that could sink your business. Here is a brief list of questions every business owner should answer as a first step in assessing risk and the need for stronger insurance protection:
Disability Insurance: Who will run my business if I become disabled permanently or for an extended period? Will my company have the financial resources to pull through this type of crisis?
Life Insurance: If I die will my business survive? Will my employees all lose their jobs? Will my family be able to keep our house and maintain a good lifestyle?
Key Person Insurance: What if a person who is vital to my business dies or becomes permanently disabled? Will my business have the financial resources to survive until a new person can be found, hired and fully trained, or will it set me back several years?
Workers Compensation Insurance: Are my employees properly classified for workers compensation insurance? Could my business survive a workers compensation insurance audit without undergoing major penalties for misclassifying employees? Is my workers compensation insurance coverage fully up to date to reflect my changing business needs and the expanded types of positions my employees currently hold?
Property Insurance and Business Interruption Insurance: Are my buildings, equipment, and other business property insured against the full range of potential risks? In the event of a claim that disrupts my cash flow for a prolonged period, will I receive compensation for the loss of income during that time, or merely for the cost of the damage to my business property?
Professional Liability Insurance: Am I covered if an employee were to cause harm to a customer or to their business, and a court found it to be due to negligence? How vulnerable is my business to various types of lawsuits?
Be Smart – Be Informed on Business Insurance
Our staff can properly address these and other business insurance questions. We’re a Trusted Choice independent insurance agency. That means we offer a range of business insurance plans from competing insurance companies. We’re well positioned to find the right business insurance coverage at a significant savings.
Contact us today at 610-775-3848, or click to Contact Us online.
Hurricane Sandy was one of the most destructive and deadliest hurricanes in United States history. Twenty-four American states and seven other countries were affected. Coastal towns once pulsing with beachcombers by day and clubbers by night were submerged within hours. Businesses were out of operation for much longer than ever anticipated and the damages sustained were astronomical.
Catastrophes of this magnitude are rarely expected, even in the world of insurance. Sewers backed up. Equipment broke. Food spoiled. Power was lost. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy we discovered insurance protection that proved critical for restaurant owners, including: sewer backup, equipment breakdown, food contamination, and loss of sales/ loss of income due to extended power outages.
Insuring Against Sewer Backup
We all know the quote from Jumanji: “A little rain never hurt anybody…but a lot can kill.” Well, a lot of rain can kill your sewer system. When more rain pours down than your sewer and pump can handle, raw sewage backs up and escapes in some less-desirable places, such as the bathroom faucet - need we say more? Unfortunately, most people do not realize that sewer backup is generally not covered under their personal or business insurance policies. This additional coverage is not only recommended, but can be invaluable to your business.
Equipment breakdown coverage is usually considered “optional” on an insurance policy. If just one of the primary machines in your restaurant breaks down, such as the air conditioner or water heater, you are probably not covered for fixing the equipment or for the loss of income sustained due to the failure. Be sure you are covered if 100 degree temperatures inside your restaurant due to an air conditioner failure turn away potential customers.
No matter how diligent you and your employees are, food contamination and food spoilage can strike anyone in the restaurant industry. If a machine breaks or your power goes out temporarily and food spoils, you will be held personally liable for the expenses incurred unless you are insured for this type of event.
Insuring Against Loss of Sales/ Loss of Income from a Power Outage
Hurricane Sandy not only flooded businesses, but also caused large-scale power outages. Is your restaurant covered for business income losses due to loss of power? There is a good chance the answer is no. Unless you have a best friend who sells generators and you specialize in candle-light dinners, power loss is never good. When power loss equates with income loss, you want to be sure you are covered.
Learn from Hurricane Sandy: Get the Right Restaurant Insurance Protection
We all hope and pray that a disaster of this magnitude never again strikes our land and our loved ones. Yet, as we in the insurance industry know all too well, you can never be too prepared. As restaurant owners, it should be easy to grasp the importance of insuring against these four risks that Hurricane Sandy uncovered.
Peace of Mind and Protection from Uncertainty
By being properly insured, you will be protected if the big rainfall that surpasses the five-inch prediction causes your sewer to back up. If storm winds topple the power lines down the street and you aren’t prepared to play Pioneer Days with your customers, you will be covered. If your employee mistakenly undercooks the chicken for your famous chicken piccata dish, you will be covered. If your air conditioner works overtime and decides to take a siesta for a day, you will be covered.
Play it smart: contact us today to be certain that your restaurant business is fully insured!
Have you recently started a new business, or perhaps suddenly come to the realization that your personal vehicle insurance may not fully protect you when using your car, van, or truck for business purposes?
Commercial Vehicle Insurance Coverage Differs by Company
Although each insurance company has different guidelines for determining to what extent your personal vehicle may be insured when used for commercial purposes, it is nonetheless risky to assume your personal vehicle will be properly covered, if it is covered at all. Rather than taking chances, consult an independent insurance agent to learn the details of your coverage, and to select the best insurance company and policy to meet your commercial insurance needs.
How to Know if Your Vehicle Use is Commercial or Personal
The most obvious indicator that you are using your vehicle for business purposes occurs when you are using your car, van, truck, or other vehicle to transport merchandise or people, or to perform services for a fee.
For example, if you are using your vehicle to:
Deliver flowers or restaurant food, such as pizza or other food items
Perform landscaping services, such as delivering workers and/or materials
Perform snow removal services
Tow a trailer used for business purposes
Travel to customers for sales calls or to perform consulting services
Who is Covered Under a Commercial Vehicle Insurance Policy?
Unlike a personal policy, commercial vehicle policies allow you to cover any of your employees when your vehicle is used for business purposes. If your vehicle is driven by employees, that’s a sure sign that you need a commercial policy. Likewise, if your vehicle is owned under a corporate partnership, or used to haul heavy equipment, or to make deliveries requiring federal or state filings, then you definitely need commercial vehicle insurance protection.
Amount of Vehicle Insurance You Need for Business vs. Personal Use
Commercial vehicle insurance policies generally provide greater protection than personal policies, with higher liability limits. However, it’s very important to make sure you are fully protected for both business and personal use if your vehicle is used for both.
Don’t Take Chances!
By now we hope you are thoroughly convinced that it is not worth taking chances with your commercial vehicle insurance coverage. Whether you hail from a larger city like Philadelphia or Allentown, or smaller areas like Reading or Lancaster, you need the right insurance protection. Please don't take chances with your future.
To learn more about commercial insurance for your car, van, truck, or commercial fleet, click here. Or, contact us online. You may also reach us at (610) 775-3848. We’re independent insurance agents who stand ready to help you find the insurance protection that’s right for you, your budget, and your business.
If you are a landlord and you have tenants leasing your commercial property, you may want to take a second look at your lease agreement. You may also want to review your commercial insurance policy to make certain the two are in harmony. To fail to do so may result in unexpected costs, lack of insurance protection, or coinsurance hassles in the event of a claim.
Whose Commercial Insurance Policy Pays for Damage to Improvements?
As the owner of a commercial building, any permanent upgrades made to your property by a tenant become your property, not the tenant’s property. This may seem obvious, but consider the impact should damage be done to such improvements during the tenant’s leasing period. Whose insurance will pay for the repair or replacement cost? Will either insurance policy pay? Will both pay? Can you live with the uncertainty of not knowing?
Getting it Right When You Craft the Lease Agreement
As a commercial property owner, you should clearly define who is liable for replacing or repairing permanent improvements and upgrades that become damaged. Even though the tenant’s commercial insurance policy normally covers damage to permanent improvements made by the tenant, it may be unwise to put the responsibility exclusively on the tenant. Here’s why: if the owner takes responsibility then he can include the value of the improvements in the policy limit, thereby avoiding coinsurance penalties.
Did Your Tenant Opt Out of Insuring Permanent Improvements?
If the tenant does not want to insure the improvements, he can exclude such coverage via an Additional Property Not Covered endorsement. Furthermore, it is possible that even though the tenant has insurance for improvements, he may be underinsured. Finally, if your lease has an early termination provision allowing the owner to cancel the lease if the building is significantly damaged, then the tenant’s policy will not cover the loss.
Ignorance is Dangerous When it comes to Commercial Property Insurance
The scenarios above should make it clear that ignorance of the details of your lease agreement and your commercial insurance policy can be dangerous to your financial health. The two should be in harmony, especially when it comes to covering permanent improvements made by the tenant.
Please call us at (610) 775-3838 if you would like help in obtaining the proper insurance protection for your rented commercial property.
Yes, Workers Compensation Insurance Can be Costly, but Don't Cheat
Providing workers compensation insurance for employees can be a significant expense, especially in industries prone to serious injuries, such as those requiring heavy or potentially dangerous machinery. While some employers may be tempted to misclassify workers as independent contractors rather than as employees in order to avoid worker’s comp insurance and other costs, the penalties for misclassifying employees as independent contractors can be severe.
IRS Guidelines for Determining Independent Contractor Status
You are not an independent contractor if you perform services that can be controlled by an employer (what will be done and how it will be done). This applies even if you are given freedom of action. What matters is that the employer has the legal right to control the details of how the services are performed.
Consequences of Treating an Employee as an Independent Contractor
If you classify an employee as an independent contractor, whether to avoid workers compensation costs or purely by accident, and you have no reasonable basis for doing so, you may be held liable for employment taxes for that worker as well as incur severe penalties. See the IRS guidelines for determining employee vs. independent contractor status for more information.
Some Common Sense Guidelines for Determining Independent Contractor Status
While the IRS provides detailed guidelines for determining independent contractor status, it may be helpful to consider how one state simplified the criteria. New York State noted these requirements to be eligible forindependent contractor status:
Advertising Has his/her own advertising (business cards, commercials, phone book listing, etc.)
Authority Performs work via his own contract, permit, or authority
Control Controls the manner and time for work performed
Different Work and Customers Performs work that differs from the primary work of the hiring business, and performs work for other businesses
EIN or Business Tax Return Has a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Federal IRS or has filed federal business or self-employment income tax returns for work or services performed in the prior calendar year
Equipment Provides all equipment and materials needed to perform services under the contract
Liability Insurance Has liability insurance (and if appropriate, has worker’s comp and disability insurance policies) under its own business name and Federal EIN
Obligations Has recurring business liabilities and obligations
Profit & Loss Operates under a specific contract, is responsible for satisfactory performance of work, is subject to profit or loss in performing the specific work under such contract, and is in a position to succeed or fail if the business's expenses exceed income
Separate Maintains a separate business establishment
Protecting Your Business from Workers Compensation Insurance Penalties
The above information is intended to be used only as an overview regarding independent contractor status. If you are in doubt as to the status of an independent contractor, seek professional advice from a local tax attorney, or get an opinion from the IRS by filling out form SS-8. The stakes for misclassification can be high, and disputes over worker status can be both expensive and disruptive to your business, sometimes resulting in crippling retroactive penalties.
Get the Right Workers Compensation Insurance Coverage for Your Business
If you would like help in acquiring affordable workers compensation insurance for your business, please Contact Us. Our helpful and courteous team will help you obtain quality insurance coverage at an affordable price. To learn more about workers compensation insurance, please click below.
Use Knowledge to Offset Higher Business Insurance Costs
Having the proper business insurance can be vital to growing your company and protecting your future. While every business varies in terms of exposure to risk and the related cost of coverage, knowing the 5 key cost drivers can help you reduce your insurance costs, whether you are in a mid-sized city like Reading or Allentown, a smaller city like York or Lancaster, or a large city like Philadelphia, especially if you consider costs before launching your business.
In the end, the cost of business insurance is driven by risk levels as perceived by your insurance carrier, and increases due to higher levels of risk. Regardless of the precise details associated with your business, your costs will be affected by some factors that statistically are related to your company type, company location, and other factors.
Here are 5 Key Drivers of Business Insurance Costs:
#1 - Coverage Level Desired
It goes almost without saying that the cost of your business insurance coverage depends largely on the amount of coverage you desire. It is wise to get the advice of a trusted independent insurance agent before finalizing your coverage level. In some cases you may be able to reduce coverage in a policy if the coverage overlaps with protection already provided in another policy.
#2 - Business Location
Insurance costs may vary widely by state and by city. Businesses located in high-risk areas will pay higher rates. Risk assessments are affected not only by crime rates, but by the likelihood of incurring damage due to storms and other natural disasters. Check with your insurance agent regarding insurance costs prior to relocating your business or purchasing a new property.
#3 - Market
A business in an industry known for high losses will incur higher insurance costs, all else being equal. Industries known for physical risk and high worker's compensation losses will incur higher commercial insurance costs. Expect considerable swings in insurance rates based on the percentage of your employees working in an office setting vs. a construction or other setting known for physical risk.
#4 - Business Insurance Claims History
As with auto insurance and homeowners insurance, businesses also incur higher rates as the frequency of their claims increases. Consider potential cost increases that may result from filing a claim vs. covering the cost out of pocket without filing a claim, especially when you are considering changing insurance carriers.
#5 - Optional Coverage Selected
Although adding optional coverage increases your total insurance bill, optional coverage may be to your benefit. Consider business interruption insurance and key person insurance for executives and others who cannot be easily replaced, and whose absence is likely to cause a slowdown in business.
Do it Right - Get Help
Knowing the key drivers of business insurance costs and planning accordingly can help you navigate your insurance coverage options, and help you achieve the right level of coverage at the right price. Ask your independent insurance agent for assistance in understanding your options and the impact on cost.
We're Ready to Assist You with All Your Business Insurance Needs
American Insuring Group is an independent insurance agency located near Reading, PA, in Berks County. We can help you get the right business insurance coverage for your business at the best price by researching the most affordable insurance costs from our many competing insurance carriers. Contact us today at 800-947-1270 and request a no-obligation, no-cost consultation, or fill out the form on our Contact Us page to get started.
Business insurance: mention the topic and count down the seconds until yawns form and eyes glass over. For some, commercial insurance is just slightly more interesting than reading the phone book or memorizing the periodic table of elements.
Perhaps that’s because business insurance seems complicated, or because we suspect we’ll never really need it. Talking about what might occur, such as a catastrophe requiring financial assistance, rather than what is likely to occur (business as usual), can seem so abstract, such a waste of time.
3 Things Needed for Entrepreneurial Peace of Mind
Ah, but think of it this way: wouldn’t it be great to have the peace of mind of knowing that you are financially covered against many of the uncertainties life can throw at you? Isn’t that better than the nagging feeling that you may be unprotected against some unknown liability for which you failed to get the needed business insurance protection?
To get to that blissful entrepreneurial state of mind, you need 3 simple things, none of which require yoga classes or the help of a Zen master:
Knowledge of basic business insurance terms and types of protection
A trustworthy and capable independent business insurance advisor
Get all three, and in no time you’ll be covered with the right business insurance protection. Whether your business is in Reading, PA, Berks County, Philadelphia, Lancaster, Allentown, or beyond, every business owner who meets those 3 simple criteria sleep better at night.
Buiding Your Business Insurance Knowledge: 14 Terms You Need to Know
While we can’t cover everything you need to know in this short post, we can get you started by presenting 14 key commercial insurance terms, each with a brief definition, in alphabetical order. Read over them and then jot down some follow up questions for your independent insurance agent. Once you have solidified your knowledge, decisiveness will follow. Take action for the good of your business, your employees, and your family.
Bonding A guarantee of performance required for many businesses, and often by general contractors, janitorial companies, and businesses with government contracts
Broker An independent insurance agent who represents multiple insurance companies, and is therefore in a better position to find the right business insurance at the right price vs. a single-company insurance salesman
Business Interruption Insurance Coverage to replace lost sales and income suffered due to a covered loss
Direct Writer The opposite of a broker, a direct writer represents a single insurance company
Disability Insurance Insurance that pays a fixed monthly benefit if one becomes disabled and unable to perform their regular job
Employment Practices Liability Insurance Coverage that protects the business from being sued due to the actions of employees, such as discrimination, abuse, sexual harrassment or wrongful termination
Errors and Omissions Liability Coverage Protection for accountants, consultants, and other business professionals against damages due to an error or omission in work performed
General Liability Insurance Business insurance protection against accidents of bodily injury or property damage to other persons or property
Key Person Insurance Life insurance taken out against a key person, typically an executive or other key person, with the business itself as the beneficiary
Package Policy A business insurance policy combining several types of protection in one package
Property Insurance Protects equipment and other physical property from losses due to fire, theft, and other incidents, and is available in the form of “named peril” and “all risk” versions
Replacement Cost Insurance Insures the business for the full current replacement cost
Umbrella Coverage Liability insurance protection for amounts exceeding coverage on main policies, in the event a lawsuit exceeds underlying limits of coverage
Worker’s Compensation Insurance Business insurance for medical, rehab, and lost wages for employees who are injured at work (usually state mandated)
There you have it. 14 simple business insurance terms that probably have you wondering what coverage you are missing, and ready to contact your independent insurance agent. Do that, and then get ready to be decisive. You’re almost there.
How to Get Help with Your Business Insurance
Need help in figuring out the right commercial insurance protection for your Reading PA, Berks County, Philadelphia, Allentown, or Lancaster County business? Call us today at (800) 947-1270 for a free consultation, or click to contact us.
Small Business General Liability Insurance – What You Don’t Know CAN Hurt You
The number of small businesses operating from home has exploded in recent years due to downsizing and other factors. As a result, nearly half of all US homeowners are exposed to some type of business liability risk in their home. From the moonlighting laid-off contractor to the babysitter, to the part-time consultant, most small businesses operating from home have inadequate general liability insurance protection.
A business operating from home is almost completely excluded from liability insurance coverage in standard homeowners insurance policies, yet most small business owners mistakenly think they are properly insured. The resulting lack of business liability insurance coverage leaves the in-home small business owner dangerously exposed to financial ruin from a lawsuit due to injury or property damage.
Do Your Business Insurance Homework
The key is to do your homework. Don't assume you have business liability insurance coverage under your homeowners insurance policy. The annual revenue limitation for an in-home business to be covered under a homeowners insurance policy is a paltry $2,000. Any higher, and most homeowners policies will exclude the exposure. Even when operating for a time below the $2,000 revenue ceiling, there are limitations to what types of business exposures are covered under a homeowners insurance policy, and these often include many restrictions.
Purchase a Homeowners Insurance Policy with an In-home Business Liability Insurance Extension
Purchasing an in-home business liability insurance rider is the easiest and most economical way to cover your in-home business liability exposure. Many homeowners insurance policies offer this rider for as little as $150 annually. Some in-home business insurance exposures do not qualify for the homeowners rider. In such cases a stand-alone general liability insurance policy is the solution.
Need to upgrade your homeowner’s policy to properly insure your in-home business? Contact us for a free, no-obligation business insurance review at 1-800-943-2198.
Understanding Commercial Insurance Can be One Tough Job!
Being a small business owner today is a tough job! Between rules and regulations, licenses and taxes, and banking and commercial insurance, it sometimes seems you need your own board of directors just to help manage your business!
At American Insuring Group, Small Business Insurance is our specialty. We can help you, the business owner, understand not only what commerical insurance protection your company needs, but also what business insurance is required of you to satisfy legal requirements.
Our office represents over a dozen "A" rated general insurance companies that specialize in small business insurance and we have access to dozens more specialty commercial insurance companies that fill specific small business insurance needs for our clients.
So How Many Types of Liability Insurance Are There?
The commercial insurance needs for a business owner can be daunting. First, there is Public Liability Insurance that is a must to protect the business from lawsuits and claims for injuries or property damage to others. But Public Liability Insurance isn't that simple. What type of liability insurance protection do I need? Is Premises Liability Insurance enough? What if I leave my business location and go to someone else's home or business location? Does my Liability Insurance cover me there as well? What about when I finish a job and leave? Do I have Completed Operations coverage if sometime later, after the job is finished, someone is hurt by my work or property damage is caused?
Are you a business owner who makes something, sells something, or just handles products someone else makes? Do you have Product Liability Insurance coverage included in your General Liability Insurance coverage? What if you harm someone's reputation or cause someone to lose sales, and they look to you for compensation? Personal or Advertising Injury Liability coverage protects the business owner from these claims.
What if an employee claims that you fired them under false pretense? Or they make an allegation of harassment against you? Employment Practices Liability Insurance is the protection that any business owner who employs someone must have to be protected.
There are many extentions of Public Liability Insurance the business owner should understand and use to be protected from the unexpected. At American Insuring Group LTD., our licensed agents have the understanding and experience in Commercial Insurance to help you determine your insurance risks and to identify the insurance solutions to properly cover your businss.
Workers Compensation Insurance - Are You Operating Legally?
Then, there is Workers Compensation Insurance for the small business that employs people. Most states require the business owner to cover employees for work related injuries. What if you are a corporation without any employees? States consider a corporation to be its own entity, and even you, the owner (officer), are considered an employee. Therefore you must either have Workers Compensation Insurance coverage or have the proper exclusion paperwork filed with the Department of Labor and Industry. At American Insuring Group, our licensed staff can help you with all the forms necesasary to be legal.
Not only does Worker Compensation Insurance cover medical bills and lost wages for employees who get hurt during working hours, but there is a second business insurance coverage that is included with most policies. Employer's Liability Insurance covers the business owner if an employee presents a claim against his employer for alleged negligence for his injuries. An example of this is an employee who cuts off his finger on a machine. Workers Compensation Insurance would pay medical bills and lost wages, but if he claims the business did not properly maintain the equipment and now he must live life without a finger, the business owner would have protection from such a lawsuit under Employer's Liability Insurance.
Liability Insurance and Worker's Compensation Insurance covers only some of the insurance needs for the business owner. Other types of coverage include: Property Insurance protection, Van Insurancefor your business vehicles, Umbrella Insurance for excess insurance protection, Bonding for the contractor's needs and Group Medical Benefits for your employees.
We Can Help You Make the Right Liability Insurance Decisions for Your Business
At American Insuring Group LTD, we take the time to understand your business so we can make sure every exposure to risk is discussed and covered by our small business insurance policies. Call us today at 800-947-1270 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to meet or talk to you and help you understand your business insurance needs. If you already are covered by insurance, a second opinion may often uncover coverage gaps or missing insurance coverage that is needed.
Serving Pennsylvania with affordable car, life, health, homeowner’s, renter’s, business, commercial, and other types of property insurance for over 30 years. Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Erie, Reading, Scranton, Bethlehem, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Altoona, York, & State College Pennsylvania areas.