Take a Bite Out of Crime (and Your Insurance Premium)

Listing every potential crime that could occur against your business would be a daunting task. Small-business owners face risks from employee crime, nonemployee crime, and cybercrime. Any of these could result in claims that cause your premium to rise.

The good news is, you are not helpless against these crimes. There are effective steps you can take to keep your workplace protected against each type of crime. Putting these safeguards in place will prevent loss, injury, and increased costs. Help keep your business crime-free with the following tips:

Prevent Employee Crime

  • Vet your people: It may involve a lot of legwork, but it’s worth checking into the people you hire. Contact references and perform background checks for any potential employees. Be sure you are hiring trustworthy people.
  • Avoid violence: Do you have a written workplace violence-prevention policy? If not, develop a comprehensive plan that covers the consequences of committing acts of violence in the workplace and procedures to follow if such an event should occur.
  • Require audits: Reduce the opportunity for internal theft by requiring audits for all employees who handle invoicing, receipts, or payroll. These regular audits require extra effort, but the accountability can help prevent major losses.
  • Establish safety: Ensure every employee is properly trained on safety procedures and is aware of all company policies. Business owners who do not meet OSHA standards run the risk of breaking laws regarding safety regulations. Avoid penalty fees and lawsuits by remaining in compliance with all standards.

Prevent Nonemployee Crime

  • Use surveillance: Keep all areas of your business in sight. Use security personnel, mirrors, or surveillance cameras. Encourage employees to engage customers. A vigilant eye is helpful to protect your assets and avoid theft claims.
  • Install security: Apply physical security measures at your business. Install quality locks or a company-wide security system. Limit access to high-risk areas.
  • Light the way: Dark areas invite dark deeds. Ensure all areas of the property are well-lit. Add exterior lighting if none is present. Change all burned-out bulbs right away. Keep things bright and welcoming for employees and customers, and uninviting for crime.

Prevent Cybercrime

  • Back it up: Keep backup copies of all records either on additional storage devices or off-site. A loss of data could mean anything from a minor setback to a major cost. A large breach can spell disaster for a small company.
  • Monitor access: Limit the number of employees who can access all company information. Be especially prudent about access to finances and personal client information.
  • Be software smart: Use strong passwords and proper firewalls to protect your data. Remain current on software updates to keep defenses strong. Change passwords regularly. Negligence in these procedures can prove costly.

As you make these efforts, you will make your company safer, more inviting, and more cost-effective.

Protect Your Rep or it Could End Up Costing You

How can business owners best protect their companies? You may have heard the most common small business claim is theft. This is true, but it’s not the most costly one. Reputational harm claims top this list. These claims include libel, slander, and violation of privacy.

The average cost for these claims is $50,000. If the claim involves a lawsuit, the price skyrockets. Costs to defend and settle the suit raise the average cost for these types of claims to more than $750,000. Typically, around one-third of all general liability claims result in a lawsuit. For small businesses without proper coverage, these suits can prove devastating.

Of course, the preferred solution is to avoid these claims altogether. To protect your business from reputational harm claims, take the following precautions.

Ask permission, not forgiveness. Would you like to post photos on your website or use them in your marketing materials? Do you plan to use a quote or other content for your next marketing campaign? Before you launch your initiative or post your social media blast, get permission to use these items. Copyright and privacy suits can prove costly. Obtain written permission to avoid reputational harm claims. Additionally, ensure all employees are aware of your permission policies.

If you can’t say something nice… Cutthroat competition can make criticizing competitors a tempting tactic. Don’t do it. When speaking publicly or with customers, avoid criticizing competitors. If you never say anything negative about them, they will not have any ammo to use for a slander suit.

Is There Such a Thing as Wedding Insurance?

Weddings can be simple, but they rarely are. Most involve a million moving pieces, from the caterer to the florist to the unpredictable in-laws.

This massive event holds the potential for myriad mishaps. That’s why wedding insurance is now available.

This policy is a specialized type of event insurance that covers a wide range of disasters that could affect your big day.

You can customize the policy to insure major damages to your venue or other aspects of your wedding. Enjoy protection with:

Event cancellation protection. What if the weather doesn’t cooperate with your plans for a picturesque wedding at the park? What if the officiant becomes ill? This coverage insures deposits for rental cars, flowers, the cake, and more, in case circumstances beyond your control cause a cancellation or delay of the ceremony.

Special coverage. Are you concerned about your rings, gifts, photographs, or tuxedos? Wedding insurance can provide coverage for these costly items. If the best man loses the rings or the ring bearer spills grape juice on his lapel, wedding insurance can prove quite helpful.

Liability. Large events always carry the risk of property damage and personal injury. This coverage protects you from liability in the event your guests damage the venue or suffer injury. Public venues may have their own coverage for these situations, or they may require you to provide a policy.
Compared to the price of the event, wedding insurance is typically quite affordable. If you encounter a hitch in your plans, this policy can help you save significant costs.

If you’re planning a wedding, consult with your insurance agent to determine the best coverage for your event.

The right policy can provide peace of mind to help keep your feet steady as you walk down that aisle.

Landscape Your Way to Lower Premiums on Your Property

Properly maintained landscaping can add beauty and value to a property. Poorly developed or neglected landscaping does the opposite. Did you know landscaping has the same effects on insurance premiums? Applying specific landscaping techniques can help keep your premiums low. Here’s how:

Keep trees trim. Overgrown oaks and extended evergreens can cause property damage, which results in claims. Branches that creep too close to your property can destroy roofs, harm siding, or break windows. Dead limbs are at risk of falling and causing further property damage or personal injury. To keep them safe and attractive, trim trees every one to two years.

Get a good grade. Healthy drainage is essential. To protect your property from expensive water damage, ensure the land is graded properly. If you add or remove landscaping, keep this important factor in mind. Consult with professionals who have experience in land grading to avoid disastrous results.

Thwart thieves. Reduce your risk of burglary with thief-deterrent landscaping. Prickly bushes in front of your windows can make your home less inviting to burglars. Keeping large bushes and trees neatly trimmed also eliminates potential hiding places for would-be thieves.

Mind the vines. Climbing vines can add aesthetic appeal to a property’s exterior; however, they can also cause serious damage. As ivy grows up the wall, it can harm the paint, destroy siding, or separate bricks. If it gets tall enough to reach the roofline, the vine can damage gutters and roof tiles. If you are considering planting vines, keep these risks in mind.

Are You Getting All of Your Zzz’s?

Having trouble sleeping? Harvard Medical School experts say that short bouts of sleeplessness are nothing to fret over. However, chronic sleeplessness can contribute to a host of problems, such as high blood pressure, weight gain, and a less-effective immune system. Additionally, working while sleepy makes you 70% more likely to get hurt on the job. At-work sleepiness can also cause less-effective communication and poorer performance, including increased errors.

Applying the following tips can help you sleep more soundly. If you make changes and still find yourself sleepy at work, visit your primary care physician for further investigation.

  • One of the most important tips for good sleep in today’s technology-focused world is to remove anything that glows from your bedroom. Cell phones, cable boxes, and digital clocks can delay or prevent your sleep. Cover displays that you cannot power down.
  • Who doesn’t love an afternoon nap? If you nap, do so early in the day and for less than twenty minutes. Consider taking a walk instead of a nap. You’ll find yourself reenergized.
  • Evaluate your pillow. It should support your natural neck curve. A large or fluffy pillow may not be the best choice. Consider replacing older pillows, especially if you use polyester pillows.
  • In winter, keep the heat turned down. In summer, consider a fan. Most people sleep best at temperatures between 68 and 72 degrees.
  • Avoid caffeine after noon.
  • Try to complete energetic workouts at least three to four hours before bed. However, yoga, tai chi, or gentle stretching can help you unwind before you hit the hay.

According to the National Institutes for Health, sleep apnea can affect up to 7% of the population. Consider a sleep study if you snore or often feel fatigued after seven or so hours of sleep.

Healthy Skin: Tips to Protect Your Skin as Summer Approaches

Skin cancer in the United States is on the rise. More people in the United States are diagnosed with skin cancer than with all other cancers combined. According to the American Cancer Society, five million Americans receive a new skin cancer diagnosis each year. A few changes in lifestyle could prevent this illness. The Skin Cancer Foundation offers simple tips that can help prevent melanomas and other skin cancers.

  • Know the difference between sunscreen and sunblock. Sunscreen uses chemicals that absorb ultraviolet radiation (UVR) and reduce the amount of UVR reaching your skin. Sunblock is thicker and may offer more protection against ultraviolet A rays. To find a more effective sunscreen, buy one labeled “broad spectrum,” with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or greater, which protects against both UVA and UVB radiation.
  • If swimming or sweating, use a “water resistant” sunscreen that protects for 40 or 80 minutes. and reapply it at the recommended times.
  • Avoid both outdoor tanning and tanning booths.
  • Protect your arms, face, and legs while outdoors. A good rule of thumb is to apply half an ounce of sunscreen to your entire body half an hour before you go outside.
  • Be sure your sunglasses offer UV blocking. Experts have linked UV-ray exposure to cataract formation.
  • Check your skin annually for abnormalities. Look for bumps, patches, nonhealing sores, scaly patches, and asymmetrical or multicolored moles. Visiting a dermatologist yearly is the best way to discover and treat skin abnormalities.

Tax Reform Sparks Interest in Life Insurance

In the wake of the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, many Americans are reviewing their financial plan, including insurance needs.

Should you be doing the same?

Life insurance is a valuable financial planning tool, helping to protect one’s family in the event of an unexpected death.

This tool should be reviewed regularly, to ensure the policy in place meets your current life insurance needs.

As your personal situation, financial situation, and laws change, you might require more or less life insurance.

Recently, the laws did change. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 made significant changes to the tax code, and those alterations could change the way life insurance is used as an estate-protection vehicle.

Many people who are concerned about estate taxes use life insurance as a way of paying these taxes.

However, the new law has doubled the estate tax exemption, from $5 million per person to $10 million per person. This means couples can now transfer up to $20 million to their heirs without paying any federal estate taxes.

That reduces the need for some to have life insurance as part of an estate plan.

Should you reduce your life insurance as a result? Not necessarily. The higher exemption amount is temporary, so many people who bought life insurance as an estate-planning tool might decide it is best to keep their current policy in effect.

Moreover, many people have life insurance for reasons other than estate planning. It is often in place to provide income for their loved ones. Due to these diverse factors, it is best to consult with a financial advisor before making any changes to your life insurance.

Remember, it is important not to take chances when it comes to such an important financial-planning tool.