How to Plan for a Workplace Evacuation

Your insurance is in place, but is your business logistically prepared should a disaster hit? If you needed to quickly evacuate your workforce, could you do it safely? Do your employees know what to do in an emergency situation?

Too often, small-business owners consider evacuation plans and other disaster-preparedness measures to be tasks that are solely for large corporations. The 2013 Staples’ Business Safety Survey revealed that more than half of small-business employees said they were not prepared for severe emergencies or that safety plans were not often communicated.

The truth is, small businesses are usually at an even greater risk than are large businesses, due to a lack of resources. To protect your people and assets, use the following four-step guide for evacuation planning.

1. Create

Create a pan of action to safely and efficiently evacuate your building. Designate evacuation routes and exits (primary and secondary) for employees. Also designate evacuation wardens. These are employees who have the authority to order an evacuation. Choose one person to be the lead warden and appoint others who can act if that person isn’t available. A good rule of thumb is one warden for every 20 employees.

Once the evacuation routes are established, mark them clearly. Make sure they are well lit and easily accessible. Don’t forget about employees who will need assistance.

The final part of the evacuation should be a regroup plan. Where will everyone meet once they are outside? Designate this location and establish a system for accounting for everyone as they arrive.

2. Communicate

Of course, the best-laid plans are worthless if no one knows about them. Write down the plan. Distribute it to all employees. Keep a master copy on file.

Post maps of the building with evacuation routes clearly marked. Make sure all emergency exits are clearly marked.

Review evacuation procedures with employees to ensure everyone is familiar with the proper protocols. Make this standard training for all employees. As part of their training, include how to assist those with disabilities or special needs during an evacuation. Include basic medical rescue duties as well.

3. Conduct

Once your employees are aware of your evacuation procedures and are trained on how to execute them, practice. Conduct drills regularly to prepare employees for the real deal. Conduct training frequently to ensure new employees have all the necessary information and seasoned employees don’t forget it.

4. Consult

What about after the evacuation? If a catastrophe closed your doors for a few days, do you have a plan in place to reopen them?

To prepare for what you may encounter after an evacuation, consult with your insurance agent. Make sure you have proper coverage in place to protect your business from a disaster. Understand your coverage and review your policy each year with your insurance carrier to make necessary adjustments as your business changes and grows.

Additionally, keep all insurance information in a safe place so you can access it in case of an emergency. Reach out to your insurance provider as soon as possible after an incident to expedite any claims.

General Liability vs. Professional Liability: The Difference?

Business professionals bear the burden of responsibility in two distinct arenas: general liability and professional liability. Both types of coverage are necessary to secure sufficient protection for your business. Here’s the difference:

General liability offers protection against costs associated with property damage, medical expenses, settlements, and slander.

For example, if a customer comes into your store, slips, falls, and sues your business for his medical costs, your general liability insurance will pay for these expenses. Another general liability situation would be a contractor who causes damage to a client’s home and is sued for repair costs.

Professional liability protects your business against claims that you did not do your job properly. In other words, any time you offer a professional opinion or perform a duty, you are professionally liable for the results and are vulnerable to lawsuits.

For example, an accountant who offers tax advice might be sued by a client who loses money after taking that advice. Another company might be sued after failing to file important documents appropriately.

Professional liability insurance is also called Malpractice Insurance and Errors and Omissions Insurance. When business owners hear these terms, they may assume this coverage is necessary only for doctors and similar professions. However, even an honest clerical mistake can be considered an error in professional services and result in a lawsuit.

To fully protect your business, consider holding both types of policies. Your insurance agent can help you determine the coverage that is best for your operations.

Is Insurance Cheaper If I Buy or Lease a Car?

An automobile is a significant investment. In addition to the sticker price, consumers must consider all the other costs associated with car ownership.

With this in mind, you may wonder whether you are better off buying or leasing a car.

When it comes to insurance, your total premium is not typically affected by your decision to buy or lease. For the same car, your insurance will cost the same whether you own it or lease it.

Why? The rates are based on your driving record and the car itself, not how you purchase the car.

However, your ownership arrangement may affect how the insurance is set up. If you lease a car, the lender has an interest in the vehicle. Because of this, they will require that you add them to your insurance policy. If their name is on the coverage, and a claim is made, they will be able to receive payment for the portion they are still owed on the vehicle.

Other than this stipulation, obtaining insurance on a leased car follows the same procedures as an owned vehicle. Your coverage and insurance options should remain the same.

Where you will see a difference in premium quotes is among various vehicle options. If you want to lease a brand-new car, your premiums will probably be higher than if you purchase an older model. Keep in mind that the difference in premium has to do with the condition of the car and the cost to make repairs, rather than the lease option.

Because premiums can vary greatly based on the car, it’s a good idea to get a quote from your insurance agent before purchasing or leasing any vehicle. You don’t want to be surprised by any costs after you’ve already completed the paperwork to buy or lease your new ride.

To ensure the car is within your budget, consult with your insurance agent before you sign on the dotted line. Your insurance provider can answer any questions you have about coverage for a specific car you might be considering for purchase or lease. Contact them for details.

Your Smart Phone Can Make Your Insurance Plans Smarter

It seems like there’s an app for everything these days. Insurance is no exception.

With a helpful app, you can enhance your insurance coverage with additional features and convenience. Using the right app can keep your policies organized and allow you to prepare for situations that require claims.

For example, do you have an evacuation plan in place that your family can use if disaster strikes? An app can help you plan ahead so everyone knows what to do and where to go during a natural catastrophe.

Develop the plan in your app, then share it with family and friends. Preloaded checklists and preparation steps offer guided tools to assist you.

An insurance app can also keep all your policy and carrier information organized and easily accessible. If you need to file a claim, use simple guides to walk you through the process and track your progress.

As with most apps, a host of options is available. The Insurance Information Institute recommends the Know Your Plan mobile app, which offers disaster preparation. This award-winning app allows you to use premade lists or create your own, make notes, and share these digital documents with others.

Your insurance provider may also offer an app specific to your coverage. Common features for these apps include digital insurance ID cards, virtual assistance, and bill pay options.

Check with your agent to find out whether you can download a company-specific app or another recommended app to make your insurance plan even smarter.

Changing Your Life Insurance Beneficiary

If you have dependents, such as children or a nonworking spouse, you probably have a life insurance policy. We hope you do. But it is important to remember that as your life circumstances change, your policy needs to change as well.

When you purchased a life insurance policy, you named at least one beneficiary (the person or people who will receive the proceeds of the policy in the event of your death, usually a spouse, child, or another relative for whom you would like to provide).

While you chose the amount of the life insurance benefits and the beneficiary when you purchased the policy, you may be able to alter them during your lifetime, depending on the designation type you chose at the time of policy issuance.

Specifically, when you purchased your policy, you probably chose the type of beneficiary designation: revocable or irrevocable. A revocable designation allows you to change beneficiaries after the policy is in force, while an irrevocable designation does not allow you to do so without the consent of the beneficiary. Most policies have a revocable beneficiary designation.

Why would you want to change your beneficiary designation? A variety of circumstances can warrant this action.

You might want to change a beneficiary if the life circumstances of the person or people you support have changed. Perhaps you have had a child or adopted one. Perhaps someone in your family has died, and you do not need to support that person (or you need to support that person’s children). Perhaps you have divorced. Perhaps a child has reached adulthood and no longer needs your support.

Because there are so many variables that can affect your policy, it is a good idea to review your personal circumstances each year to determine whether a change needs to be made.

If it does, changing your beneficiary designation is usually an easy task. Simply contact the insurance company and ask how to proceed.

Keeping Tabs on Your Vitals Is…Vital

One of the best things you can do for your overall health is to visit your doctor yearly for wellness exams. Your physician will help you maintain your health by providing a yearly flu shot, a tetanus booster every 10 years, and the shingles and pneumonia vaccines. Annual health checks can also help you avoid the two leading causes of death in the US: heart disease and cancer. What tests should you include as part of your health maintenance plan? Here’s an overview.

Heart Disease Screens 

Get your blood pressure checked every two years and have your cholesterol, heart rate, and blood sugar checked at your annual wellness exam. In your 50s, your doctor may prescribe a daily aspirin, which helps prevent heart attacks. In your 60s, a yearly ankle-brachial index test measures plaque buildup in your leg arteries, to help diagnose peripheral artery disease.

Cancer Checks

Human beings are susceptible to more than 200 types of cancer. Lung and colon cancer are currently two of the deadliest. In the US, women have a one-in-eight chance of a breast cancer diagnosis in their lifetime. Cancer screening can save your life.

Lung Cancer Screenings

The low-dose helical computed tomography test screens for lung cancer. It reduces deaths among heavy smokers aged 55 to 74. If you meet the risk criteria, including exposure to cancer-causing carcinogens and a family history of lung cancer, your doctor may run this test annually.

Colon Cancer Tests

Between the ages of 45 and 75, everyone should get a colon cancer screening, or a colonoscopy. If your first test reveals no polyps and you have no risk factors, you won’t need another colonoscopy for 10 years.

While experts consider the colonoscopy to be the most accurate screening for colon cancer, sigmoidoscopy and high-sensitivity fecal occult blood tests are also available. If either test shows polyps or other abnormalities, your doctor will recommend a colonoscopy.

These various screenings might not top your “fun activities” list, but they can help keep you healthy and even save your life. If it’s not already on your 2019 calendar, schedule your next exam today.

Cancer Policies: Are They a Good Investment?

If you’re considering purchasing a cancer supplement policy, you’re not alone. Many people debate this, but most aren’t sure whether it’s worthwhile. If you have a family history of cancer or other circumstances put you at higher risk of cancer, then a cancer policy could be a good investment.

Your health insurance agent can offer several types of cancer plans. One is a lump-sum cancer plan. This can be a good choice if you have a higher than normal risk of cancer. Lump-sum cancer plans pay a specific benefit amount. These are flexible plans because they typically do not require that you use the money for health care costs only. Instead, you can use it to defray lost income if you are unable to work, thereby putting the cash benefit toward your mortgage or living expenses. The American Association for Critical Illness Insurance suggests that if you’re buying a lump-sum plan, you should purchase enough coverage to pay at least two years of mortgage payments.

You may hear cancer supplemental policies referred to as “critical illness” coverage. This is actually a different type of policy. Except for the lump-sum cancer policy, cancer policies pay only for cancer, while a critical illness policy covers several critical illnesses. These can include heart attack, stroke, organ transplant, and paralysis.

Whether you are considering a critical illness plan or a cancer supplement, contact your health insurance agent. Your agent can help you choose the plan that best meets your needs.

Some of these plans have age thresholds, so buying them when you are younger can be a big advantage in both cost and plan availability.