4 Steps to Reduce the Threat of a Lawsuit

A lawsuit can bring your business to its knees and stop your business as you know it. Years of hard work, sacrifice and diligence can be wiped away with one adverse judgment stemming from only one incident. Even under the best circumstances, a lawsuit can be costly and distract you from growing your business. Businesses need to work to protect themselves from the threat of lawsuits, and there are a few steps you can take to reduce the threat of a lawsuit that will negatively impact your business.

Get the right insurance. There are so many ways that a business can be severely and negatively impacted by a lawsuit. From millions in losses to long-term reputational damage, there are few areas of a business that a lawsuit does not touch. The first step for any business is to obtain a general liability insurance policy that will cover most claims around your business, such as the classic case of slip and fall or accusations of false advertising. However, for some businesses, that may not be enough, and specialized policies covering other potential areas of liability unique to their business types should be considered.

Make sure your business is structured the right way. Reducing personal liability is an important factor every business owner should think of when structuring a business. Incorporating in the right way, whether it be as an LLC, a corporation or other entity is vital. Work with an accountant to ensure that you create the right business structure.

Act deliberately toward both employees and customers. Nothing gets a business owner into trouble faster than misstating something or acting inappropriately. From promising too much, such as “the most efficient computer” when that’s not the case, to using outdated terminology to address consumers, there are many ways businesses can quickly go off the rails. Similarly, not providing for employees’ adequate care under federal and state law or acting in a discriminatory manner can quickly land you and your business in hot water. Ensure you have policies and procedures stated clearly in an employee handbook. In the handbook, lay out the processes and steps for handling difficult situations.

Have a legal team in place. One of the most effective strategies for quickly responding to the threat of an impending lawsuit (or one you’ve already been served with) is to have a legal team you can turn to. Call on this team as you build and grow your business to guide you on how to prevent matters from leading to legal trouble. Your team will know the ins and outs of your internal procedures in addition to the business structure you have established and can help you make the best decisions for your business.

No matter what your liability and coverage questions are, we are here to help. We can review the best options for you and determine the amount of general liability insurance coverage and other insurance coverage that you may need to ensure your business is protected and prepared. Call or email us today.

Green Insurance Options and Endorsements for Your Business

Going green has proven to be not just environmentally friendly but profitable for some businesses as well. Given the lower cost of energy, some applicable tax credits and even some lower operating costs, going green is the right move for many businesses. If you have a green business or you’re considering going green, there are additional green insurance options and endorsements available. Let’s take a look.

Traditional commercial property insurance will often replace the original construction and contents of a building, subject to policy limits. This, however, will not account for green improvements except in the newest buildings, which may have green elements incorporated into their original designs. Many policies will require what are called green endorsements on the policies to cover the cost of making any replacements environmentally friendly.

These green endorsements cover two primary issues regarding the property. The first is green materials and equipment that may be needed, such as solar panels, wall and floor materials, and other equipment. In some cases, even if the property was not originally a green property, the green endorsement may allow you to rebuild with better green materials or equipment. Another portion of the green endorsement covers green design, engineering and other design elements that may have specialized costs.

Going green may also be able to save your business insurance costs through a lower carbon footprint or other cost savings. If you have a green business or you want to go green, call or email us today, and we can look at your options. We are ready to answer any questions you may have so you can get the right coverage.

5 Common Myths about Lightning Safety

Lightning is not a force to be trifled with. You may be surprised to discover that much of what we think about lightning isn’t true. Below are five common myths about lightning along with the facts to keep you safer.

Myth 1: Without rain clouds, lightning can’t exist. Lightning can strike miles away from visible rain clouds. Although not as frequent, lightning bolts have been recorded to strike as far as 10 miles outside the area of their clouds of origin.

Myth 2: During a thunderstorm, sheltering under a tree is safer than no shelter at all. Trees, especially large ones, are often magnets for lightning, making this course of action more dangerous than no shelter at all. The safest thing during a lightning storm is to go home or duck into a shop or restaurant.

Myth 3: Lightning never strikes twice in the same place. This myth might encourage someone to return to where lightning struck so they will not be hit by lightning. The Empire State Building is often hit multiple times by a single lightning storm.

Myth 4: Lie flat on the ground during a lightning storm to avoid being hit by lightning or electrocuted. Lightning can generate currents in all directions. Lying flat on the ground provides more potential points to be hit by electrical currents if lightning strikes the ground.

Myth 5: Lightning will only strike the tallest buildings and objects. Lightning can strike anywhere and injure anyone. The safest thing to do when lightning begins to strike is to seek shelter in a home or building and avoid any outside-leading conducting paths, such as wires, metal window frames and electrical appliances.

Standard homeowners insurance and the comprehensive portion of your auto policy covers property damage from lightning (for example, fires). But if you have any questions about this, please give us a call. We are always here to help make sure your home and family are protected and safe.

What Is the Difference Between Replacement Cost and Market Value?

Moving into a new home you purchased or rented is exciting, but with that excitement comes decisions on homeowners and renters insurance. One crucial decision when signing up for that insurance policy is whether you will select replacement cost of lost or damaged items or market value. In the case of homeowners insurance, this can apply to the structure as well. While some may think that replacement cost and market value are similar, these two terms are actually very different and can result in different obligations for you should the worst happen.

Replacement cost: this term refers to the cost of replacing the item itself. For example, if your home is destroyed by a hurricane and is uninhabitable, your policy will replace the structure and contents of the home subject to policy limits. Although this provides the maximum benefit to the policyholder, it may not be right for everyone, given the probability that the payments on the policy will be higher.

Market value: this term refers to what the value on the open market would be to replace the home and/or its contents. For example, if you bought your home for $300,000, but market conditions have deteriorated and it is worth only $250,000, your policy would only cover the lesser current value subject to policy limits. That means you would have to either make up the difference yourself or build a less expensive home.

No matter what policy questions you have, we are here to help. Call or email us today, and we can guide you through the best options for you.

Open Enrollment – Contact Us Now about ACA Coverage

Like last year, you will have only 45 days to make changes to your Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA) plan for 2021. Open enrollment, the time the ACA law allows you to change plans or enroll in a new plan, begins November 1, 2020 and ends December 15, 2020. While some states may offer longer enrollment periods, schedule time now with us to discuss your current plan or make changes if you want to make changes to your current plan.

Even if you like your plan, we can help you complete a speedy cost-benefit analysis of changing plans. You may have been in a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plan and found it too restrictive. We can quote the cost to switch to an Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO) plan, where you won’t need a referral to visit a specialist. Knowing the cost differences between an HMO and an EPO can help you determine if you can afford to switch.

If you are currently on an ACA plan, you may know the ACA plans are categorized by their names. If you buy a Bronze plan, you will pay less monthly but more out of pocket. A Bronze plan may make sense if you are in great health, but a Platinum plan, with the most expensive monthly premium, means you’ll pay much less out of pocket if you have ongoing medical expenses or expect a major surgery.

Because we are extremely busy as open enrollment nears, call us today to reserve your appointment.

Experts Predict Severe Flu Season, Strongly Recommend Flu Shots

Each year, the doctors at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) look ahead to forecast the severity of the looming flu season. This year, however, the CDC has not provided an update pending COVID-19 progression. The World Health Organization (WHO), in late February every year, however, recommends the level of flu vaccine for the United States and the Northern Hemisphere. Because it takes about six months to produce enough vaccine for the season, timing is critical.

One manufacturer announced it would increase its flu vaccine production by eight percent for the U.S. and the Northern Hemisphere.

Of diseases for which we currently have vaccines, the flu causes the most deaths. Flu season begins in October but can continue as late as March. It is important that Americans avoid the flu as much as possible, according to many doctors. With coronavirus infections still peaking in many states, it’s best to avoid emergency room visits and hospitalizations whenever possible.

During the 2019-2020 flu season, the CDC reported 39 million flu incidents and 24,000 flu deaths. We cannot afford to ignore flu vaccines this year. Last year, almost 50 percent of the U.S. population received a flu vaccine. The national goal was 70 percent.

Where Can I Get My Flu Shot?

Because flu strains differ from year to year, manufacturers update flu vaccines each year to best protect the public. Flu vaccines should become available at your doctor’s office or local pharmacy by early October. However, many medical providers will book your flu vaccine appointment early. If you are elderly, have a preexisting medical condition, or are concerned about how the 2020 flu strain will impact you, call your doctor to see if you can book your flu shot now, before supplies arrive or run low.

Don’t Buy It and Forget It When It Comes to Life Insurance

Life insurance is easy to forget, but just when you forget it (possibly because you purchased it decades ago and you are not using it), it may be a good time to reevaluate your needs. Is your old policy still serving a purpose?

Life insurance is important as we start our adult lives. We get married, we buy homes, we have children. And we want to provide for our families should an unforeseen event (such as an accident or illness) prevent us from caring for them financially.

But then life goes on. Our children grow up. We pay off our mortgages. We retire. We live comfortably on the income provided by Social Security and our retirement savings. But we are still paying premiums on life insurance policies we purchased years ago.

It may be tempting to simply stop paying premiums and let the policy lapse. You can probably think of dozens of reasons why. You could use the proceeds to pay down debt, add to your nest egg, buy long-term care insurance, create a rainy-day fund, or simply go on vacation more often.

While we do not know your individual circumstances, generally we would not advise letting a life insurance policy lapse without considerable thought. The policy may still be of some benefit. Even if you have no mortgage and no children living at home, you may still need life insurance. Think of all the ways the people in your life could be affected by your death and ask yourself how your life insurance proceeds would help them. If you can come up with enough ways, it might be worth keeping your policy in effect and reevaluating in another five years.

We can help you determine if you should reevaluate your life insurance policy. Please reach out to us today if you need help.