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What is your disaster plan?

What is Your Disaster Plan?

Will You Be a Hero or a Zero?

As of June 1, we are officially in hurricane season. But—despite the recent extreme weather in our area—most people still do not have an adequate disaster plan for the office.

While it’s important to have a disaster and evacuation plan for your home and family, it’s just as important to consider the safety of your business during a hurricane or other natural disaster. After all, your business is your livelihood, and disaster striking there means disaster for your finances, your workload, your clients, and your employees.

 

coffee spilled on office supplies

A Cautionary Tale

This is a true, yet unbelievably shocking, story that I experienced firsthand last week. It has definitely provoked many thoughts as to how I would personally handle a disaster situation.

In the early hours of the morning, I was awakened to someone desperately trying to contact me through a popular social media platform. I checked my phone to see that it was my previous employer from Western Pennsylvania (we did not part on good terms, as they did not want to see me leave to pursue other options).

I reluctantly answered and heard a panicked voice on the other end saying, “Kathy, it’s horrible. Everything is flooded. The office is flooded, [the town] is flooded, all of the towns in the area are flooded. Cars are floating away and people are trapped.”

My initial response was a bewildered, “I’m sorry”, which came out more like a question than a statement. She proceeded to tell me that she had no idea what to do. I asked where the agency principle (her husband) was during all of this and she told me that he was in the hospital with no idea what was going on.

Of course, I asked why she was reaching out to me, as I haven’t worked for that firm for many, many years and had only seen her on one awkward occasion at a social event a few years ago. She stated that she didn’t know where else to turn because I was the last person to handle such a disaster for them.

To say I was shocked is an understatement. (I’ll be honest…a little flattery crept in as well to think that in a dark moment I was the first to come to mind.) But all of that aside, there was a definite crisis situation and someone was desperate for assistance.

I proceeded with a series of questions:

  1. Where is the list of companies and claims department numbers that I gave to you to keep at your home in a safe place? (Response: I don’t have it anymore.)
  2. Do you have access to your agency management system from home? (Response: No, I no longer pay to have the service available at home.)
  3. How bad is the office? Can you get there? Will there be power so you can access the system? (Response: I can’t get there but an employee is trapped there and doesn’t know what to do. Yes, they have power.) Wow…a trapped employee working after hours? That’s a whole other issue, but back to  the problem at hand.
  4. Where is the agency disaster protocol I typed up for you? (Response: I don’t know. We never implemented it.)

I walked my former supervisor through the steps, which included updating the website with current claims department phone numbers; updating the phone message to advise clients to consult the website and their policy for information on filing a claim and to have patience, as much of the staff also lives in flooded areas and cannot get into the office; and finally, calling clients one by one that are in the flooded areas to see if they are okay and if there is anything that the agency can do to assist them.

When I was faced with a similar situation during the years I worked with the company, I worked for 36 hours straight to get a protocol in place for my co-workers to follow…and that was only the beginning of what was ahead with the onslaught of claims calls. Had the protocol I set up been maintained on a regular basis, this would not have been such an awkward position for the agency owners to be in.

The conversation ended with my former supervisor saying, “I hate to ask you this, but do you have any time off that you can fly up to assist us? This sounds so involved.” Hmm….asking a former employee to leave her current employer in a lurch to fly into a flooded area to assist with disaster protocol because there is not a plan in place? If they couldn’t get to the office, how was I supposed to get there?

hand writing plan in journal

Have a Disaster Plan for the Office

While this story may seem quite humorous to some, I have to admit I find it extremely horrifying.

This is a real-life situation and an agency that has been in existence for over 40 years. If a disaster caught them so off-guard, it can happen to anyone. 

To create your office disaster plan, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you have written protocol on how to handle a disaster situation for your office?
  • Do each of your employees have personal phone numbers and email addresses for management and co-workers to be able to contact them in an emergency?
  • Do you have an updated list of your companies and their claims department phone numbers in a safe place off-site or stored in your personal email to forward to employees easily if they need to work from home?
  • If you don’t have access to your agency management system away from the office, do you periodically run a report of your book of business including the client’s name, address, phone number, policy type, company, and policy number stored in pdf format to be able to forward, as needed, in the event of a crisis situation?
  • In the event of your absence, is there someone that would be able to access the written disaster protocol and implement it?

Again, I ask the question, do you have a disaster plan? The items that I’ve touched upon in this article are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to developing a disaster plan. But having a set process to follow assures that everything will run smoothly so that your agency will look like the hero, not the zero.

Technology Insurance: Why You Need Tech E&O Coverage

Technology Insurance: Why You Need Tech E&O Coverage

If you own a business, you likely understand the need for errors & omissions coverage to protect against tangible damages. For architects, contractors, and engineers, damages are usually serious: either loss of life, or substantial damage to property. It is harder for a technology professional to see the need for errors & omissions, because when a claim arises the damages are typically intangible.

Technology insurance may be a relatively new and emerging insurance product, but it is a necessity for anyone providing technological services.

 

bike lock on top of computer keyboard

Technology Insurance: What Is It?

Errors & omissions coverage is a product that covers professionals against possible claims that may arise from a failure to perform, or inability to execute, their professional services.

This coverage is essential to keeping many professionals in business for the long haul. Lawyers, accountants, architects, engineers, consultants, and even insurance agents need errors & omissions to protect them against lawsuits that may arise out of the services they provide throughout the course of their work. This is no different than a technology professional who is working on systems, software, and hardware that affect the day-to-day operations of their clients’ businesses.

A technology professional’s errors & omissions claim is likely to include damages for stolen client information, notification/credit monitoring costs, lost income due to failure to meet a deadline, or perhaps a violation of intellectual property. These types of claims are more difficult to foresee, but can be of similar detriment to a small business. Remember, the insurance policy pays to defend your claims, regardless of the validity of the claim.

 

computer cursor pointing to the word security

Technology E&O: A Safety Net

Imagine that a local accounting firm were to have their systems attacked by malware or hackers. They are now required to notify all 1,400 of their clients of the breach. They are also required to pay 1 years’ worth of credit monitoring for each of the affected individuals. They are also going to be unable to work for a month while they get everything back up and running correctly. The total of this claim could easily surpass $150,000.

Now imagine that this accounting firm has an annual contract with ABC IT Provider to keep their firewalls up-to-date and all of their systems safe. Do you think that they will just pay the $150,000 claim out themselves or seek to recover some damages from ABC IT Provider? My money is on them seeking to recover damages in any way possible.

It does not matter if the systems were updated properly by ABC IT Provider. They can still be dragged in to the claim and forced to defend themselves. A good technology errors & omissions policy would pay the cost to defend ABC IT Company as well as any damages, if they are found responsible within the policy terms of course.

 

Conclusion

A good technology insurance policy should cover you for errors & omissions, personal injury, bodily injury, failure to prevent unauthorized access, and unintentional introduction of malicious code. Most of them also have options to buy limits for first-party cyber, regulatory defense, and intellectual property.

We recommend talking to a local, independent agent to find out what product/optional coverage are right for you!  

What is Pet Insurance? (A Comprehensive Guide to Protecting Your Pet)

What is Pet Insurance? (A Comprehensive Guide to Protecting Your Pet)

May is National Pet Month and, to celebrate our fur-babies, we thought it was important to talk to you about the many types of pet insurance available to you as an animal lover.

So if you’ve ever found yourself wondering if you can insure your pet or asking yourself “what is pet insurance exactly?”, you’ve come to the right place.

 

What is Pet Insurance?

Just like “human” insurance, there’s no such thing as a single “pet insurance policy.” Just as you can insure your home, car, life, or any of your belongings, you can insure different things for your pets, depending on your (and their) needs.

In this article, we’ll cover the most commonly insured areas of your pet’s life so that you and Fido can feel safe, secure, and protected for years to come.

 

Homeowners Insurance and Dogs

cocker spaniel puppy looking over back of sofa

Lots of our clients are under the impression that their homeowners insurance covers everything in their home, including pets. After all, if pets are legally property, shouldn’t they be covered by homeowners insurance?

Unfortunately, homeowners coverage is not comprehensive enough to cover all types of damage caused by your pet. Most insurance companies have limitations on what they will cover and even what types of dog breeds will be considered “acceptable breeds” on your homeowners policy.

A typical homeowners insurance policy will cover expenses you are liable for in the event your dog injures someone or their property, but coverage is often subject to restrictions and even sub-limits. This means that Animal Liability Coverage on a homeowner policy is often, but not always, inadequate. Sub-limits can even cause coverage problems with complimentary policies like Personal Liability Umbrellas. Some homeowner policies completely exclude Animal Liability. 

Your homeowner’s insurance likely will not cover:

  • any vet bills,
  • injury to your pet on your property,
  • your pet damaging your own property,
  • certain dog breeds,
  • dogs with a history of violent or aggressive behavior.

If your homeowners insurance refuses to cover any dog-related claims (or refuses to cover you at all), this doesn’t mean you’re on your own. You may have the option to purchase separate dog liability insurance.

 

“But My Dog is a Good Boy!”

puppy dog eyes

This puppy has never done anything wrong, right?

The reason why certain dog breeds show up on your insurance company’s “banned” list usually comes down to numbers: how many claims involving dog bites has that company handled? If Dobermans have made up a significant number of dog bites, then your insurance company will likely have a policy against providing coverage for a Doberman. These so-called “dangerous dogs” typically include pit bulls, Rottweilers, Staffordshire terriers, and Great Danes, just to name a few.

If your pet has a history of violent or aggressive behavior, the insurance company sees your dog as a risk based on his/her past, even if you can swear up and down that “they don’t have the whole story” and you took Max to obedience classes.

Because the truth is, no one can truthfully say that their dog will never bite anyone. No matter how much of a pacifist you are, we’re willing to bet there are certain occasions where you would use physical violence to escape harm.

Your dog is no different. Even the most mild-mannered dog can lash out if they feel threatened.

So if your homeowners insurance refuses to cover you or any dog related claims, there’s still one way you can round out your pet coverage: dog liability insurance.

 

Dog Liability Insurance

closeup of dog biting toy

Dog or other animal liability coverage is an addition on to your homeowners insurance that can provide coverage in those instances where you don’t have enough (or any) coverage under your homeowners policy.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average cost of a dog bite claim last year was $37,000. What’s worse? Many Florida insurers limit animal liability to $25,000. The remaining $12,000 in this example would be purely out of pocket. If your homeowner’s policy limit is not this high (or if you’re not covered at all) you’ll need dog liability coverage to close the gap.

Luckily, most policies are not expensive, costing only about $250-500 a year. That’s well worth the added peace of mind.

 

Pet Health Insurance

dog wearing cone of shame

When most people think of “pet insurance,” they’re thinking of pet health insurance.

Pet health insurance can help cover the cost of expensive vet bills, much like your health insurance plan helps with the cost of your doctor visits. Also, much like your health insurance plan, pet insurance policies have deductibles, co-pays, caps, and probably won’t cover pre-existing conditions.

Premiums are based on breed, age, and coverage level. You can purchase a plan that covers just accidents, one that covers both accidents and illnesses, one that covers just well care visits, and everything in between.

It’s worth noting that pet health insurance is not the same as a vet discount plan, where you pay a monthly fee to your vet in exchange for discounts on services. Vet discount plans are typically much more expensive than insurance plans and aren’t regulated in the same way.

In the end, the best pet insurance plan is one you feel comfortable with. Different plans have different levels of coverage, and that coverage is what’s most important when it comes to your pet’s health. Get advice from your vet before deciding whether it’s worth it in the long run.

 

Theft & Life Insurance

woman leading show horse

Sometimes your pet is more than a furry companion. Sometimes they’re your livelihood.

If your dog, cat, or horse is a show animal or has a job (in modeling, acting, or with the police force), it’s worth getting theft or life insurance coverage on them.

With this type of coverage, you would get reimbursed in the event your pet is stolen or dies under certain conditions.

 

Auto Insurance and Your Pet

dog sticking head out car window

Our furry friends are often on the go with us: to the dog park, the vet, or a weekend away. But what happens if they are injured in a car accident?

Some auto insurance policies cover injury to your pet in the event of an accident caused by another driver. After all, your pet is legally your property, and your auto liability coverage is specifically for damage someone else does to your property.

If you want your pet to be covered in the event that you cause an accident, check with your insurance company to see if they have any plans that cover your pet under your collision coverage (most don’t offer this as a standard). If they tell you that your pets aren’t covered, talk with your independent insurance agent to see how you can get a policy that will.

 

Conclusion

We know how much your pets can feel like family, so protecting them against any harm that may come their way is important to you.

Whether you’re looking for health insurance, auto insurance, life insurance, liability insurance, or any other kind of coverage for your four-legged friends, let us know how we can help.

Do You Need Wedding Insurance? (Short answer: yes!)

Do You Need Wedding Insurance?

Spring has officially sprung, which means we are in the middle of wedding season!

A lot goes into planning a wedding. There are deposits on venues, dresses and tuxedos to rent/buy, vendors to put on retainer, and all the other details that make your day so special. You want everything to be perfect.

With all of the planning that goes into the Big Day, it’s normal to look for ways to prevent disaster. After all, storms, damaged dresses, lost rings, and venues that go belly-up right before your wedding day are not unheard of in the industry. But how do you avoid one of these disasters derailing your day?

The answer is wedding insurance!

 

What is Wedding Insurance?

Simply put, wedding insurance covers the kinds of loss, damage, and cancellations that are out of your control as bride and groom.

Two of the most common types of wedding insurance are cancellation insurance and liability insurance. Cancellation insurance covers cancellation or postponement of the big day and wedding liability insurance covers you against damages that might happen to vendors’ property and equipment by you or your guests.

But this is far from an exclusive list. Here are a few examples:

  • Let’s say the airline loses your dress. Wedding insurance would cover the cost of buying a new one after you land.
  • What if the venue goes out of business or is damaged by fire? Insurance coverage would kick in so you can quickly put a deposit down on an alternate location.
  • You’ve selected the perfect cake and the best playlist, but your baker and DJ are no-shows. Wedding insurance would help cover the cost of finding new ones last minute, so the day goes off without a hitch.
  • If the bride, groom, or other guest considered essential to the wedding becomes sick or injured, wedding insurance would help out with the rescheduling costs.
  • Last but not least, what is your plan if your wedding day happens to coincide with a major hurricane? Wedding coverage would cover the extra costs of planning the big day all over again.

Like all insurance plans, wedding insurance won’t cover every incident. Some things that aren’t typically covered are:

  • “Cold feet” or a change of heart,
  • Bad weather (other than the extreme kinds),
  • Running out of money,
  • Voluntarily switching vendors after paying a deposit,
  • Watches or gems, and
  • Engagement rings. (Wedding rings are usually covered.)

 

 

Host Liquor Liability

wedding rings splashing into glass of champagne

Wedding insurance can also provide incredibly important protection that hosts often don’t even think of:  host liquor liability.

Many weddings have an open or cash bar, and it’s common for guests to leave after having a few drinks…or a few too many. If one of these guests has a car accident or other incident involving injury or property damage, they could turn around and sue you as the host of the event.

Nobody likes to think of their closest friends or family members suing them over personal decisions that they make, but it happens all the time. Going uninsured leaves your personal bank accounts and future earnings potentially exposed. But wedding insurance can provide legal defense and indemnity in cases such as this.

 

Additional Wedding Insurance Coverage

just married sign

“Wedding” insurance doesn’t have to involve events that happen on the wedding date. You can still purchase additional coverage to make sure that all of your bases are covered.

Honeymoon coverage is helpful in the event that you or your spouse-to-be get sick before you leave. You can also get reimbursement if your photographer fails to provide you with photos. If you’re expecting a lot of fragile or expensive gifts, you can even get a “wedding present floater” on your renter’s or homeowner’s policy that will cover your wedding gifts for a limited amount of time (usually about 90 days) to protect them while you are transporting everything from the venue to your home.

If you are interested in coverage for something specific, your local independent insurance agent should be able to provide you with information. Chances are, if you can think of a potential risk, you can get insurance on it.

 

Do You Need Wedding Insurance?

The short and simple answer is yes. Unless you’re eloping or having a very small “bare bones” ceremony, having some kind of coverage to protect against disasters can help remove some of the stress around wedding planning.

Even if your vendors offer a level of coverage that seems to make additional insurance unnecessary, you have to consider the risks of trusting their business. What if they go bankrupt in the next few months? What if your DJ gets sick and you don’t have a backup? What if the bakers drop the cake on the way into the venue?

The truth is, you never know just when or how disaster is going to strike. Wedding insurance will help to take some of the sting out of it. And with a typical policy costing only $250-500, it’s totally worth it.

 

Conclusion

While the specific details can vary by insurance provider, wedding policies help ensure that if calamity does hit, you’ll have a safety net.

Whether you want to be protected against loss, damage, weather, unexpected cancellation, or liability for an amazing party, wedding insurance can be a lifesaver. You have enough to worry about in planning such a momentous event. Make sure that you’ve covered all the bases so that you (and your guests) can enjoy a fabulous evening.

Is your wedding just around the corner? Once you walk down the aisle and come back from your honeymoon, make sure to contact us to update your car insurance, home insurance, and life insurance policies. We’re here for our clients long-term!

Do I Need to Insure My Jewelry?

Do I Need to Insure My Jewelry?

Wedding insurance is a great way to make sure the Big Day goes off without a hitch. But what about protecting your investments after your wedding? Have you thought about engagement ring insurance for that gorgeous rock?

Or perhaps you’re not married, but you have other valuable items of jewelry to protect. Maybe an antique brooch from your grandmother or a pocket watch from your great-great-grandfather. Jewelry is expensive and—in the case of heirlooms—often irreplaceable. But having jewelry coverage on your gems, gold, and other precious metals can help if your engagement ring is lost.

In this article, we’ll go over some of the more common questions that you may have about getting jewelry insured. 
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7 Factors That Affect Your Small Business Insurance Cost

7 Factors That Affect Your Small Business Insurance Cost

You’ve registered with SunBiz.org, signed a lease, and maybe even hired your first employee. But then a friend asks about your insurance. What does small business insurance cost, anyway? What should you expect?

Your business insurance premiums depends a lot on your unique business, but it doesn’t help you to just say, “It all depends; contact your agent” without also giving you a little bit of insight into how several different factors affect your small business insurance cost.

Let’s go over some of these factors one by one.

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Insurance for contractors

Insurance for Contractors (What It Is & Why You Need It)

Carrying the right insurance for contractors is just as important as having the right drill bit: it can keep you in business for years to come.

Construction projects are, by their very nature, filled with risk: heavy tools, sharp objects, demolition…need we say more? So when your customers trust you with their homes or businesses, it’s vital to earn and keep their trust; you can do this best by providing top-notch work and protecting them (and yourself) from that risk.

How can you do that? It’s all about having the right insurance policy.

In this article we’ll talk about the different types of insurance for contractors and how to use your coverage to increase your clients’ trust.

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Do you need insurance for a vacant home?

Do You Need Insurance For a Vacant Home?

Insurance companies really (really really) hate unpredictable risk.

After all, “unpredictable risk” means “claims.” And “claims” involve giving you money.

(No one likes to give away money. Not you. Not your insurance company.)

Predictability means the insurance company can charge you reasonable prices and pay their claims. But getting insurance for a vacant home often means more unpredictable risk.

Sure, there’s a natural level of risk that comes from living in a home—a neglected pot of pasta on the stove causes a fire or your toddler’s toilet antics bring on a plumbing nightmare. The insurance company knows this. So they tweak their numbers and policies to minimize their risk as much as possible.

So if living in a home causes more claims, you would think they would prefer that your home be empty, right?

Wrong.

As it turns out, it’s even more important to get insurance for a vacant home.
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11 Myths About Florida Workers Comp Insurance (That You Probably Believe)

11 Myths About Florida Workers Comp Insurance (That You Probably Believe)

You’ve heard of workers compensation. You (hopefully) have it. You may even have had employees who needed it when they were injured on the job. But there are also many myths and misinformation about Florida workers comp insurance that you might believe. Misinformation that could prevent you from protecting your business the way you need to.

As insurance brokers, our goal is to see everyone receiving the right amount of coverage for their property, person, and business. And—whether you work for or own a business—you need to know the truth about Florida workers comp insurance.
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9 types of restaurant insurance you needed yesterday

9 Types of Restaurant Insurance You Needed Yesterday

Owning a restaurant is a dream you’ve held for years and now it’s coming true! You’ve thought about your menu, seating options, even your logo, but have you thought about restaurant insurance?

Between your inventory, customers, and the business itself, restaurants carry a large amount of risk. But your pizza parlor, bakery, or cafe is also your livelihood. Is that a risk you’re willing to take? Having the right restaurant insurance policy can prevent you from having to kiss your dream goodbye.

So let’s take a look at 9 essential types of restaurant insurance that will keep you in business for years to come.

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