Insurance for a Pool Service Business

Swimming pool cleaner skimming pool with property owner standing beside them.
Make sure your pool service business is properly insured.

Helping your swimming pool service clients keep their pools in tip top shape may seem pretty straightforward, but insurance for a pool service business needs to cover all of your exposures–and there are a multitude of those–to fully protect you.

Keeping your clients’ pools safe and enjoyable requires more than just cleaning filters and pouring chemicals; if you’re conducting repairs, offering cosmetic repair services, servicing heating units or any other ancillary services, your pool service insurance plan needs to provide coverage for those risks.

It may be tempting to limit your coverage to cut costs in the present, but providing the security your pool service business needs to continue to operate–and grow in the future–should be the foundation of your business plan.

Recommended coverages for insurance for a pool service business can include (but are not limited to):

General Liability. This is a basic policy for almost any business; it protects your business against claims concerning injury or damage to a third party. It’s also call “Slip and Fall” insurance–clients may require this coverage, and it’s especially important to talk to an experienced agent since your “office” includes your client’s pool.

Workers Compensation. Whether you employ a team of skilled technicians, or simply have a family member that helps you on occasion, if you have workers, you need to understand your obligations to them. Find out your state requirements, and be sure to engage an agent that understands the intricacies of this facet of insurance for your pool service business.

Commercial Auto. The transportation that gets you from pool to pool is the lifeblood of your business, and your spa or pool service business’s insurance needs to address your vehicles. Don’t let a minor fender bender shut you down–make sure your Commercial Auto policy protects you adequately.

Inland Marine. Tools for servicing spas and pools aren’t cheap, and they’re necessary. Inland Marine is a coverage that protects you in case these tools are lost or stolen.

Even though the methods may be the same as other companies, your individual spa or pool servicing business is unique, and your clientele will be, too. Your insurance policy should be put together with that in mind, and ideally, your relationship with your insurance agent will allow for communication about future growth and gauging the expansion of your insurance accordingly, so that your business can thrive as new opportunities present themselves.

Call us today at 1-877-907-5267 to speak with one of our specialists about your business insurance needs, or click here to get a free, quick, competitive quote on insurance for your spa or pool servicing business.

Get Your Food Truck Rolling…But Don’t Leave the Insurance Behind!

Food truck owner taking orders from her customers.
Make sure your food truck business is properly insured.

A food truck can be a great business–less overhead than a restaurant, and the ability to go where the customers are–but you have to be sure your food truck insurance is in place in adequate amounts before you take off, if you want to stay in business.

It’s important to find an insurance agent who understands the particulars of food truck insurance, whether your operation is brand new, or just undergoing changes. Putting together a risk management plan that covers the basics as well as your individual needs is paramount to undergirding future success. Your budget, your goals, and your risks are all pertinent–be prepared for questions about your annual income and other specifics when you discuss food truck insurance with your agent.

Familiarizing yourself with some basic coverages can help you understand the process, and help you make choices that can protect your business…

General Liability. Also called “slip and fall” insurance, General Liability protects you in case of physical damages or injuries to third parties. Food-related injuries also fall under this coverage; if you’re sued because of food poisoning or an injury that resulted from your product, this is the policy that you would use for covering legal costs.

Commercial Auto. Not all commercial auto policies are created equal; you need a plan if your business revolves around a vehicle, and your food truck insurance needs to cover not just the actual truck, but modifications and equipment that help your business run–figuratively and literally.

Workers Compensation. If you have employees, you need to understand your state’s laws about Workers Compensation, and whether it needs to be a part of your food truck insurance policy.

Liability Umbrella. Expanding your business doesn’t just mean offering new menu items or gaining access to a new venue; it can also mean that you should consider upping your food truck insurance coverage limits with Liability Umbrella, a policy designed to cover damages when they exceed the limits of your other policies.

A food truck is a great opportunity, and the correct insurance can help make it possible for your business to enjoy a long, healthy life.

Call us today at 1-877-907-5267 to speak with one of our insurance specialists about your food truck insurance needs, or click here to start the process of a quick, free, competitive quote–great coverage is just a phone call or mouse click away.

Insurance for Your Landscaping or Lawn Care Business

landscapers working on lawn and garden
Make sure your landscaping business is properly insured.

Summer can be a great time for a landscaping or lawn care business, and that also means it’s an important season for reviewing the insurance coverage for your lawn care or landscaping business.

Whether you’re just starting a new venture, or your existing landscaping or lawn care business is kicking into high gear, understanding your risks and what the proper coverages are for protecting your assets is key in assisting your success. An important second step would be keeping your lawn care or landscaping insurance commensurate with your growth; new opportunities are exciting, and you may be tempted to think that if you have the time, tools, and manpower, you’re ready for expansion…but covering your risks before an event happens is what keeps your business functioning in case of a claim against you. Don’t let your insurance lapse or lag behind your operations.

Speaking with an experienced insurance professional who understands your business’s needs is crucial, and it’s also imperative that you answer any questions–truthfully–about what you do or don’t do in your lawn care or landscaping business, so that your insurance can truly protect you.

Having a working knowledge of some types of insurance policies that are commonly needed in landscaping or lawn care businesses might help you understand your insurance agent’s questions, and may also assist you in taking a proactive role in guiding your business’s future.

  • General Liability. This policy protects you in case of an event that could cause a third party injuries or damages. The most basic landscaping or lawn care insurance policy should contain General Liability.
  • Property Insurance. Your building (if you have one), your business equipment–these need to be protected, and included in your landscaping or lawn care insurance.
  • Inland Marine. An endorsement to your landscaping or lawn care insurance that covers the tools that make your business possible. This coverage can be crucial to keeping your business going in case they’re damaged or stolen.
  • Workers Compensation. You need to understand your obligations towards employees, even if your only worker is a friend who helps you part time. Familiarize yourself with your state’s requirements and make sure your landscaping or lawn care insurance is providing what you need in this area.

A landscaping or lawn care business can be an incredibly profitable and flexible venture…but if it isn’t properly insured, not only do you risk losing that versatile and potentially lucrative enterprise, you put your personal assets in jeopardy and run the risk of going into debt if you have a claim made against you. (Remember that claims don’t have to be valid to need defense and court costs aren’t usually cheap.)

Risk management is an art, and our business is helping you protect your business–right now, and as it grows. Call us today at 1-877-907-5267 to speak with one of our specialists about your lawn care or landscaping insurance, or click here to start the process of a quick, free, competitive quote.

Feedback Friday…Do You Listen to Your Unhappy Customers?

A regular feature of the CommercialInsurance.net social media is “Feedback Friday”, where we share comments from our customers.

For the most part, we like to focus on what we’re doing right, and it’s easy to do; our approval rating with customers on review site feefo is 4.7 out of 5 stars (over 300 reviews as of this writing). We also offer the option to review us on our Facebook page and on Google+.

When the topic of customer reviews comes up in the office, however, we give equal time–and possibly even more–to the subject of negative feedback.

Bill Gates (who knows a thing or two about business) has famously said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” Lots of companies quote this, or stick it on a graphic for their Motivational Monday posts. (We do it too–follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to see for yourself!)

Actually putting it into practice can be a different story.

It’s not fun to handle a complaint, or dig down through a customer journey to see what fell through the cracks, but it can’t be slam dunks and high-fives all the time. Just like everyone has bad days, every company–every company–disgruntles someone, at some time.

Does your company talk about negative feedback? As a consumer, how do you process seeing a negative review on a website?

We thought we would share some practices–for both businesses and customers–that we believe make the best use of the feedback from the least satisfied customers.

If You’re a Company

  • Listen. Consider utilizing a service like feefo for allowing a medium for feedback from your customers, if you don’t already. Even if you don’t…pay attention to the complaints your customer service department gets, don’t brush them off and focus only on the compliments.
  • Learn. Examine each complaint. Do “autopsies” when one of your customers leaves, to figure out if something in your business practices needs to be changed, and then do it. One of our standards is that every call is recorded. While the paper trail tells part of the story, if there’s a disconnect between how your employee remembers a conversation, and how the customer is relating it, this can be an invaluable way to figure out what really happened. Every part of the customer journey needs to be traceable, as much as possible. Sometimes, it’s the only way you can really know there was nothing else you could do…or that there are weaknesses in an employee’s performance.
  • Leverage. As crazy as it sounds, your willingness to be transparent about unhappy customers can give you an advantage; honesty is something everyone is looking for when they’re shopping. Research used by review management media company Reevoo states that 95% of shoppers suspect censorship or faked reviews when the comments available to see are only positive. You don’t have to publicize your reviews right away, if you begin using a service and the feedback is bad…but you should use it to fine tune your process, and then begin sharing once you hit the mark reliably.

If You’re a Customer

  • Really Read. If you’re going to utilize reviews as part of your decision making process about things that affect your business, don’t just skim them. Think critically about what you’re seeing, and learn to read between the lines. If a customer complains about a specific issue, look at the company’s response, and try to figure out what might have happened. Does the company’s answer to the complaint make sense? (The best businesses will provide responses about complaints that attempt to shed light on the problem.)
  • Research. Everyone wants their experience to be easy. Top shelf customer service will make it as smooth as possible, and a good company will help you understand processes that might be new to you. However, you shouldn’t abdicate responsibility for decisions, even when you make another entity a trusted partner in your business. A little research goes a long way, and understanding simple terms and concepts about what you’re engaging in will help to forestall some common misunderstandings.
  • Re-evaluate. If you’ve traditionally just glanced at a company’s reviews and went ahead full force when you saw five stars, consider adjusting your decision-making process. Take time to look closely at the reviews. How many are there? How long does the review history go back? How old is the company? Two five star reviews for a year-old company do not tell the same story as 400 reviews for a business in its fifth year with an average of 4.8. Complaints from two years ago may abruptly change at a point in time and show a consistent uptick in ratings to the present day. Evaluate your process for reading reviews and change it if necessary.

Negative reviews aren’t all bad, in other words.

If you’re willing, they can help you search out the business that can best serve you, as a customer. For business-owners, they can be a chance to sharpen your service, and strengthen weaknesses.

Customer Service Week Highlight: The Accounting Team

Every business has a “bottom line”. The last individual CommercialInsurance.net team we’ll showcase for Customer Service Week is our Accounting/Processing Team–the group that makes sure our books are balanced, and that we’re on track, financially, both for our benefit and that of our customers.

Whether it’s recording transactions, managing accounts and bond/policy paperwork, or coordinating benefits, payroll and licensing requirements for agents and other staff, the Accounting/Processing Team provides the behind-the-scenes structure at CommercialInsurance.net. While their duties aren’t customer-facing, the jobs performed by Accounting/Processing are crucial to the operations of our company, and they enable those in more visible service positions to focus on customer service, by making sure that the underpinning of what we do is functioning at its optimum level.

They’re the support behind customer service, and an integral part of the framework that allows us to assist our clientele the way we do.

Customer Service Week Highlight: The Service Team

Our tour of CommercialInsurance.net now turns to the group of people that puts the “Service” into “Customer Service”…the Service Team.

All of the data entry for your policy, after it’s purchased, as well as requests for certificates, your welcome letter and other pertinent documents, are handled by our Service Team.

If there’s a challenge you’re facing with your policy or need service that goes beyond basics, the Service Team is who you’ll talk to–their job is to facilitate the ongoing relationship we have with you, as a valued customer.

The CommercialInsurance.net Service Team also acts as a liaison between you, our client, and the carriers and finance companies that implement your policy. After terms have been settled, the Service Team is the group that makes sure you’re getting what you need.

Call us today at 1-877-907-5267. We’d love the chance to earn your business with our rates…and keep it with the stellar service that our teams provide.

Customer Service Week Highlight: The Sales Team

For Day 2 of Customer Service Week, we’ll take a look at CommercialInsurance.net’s Sales Team.

While our Traffic Team is the introduction to our company for a potential client, our Sales Team is where the relationship really begins.

A sale is what turns a prospect into a customer; it’s the foundation of everything that comes afterwards. Our agents are the people building that foundation. They determine what’s needed to get the best quote possible, and take the steps to provide coverage if it turns out that we’re a good fit.

After a Traffic representative has made the decision to transfer a customer to a sales agent, the agent will get additional information about the business, answer a customer’s concerns, provide a quote, and close the sale.

Agents on the Sales Team ask questions about the business (after the general qualification process in Traffic), and help customers understand both what they need, and which options are best suited to meet their specific business insurance requirements.

There’s often a negative association with sales, and salespeople are frequently regarded with suspicion (sometimes with good reason), but CommercialInsurance.net is dedicated to cultivating the concept of the agent as both ambassador for our company, and advocate for the customer. Our sales team is on your side; they want your business to have the commercial insurance coverage it needs at a reasonable cost, so that your company can continue to grow.

Hopefully, our relationship with you will grow as your business does.

Call us today and speak to one of our specialists for your business insurance quote at 1-877-907-5267.

Customer Service Week Highlight: The Traffic Team

In honor of Customer Service Week (October 1 – 6), we’re shining the spotlight on the teams that make up CommercialInsurance.net, and sharing the things they do that make our customer-centric business a success.

The Traffic Team, pictured above, is a natural first stop, since they’re the frontline of customer service at CommercialInsurance.net.

Our business model is a hybrid one, combining technology and insurance sales by providing quotes and quick insurance coverage for businesses via the Internet, and that mix of traditional business with innovation creates a unique working environment with a very special culture. The Traffic Team is the starting point for our customer service, since they’re usually the first contact a potential client has with our company, and they’re also the embodiment of our company’s singularity…we’re different, so we need a Traffic Team, and our Traffic Team personifies that difference.

Our customers are business owners looking for competitive commercial insurance coverage, and they’re often searching for insurance solutions online under a time constraint. A lack of understanding about what type of coverage they need combined with deadlines and demands from clients of their own usually means that when a Traffic Team member answers the phone, the person on the other end of the line isn’t in the greatest of moods. (If you’re unsure what kind of coverage your business requires, visit our page describing Business Insurance Basics).

A good Traffic rep is adept at not taking bad moods personally, and quickly categorizing a customer’s business and its specific needs through the matrix of options we have available, to find just the right fit.

And they do it with a smile.

Analytical software/solutions leader SAS advocates, in their white paper Analytics and the Customer Journey, making sure that your first and best practice is providing a positive start to your customer’s interaction with you.

At CommercialInsurance.net, we’ve established a strong square one in our endeavor to gain your business by creating a Traffic Team that can deftly handle both your stress level and your company’s individual insurance needs.

Business Insurance Basics

If you’re just starting your new business, or have recently been wondering if your current commercial insurance coverage is enough, it can be frustrating trying to educate yourself about business insurance options.

At CommercialInsurance.net we specialize in qualifying businesses over the phone and connecting you with the agent most appropriate for your needs. You don’t have to know exactly what you’re looking for when you call, since we walk you through the process of discovery, but it is helpful if you have a general knowledge of what some of the most common commercial insurance coverages are, so that we can expedite the process as much as possible.

General Liability

This is a foundational policy that will cover your business’s most common exposures, such as property damage or bodily injury caused by you during the normal course of operations. A certificate proving you have general liability business insurance may be required when you contract with other businesses, and we can usually provide that certificate within a business day.

Workers Compensation

If you have employees, this coverage will provide their health benefits for work-related injuries. Your state may require workers compensation coverage if your business has employees, and the specifics about what you’ll need will vary. The carriers we work with provide a range of options.

Business Owner’s Policy

If you need business personal property coverage, as well as general liability and insurance for your building, a Business Owner’s Policy, or BOP, can provide a reasonable commercial insurance solution by packaging all of these together.

Commercial Auto

Vehicles used in the course of your business may qualify for commercial auto coverage. When looking for a quote, be sure to have the license numbers of any potential drivers, and VINs for the vehicles.

Commercial Umbrella Coverage

For areas that fall outside of these specific policies, you might consider a commercial umbrella policy. This is written in addition to foundational business insurance policies like those listed above, and is intended to cover catastrophic losses.

Risk management is an art, and our business is helping you protect your business.

Call one of our professionals today at 1-877-907-5267 for help building a commercial insurance plan for your company. Quotes are quick and easy once you’ve supplied some basic information about your business.

If You Think You Need (Better) Cyber Insurance…You Probably Do.

Control is an Option to Command, by Frederico Cintra, licensed under CC BY 4.0
Image credit: Control is an Option to Command, by Frederico Cintra, licensed under CC BY 4.0

In the wake of high-profile data breaches where hackers humble multibillion dollar companies, questions like “Am I vulnerable to something like this?” or “Do I need cyber risk insurance?” inevitably rise in the minds of large and small business owners around the world.

Then they’re promptly forgotten.

Until the next time a similar story is reported on the news. (For example, the recent Equifax horror show.)

If you’re an IT professional in certain industries, you probably have no delusions about cyber risk insurance being a necessity; outside hacks for ransom and/or data breaches from within a company’s ranks are too common, and too costly. It’s a no-brainer.

Even if you’re not a motion picture CEO, or the Google VP, however, you need to be aware of the fact that you may have a cyber target on your back, or weaknesses within your company that could be exploited. A 2016 study by Symantec didn’t have “Movie Studio” or “Technology Giant” listed in the top five businesses affected by ransomware; service industries, manufacturing, finance/insurance, real estate, and public administration showed up as the most targeted. (Entertainment and technology services didn’t even make the top ten list, which included wholesale trade, transportation, communications, and utilities, retail, construction, mining, and Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing.)

Ransomware is affordable (it can be purchased for less than $2,000.00), and adapting as fast as protective software can be developed; Symantec found 101 new ransomware “families” in 2016. That number represents a 36% increase from previous years. While effective security measures and employee training are good protocols to have in place, a cyber insurance policy could mean the difference between returning to business after a breach, or shutting down.

Hacks for ransom (where a system is compromised and the hackers demand payment to restore it) represent only one type of data breach. Data leaks can be purposeful hacks (as with GoogleTarget, and HBO’s Game of Thrones nightmare), or accidental (like the incident with Whitehead Nursing Home or the mishap with the City of Calgary)…but the resulting public relations nightmares and potential for revenue loss are the same.

Don’t believe for a second that only large businesses are targeted; Symantec’s study found that smaller companies (251-500 employees) are more likely to be targeted by email malware, possibly for the very reason that they’re ill prepared to handle an attack.

As a business insurance sales specialist and the team leader of the INSURICA Insurance Management Network Technology Practice, James Roskopf knows what he’s talking about when he says that it’s a mistake to underestimate cyber risks and the people who perpetrate them.

“You have to remember,” Roskopf says, “That hackers are mean people.”

“A lot of people are still looking at cyber issues as a cost of doing business. If they get attacked with ransomware, they know that the FBI discourages paying hackers, but they also know that paying is the path of least resistance.”

There’s another Symantec statistic that proves Roskopf’s assertion about the cruelty of hackers, and puts to rest the notion that paying the ransom is ultimately less costly than an ongoing monthly insurance premium; only 47% of the victims of ransomware who pay the ransom are found to recover use of their stolen files.

Rather than relying on a criminal’s promise of good faith, a risk management program that includes cyber liability is the best way to forestall a business-ending security breach.

Cyber risk insurance coverage options can be scaled according to your business’s size and needs, and can include a budget for public relations repair if your customer’s data is compromised. Some other costs to consider that a good cyber liability policy can cover:

  • Security fixes and cyber forensics
  • Notification and identity protection for affected customers
  • Libel, copyright or infringement, and defamation (social media posts can take a minute to post, but have a long recovery period)
  • Damages to a third-party system (in case of an accidental virus transmission, for example)
  • System failure; hardware losses due to a natural disaster or malicious destruction would be covered under a commercial property or inland marine policy, but data and code losses would need electronic data protection coverage

Whether you’ve spent years building your business or you’re just starting…you can’t afford a catastrophe. A cyber risk policy for your company could be the safeguard it needs for a long, prosperous life.

Call us today at 1-855-279-9559 to discuss your cyber risk management plan. For the majority of businesses, a quote from an agent is available within five minutes, upon answering a few basic questions about your company.