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.

What’s the Worst That Could Happen? Reasons Roofing Needs to Be Specifically Covered

If you’re a general contractor and do any amount of roof repair, you need to be upfront about it with your agent when discussing your insurance quote.

While it may be tempting to leave out references to the roofing aspects of your work in order to save a little money on your premium, doing so could result in coverage gaps that might leave you in the lurch if damage occurs and a claim is filed.

Some general liability insurance policies for general contracting may include coverage for limited roofing. However, if a customer sustains damages from roof leakage, and your policy doesn’t specify that roof work is covered, you could be on the hook for costs incurred.

Contact us today to find out what coverage you need for your business.

Handyman Insurance Basics

At CommercialInsurance.NET, we can assist you with obtaining general liability coverage for a variety of small businesses, including handyman insurance. Whether you own a janitorial or lawn care business, act as a general contractor, artisan tradesman, or landscaper, we can find policies to fit your needs, even if your business seems to change from day to day, as it often does for the jack-of-all-trades who works as a “handyman”.

On a daily basis at CommercialInsurance.NET, we encounter people looking to supplement their income by taking on small projects. Whether you are just repairing a screen door as a handyman, or completely remodeling a kitchen and bathroom as a general contractor, if you are entering someone’s home or place of business, you need a commercial general liability policy. There are several reasons why insurance for a handyman is important.

No matter how small the project is, you are putting yourself at risk simply by being in someone’s home or on someone’s business property. For instance, the smallest caulking job can cause thousands of dollars worth of damage due to water leaks if done incorrectly. A fallen broom or tool can easily become a bodily injury hazard. Handyman insurance is a way to manage these risks.

One response to this may be, “I’m always careful. I’ll never have a claim due to a mistake.” While this may be true, your handyman insurance doesn’t just protect you from your own errors, it protects you when someone blames you for property damage. For example, let’s say you’re repairing someone’s gutter after a storm, and before you leave your customer asks if you can tear off and repair some loose shingles on the roof. Because your handyman insurance does not cover roofing operations, you inform your customer that roofing repair needs to be done by a roofer insured for those operations, and leave. Several months later, you find out you are being sued because of water damage due to that customers’ leaky roof. Of course you will win in court because you always have a contract signed by the customer specifying the work you have completed, but wouldn’t you like to have a handyman insurance policy that will take care of those unnecessary court fees and attorney costs?

One of the most common questions we get from new customers is, “What information do I need to provide for a handyman insurance quote? Can I just get a price?” Even though your handyman service may consist of nothing more than a few small repairs a month, your general liability coverage is based on your location (every general liability policy has a physical location associated with it), estimate of gross receipts, and whether you have any partners, employees, or independent subcontractors working with you. Your agent will also have to confirm the answers for certain questions to confirm your eligibility. These questions usually reference operations like roofing, licensed trades, or work on high-risk properties such as medical facilities, schools, or very large mansions or estates. The process takes just a few minutes of your time, but it might be one of the most important investments you make in your business.

Call one of our specialists today at 1-877-907-5267 to get your same day quote for a handyman insurance policy.

Figuring Out the “Gig” Economy: What Constitutes an Independent Contractor?

The rise in recent years of for-hire business models, like those used for driving services Uber and Lyft, and delivery services like Instacart and Postmate, have put the term “independent contractor” under the microscope.

High profile liability issues (like the class action lawsuit that former drivers are filing against Uber) are only one aspect of the confusion; not only do employers need to understand their obligations towards the different types of workers they hire, but aspiring entrepreneurs should have a handle on what kind of risks and rewards are associated with self-employment.

The IRS has suggestions for defining characteristics that determine whether or not a worker is an employee or independent contractor…

  • – Who controls details of how the work is done?
  • – Who is responsible for negotiating the business aspects of the worker’s job?
  • – Who provides the worker’s benefits? (Vacation, insurance, pension, etc.)

The most basic distinction, tax-wise, between an employee and an independent contractor is that an employer is generally held responsible for withholding income taxes from an employee’s wages, but not for those of an independent contractor. Workers who are hired as independent contractors are often called “1099s”, a reference to the year end tax form they receive. (As opposed to “W2 employees”, who fill out a W2 for their employers and have taxes withheld by them).

But there are distinctions between the two types of workers that have ramifications in the insurance world, as well.

While the IRS may accept your choice to classify a worker as a subcontractor who receives a 1099 from you at the end of the year, if that same worker is injured on the job, or the subject of a lawsuit, it’s the Department of Labor who will determine if the individual is an employee or a subcontractor, regardless of which tax form they’ve been receiving from you.

And if the decision is that they are truly an employee, instead of an independent contractor, you will be held responsible for all medical costs, lost wages, future lost wages, etc, regardless of who has been paying their employment taxes.

The “bottom line” is always a factor in business decisions, and while the short term benefit of not having to pay employment taxes may sway business owners towards a preference for classifying workers as independent contractors, the potential for liability and associated costs should motivate the final decision about how to categorize the people they hire.

In fact, insurance costs for standard employees may actually be lower than those for subcontractors in some cases, although rates will vary from business to business and state to state.

For the individual who is trying to determine what the best status for them would be, the same elements of cost and risk should be weighed.

While the freedom to regulate the amount and type of work taken is a great benefit, independent contractors should also remember that they will shoulder the responsibility for damages or personal injury, and weigh out those costs against the perks of self-employment.

Getting specifics about insurance coverage from anyone hiring you as a subcontractor is highly advised, and keeping a policy in place for yourself that covers you in case of injury or damages could help forestall future financial disasters.

Call one of our specialists today (1-877-907-5267) or use the orange “Let’s Start” box above to find quotes for both worker’s compensation and general liability policies for small business owners and self-employed entrepreneurs.

Employee Benefits Liability Coverage

Employee Benefits Liability coverage protects the company against errors or omissions which were made about an employee’s benefit plans.

This kind of coverage is usually an endorsement on another policy like the commercial general liability policy, but it can be a stand-alone policy .

Most claims revolve around clerical errors wherein the employee is not added, added to the wrong benefits, or deleted from coverages. Errors which happen in advice to an employee about a particular benefit or mistakes in calculating the amounts of contributions of the employer or employee are also covered by employee benefits liability coverage.

Such errors are usually in the Human Resources Department, though they can also come from record-keepers, accountants, and trustees.

Here are a few scenarios:

A new employee chooses her benefits in the group medical plan, but the paperwork gets lost at some point after she has finished it. No one notices that it became lost, and there is nothing to trigger an alarm that such a thing happened.

Once the initial enrollment period has passed, the employee is stuck with no health coverage until next open enrollment.

Of course, this in itself is actionable, but if the employee has a chronic illness or has an accident, it becomes crucial, and the company will have to come up with a way to settle the problem.

Employee benefits liability insurance is among the least expensive kinds of coverage, particularly if it is an endorsement. It should, however, be part of your portfolio risk management strategy, and it’s also a way to ensure that valued employees aren’t left in the lurch if errors occur. Be sure to bring this issue up with your licensed insurance professional.

Click the orange “Let’s Start” button above, or call 1-877-907-5267 to speak with one of our specialists about your company’s commercial insurance needs.

Employee Practices Liability Coverage

Statistics suggest that three out of five companies will be sued by an employee or former employee — or even someone who interviewed but never became an employee — at some time. That would suggest that anyone who has a business should consider that it’s highly likely they’ll face a similar situation at some point in the life of their company, if they have employees.

Employment Practices Liability provides the employer, directors, and officers of a business protection against claims which are made by employees, potential employees, or former employees.

Such claims include wrongful termination, sexual harassment, invasion of privacy, breach of contract, emotional distress, false imprisonment, and wage and hour law violations. It also covers discrimination, whether racial, sex, age, disability, or any other unlawful discrimination, and other employment-related accusations or law suits.

As a business owner, you will want to have employment practices liability coverage before you hire your first employee.

All companies are vulnerable, whether small or huge, and even a groundless suit can cause major damage in financial resources and time if the company is not covered by an Employment Practices Liability plan.

Whether you plan to have have one employee or 5,000, you will want to look into employment practices liability insurance. Be sure to talk to your licensed insurance professional about what levels of EPL you should have.

Click the orange “Let’s Get Started” button above or call 1-877-907-5267 to speak to one of our specialists about the specific commercial insurance needs of your business. Quotes are quick, easy, and free.

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

Ahoy–Let’s Talk About Ocean Marine Insurance

Ocean marine insurance is a type of transportation insurance which is intended to protect goods that are transported on the water.

It covers a large range of causes of loss, usually on a named peril basis, including sea perils like collision, stranding, high waves, loss or damage caused by pirates, jettison, or fire.

Marine insurance can cover the loss or damage of ships, cargo, terminals, and any transport or cargo by which property is transferred, acquired, or held between the points of origin and final destination.

Ocean marine insurance can take the form of a number of different contracts, depending on the requirements of the insured.

Cargo Insurance
Cargo insurance covers the shipper of goods or cargo in the event that the cargo has been damaged or lost.

Freight Insurance
Freight insurance protects the ship owner in case the cargo becomes damaged or lost.

Hull Insurance
Hull insurance is similar to collision coverage in a car insurance policy. It provides coverage against against damage to the ship or other vessel. There is a deductible that goes along with hull insurance.

Hull insurance also has an extra coverage, known as collision liability coverage which provides protection for ship owners in the event that their vessel causes damage to another vessel and its cargo. This clause does not cover bodily injury liability.

Protection and Indemnity Insurance
Protection and indemnity insurance indemnifies the owner of the ship against liability arising from bodily injury or property damage to those other than the owner of the vessel.

If you need to speak to an insurance professional about your commercial insurance needs, click on the orange “Let’s Get Started” button above, or call 1-877-907-5267. Quotes are free, quick and easy.