Monthly Archives: September 2017

Does Your Business Need Business Interruption Insurance?

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Business Interruption Insurance (BII) is an often overlooked insurance coverage that protects against exposures to loss every bit is vital as fire or litigation.  If your business is forced to close your risk is not limited to temporary loss of income, which can be devastating in and of itself.  You also run the risk of losing customers who turn elsewhere for their product or service needs.  You may have difficulty paying key suppliers during an income interruption causing further long term loss as those suppliers sever their business relationship with your company.

Business Interruption Insurance is designed to protect businesses from these types of risk.  BII is often part of packaged commercial insurance policies or is purchased in conjunction with business property insurance.  One reason for this is that the perils, or causes of loss, are usually the same for property insurance as for Business Interruption Insurance.  A variation in BII designed for those enterprises that depend heavily on outside suppliers is called Contingent Business Interruption Insurance.  Loss in business income due to the inability of a supplier to provide goods or services can be insured against in many circumstances.

How much BII your business needs will depend on several factors such as how easily you could continue operations at temporary location and how long your business might be sidelined. You will also need to consider what income is being insured.  It could be average daily, weekly or monthly; income, income for the most recent accounting period, peak income or some hybrid.

BII usually requires a 48 hour waiting period before kicking in and indemnity will be based on the financial records of your business.  So it goes without saying that you will need to keep your records up to date and in a safe place.

Call AmeriAgency for the best business insurance coverages and advice at 615-209-9362.

Disability Insurance Basics

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Disability Insurance is designed to reimburse lost wages in the event of a disabling accident or illness. Different policies have different stipulations but nearly all require a waiting period before disability payments begin and will reimburse for a pre-defined percentage of your income, generally 45% – 60%. There are two broad categories, Long Term Disability (LTD) and Short Term Disability (STD). Premiums and waiting periods will differ between the two types along short term and long term category lines.

Many people forgo disability protection because they don’t think about it or assume that their employer’s benefits or Social Security will provide for disability income. Yet the need for disability protection is greater than for life insurance, at least when considering the probability of becoming disabled for some significant interval versus dying prematurely. The American Council of Life Insurers determined that a 35 year old is six times more likely to become disabled than to die before age 65.*

Employer plans vary and may not replace as much of your income as you might need to maintain your household. The same is true for Social Security. Another area where employer plans or Social Security may fall short of meeting your protection needs is in the Benefit Period or that interval of time during which benefits will be paid. Some policies provide only up to two years.

Finally, it pays to look at the definition of disability which also varies by policy. Social Security, for instance, bases the definition of disability on inability to work – not inability to perform your current job or run your business.

For help with disability insurance call AmeriAgency at 615-209-9362.

Understanding the Need for Long Term Care Insurance

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Long Term Care Insurance (LTC) is designed to reimburse you for expenses for everyday living assistance, should something happen to you. Traditional medical insurance and Medicare will not cover extra costs should you need help with activities we take for granted like bathing, eating or simply getting out of bed. LTC insurance options can provide for nursing home costs as well as home health care and assisted living.

Long Term Care is often mistakenly considered an issue affecting only the elderly but, according to the National Family Caregiving Association, more than 50 million Americans are serving as caregivers for their aged or chronically ill family members.  In a MetLife market survey of nursing homes the average cost of a private nursing home room was $70,080 per year with an average stay of 2.4 years and costs continue to rise.

Long Term Care Insurance can be an effective way to provide for your own care or that of a family member and protect your assets from being consumed by the cost of care. But it isn’t for everyone. For instance, as with life insurance, it gets more expensive the older you get. LTC Insurance can also be prohibitively expensive or unavailable if you are already sick or disabled. Before you purchase LTC insurance here are a few other considerations:

  • Do you have other insurance that will respond to LTC needs?
  • Do you have sufficient assets outside insurance to cover these costs?
  • Do you have enough assets to warrant purchasing the insurance to protect those assets?
  • Do you otherwise qualify for Medicaid (coverage may be available if you have low income and limited assets)?

Call AmeriAgency for Long Term Care Insurance at 615-209-9362.

Workers Compensation Tennessee Coverage Verification Tool

building-joy-planning-plansUse this site to verify if contractors or subcontractors have active workers compensation policies.

The Workers Compensation Online Coverage Verification Service (CVS) uses “cookies” and scripts.  Your web browser must accept cookies or you may copy this address https://www.ewccv.com/cvs/ and add it to your “trusted sites” via your browser settings/options.

If your a contractor in Tennessee and your construction business is not insured by AmeriAgency, then your company is missing out.  Start saving today, call AmeriAgency at 615-209-9362.

Understanding Inland Marine Insurance

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An inland marine policy can be a policy that covers a wedding ring or a policy that covers a giant excavator.

Ocean marine insurance is sometimes referred to as “wet” Marine Insurance. Since Ocean marine insurance is designed for property transported by water it would seem to make sense that Inland Marine Insurance would apply to goods and property transported by land and could be called “dry” Marine Insurance. That is accurate enough but not nearly a complete description of Inland Marine Insurance.

Inland Marine policies cover a range of situations and property. In the same way that Ocean Marine provides insurance for the instrumentality of water borne transport, the ship, Inland Marine provides insurance for various instrumentalities of land transportation like bridges and tunnels.

Less obvious is that Inland Marine policies are used to insure instrumentalities of communication like transmission towers. Even more arcane is the notion that Inland Marine policies are used to cover property whose value, use and very condition are under constant change. Examples of property whose value change are schedules of tools, jewelry, furs or other valuable property. For property with constantly changing use consider construction equipment that is used on jobs at different locations subject to different conditions of land and weather. Finally, the condition of buildings and materials under construction change by definition as construction moves from start to completion. All this property and these situations are typically insured under an Inland Marine policy.

Here is a partial list of less obvious kinds of Inland Marine coverage: Accounts Receivable Insurance, Installment Insurance, Installation Insurance, Equipment Floaters Insurance, Valuable Records Insurance (Papers), Consignment Insurance and Parcel Post Insurance. The list is not all inclusive but does give you a good idea how inadequate it is to think of Inland Marine as simply “dry” Marine Insurance.

Typical causes of loss, or perils, insured against on an Inland Marine policy include fire, lightning, windstorm, flood, earthquake, landslide, theft, collision, derailment, overturn of the transporting vehicle, and collapse of bridges.

Call AmeriAgency now to purchase inland marine coverage at

615-209-9362.

Understanding Ocean Marine Insurance

fishing-boat-denmark-beach-sea-86699Ocean Marine Insurance is generally regarded as the oldest form of insurance. In fact, the term ‘underwrite’, which dates back to 1430, was literally the practice of accepting risk for the transit of ocean vessels and their cargo by signing your name under a contract listing a description of the shipment. Today, ocean marine insurance policies are used to cover watercraft of varying descriptions (hull coverage), cargo and liability related to various marine activities. The common policy types that fall into the broad category of ocean marine insurance include: Hull Insurance, Marine Cargo Insurance and Yacht Insurance.

Cruise liners, pleasure yachts, huge container ships, tugboats and more are eligible for this type of policy. In fact, offshore oil rigs are also protected by this variety of insurance. Despite the fact that the insurance category specifically references ‘ocean’ not only sea going vessels are covered by ocean marine insurance. Vessels plying inland waters and other related risks are also protected by this kind of coverage.

Goods shipped by water are often offloaded and reloaded to and from land based transportation. An ocean marine policy will cover goods during the entire process including during land transit or temporary storage on land. Typical causes of loss (perils, insured against), include sinking, stranding, heavy weather, collision with other watercraft or submerged objects, fire and explosion. Coverage for excluded perils, like acts of war, can sometimes be bought back.

Ocean Marine Insurance is typically purchased by the owner of a vessel but may be purchased by any party with an interest in insurable property subject to maritime perils. In this way, even land locked businesses may find themselves in a situation where ocean marine insurance is called for.

Call AmeriAgency today for all your business insurance needs at

615-209-9362.

Top Issues for Small Business Owners

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According to the Small Business Association (SBA), the number of small businesses is growing. Recent data shows a newly upward trend in startups, and an influx of jobs created by businesses with less than 50 employees, which has positively contributed to a declining unemployment rate. Still, only about half of small businesses with employees survive to the five year mark and beyond (SBA). What factors most influence a new business’s success, and what are the major issues facing employers today? A recent survey by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and research from other small business organizations highlight some of the most critical issues affecting the small business landscape.

Healthcare and Government:

The cost of healthcare and “unreasonable” government regulation topped the list of concerns for small business owners in 2016, according to the NFIB survey. Growing insurance rates coupled with increasing requirements for employers to provide and report back to the government about health insurance creates a major headache for many small business owners. Unfortunately, the problem isn’t going away, and the implementation of new healthcare requirements doesn’t seem to be getting any less confusing.

Similarly, other government regulations are another serious issue for small business owners who responded to the survey. Business owners cite not just new regulations but the time and paperwork required to comply as a drain on time, profits and other resources.

Taxes:

Both state and federal taxes continue to be a stressor for small business owners. High federal taxes, tax complexity and frequent changes in tax laws are all part of the problem. As with healthcare and government regulations, navigating complex and constantly changing tax codes is nearly as frustrating to employers as parting with their hard-earned profits to pay steep tax rates.

Employees:

According to the NFIB survey, “Finding and Keeping Skilled Employees” and “Locating Qualified Employees” are growing in importance to small business owners in the U.S. The job landscape is changing rapidly in favor of “knowledge workers” with an above-average education level, who can adapt and learn new skills quickly. But Pew Research shows that Americans have little faith that the government or any political leader can address this growing problem. Both employers and individuals will need to bear the responsibility for training and retaining employees who can get the job done.

Uncertainty and the Economy:

Anxiety about economic conditions and what’s on the horizon ranks as the number four concern of small business owners today. The NFIB survey attributes this uncertainty to employers’ inability to anticipate, and therefore respond to, changing rules and conditions, as well as difficult economic conditions. The SBA reports, however, that businesses started before and after the downturn of 2000 “had almost identical survival paths,” noting that “a negative economy has little effect on a given business’s survival.” But the same SBA report also notes that businesses who survive a challenging economic period may only suffer from its negative impacts further down the road.

Starting a small business is difficult, but it’s also extremely rewarding. Make sure you study up, and you’ll be able to tackle these issues head on.

Call AmeriAgency for the best advice and business insurance coverages at 615-209-9362.

Good bye Summer! Now what can we do?

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Are you looking for fun activities in Rutherford County and the Murfreesboro Area? Here are some great places to look!

https://readysetrutherford.com/events

www.wgnsradio.com/section/community-calendar

http://www.murfreesborotn.gov

www.rutherfordchamber.org/things-to-do.html

http://stepoutside.org

https://livability.com/tn/murfreesboro/things-to-do/fun-things-to-do-in-murfreesboro-tn

www.murfreesboropost.com

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If you are looking for great rates on your insurance, try

www.Ameriagency.com 

or give us a call at 615-209-9362

Employment Practices, Risk and Management

pexels-photo-288477A survey of 422 businesses in May and June of 2006* indicated that, for 89% of the participants, at least one new law suit was filed in the prior year. Lawsuits brought by employees, both current and former, has been a litigation growth area in the recent past. And prospective employees who feel they were wrongfully passed over for an employment opportunity are also more likely than ever to bring suit.

There are basically three tiers to protecting your business from financial damage as a result of employment practice claims: Identification of risk areas, Developing and Managing your company’s employment policies and procedures and Insuring against financial loss. It is a good idea to develop a program that incorporates all three.

Identification of Risk

Here is a list of exposures to employment practice lawsuits common to most businesses:

  • Hiring decisions
  • Promotion, discipline and termination
  • Discrimination
  • Sexual harassment
  • Invasion of privacy

This is not by any means an all-inclusive list but it is a good place to start. Inconsistency in handling decisions in these areas and a lack of a documented policy regarding these practices creates a vulnerability to financial loss. Many smaller businesses, who do not have a dedicated human resource or loss control function or in house counsel, are often more at risk because of this lack of dedicated focus.

Developing and Managing Employment Practices

Having a written policy in place for hiring, reviews and office conduct is vital. That can seem daunting for a small business but there are resources available for help. Checklists for interviewing, job descriptions and qualifications; performance expectations and measurements; job salary grades, pay for performance plans and performance evaluation procedures are basic documents that, when properly used, can minimize risk of lawsuits in many risk areas. Once completed, these policies, procedures and documents should be reviewed periodically to make sure they stay up to date.

A training program will be needed for managers so they know how to implement the overall program, conduct reviews, provide feedback and document issues. Employee training should cover workplace conduct as well as any changes in job evaluation. Finally, no policy or procedure is very valuable unless it can be demonstrated that it is followed consistently and with uniformity across the company. Development of procedures and policies is only the first step. Training and documentation are also necessary.

Insuring Against Financial Loss

Even the most well managed business, with sound, well executed employment practices and excellent overall employee morale can still wind up in court. As a final layer of risk management Employment Practice Liability Insurance (EPLI) is becoming a standard part of many business insurance programs. Broadly speaking, this type of insurance covers claims by employees and job applicants who believe their legal rights have been violated. There are many different kinds of policies that provide differing levels of protection.

One thing all EPLI policies have in common is that they are more affordable when it looks as if your business is less likely to encounter a claim. Thorough identification of risk areas, training and management to address those risks will, as with other kinds of insurance, reduce your overall program costs.

To get help understanding EPLI coverage or help with any business insurance need, call AmeriAgency at 615-209-9362.

Business Emergency Planning

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Twenty five percent of the businesses forced to close due to a disaster or emergency never reopen. Smaller businesses are especially vulnerable because they do not typically have the resources to cover continuing expenses if income is interrupted. A business can greatly reduce the chances of a disaster becoming a death sentence for you business by planning ahead. Here’s what you need to have in place.

Step 1.

Identify natural disasters most likely to occur in your area. Recognize that some disasters can be very localized, like a tornado or brush fire and others can affect a wide area like hurricanes or flood. You will need a plan that is flexible enough to deal with both situations.

Step 2.

Review your insurance protection. First, you need to understand what is covered and what is not covered. For instance, while many business insurance policies cover loss of income that only applies to causes of loss specified in business insurance policies. Flood, earthquake and acts of terrorism are often excluded as covered causes of loss. Moreover, when a disaster does not affect you directly, even if the cause of loss is covered, you would not be compensated for lost business income. Scenarios like this include a major supplier suspending operations or a significant part of your customer base being forced to evacuate due to flood or fire.Once you understand what is covered you need to review the amounts of insurance you need. Will your insurance protection be enough to see you through a transition period and get your business up and running again?

Step 3.

Assign key responsibilities to employees and make sure everyone knows who is responsible for what in the event of a disaster. Typical responsibilities include deciding whether to implement the emergency plan, contacting employees, setting up temporary operations, etc.

Step 4.

Make an emergency contact list that includes names, addresses, phone numbers and email and make sure all employees have a copy. Contacts should include local fire, police and federal authorities like FEMA and the SBA. You should also compile a list of your largest and most important suppliers and customers.

Step 5.

Make sure you have an up to date and accessible copy of important records and data. Few businesses can run for very long or recover very easily without the information that is the life blood of commerce.

Step 6.

Identify alternative business locations for the short and long term. Many employees may be able to work from their homes if your business location becomes inaccessible. But you may need to make provisions for temporary office space in the event that is not possible. Likewise, you may want to identify a facility where you could set up operations or outsource work during a recovery period.

Step 7.

Take an inventory of business property and equipment including serial numbers. Include the price, when bought and vendor or retailer. You will need this information for insurance reimbursement and tax purposes should business property become damaged or destroyed.

Step 8.

Walk through plans. What looks good on paper often breaks down in practice. Consider different scenarios. For instance, if you will rely on cell phones for short term communication what happens if the cellular network is down or overloaded? How will you let employees know what to do?

Step 9.

Put regular reviews and updates for you plan on your planning calendar.

Call AmeriAgency to start saving on business insurance at 615-209-9362.