Archive | November 2013

When You SHOULD Purchase Travel Insurance

The question pops up every time you buy a plane ticket.travel-insurance

Would you like to add travel insurance?

It’s not free, of course. Credit cards may offer you coverage for free, but add-on travel insurance is another matter. Is it a complete waste of money? Or can it truly save your trip?

There’s no easy answer. There are factors, or rather situations, that call for travel insurance and there are cases when it’s unnecessary. Most importantly, it also depends on what the insurance policy covers. So it’s really not about whether or not you should get travel insurance. Instead, it’s about knowing which kind of insurance to choose.

Here are some situations when it makes sense to buy a travel insurance policy.

An Expensive Vacation or Cruise

You were saving up for the trip of a lifetime, which is going to be an incredibly huge investment. That around-the-world cruise vacation or African Safari will cost you $15,000, but it will create memories that are truly priceless.

Should you buy a travel insurance policy? Definitely yes. The important factor here is the price. It’s a hefty amount and you ought to protect it with trip cancellation and interruption insurance. Let’s face it, the unexpected can happen no matter how thorough you are in planning your trip.

What if you suddenly get sick? Or what if an emergency such as a crisis in the family occurs? Or the cruise line or airline goes bankrupt? In these cases, travel insurance can safeguard your well-earned money so that you can simply move your travel date, book another ticket and go on the vacation of your dreams.

Additional tip: don’t buy this insurance from the cruise ship company. You won’t get your money back if that same company goes out of business.

Trip Not Covered by Health Insurance

Most people assume that their existing health insurance covers medical expenses abroad. In almost every case, it won’t. Traveling outside the country, including on foreign-flagged cruise ships, demands caution. And one of the most important areas you should safeguard while traveling is your health.

In this case, because your current health insurance policy most likely doesn’t cover medical expenses abroad, you should definitely get a travel medical insurance policy.

Most travel insurance policies of this type will fly you to the doctor of your choice but you should thoroughly read the fine print to understand what you’re getting. In case you get sick or require urgent medical attention abroad, the insurance should cover your initial treatment, free and quick transport to a hospital or medical facility of your choice and other adequate medical resources.

What about getting sick in a developing country? This is another situation where getting a good travel medical insurance policy makes sense. Not only will the policy pay for your care. The insurance company can also help to ensure you won’t get overcharged.

Extreme Sports Travel

Do you love mountaineering? Ice or rock climbing? White water rafting? Adventure racing? Frozen lake kite winging? The list goes on. What all of these activities share in common is this – they’re all extreme and put a traveler’s life at risk.

If you’re the adventurous type who loves taking part in extreme sports abroad, then you should definitely get insurance. A basic travel insurance policy may cover “some” specific adventure travel, but the company will usually ask you how high the mountain is or how deep will you scuba dive. If the basic package doesn’t cover your adventure and extreme sports, be sure to purchase additional coverage. It’s more expensive, of course, but it can save your life. In fact, most people buy it for the peace of mind it affords.

There are many other situations when travel insurance is necessary. Understand your travel needs and research your options so that you can spend your trip relaxing rather than worrying out insurance coverage.

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Choosing the Right Insurance Agent for Your Business

choosing an agentIf you own a business, you should have a commercial insurance policy, and may have other forms of insurance including professional liability, directors and officers coverage, etc. Before purchasing your insurance policy, you must first select an insurance agent that you would like to work with. On the surface, insurance can seem like a commodity and many insurance agents treat it as though it is by selling policies simply on the basis of price. The reality is that insurance is more than a product – it is a critical tool in any business’s risk management strategy – and crafting a policy that provides adequate protection for your business requires more than a cursory review of your company and the business it is in.

Not all insurance agents are the same. The right insurance agent will approach their relationship with you as a partnership and not simply a sale. How to choose the right insurance agent for your business? Shop around and know what to look for when selecting your partner!

The call is yours

There are literally thousands of insurance agents and insurance companies that would love to have your business. The important thing for you as a purchaser is to know what you need. Are you simply looking to purchase the lowest price policy, or are you interested in reducing your overall business risk and ensuring that you are protected when risk becomes reality? If it’s the latter, a great approach is to seek advice from the lawyers and accountants who helped you open your business. Often, they can recommend the right agent for your needs.

Do some homework

Before meeting with an agent, it is important to have a basic understanding of the types of insurance products you may require. This is another situation where your corporate attorney or accountant may be able to help. With so many forms of insurance on the market, it can be difficult to understand which may be appropriate for your situation.

  • Workers’ compensation is a sophisticated product with subtle ways of determining premium.
  • Life insurance may be the best vehicle for a buy-sell insurance agreement.
  • Businesses with products have needs different than those that provide services.
  • Sole proprietorships need different security than partnerships or corporations.
  • Fire, flood, and others risks mean different things in different locations and different industries.

Before an agent can recommend what types of policies you should purchase, they must first identify and measure the risks to your business. Only then can they determine the best way to manage them. For this reason, you need the agent who has broad and deep experience in all lines of liability. Experienced and reputable professionals pursue continuing education and performance recognition. So, look for the initials after their name: CLCS – Commercial Lines Coverage Specialist, CLU – Chartered Life Underwriter, CRM – Certified Risk Manager, CPCU – Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter, or REBC – Registered Employee Benefits Consultant. There are yet more, but each of these represents years of coursework and testing.

What to value?

The ability to identify and manage risk is the key to a strong partnership with an agent, a holistic approach that reduces costs before they occur. Insurance rates are often based on the number and dollar value of claims, so it stands to reason that, to the extent that you can reduce the incidence and cost of claims, the better off you and your business will be. Look for the agent whose approach involves examining the broader risk management issues facing your business, and whose recommendations include more than simply purchasing insurance.

Accidents will happen, but communication and readiness can improve the odds. When employees and staff are well-informed about risks, their potential consequences, and workable prevention, safety becomes a team event. The agent who can provide material resources in the form of manuals, signage, and training is a personal value to your business. These are the partners you want to sign with.

Choose the agent for whom service is the unique value proposition. Value the commitment and mutual self-interest because it is to your advantage as well as the agent’s to develop and sustain the relationship.

Coverage for Valuables and Collections

valuablesThe name Inland Marine may sound misleading. The name originated at Lloyds of London, used for insuring goods as they crossed the ocean as well as the ships on which they were transported. Later called “marine coverage” and “ocean marine insurance”, the name changed to Inland Marine after the coverage adapted to land transportation.

Though you may not have heard of it, Personal Inland Marine coverage is more common than you might think. These policies cover valuables and collections, which have limited coverage under your home policy and receive more broad coverage when insured on their own.

Coverage for Valuable Items

Do you own jewelry or art valued at over $500, $1,000, or more than $10,000 per item? If the answer is “yes”, your typical home policy is not providing you with coverage for these valuables. These policies insure collections like wine or fine art, or for high valued items such as jewelry, camera equipment, or musical instruments. The typical Homeowner’s policy provides coverage for your appliances, furniture, and clothing, with only limited coverage for jewelry, art, and other collectibles.

More Broad Than Personal Property

In addition to covering a wide variety of collections, coverage provided under this policy is more broad that your personal property coverage. More perils are covered under this type of policy or may be on an “open perils” basis, meaning if it is not specifically excluded it is covered. You may also have coverage for a missing stone in a ring, accidently breaking a statue, or damage to an expensive painting.

While your personal property coverage offers small fixed limits for items like jewelry, you can purchase higher limits with an Inland Marine policy. Coverage can be for a single item, a schedule of items, or a collection on a blanket basis, meaning a single limit for a group or collection of items. Depending on the insurance company, you may have the choice of covering items based on their appraised value or an agreed value.

Buying Coverage

While you may be undecided if an Inland Marine policy is the best way to cover your most valued items or unique collections, there are some other reasons to consider purchasing this coverage.

  1. You can cover your valuables or collectibles per item for what they are worth or insure them for an agreed amount.
  2. If you decide not to itemize your collection, you can buy blanket coverage giving you up to the insured limit for the collection for repair or replacement.
  3. Some companies offer a cash settlement option for your hard to replace items.
  4. With many companies, your items are covered while they travel with you anywhere in the world, though you may need to let your agent or representative know before you travel with expensive jewelry or other items.

Some collections take years to build, whether they are expensive or merely a hobby. Inland Marine coverage can be as valuable as the items they insure.

Benefits of First Aid Training in the Workplace

Most Businesses are not legally obliged to provide staff with on-site Health and Safety training. However, with incoming Health Care Reform and nationwide promotion of wellness in the workplace, more and more companies are beginning to offer First Aid training to staff. In light of this, we explore the benefits of making First Aid training a requirement in the workplace.02F66770

Practical benefits

First and foremost, introducing an ‘in-house’ First Aid Training Program has its practical benefits:

  • All employees become more safety aware, helping bring down the number of accidents;
  • First Aid saves lives, particularly where there are grave injuries and it is critical that immediate action is taken;
  • First Aid training does not have to take a long time, some managed training courses are only a few hours long;
  • First Aid trainees know exactly what’s in their first aid kits, how to use the contents and the various ways to react in an emergency;
  • The training gives employees critical knowledge and the confidence to effectively manage an emergency without fear or confusion;
  • They learn how to give injections, use painkillers, bandage injuries and control blood flow.

Tailored to the Industry

While outside First Aid programs are widely available and supported on many fronts, ‘in-house’ first-aid programmes allow the company to tailor the scheme to suit their place of work and their financial capabilities. As well as that, on-site first-aid programs can be incorporated into the company’s overall risk management strategy, reducing the need for a massive overhaul of current policy.

The problem with outsider First Aid programs is that they are generally run as a ‘one size fits all’ process. With ‘in-house’ first-aid programmes, you can determine the learning criteria, based on the requirements of the workplace. For example, First-Aid training for a large office will differ from a first-aid program designed for a construction agency. In-house training allows the company to specify what areas need to be covered and apply the learning to simulated scenarios that could occur in the workplace.

Cost

The main concern of companies in terms of the cost of introducing in-house training is considering the right provider and the exact number of sessions they should deliver, as well as the number of participating employees.

At first glance, it may sound like there’s a lot to consider in terms of the company’s budget. However, once you take into account the financial effects of workplace injuries, reducing accident severity and potential through first aid training can save a company quite a bit of money in the long term.

Employee Morale

It is hugely important to consider Employee morale in the overall business process, no matter what industry you operate in. At the end of the day results will depend on the efforts of your staff and if morale is low, the work is going to suffer.

By providing onsite First Aid training you can demonstrate how you care for the welfare of your employees and show them how they are valued in the workplace.

Providing First Aid training doesn’t cost Businesses a lot of money, however, workplace accidents do. By introducing an in-house program tailored to meet the demands of your workplace, you can beef up your company’s risk management plan and ultimately ensure the safety of those connected with the business.

If you are considering introducing an ‘in-house’ First Aid Training program, contact us directly for advice on how to do so.

What is Intellectual Property Insurance?

As the Global Economy continues to shift from a manufacturing-based economy to an information-based economy, the role of Intellectual Property (IP) has become increasingly important within the operational structures of big and small businesses across America, and beyond. However, many businesses are relatively inexperienced when it comes to Intellectual Property Coverage and the legal issues that surround it. The same can be said for Insurance agents, who have been slow to develop policies in light of emerging IT-related risks. Insurance policy

While Intellectual Property Insurance is something of a recent trend, the seismic shift from manufacturing to information will continue long into the future, and Intellectual Property Insurance is something that all Businesses need to be aware of, whether you’re a Small or Big Business owner, or even an Insurer.

What is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual Property Insurance coverage protects companies for copyright, trademark and patent infringement claims. Once you have completed an Intellectual property search and filed registration for a trademark, service mark, copyright or patent, you will be able to insure your intellectual property in order to manage and prepare for the risk of a competitor suing you for infringing on an idea or intellectual property belonging to them or someone else.

Intellectual Property typically constitutes anything from an invention to software developments, and with the dawn of the Information Age, coverage for those ideas has become resolute. Many high profile Intellectual property lawsuits have occurred in recent years, most notably Apple’s patent infringement litigation with Samsung, regarding the design of smart-phones and tablet computers. Earlier this summer, Samsung won a limited ban from the U.S. International Trade Commission on sales of certain Apple products after the court found Apple had violated a Samsung patent. While this shows the role of Intellectual Property Insurance in the IT sector, IP coverage is something Businesses from all sectors will have to incorporate as Internet commerce continues to grow and those companies find themselves competing to be the first to develop and sell new products and ideas.

How times are changing.

Naturally, Intellectual Property Insurance was not always a high priority for most businesses or Insurers in the past. However, that mentality is slowly changing with many Insurers moving to fill in the gaps by incorporating Intellectual Property coverage into Business insurance programs. We are now beginning to see Media liability, cyber-risk and patent litigation insurance becoming a part of the standard Business Insurance plan on offer to Large and Small corporations.

Why is IP coverage important for Businesses

Intellectual Property Insurance will pay the costs to defend you if someone tries to claim the rights to the same business model, process, or application that you have developed. Considering the high costs of not only hiring an attorney to defend your organization should a lawsuit arise, but also the financial damage that could be done to your company should you lose the case – not to mention the subsequent reputational damage – it is abhorrently clear that businesses, regardless of the Industry which within they operate, must consult their providers and re-assess their Insurance plan so that it acknowledges the risks of Intellectual Property Management.

Although the Insurance Industry has been slow to react to the demands of Intellectual Property growth, IP coverage is becoming an integral part of the Business Insurance plan. Many carriers are beginning to offer policies catering for Intellectual Property Risk and generalist plans are being expanded. With the market set to continue its rapid growth and demand for Intellectual Property Insurance on the rise, make sure you talk to your broker about how you can improve your current plan.

If you are unsure of how Intellectual Property coverage could help improve your Business Insurance plan, get an expert’s advice for free.

5 Tips for Buying Car Insurance for Your Teen

teen drivingAs a parent of a teen approaching driving age, you’re probably interested in finding affordable car insurance. Unfortunately, insuring a teen driver is usually quite expensive. That’s because insurance companies calculate premiums based on certain risk factors, including lack of driving experience, reckless behavior, inability to recognize hazardous situations, and drunk driving. Since teenagers are inexperienced and vulnerable to temptations, such as driving at high speed and driving under the influence, the probability of being involved in motor vehicle crash is quite high, and so is the insurance premium.

How to Save on Car Insurance for Your Teen

According to the Centers for Disease Control, teen drivers are four times more likely to cause a car accident than older drivers. Since this raises the stakes for insurers, its no wonder that finding affordable teen car insuranceis difficult; however, it’s not impossible. Below, you can find five viable ways to keep your teen’s auto insurance premium in check.

1.      Choose the Car Wisely: The type of car you choose for your teen has a significant impact on the insurance premium. The things you should pay attention to when getting a car are the make, model and year. Since high-performance and brand-new cars are expensive to insure, the best way to reduce the cost of car insurance for teens is to get a three to four-year-old car in good working condition. Further, modern safety features – such as stability control, anti-lock brakes and airbags – can help you get a good discount on insurance. To find out the cars with the highest safety ratings, access the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

2.      Look for Special Teen Driver Discounts: Many insurance companies offer teens discounts if they’re good students, have taken a safe driving class, or are low-mileage drivers. If your teen is eligible for this type of discount, he or she may receive between 5 and 10 percent off the original premium.

3.      Add Your Teen to Your Policy: Another thing you can do to save on car insurance is to add your teen to your policy. Before choosing this alternative, there are a few pros and cons you should know about. First, you can get a multi-car policy discount, which can save you some money. Additionally, you can use your clean driving record to ask for a better deal. Getting a discount may offset the costs of adding an inexperienced driver to your policy. On the other hand, adding your teen to your policy may not only increase your premium, but also make you lose policy perks if he or she gets multiple violations or causes an accident.

4.      Increase Your Deductible: The deductible represents the amount you have to pay before your insurer pays any expenses relating to a claim. Once you cover the deductible, your insurer will take care of the rest. Although opting for a higher deductible can help you lower your premium, increasing the amount you’ll pay out of the pocket in the event of an accident carries the risk of paying more than the premium savings you might accrue.

5.      Compare Different Policies: Since car insurance is a highly competitive niche, some insurers are willing to offer low insurance rates in order to attract more customers. The easiest way to compare different offers is to use websites that allow you to evaluate quotes from multiple insurance providers at once.

There is no doubt that finding affordable auto insurance for teens is difficult. But, whatever you choose, make sure that your teen is well insured. Failure to do so may lead to unwanted consequences, including paying fines and covering retroactive premiums for your teen.

What IS D&O Insurance?

With increased control and scrutiny of corporate practices, directors and officers are under ever more pressure. Just the allegation of an error or misdemeanor can lead to extensive losses directors-and-officers-101of personal assets even for those serving a part time, non-executive, or honorary role in an organization. To protect themselves and their personal assets, many people are turning to directors and officers (or D&O) insurance.

What Is D&O Insurance?

D&O insurance protects current, past, and future directors and officers at for-profit and nonprofit companies and organizations from damages resulting from wrongful acts, both committed and alleged, throughout their time in the position. Some policies also allow the same coverage to be extended to employees. D&O insurance is advisable for any publicly traded company with a corporate board or advisory committee as well as nonprofit organizations and private companies. In fact, investors usually require you to have this insurance as one of their conditions for funding the company.

What Does D&O Insurance Cover?

D&O insurance protects companies, directors, and officers from claims made by employees, clients, and stockholders in respect to performance and duties of the executive team. This encompasses omissions, misstatements, breaches of duty, and misleading statements. Wages, fines, penalties, taxes, and multiplied damages are not covered. Directors and officers insurance should not be confused with professional liability insurance or errors and omissions coverage, which applies to performance failures and negligence in regard to products and services.

Coverage limits for D&O insurance are available from $500,000 to $1,000,000 per annual total limit and claim, and typically have a deductible around $5,000 per claim. The claim is payable to directors, officers, or the company itself as a reimbursement for losses and financial damage or as an advancement of defense expenses for criminal and regulatory investigations or trials.

Insuring Clauses

There are three insuring clauses for D&O insurance according to Southeastern Bankruptcy Law Institute. These are Side-A (non-indemnified), Side-B (indemnified), and Side-C (entity securities coverage).

Side-A supplies individuals with coverage when they are not compensated by the corporation either due to state law or to the financial capacity of the organization. Side-A is subject to exclusions in cases where the company refuses to pay for legal defense or losses and when a bankruptcy court issues an order that prevents this coverage.

Side-B provides corporate reimbursement to the organization when the company compensates directors and officers.

Side-C is used for security claims brought against a corporation. It is only applicable to publicly traded companies and large private companies. Small private companies can obtain similar protection through entity coverage.

There is also a Side-D clause, but it is only offered by some policies. This provides a sublimit for investigative costs arising from shareholder demands in a derivative lawsuit.

For more extensive coverage than what is described above, you should seek a Broad Form Side-A Difference in Conditions (DIC) policy. This provides Side-A type coverage but goes further in protecting personal assets.

The Bottom Line

If you are considering taking a position on a company or non profit board, it is worth ensuring that the organization has purchased D&O coverage. As a business, this type of coverage is a critical tool that can help reduce your exposure in the event you are sued. Because there are several types of D&O coverage, it is worth contacting your business insurance provider to develop a policy appropriate to your company and situation.