Archive | February 2014

Finding the Right Workers Compensation Insurance for Your Business

InsuranceWhether you have three employees or several thousand employees, it only takes one injury to interrupt your daily processes. As a business owner, you most likely are concerned with protecting your employee from injury as well as meeting workers compensation requirements in your state and ensuring that your business runs as usual. Getting the right workers comp in place for your business can help you meet all of those goals.

If you need to find workers compensation insurance, review your options with a knowledgeable insurance agent. An independent agent specializing in business insurance can help you compare insurance providers and find the right workers comp coverage for your business.


Workers Compensation Insurance Facts

When you begin to think about what kind of coverage you need for your employees, consider these facts about workers compensation:

  • Workers comp, originally known as “workman’s compensation,” has been available in all states in the U.S. since 1949, although it is not required in every state.
  • Most states require this insurance under workers compensation laws; it is sometimes required for every business, but some states only require workers compensation insurance if the company has three or more employees.
  • Workers compensation and long or short term disability are not the same things. Long and short term disability can be purchased privately or may be part of an employer benefit package.
  • If workers comp is required by your state, you can deduct your workers compensation premiums from your taxes.
  • Workers compensation forms and information should be posted in an easy to see public space for employees to read.

What Is Workers Compensation Insurance?

Developed close to 100 years ago, workers compensation is a form of occupational injury insurance that business owners can buy to protect workers from costly medical expenses from injury or illness while on the job. It also protects your company from employee lawsuits. If an employee is injured while at work, your workers compensation insurance can pay for the employee’s injuries and/or illnesses. Each state has its own laws that determine if coverage is required and how much you should buy.

Some states, like Texas, do not require every employer to have workers compensation insurance, although it is required in some industries such as construction. Other states, like California, require every business to have insurance. For other states, the number of employees you have as well as the size of your business will determine what kind of workers compensation insurance policy you need to purchase. Be sure to check your state regulations to make sure you are in compliance, or contact an independent agent in your local area.


How Much Does Workers Compensation Cost?

Similar to any insurance policy, workers comp rates will vary depending on the unique characteristics of your business. Typically, a small business owner with a few employees can expect to pay $2,000 to $3,000 for workers comp coverage annually. If a business owner has 20 employees, premiums can cost up to $12,000 per year on average. Each state has specific rate structures and classification systems to develop workers compensation insurance quotes.

Other factors used to determine workers comp rates include employee pay and occupational hazard. For every $100 of an employee’s salary, a specific cost is assigned to that individual. If that employee is working a particularly dangerous job, the cost of the policy will typically be higher. Discounts are available for businesses that initiate a work safety program, have a drug free workplace, and apply a high deductible to the workers compensation insurance policy.


What Does Workers Compensation Cover?

Workers compensation insurance will cover any employee on the policy for injuries on the job or an illness develops due to the job. While workers compensation typically pays the costs involved in an employee’s injury or illness, coverage may be denied under any of the following exceptions:

  • Self-inflicted injuries
  • Injuries that occurred while an employee was committing a crime
  • Injuries incurred while an employee wasn’t on the job
  • Injuries that occurred as a result of an employee’s conduct that violates company policy

If workers compensation claims are valid, benefits will pay for medical expenses and lost wages. Workers comp can also provide coverage for rehabilitation services and retraining programs but that will depend on the employer. If an employee is killed while on the job, workers compensation can provide benefits to dependents of the employee.


Filing a Workers Compensation Claim

If someone is injured while on the job, file the claim immediately. Waiting to file a claim is not recommended and could lead to denial of benefits. Most states have a 30 to 90 day time limit, although for some states you hae a year or more to file a claim.

The first thing an employee will do to file a claim is notification of injury or illness to the employer. This can be done two ways:

  1. The employee can notify the employer and at that point, the employer needs to file a report and make a claim.
  2. If a doctor determines an injury or illness is work-related, the employee will then fill out workers compensation forms. This notifies the employer and insurance company.

Regardless of the circumstances that led to the illness or injury, the filed claim should be very specific. Include the date and time of the injury or cause of illness, if known, and how the incident happened. If witnesses are available, provide names and contact information. The insurance company will review the claim and provide benefits to the injured employee.

For illnesses and injuries that developed over time, filing a claim can be more difficult. Therefore, providing complete documentation is especially critical.


How to Buy Workers Compensation Insurance

Finding the right workers compensation insurance is essential to protecting your business and your employees. As a business owner, if you don’t have time to do thorough research, contact a local independent agent who can help you get the specific workers compensation coverage you need to protect your company’s financial wellbeing. Because Trusted Choice independent agents work with multiple workers compensation carriers, your agent can compare prices from different companies to find the right fit for your company.

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Are You Covered If You Damage Someone’s Reputation?

reputationEarly in our nation’s history the sitting Vice President, Aaron Burr, shot and killed former Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton in a duel that began over political disagreements that turned personal and escalated to a war of words and character attacks in letters and newspapers.  In the early 19th century issues of defamation of character were settled through a complicated “code of honor,” that brought Burr and Hamilton to Weehawken, New Jersey and pistols at dawn. Today, issues of defamation of character are often settled through lawsuits, and if you’re ever caught up in such a situation, it’s important to know that you may be able to turn to your insurance coverage instead of a dueling pistol.

How could you be sued?

Today social media sites are more likely to be the forum for the kinds of offenses that lead to the Burr-Hamilton Duel, and there are two potential areas where you might find yourself at risk: Damaging someone else’s reputation or the publication of private facts. Standard homeowners and renters policies include liability protection for bodily injury or property damage, which would pay for the costs to cover medical bills or repair/replacement costs if you were to injure a friend in a pick-up basketball game or if you were at your bosses house and accidentally spilled red wine on a $13,000 oriental rug, subject you your policy’s deductible.

But what if you were to post rumors about someone online, a co-worker or another parent from the PTA that implied drug use, promiscuity, or other information that could damage that person’s reputation? With employers beginning to look up applicants on social networking sites, rumors and gossip have the very serious potential to damage someone’s ability to find a job. Or if you were to “out” someone’s private medical condition, there’s the potential that someone could pursue legal action under a type of defamation known as publication of private facts. Finally, invasion of privacy is another common exposure, especially for people who live in close proximity, with claims of “peeping tom” activity. Interestingly, a standard homeowners or renters policy would not cover these instances.

Get a Personal Injury Endorsement

In order to cover claims from the kinds of situations above, homeowners and renters policies must have what is called an endorsement- extra language that is inserted into the policy to expand coverage- in order to have your liability protection extended to cover “personal injury.” Your Insurance Agent should be able to tell you if your current insurance policy already has this personal injury endorsement by reviewing it, and if it doesn’t, they would be able to help you get one. You may be surprised to find that this expanded coverage may not cost you much additional premium. A personal injury endorsement will pay the costs up to the limits of your policy to defend you, pay a judgment or settle a case when legal action is brought against you for defamation.

And it has the added benefit of not being shot at…

9 Tips to Babyproofing Your Home

babyproofing-tipsMaking your home safe for your baby is an important step in becoming a parent. Many homes contain hazards that are well within reach of babies and toddlers. When preparing your home for your baby, be sure to take a tally of each room – make a map if possible, and figure out where to move things to make each room safe for your child. We’ve compiled an article detailing the top baby safety tips you need to know, and how to modify your home to be the safest for children.

1. Address Your Outlets

The most common accidents for children under the age of 5 are injuries involving burns. It’s important to remember this when taking a look around your home. Make sure that every available outlet in your home has an outlet protector on it; keep extra outlet protectors available in case one is lost. If your family can afford it, invest in outlet covers that come equipped with a sliding latch. Be sure to cover any open electrical outlets on extension cords with electrical tape.

Electrical safety for children is important. As your child grows, you must babyproof things higher up. Knobs for stoves and low-placed appliances will have to be moved to higher areas or removed from the room completely.

2. Lock Away Hazardous Chemicals

Poisoning is another very common injury for children. 99% of households keep cleaning agents under the sink. For that reason, it’s important to invest in child proof cabinet locks. Use these locks for any cabinet that contains harmful items or items that can choke, cut, or burn your child. Even if you don’t think your child will drink something dangerous, they may open a container of something caustic, which blinds children. Salt is another potential poison. It takes just a tablespoon and a half to kill a 25 lb child. Keep all chemicals, cleaning agents, and cosmetic items in locked cabinets high up where children cannot reach them.

3. Secure Your Bathroom

Bathrooms are another danger area for children. Young ones can drown in as little as two inches of water, and it’s amazing how quickly they can get themselves in dangerous situations. Always keep a close eye on your children in the bathroom. Install a toilet seat lock to keep your child from opening up the toilet, and never leave a child unattended while bathing. Child electrical safety is another factor when babyproofing in the bathroom, as electrical appliances can be pulled or fall into the bathtub. Never use electrical items while a member of the family is in the bathtub or shower.

4. Prevent Head Injuries

Head injuries are one of the scariest things that can happen to a child. Even a small uneventful run-in or fall can cause a large bump to rise on the child’s head. Use foam bumpers to surround furniture with small edges, and never leave a child (especially an infant) unattended on a couch, bed, or counter. Always move items out of baby’s reach that can be grabbed or pulled down, such as books, picture frames, or knick knacks.

5. Reduce Strangulation Risks

Strangulation is another concern for parents. Items like necklaces, shoelaces, strings or blinds can also get wrapped around a child’s neck very easily. Always shorten blind cords, and keep an eye on children while they play with toys that have strings. Railings are also a potential for danger. Check railings on staircases to make sure that the gap is no wider than 3.5 inches. If the gap is larger than this, install acrylic sheeting or netting to prevent your child’s head from getting stuck between the rails.

6. Anchor Your Furniture

One of the more involved babyproofing projects is anchoring furniture to the wall. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), more than 16,000 children under the age of 5 went to the emergency room in 2006 with injuries caused by television sets, bookcases, and other furniture tipping over on them. Between 2000 and 2006, more than 130 young children died from furniture tip-overs.

Anchoring furniture like TVs, bookshelves, and dressers is a must when babyproofing, as children will undoubtedly climb on furniture. Anchoring supplies are available at all hardware stores and baby stores. Securing furniture to walls is very simple, and takes just a few minutes.

7. Check Fire Alarms, Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Your home should have a smoke detector/carbon monoxide detector in every room – including the nursery. Do a double check to make sure they are in working order.

8. Make Fireplace Barriers

Fireplaces are beautiful to look at, but they can be extremely dangerous. Fireplace screens or guards are affordable ways to protect your child from wandering too close to the fireplace. Always leave the fireplace screen up until the fire is completely extinguished. Never burn anything other than wood in your fireplace, and leave the flu closed when not in use.

9. Get Help from Professionals

If all of this seems overwhelming, there are professional babyproofers available that can come to your home and inspect it, suggest furniture placement changes to maximize safety, and provide you with resources to help make your home the safest it can be.

5 Steps to Starting Your Own Business

start-up

You’ve decided to start your own business. Congratulations! When you work for yourself, you have the opportunity to do what you most enjoy and are more likely to have a high level of job satisfaction. Make sure that when you set your business up, you are doing so properly so that you are not surprised by unexpected expenses or problems in the future. By taking the following steps you can be best prepared.


1. Construct a Business Plan

Before you begin, it is a good idea to get all your ducks in a row. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What will my business do and how does it differ from other similar businesses?
  • What will I do to make my products or services appealing to customers?
  • What are my customer-base and net-profit goals?
  • How will I market my company and build a solid customer base?
  • Will I need to hire employees?
  • Should I consider a business insurance policy?
  • Where will I get the funding to get started?

It is much easier to build a business plan for a small, at-home freelancing business as you can keep your plan informal. If you are planning to start a larger company, your initial business plan will be more complex and will need to be structured formally. You can purchase software that can help you put together your business plan or you can hire a consultant to assist you with putting it together.

2. Meet With a Tax Advisor, Accountant or an Attorney

Once you have your business plan in place, it is a good idea to meet with an expert to discuss your options and your tax considerations. There are different types of business structures that you can use when setting up your company and each has different tax implications and set-up requirements. You can choose from the following business structures:

  • Sole-proprietorship: This is the simplest type of business structure. It is ideal for freelancers and for those who will have full control over all aspects of the company.
  • Corporation: Corporations are complex structures intended for larger companies that have multiple employees. This structure provides limited liability protection and tax benefits for your company.
  • Partnership: This structure is ideal if you are going into business with at least one other person. It provides a lot of operational flexibility and protects you and your other business partners if the actions of one cause problems for all involved.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC): This business structure combines the liability protections of a corporation with the flexibility and tax benefits of a partnership. It is ideal for smaller companies that have employees.
  • Cooperative: This is the right structure for a business that is comprised of several member-owners who work together to meet a common goal or perform a service that benefits all involved. Profits are distributed among the owner-users. This structure is most likely to be found in retail, art, restaurant and healthcare industries.
  • An S Corporation: This is a business structure you can choose to add on to your corporation or LLC business type. There are tax benefits to doing so but not all businesses qualify for S corp status. A tax advisor can help you determine whether this is worth looking into.

By speaking with a business or tax professional, you can get assistance determining which type of structure is right for you. You can also learn about setting money aside to pay your federal, state and local taxes on a quarterly basis. Remember, when you are your own employer, you will be paying 100 percent of your social security contribution, whereas when you work for someone else, your employer covers 50 percent of this tax.

3. Create and Register Your Company

Once you have chosen the right business type, it is time to make your company official by registering it with your state.

  • Choose Your Company Name

If you have not yet done so, you must now decide on the name of your company. The name you choose at this stage is the name your business will be registered under so choose carefully. If you are doing freelance work, you can register your business under your actual name. It is okay to use a nickname so long as it is a common one for your given first name.

If you prefer to do business under any name other than your given name, you may be required by your state to apply for a fictitious name certificate, also known as a “doing business as” or DBA certificate. There is typically a one-time fee for doing this.

  • Acquire an EIN Number

An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is a tax ID number (TIN) that is unique to your company. It is easy to apply for an EIN number online and you will receive this number instantly. Some sole-proprietors and freelancers prefer to work under their social security numbers, and this is okay. However, if you are completing W-2 forms for several different clients, you may not want to risk compromising your social security number, and this is why and EIN number is the better choice.

When you apply for a Fictitious Name certificate or an EIN number, you are automatically registering your business with the state.

4. Develop a Marketing Plan

No matter how great your business is, it will never succeed without customers. Marketing is one of the most important steps when starting your new business. While you will incur some expenses when promoting your new company, the return on investment can be quite high.

If you are opening your business in a retail space, put up “Coming Soon!” signs in the windows so people know, and talk to others, about what you will be doing with the space. You can also have business cards and flyers printed and can begin distributing them to your key demographic.

Most importantly, you will want to create a web-presence. Even if you do not expect to drum up any business through a website, having one will lend your business credence and will also supply a place for curious people to go to learn more about what you do. Find a domain name that is applicable to your business and register it as soon as possible. You’d be surprised how quickly names get taken up.

Social media can also help you to market your business so consider making a Facebook, Google+ or other social media business page.Mashable offers some very interesting statistics about using Facebook as a marketing tool:

  • Currently, 1 out of every 3 small businesses has a Facebook page
  • 86% of small business owners feel that Facebook is a valuable marketing tool
  • Facebook fan are 79% more likely to become customers and are 74% more likely to recommend your business or products to others
  • Approximately 26% of all traffic to business websites is generated through Facebook

Whatever marketing techniques you use, remember that you can deduct the cost of promotional materials and website registration from your business income taxes.

5. Open Up Shop and Get Started

Now that you have everything ready to go, it’s time to open up shop to customers. If you are a retail type business, you may want to plan an event with balloons and giveaways to bring people in.

Most new business ventures start out slow and build up over time, so do not be discouraged if you operate at a loss the first few months. Remember that customer referrals and positive feedback can go a long way toward getting new and repeat customers. Feel free to ask satisfied customers to write you a testimonial and include these on your website.

How Do My Employees Affect My Intellectual Property Risk?

intellectual-property-stampIn today’s world, protecting yourself, your company and your brand from the risk of intellectual property theft can seem next to impossible. While you may think of intellectual property risk as being confined to stolen secrets, recipes, plans or formulas, it goes much farther than that, especially in a culture so engrossed in various aspects of social media fostered by platforms like Facebook and Twitter. A seemingly insignificant sentence tweeted or shared online can have potentially devastating consequences to an enterprise even when made unintentionally.

Intellectual property risk extends across the full spectrum of communication methods, from ear-spoken whisperings or shared texts to all out computer hacking or software piracy. When someone takes something that doesn’t belong to him or her, whether in words, pictures or even unwritten plans, it is outright theft.

Your Business May Be at Risk

If you’ve read the book or seen the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, you’ll remember that it was the revealing of the company’s secret candy formulas that made Willy Wonka decide to close down his factory operations and terminate all of his workers. He knew it was the actions of a few disloyal employees that were responsible for giving unfair advantage to the competition by way of insider information. The fact is, intellectual property risk can have a potentially adverse effect on just about any business and the first line of defense is having a cadre of loyal employees who understand that the success of your business is intimately connected to their own levels of success.

Anti-Intellectual Property Risk Strategies

While copyrights, trademarks, confidentiality agreements and the limiting of sensitive information to a strictly need-to-know basis are all viable strategies against intellectual property infringement, having a happy, satisfied and loyal workforce is also a critical factor in ensuring workplace sabotage doesn’t occur in the form of information leaks. When workers feel they’re valued, respected and have an integral part in the company reaching desired goals, they’re much more likely to be part of creating a happy, enjoyable work environment and remain loyal to the organization.

There are a variety of ways these conditions can be fostered. They include:

  • Increased financial and advancement opportunities
  • Recognition
  • Praise for a job well done
  • Contests, special celebrations, group outings or just having lunch with the boss

It’s important for someone in a leadership role to understand that loyalty to the company cannot be demanded or mandated but it can certainly be earned. When employees are made to feel an important part of your organization, having ideas, opinions and feedback that are deemed valuable to management, they’re much more likely to feel they have a stake in the ongoing success of the organization. This will make it less likely that a competitor will be able to entice them to cross over to the other side by divulging confidential information.

Contractual Clauses to Promote Confidentiality

While not infallible, certain employment agreement contract clauses can be implemented to promote trade secret confidentiality. These include non-disclosure agreements wherein signing parties agree not to disclose any confidential information to any third party. They also include non-compete clauses that legally prevent employees from going to work for a competitor or from starting their own business in the same industry for a specified period of time.

While these non-compete and non-disclosure agreements may prove valuable, the fact remains that many times when intellectual property is put at risk, it is due to current employees. They may be the biggest threat and represent the greatest challenge to guarding against intellectual property risk. Promoting unwavering employee loyalty is the best line of defense.

The Complete Guide to Finding the Best Home Security System

best-home-security-systemHome security is an important topic these days. Unfortunately, a home burglary happens once every 15 seconds in the United States. This translates to a staggering 2.2 billion burglaries each year. Burglars targeting residences will mainly strike during daytime hours when they assume most homeowners are at work. Many people are surprised to learn that the main point of entry for burglars is through the front door. Deadbolt locks help a lot, but they are not enough to deter a determined burglar. A home security system can be a crucial defense against thieves. The best security system for you might take some research – but we hope this guide will help you make the right decision for your family.

What Are the Advantages of a Home Security System?

Most people purchase home security systems mainly to protect their homes from burglars. In addition to serving as an effective deterrent against property crimes, these systems can also save your home from excessive fire damage and protect your family from carbon monoxide poisoning. They are typically equipped with several types of sensors that can notify a team of experts of problems around the clock. This way, if you leave an appliance on and it begins to smolder, the security company can have the fire department at your house within minutes to contain any flames.

Another advantage to having this type of system installed in your home is that most insurance companies will reward you for being proactive. They do this in the form of significant discounts on your home insurance policy. These discounts can range from 2 to 20 percent and this can help to mitigate the cost of 24/7 monitoring of your home.


What Features Should I Look for in a Home Alarm System?

When it comes to deciding on a home security system, think “layered security.” Layered security is having more than one type of protection. This can include sensors on the doors and windows that trigger home alarms, alarm services that include security cameras mounted outside your residence, and motion sensors that can turn on lights and activate alarms. Glass-break sensors are also a smart addition, as many wireless sensors will not detect the shattering of glass.

Some features that you can expect the best home security system companies to provide include:

  • Control panels and keypads
  • Smoke and heat detectors
  • Carbon monoxide detectors
  • Motion sensors
  • Wireless window and door sensors
  • Glass break sensors
  • Pressure mats
  • Panic buttons
  • Alarmed screens for your windows
  • Video monitoring
  • Flood monitoring in your basement, bathroom and garage
  • The ability to monitor and control your system remotely

Not all of these features may be important or appeal to you. The best home security system for you is one that offers everything you want at a price you can afford. There are many home security companies out there, so there is no need to compromise and give up a feature you want just because the company you choose does not offer it.

How Do I Select the Best Home Security System Provider?

Hiring a home security system provider is easy; hiring the best home security system provider takes a bit a research. Consumer Reportsrecently noted that the range of services and costs among home security companies varies significantly. Because you have many options and the prices can vary greatly from company to company, it’s a good idea to make careful comparisons when you shop.

  1. Assemble a list of providers near you. You may want to include both smaller, local companies and large national companies in your list.
  2. Compile a list of features that are important to you. Eliminate any companies on your list that do not offer those features.
  3. Research each of these companies online. Sites such as Consumer Reports and Angie’s List will provide unbiased reviews of the companies you are considering. Also, check with the Better Business Bureau to ensure that the companies you are considering are trustworthy. Eliminate any companies that are rated poorly by these sites.
  4. Research price quotes from companies on your list. Keep in mind that there may be additional, less obvious fees such is if you must pay to lease the equipment used each month or if there are added costs if the service alarm is activated.

Based on the rates, narrow you list down to three or four companies and arrange to have each of them come to your house to give you an quoted price for installation and monthly service fees.

An important factor to consider when choosing a home security system is customer support and monitoring. Customer service should be friendly and efficient and the representative who came to your home should have been knowledgeable about what the company does and does not offer.

Home security systems include round-the-clock monitoring and can range from $20 to $60 per month, depending on the company and the features and services you choose.

Beware of Hidden Costs or Pitfalls

Scams and of hidden fees may be charged by one company, but not others. For example:

  • Early termination fees: Some companies will require you to sign a contract for a given number of years. Sometimes this is required of all customers and other times it is offered as a way to get discounts or free installation. Be aware of high early termination fees that are are applicable even if you move out of the house.
  • Promises by a salesperson: Sometimes, less scrupulous sales personnel will make promises to entice you, but if these terms are not in the contract you sign, you could be locked into an agreement that isn’t ideal. Be sure to get all sales agreements in writing and included with your contract.
  • Security company liability limits: If your home is broken into or damaged, your home security company may be liable for a portion of your losses. The liability limit your security company has may cover the deductible on your home insurance policy, or it may be used to cover your entire loss. Some companies have very low limits for how much liability they will pay and you may be agreeing to these low limits when you sign the contract. Be sure to ask about this and read the contract carefully.

Do Not Rely Exclusively on Your Burglar Alarm

While home security systems can alert authorities of an intruder in your home, unless you live next door to a police station, you should not expect the police to arrive instantaneously. Burglars will still have time to grab some belongings and run. This is where layered security comes in. By taking additional precautionary steps, you can minimize your risks.

Some things you can do to keep your property safe include:

  • Always lock your door when you are not at home
  • If you have an alarm system installed, be sure to use stickers on your window or signs on the lawn to alert potential burglars that you are protected
  • Even if you do not have a dog, “beware of dog” signs may give a burglar pause
  • Keep your lawn and front porch clean and well kept, so that the front door to your home is easily visible by passers-by
  • Leave a radio on and tuned to a talk station when not at home
  • When you go on vacation
  • Ask a neighbor put some garbage in your cans and put them out on collection day
  • Put in a stop mail request with the post office
  • Put some lights on timers
  • Avoid advertising that you are on vacation by posting on social networking sites
Get Peace of Mind Knowing that Your Home Is Protected

Of course, home security systems are not all created equal. The brands available to you may vary depending on your home’s specifications, and it is possible that one company might better meet your budgetary and some security needs than another. The important thing is that you review everything that your prospective companies offer before making a decision about which is the best home security company for you.

Once you have chosen a home security system and install it in your home, you can breathe a little easier knowing that your family and your possessions are safely protected from the dangers of fire and theft.

Protect Your Employees When They’re Traveling Abroad

travel_page_pictureWhether you have numerous employees who frequently travel abroad, or you have a single employee traveling abroad just one time, it’s essential to keep them safe while they’re out of the country. Travel insurance is one aspect of that safety net, but there are other actions that can be taken to ensure your employees are as safe as possible. Let’s review the key components to safe travels to foreign lands.

Knowing the Risks

First and foremost, it’s essential to know the risks of any given area. This can be difficult to do on a global scale, but these days there are many websites dedicated to updated information, and there are even apps available that track stats on an hourly basis. When you know where the risk zones are, you can better formulate travel plans. Many business owners make the mistake of thinking that buying travel insurance is enough, and that they know which areas of the world are currently in conflict. The reality is that we live in an ever changing world and knowing the safety of the countries to which you’re sending your employees is step one in a comprehensive safety plan.

Evaluate the Options

Once you know what risks you’re dealing with, it’s time to investigate the options and make an informed decision about how to move forward. Travel insurance will be an essential part of your final game plan, but first you must understand what’s typically included and what isn’t. For the most part, travel insurance will always include accident death, accidental dismemberment, lost or stolen property, auto liability, employer liability, medical expenses, general liability, foreign voluntary workers compensation, evacuation and reparation.

Most travel insurance will also cover kidnap and ransom – but only in certain countries. As a result, employees who are traveling to high-risk areas should consider additional kidnap and ransom coverage. Countries generally considered high risk include those in Southeast Asia, Central America, the Middle East, and South America.

Monitor and Adjust Travel Insurance and Other Safety Products

Keeping your employees safe isn’t quite as simple as looking into travel related products, deciding what to purchase, and moving on to the next task at hand. The reality is that this is a field that’s changing every day and it’s essential for management to stay ahead of the curve. For example, some areas have local laws that affect a company’s ability to have a single, global travel and accident health care policy for employees who travel internationally. The rules vary state by state, and in some cases city by city, and it’s essential for management to be informed when these changes take place.

The Bottom Line

There is no single product or type of travel insurance that will cover every employee for every overseas trip. Instead, it’s essential to take the above three-prong approach: investigate the areas in which your employees will be traveling, investigate the options available to you and purchase the necessary products, and stay up to date as laws, regulations, and coverage changes.