COVID-19 Return To Work Resources Bundle

As states begin to loosen restrictions and many businesses and individuals are getting back to work, or are at least planning to do so in the coming weeks, we wanted to make sure everyone is prepared as possible.

With that in mind, we compiled a bundle of re-opening information to benefit general workplaces, as well as several industry-specific resources for businesses in retail, hospitality, manufacturing, healthcare and more.

You can download the entire bundle here. For information on each individual resource, continue reading below.

General Workplace Guidance

Fisher Phillips LLP: 5 Steps to Reopen Your Workplace

Fisher Phillips, LLP, has compiled a list of five steps to reopen your workplace, according to the CDC's latest guidance.

OSHA: Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19

This detailed packet from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), contains recommendations as well as descriptions of mandatory workplace safety and health standards.

CDC: Guidance for Cleaning & Disinfecting

An overview from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on general guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting public spaces, workplaces, businesses, schools and homes.

CDC: Devising a Cleaning & Disinfecting Plan

A more thorough version of the above CDC guidelines, with details on developing, implementing, maintaining and revising your plan.

CDC: Reopening Workplaces During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Questions to ask yourself as an employer when deciding if you should return to work and to help protect workers, especially those at high risk of illness.

Vehicle Cleanliness

Wheels, Inc.: Vehicle Cleanliness Tips

Vehicle cleanliness tips from Wheels, Inc., a large, privately-held automotive fleet leasing and management company.

Industry-Specific Resources

Along with the general business resources above, we've compiled several industry-specific resources and guides. Check them out at the links below.

Retail Stores

OSHA: COVID-19 Guidance for Retail Workers

In this OSHA alert, retail employers can find tips can help reduce their employees’ risk of exposure to the coronavirus.

Hospitality & Hotels

American Hotel & Lodging Association: Hotel Cleaning Standards

The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) has published a guide with the latest enhanced industry-wise hotel cleaning standards in response to COVID-19 to keep employees and guests safe.

Manufacturing & Factories

OSHA: COVID-19 Guidance for the Manufacturing Industry Workforce

For employers and workers in the manufacturing industry, the following tips from OSHA can help reduce the risk of exposure and illness.

Construction & Contractors

JE Dunn Construction: Safety Slide Deck

This template from JE Dunn Construction Group highlights what their own personnel will be doing in their general approach to COVID safety and preparedness.

OSHA: COVID-19 Guidance for the Construction Workforce

When working in the construction industry, these tips can help reduce the risk of exposure to Coronavirus.

NFPA: Construction Site Safety During Emergencies

Buildings under construction, alteration or demolition are facing new challenges. Here's how owners can safely prepare, execute efforts and minimize risk.

NFPA: Guidance for Maintaining Fire Protection & Life Safety Systems

This guide from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) highlights how to maintain fire protection and life safety systems in both occupied and vacant residential and commercial properties.

Healthcare & Medical

CDC: Get Your Clinic Ready for COVID-19

Here are 10 precautions you can take before, during and after seeing patients in a medical practice.

CDC: Medical Office Preparedness Planner - Primary Care Providers

From the CDC, this tool provides thorough preparedness planning resources for primary care provider medical offices.

NJ Office of the Attorney General: COVID-19 Advisory for Dental Professionals

The New Jersey Office of the Attorney General Division of Consumer Affairs (State Board of Dentistry) published a COVID-19 advisory for NJ dental professionals.

Golf Courses

We Are Golf - Back2Golf

To return the game of golf responsibly, allied organizations have established “Back2Golf,” a plan outlining operational guidelines for the golf’s 16,000-plus golf facilities that adhere to nationally established protocols and best practices.

USGA: COVID-19 Golf Course Care

The United States Golf Association (USGA) has created this resource page to provide useful information for everyone within the golf community on how to play and manage the game safely.


Essential Considerations for Returning to Work - Video & PDF

Webinar Summary:

Recently, Governor Murphy sketched out the benchmarks New Jersey will have to reach before the COVID-19 lockdown can be lifted. The stay at home order will remain in place until further notice, but the Governor said he expects the timeline for reopening to be measured in weeks, not months.

Returning to work will bring new legal and practical challenges for employers in all industries. The New Jersey Agents Alliance and its Member Agencies are pleased to invite you to a complimentary webinar by Clark Hill and HR/Advantage Advisory Services and hope that you will join us for an engaging discussion on the following topics:

  • Safely returning your employees to the workforce
  • Relevant federal and state guidance
  • Best practices for dealing with vulnerable workers, refusal/reluctance to work, and employee anxiety
  • COVID-19 positive workers and claims of workplace exposure
  • Why it’s important to formulate your workplace policies now
  • How we can help

Please share any questions that you may have about your returning workforce when you register.


a young woman with a cart in a grocery store

How Much Does Business Insurance Cost? A Helpful Guide

You can protect your livelihood from liability claims by understanding a few facts about small business insurance.

Whether you’ve been in business for a decade or you’re a startup, your business needs insurance. You may think insurance is costly.

However, that’s not always the case. Read on for the answer to the question, “How much does business insurance cost?”

Does My Business Need Insurance?

An insurance provider will determine your company’s business insurance cost by evaluating several factors, such as the location and size of your business.

Insurers use historical information and analytical tools to correlate risks to the characteristics of your business. These kinds of factors have an associated cost that’s directly associated with risk.

They'll begin the process of figuring out your small business insurance cost by evaluating all the risk factors tied to your business. They'll then add up those risk factors and assess your company’s profit margin.

Now, they’ve completed the formula that determines the cost of your insurance. As your business changes, the cost of your insurance may change.

Business insurance is a contract between you and an insurer. The agreement states that you'll pay your monthly premium.

It also states that the insurance company will help you repair, replace, or recover lost assets. It will protect your business if your property gets lost, stolen or damaged.

Most people don’t think they need insurance. That is until they do.

It’s vital that you protect your business from any number of things that may go wrong. It’s more important to ask, “What events could cause my business to shutter?” rather than “How much is business insurance?”

Some things are out of your control. For instance, someone could break into your storefront and steal equipment. Also, you could find yourself entangled in a lawsuit that originated because of the defect in a product made by another company.

Owning a business is rewarding. However, it’s also risky. Insurance protects you from those risks.

Different Types of Small Business Insurance

There are several different types of small business insurance. For instance, property insurance protects your building and anything inside of it.

Property insurance will protect you whether damage occurs because of a mistake, such as a fire, or a natural disaster such as a hurricane.

Liability insurance protects your company if someone sues you. A single accident could result in significant medical bills and legal fees.

Meanwhile, worker’s compensation covers your business in case one of your employees gets hurt. If you have employees, you must buy workers comp insurance to comply with the law.

Worker’s compensation will also protect your business if you find that you have to pay medical bills for employees. Without coverage, these kinds of expenses can hurt your finances and may even put you out of business.

The type of insurance that you purchase also depends on the structure of your business. For instance, a sole proprietor would need a different insurance policy compared to a corporation.

The type of services or products that you offer will also affect your choice of an insurance policy. Additionally, you need more or less coverage depending on the number of workers you employ.

Also, different businesses have different financial responsibilities. These varying responsibilities will also affect the cost and coverage of your insurance policy.

How Much Does Business Insurance Cost?

Ultimately, the cost of your insurance policy varies depending on what your business sells or provides. It also varies based on your volume of business.

Remember, insurance prevents you from paying losses out-of-pocket. Therefore, the salaries you pay will also affect the cost of your coverage.

Depending on your operation, you may need several different types of insurance. For instance, if you use delivery trucks, you’ll need commercial vehicle insurance.

Imagine that you own a small retail storefront in the small business district. More than likely, you’ll need a combination of property and liability insurance. This type of policy may cost over one thousand dollars annually.

Alternatively, a large utility company that owns wells and trucks may pay millions each year for coverage. At the same time, a consulting firm may pay several thousand dollars per year for an insurance policy.

Meanwhile, the average cost of business insurance for sole proprietors is typically a few hundred dollars a year for general liability insurance.

A landscaper – who conducts business on other peoples’ properties – may pay several thousand dollars per year for an insurance policy. They must protect themselves if they cause harm to someone else’s property.

Finding the Right Insurance Provider

Now, you understand that there is no clear-cut answer to the question, “How much does business insurance cost?” As you can see, many different factors can affect the cost of your insurance policy.

Before you approach an insurance provider, make sure you have a clear understanding of your type of business, your location and your employees.

These characteristics are an excellent starting point for assessing the type of insurance that you need for your business. The policy you choose will directly correlate to the size of your enterprise.

Many small businesses purchase a Business Owner’s Policy (BOP). This kind of policy is suitable for companies with fewer than 100 employees and revenues of less than $5 million a year.

Still, you can purchase customized insurance to cover your unique business. However, many insurers offer standardized policies for small companies that are affordable but protect your company from risks.

Stay Safe, Stay in Charge

Many successful businesses start in a garage or a spare room. These small startup firms typically only have one employee and little revenue.

Nevertheless, it’s still essential that even small businesses protect themselves against risks. A mistake during this early stage can end a business before it begins.

Whether you want to protect yourself from hackers, fire, or natural disasters, there’s a policy that’s right for your organization. Harrah & Associates can protect your business from any potential liability.

Connect with us today for a quote and take the first step towards achieving peace of mind. Our experts are standing by to answer the question, “How much does business insurance cost?” for you.


COVID-19 Resources for Small Businesses

Employee Tracker Video, Sheet and Walkthrough (updated on 5/5/2020)

We’ve prepared an employee tracking spreadsheet. The goal of this spreadsheet is business owners to track their employee’s employment status. By doing this, it will help communicate with your insurance company to keep your cost down if any incidents or changes of employment status happen during the COVID-19 pandemic. See below for the video walking through the sheet.

Download Worksheet Here

In an effort to support our small business clients and their employees during these uncertain times, we’ve compiled some resources to help you navigate this uncharted territory.

Continue reading to learn more about the latest legislation and benefits you can take advantage of.

We’ll be updating this page periodically as we receive new information that we think would be beneficial for business owners.

We suggest saving this link to your favorites and checking back daily. We’ll also be sending updates via email and social media posts.

Also, feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns. We’re here to help!

CARES Act – Small Business Loans

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law to provide small businesses with emergency loans to stay afloat.

The government has set aside $350 billion for this Paycheck Protection program, which is designed to help keep your employees on payroll.

You can learn more about provisions, eligibility and application instructions by clicking here.

More information can be found here:

Employee Retention Tax Credits

Employers whose business has been financially impacted by COVID-19 might be eligible for an employee retention tax credit.

It’s a fully refundable tax credit equal to 50% of up to $10,000 in wages paid by an eligible employer.

To find out if your business qualifies, how the credit is calculated or how to receive your credit, follow this link.

IRS FAQs: FFCRA Tax Credits

The IRS has issued answers to frequently asked questions about how the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the FFCRA) tax credits apply to small and midsize businesses.

Signed by the President on March 18, 2020, the FFCRA provides refundable tax credits to small and midsize employers that reimburse them for the cost of providing paid sick and family leave wages to employees for leave related to COVID-19.

Here’s more information on the tax credits provided, how you can claim credits, when you can expect to receive them and who qualifies.

Risk Insights: Force Majeure & Coronavirus

Have you heard of “force majeure”? It’s French for “superior force”. Why is this important for you?

Force majeure describes such uncontrollable events that are not the fault of either party and that make it extremely difficult, or impossible, to carry out normal business.

These clauses allow for a suspension or cancellation of a company’s performance of obligations under the contract due to these uncontrollable events. Factors to consider include the language in your contracts, jurisdiction and facts of the case.

Read more about how it works and how it applies to your business here.

National Coronavirus Guidelines for Americans

Here are some helpful tips to stop the spread of Coronavirus. Simply put, stay home if you don’t need to leave!


a businessman holding an umbrella over his money during rain

How Business Insurance Can Protect You During a Crisis

Small business owners sometimes overlook the importance of business insurance.

Rather than see it as the necessity that it is, they view it as something only larger corporations need.

Or they think other forms of insurance, like renter's insurance for the building you operate in or your own personal auto insurance, will cover them.

In reality, 40 percent of small businesses will face a loss of property or liability that would require them to file an insurance claim in the next ten years.

If you've yet to protect your company will business insurance, keep reading to learn what it is and how it can protect you during a crisis.

What Is Business Insurance?

Business insurance, also known as commercial insurance, is designed to help protect businesses from a wide variety of threats.

Some of these are routine threats, like a small car accident between a delivery driver and one other vehicle.

Others are much larger, such as a loss of thousands of dollars or more in sales because of a natural disaster.

The most common business insurance claims filed each year include burglary and theft, water damage or freezing damage, and wind and/or hail damage.

Protecting your business against these routine claims can help you avoid paying costly repairs or replacement fees out of pocket.

How Business Insurance Can Help Protect Your Company in a Crisis

It is important to protect your business from the most common causes of insurance claims. But these are far from the only threats you should think about.

Business insurance can also help you protect your company in the event of a crisis, such as these:

Large-Scale Cyber Attacks

On average, each cyber attack costs businesses $200,000.

Whether you're a large corporation or a small business, this average remains the same.

If you're like many businesses, a $200,000 loss would be a financial crisis, if not enough to close your company for good.

A large-scale attack can lead to loss of revenue, require costly maintenance and repairs, and more.

Cyber liability coverage is one of the many business insurance options that companies need to protect themselves in the event of a large attack.

Natural Disasters

When a natural disaster strikes your city or town, homes and families aren't the only ones who face losses.

The insurance policy you have on your business' building will help you make the necessary repairs and replace equipment like computers or desks.

What it can't do is help you recoup a loss of sales and revenue.

For instance, say that a tornado cuts all power to the plant where most of your products are produced.

This could cause a setback in production, which could lead to a loss of sales and important revenue, delays, and more.

Even if the plant or your business wasn't damaged during the storm, you could still see losses that your regular insurance won't cover.

Terrorist Threats

No one wants to think about a crisis like a terrorist attack.

But as a business, it's essential that you protect yourself against all threats.

Even if an attack doesn't affect your business directly, city-wide closures, an inability of employees to get to work, or a disruption to your supply chain could.

Massive Recalls

Another crisis that many businesses don't think about until it is too late is the mass recall of popular products.

Product safety recalls have dropped considerably in the last couple of decades.

In fact, in 2019, they fell to the lowest they have been in 16 years.

But the hundreds of recalls that are announced often involve thousands, if not tens of thousands, of purchases.

While your business may not be at fault for the recall if you don't produce the product, the recall can still have a devastating effect on your operations.

You'll experience a drop in revenue without those products.

You may lose clients and customers as a result as well.

Add in the time and labor required to pull product, answer customer inquiries, and perform damage control, and even a smaller recall can have a far-reaching effect.

Business insurance can help you recoup your losses and get your company back on track faster after a recall.

Arson

Acts of nature, a recall, or a terrorist attack aren't the only things that can put a stop to your supply chain.

Arson, or other acts of vandalism, can also affect your warehouses and suppliers.

While your commercial property insurance might cover replacing your warehouse, it can't help fill the gaps in business and revenue that you experience as a result.

That's why business insurance is important for supplementing your other insurance in case a crisis occurs.

Multi-Vehicle Collisions

Businesses that operate fleets have delivery drivers, or even just a few company cars often understand the importance of auto insurance.

But will that auto insurance be enough to cover a major accident?

In many cases, the answer is no.

Consider a semi-truck in your fleet causing a major, multi-vehicle accident.

Besides covering the medical costs of other drivers and passengers, your company may also face lawsuits.

Business auto insurance, with coverage for collision, comprehensive, and specified perils, will help protect your drivers and your business in case the worst occurs.

Choosing the Right Business Insurance for Your Company

Whether you want to protect yourself from cyber attacks, the effects of terrorist attacks, arson, or violent weather, or from a mass recall, business insurance can do all of this and more.

To get your free quote or request more information, contact us today.


Coronavirus Pandemic: Auto Insurance Credits

As COVID-19 continues, we wanted to provide some updates on what insurance carriers are doing to help their customers out.

Many carriers are allowing customers to defer payments or pay in smaller installments, and several personal auto providers are giving back credits on insurance premiums.

Keep reading below for the latest on which carriers are offering benefits. All the information below has been pulled directly from them.

We'll be adding more updates periodically to this page as we receive them. It is up to date as of 4 PM on 4/14.

If you have questions or don't see your carrier, give us a call at (609) 587-8030 or fill out this form.

Chubb

Updated 4/13/20:

We are bringing to your attention the Auto Premium Credit announcement that has just been released. This is another step Chubb has taken to properly service clients during this pandemic.

We will communicate in greater detail the effective dates for your clients as we work through operationalizing this program and complying with any state regulatory requirements. Thank you for your patience and for all that you're doing to serve clients during these rapidly changing times.

Please stay safe and healthy.

Official News Release:

Chubb Announces Premium Credit for U.S. Auto Policyholders to Reflect Changing Driving Habits Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic - Savings for U.S. personal auto clients to average $110 per vehicle

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. April 13, 2020- Chubb is providing its personal auto insurance clients in the U.S. with a credit on annual renewal premiums as a result of reduced driving activity.

Upon renewal, clients will receive a credit reflecting a 35% premium reduction for the months of April and May, with additional discounts for subsequent months, as the situation warrants. Across Chubb's portfolio, the average credit is expected to be $110 per vehicle. Clients will not have to request the credit, it will be applied automatically at renewal. All premium and rate adjustments are subject to regulatory approval. 

"In these rapidly changing times, we have been thinking about our clients and the challenges they are facing. We recognize that there has been a reduction in our clients' driving activity as a result of this pandemic," said Fran O'Brien, Division President, North America Personal Risk Services. "This credit reflects our commitment to providing a fair premium adjustment to our clients, while ensuring they continue to receive Chubb's best-in-class auto coverage."

Updated 4/9/20:

Chubb PRS: Examining the impact of lower auto usage.

Recently we have received questions regarding carriers who have made the decision to provide their clients with refunds based on their changing driving behaviors in this unprecedented environment.

As a matter of course, changes in loss frequency would be included in our annual rate reviews and reflected in our pricing.

We recognize that the current situation may have a long timeline with a prolonged dip in frequency depending on the speed of economic recovery.

We are currently evaluating the situation to determine an appropriate course of action for our clients. In the meantime, please be assured that our top priority is servicing you and our clients.

We are proud of the way in which our industry has responded in this crisis. At Chubb, just as you have, we have fully transitioned to working from home.

Our team has implemented virtual risk consulting visits and claims adjustments while staying very engaged with our mutual clients.

Your clients who suffer a claim or need billing assistance will be glad that your firms are there to advise them and have recommended broad coverages from a company known for high levels of service.

We are also proud of Chubb's $10 million pledge for pandemic relief and our commitment to our employees that there will be no layoffs during this time.

We remain committed to helping you and your clients through this crisis. Please stay safe and healthy.

Encompass

Updated 5/27/2020:

Great news: the Shelter-in-Place Payback is being extended through June 30, 2020, for personal auto customers. There are a few differences from previous paybacks – read on to learn more.

We led the industry by providing customers with a payback program, and have returned more than $600 million in April and May (May and June in New York), along with our Special Payment Plan and commercial auto endorsement. As our data shows customers continue to be driving less and getting in fewer accidents during the pandemic, we are extending the Shelter-in-Place Payback through June 30, 2020, for personal auto insurance customers. And more great news – motorcycle customers are included in the June payout as well!

And it should be noted that over the three-month period, Encompass is returning approximately $1 billion to our customers, without impacting agency commissions.

Important details about the June payback:

  • Motorcycle insurance customers are included.
  • Customers will receive an automatic credit to their accounts, with most receiving 15% of their monthly premiums.
  • The amount reflects Encompass’ disciplined analysis of available data. The average cost per accident has increased, partially offsetting cost savings.
  • You will be kept informed of the final amount as filings are submitted and approved.
  • We are applying the June payback to the customer’s Encompass account. Certain customers, like those who paid in full, will have their June paybacks applied to a bank account, credit card or via check – see the FAQs linked below for the details.
  • In New York, the paybacks will be one month later. Eligible customers with an active policy in force as of April 30, 2020 should have received the May payback in mid-May and those with policies in force as of May 31, 2020 can expect the June payback in mid-June. We also expect to issue a third payment in July for policies in force as of June 30. The 15% payback will be based on the monthly premium as of those dates. Other than the payback dates, there are no changes to the program for New York.
  • Communications about the June payback will occur at the end of May. Keep an eye on Encompass Express.
  • The sign-up period for free identity protection for all U.S. residents will also be extended to June 30, 2020.

The Shelter-in-Place Payback can be a great opportunity to reach out to customers and prospects and increase retention, uncover cross sell opportunities and grow your book of business.

Please visit Encompass Express for more information and FAQs.

Updated April 2020:

Eligible auto customers will get an average payback of about 15% based on their monthly insurance costs during April and May.

Payment Relief

Encompass customers experiencing financial challenges can call Encompass to learn how to delay payments without penalty.

The Special Payment Plan gives auto and homeowner insurance customers the choice to delay two consecutive premium payments.

Customers also can choose to pay what they can afford

Mercury Insurance

Recognizing that many customers are driving their vehicles less as a result of shelter-in-place actions, Mercury plans to give back 15% of monthly premiums for April and May 2020.

This applies to all Mercury Private Passenger Automobile policyholders. Customers will receive their Givebacks in the same manner their premiums were paid.

As soon as we receive guidance and approval from the Department of Insurance, we expect to begin processing the payments.

Metlife

Recognizing the economic hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, MetLife is taking action to help its customers during this challenging time.

The company’s property and casualty business, MetLife Auto & Home®, is providing financial relief, preserving coverage in the event of missed payments, and processing claims remotely to ensure social distancing.

“Being there for our customers when they need us the most is the promise MetLife delivers on every day,” notes Darla Finchum, president, MetLife Auto & Home®. “People are struggling, through no fault of their own, and we can help.”

MetLife Auto & Home® is offering the following to its customers nationwide:

Payment & Billing Leniency

Effective immediately, MetLife Auto & Home® will not cancel policies due to non-payment through July 1, 2020.

Customers experiencing difficulties with payments can contact MetLife Auto & Home® directly for assistance.

MetLife Auto Premium Relief

Active MetLife Auto customers who are paid to date will receive a 15% credit for April and May based on their monthly premiums.

No action is required by customers to receive the credit. MetLife Auto & Home® will apply a future credit to the customer’s account.

Extension for Personal Auto Delivery Coverage

Many of MetLife Auto & Home® auto insurance policies already provide coverage for people using their personal vehicles for delivering medicine or food.

MetLife Auto & Home® is extending coverage under all personal auto insurance programs at no additional charge while customers are making deliveries in response to the crisis, effective March 20, 2020, through May 1, 2020.

Nationwide

We realize that not all of our customers can make the pivot to usage-based insurance right now, yet many customers are currently experiencing hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To get relief in the hands of our customers quickly and simply, we are offering a one-time premium refund of $50 per policy for personal auto policies active as of March 31, 2020.

Customers don’t need to do anything. Refunds will automatically be credited to the customers’ most recent method of payment (automatic withdrawal, credit card, personal check) within the next 30 days.

We are offering this rapid relief at a time when drivers are making the right choice to stay off the road and remain home to help “flatten the curve.”

The refund applies to all personal auto policies including Private Client. The premium refund and timing are subject to individual state Departments of Insurance approval.

Penn National

Penn National is returning premiums to assist our Personal Auto policyholders during the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant disruptions to our normal routines and unimaginable losses to some of our friends, family members and local communities. Social distancing policies have required restaurants, offices, small businesses and schools to close.

These closures along with government-mandated stay-at-home orders for non-essential travel have resulted in a decline in vehicle use and miles driven. It is estimated that there will be significantly fewer miles driven during the months of March and April nationwide.

Pending regulatory approval, a credit of 15% will be applied to two months of premiums for those policies in force as of April 30 in recognition of the temporary reduction in vehicle miles driven.

The credit will automatically be applied to the policyholder’s next premium balance or refunded if paid in full. Premium returned benefits our 165,000 Personal Auto customers.

While the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic remains uncertain, we know customers are driving less and the fewer accidents are reflected in our return premium.

Helping support our policyholders and our community

In addition to providing refunds and premium credits to policyholders, we continue to support our customers and the greater community in a number of ways.

  • Flexible billing – We are providing an extended 30-day premium grace period to allow customers more time to pay before cancellation notices are sent. We are waiving late fees and reinstatement fees. Our Customer Contact Center representatives also have the authority switch a policyholder to a more convenient payment plan.
  • Uninterrupted customer support – Thanks to our technology and business continuity preparations, we continue to be available during normal business hours. Also, our customers can report claims 24/7.
  • Support for front-line healthcare workers – We recently donated over 19,000 respirator masks to Geisinger Holy Spirit Healthcare. We appreciate the tireless work of all healthcare professionals and will continue to look for ways to support them.

We will continue to keep you informed of new developments.

Plymouth Rock

Plymouth Rock was founded on the principle of doing the right thing for our customers and agents. That means going above and beyond to provide more than just insurance – most importantly during difficult times like the one we’re living in now.

We understand that nearly everyone has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic in some way, and many are experiencing serious financial hardship. We want to do everything we can to help our customers, particularly those who are most in need.

We have issued a press release detailing our planned relief efforts for customers. As a part of the announcement, we will introduce our “pay it forward” option, which gives anyone who wishes the ability to donate their auto insurance premium credit to a non-profit that is providing relief for those hit hardest by COVID‑19. It’s a simple way to help those most in need.

Additionally, Plymouth Rock plans to offer the following relief to its customers, subject to regulatory approval:

  • A 25% premium credit on Liability and Personal Injury Protection Coverages
  • The option to “pay it forward” by donating auto insurance premium credit to a non-profit organization
  • The waiver of comprehensive and collision deductibles for any health care worker involved in an accident while driving to and from work, or in the line of duty
  • Application of the home insurance Additional Living Expense Coverage to any health care worker required by illness or job requirements caused by COVID-19 to temporarily reside somewhere other than their primary residence when payment for these expenses is not provided by the health worker’s employer or another source
  • Continuation of our payment flexibility, including waiving of late fees and a 60-day grace period (longer in some states), holds on cancellations and non-renewals for non-payment, per state guidelines
  • Extension of our food and legal medicine delivery accommodation
  • All relief will be available to current policies and new business, effective April 1 and extended until each state’s individual stay-at-home orders are lifted.

You can read our press release in detail on the Plymouth Rock website. And for all of our COVID-19 related information, please visit the COVID-19 Independent Agent Message Center.

Progressive

Progressive returns $1 billion in premium to customers.

Today we announced that we’re providing credits of approximately $1 billion in premium to Progressive personal auto customers as a result of fewer claims that come with less frequent driving.

Subject to approval by state regulators, Progressive personal auto customers who have a policy in force as of April 30 will be credited 20% of their April premiums in May and personal auto customers with a policy in force as of May 31 will be credited 20% of their May premiums in June.

We estimate that the sum of these two credits will total approximately $1 billion. We may offer additional credits in the upcoming months.

Customers will not need to take any actions to receive the benefits. The credits will be applied automatically to the customer’s policy and those customers who have paid in full will receive a payment of the credited amounts.

If they have a balance on the policy, we’ll apply the credit directly to the remaining balance. And if they’ve already paid in full, we’ll return the money to the payment account we have on file— please make sure your customers’ payment details are up to date.

Selective

In efforts to provide relief to insureds during these uncertain times, customers with personal and business auto insurance policies will receive a 15% premium credit for April and May related to the various COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders.

Please see attached press release and Q&A document for further details. We've included some of the more pressing questions below.

Who will qualify for a COVID-19-premium credit? 

The COVID-19 premium credit is only for customers with personal and business auto insurance policies in force as of April 30, 2020 and May 31, 2020.

How will the COVID-19 premium credit be applied?

15% of the monthly premium for the months of April and May will be applied as a credit to the account of each customer who has an in-force personal and/or business auto policy as of April 30, 2020 and May 31, 2020.

How can a customer find out exactly how much of a COVID-19 credit they’ll receive?

Customers who use our self-service portal and have shared their email address will receive a personalized email with their calculated COVID-19 premium credit, and any applicable credit will appear on a customer’s bill.

When will customers receive their COVID-19 premium credit?

We are currently working with state regulators on our planned premium credit, but we expect to apply the 15% credit for customers with an inforce auto policy as of April 30 in early May and as of May 31 in early June.

Travelers

We know that many of you are doing your part to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by staying at home.

That means many of you are driving fewer miles, resulting in a decrease in auto claims.

With that in mind, we have launched the Stay-at-Home Auto Premium Credit Program, which will automatically give you a 15% credit on your April and May premiums.

It’s our way of supporting you, and we hope it helps ease some of the financial burden many are experiencing.

And the best part: You don’t need to do anything. If you pay by monthly installments, you will receive the automatic credit on future bills. If you have already paid in full, you will receive a direct payment.


Business man working

Understanding How Business Income Insurance Protects You

There is no protection available that will save a business that is failing because of operational issues or revenue problems.

...But there is insurance protection against the inevitable.

Business income insurance helps cover you in the event of a rainy day, week or month.

Check out this overview to understanding business income insurance and how it can keep your business up and running after a disaster.

What is Business Income Insurance?

Business income insurance is a policy that protects business owners against income loss due to a disaster.

It doesn't matter whether the event is a preventable fire or a natural disaster.

In many cases, the income lost is because of the need to close to deal with rebuilding or repairs.

But there are cases where income is lost because of the disaster itself.

For example, a store owner might remain closed through a blizzard or tornado in the area.

Even if there is no damage directly to the business, the fact that the National Weather Service issues an emergency means his business cannot operate on those days.

Business income insurance would cover the loss of income during the days the business needed to close for safety reasons.

Insurance Expenses

Business interruption insurance isn't a separate policy itself.

It's usually available as an add-on to your comprehensive insurance or property/casualty policy.

The expense of the additional coverage can be added to your company's expenses on a tax return.

Insurance premiums are considered ordinary business expenses, making them tax-deductible.

Ordinary business expenses include anything that is a standard cost in your industry.

State laws, leasing contracts and other regulations require that business owners carry a certain minimum amount of insurance to remain in operation.

Home businesses may not get the same advantages as a brick and mortar business.

Consult with a tax professional to determine which and how much of your insurance expenses can be written off on your taxes.

What's Covered?

Business income insurance covers most of the standard natural disasters and their effects on your business.

Here is an overview of the standard coverage:

Profits

Insurance providers reference your sales history to estimate reimbursement for profits lost.

This history usually goes back only a few months which can be a setback if your company recently experienced a downturn.

Fixed Costs

Business income insurance covers fixed costs.

Fixed costs include normal operating expenses that are required to do business in your industry.

One-time expenses may or may not included in this number.

Like revenue, these costs are determined based on what you've spent in the same expense categories in the recent past.

Temporary Locations

There are some companies that can't wait for an office to be rebuilt before continuing operations.

If a company finds a temporary office location, the expense of the new location is covered in some policies.

Expenses include the cost of moving services and the rental of the new space.

Commission and Training Cost

The hidden cost of replacing equipment comes when you have to deal with upgrades in software and machinery.

Consider a company with all outdated computer equipment.

After upgrading to new desktops with updated operating systems, the staff would need training on how to use the new machines.

The same scenario could apply to the copy machine, phone systems or printers.

Paying a technician for the training is a cost most business owners don't expect.

A business income insurance policy can cover this to help owners get back on their feet.

Extra Expenses

There are policies that cover variable expenses.

These include any new or old costs that are needed in order for the business to regain operation.

Variable expenses vary based on your industry and the size of your business.

Government Mandates

The disaster itself isn't always the end of an incident for a business.

Sometimes that government requires that businesses remain closed until proper cleanup or sanitation is completed.

Business income insurance covers the loss of revenue during this mandatory closure.

The closure could be direct or indirect.

For example, street closures around the city are an indirect form of a forced business closure.

Employee Wages

Business income insurance protects more than profits during a closing.

Employee wages are important to prevent a company from losing its employees.

Coverage includes employee wages so that owners can still make payroll while they are out of operation.

Taxes

Tax bills don't go away in the face of natural disasters.

If your business owes taxes, the government expects some plan to make payments even if your business is temporarily closed.

Business income insurance helps you remain compliant and avoid penalties by covering tax expenses.

Loan Payments

Lender payments are also still expected during a business closure.

If lenders aren't paid, they can move a loan into default which means the entire sum is due at once.

Business Interruption coverage helps the owner continue to make monthly payments on the loan until the business reopens.

Who Needs Business Income Insurance?

Smaller businesses that don't account for major interruptions like these could end up closing permanently without the right business income insurance.

Any collateral put up by a business owner is at risk until lenders receive payments as agreed.

Since many small business owners use personal collateral, this means the potential of losing personal and business assets all at once.

Getting the right amount of coverage is an important first step to choosing a policy.

The cost of insurance is not the amount of the premium but the amount you would lose if a fire or natural disaster struck today.

For more information on how to identify the right business insurance policy for your company, visit our website.


data breach laws

Data Breach Laws: What Are You Liable For?

It’s no secret that a data breach is a big deal. But are you prepared for just how expensive it can be?

In July of 2019, Capital One suffered a breach that affected about over 106 million customers. It’s estimated that this incident cost the company more than $300 million to resolve!

Sure, your business might not be big enough to suffer losses of this magnitude, but it’s still important for you to understand data breach laws. Failure to do so can have catastrophic results for your business.

Recent studies show that a data breach is likely to cost a small business close to $200,000. Even worse, more than half of all small businesses suffered a data breach in the past year!

If these statistics don’t make you nervous, stop and read them again!

While you should be concerned, there's no reason to panic. There are some things you can do to protect yourself and your business.

The first step is to learn about the most important laws regarding your company’s liability following a cybersecurity attack. Start by looking at these five critical facts.

1. There Are Currently No Federal Data Breach Laws

Although there is speculation that it will happen eventually, there are currently no federal laws regulating data breach protocol.

The Data Security and Breach Notification Act was proposed during the Obama administration. While it failed to pass, it's highly likely that similar legislation will come up again.

In the meantime, data breaches are governed by state laws.

2. Every State Has Data Breach Laws

All 50 states and the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands currently have data breach laws on the books. While each state law is slightly different, the basic standards are essentially the same.

Each state requires data owners to report a data breach to the victims and, sometimes, to regulatory agencies. In addition, many states passed enhancements to their laws last year, which went into effect in January of 2020.

3. Data Owners are Legally Responsible for a Breach

A “data breach” occurs when an unauthorized party gains access to a customer’s personally identifying information (PII). This occurs when a person’s name is accessed in addition to one or more of the following:

  • Social Security number
  • Driver’s license or state ID number
  • Debit, credit card, or financial account number with the password, security code, or access code required to access the account

It’s critical for business owners to understand that by law, it’s the “owner” of the data (the business) who is liable for a breach, not the "data holder" (the cloud provider.) This applies to all cases except when the data is covered under HIPAA regulations, which requires even more regulation.

4. Specific Actions Create Liability

Data breach liability laws don’t allow victims carte blanche to file civil lawsuits just because a cyber breach occurred. In general, liability exists if one or more of the following occurred:

  • There was a failure to implement required safeguards or reasonable security measures
  • Once the breach occurred, the entity failed to take measures to mitigate or remedy the damage
  • The affected individuals weren’t notified in a timely manner (per each state’s specific laws)

In most cases, negligence must be proven before liability is assumed. For this reason, having a solid data breach response plan in place is one of the best things a company can do to protect itself.

5. Potential Costs and Liabilities Vary

Depending on the nature of the breach, the costs and liabilities associated with the incident can vary. Some penalties data owners may face include:

  • Individual and class action lawsuits – this may include civil monetary compensation for the victim’s losses, reimbursement for the victim’s out-of-pocket expenses related to recovering from the breach, reimbursement of legal expenses and, in some cases, compensation for emotional distress. Note that these suits can be brought by individuals and shareholders.
  • Government investigations – this may result in the imposition of fines and penalties
  • Additional requirements – this may include audits, mandatory use of third-party response teams, implementation of new or enhanced identity protection policies and procedures and more
  • Increase in liability insurance costs - general liability includes accidents, injuries, property damage and slander.
  • Collateral damage – this may include damage to your business’ reputation, loss of customers and revenue and expenses related to replacement of management.

The nature of the breach can also impact how much liability a company faces. Some of the most important considerations include:

  • Extent of damage – how many people were affected, the type of data that was compromised, the length of time the breach occurred and how much damage the victims suffered.
  • Intention – whether the breach was because of negligence or it was unintentional
  • Mitigation – what the data owner did to mitigate the damage
  • Previous preventative measures – what (if anything) the company did previously to minimize the chances of a breach
  • Past infringements – if there was a pattern of previous negligence, this will negatively impact the company’s assumed liability

Other considerations include how cooperative the company is with authorities following the breach, how quickly victims were notified and whether the company had followed the policies and procedures they had in place.

Protect Your Business from Data Breach Liability

Now that you have a clear understanding of data breach laws, it should be clear that this is a threat you can’t afford to ignore. In addition to having rules, regulations, policies and procedures in place to avoid a potential breach, every business owner also needs a cyber liability insurance policy.

Failing to plan ahead for this potentially catastrophic threat can have serious consequences and could even put your company out of business.  Don’t let this happen to you. Contact us today to discuss your specific needs and request a quote.


male coworker just got fired

An Overview of Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI)

Discrimination is alive and well in the business world, with 90,558 cases awarding $505 million in damages in 2018 alone.

There is a lesser-known but important insurance policy that protects businesses from facing the brunt of discrimination and retaliation claims. It is known as EPLI insurance, or employment practices liability insurance.

EPLI is a worthwhile additional expense because of the time and money it saves. A business that puts practices in place to cut costs and reduce claims will reap even more benefits.

Read our overview to understand the benefits an EPLI policy can provide, how to run your business in a way that increases these advantages, and where to get this important coverage.

What Is EPLI Insurance?

An employee is within their rights to take legal action if they are discriminated against. The company must bear the burden of any legal fees and pay any damages. The best form of protection against this is an EPLI policy or employment practice liability insurance policy.

EPLI deals with many types of discriminatory treatment. This includes refusing to hire or promote someone due to their race, religion, or other protected factors. The policy protects businesses from any EPLI claims filed by employees, primarily by helping with the resulting legal fees.

Other Types of Business Insurance

EPLI is sometimes confused with other similar types of insurance. While they are all an important asset for protecting businesses, they differ in many ways.

There are other types of insurance policies that protect businesses from facing lawsuits or other repercussions because of employee mistakes. They include D&O, or directors and officers, and E&O, or errors and omissions. They differ from EPLI, however, in what kind of behavior they protect against.

EPLI applies to willfully ignoring rights such as privacy and autonomy. D&O and E&O both protect against claims relating to negligence or misleading information. Both are important for different reasons.

Insurance that covers more than one type of event provides the best value and protection. That is why, while it is helpful on its own, employment practices liability insurance is often purchased as part of a management liability practice policy. This includes other provisions like fiduciary liability insurance and employment liabilities insurance.

Knowing the right policy to buy is an essential part of running an effective business. Check out our blog post for more information on the different kinds of insurance every business owner needs.

What EPLI Insurance Covers (and What It Doesn't)

Employment practices liability insurance does not cover every eventuality. It is important to understand when and how it can be used to determine if it is the right fit for your business.

Employment practices liability insurance primarily deals with unfair treatment and discrimination. The top five charges alleged in EPLI claims are retaliation and discrimination based on race, disability, sex, and age. Going to court over such sensitive issues can be time-consuming and expensive, which is why coverage is necessary.

Any activity that is illegal, occurs during a strike or under contract or involves punitive damages is outside an EPLI's policy's power of protection. If these matters go to court, it is up to the business to cover any costs.

How to Get the Best EPLI Policy

Not all insurance policies are the same. It's important to examine all terms before agreeing to them. There are certain things a business can look for in a potential policy to make sure they get the best possible coverage. There are different types of employment practices liabilities coverage, and choosing the best one depends on the needs of the business.

One important consideration is claims-based vs. occurrence-based. The former only allows employees to file EPLI claims while the policy is in effect, while the latter doesn't take into account when the event is reported.

Another essential component of an EPLI policy is whether it allows for selecting your own defense. A policy that establishes a duty to defend limits the policyholders' choices, but one with a duty to reimburse does not. Choose carefully if being able to choose a defense team is important to your business.

How to Minimize EPLI Claims and Cut Costs

Adding an insurance policy means incurring additional costs. Having insurance does not prevent claims from being filed. Fortunately, there are actions a business can take to address both of these issues.

Minimizing Claims

Having insurance does not eliminate the possibility of employees engaging in or seeking a settlement for discriminatory acts. There are simple policies a business can enact to reduce claims.

Post standards throughout the workplace. Monitor the hiring process to check for discrimination. Educate employees about the company standards on discrimination and fairly discipline anyone who ignores them.

A business owner must ensure that employees know and respect the rules. If they do, they will benefit from a better environment and fewer EPLI claims.

Cutting Costs

EPLI insurance is a worthwhile extra expense for many businesses. Those who work with the public and are at greater risk of facing claims, making it an even more necessary form of protection.

Employment practices liability coverage can save a business an astronomical amount of time and money. EPLI claims typically take 318 days and $160,000 to resolve. Many businesses cannot afford not to protect against such large drains on their time and money.

Employment practices liability coverage can cost anywhere from $800 to $5,000. There are many factors that affect the final price, including the number of employees and previous claims.

Many of the same practices that reduce claims will also help cut costs. The fewer claims lodged against a business, the lower the premiums.

It is also important to monitor other elements to keep costs low. Employee turnover also affects rates, so maintaining staff is important.

Protect Your Business

Understanding EPLI insurance and why your business needs it is only the first step. The next is to find a company to get the best possible policy.

We offer effective EPLI insurance policies for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Contact us for a quote or more information today.


Finger pressing key on computer keyboard

A Data Breach Response Plan for NJ Businesses

A cyberattack can be devastating to your business. More and more businesses and government organizations are attacked every single day. You can no longer assume that since you’re a small business, it won’t happen to you.

These costs of these breaches are becoming astronomical. About 60% of businesses don’t last six months after an attack.

The faster you’re able to respond to a data breach, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to recover from an attack.

Read on to learn about the steps you need to take in a data breach response plan.

Understanding the Types of Attacks

Your first step in responding to a data breach is understanding the types of cyberattacks. Each type of cyberattack will require a different response. These are some of the most common attacks that are plaguing businesses and government organizations.

Phishing

Companies fall victim to phishing attacks every day.

A phishing attack is much more sophisticated than someone asking you to send money to a Nigerian prince.

These are emails that look like legitimate emails from companies and brands that you already know and trust. For example, they can send a mass email to your staff claiming to be from PayPal, asking them to reset their passwords.

What they don’t realize is that it took them to another page asking them to click or download something, which installs malware onto their computers.

The best way to respond to a phishing attack is to isolate the infected machine as soon as possible. That will prevent the malware from spreading through the network.

You then must perform antivirus scans to make sure that the malware is isolated and doesn’t take any sensitive data.

Ransomware

Ransomware is a malicious software that is used to break into your networks. The way a hacker can install the software is through a phishing attack or through a security vulnerability on a computer or server.

A ransomware attack is so severe, it can cause businesses to layoff employees. Local governments in Union County and in Dover have been under attack, too. These attacks cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Ransomware is when a hacker infiltrates your networks and holds your computer or your entire network hostage unless you pay them a ransom. The ransom is usually paid in cryptocurrency like Bitcoin.

The key to surviving this type of attack is to have a backup of your systems, preferably off-site. Too many organizations don’t have a backup or the hacker has the backup as well. That leaves people with no choice to pay the ransom.

Assessing the Damage

Once you contain the cyberattack, you need to take the next steps and figure out how bad the attack was.

You want to know how the attack started, whether it was human error or if there was a system vulnerability that was exploited.

You’ll want to assess the data that was breached and how sensitive the data is. You also need to determine if the lost data can be restored or if it’s lost.

Reporting the Cyberattack

If you suffered a data breach, you must report the attack as soon as possible. You should file a call the authorities and file a police report.

You’ll also have to notify your customers and vendors, especially if you suspect that their personal data was compromised. In this email, document what information was compromised, when, and what your customers and vendors can do to safeguard their information to prevent issues like ID theft.

What Insurance Will Cover (And What it Won’t)

You may assume that your business insurance will cover everything you need and you’re protected. That’s not always the case. General liability insurance typically covers property damage and bodily harm.

Cyber liability insurance is a separate policy that you should purchase to protect your business in the event of a data breach.

The amount of coverage that you have will depend on your policy. Some policies will cover credit monitoring for those affected by the breach, business interruption costs, and public relations costs to restore public trust.

Perform a Security Audit

Once the dust has settled, take the steps to ensure that such an attack doesn’t happen again.

A security audit needs to be done to determine the source of the attack, how systems were breached, and what will be done to prevent the next attack

In this step, you’ll want to check your email logs and all of your machines to make sure that they are up to date with the latest security software.

A security audit isn’t something that you only do once. You should do it regularly to ensure that you stay one step ahead of hackers.

Have a Formal Data Breach Response Plan

If you want to help your business survive a cyberattack, you must have a formal response plan. Most IT professionals suggest that your data breach response plan has a three-pronged approach.

The first part is focused on prevention. You’ll want to focus on updating software regularly, training employees, and performing regular security audits.

Detection needs to be another part of your cybersecurity strategy. Some data breaches can go undetected for months, and you want to have a plan in place to analyze your systems to detect any breaches.

The response is the final part of your plan. This outlines the specific steps that will be taken the moment a data breach is detected.

You Can’t Assume a Data Breach Won’t Happen to Your Business

A data breach is no longer a question of if. It’s a matter of when it happens. You need to take the steps to protect your business in the event of an attack.

That starts by having a data breach response plan that focuses on prevention, detection, and having a response plan in place. You can further protect your business by having cyber liability insurance.

Contact us today to find out how we can help protect your business.