business people in suits walking through a city

7 Questions to Ask Before Buying Commercial Insurance

75% of businesses are underinsured across the board. That means when they run into issues, they aren't covered and have to come up with the costs on their own.

Most companies don't have a ton of extra money lying around to handle these unexpected (often expensive) expenses, and that's why commercial insurance is so important.

Finding the right policy for your business is important, so we've put together seven questions you should ask before getting a commercial insurance policy.

1. Do I Need Commercial Insurance?

There are many types of business insurance, and some are required by law. Those typically include unemployment insurance, workers' compensation insurance, property insurance, and disability insurance.

Those business insurances are a good start and might get you through some issues, but having a commercial umbrella policy will guarantee you are covered.

Unforeseen and unpredictable events can occur at any time. It would be terrible to have a disaster happen only to find out the damage won't be covered through your current policy. The time to get coverage is when things are going well.

Beyond bringing confidence to you about your company's ability to pull through hard times, having a good insurance policy is also a good sign to others. Investors, lenders, and potential clients often look to see if their investments will be safe with a company through their insurance policy as well.

2. How Much Will Commercial Insurance Cost?

One of the most important questions you need to ask before signing up for a commercial insurance policy is how much it will cost. A business's budget is crucial for their survival.

The cost will vary depending on the insuring company you're using and the specifics of the policy.

Generally, using the same company for all insurance types will get you a discounted rate. There are several payment options available that can help make it as affordable as possible.

The coverage is often worth the cost, but it's important to make sure it's realistic before signing up.

3. What Is Actually Covered By My Insurance?

All the different types of insurance you can have for your business can be overwhelming and confusing. So it's important to make sure you understand fully what will be covered by a commercial policy and what won't be.

Commercial insurance will generally cover a wide range of issues as a kind of catch-all behind your original policies.

That coverage extends to property damage, theft, lawsuits, liabilities, issues with employees, and other business expenses. The specifics may differ based on actual policies.

Owning a business is a big risk with many potential issues, so a commercial insurance policy often eases worries about many of those.

4. How Do I Submit A Claim?

Every insurance company works differently with their customers when sorting through claims. Understanding your specific company's procedures and policies before signing up can save you a lot of headaches in a crisis.

If an issue arises where you will need to cash in on your policies to fund relief or repairs, you need to move as quickly as possible.

When you already know how to get in contact with your agent and submit a claim, you can move much faster. It's also helpful to have a realistic view of the timeline for getting those funds.

A little foresight can help tremendously in a crisis.

5. Will There Be Any Gaps In My Coverage?

Surveys show that most businesses choose to go without any insurance. This leaves them open to many potential issues and financial strain.

Even when a business has some insurance, they may leave themselves vulnerable through gaps in that coverage. It's hard for the average person to see those gaps in their coverage. So having a professional insurance agent look over your policies can unveil any potential gaps.

The best part about commercial insurance is that it normally covers any gaps left by your standard business insurance policy.

Often the commercial insurance will kick in after you've exhausted your other policies' coverage. Meaning that it will cover whatever the others' don't, which is a huge relief.

6. Will My Rates Ever Change?

Since a business' budget is so important, you'll want to make sure that your policy rates won't just change on you unexpectedly.

Insurance companies reevaluate their customers' policies regularly. This allows them to gauge their investment and level of risk. From this evaluation, there is often a slight change in the price for coverage (up or down).

While this is normal practice, you'll want to know when it happens and how often so you can prepare.

You'll also want to know what factors could influence a change and what you could expect after certain events. All of these things will just help you have a clear picture of what will likely happen and reduce any surprises.

7. How Do I Get Insurance Coverage?

Getting insurance coverage is normally a pretty straightforward process for most businesses, but occasionally, there are a few things that have to be completed beforehand.

If you're shopping around for the right policy for your business, it's helpful to know what's required so when you make a decision, you can act quickly to get covered.

It's also very helpful to know if you can change your policy and coverage at any time. A business is always evolving and changing, so you may need to switch up your insurance with those changes. Understanding if that's possible, what it might cost, and how to do that is a good place to start.

Be Prepared To Get Commercial Insurance

Having the right commercial insurance policy in place for your company will bring you peace of mind and confidence moving forward.

There's nothing better than knowing if something devastating comes up, you'll be able to weather the storm and come out on top. Commercial insurance provides you with the resources to do that.

If you're ready to get started looking at policies and getting coverage, contact us today!


a white male with a man bun working on a laptop

Why You Need Self Employed Business Insurance

Ever-increasing numbers of people are making the move into self-employment, and we don’t blame them.

To be self-employed is to take back control. You work for yourself instead of the man, earning money on your own terms. You enjoy newfound freedom, autonomy, and pride in running your own operation.

It’s no surprise that around 16 million Americans choose to work for themselves.

But self-employment isn’t all smooth sailing! There’s risk involved too. After all, to fend for yourself is to be in the firing line when accidents and issues arise.

That’s why you need self employed business insurance. It’s an essential way to protect yourself from unexpected legal and financial challenges.

New to self-employment and looking for further incentives to get insured? Read on to discover why small business insurance is so important.

To Protect Against Accidents

One moment you’re riding high on cloud nine. Business is booming, clients are happy, and the future looks bright. Then disaster strikes.

A customer falls over and injures themselves in your store. An employee gets injured at work. You make a mistake that harms a client’s physical or financial wellbeing. You accidentally damage a client’s property.

There’s no end to the number of potential accidents that can occur. But, whatever happens, you’re liable for damages. You can face costly legal battles that could cripple your fledgling business.

That's one reason why you need self-employed business insurance

To Offset Losses from Sickness and Absence

The associated risks of self-employment don’t all come from external sources.

Imagine having an accident or falling sick. There’s no sick-leave or income-protection from employers to fall back on. As the captain of your ship, any enforced absence has a direct impact on your ability to generate revenue.

That’s a significant problem for serious ailments that can make work impossible for extended lengths of time. As a result, you can face huge financial losses and stressful periods of income uncertainty.

Business insurance can help offset the monetary trouble of these unfortunate situations. Protected against such an eventuality, you can focus on getting better, safe knowing that you’ll have money coming in.

To Cover the Costs of Broken Equipment

Most self-employed people rely upon vital pieces of equipment to earn their living.

Examples might include expensive computers, printers, cameras, tablets, mobile phones, and so on. Such equipment plays a central role in the ability to conduct business.

Think about the particular gear that you use every day as part of your operation. Now imagine it breaking, being stolen, or getting lost. You can lose thousands of dollars worth of equipment and your ability to generate income!

Insurance helps you avoid such a calamitous situation. It can cover the cost of replacing your gear and gets your business back up and running in record time.

To Protect Against Angry Clients

Business can feel uncertain sometimes, but one thing’s almost guaranteed:

Eventually, you’ll have a difficult client/customer that, fairly or unfairly, expresses dissatisfaction with your product/service. In worst-case scenarios, they’ll even threaten you with legal action/claims of negligence.

For example, a consultant’s advice might lead to negative outcomes for the client. Feeling aggrieved, they seek compensation as remuneration.

These situations can feel overwhelming for self-employed people. Everything from their hard-earned reputation to finances gets put on the line. Having indemnity insurance eases the strain by covering any costs involved.

To Ensure Business Longevity

You’ve worked hard from day one to turn your self-employed business into a success.

Imagine it being placed in jeopardy because of one mistake, accident, or unhappy customer.

The financial implications of a lawsuit can do exactly that. You might have to pay exorbitant sums of money that’d bankrupt your operation. All the time, effort, and money that you’ve invested in the business would go down the pan.

Covering yourself with self-employed small business insurance prevents that eventuality.

As we’ve seen, you’re protected against issues that could otherwise threaten your enterprise. With less chance of suffering an untimely demise, you help guarantee its ongoing growth and prosperity.

To Enjoy Peace of Mind

Operating without business insurance is a recipe for stress and concern.

After all, something cataclysmic could happen at any moment- and you’re unprotected!

Aside from the emotional strain involved, there can be business implications too. The prevailing worry about experiencing potential problems, for example, might make it harder to take risks. You’re more likely to play safe and miss out on potential rewards in the process.

Having insurance delivers peace of mind. The financial protection liberates you from the concern that one wrong move might spell disaster.

To Restore Focus to Business

Accidents and issues that arise can be an almighty distraction from work.

They demand attention and you have no choice but to address them. Throw in the worry and concern involved and it can be impossible to focus on business as usual.

Having the appropriate insurance can help relieve the strain. There’s no worrying about where the money will come from or scrambling to get the resources together. Suddenly, it’s only a matter of making a claim.

You resolve the matter with less hassle and get back to your primary responsibilities far sooner.

Exactly Why You Need Self Employed Business Insurance

Self-employment holds an irresistible allure to millions of people around the country.

But it isn’t always a bed of roses! The nature of taking on your own business means it’s your neck on the line when issues occur. There’s no employer to take the fall, no company to take to court, and less financial security with which to weather the storm.

That’s where having small business insurance becomes so valuable. Have you been wondering why you need self employed business insurance? We hope this article has proved useful in explaining why it's so important.

Interested in accessing business insurance? Contact us today to see how we can be of service.


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.


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 with usiness 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.


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.


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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.


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What is Business Auto Insurance and Do I Need it?

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of work-related deaths.

You'd never think about not having your personal car insured.

It's the law, after all...

But what about your business vehicle?

You need insurance for it just like you need insurance for your personal vehicle.

But how do you know what you need?

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about business auto insurance.

What is Business Auto Insurance?

If you own a business where you or employees do any amount of driving, you need business auto insurance.

Commercial, or business, auto insurance, is insurance for a vehicle that you or an employee is driving when conducting business.

If you have an accident while conducting business, commercial auto insurance covers the costs.

This insurance kicks in when you're at fault for the accident.

It will cover the vehicle and medical expenses.

The insurance will cover expenses even in the event of a fatal accident.

Like all insurances, not all business auto insurance policies are the same.

To know what you need, you must compare policies the same way you would compare policies for personal auto insurance.

Do I Need Commercial Auto Insurance?

Just because you own your own business, you do not have to have commercial auto insurance.

However, if you or our employees drive for work, consider it.

If you own, lease, or rent any vehicle such as a car or truck, look into this specialized auto insurance.

Do your employees drive their own vehicles to do business?

Or do your employees operate your vehicles?

Even if you lease or rent a vehicle, consider commercial auto insurance.

Auto accidents happen in the blink of an eye.

Having car insurance for your business protects you from lawsuits and liability should those accidents happen under the umbrella of your business.

What Does Business Auto Insurance Cover?

Business auto insurance will cover anything a regular auto policy would cover.

It kicks in when you're using a vehicle to conduct business.

So if you're just driving to work and back home but do not drive for your actual job, then you do not need commercial auto insurance.

However, if you have a business that requires driving, such as visiting clients or hauling freight, then you need commercial auto insurance.

Protect Your Business and Employees

In the same way, the insurance protects you when you drive, it will protect your business when either you or your employees drive.

If your employees happen to hit a pedestrian when driving a business vehicle, your insurance will cover the pedestrian's medical bills.

If you plow over a residential mailbox after you lose control on an icy road, commercial auto insurance will cover the damage of your vehicle and the cost of replacing the mailbox.

The insurance will cover more than just two-vehicle collisions.

But it does still cover those.

You can purchase auto insurance for any vehicle your company uses.

Car insurance for your business will cover anything from a sedan for business trips to a cargo truck that hauls your freight.

Types of Protection

Your business should already have liability insurance.

General Liability Insurance or Professional Liability Insurance will protect your business from any lawsuit-happy individuals.

Commercial auto insurance offers specific protection in addition to general liability.

It covers four major things.

1. Auto Liability

If your business vehicle causes any property damage or bodily injury, business auto insurance kicks in.

It also pays for accident-related legal expenses.

So if either you or an employee hit a pedestrian, as mentioned above, and the pedestrian attempts to sue your company, the business auto insurance kicks in to cover legal expenses.

2. Medical Payment

If you're on a business trip and have an accident, your business auto insurance covers the cost of your medical bills.

It will also cover the cost of medical bills for anyone else in the car.

Good business auto insurance covers medical bill costs regardless of who is at fault for the accident.

3. Physical Damage and Collision

Commercial auto insurance covers more than just damage because of a collision.

If someone attempts to damage your car, this insurance covers the cost of repairs.

So if you're on a business trip and staying at a hotel, and someone vandalizes your car or damages it, commercial auto insurance will normally pay for those damages.

If you are traveling and end up in the middle of a hailstorm that causes thousands of dollars worth of damage, commercial auto insurance kicks in.

4. Uninsured Motorists

Unfortunately, many people drive without insurance.

A 2017 study conducted by the Insurance Research Council revealed that approximately one in every eight drivers in the United States was driving without insurance.

If individuals cannot afford to pay for car insurance, they cannot afford to pay for your damages.

Your commercial auto insurance policy will cover your damages and medical costs even if they result from a collision with an uninsured motorist.

Big Trucks Require Insurance

If your business does any work that requires larger vehicles, you actually must have commercial auto insurance.

This includes the following vehicles:

  • Box trucks
  • Food trucks
  • Work vans
  • Service utility trucks

Any other truck usually does not just need insurance, but it often requires business auto insurance.

As you explore the world of automobile insurance for your business, you may hear different terms.

Ultimately, the words commercial vehicle, business auto, commercial auto, truck and fleet insurance all refer to the same insurance.

Drive Safe, Drive Insured

Now that you understand all the ins and outs of business auto insurance, you can start looking for the best policy for your company.

For all of your insurance needs, contact us.