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A big part of owning your own home, or even renting a property, is protecting it and your personal belongings inside. If you’re concerned about home protection, then here are six of the best tips that you need to keep your home and belongings safe from harm:

  1. Change Your Approach

The only way to achieve comprehensive protection is to consider just where your home is the most vulnerable. Instead of going into home protection blind, you need to create a tailored plan that pinpoints the exact liabilities of your property.

Go around your home, look for weaknesses, and take note of where others might be able to see into your home. Then assess your doors, check their strength, and think about how you would break in if you were in the shoes of an intruder.

  1. Think About Security

Doors and windows should be secure, which means that new locks, stronger frames, and better hingers, may be an investment that you need to make. Double check to make sure there are no cracks around your doors or windows, invest in a security door or high-impact glass, and always lock-up when you’re leaving the house.

  1. Hide Your Keys

If you’re constantly losing your keys, having a spare outside may seem like a good idea. However, it’s one of the easiest ways for someone to break into your home.

Try a different approach and opt for a keyless door, or even leave a key with a trusted friend, instead of outdoors.

  1. Protect Your Wiring

Wiring is a major vulnerability in the home, and the weak spot of a security system. Make sure all wiring is fully hidden and properly covered.

  1. Change Your Garden

Anywhere outside that restricts your view from the property can be detrimental to property protection, but so can landscaping that puts your home on full view from the street. Consider a garden makeover and take care of blind spots in your landscaping.

  1. Insure Your Home and Belongings!

Prevention methods to stop burglaries are vital, but so is protection if the worst happens and your belongings or property are damaged. Getting adequate home insurance is a must to avoid the financial stress and upheaval of having to pay out for expensive repairs and replace belongings in your home.

Talk to us today for information about comprehensive home insurance and plans that are tailored to your needs. For a peace of mind over home protection and the best insurance, don’t delay in giving us a call.

While most larger companies have entire departments dedicated to the protection of their business, smaller businesses are often left to tackle unique risks without the same extent of protective resources.

No matter the size of your business, protection should be a top priority, that’s why we’ve put together eleven tips for small business protection, that can easily be implemented into your current business model.

Here are our eleven tips for legal, digital, and physical protection:

  1. Eliminate Personal Devices

Removing personal devices/bring-your-own-devices, or putting in place adequate monitoring regulations, can help to stop weak links in overall business security. If personal devices can’t be completely removed, consider a universal security package for all employees.

  1. Malware Defense

Malware defense is an essential form of digital protection, safeguarding your business online. To avoid sensitive document tampering, theft, or destruction, it’s important to train employees on computer security and make sure malware is aptly protected against.

  1. Make Your Business Brand Unique

A business logo and name need to have no litigation potential, to avoid potentially enormous legal problems, break customer trust, and stall business growth. Research your chosen name and logo, and make sure it’s not in use before establishing your business.

  1. Use Strong Passwords

To prevent catastrophic hacks, password protection is a must, no matter the size of your business. Just a little extra employee advice on mixing up their passwords and incorporating numbers and symbols, instead of using simplistic passwords, can help to prevent hacks. Data breaches can cost millions on average, so changing passwords on a regular basis and using strong ones is a must.

  1. Secure Your System

Physical security is just as essential as digital security. Cameras can give you the edge over crime prevention and equipment recovery in the worst scenarios. Strong locks will make it more difficult to break into your premise and also deter criminals.

  1. Use Written Documents

Using written contracts and agreements shows that your business is professional, but also provides additional security. Everything you promise is down on paper, as are the promises of other parties in a transaction, helping you to avoid problems down the line.

  1. Keep Data Backed Up

From hacking to a technical malfunction, anything can come along and destroy vital business data. Keeping it backed up is essential for smooth business operation and comprehensive protection.

  1. Maintain a Safe Workplace

Health and safety is crucial in the workplace, both to establish a safe working environment for employees and to avoid potential lawsuits. Claims of bad treatment, harassment or discrimination should be investigated quickly, competently, and in line with relevant regulations.

  1. Add Arbitration Clauses

An arbitration clause in a contract can prevent major legal costs, stop long legal processes, and provide a better way for your business to handle disputes of all scales.

  1. Use Required Permits and Licenses

All businesses need to have certain permits and licenses, but they can differ from business to business and location to location. To avoid shut-downs and legal problems, do all the relevant research to make sure you’re adequately covered.

  1. Get Business Insurance

Business insurance provides multiple levels of protection, making it essential, even if you’re at the earliest stages of starting your business. Having business insurance can involve protecting your business in varying ways, like through professional indemnity insurance, home business insurance, or public liability insurance. With insurance, you make sure that you’re covered from instances like financial loss and reputation damage.

If you need extra assistance with insurance for your business, then don’t hesitate to ask us for help. We’ll make sure that you know the essentials about protecting your small business with the right insurance.

Buying a home is one of the biggest decisions that you’ll make in your life. Not only does it free you from the restraints of having to pay rent, but it’s a valuable long-term investment that makes sense in more than one way when it comes to finances.

One of the biggest things that first-time home buyers have to face, is how to save vital funds when they are trying to purchase a property. This puts home insurance near the top of the priority list, not just because it can protect your belongings and property, but because it’s a key area to start saving money.

First-Time Home Insurance Policies – The Costs

You can expect insurance rates to cost you around an average of $952 a year, according to the statistics from Value Penguin. While this is the average, prices can fluctuate quite severely. There are a number of key factors that can influence home insurance cost, including:

  • Non-payment that resulted in insurance cancellation
  • High-risk properties, use of specialist materials in construction, high-claim area, or special feature properties
  • No insurance history or sparse insurance history
  • Paying separately for different insurances instead of using bundles
  • Making insurance claims

Many homeowners get the benefit of discounts on their home insurance, but this often isn’t the case for first-time buyers. Due to this, it’s important to make sure that you thoroughly investigate all the options open to you and take advantage of all money-saving opportunities.

Top Tips for Saving Money on Home Insurance 

Just a few simple tips and tricks may lead to some substantial savings on both the purchase of your first home and your home insurance. Here are our top five ways to make savings:

1.) Plan Ahead

Leaving home insurance as the last item on your to-do list means limiting your options for a good home insurance policy. It will pay in the long-run to research early, know your options, and find the right insurance for your needs. Always bear in mind:

  • Your home insurance will be in relation to your dwelling value not your real estate value.
  • Never feel pressured into making a decision without knowing what you’re covered for.
  • Get complete coverage for the important things.
  • Plan for potential increases in other insurance areas.

2.) Think About Insurance History

Your insurance history is incredibly important when getting house insurance – the better established your history is, the better discounts you’ll have access to. If you don’t have an established insurance history, then try building a good history by getting renters insurance or even contacting your parent’s insurance and seeing if you can be recognized by them.

3.) Know When Costs Change

Your home insurance will likely not be the same as the insurance that the current owners of the property pay. Personal information is needed to create an insurance plan, so be prepared to pay something different!

4.) Get That Home Inspection

A home inspection may be a big cost, but it could save you so much more in the long-run. Spotting major problems with a property now, could prevent serious financial disasters in the future. You might also get some top tips from your inspector about bringing down insurance costs.

5.) Double-Up and Get Mortgage Insurance

Not all insurance bundles are good, but it doesn’t mean that they are all bad either. Consider mortgage insurance alongside your home insurance, as the price may be substantially cheaper than if you went to a mortgage lender.

Need advice on home insurance, or want to get a head start with renter’s insurance? Give us a call today and we’ll make sure that all your insurance questions are answered!

Business owners and residents in the US have faced some tough challenges in recent years, with multiple natural disasters causing chaos around the country. From hurricanes to floods, natural disasters can cause significant damage to local communities and the businesses that operate in them.

In the face of the chaos that natural disasters can cause, it’s important for businesses to be prepared for severe weather and think of safety and recovery as key priorities. The on-going damage caused by natural disasters puts a heavy toll on insurance claims – a essential finance that many businesses rely on to get them back on their feet.

Damage to local businesses during natural disasters can affect the whole community. Many residents rely on local businesses for their livelihood, and they play an integral part in the strength of the community as a whole.

Businesses that don’t have plans to deal with an unexpected crisis or adequate insurance cover, may never recover from a natural disaster. In fact, around 25% never open their doors again after a natural disaster, according to statistics from the Institute for Business and Home Safety.

With one out of every three businesses being affected by natural disasters to some capacity, according to statistics from Business Insider, it’s incredibly important to make sure that your business insurance is up to scratch.

Worried about what a natural disaster could mean for your business? Here’s are three of our best tips for ensuring that your business is safe from the chaos caused by natural disasters:

Get the Right Insurance for Your Business

In the event of a natural disaster, insurance will be a key financial safety net that you need to get back on your feet – but only if that insurance is right. There are multiple different insurance policies to choose from, and it’s essential to make sure that they cover natural calamity. There are two insurance types that you should consider:

  • Property Insurance – covers you in the event of property or equipment damages. Policies can be customized to include cover for different natural disasters, such as flooding.
  • Business Interruption Coverage – covers you in the event of lost income due to business interruption. Solutions should be discussed with an insurance specialist to tailor a plan that suits your business.

Keep Up-To-Date with Your Insurance

The risks that your business could face may change over time, so it’s important to make sure that your insurance changes with it. Staying up-to-date with your insurance means knowing what you’re covered for and what you’re not, and making sure that your insurance accounts for emergencies.

Understanding where your business stands with insurance, what you’ll receive and what you won’t, will help you to prepare for the worst-case scenario and ensure that your business is protected.

Create a Disaster Plan

A disaster plan is vital for helping your business to prepare for the unexpected. Key things to consider in your plan, include:

  • Create and practice a plan for evacuation
  • Choose a person to contact everyone in the event of a disaster
  • Develop a plan to notify customers
  • Invest in back-up software to protect sensitive information
  • Select a potential office back-up location
  • Design a plan to prepare office spaces if there is time, such as unplugging electronics and moving equipment=

If you’re concerned about the safety of your business and whether your insurance is providing suitable cover, then make sure that you contact us today and keep your business safe.

It’s essential to find the right business insurance for your company, especially if you manage a small business with limited finances. Although every insurance provider will try to sell itself to you, which one actually offers you the best deal overall? You need to ensure that you protect your business, your customers, and your employees without breaking the bank or making regrettable mistakes. Here we offer you some tips on choosing the best business insurance for you and avoiding some common business insurance mistakes.

1. Sometimes you have to pay more

If you’re running a business, you’re undoubtedly counting your pennies very carefully, ensuring that your business stays afloat financially. This can often mean that you select cheap business insurance in order to keep costs down, but this may not be a very good idea. Cheap business insurance often will not cover property damage or common injuries, leaving business owners in a pickle when it comes time to claim. Always assess your options carefully, being sure to choose business insurance that is right for you overall. You may find a policy that covers everything you need at a bargain price; you just need to compare the market thoroughly.

2. What do you really need?

With that said, you easily purchase too much coverage as well. While it may feel satisfying to know that you’re comprehensively covered, you may be wasting your money if you simply do not need all of the coverage. As an example, if you run a retail business which sells clothes, you’re probably not going to need coverage for protecting your business against slander and libelous statements. Similarly, if you run a business which manufactures equipment, you probably won’t require malpractice insurance like a doctor would, for example. Buy the insurance that will actually benefit you in areas that are relevant to you. Purchasing extensive insurance policies for the sake of it could be a waste of money unless you got an amazing deal.

3. Get professional help

Getting professional help allows you to consult with an insurance professional throughout your decision-making and insurance-purchasing processes. It can be frustrating to evaluate your insurance options alone, especially if you don’t have extensive knowledge of the industry.

Business insurance brokers can guide you through the process and offer impartial advice on the best insurance solution for your company. Business insurance brokers work independently, allowing them to pit companies against one another in order to shop around and get you the best deal from competing insurance companies. They can also offer you advice on getting coverage that protects all the essential aspects of your company, as well as for many other things too.

If you are still without adequate business insurance, you need to act quickly in order to secure yourself a policy! Accidents do happen, and they will always happen at the most inopportune moments.

Business insurance allows you to run your business while safe in the knowledge that you’re covered for any accidents and incidents which may occur. Looking for more advice on insuring your business? Get in touch today!

Car insurance rates can be crippling, especially if you’re young, have been caught up in accidents, or if you’re not able to afford to latest state-of-the-art car with futuristic safety features. Though car insurance premiums can be a pain to pay, here we offer you 8 tips on lowering your car insurance rates in 2018.

1. Car insurance discounts

There are numerous discounts which you may be entitled to with your auto insurance, here are but a few examples!

LOW MILEAGE – Do you drive less than 7,500 miles per year? You may get a 5-15% discount on your car insurance! Some insurance companies even offer discounts if you do some of your travel via public transport such as buses or subways.

MULTI-CAR DEALS – You may see 10-25% discounts on your comprehensive, collision, and liability premiums if you have more than one vehicle on the same insurance policy.

MODERN CAR DISCOUNTS – Does your car have airbags, anti-lock brakes, and automatic seat belts? Perhaps it has tracking systems and anti-theft alarms? You could see discounts from 5-30% depending on how modern and safe or thief-proof your car is.

2. Complete a traffic course

You can often see a 5-15% discount if you take a traffic course to improve your driving skills. The eligibility for these tests varies from state to state, however. Traffic school courses are usually 4 to 6 hours long, and can be done online, in person, or via a mixture of the two. They often set you back around $25 to $75, though you’ll make that back in discounts quickly. You may remove points from your record for minor traffic violations, though you can’t get this AND a discount. New York, however, is an exception to this rule.

3. Watch your credit report closely

Auto insurance companies take many factors into account when calculating your premiums, and your credit history is one of them. Some states have made this illegal, but in many, it remains a legal and common practice. Pay your bills on time and maintain a decent credit rating; it will help you to seem low-risk and therefore help to keep your car insurance rates down. The difference in auto insurance rates for “good credit” drivers and “poor credit” drivers is a staggering 67%.

4. Be a safe driver

It sounds so obvious, but it’s true. People with no traffic violations or accidents get lower insurance rates (over time) as they are simply presenting themselves as low-risk (i.e. safe) drivers. A single speeding ticket can increase your auto insurances rates 11-13%, so why take the risk with your life and your insurance premiums?

5. Invest in a safer car

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Vehicle Safety Ratings Page (long name) contains a list of all the safety ratings for various cars, taking multiple factors into account. Prioritize safety ratings when you buy a new car, as you’ll likely decrease your insurance rates and better protect your own life!

6. Discounts for paying in full

You can usually see a 5-10% discount if you pay your car insurance premium in full, rather than spreading the payments out over an extended period. Though many people cannot afford to do this straight away, it could save you hundreds of dollars over the year.

7. Evaluate what you really need from your policy

Do you really need comprehensive and collision coverage? Vehicles that are worth less than $3,000 or less than 10 years old simply don’t require these forms of coverage. According to the Insurance Information Institute, getting rid of comprehensive and collision coverage (assuming you don’t need them) could save you around $660 per year on average.

8. Compare the market

As with any form of insurance, you should be sure to compare the rates, policies, and details of different insurers. Auto insurers have slightly different methods of ascertaining how much you will pay, so one insurer could happen to see you in a much more favorable light than another.

Among the myriad of circumstances used to calculate your auto insurance rates, your insurance could significantly drop (or spike) if you get married, move house, have an accident, buy a new car, or add a young driver to a household policy.

Consider taking the customer service ratings (and customer reviews) of the insurers into account when making your decision, as insurance companies are notorious for wanting to escape paying out whenever they can. Evaluate what is most important to you, what price you’re willing to pay, and what excess you’re willing to pay, assuming it is applicable. It pays to compare competing companies!

Looking for more help with lowering your car insurance rates? Get in touch today and we’ll be able to help you with a personalized plan which aims to lower your auto insurance rates for good.

There are many reasons why a business may choose a less-than-adequate insurance policy. Business owners may be looking to save money, or they may simply not be taking into account the risks and liabilities attached to their operations. Despite many business owners’ hesitance, it is always a good idea to be alert of risks for your business and to patent your unique ideas. Legal proceedings can easily crush your business should they come about, especially if you’re not armed with a decent insurance policy.

So, having illustrated the importance of business insurance, what types are there? Here we give you a rundown of the different types of business insurance available.
Different Types of Business Insurance

These insurance types will be suited to certain businesses and industries more than others, so be sure to conduct a thorough assessment of the policy and read all the fine print before you come to any conclusions on which insurance is best for your business.

  • General liability insurance: This insurance covers the legal liabilities resulting from injuries, accidents, or negligence claims. It is essential to have general liability insurance when operating a business. General liability insurance will cover property damage, damages incurred from medical expenses, legal defense fees, court settlements, and more.
  • Product liability insurance: If your company sells, manufactures or distributes goods, then you need to have product liability insurance. The degree of risk attached to your goods will determine your premium. A company selling vehicle parts will have a higher degree of risk than a company selling clothes, for example.
  • Commercial property insurance: If your buildings are vandalized, stolen from, or damaged by a natural disaster, this insurance is designed to protect your assets. You will subsequently be able to cover lost income and business interruption costs, as well as many other forms of damages.
  • Errors and omissions insurance: This insurance is for companies which sell services rather than products. Numerous US states will actually require proof of errors and omission insurance before you can open your business’s doors legally. Malpractice insurance (for physicians) is a common type of this insurance.

Protecting Your Business in Other Ways

Patents

There are other ways to protect your business too, though they are more optional than they are mandatory. We would recommend, however, protecting your intellectual property with a legal patent. Being issued a patent means that your competitors cannot create or sell your product(s) within the United States.

There are two main types of patents available – utility patents, which protect machines and processes, and design patents, which protect your product’s overall ornamental design. Patents are a great way on ensuring that your competitors don’t steal your ideas or adapt them in order to siphon your customers and profits away from you.

Trademarks

You can also copyright, trademark, or create a registered trademark for your brand. A registered trademark is the most powerful of the three options, legally speaking, as requires you to file an application with the US Patent and Trademark Office. If approved, you’ll receive a federal registration certificate for your registered trademark.

Trademarks (regular ones) and copyrights don’t necessitate any paperwork or documentation; your intellectual property assumes copyright automatically under US federal law. Copyright does have its problems, however, and can lead to bitter legal battles as different parties claim ownership of a “copyrighted” thing.
It’s important to protect your business with the right insurance policies and documents, but it can be hard to know the best way to do this. If you’re looking to find out more about business insurance and other legal protections, get in touch with us today!

If you run a small company or a large one… you have many responsibilities. One that can cause quite a bit of headaches is taking care of pay-roll tax obligations. It’s easy to make mistakes and the penalties can be large.

So review these tips to avoid those headaches…

Misclassification of Employees

Hiring independent contractors to avoid paying typical expenses associated with employees is a growing trend. However, there are specific tests to determine whether these “independent contractors” should actually be classified as employees instead. For example, if you control what they do, when they show up for work they are not independent. (You can learn more about employee classification by visiting the IRS site here: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/understanding-employee-vs-contractor-designation)

Reimbursements

If you regularly repay employees for job-related expenses such as traveling on the companies behalf, you need to have a solid system in place to track these expenses and prove they are legitimate business expenses. This way your workers will not pay tax on the reimbursements.

Insufficient Payroll Records

All companies with employees must maintain consistent reliable pay-roll records. This consists of time sheets and pay-roll tax calculations along with copies of W-2s and I-9s. It is important to save these records for at least 4 years.

Making Use Of Withholdings to Pay Other Operational Costs

Never make use of withholdings to cover other company expenses. Regardless of your company’s financial condition, you must ensure those funds are kept separate and untouchable. If you do, you’ll run afowl of the IRS and face significant penalties.

Skimping on Oversight

Yes you can outsource payroll to a 3rd party company. However, you are still ultimately responsible if they make a mistake. As the business owner, you must make sure all reporting is handled properly and is accurate.

For other insights on how we can help you protect yourself from the risks of running a business, be sure to reach out to one of our professionals. We are here to help!

We love our dogs… the wagging tails… the kisses. And yet dog ownership has challenges. Dogs bite more than 4.5 million people each year. Of those, nearly 900,000 are severe enough to require medical intervention.

In addition, dog bites are costly. The typical cost per canine attack case settled through insurance is over $28,000. It’s a big number. It’s also why home insurance rates go up when you get a new dog…

Thankfully, there are actions you can take to decrease the chances of your dog biting or attacking someone.

First, choose your dog carefully. There are varying viewpoints on whether dogs of certain types are much more hazardous than others are or if home atmosphere has more to do with a pet’s nature. Speak with your veterinarian regarding prospective behavior and also wellness problems connected with details breeds.

Also, talk to our team about potential dog breeds that may be excluded from being protected your insurance coverage representative regarding breeds omitted from protection under your house owner’s insurance plan.

Next, introduce your family pet to your pet early. Well-socialized puppies are more likely to become grown-up pets who feel comfortable around people and other animals. It’s also good to keep exposing your dog to new situations…

Also be sure you you keep your child is older because nearly 50% of all severe dog bites involve youngsters. A good age is at least 4 years old. Kids of this age are better able to understand how to behave around your dog. And NEVER leave your baby or young child alone with a dog, no matter how much you trust the dog.

Finally, be sure to take care of your dog’s health. From spaying or neutering to controlling parasites… your dog’s health impacts their attitude. Be sure your dog also is seen by a vet regularly an is properly vaccinated.

Whether you already own a pet dog or are considering bringing a pooch into your home, give us a call to assess your insurance coverage responsibility coverage for bites and various other pet-related injuries. We’re here to help!

The job market is tightening. Finding great workers is getting more difficult. Yet if you set age aside, there’s a great pool of folks with fantastic business experience, interpersonal capabilities, and general proficiency. (And it’s important to know… studies show that for each 90 days a position remains unfilled, a company loses $14,000.)

As companies battle each other to fill open positions, a number are looking at the pool of highly experienced, talented, slightly older workers to help fill the need.

Older workers also tend to carry institutional expertise and specific abilities that expand their worth. Smart companies are capturing this knowledge and implementing programs to ensure it is passed on to younger workers via mentoring, etc.

Recruitment

AARP has a program to help recruit older employes. (https://www.aarp.org/work/employers/) The website helps connect workers and employers…

One critical element to attract older workers is your benefits portfolio. You could provide additional plans that cover gaps in Medicare as an example. You can do the exact same with various other benefits too ranging from dental to vision. And remember pet insurance has also become a popular benefit to offer. These various benefit programs can be added in a way that is affordable to employees with little out-of-pocket costs to the company.

We recommend speaking with our team on options you can leverage to help you build a targeted benefits program that would be attractive to more mature workers.

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