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Is Your Small Business Prepared to Handle a Lawsuit?

The thought of facing a lawsuit at your business is a scary thing. Large businesses likely have a legal department that is practiced at handling these situations, and they may even have a budget set aside specifically for legal matters. For small businesses, it is not so easy. Small business owners may think that the threat of legal action will never happen to them. The unfortunate truth is that this is simply not true. In fact, according to one poll, 43% of small business owners have been involved with or faced the threat of a lawsuit.

The damages resulting from legal costs may be enough to put you out of business. Even if they don’t, the financial hardship will put immense stress on you and your employees. To add to that, the lawsuit may be something that harms your reputation in the eyes of the public or even the media. In order to protect yourself, your employees, and your bottom line from the myriad negative effects of a lawsuit, you must make sure you are properly prepared. This means having the right business insurance and good legal counsel available.

What Kind of Insurance Is Needed to Prepare for a Lawsuit?

It should go unsaid, but you need to make sure your business has the insurance coverage it needs before the threat of a lawsuit ever appears on the horizon. Because when it becomes too late, the consequences may just destroy everything. Here are the most common types of business insurance that can protect you against the consequences of a lawsuit.

General Liability

This policy is the first line of defense for small business owners facing a lawsuit. It is designed to cover common exposures and minimize your financial risks, such as the costs of undergoing a lawsuit. If an employee slips and falls or a customer accuses your business of false advertising, your general liability will protect you against these claims. It will also help with any legal fees, court costs, or settlement costs that may result from a lawsuit.

Specialized Coverage

Depending on your industry, your business may need more specialized insurance protection. Your independent insurance agent can help you to discern the unique risks of your business and your industry, then design an insurance profile that helps to cover these risks. That is why working with a local, independent insurance agent is so valuable. Because they live and work in your region or even community, they understand the issues you face every day. Don’t let your business go underinsured. Speak with your independent agent to make sure you have all the coverage you need to keep your business running even in the face of a lawsuit.

3 Ways to Make Your Home Kid-Friendly and Safe  

Moving into a new home can be an exciting, yet stressful, process. In the mix of things, you shouldn’t have to worry about the safety of your children. Use these tips to make sure that every area of your home is childproof and safe for your kids to play in. 

Start with Rules 

In order to ensure that your children understand what is safe and what is not, you need to set some ground rules. Identify certain rooms that your children are allowed to play in and those they are not able to be in. For instance, many families store power tools and other hazardous materials in their basement. Therefore, their children are not allowed in this room in order to guarantee that the kids are safe and sound. 

Tell your children which rooms are off limits and which are completely okay. If you catch them disobeying your rules, explain to them why certain rooms are off limits so that they understand the reasoning behind the rules! 

Keep Valuables Hidden 

If you have anything incredibly valuable in your home, it is in your best interest to hide it out of reach from your children. Kids are naturally curious and will search all over the house for something interesting to play with. If you have any jewelry, valuable items, or something that may hurt the child such as sharp knives or firearms, make sure to always keep it out of their reach. From lost jewelry to unfortunate accidents, you do not want your children getting hold of your valuable items. 

Avoid Glass Tables and Decorations 

In an attempt to keep your children safe and decorate your house accordingly, try to avoid using glass tables in your home. Glass tables can easily break if there is an accident or someone was to fall. In addition, glass decorations can easily be picked up and dropped, resulting in shards of glass all over the floor and your home. Use other materials for your decorations, tables, and other areas of your home. 

Even if your children stay completely safe in your home, there are other incidents that could befall it. Make sure you have the home insurance coverage you need to stay protected. Speak to your agent today about updating your homeowners policy, including adding coverage for valuable items. 

Busting Common Life Insurance Myths

According to the 2019 Insurance Barometer Study by Life Happens and LIMRA, 43% of American households do not have any life insurance. Furthermore, 40% of those households reported that they would immediately struggle to pay living expenses if their primary wage owner were to die without the security of life insurance. If so many Americans understand how important life insurance is, why do they remain uninsured? 

MYTH: LIFE INSURANCE IS TOO EXPENSIVE.  

This is a big one. Many American families do not feel comfortable enough with their financial situation to purchase a life insurance policy. They believe they cannot afford it, and that they probably won’t need it anyway. The truth is, none of us know what the future holds. Even healthy adults can pass from sudden illness or accident. It’s a hard truth, but there it is. And if this happens and a family is left without their primary wage owner, then they really won’t be able to afford anything. So how much does life insurance cost? This depends on the type of policy purchased and the limits. However, it is possible to purchase life insurance for about the same dollar amount as paying for your daily coffee. If you can afford that, you can afford life insurance.  

MYTH: I’M TOO YOUNG TO HAVE LIFE INSURANCE. 

Okay, we hear your train of thought here. You’re young, partnered or single, and you don’t have any plans for kids in the near future. Why on earth would you need life insurance? It comes back to the previous myth. When you are young and healthy and you purchase life insurance, there’s a very good chance your rate will be more favorable. Hint: that means lower. If it’s a dollar sign you’re concerned about, buying life insurance exactly when you think you don’t need it is your best bet.  

MYTH: I CAN GET LIFE INSURANCE LATER. 

As mentioned above, the younger you are when you purchase life insurance, the lower your premiums are likely to be. As you age, it can become more difficult to get the life insurance coverage you need at the rate you want. And if you develop certain high-risk medical conditions, you could, unfortunately, be deemed “uninsurable” by carriers.  

MYTH: I DON’T NEED LIFE INSURANCE AT ALL.  

Yikes. This kind of thinking can get you (or more specifically, your loved ones) into real trouble. Life insurance has more uses than you may think. In addition to providing income replacement to beneficiaries, life insurance can also cover funeral costs, pay off debts left behind, provide an inheritance or an education fund for a loved one, or even serve as a donation to a charity of your choice. With all of these potential uses, it’s easy to see that no matter what you will benefit from being covered by life insurance. 

Now that you understand the need for life insurance, don’t be one of the 43% of Americans who are living without it. Talk to your insurance agent today. 

5 Tips for Driving at Night

Depending on your job, you may need to do a lot of driving at night. Or perhaps you like to leave in the wee hours to go on family vacation, so you can arrive at a decent time the next day. Some drivers do prefer night driving because the roads are more open. Even so, night driving comes with a lot of setbacks and risks you need to be aware of. With the vision impairments and accidents associated with night driving, drivers should take the following night driving tips into consideration.  

Avoid Overdriving Your Vehicle’s Headlights 

The term “overdriving” refers to when you’re driving so fast that your stopping time is farther than you can see with your headlights. This is dangerous, especially if there are large vehicles like semi-trucks on the road. Make sure that your vehicle’s headlights are clean and have functioning bulbs so their beam of light shines as far as it can. Also, learn your approximate stopping time in relation to how far your lights illuminate in order to avoid overdriving and risking crashing into anything ahead of you.  

Don’t Look Directly at Other Sources of Light 

Oncoming headlights and other bright light sources can end up temporarily blinding you to the road and what’s ahead. Be sure to avoid looking directly at these. When you’re going through lighting changes (from a well-lit, populated highway to one that is much darker) allow your eyes to adjust before increasing the speed at which you’re traveling and use your brights if you’re away from other vehicles. 

Watch Out for Wildlife 

Your headlights can pick up the retinas of animals before your eyes can register their bodies. If you see two small glowing spots in the distance, slow down as much as you can, as an animal is most likely ahead. If the situation calls for you to choose between your safety and the animal’s, choose yours first. But remember that crashing into an animal at a high speed can greatly endanger you and cause serious damage to your vehicle. If you cannot swerve safely, you must slow down significantly.  

Don’t Drive Drowsy  

Driving at night can be tiring. If you aren’t well rested, your driving will inherently become impaired. If you are too fatigued, find a rest stop and take a break, or switch off with another person in the car — night driving is risky enough, so you’ll need all of your alertness to make the trip safely during this time. 

Get Your Eyes Checked 

If you haven’t done so already, it may be beneficial for you to schedule an eye exam. The frequency at which you should get one depends on your age and race. An ophthalmologist should be able to tell you what is recommended for your vision health.

Remember, traffic accidents and fatalities are greater at night. It’s of the utmost importance that you drive carefully when your vision and driving ability is impaired by the factors of the night. If you need auto insurance, call one of our agents today. 

When to Update Your Life Insurance Beneficiaries

Life insurance: you may not want to think about it too hard, but you need to. It can be difficult to consider the possibility of your own passing, but when you realize what the financial consequences of your death might be for your loved ones, you’ll realize just how important life insurance is. If you have a policy, that’s the first step. However you cannot simply let that policy sit untouched for all the years of your life. There are certain changes you may go through that would necessitate updating your life insurance beneficiaries. But what are those changes? We’ll dive into it a little deeper.  

You Get Married 

When you consider the many changes your life will go through after tying the knot, updating your life insurance beneficiary might not be the first thing that comes to mind. But when two become one, often combining their finances, ensuring your spouse will be taken care of in the unthinkable event of your death is one of the most loving things you can do to secure your new life together. Many couples will change their beneficiary to their spouse once the nuptials are over. In fact, depending on where you live you may be required to. The death benefits would ensure your spouse will be able to take care of final expenses, pay off your debts, and not have to experience the burden of entirely losing their partner’s income.  

A Child Is Born  

You may be having a child together, adopting, or taking over care of a friend or relative’s child. Whatever the case, if an important child comes into your life, you may want to take another look at your life insurance beneficiaries. Some do not recommend adding your new child to your list of beneficiaries, since they will not be able to receive death benefits until reaching the age of majority. However you can still specify to your spouse or other beneficiary that you would like the policy benefits to go towards something specific, such as your child’s education expenses.  

You Start a Business 

If you own a business with partners, it is possible to include them in your list of life insurance beneficiaries. However, you should also consider creating a buy-sell agreement with any business partners. This will allow your business partner(s) to use the benefits from the agreement to buy out your shares in the company in the event of your death. If you wish to protect the business you have built, make sure to speak with an experienced insurance agent to ensure you have all the coverage you need to keep your business running no matter what.  

Whoever you name as your life insurance beneficiary, be sure to inform them right away. This is especially true if you choose someone outside your immediate family, since they may not even expect to be named in your policy. Life insurance benefits will not bring you back after you are gone, but they can go a long way towards protecting the people you care about. 

4 Practical Insurance Tips for Millennials

Millennials (young people born between 1981 and 1996) are now reaching a place in their lives where they have to start making important financial decisions, such as when to buy a house or have children. With the average amount of millennial debt rising, it is becoming more difficult for young people to build up savings. That is why it is incredibly important that millennials make the investment in insurance. If the unexpected occurs, many uninsured or underinsured millennials will be without any safety net to help them recover. 

Part of the problem with people of this age being uninsured or underinsured is simply a lack of information. So, for any millennials reading, here are 4 practical insurance tips for you.  

Work with an Independent Agent – Not Google 

What do you do when you need to do something difficult for the first time? You go to an expert! For many people, this expert is Google. But there is a lot of misinformation out there, and millennials know more than anyone that you can’t trust everything you read online. Millennials are smart – there is no doubt about that. However, many do not realize what kind of insurance they may need, or just how important it is, so they don’t have all the coverage they should. This is a big mistake, especially for those who are starting families or building a business. An independent insurance agent is a friend in the business who can guide you in the best course of action. Sure, you could buy insurance online, but you may not get the best rates. The job of an independent agent is to do the hard work of finding the best possible coverage for the lowest possible price tag. This means less stress on you and more time to spend doing the things you love!  

Stop Worrying So Much About the Price Tag  

We get it. Many millennials have a lot of expenses, and it can sometimes feel like you are living paycheck to paycheck. How much do you think insurance costs per month? Whatever number you are holding in your head, there’s a good chance the true number is lower. There are also a lot of discounts that are available if you perform certain behaviors. Yes, this often means “adulting” things. Your agent is your resource for this kind of information, so don’t be shy about asking what kind of discounts are available. 

Cover Your Gaps to Protect Your Valuables  

Again, this is where the advice and expertise of an independent insurance agent is invaluable. While it’s true that your possessions are covered under your homeowners or renters insurance, you may have items that require higher limits to be properly covered. This could be an engagement ring or other high-value jewelry, musical instruments or equipment, sporting equipment, expensive electronics, or other items of value. Your agent can advise you on adding additional coverage for these type of items.  

Don’t Shoot Down Life Insurance  

You may think you are too young to purchase life insurance at this age, but that simply is not true. Your 20s and 30s is actually the ideal age to buy a life insurance policy, because you will likely receive much better rates now when you are young and healthy than you will later in life. Life insurance is designed to provide a financial net for expenses you leave in the event of your death. We know it’s probably crazy to think about, but life insurance is designed to protect against the unthinkable, and just because it’s difficult to think about does not mean it isn’t necessary.  

If you are a millennial who needs a guide in purchasing your own insurance for the first time, we can help! As independent agents, we will be on your side – not the side of the insurance companies. This means you can trust us to act in your best interest. Get in touch today! 

What Are the Real Consequences of Skipping Breakfast?

Mornings are difficult, aren’t they? You’re rushing to get showered and dressed – and if you have kids, to get them up, showered, and dressed – and you have to make it to work on time! With everything going on, stopping and making breakfast is not on your to-do list. You’ve probably heard it a thousand times: “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” But do you really know what skipping breakfast does to your body? Here are the reasons why you need to kick the habit of kicking breakfast to the curb.  

Your Brain Slows Down 

It’s not just the Monday morning blues. It seems like every time you get to work and start your day, you simply can’t focus. When you skip breakfast, your blood sugar drops, and the glucose that your brain needs to function at top capacity is nowhere to be found. There are plenty of studies that have proven that both adults and children perform better at work or school after they’ve started their day with a balanced breakfast.  

Your Mood Drops 

Another way that missing breakfast affects your brain is by affecting your dopamine and serotonin levels – the chemicals in your brain that regulate mood. You might have heard of the phrase “hangry” – a combination of “hungry” and “angry.” No one wants to be known as the hangry person in the office! Aside from the chemical effects, hunger can also cause headaches and tiredness, which further bring down your mood.  

You’re at Greater Risk for Health Problems  

You might think skipping breakfast is harmless, but studies have shown that regularly missing “the most important meal of the day” can increase your likelihood of diabetes and heart disease. The reason behind this is that skipping your first meal after a night of fasting (as you sleep) causes extra stress in the body that can lead to insulin resistance and plaque buildup.  

Adopting better wellness habits such as eating breakfast every day is one of the best things you can do for your overall health – mental and physical. By taking good care of yourself, you increase your happiness, lengthen your lifespan, and can be there for your loved ones longer. Not only that, your insurance rates may be lowered as well! Start tomorrow – the most important meal of the day may save your life.

Have a Safe and Happy Halloween by Avoiding Insurance Claims

Halloween is a special day of the year that many people young and old get excited about. However, Halloween poses more dangers than scary masks and fake blood, so you need to stay safe and protect what you care about. Here are some useful tips for staying safe, having fun, and avoiding insurance claims!

Safety When Driving on Halloween Night

It’s a given that you need to be more vigilant and pay attention to your surroundings when driving at night. Threats ahead are more difficult to see, and incidents like wildlife running into the road can happen suddenly. But on Halloween, there is more than just wild animals walking along the roads. First, depending on where you are driving there may be trick-or-treaters out for a stroll. There could also be teenagers getting up to no good, playing pranks or hanging out in wooded areas. Even if you are driving on an empty road or in a place with no houses around, remain on alert.

Young adults and adults celebrate Halloween, too, and drunk drivers are another threat to look out for when you are driving on Halloween night. Scan the road for anyone who is driving erratically, and do not be afraid to place a call to a non-emergency phone line.

You do not want a night that’s supposed to be full of spooky fun to turn into a real life nightmare, where you have to make an unfortunate auto claim. However, in the event of an accident, remember your agent is only a call away. Calling your insurance agent is one of the first things you want to do after an accident occurs.

Trick-or-treating Safety

If you’ll be spending Halloween with your children, there are some important safety precautions you can take to ensure you have a fun yet enjoyable holiday. If your children will be trick-or-treating in yours or a friend’s neighborhood, make sure you and/or another adult are present at all times. Gone are the days that kids can just be turned loose to get candy from strangers’ homes. Even if your children are older, it’s still risky to let them walk alone – especially on Halloween when predators may be more likely to be out.

If you wish to be extra precautious, you can have your children’s candy scanned at your local police department – to make sure there are no harmful objects or substances inside the pieces. Even if you don’t go this far, still glance over your child’s bag of candy before letting them begin eating. If you see any candy wrappers that look damaged or otherwise off in any way, it’s safest to simply throw the candy away.

If you’ll be passing out candy from your home, make sure all walkways and steps are clean and well-lit. Children may get excited when there’s a bowl of candy ahead, and it’s possible they could trip and fall and get hurt if the path to your door is dark or has debris. Avoid a potential insurance claim by ensuring your home is safe for little monsters and witches to visit.

Staying in on Halloween

If you are spending Halloween at home and do not have any children around, there are still some safety precautions you can take. If you have pets, keep them inside for their safety. There may be strangers who want to harm them in the name of Halloween, but they could also just get frightened by the commotion and run off. You also need to protect your home and possessions. Make sure your garage is securely shut, or if you leave your vehicle outside, that its doors are locked and any enticing electronics or other personal items are taken inside the house. Double check that your home’s doors are locked, even if you plan to stay in all evening. Thieves and vandals often take advantage of the Halloween commotion to perform their nefarious deeds. If something happens, you have insurance in place to protect you, but you certainly don’t want to have to use it, so take proper precautions on the 31st.

No matter what you’re doing this Halloween, you can stay safe and avoid having to make a claim. But if you need us, our agency is only a phone call or email away!

How to Spot a Distracted Driver

If you know the dangers of distracted driving, you avoid it. However as many of us know, you can’t control the actions of other people on the road. Here are a few useful tips for spotting – and avoiding – distracted drivers around you.

If You See a Driver Holding a Device, Get Away

Although in many states it is illegal to use handheld devices while driving, people will still do it anyway and make no effort to hide it. These people may have a phone held in front of their face, or they could be looking down. In either case it isn’t difficult to spot this distracted driver. If you see someone engaging in this kind of behavior in a car near you, the best thing to do is safely figure out how to get away. This could mean slowing down, changing lanes, or any other maneuver you feel you can safely perform. Do not let the distracted driver distract you, but do remove yourself from their path.

Watch for Swerving, Pausing, and Sudden Braking

You’re driving along and the car in front of you begins to waver back and forth across the lines. It could be accidental, but it is likely a sign of a distracted driver. It’s incredibly important to always leave plenty of space between your car and other cars, since the situation can turn dangerous in an instant if a car you’re too close to has a mishap. Similarly, be on the lookout for any car that lags behind after the light turns green. This is typically a sign that the driver’s eyes are not on the road, and this is a car you will want to avoid. Another common sign is if a car brakes suddenly to avoid hitting the car in front of them. This means they weren’t looking and did not notice the other cars slowing down. It can be difficult to avoid being rear ended by one of these distracted drivers, but always be on the lookout.

Practice and Encourage Distracted Driving Awareness

According to the CDC, nine people every day are killed in motor vehicle accidents involving distracted driving. Talk to your friends and family members (not just your children because adults drive distracted, too) about the dangers of distracted driving and how anyone can spot and avoid it on the road. Set an example for others by modeling safe driving practices yourself. You never know what can happen in a single instant. 

The Most Important Thing to Do When Closing on a Home

When you’re a first time home buyer, you might be expecting the process to be more glamorous and exciting than it is in reality. Now, buying your first home is certainly an exciting event, but glamorous? Last time we checked, there wasn’t much glamor about paperwork… If you’re like most people, you will work with a mortgage lender to purchase your new home. Therefore the process of closing on your home will involve an almost overwhelming amount of paperwork and finances, but this is a good thing. It ensures that your investment is made with all the right t’s crossed and i’s dotted. However there is one important thing you must do before you can close on your home, and that’s purchasing homeowners insurance.

Why Homeowners Insurance?

Would it surprise you to learn that purchasing homeowners insurance coverage is a requirement for closing on a home, if you finance through a lender? That’s right. Lenders require you to have home insurance for at least a year in order to allow you to close on your home. The thinking behind this is that by lending you the funds to buy a house, your lender needs an assurance from you that they are not going to suffer a huge loss if something happens to your new home. You see, that new home is an investment for both you and your lender, and when left uninsured, your home is a huge liability for your lender. This is why they usually will not agree to giving you a loan until you have proved that you have homeowners insurance in place.

What Will You Need to Bring?

It is common practice for lenders to ask you to bring your homeowners insurance binder with you to the closing meeting. The binder acts as definitive proof from your insurer that your home and its contents are covered under a policy. Some lenders may accept a photocopy of your insurance documents or a letter from your insurer.

How Do You Know Which Insurer to Choose?

This is where the assistance of an independent insurance agent is invaluable. Just like shopping around for a mortgage lender is a smart idea, shopping around for the best homeowners insurance is also a smart practice. But with your busy life, you probably don’t have time to shop the insurance market. Work with a dedicated independent insurance agent, and they will shop the market for you to find the best policy and most competitive rates.