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Boat Insurance: A Must Read for Every Boat Owner

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, June 14, 2018
TriState Business Insurance - boat insurance for rental recreational vehicles

It’s summer again, and as typical, our phones heat up with questions regarding boat insurance. We put this blog post together in the hope that we answer questions that we know a lot of you have out there. Should the time come for you to acquire new (or replace your existing) boat insurance coverage in (VA, MD, or DC), know that your independent insurance agents and friends at TriState Insurance are just a phone call away.

Do you need boat insurance?

Your home insurance policy covers your boat in some cases, but it doesn’t go far. Homeowners policies typically cap boat coverage at $1,000 or 10% of your home’s insured value. And liability coverage — which pays for damage your boat does to others — typically isn’t included under home insurance. So a home insurance policy might help you only if your boat is small, slow and inexpensive.

What boat insurance will pay for:

You can typically buy liability insurance — which pays for damage your boat does to others — in amounts from $15,000 to $300,000, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Check about additional coverage for trailers and accessories, for towing and for damage caused by an uninsured boater.

You can buy two types of damage coverage for a boat:

  • Actual cash value. This pays the value of your boat at the time of the damage. If your boat is destroyed, your insurance company determines its market value.
  • Agreed amount value. If your boat is destroyed, your insurer pays you an amount that you and the company agreed on beforehand. If your boat can be repaired, your insurer replaces old items for new ones without deducting for depreciation.

It’s also important to understand what your boat insurance covers before heading out on the water. Check whether your policy covers these scenarios:

  • Mechanical breakdown coverage. Pays to repair or replace your outboard motor as long as it’s not due to wear and tear.
  • Salvage. If your boat becomes disabled and a basic tow won’t help, you might need to call a salvage company to recover it. Typically a salvage company will ask for a percentage of the boat’s value as payment, which can be quite expensive. Not all insurance companies offer this coverage.
  • Gadgets. Not all boat insurers cover expensive accessories like fishing equipment or fancy coolers unless they’re permanently attached to the boat. Endorsements, which are additions to your policy, are available if you want to increase the value of your personal property limits.

Some important things to know about boating and your policy:

  • Navigational limits: If you own a yacht or a larger boat, your policy will have limits outlining where you can navigate your vessel. If you venture outside of the territory you agreed to in the policy, your insurance may not cover you. Typically, the broader your navigation area is, the higher your insurance costs will be.
  • Layup periods: Taking your boat out of the water is typical during cold weather, and most insurance companies will give you a credit because it’s not being used. But take the boat out for a spin before the layup period ends and you won’t be covered by your insurance policy.
  • Marine inspections: If your boat is an older model, most insurance companies will want you to have it inspected by a marine surveyor in order to assess the vessel’s condition and market value. For safety’s sake, consider a marine survey even if it’s not required.
  • Underage operators: You might be tempted to let your 12-year-old drive the boat every now and then. But if your child doesn’t meet age and license requirements in your state, your boat insurance policy might not cover you. Age and license requirements for operating personal watercraft vary from state to state. In Virginia, for example, no one under 14 may operate a personal watercraft. For requirements where you live, check with the boating regulatory agency in your state.

If you own a boat or personal water craft and have questions about any of the considerations discussed above, or if you simply wish to secure new insurance for your boat that is based in VA, MD, or DC, call us!

Business Owners Policy: Insurance Myths & Tips

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, June 07, 2018
Small Business Insurance Considerations Provided By Tristate Business Insurance

Setting up a business can be a very exciting time for anyone. The sense of achievement and success you get in running your own company is hard to beat. One question that that is asked very often by business owners both old and new is “Do I need business insurance?” The answer to this question is simple. Yes you do. This raises another crucial question that needs to be addressed. It is “What business insurance do I need?” There are many different types of insurance available to the business owner. Five types of insurance that all businesses should definitely consider:

  1. Property Insurance
  2. Liability Insurance
  3. . Health and Supplement Insurance
  4. Business Vehicle Insurance
  5. Workers Compensation Insurance

There is an option available to business owners to get a customized insurance package that includes all the necessary insurance for their business. This comes under the name of Business Owners Policy Insurance. This is advantageous to business owners looking to cut costs as the price is usually lower than if the individual policies were bought separately.

A lot of business owners are put off buying business insurance for many reasons. A lot of these center around myths about business insurance. We have organized five myths about business insurance that are regularly asked by business owners.

Myth 1: My business is a corporation. The corporate format protects me from liability, so I don’t need insurance.

This myth is completely false. Being a corporation only protects the individual investors, the owners, and the officers from personal liability for the actions and debts of the corporation for corporate purposes. There are laws that allow the ‘corporate veil of protection’ to be removed under certain circumstances. If this happens, the owner could be personally liable and must answer a court judgment with personal assets, such as their house, car or even their life savings. When this can happen varies from state to state. A simple way to look at this is the smaller you are the more likely this can be.

Myth 2: Nobody will sue me, my business does not make a lot of money, and “you can’t squeeze blood from a turnip.” My business is not collectible.

Again this myth is false. Anyone and any business can be sued at any time. Once a money judgment is rendered against them by a court of law, it must be paid out. Judgments do not go away. It certain situations judgments can be renewed. Everybody is collectible at the hands of a persistent attorney.

Myth 3: If I die or become disabled, my family and my business partners are friends and they’ll just work it out.

The plain and simple fact is that a lot of small businesses rarely survive the death or disability of one of the main members. Most businesses do not have the cash flow necessary to pay the estate of a deceased member for its interest in the business. It is also rare that family members and business partners rarely work things out or come to an agreement after the death or disability of a member.

Myth 4: The use of my car for business purposes is covered under my existing auto insurance. 

Unfortunately this is, again, false. If you use your personal car for business use your current auto insurance policy my not cover you. You may need to extend the policy to include business use to it. It’s a good idea to check your current policy to see what kind of business use is covered. If your employees use your car for business use, you may need to get a separate insurance policy to cover them.

Myth 5: An expensive business owner’s policy is your only option for complete coverage for your home-based business. 

This is one myth that many people fall for. This is also a reason why people tend to stay away from a business owner’s policies. In fact getting a business owner’s policy is often cheaper than getting all the insurance you need separately.

If you have questions about any of these myths or any question at all about how to insure your new or existing business in Virginia, Maryland, or DC, call us!

5 Small Business Insurance Mistakes that Cost You Money

Joseph Coupal - Friday, June 01, 2018
TriState Business Insurance - cyber liability insurance in VA, MD, and DC

Independent insurance agents are your best bet for finding true value for your insurance dollar. That’s one of the reasons that your friends here at TriState Business Insurance maintain this blog as a service to all of you. We believe that a well-educated business insurance consumer will ultimately seek out the advice of trusted independent insurance agents such as TriState serving all of VA, MD, and DC. Should you wish to talk to any of our independent agents about these five money saving topics, feel free to call.

Here are five small business Insurance Mistakes that Cost You Money.

  1. Not Having the Right Insurance for Online Sales
    Online sales help boost many small businesses’ revenue. However, defective products can lead to expensive lawsuits. Business owners should have a product liability insurance to help protect them against these types of lawsuits. Also, a contingent business income (CBI) coverage can protect policyholders against economic losses caused by damage to property owners.
  2. Not Checking Your Business Credit Before Getting a Policy
    Small business owners often don’t realize that the insurer may check their business credit profile as part of the underwriting process. A poor business credit history may make it difficult or more expensive to get the insurance they need. Before you apply for any kind of business insurance, consider checking your business credit profile to see where you stand.
  3. Not Taking Advantage of IRS Code Section 162
    Section 162 allows for an Executive Bonus plan. An executive bonus plan is a fringe benefit, funded with life insurance, given to a select group of key employees and/or business owners. It provides protection to the executive’s family during their working years, and when it’s funded with permanent life insurance, it can also provide tax-advantaged supplemental retirement income.
  4. Not Having a Cyber Insurance Policy
    Cyber insurance protects businesses and individual users from internet-based risks. It is designed to help an organization mitigate risk exposure by offsetting costs involved with recovery after a cyber-related security breach. Unfortunately, only around 58% of small businesses have cyber insurance. There are businesses who incur losses due to cyber-security risks and having a cyber insurance can help you prevent such risks and losses.
  5. Buying a Policy Based on Price Rather than Value
    Most small business owners treat insurance as a commodity and as a result, are buying based on price rather than value. When it comes to buying business insurance, one size does not fit all. It is critical that the insurance carriers understand your business and craft the coverage to meet your needs. Cheap policies are not always the best policies for your business.

If you have questions about any issue at all regarding securing insurance for your business, call us! We are independent insurance professionals serving all of Virginia, Maryland, and DC.

Insurance 101 for New Business Winners

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, May 31, 2018
TriState Business Insurance - Virginia, Maryland, and DC

If you’re thinking about starting a small business, you know a thing or two about taking risks. Your entrepreneurial spirit is not only commendable, it’s critical to keeping our economy going. But at the same time, it’s smart business to limit your risks however and wherever you can. That’s where business insurance—and solid advice from your independent agent—come into play. 

Is business insurance necessary?

The short answer is absolutely. Especially if you have employees, in which case some types of insurance, including workers’ compensation and disability insurance, may be required by law. You may also be required to have commercial auto insurance. if you have a company car. In other instances, insurance coverage can be a stipulation of getting a business loan, lease, supplier or customer contract or a state or local business license. In many cases, though, there are no laws, rules or regulations that mandate business owners make smart choices about protecting their business. As a result, around 40% of small businesses don’t have insurance1.

Tips for protecting your business

If you don’t want all the hard work that goes into starting a business to be in vain, make sure your business is covered. Keeping these tips in mind can help you secure the right insurance for your company:

  1. Make the right call. Trying to understand your insurance needs and which coverages are the right fit can be overwhelming, if not downright impossible, to do on your own. So don’t go it alone. Call us here at TriState Business Insurance, your independent insurance agents supporting VA, MD, and DC. Independent insurance agents are not only well-versed in the types of risks businesses face, they also know the types of insurance products available to protect businesses, and they represent multiple insurance companies, which means they have access to a wide range of products to choose from.. An independent agent can help you carefully consider and identify potential risks to the business and fully explore your insurance options, so that coverage can be matched to your unique needs. Essentially, working with an agent ensures you get the expert help and advice you need to make sure your business is covered, no matter what happens.
  2. Plan on it. Create a detailed business plan that outlines what the business will do and how it will do it. A solid business plan is a crucial tool when it comes to securing insurance as well as funding for a new business. A plan demonstrates to insurance underwriters and potential investors that you’ve done your due diligence to consider the risks you may encounter and how to protect your business as it grows. Your independent agent can help you create a good plan and pitch it to insurance underwriters.
  3. Know your risks. There are many, many types of commercial insurance products on the market, ranging from general liability insurance, to property coverage, to commercial automobile coverage, to data breach and e-commerce coverage. Knowing what protection you need starts with understanding the unique risks your business faces. For example, if you’re starting a contracting business or a manufacturing company, equipment breakdown or electrical failure could seriously jeopardize your livelihood. On the other hand, if you’re launching an e-commerce site, protection against data compromise is probably a must. An independent agent can help you identify your potential liabilities and risks via a professional risk assessment so you know what types of coverage you need.
  4. Consider a package deal. If your business requires a number of different types of coverage—such as property coverage, vehicle coverage, protection from business interruptions or loss of equipment and liability coverage—you may want to consider a Business Owner’s Policy (BOP). A BOP bundles different types of coverage together and can save you money versus buying separate policies for your various insurance needs.
  5. Make it personal. Your business is unique, and that means your insurance coverage should be too. Even if a BOP makes sense for you, you should talk to your independent agent about customizing the coverage so you have added protection where you need it most. Your agent can help you look at adding endorsements or other options to your coverage based on your business’s specific needs and risks. Keep in mind that independent agents typically have access to a multiple carriers, so they’re very well equipped to deliver the customized insurance options you need.
  6. Make no mistake. Owners of home-based and small businesses frequently make two common insurance mistakes. First, home-based business owners often assume their homeowner’s policy covers business assets. But in most cases, you need a separate commercial policy to safeguard business property and protect your business from liability. Second, owners who have incorporated or formed an LLC may think their business structure protects them. While a formal business structure may protect your personal assets, it won’t cover business losses.
  7. Don’t overdo it. While protecting your business with insurance is no doubt a smart investment, no owner wants to pay for coverage he or she doesn’t need. Working closely with your independent agent and ensuring he or she truly understands your business can help prevent buying unnecessary coverage. You can also save money by choosing a higher deductible and following your insurer’s recommendations for avoiding loss.
  8. Take a second look. As your business evolves, so will your risks. It’s a good idea to review your insurance policies with your independent agent at least two times each year to identify new risks and ensure you have the coverage you need to protect your company and your livelihood for the long term.

Questions? Call us! Again, we are your independent insurance professionals serving all of Virginia, Maryland, and DC.

Insurance Considerations for VA MD DC HVAC Contractors

Darren Kincaid - Thursday, May 03, 2018
TriState Business Insurance - HVAC Contractor Business Insurance VA MD DC

As the owner of a Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning business, your life is busy. Your company may service residential customers, commercial customers, government buildings and more. It is stressful enough to keep track of installation and maintenance schedules for employees and customers. The last thing your business needs is to worry about potential legal issues, accidents, injuries and natural disasters. Commercial HVAC business insurance policies from TriState are tailored to fit your HVAC business’s exact needs. 

GENERAL LIABILITY FOR HVAC CONTRACTORS

General liability insurance protects your company from legal claims that might arise from accidents, as well as damages that can occur to your business assets. For example, if a customer receives a bodily injury while selecting a new heat pump inside your store, your company could be legally obligated to pay the subsequent medical bills and expenses. With general liability coverage, the insurance policy takes care of those claims instead. It can also protect you from financial loss and ruin caused by natural disasters and other calamities such as water damage from a burst pipe or smoke and fire damage.

BUSINESS OWNERS POLICY (BOP)

A business owners insurance policy (BOP) provides you with tangible and intangible property protection as well as general liability. A BOP can be customized to fit the way you operate your specific HVAC business:

  • Equipment Breakdown – If your air conditioning repair or installation equipment breaks down it can be expensive to repair or replace. A BOP protects your company from having to absorb those costs.
  • Buildings and Contents – Whether you have public shop and retail space or you simply store your supplies in a warehouse and operate a mobile HVAC business, a BOP can protect you from the loss or damage of physical structures. Physical structures include the buildings themselves, offsite equipment, and physical content inside of your business structures as well.
  • Business Income and Extra Expense – If a business structure is damaged or destroyed, a BOP can protect you from the loss of income that comes when you have to suspend business operations until the building is replaced or repaired. It can also cover extra expenses that come up when you have to rent temporary work space or equipment.
  • Products and Completed Operations (Included In General Liability) – If you sell your customers a heating, ventilation or air conditioning product that is later found to be defective, a business owners policy can protect you from the potential liability and cover damages.
  • Electronic Data – Important electronic data that you keep for your business is protected from expensive losses due to power outages, viruses or other damaging effects.
  • Employee Dishonesty Coverage – When your company’s employees are entrusted with handling expensive heating and cooling equipment, there is always a risk that they will decide to keep some of the materials for themselves. Or they may conduct fraudulent activities such as providing goods and services to friends or family for a kickback. Your BOP can protect you from these types of losses with employee dishonesty coverage.

COMMERCIAL AUTO INSURANCE FOR HVAC CONTRACTORS

Traveling to your customer’s jobsite to perform repairs and services, or install new heating and air conditioning equipment puts your company at risk of having auto accidents. A commercial auto insurance policy from TriState protects you from losses, damages and medical bills that may arise.

So lots of things for the HVAC business owner to be concerned about. Let us take that worry off your shoulders.  We'll conduct a detailed analysis of your business with you at our side.  Then we'll shop over a dozen A-1 rated insurance carriers to insure you get the very best value for you insurance dollar.  Call us today!

How Restaurant Owners Benefit from Workers' Comp Insurance

Darren Kincaid - Thursday, April 26, 2018
TriState Business Insurance - Restaurant Bar Workers Comp Insurance VA MD DC

Most of you know that one of our core service offerings is to insure VA, MD, and DC restaurants, bars, and taverns. Although it is just one of many business industries that we support, we've come to know, respect, and serve a large volume of the region's restaurateurs as our valued clients. Today we'll discuss the value of worker's compensation insurance plans for the owners of DC, VA, and MD restaurants, bars, and taverns.

Worker's Compensation Insurance benefits restaurants, bars, and tavern owners by covering:

  • Legal fees for defending your food service business should an employee sue you for work-related injuries.
  • Medical expenses associated with your employees' job-related injuries.
  • Wages your employee would have earned during their recovery from a covered on-the-job injury.

Also known as "workman's comp" or "workers' liability insurance," most Workers' Compensation policies also include Employers' Practices Liability Insurance as a safeguard against the lawsuits that tend to accompany job-related accidents. This policy can help pay for legal costs if your employee files a lawsuit against you. Even if the lawsuit is without merit, your business can be covered for the court costs and attorney fees associated with defending yourself against the claim. Without proper coverage, the attorney's fees alone can be enough to bankrupt a small business.

We'll Help You Understand Your State's Workers' Comp Laws for Food Businesses.

As a rule, if your business has employees, your state probably requires some kind of Workers' Compensation coverage. Before you settle on a policy, it's important to know how much coverage your state requires. Most restaurant, bar, and tavern owners neither have the time nor interest to research complex laws regarding this subject. We are experts on the subject of VA, MD, and DC workers compensation law, know exactly where the very best value in workers comp insurance can be sourced for you. Let the independent insurance agents at TriState go to work for you today!

Call Us!

Insuring Your VA MD DC Vacant or Unoccupied Home

Darren Kincaid - Thursday, April 19, 2018
TriState Business Insurance - Vacant and Unoccupied Home Insurance Considerations VA MD DC

Last week we discussed getting the best value on rental property insurance.  But what if you are exiting a property and have no intention of renting it out or have a prolonged difficult time placing renters into your recently vacated property?  In that case you likely need some form of vacant home or vacant property insurance.  First, you need to know the difference between an "unoccupied home" and an "vacant home" because it makes a difference from the insurance company's perspective. You might be overpaying to insure the property, or much worse, be under-insured or possibly not insured at all. That's a bad situation. This blog post defines the two categories of property discussed above and offers you insurance considerations for both situations.

Unoccupied Home

  • If the home is immediately suitable for occupation, it's considered unoccupied.
  • The owner's personal property remains inside, the utilities are on and appliances are functioning.
  • If a home renovation is limited enough that the furniture and other personal property can be left behind, the home is unoccupied.
  • If you're on vacation or in the hospital, your property is also unoccupied.

Vacant Home

  • If a home is vacant, the owners have removed their personal property.
  • The utilities may be shut off. This is more common when the property is on the market or being rented.
  • Vacant homes pose significantly higher risk to insurers, and the price and coverage of vacant home insurance reflects this.

    Insuring an unoccupied home

    Home insurance companies typically require you to contact them and request an endorsement or a special permit for a home that will be unoccupied for 30-to 60 consecutive days. The time limit should be stated in your policy's vacancy clause. In some cases, you may be charged for a permit or endorsement, but unoccupied home insurance coverage is much less expensive than vacant home coverage. If you routinely divide your time between a primary and a vacation home, you may choose to purchase a package covering both properties when you are and are not in residence.

    Vacant home insurance

    A vacant home is harder and more expensive to insure. A vacant home will require either an endorsement or a separate policy, depending on the insurance company. Some insurance companies will not insure vacant homes at all. Coverage for a vacant home will be more restricted than regular home insurance, covering standard perils such as fire and wind, but not perils, such as water damage due to frozen pipes, glass breakage or vandalism.

    Cost to insure an empty home

    Coverage limits and premium costs for unoccupied and vacant homes vary, based on how long the dwelling will be empty, its vacant or unoccupied status, and the steps you take to protect your property. For example, an unoccupied home may be covered with the addition of a permit or endorsement, and this typically costs less than $100. Without it, damage that occurs while you're away is unlikely to be covered. Vacant home insurance, on the other hand, is considerably costlier--between 1.5 and three times as much as standard insurance for occupied properties. However, the higher rate is an annual one. Most property doesn't stay vacant year after year, and many vacant property insurers recognize this, allowing you to prorate the annual cost and only pay for the time you need.

    Be honest about your empty home

    Don't try to pretend that your empty home is occupied. Never lie to your insurance company when you are buying homeowners insurance; it could provide grounds for denying a claim and may result in the cancellation of your policy. It's not difficult for an insurer to tell if the damage you're claiming happened because no one was there--how else would vandals have been able to shack up in your living room, or a small water leak turn your basement into a swimming pool? If you fail to inform your insurer that the property is vacant, and your company cancels or declines to renew your policy, your new policy is likely to be even more expensive-- our-to-five times the cost of a standard policy.

    How to save on empty home insurance

    Asking a house sitter to watch over an empty home may help reduce your insurance cost. Individual insurance companies vary in the way they view house sitters. Having a house sitter or neighbor check on your property may not make a difference to your insurance company, since the property is not occupied by the owner. 

    Will your home insurance cover your home if you set it up as an Airbnb?

    If you're thinking about renting out your empty home as a way to make some income, don't assume you'll be covered. Instead, check with your independent insurance provider. Many home insurance companies that offer coverage for short-term stays limit them to four weeks or less. Review your homeowner's policy carefully before signing up to share your home. Some home polices that cover short-term rentals require advance notification. Discuss renting out your home with Airbnb (or a similar company) with YOUR agent here at TriState Insurance so there are no surprises if a claim needs to be made.

    Contact us today!


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    Getting The Best Value on Rental Property Insurance

    Darren Kincaid - Thursday, April 12, 2018
    TriState Business Insurance - How to Get Best Value for Rental Home Insurance

    It's moving season once again.  This is the time of year when the military moves the majority of their people, people change jobs, people retire to their dream homes, or move for a host of other reasons.  Many will retain their present home as a rental as they move off to another place. This puts many homeowners in their first-ever role as landlords which of course introduces new and unique home insurance considerations and decisions.  Your friends here at TriState Insurance (serving VA, MD, and DC) offer this blog post who either currently owns rental property or soon will own rental property and will benefit from our professional advice regarding how to get the best value for rental property insurance throughout VA, MD, and DC.  

    Insurance for a rental property is different than insurance for a single family primary or secondary home, primarily because a rental is exposed to inherently different risks than a primary residence. For starters, the owner does not reside on the property so does not have an eye on the home on a day-to-day basis. Slip & falls, vandalism and theft are far more likely to occur at a non-owner occupied location versus those where the homeowner is regularly present.

    Exposure to frivolous lawsuits is infinitely higher for a rental property versus a primary property. Think of a 3-unit rental property owned by the same landlord for 30 years. If the average tenant stays in a unit for three years, the landlord will have had 30 different tenants pass through his or her property. Compare this headcount to a single family homeowner who occupies one primary location for that same 30 years and you can do the math on the potential for claims. Here are some of the factors that play a role in obtaining insurance for a rental property, and the pricing for that coverage from the insurance carrier's standpoint:

    • Year Built & Updates - newer houses will be most favorable, obviously. Older homes with full system updates (roof, electrical, plumbing and heating) completed in the last 20 years are also favorable. Older homes with little to no updates, or incomplete update information, are less attractive.
    • Claims History - properties with little to no claims in the past six years will be more favorable. Properties and/or owners with frequent or large claims within the past six years will face limited options. The owner's personal claims history on ALL owned properties will be considered in the underwriting process.
    • Location - the rental property's city and neighborhood play a factor in pricing. Certain areas of towns, cities and regions have higher crime rates than others, and you can believe that insurance companies do indeed factor in that crime data.

    If a rental property checks all the right boxes with respect to those items above, there should be multiple carriers competing to write the insurance. This will results in better coverage and better pricing. If the rental property fails to check all the right boxes there may be a limited number of carriers offering policies, thus the potential for limited coverage at a higher cost.

    It is important to work with an independent insurance agent who understands how the rating factors work, as well as the weight each insurance company places on said factors. Call us, you independent insurance professionals here at TriState Insurance to discuss any and all of your insurance concerns and needs.

    Reducing the High Risks of Operating Lawn and Garden Machinery

    Darren Kincaid - Thursday, March 22, 2018
    TriState Business Insurance - Home Security Systems Lower Home Insurance Premiums

    For many of us here at TriState Insurance (serving Maryland, Virginia, and DC), spring is all about getting back out into the yard. Early spring is when most yard equipment injuries occur because (and no offense here) neither we nor our equipment are in as good shape as when we we quit yard work last year.   Each year about 400,000 people are treated for injuries from lawn and garden tools, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Don't let your landscaping efforts land you in the hospital! Follow these handy safety tips from the CPSC:

    • Dress appropriately. To protect yourself from debris when using lawn tools, wear eye protection, long pants, long-sleeved shirts, close-fitting clothes and no jewelry. Sturdy shoes are recommended, and ear plugs may be appropriate depending on how loud the device is.
    • Before starting, remove objects from your work area that could cause injury or damage, such as sticks, glass or stones.
    • Keep children indoors and supervised at all times when any outdoor power equipment is being used. Never let a child ride or operate a garden tractor or riding mower, even if the child is supervised. And never assume children will remain where you last saw them.
    • Use extreme caution when backing up or approaching corners, shrubs and trees.
    • Teenagers using power equipment should always be supervised by an adult.
    • Handle gasoline carefully. Never fill tanks while machinery is on or when equipment is still hot. Of course, you should never smoke or use any type of flame around gasoline or any gasoline-powered equipment.
    • Do not work with electric power tools in wet or damp conditions. For protection against electrocution, use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI).
    • Be sure that extension cords are in good condition, are rated for outdoor use, and are the proper gauge for the electrical current capacity of the tool.

    Some of our best times are out on the property working and teaching our children how to safely accomplish tasks and how to safely operate machinery and tools.  Maybe you're lucky enough to have your children (sometimes with the help of their friends) to team to take care of the property.  Congratulations if that is indeed the case for you.  But remember, when disaster strikes and someone is severely injured (recall previously that 400,000 annual injures occur) your home owners insurance may or may not be sufficient to cover the cost of the injured non-family member.  We know for a fact that many of those 400,000 homeowners who suffered fatal (or near fatal) accidents we're very fortunate to have umbrella insurance to cover the legal judgments levied against them.  

    Call us to discuss any and all of your insurance concerns and needs.  

    Home Security Monitoring Systems Reduce Cost of Home Insurance

    Darren Kincaid - Wednesday, March 21, 2018
    TriState Business Insurance - Home Security Systems Lower Home Insurance Premiums

    As your friends, neighbors, and your independent insurance consultants, here at TriState do our best to educate not only our active clients but the community at large about smart financial strategies to improve quality of live.  Today's blog post is about home monitoring security systems and how they not only can keep you and your loved ones safe and secure but also position you to save money on your Virginia, Maryland, or DC home insurance policy

    We think that purchasing a home monitoring system can help give you peace of mind when you’re at home or away. Of course, there are a number of precautions you can take yourself to increase safety and make your home uninviting to burglars. But if you’re considering hiring a company, here are some tips, including guidance from the Electronic Security Association (ESA), a nonprofit trade association for the industry:

    • Get advice. You wouldn’t buy a car without asking your family, friends or neighbors for input. So why would you shop for a security system without their help? You also can look to the Better Business Bureau or online for reviews of the companies you’re considering — but keep in mind that you’ll want to check several different sites to make sure you’re getting a fair cross-section. Some reviews could be fake, especially if they’re overwhelmingly positive or negative.
    • Check credentials. The ESA has a certification program through its National Training School, which provides extensive training in electronic security. In addition, ESA member companies must adhere to a code of ethics and standards of conduct.
    • Ask about licensing. Some states require security system installers to be licensed, so ask companies if it’s a requirement in your state. If it is, the company should provide proof that its licenses are in good standing.
    • Meet with several companies. Narrow your search, and then speak with representatives of two or three companies. They should inspect your home (always ask for identification before letting them in) and provide recommendations. Be sure to get any quotes in writing.
    • Read your contract before signing! Don’t let a company representative pressure you into signing a contract you haven’t read or don’t understand. In fact, if you are receiving any pressure at all, proceed very cautiously with that particular company.

    Having an alarm system can help you sleep easier at night — but only if you choose the system and company that’s right for you. So take your time, ask plenty of questions, and don’t be afraid to say no!

    Once again, getting a home security system could make you eligible for a discount on your Virginia, Maryland, or DC home insurance policies. Give us a call today to find out how we can save you money.