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Fairfax, VA 22030
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Does Your Business Need Commercial Auto Insurance

Joseph Coupal - Sunday, June 30, 2019
TriState Business Insurance - Commercial Auto Insurance

When it comes to protecting your business, don't overlook the importance of possessing Commercial Auto Insurance coverage. If you operate a vehicle or vehicles in any capacity as a part of your business, you need to have this type of insurance plan in place. Why should you invest in it? What makes your vehicle a company car? There are a few key things to keep in mind.

Do You Operate the Vehicle for Business Needs?

If you are on the clock when using your vehicle, you likely need Commercial Auto Insurance. However, there are other scenarios in which you may be using your car for both personal and business use — in which case, it may be difficult to know if it's truly a company car. Keep the following in mind.

  • Do you use your vehicle to conduct business? This may include going from one location to the next.
  • Do you have other drivers that operate your vehicle as a component of your business? This could be anything from deliveries to sales calls.
  • Does your vehicle help you conduct business?

Another indication of your vehicle being a company car is whether or not you can take a tax deduction for the miles you drive on it. If you are able to do this, it is likely a good idea to get Commercial Auto Insurance.

It's A Part Of Your Business Insurance

Commercial Auto Coverage is a key component of business insurance. Like any other type of insurance coverage, you have for your company, it minimizes financial risk associated with your company in cases of an accident or other covered incident. For example, if you drive your vehicle from one appointment to the next and you are involved in an accident, you might instantly think to use a personal insurance policy to cover the costs. However, because you were working, the other driver could sue your business for the damages that occurred, if you are found to be at fault. This makes it a much higher level of liability risk.

If you operate your vehicle for your business, it's critical for you to invest in Commercial Auto Insurance. This way you will have the ability to protect business assets from not only the risks associated with accidents and liability, but also from other forms of property damage. Secure a policy that meets your needs. Call TriState Business Insurance today!

Small Business Insurance for Bar Or Tavern Owners

Joseph Coupal - Monday, June 24, 2019
Tristate Business Insurance - VA, MD, DC

If you're a beer enthusiast or self-proclaimed wino, opening up a bar or pub can be a satisfying career. But it's not as simple as stocking a bunch of bottles and opening your doors for business. You have to go through the right channels to obtain a business license, secure alcohol suppliers, decide on a décor theme and hire a skilled staff of bartenders and waiters. All of this can add up to one whopping investment, so you'll need the right coverage to protect your finances. Luckily, your independent insurance agent can help you build a customized bar and tavern insurance policy to protect your Virginia, Maryland, or DC establishment.

Though you'll have to talk to your agent for exact specifics, let's take a look at some of the generalized coverage options that you may wish to consider when building your policy.

  • Property: Offers funds for the repair or replacement of physical property — such as glasses, furniture, inventory and other items that are damaged by a covered event.
  • General Liability: This covers medical and legal expenses associated with the injury of a patron or other third party while on your business' property.
  • Liquor Liability: While alcohol is enjoyable in moderation, it can spell disaster if your patrons get sloppy drunk on your barstools. This coverage helps fund the financial mess of such a patron hurting others or causing damage to property while intoxicated.
  • Food Contamination: If your bar or pub serves up appetizers and other tantalizing dishes, you're responsible for the cleanliness of your kitchen and food safety. This coverage option can be of assistance if claims of food poisoning and other ailments are raised against you.
  • Assault and Battery: Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for bar brawls to break out, regardless of whether a patron or an employee is the catalyst. Resulting damages and injuries can be funded with this coverage option.
  • Auto/Valet Liability: Covers damages that may occur to patrons' vehicles while temporarily in possession of valets at your establishment.

Ready to talk through all this and more? We’ve got you covered. Your independent insurance agents here at TriState will provide you the unbiased consult that won’t be provided by insurance agents working directly for insurance companies. Give us a call!

Small Business Insurance for Car Dealerships

Joseph Coupal - Friday, May 31, 2019
TriState Business Insurance - Small Business Insurance

Selling used cars can be a rewarding and profitable business, but (like most businesses) it is not without risk. Between maintaining an expensive inventory that is subject to the weather and the liabilities of conducting test drives with customers, it's easy to see why small business insurance protection for your car dealership is so important.

Specialized used car dealership insurance policies are designed to protect dealerships, both large and small, and the vehicles on the lot. Some of the available coverage options include the following.

  • Garage Liability: This provides liability protection on your lot as well as when your vehicles are being driven out on the road. Limits of this coverage vary so know what they are and transfer them to a real-life situation. Will they be enough? Usually to raise them is very economical and the time to do it is before there needed.
  • Garage Keepers Liability: For dealerships/garages that do repairs/body work on non-owned vehicles, this coverage protects against the possibility of damaging vehicles while temporarily in your possession. Amazing how many small dealerships I see that don't have this, especially when coverage can be purchased for less than $100/yr.
  • Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist: Did you know that in some parts of the TriState area (VA, MD, and DC), up to 87% of the vehicles on the road aren't carrying the minimum limits of auto liability insurance? This would provide coverage if one of these vehicles were to cause an accident with you.
  • Medical Payments/Personal Injury Protection: This is often called "No-Fault" insurance as it provides a small amount of coverage for the smaller claims/losses and negligence on your part isn't a pre-requisite to coverage. PIP also provides loss of wages coverage so it's a tad more in cost.
  • Errors & Omissions: Also known as E&O insurance, this provides protection from mistakes made by your dealership that could negatively impact a customer, such as untruthfulness or failing to disclose vital information about a vehicle (and remember, it's not that whether you did something wrong, it's that your being accused of it and therefore, will usually require an attorney to provide defense).
  • Dealers Open Lot: For vehicles owned by your dealership, this provides physical damage coverage in case of hail, vandalism, theft, fire and more.
  • Surety Bonds: Dealership bonds are a type of guarantee that your business is operating in compliance with state laws and most states require them.
  • False Pretense: In the event that you're scammed or otherwise fooled, this option helps cover associated losses. For instance, a "customer" may claim to be someone they're not and steal a car during a test drive.
  • Property: Covers property you own just in case it's destroyed or stolen in case of a fire, tornado, burglary, etc.
  • Crime: Every keep any cash locked up or take it to a bank for deposit? Did you know it's not covered under a normal property policy? This provides coverage for it, however, you usually have to request it. Fraud and employee theft would be covered as well.

There are a few other coverage items to look out for that, depending on your specific needs, can also create gaps in coverage. These include Drive Other Car Liability, Dealer Drive Away, etc.

Now, you've checked your coverage once, then twice and all seems to be good. You're covered, right? Well maybe. Be sure and read the endorsements that are on your policy as well. A lot can be discovered and some of it can be downright scary. Did you know there's one that excludes any claim or loss that has to do with repairs you conducted on one of your vehicles? Now if you're like most dealerships, you usually repair one or more items on the vehicles you purchase for sale. These would include tires, brakes, oil and transmission fluids, etc. Under this endorsement, if any of those were to be the cause of an accident, you would not be covered.

There's a lot to know when insuring a dealership correctly which is why it would be prudent to work with one that specializes in them. Trust you independent insurance agents here at TriState Business Insurance to help you sort it all out!

Is Your Small Business Covered Against Crime?

Joseph Coupal - Friday, May 24, 2019
TriState Business Insurance - Small Business Insurance

Every business owner is susceptible to crime of various types, but there are two major categories of business risk crime: internal and external crime.

You and your business should carefully consider (and protect against) these various sorts of crime that can crush you and your family:

  1. Employee Theft (aka. Employee Dishonesty)
  2. Forgery or Alteration
  3. Inside the Premises – Theft of money and securities
  4. Inside the Premises – Robbery or safe burglary of other property
  5. Outside the Premises
  6. Computer Fraud
  7. Funds Transfer Fraud
  8. Money Orders and Counterfeit Money

When it comes to the insurance you've purchased, are you covered in case one of these crimes were to happen to you? Well, it depends. While burglary of some items is usually covered with a good property policy it usually excludes money, securities, checks, etc.

If you have a small business insurance policy with a standard insurer, you most likely have some coverage with options to include more. With most other policies you'll need to add on additional coverages.

Check your policy and if you're not sure, contact your trusted independent insurance agent (like us here at TriState Business Insurance serving all of VA MD and DC) to discuss your business and which ones on the list that you are clearly covered for. We are a great source of knowledge and education because we see industry wide trends and can provide options to mitigate a future loss (aka. prevent pain). We can actually help you make a more educated decision.

Make sure you're protected. Call TriState Business Insurance today!

Tips to Improve Workplace Safety

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, April 30, 2019
TriState Business Insurance - VA, MD, DC

Those who follow our blog here at TriState Business Insurance (serving VA MD and DC) know that we win when you win. Never having to file a business insurance claim is the definition of winning in our book. So workplace safety is a key issue that we know a lot about and we gladly offer you whatever advice we can to help you establish a safe working environment.

Workplace safety is a key to effective business management. Keeping the staff safe ought to be of vital importance because without your employees, your company most likely won't be able to run effectively. But everyone knows that sometimes accidents just happen. When they do, workers compensation insurance can help safeguard your employees.

Along with buying employees comp insurance, you will find lots of ways to make your safer, thereby reducing the chance of any sort of accident from occurring. With fewer accidents, you';ll most likely enjoy lower insurance rates as well. Here are six suggestions for enhancing workplace safety.

  1. Fire Drills: Employees should know what to do in case of a fire; the best way to do that is to have at least two fire drills per year. Make sure that employees, new and old, know where evacuation routes the evacuation routes are and how to find and use fire extinguishers.
  2. No Open Flames: Open flames should be banned in the workplace. Replace candles with candle warmers. Make sure all smokers only light up outdoors. Space heaters are often a fire hazard as well; only allow models that automatically shut off if they get knocked over.
  3. Tripping Hazards: Slips and falls are the most typical workplace injuries. Keep them from happening by continuing to keep wires coiled and tethered near walls, closing drawers that aren't being used, cleaning spills as quickly as possible and keeping walkways free from clutter.
  4. Training: If your business uses non-standard equipment or materials, make sure that workers are completely trained on handling them. Employees should also be trained while using proper protective equipment (which must be provided by the company) and first-aid protocols just in case of emergency.
  5. Security: Setting security cameras and alarms helps make the building safer for everybody by deterring shady characters from invading your workspace. Also, anything illegal does happen, these systems make it easier to catch the culprit(s).
  6. Maintenance: Make sure the building is tidy, clean and in good repair. Something as small as frayed carpeting can become a huge problem if someone trips over it and breaks their leg.

Whether you need restaurant or bar insurance, HVAC repair company insurance, or anything in between, the right insurance policy will protect your business and its employees. The only way to get the right insurance protection consult and coverage from an unbiased independent insurance agent such as us here at TriState Business Insurance. Call us!

Affordable Business Insurance For VA MD and DC Proprietors

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, April 24, 2019
Tristate Business Insurance - VA, MD, DC

Running a business is a massive investment and one big loss can be financially devastating. Luckily, there are a host of business insurance policies available to safeguard your company from the unforeseen. What you need is the trusted consult of an independent insurance agency like us here at TriState Business Insurance (Fairfax, VA).

Contact us for more details about state mandates in relation to worker's compensation, home based business insurance, along with a host of optional policies designed to cover your business’ unique needs.

About TriState Business Insurance

TriState Business Insurance is dedicated to providing Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia businesses with the best business insurance protection available since 1996. We understand the businesses in our community are unique, as too are you the business owner. TriState Business Insurance's mission is to provide outstanding service and superior coverage to each and every one of our clients.

Insuring Your Rental Home or Apartment Complex

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, March 12, 2019
Tristate Business Insurance - VA, MD, DC

Whether you are a landlord of a small one to four family dwelling or a larger apartment complex, there is a very important insurance coverage you should probably consider and it doesn’t even cost that much; its called “Personal Injury Liability". Many insurance agents are not familiar with true landlord exposures and may not even offer this optional coverage to you.  Personal Injury Liability on a landlord or business owner’s insurance policy covers “wrongful acts.” Wrongful acts sounds like a harsh term since most of the potential acts are usually committed in error (not intentionally) or not committed at all, but perceived to be by a tenant. These potential wrongful acts can be one or more of the following:

  • Wrongful eviction
  • Discrimination
  • Slander
  • Libel
  • False arrest
  • Invasion of privacy, etc.

A personal injury liability endorsement on your home insurance policy (here in VA, MD, or DC) will add these coverage definitions to your existing landlord liability, which usually only covers basic scenarios such as trip and fall, or tenant property damage. Some insurance companies limit what is covered under wrongful acts, so be sure to check with your agent for coverage definitions by the insurance carrier you are written with when asking for this important coverage.

You should also try to reduce potential future claims of this sort by performing the following simple tasks:

  • Do not deny a tenant a lease on the basis of race, color, religion, etc.
  • Keep good records of all tenant leases and any interactions you have with them.
  • Make notes of conversations and follow up with a confirmation letter on what was discussed and the date.
  • Know your responsibilities as a landlord. Check the housing and urban development website portal for the State of NY
  • Never enter a leased rental without ample prior notice, unless it is an emergency.
  • Follow all eviction laws and guidelines.

When an eviction is necessary, document the reasoning, every step taken, and all relevant information for your legal protection. We can make this very easy via a simple call into your independent insurance service team here at TriState  Insurance

When to Make the Jump to Small Business Ownership

Darren Kincaid - Thursday, February 28, 2019

You've been thinking about it.  Dreaming about saying goodbye to your thoughtless boss or excessively burdensome system. Dreaming about putting your skill set to work for yourself! How do you know if you'll be able to successfully make the leap from employee to small business owner? Here are a few things you might want to think about and check-off in the affirmative. You might find it interesting that small business insurance is not on this list.  We'll close with the explanation why.

You are REALLY ready to be your own boss:

Transitioning from being employed to being your own boss means losing (for good and bad) established structure and expectations. There is some degree of comfort with known structure even though you find that structure increasingly hard to accept. Be honest about your own work ethic, organizational skills, and discipline level. How self-motivated are you? Your going to work harder as your own boss, have no doubt about it.  

You have savings:

Make sure you have at least six months' savings (the more, the better) before you say goodbye to a consistent income. Give some serious thought to how you will pay the bills if your new venture isn't successful right away or at all.

You can go back:


Are you in good standing with your current and former employers?  If yes, great.  Do not burn bridges on your way out.  Depending on the type of work you do, it may or may not be easy for you to find employment or pick up a job on short notice. But if getting back into your previous job or line of work would be relatively simple, it may not be that risky to pursue your great idea for a while, just to see what happens.

You're ready to sacrifice:

In the beginning, starting your own business might mean adjusting your lifestyle, working more than full time, or doing tasks you really don't enjoy until you're able to hire an employee. If all of that still sounds better than your day job, then you might be ready to pull the plug.

You can't keep up with demand:

A high demand for your service or product may be a strong indicator of your potential success. If your "side" project is slowly taking over your life, that's a good sign.

You have support:

If your spouse, friends and family are saying "go for it," take note. It doesn't necessarily mean that you're bound for success, but, at the very least, it means there's potential. Plus, having a support system means there will be somebody to pick you up and help get you back on your feet if things don't go as planned.

You're not the only breadwinner:

Having a spouse or family member who can help support you while you're pursuing your new venture might minimize the financial risk and make your decision a little easier. But don't take this kind of generosity for granted: have an honest conversation about what's reasonable, and stick to your end of the bargain.

You can't take it any longer:

This is one indicator that could at least partially trump all the rest. If you don't have absolutely everything in place to make quitting your day job a sure bet, but your intuition is telling you "it's time," you might want to pay attention. We're not suggesting that you make a careless decision, but if you're completely miserable at your "real" job, maybe it's time to really find out whether you can make your dream a reality.

All of us here at TriState Business Insurance (serving VA, MD, and DC) are your biggest fans.  You'll need to have progressed reasonably far in business plan development in order for us to serve you best.  When it comes time to insure you and your business, the details of your business model and your personal circumstances matter.  Any insurance agent worth his or her salt will spend significant time with you to understand the details.  It is only then that the agent can act on your behalf to secure the very best value for your small business insurance.  Don't let anyone under-insure OR over-insure you. 

Contact us! 

Most Common Risks to the Small Business Owner

Darren Kincaid - Sunday, February 24, 2019
Tristate Business Insurance - VA, MD, DC

As the backbone of our nation’s economy, your small business plays an incredibly important role. When you are a business owner, you want to systematically assess and mitigate your business risk. Keeping your property, goods, and assets insured from loss only makes sound business sense.  A well thought out small business insurance strategy is one of the most valuable components of your business plan.  Let's review some of the more widespread and dangerous risks to the American business owner. 

Fire

Fire is the major cause of property losses by number of claims and value. Of the top 20 reasons for business loss, fire consumes half of the top 20 losses combined.

Storms

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that, on average hurricane damage is $28 billion a year. By 2075, the average annual damage costs will increase to $39 billion.

Flooding

Flooding is one of the major risk trends since many of the world’s largest cities are situated on the coast or beside rivers, exposing them to floods and storms. Natural hazards account for three of the top 10 causes of losses, with flooding ranking in seventh position.

Product Defects

We could almost assume that new items produced are of perfect quality. The truth is that product quality is not always perfect and is directly affected by the reliability of the production process used to produce the products, which we may not always control. Consumers in emerging markets are growing more aware of their rights and are increasingly more likely to seek compensation for faulty products.  

Software Defects

Virtually every business in the United States now depends on software for their development. Software errors are estimated to cost $59.5B annually to the U.S. economy.

Professional Indemnity

Professional indemnity claims are the major cause of losses in the financial lines insurance sector, according to the analyzed portfolio, accounting for 74% of claims by number and 72% by value. 

Bodily Injury

Neglecting to upkeep your premises can be a major risk to your company's bottom line. A bodily injury caused by a defective product can easily turn into a lawsuit just as much an a slip accident due to unsafe conditions at your business, be it an office or a commercial establishment frequented by general public. While employees are typically covered for their injuries by workers compensation, lawsuits filed by visitors who are injured in an accident can be costly.

Machinery Failure

The sectors especially hit by machinery breakdown are energy, marine, property and engineering. In most cases damage to the machinery or complete breakdown is due to crew negligence or heavy weather, e.g. storms. Machinery breakdown is a large driver of commercial property claims in terms of the number generated.

At TriState Business Insurance, our independent insurance agents are highly trained to help you identify the major causes of risk to your business. Trust only independent insurance agents to source the best value for your insurance dollar. Always remember that independent insurance agents serve YOU.  We are not affiliated with any single insurance carrier. That sets us apart from most others. Contact us!

Is Your Tavern or Bar Business Risk Covered?

Darren Kincaid - Sunday, February 17, 2019
Tristate Business Insurance - VA, MD, DC

Spring is almost here. Soon enough, people are going to break from their winter slumber and begin patronizing bars, restaurants, and taverns in increasing numbers.  That's the good news.  The bad news, more customers, more risk.  As families and adults in general get into the “relax state of mind,” part of it is having more time to go out during the night and enjoy days and weekends at your bar, enjoying your signature drinks, and your unique atmosphere. 
This is what your business is built upon.  Now is a good time to consider where you are in terms of business insurance for you Virginia, Maryland, or DC bar or tavern. 

5 liability issues restaurant, bar and tavern owners often deal with:

1. DUI's

The most common type of liability claim come from customers who drink too much while in your bar and then drive themselves away. If your bar is on the water, you need to worry about the exact same risk associated with drunk boaters. To transfer the risk of over-service-related claims, all bar owner need to be protected by a Liquor Liability policy with adequate limits in addition to a General Liability policy.

2. Activity hazards

As a bar-tavern owner you can expect an occasional bar fight and the injuries caused by it.  But expect more people to fall out of your bar stool and injure themselves than get injured in a bar fight. Do you serve flaming drinks?  Those flaming drinks accidentally spilled upon your customer can cause significant bodily injury.  Do you offer outdoor activities like volleyball, corn hole, or any number of other popular outdoor games, mixing drinking and exercise of any form significantly increases the risk of patron bodily injury. Claims arising out of these types of activities may be covered under the premise liability portion of a General Liability policy or the Liquor Liability policy, but more often these type of risks are excluded.

To make sure all activities occurring in the bar are covered, the insured needs to carefully disclose them on the insurance application so the agent can secure appropriate coverage. Your agent can add coverage for these activities by endorsement for additional premium, but the agent first needs to be informed.

3. No exit zone

The risk of a lighted exit sign malfunctioning or an exit door being blocked (or locked) to prevent patrons from entering the bar is common.  This liability vulnerability should not be overlooked or underestimated. If there was ever a fire in a nightclub and patrons were unable to exit, the claims for bodily injuries and property damage might easily exceed the aggregate limits of a standard $2 million dollar policy.

4. Extreme hot food and drinks

Servers can and do accidentally spill hot food and beverages on your patrons. Burns are painful and can cause disfigurement. Damages awarded by juries for pain and suffering can ruin your business and your life if you are not properly protected. 

5. False Id’s

Bar owners should consider investing in ID scanners to help identify false documents because the responsibility for a patron engaging in underage drinking remains with the serving establishment, even after the patron has left the premises. You must realize that this is a very small list of five potential liability risks to you and your bar/tavern operation.  It takes seasoned independent insurance professionals to be able to consult you on all the liability risk considerations for your business.  This is one element of the insurance industry where agents of large insurance companies introduce excess fear in their consults to over-sell coverage at needless cost to you.  Your independent insurance agents like us here at TriState Business Insurance work for YOU, not any single insurance company.  In fact, after close consult with you about your unique business and your unique business risk, we'll research over two of the best rated insurance carriers on your behalf to identify the very best value for you insurance dollar.

Call us!