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Tristate Business Insurance Blog

How to Select Your Best Home and Business Insurance Agency

17 April 2023

TriState Business Insurance - Insurance Agent

Greetings to our Tristate blog. We deliver both personal insurance solutions and business insurance solutions to the people of the great states of Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia.

Today’s good business sense advice come by way of Snow Business Magazine’s Mr. Mike McCarron. His advice is spot-on and we confidently present his work to you because, well humbly, we represent every characteristic he defines in your chosen insurance company. We trust you’ll enjoy the read.

Choose an Agent by Asking the Right Questions

As Jim Collins mentions in his book "Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t," it’s critically important to get the right people on the bus before you decide where to drive it. Your business is the "bus," and your team members, both internal and external, are the riders. People such as accountants, legal advisors, banking professionals, marketing wizards, IT experts and particularly insurance agents, need to be on your "bus" if you’re going to be as successful as you aim to be.

We don’t often think about adding a great insurance agent to our extended team…until we really need one. By then, it’s often too late. Why do we not think of including an insurance agent on our external team? Probably because many business owners are laser focused on what’s in front of them in the immediate moment, day or week. The proverbial "fires" seem to chase us daily and consume much of our attention.

A business colleague once asked an insurance agent what she did. He expected her to say that she sold insurance products. But, to his surprise, she said she sold "peace of mind." She explained that because of the insurance products she represented and sold to her clients, her clients could sleep comfortably without worrying that they would be irrecoverably damaged by the inevitable surprises that awaited them.

Most business owners have specific timelines for accounting, payroll, tax payments, etc. Attention also needs to be paid to critical insurance needs. In this article, I’ve shared ideas for finding and adding a qualified insurance representative to your team, in other words inviting them onto your "bus."

A GREAT LEVELING QUESTION TO ASK: "We are interviewing several insurance companies to find the best fit for us." If they all say they provide the same services at relatively the same prices, ask: "Why should we contract with your firm?"

Find the "right" representative

Not every insurance agent has the same qualifications and specialties. Make sure you work with a representative who can cover contract law issues, for example. Take the time to sit down with the representative and discuss everything that your business needs to follow to comply with local and state statutes and regulations. Talk about all the services you provide, such as lawn care, snow and ice management, landscaping, etc. Some insurers don’t cover certain types of work.

If the representative doesn’t understand what you’re talking about specifically or in general, then they are probably not the right representative for your company.

Interview all candidates

We interviewed four insurance agencies before selecting our current provider. We learned a lot by first researching each firm online. Then, we asked each representative to come to a meeting at our headquarters. If they were unwilling to meet with us in person, they were the wrong agency for us.

By inviting them to our location, they got to see what we do, in our environment, and we learned how committed they were to earning and keeping our business. We also gathered valuable qualitative information such as:

  • Were they truly interested enough to meet us at our location;
  • Did they arrive early, on time or late to the appointment;
  • What type of communication style did they exhibit when they arrived for the meeting; if they were late, did they accept responsibility for their tardiness, etc.

We asked them to educate us as to why we should use them to provide our insurance coverages. When asked what they could cover for us, some said "everything" (this is always a red flag for me!) only to find out that they really only handled X and Y, but not A through G.

A great leveling question to ask is: "We are interviewing several insurance companies to find the best fit for us. In the event they all say they provide the same services at relatively the same prices, why should we contract with your firm?" The answers are always telling. If they bash another agency or company, they are not the right firm for us. If we smell hyperbole and deflection, they are not the right firm for us.

We ultimately selected a local firm that eagerly met with us at our location, had a compatible communication style, and was able to meet our coverage needs. The hard work and extra time spent to get the right insurance agency on our "bus" really paid off.

Engage the agent

Another aspect to consider is whether the firm you engage is up to date on the latest jurisdictional rules and regulations for your area of operation, as well as trends in the insurance industry that may impact your operations. Are they aware of the latest theft trends in your area (for example, catalytic converters being stolen from vehicles)? Will they keep you educated about policy changes that could impact your business? Are all your employees covered in the proper workers’ compensation categories?

Don’t ignore the relationships

The right insurance agency to invite onto your "bus" is the one that makes your company a priority by reviewing your coverages regularly (at least twice a year) and talking to you about what coverages you should consider adding, dropping or modifying. In other words, they make you, your success and your protection a priority.

These days, purchasing insurance coverage online is easy and doesn’t require any human interaction. But taking the time and effort to engage with a live representative who understands your business and what you want and need will pay off.

Once you’ve carefully selected your agent, reach out to them a couple times a year to update them on how your company is doing, any changes that have occurred, and discuss any coverages that might need to be changed. Ask probing questions about things that might put your company at risk.

And remember, the right insurance representative for your "bus" will be interested in providing you peace of mind and not just selling you an insurance policy or two.

Do your homework and choose wisely. As management and leadership guru Stephen Covey, author of "The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People," said, "Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important."

Want to dive further into these or other notions regarding how to get the best value and coverage for your insurance dollar,  contact us anytime!

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29 June 2020

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Click here to download order form

Insurance for Renting Out Your Home

10 October 2019

TriState Business Insurance - Insurance for Renting Out Your Home

Renting out your Home? Find out what your mortgage company will need listed on your property’s insurance.

Mortgages require different insurance coverage for owners who rent their property. A typical homeowner policy (HO3 or HO5) policy is not designed for a home that is rented to others. Mortgage lenders mandate owners of investment property to procure landlord or dwelling and fire policy.

Landlord Coverage

Mortgage lenders want evidence that their borrower has enough coverage and show there is protection to the property owner for any loss of rent that was a result of a covered claim. The lender may want the borrower to have reasonable liability insurance coverage as well.

Personal Property Coverage

We strongly advised to require your tenant to obtain a renter (HO4) policy. This policy offers protection for the lessee's furniture, clothing, appliances, electronics and other personal property. This policy also has loss of use and liability coverage that can help the tenant out.

For more information on homeowners insurance or renter's insurance contact TriState Business Insurance.

Reasons Small Business Insurance is Necessary

30 September 2019

TriState Business Insurance - Virginia, Maryland, and DC

Being a small business owner puts you in control of your destiny, but there are major costs that go along with being the boss. With licences, office rent, and staff payroll to deal with already, some aspiring entrepreneurs shrug off the idea of purchasing business insurance in the start-up phase. Why worry about a “what-if” scenario when you have more tangible expenses to deal with, right? But hiccups on the job happen all the time, whether it’s a grease fire wrecking the kitchen of your restaurant, or a cyber-attack stealing sensitive company data. And when you’re the owner, you’re the one left holding the bag when things inevitably go wrong. Put simply, protecting your business with an insurance plan outweighs the costs of any disaster.

It’s time to demystify the headache of getting insurance and make sure you’re living the dream for years to come. Here are some reasons why small business owners should have a coverage plan in place.

Keep things running during interruptions

Beyond the immediate costs of repairs or replacements, you also need to make sure water damage, fire or theft doesn’t derail your company’s day-to-day activity. Since every second you’re out of business is a financial setback, a business interruption coverage plan can help shoulder the load of operating expenses like rent and staff wages, while also covering the cost of profits lost. If you’ve suffered extreme property damage, interruption coverage can also assist with the relocation costs as your official workplace undergoes repairs.

Protect your property from disaster

Commercial property insurance provides protection for your workplace, from the building itself to the contents inside it. This means you’re safeguarded from damage at the hands of disasters like fire, or water damage resulting from a burst pipe. In the case of a break-in, property insurance can likewise help take the sting out of necessary building repairs and security upgrades, and can help with the cost of replacing stolen equipment or goods.

Ward off cyber crime

Property theft is an obvious concern for businesses. What many don’t consider is that an enterprise’s online presence can be just as vulnerable to thieves as their office space. A sneaky cyber attack could uncover confidential information, potentially putting the finances and personal data of your clients––and your company––at risk. Privacy Breach coverage can help get back in business sooner by recovering remediation expenses, business interruption loss and legal expenses.

For more information on small business insurance, contact TriState Business Insurance today.

Yahoo! Finance

Accidental Death & Dismemberment Insurance Policies

24 September 2019

TriState Business Insurance - VA, MD, DC

What Is Accidental Death & Dismemberment Insurance?

Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D) Insurance helps pay a lump sum in the event of a covered accident. Specifically, these covered accidents are ones that could not be foreseen and are fatal or dismembering. Deaths that come due to prior medical conditions are not covered under this accidental death and dismemberment policy. hy Employees Need Accidental Death & Dismemberment Insurance

Unlike Workers’ Compensation, which covers only work-related accidents, AD&D insurance applies wherever covered accidents happen, such as at home or on the road. Along with life, disability and critical illness benefits, AD&D insurance can help round out a comprehensive benefits package. Access to a full range of protection solutions can help attract and retain top employees.

What Does Accidental Death & Dismemberment Insurance Cover?

Accidental Death & Dismemberment insurance policies (AD&D) provide benefits for covered accidents that result in fatality, paralysis, the loss of a limb, eyesight, hearing, speech and more. An AD&D plan may include coverage for employees only or employees and dependents and typically provides 24-hour coverage no matter where a covered accident occurs, whether at work, home or away for:

  • Loss of Life
  • Loss of Speech
  • Loss of Hearing
  • Loss of a Hand, Foot or Sight
  • Loss of Thumb and Index Finger on Either Hand
  • Loss of Movement

AD&D applies in the event of a covered injury, paralysis or death resulting from a covered accident, There are plenty of plan options available.

Benefits are payable for losses that occur within 365 days of the covered accident.

Plans are available on an employer-paid, voluntary and standalone basis.

A variety of options are available to choose from, including high coverage limits and no medical underwriting necessary.

Is Accidental Death & Dismemberment Insurance Flexible?

In addition to the standard AD&D plan, there are enhanced and premium plan designs and services that can be customized to best suit the specific needs of each company. The following optional benefits are also available with AD&D Insurance:

  • Accelerated Death Benefit
  • Accident Hospital Income
  • Adaptive Home and Vehicle Benefit
  • Anti-Inflation Benefit
  • Bereavement Counseling Benefit
  • Child Education Benefit
  • Coma Benefit
  • Common Disaster Benefit
  • Critical Burn Benefit
  • Day Care Benefit
  • Funeral Expense Benefit
  • HIV Occupational Accident Benefit
  • Loss of Use Benefit
  • Newborn Coverage
  • Newlywed Coverage
  • Paralysis Benefit
  • Permanent Total Disability
  • Rehabilitation Benefit

TriState Business Insurance makes it easy for brokers and employers to find the right coverage. Connect with us today.

Why an Independent Agent?

17 September 2019

TriState Business Insurance - Insurance Broker or Buy Direct

Not all insurance agents are the same! Choosing the right one can make a big difference – in price, service, and value.

With other agencies, you get one company that sells one brand of insurance. With an independent insurance agency like TriState Business Insurance you get choices.

Why? Because independent insurance agencies, like TriState Business Insurance, represent a number of different insurance companies, and can compare coverage and prices to find the best possible value for your individual circumstances. As independent agents, we are members of the community, and we’re committed to doing business face-to-face and being your advocate in times of need.

Serving Virginia, Maryland, and DC, here are a few reasons why TriState Business Insurance should be your first and last top when looking for insurance.

  • We work for you when you have a claim.
  • We are not beholden to any one company. This means you don’t have to change agencies as your insurance and service needs change.
  • We are your consultants, working with you as you determine your needs.
  • We are value-hunters who look after your pocketbook in finding the best combination of price, coverage, and service.
  • We offer one-stop shopping for a full range of products, including home, renters, auto, business, life, health, and retirement plans.
  • We can periodically review your coverage to keep up with your changing insurance needs.
  • We are committed to customer satisfaction – it’s the key to our livelihood.
  • We treat you like a person, not a number.
  • We are licensed professionals with strong customer and community ties.

There is a difference. To find out how our independent insurance agency can help you find the right insurance coverage, please contact Tristate Business Insurance today.

Do You Need Commercial Auto Insurance ?

10 September 2019

TriState Commercial Vehicle Insurance  for VA, MD, and DC

As a business owner, you need the same kinds of insurance coverages for the car you use in your business as you do for a car used for personal travel -- liability, collision and comprehensive, medical payments (known as personal injury protection in some states) and coverage for uninsured motorists. In fact, many business people use the same vehicle for both business and pleasure. If the vehicle is owned by the business, make sure the name of the business appears on the policy as the "principal insured" rather than your name. This will avoid possible confusion in the event that you need to file a claim or a claim is filed against you.

Whether you need to buy a business auto insurance policy will depend on the kind of driving you do. A good insurance agent will ask you many details about how you use vehicles in your business, who will be driving them and whether employees, if you have them, are likely to be driving their own cars for your business.

While the major coverages are the same, a business auto policy differs from a personal auto policy in many technical respects. Ask Lallis & Higgins Insurance to explain all the differences and options.

If you have a personal umbrella liability policy, there's generally an exclusion for business-related liability. Make sure you have sufficient auto liability coverage. Contact TriState Business Insurance for more information.

Does Your Business Need Commercial Auto Insurance

30 June 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

24 June 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

31 May 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!