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Fairfax, VA 22030
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The Cost Saving Benefits of Multi-Line Insurance Policies

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, January 17, 2019

Why You Should Turn Your Personal Lines into a Multi-Line Insurance Policy?

No one wants to over-invest in insurance, and we get that. Teaming with an independent insurance agency (like us here at TriState) is the path to ensure that you NEVER over-invest in insurance.  Insurance agents who work directly for the insurance carriers may or may not discuss the concept of "multi-line insurance policies" that can not only increase the amount of insurance coverage but can also save you money in the process.  

What is multi-line insurance? A “line” of insurance is the type or category that your coverage falls under. Lines are then broken into the specific types of coverage that you may have, like home and auto. In the state of Ohio, there are six major lines.

Multi-line insurance is when you bring together the different risks you have coverage for into one comprehensive policy. Personal lines policies is an example where you might have several types of coverage, like homeowners, flood, and car insurance. Instead of having three or more different insurance bills to pay, multi-line insurance allows you to receive one bill with a combined cost of all your policies.

What’s the benefit for you, your business, and your family? You save money! If you’re looking for an affordable option for insurance, this is one way you can cut down on the cost you pay to insure the things that matter most to you. Most insurance carriers will provide you with a discount for combining all of your policies because it’s easier for everyone, and it helps them gain more of your business. While the amount you save depends on the policies you combine, you’ll often find insurance companies will offer as much as a 20 percent discount… some offer even more.

Multi-line insurance can also help you in regards to managing your deductible. If you have home insurance and car insurance with two different insurance companies, you have two deductibles. This means that if you sustain damage to both at the same time, you’ll be forced to pay the deductible on both policies before you get help from either carrier. With multi-line insurance, however, you might only have one deductible for all your policies. So you’ll actually end up paying less because you’ll only have to pay one amount for your house and your car before you get financial help.

Saving money isn’t the only benefit you’ll receive from combining your policies, either. Having all your insurance needs under one roof only makes things easier for you and your family when it comes to understanding and getting the most out of your coverage.

Having Multiple Insurance Agencies can be Wasteful and  Counterproductive. Use Multi-Line Insurance to Cut Through Red Tape.

Think about it this way — when have things ever been easier when they’re spread out in more than one place? Ever had to go to multiple grocery stores just to get what you need for the week? Chances are, this left you thinking to yourself how nice it would be if you could just get everything you need from the same store.

This goes for insurance too. If you have your car insurance from one agency, and your home insurance from another, not only are you receiving two bills, but you’re also receiving two entirely different policies. You also have two agents, and their knowledge of your risks and needs likely won’t match up with your reality. If you have an agent who knows you well, you’re going to get better coverage.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll receive cheaper coverage, (although that’s certainly not out of the question) but more in the sense that you’ll have all-encompassing coverage that won’t fall short when you need it most. Having one agent for all your policies means they’ll know all the risks you’re facing, and be able to double check that your coverage is going to protect your home when a tree falls through the window because you live in an area that deals with frequent high winds.

With multi-line insurance, you’re almost guaranteed better insurance because you’ll have one person who understands what you need inside and out. Plus, they’ll be able to help you find the best deal for your policies without having to worry about severe financial damage in the future. Working with an independent insurance agent doubles the benefits you receive because you’ll also be able to pick and choose the coverage that fits you best from more than one carrier. Rather than being locked into one option, an independent insurance agency can have numerous different insurance companies they work with so their clients can get the best coverage option for their specific needs, all within their budget.

If you’re thinking about multi-line insurance, there’s no better time than right now. Don’t wait until that tree falls through your window to rethink your insurance coverage! Affordable coverage doesn’t have to mean that you lose important protection either. With multi-line insurance, you can receive the right protection without sacrificing your savings. Call us to learn more!

Never Make These Three Business Insurance Gambles

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, January 10, 2019
Tristate Business Insurance - VA, MD, DC

Hello again from your independent insurance agent friends here at TriState Business Insurance serving Virginia, Maryland, and DC. Business owner’s always execute risk management, but they should not recklessly gamble. Business risk is something you must take seriously. Before you buy an insurance policy, make sure you’re covering all of your bases.

Insurance mistakes cost you money. So, don’t take a gamble. Grow your business. And before you buy intricate policy add-ons, make sure you’re not putting your eggs in the wrong basket.

Here are the three business insurance gambles to avoid. Are you making them?

Gamble #1: Considering A One-Size-Fits-All Liability Policy

While some in-depth plans with add-ons aren’t ideal, don’t pick a basic coverage plan either. A surprising number of businesses play it by ear. In other words, they pick one-size-fits-all policies which don’t cover them specifically. Let's take a look at an example of this. Some businesses rely on their personal liability insurance policy. Liability insurance might provide a good foundation. However, it might not protect you beyond personal injuries and property damage. Between employee mistakes, disasters and property losses, there’s a lot to worry about. You need a business liability insurance policy that caters expressly to your needs.

Some start-up experts are also shying away from one-size-fits-all policies because they lack support sales territory planning. As your business grows, you’ll need to breathe. Make sure your plan isn’t suffocating your livelihood.

Gamble #2: Not Having Business Interruption Insurance

If you’re new to the game, you might’ve forgone add-on policies, such as business interruption insurance. This coverage is important. Many businesses wouldn’t be able to open again if a disaster damages their assets. Bad weather, theft and even employee mistakes can cause a lot of damage — both to your premises and your time.

What’s your time worth? Well, it’s worth your stock, machinery, computers and sales. The longer you’re down and out, the more money you’re losing. Even if you’re running a small business, tiny interruptions add up. Therefore, let this coverage step in to cover those losses.

Gamble #3: Considering You’re Safe

Your coverage might be good, but is it enough? Always plan for an update. If you grow, experience change or take on new workers, consider an upgrade. You might be safe now—but you won’t always be. Buy new coverage if you’re:

  • Moving to a new location
  • Investing in commercial real estate
  • Investing in expensive equipment
  • Offering new services
  • Hiring new employees

Even small changes impact your commercial small business insurance coverage. Don’t worry. Remember that independent insurance agents are YOUR agent and always work in your best interests. We can amend your policy when necessary. If you’re growing, we’ll help you scale. It’s our job to make sure your business insurance is effective.

Call us to learn more!

The ABC’s of Contractual Risk Transfer

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, December 27, 2018
TriState Business Insurance - Virginia, Maryland, and DC

Contractual risk transfer is a business strategy designed to reduce the cost of risk by transferring certain risks to another entity's risk program. This transfer takes many forms. It is most commonly employed when a hiring company engages a sub-contractor. It is also employed when an entity rents or leases property to another and wants the lessee (renter) to be responsible for renter’s insurance while they have use and control of the asset. We'll address a few of the more common ones here.

A common insurance requirement is the Additional Insured. A hiring company will often ask the subcontractor to name the hiring company as an additional insured, so if something goes wrong, the sub contractor's insurance program will take care of the claim. By off-loading these from the hiring company's risk program, they transfer the cost also.

Landlords will often ask tenants to name them as additional insureds, so that if a guest of the tenant is injured, the tenant's insurance takes care of the claim. Again, the cost has been transferred.

Another is "waiver of subrogation." Subrogation is the process whereby insurance companies go after each other based on who was ultimately responsible for a loss. A simple example is when my fleet insurance company pays a collision claim, then goes after the company of the driver that actually caused the accident. Agreeing to waiver of subrogation means that the subcontractor's insurance cannot go after a hiring contractor's insurance, even if they are responsible for whatever happened. If an electrician's employee is hurt at an unsafe contractor's work site, the claim still goes on the electrician's experience, not the responsible contractor's.

Many B2B contracts include "hold harmless" and "agree to indemnify" language, which are corollaries to the insurance provisions described above. This can be a very complicated business management challenge and we stand ready to consult you on this subject and any business insurance need. With that said, we’ll likely advise that before pen is put to paper that you consult with your business’ attorney as well.

For questions regarding contractual risk transfer for business residing within Virginia, Maryland, and DC, contact us today!

Happy Holidays from TriState Business Insurance

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, December 19, 2018
Happy Holidays from TriState Business Insurance

Our warmest Holiday wishes from the entire team here at TriState Business Insurance . Calendar year 2018 was, and continues to be, a truly remarkable year and we take this moment to recognize the joy that each and every one of you has brought to our personal and professional lives. We exist because of your faith and trust in us.

As calendar year 2019 approaches, we reflect upon the foundational recognition that "your success is our success". Our New Year’s wish for 2019 is to nurture our positive and ever strengthening partnership and to deliver ever increasing value to you, your business, and your family through the entirety of 2019.

Throughout this Holiday season may you be blessed with health and surrounded by friends and family. All the best! Cheers!

Home Business Insurance Basics (VA MD DC)

Darren Kincaid - Thursday, December 13, 2018
TriState Business Insurance - home based business insurance va md dc

One of the most common questions presented to us is, "Am I a small business and, if yes, what small business insurance needs do I have"?  Small is a subjective word, meaning different things to different people. For the sake of conversation here, let's just define small business as any S-Corp or C-Corp type business where the owners themselves constitute the full body of the Board of Directors.  "Small" is not usually defined by total revenue sales but rather a combination of business operations management complexity and overall business risk. Almost all home-based businesses can reasonably be considered "small business".  As we explore the kind of risks you face and the kind of insurance you might need we're going to take a life-cycle approach, starting with the most incidental of business pursuits and work our way up to the Fortune 500 level.

Work From Home

Technology and social trends have driven a wave of telecommuting. Many of us work at home at least on some days while some may work from home all the time. For that reason, more and more homes contain a designated office area; with increasing frequency that area is a room.  

If the work you do is not for your own business you can often amend, or endorse, your homeowner's insurance policy, condominium owner or renters insurance policy to extend liability protection for incidental office exposures. Employees working from home can modify their homeowner policy to easily and inexpensively increase the limits for coverage of business property.  Once again, we must distinguish between the business owner working from home and the business employee working from home.  This distinction is significant enough (and complicated enough) that you're very well advised to discuss the subject directly with your team of independent insurance agents like us here at TriState.  

For employees, a typical standard limitation is usually $2,500 for loss to business property on your residence premises but only $250 for business property away from your residence. Many insurers will, in exchange for some small additional premium, allow your Homeowner Policy to cover $5,000 or $10,000 of business property. And for a telecommuter, that's often the best solution.

Home Based Business

According to the Casey Home Based Business Study, 62% of all small business are home based and this includes real estate sales and sales and distribution of products as a part time business. If your home-based (VA, MD, or DC) business is not your main source of income you still need to consider additional risks which may not be covered, even under an amended Homeowner policy. Here are a few:

  • Business-related personal property (equipment and furniture) in excess of the Homeowner Policy limitation - both on and off premises
  • Inventory you store or have on hand
  • Business property of others while in your care or under your responsibility
  • Accounts receivable
  • Valuable papers and records
  • Electronic data coverage

You may need liability to extend to personal injury, products and completed operations, incidental contractual liability, and general commercial liability. Automobile - If you are driving people around for business reasons, transporting supplies or products or visiting customers your personal auto policy may not provide coverage. Most of these additional risks and more can be picked up through a Home Based Business policy. These policies usually allow for up to 3 employees and will allow more adequate limits of protection for liability and property.

If your home business is your primary source of income you will want coverage for business interruption and extra expense. Fortunately, this protection is usually included in a Home Based Business policy. There are a few other kinds of insurance you should be thinking about as well.

  • Disability Insurance - If you become disabled and are unable to work and generate income, this insurance will help to keep you "paid" during that period. It won't cover ongoing business expenses, however.
  • Life Insurance - Many employers provide at least some life insurance protection to their employees. Since you are the employer, you are on your own on this one. Life insurance is also used as a vehicle for perpetuating a business in the event of the death of an owner; this is sometimes known as Key Man Life.
  • Health Plan - The same thing applies here as to Life Insurance. If you don't have an employer supplying or subsidizing this important protection for you, you'll need to get it on your own.
  • Workers Compensation -- All states require employers, even home based ones, to purchase Workers Compensation if they have employees. Workers compensation insurance offers a schedule of benefits for employees unable to work because of a job or workplace related injury or illness.

Small Business Level

Most Home Based Business Insurance policies assume most of your business is done from home. If that is not the case, you may need a type of policy that will provide coverage for you as you work away from home. There are also limits for Home Based Business policies regarding number of employees and maximum protection limits for Business Personal Property, Business Interruption and Loss of Income and other risks. If you find your business has grown beyond the kind of protection a Home Based Business Policy can provide you may need to consider a Business Owners Package policy.

A Business Owners Package policy (BOP) is a bit like a homeowner policy for your business. A BOP provides a certain amount of coverage for your Building, Business Personal Property, Business Interruption, Liability and more in one package. The policy can be customized to include protection for automobile and business specific exposures as disparate as those related to accounting firms, retailers and dry cleaners.

BOP policy requirements vary from insurer to insurer but if you employ 50 employees or less, have relatively few business locations and are in an easily categorized industry, your business may qualify for a BOP. The same coverage can be acquired by mixing and matching other policies but combining everything in a Business Owners Policy usually results in a lower premium than customized coverage. Many companies also construct BOP policies around very specific kinds, or classes, of business. These are often referred to as program policies.

Additional protection you might want to consider at this stage of the business life cycle, other than those mentioned above, include:

  • Employment Practices Liability - EPL protects you from claims made by current or former employees of discrimination, wrongful termination, harassment and related allegations.
  • Professional Errors and Omissions Insurance - E&O, formerly known as professional liability, covers a variety of advisor or professional roles and pays legal costs and damages should a mistake you make cost a client money. Some common business that might need E and O Insurance include financial planners, computer consultants, real estate agents and appraisers, mortgage brokers, consultants, graphic designers and hair stylists. The list of types of businesses that might need E&O is quite long; one provider alone lists 160 classifications.
  • Directors and Officers Insurance - D&O is like an E&O policy for company officers. It can pay legal costs and damages if officers are sued for their performance in running the company.

Key Insurance Tips to Protect Your Small Business

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, December 06, 2018
TriState Business Insurance - personal and business insurance va md dc

In a few weeks we'll all be contemplating new year's resolutions.  Business owners should always be resolved to seek ways to improve efficiency, profitability, safety.  To launch and keep a business thriving requires a good amount of passion, a strong business plan, usually a hefty financial investment and a few things most people don’t think about. For small business insurance needs in Maryland, Virginia, and DC, this blog post is for you.

With so much at stake, insuring your investment, yourself, you employees via workers compensation insurance, and property the right way is one of the most important decisions every owner must make. From commercial auto and property to workers’ comp, there are a lot of considerations. So, where to start?

  • Know the rules. Check with your state’s Department of Insurance about which coverage is required. As the Small Business Administration points out, “Most states require businesses with employees to pay for workers’ compensation insurance, unemployment insurance, and state disability insurance.” You can find your state’s insurance division here.
  • Imagine the unimaginable. Before you can decide how to protect your business it’s important to understand the threats. With so many commercial insurance options first figure out your needs and your level of exposure. Fire, slip and falls, loss of income, defective products, injured employees or customers, equipment breakdowns. Don’t say, “That won’t happen to me.” Those are the famous last words of too many business owners. Look at each step of your business, imagine the worst and then protect against it.
  • Employment Practices Liability Insurance. Employee relations sometimes sour. Most business owners value and respect their employees, and often treat them like family. But disputes can happen and business owners can protect themselves should those disagreements escalate into litigation. Employment Practices Liability Insurance protects employers from wrongful acts that may arise out of their employment practices (such as race, age, sex discrimination, wrongful termination, failure to promote and retaliation). This coverage is quickly becoming a staple in today’s insurance market.
  • Find security in a digital world. Hackers have breached half of all small businesses in the last 12 months. So, make sure you’re insured against threats that enter your business online. If you conduct transactions or collect personal information digitally, you will want to explore options like Data Compromise coverage and Cyber Risk coverage. Customers may try to take action against you if their information is ever leaked or stolen by a hacker. Data Compromise Coverage typically provides Response Expense Coverage which helps cover the cost of notifying and assisting your clients after a breach. It can also provide Defense and Liability Coverage when this option is selected, which responds to third party action brought against you by those individuals affected by the breach. Additionally, comprehensive Cyber Risk coverage not only provides coverage against damage to electronic data and computer systems from a virus or computer attack but can also protect your business’s liability to third parties if they suffer damage due to vulnerability in your business’s computer system.
  • Home is where the heart is. But if it’s also where the business is you need additional coverage. Your homeowners’ policy does not necessarily protect your home-based business. Once you assess the risks to your business you will want to consider adding a rider to your policy to cover basic business risks. But that is only the start. Add business insurance to protect your business.

Most importantly, be sure to consult with your independent insurance agent(like us here at TriState Business Insurance) to help you determine the coverage your business needs. You may know how to make a mouth-watering orange, cranberry scone or how to build a kitchen that belongs in Architectural Digest. But that doesn’t make you an expert in insurance. Again, for any Talk with your independent insurance agent and have them provide a plan that will keep your business protected.

EOY is Perfect Time for Biz and Family Insurance Review

Darren Kincaid - Thursday, November 29, 2018
TriState Business Insurance - personal and business insurance va md dc

Some of you reading this have been served by TriState Insurance (Virginia, Maryland, and DC clients) for well over a decade and have come to value the smooth sailing associated by being served by a team of independent insurance agents whose profession is dedicated to researching and securing value for your insurance dollar.  Unlike traditional insurance agents whose job it is to sell insurance, you've come to value our role in consulting you as to avenues where you can decrease insurance cost, increase coverage, as well as decrease coverage as life changes dictate avenues for you to save.

One of the biggest constants in life is change. We have changed over the years serving you as with each passing year we is past year, and surely so have you. And of course our carriers and their policy offerings are ever changing too!We are always happy to discuss carrier changes with you and to make sure that you are receiving the best possible coverage at the best possible rates!

What has this past year been like for you? There are so many changes that can take place in a year that could affect your insurance needs, and we have compiled a list of possibilities to get your wheels turning...

  • New business
  • Quit smoking
  • Started smoking
  • Teen driver coming of age
  • Home improvements (new roof? Windows? additions?)
  • New Income properties (sold properties)
  • Child going to college (child returning from college?)
  • Marital status change
  • New lien holders
  • International travel (extended travel?)
  • New valuables (phones, tvs, computers, jewelry, etc)
  • New watercraft (sold a boat?)
  • New recreational vehicles (sold a camper, a qaud, etc?)

We know this isn't a comprehensive list... but we are looking forward to hearing more about your year and what we can do to set you up for success this coming year! Time to re-focus! Many people start their resolutions at the first of the year. But what about starting some now - At the start of your upcoming policy term? Make a new goal and see what you can do in next 12 months!

To all our existing clients, we sincerely look forward to hearing from you, collecting the information regarding your family and business life changes, and researching avenues to delivery (keyword there is deliver) better value for your insurance investment.  To those of you who we do not yet currently serve, call us! There are smarter ways to protect your business and your family and we have over 40 years combined experience to show you how.   

Insurance Broker or Buy Direct?

Joseph Coupal - Friday, November 16, 2018
TriState Business Insurance - Insurance Broker or Buy Direct

An insurance broker can save you time, money and worry. Just like an accountant or lawyer who provides you with professional advice, based on years of training and experience, a qualified broker can do the same with your insurance.

Insurance can be incredibly complicated to fully understand, and an insurance broker can help you understand the details of a policy and also work out what level of coverage you need so that you are properly protected.

Using a broker doesn't cost more. Often it costs less because brokers have knowledge of the insurance market and the ability to negotiate competitive premiums on your behalf. In addition, because insurance brokers deal with a range of insurance companies directly, sometimes they can access policies that are not available to most consumers.

If the worst happens and you do have to make a claim, a broker will act on your behalf, liaising with the insurance company to negotiate the best possible outcome for the client. So whether it's home, car, life or business insurance, brokers are the best, most trusted source of advice available to make sure you are properly protected.

For more information or for a comparison quote, contact TriState Business Insurance.

NIBA

Do You Need Life Insurance?

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, November 14, 2018
TriState Business Insurance - Life Insurance

We thought we would answer a question in this blog that we get all the time: “Do I need Life Insurance?”

Life insurance can fill a wide variety of needs including covering the finite years of a mortgage and protecting the interests of a special-needs child who will need financial support after you’re gone.

In fact, although, 70% of Americans consider life insurance a necessity for themselves, 41% have no life insurance at all.

Here’s a guide to who needs life insurance and what kind of policy likely works best in each situation.

Breadwinner

Life insurance can provide “income replacement” so that your family can continue to pay everyday expenses.

Term life insurance can cover your working years.

Stay-at-home parent

Life insurance would cover the cost of paying for services the parent does for “free,” such as child care.

Term life can cover the years your kids are young.

Divorced parent

A policy could cover the support payments that a divorced parent makes.

Term life can cover the years of support payments.

Parent of a special-needs child

Life insurance can make sure the child will have financial support no matter when a parent dies.

Permanent life insurance provides a payout no matter when you die.

Homeowners with a mortgage

A policy can cover mortgage payments, so your family doesn’t have to move if you die.

Term life insurance can match the years of a mortgage.

Someone with co-signed debt (such as student loans or credit cards)

Life insurance could cover the cost of the debt.

Term life can be timed to end with the debt payments.

High net worth individual

Life insurance can provide funds for heirs to pay estate or inheritance taxes.

Permanent life insurance is best for those with estate tax concerns. Someone who wants to provide an inheritance

If you don't have a lot of wealth, life insurance can provide a small inheritance to heirs.

Permanent life insurance will pay money for the inheritance, no matter when you die.

Business owner

Life insurance can pay off business debts if you die, help heirs to the business pay off estate taxes, or fund a buy-sell agreement that allows a business partner to buy out your share.

Term life or permanent life, depending on the issue to be solved.

Investor who has maxed out other retirement plans

Life insurance with a cash value component can provide a supplemental source of retirement savings.

Permanent life insurance, which builds cash value that you can access.

People concerned about paying for their own funerals

Small life insurance policies can pay for your funeral and final expenses.

Permanent life, such as final expense insurance.

For more information on Life Insurance, contact TriState Business Insurance.

nerdwallet.com

Reasons Your Business Needs Umbrella Insurance

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, November 07, 2018
TriState Business Insurance - Virginia, Maryland, and DC

Five reasons why your business may need umbrella insurance

  1. You could go bankrupt without it — especially if your business is in a litigation-prone industry. One large jury award could quickly put you out of business, if it exceeds your policy limits.
  2. Your customers require it — if an accident occurs, they want to make sure your business has enough coverage to handle it.
  3. Your business is inherently dangerous — you manufacture hazardous materials or have a high risk of occupational injury to your employees.
  4. You have company vehicles or employees who drive their personal cars for business — which brings liability on every mile traveled.
  5. You have a physical presence — one slip, fall or other accident on company property is all it takes.

Make sure your business plans for that rainy day. Consult TriState Business Insurance, an independent insurance agent, to learn more about a commercial umbrella policy to protect your business.