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Commercial Vehicle & Fleet Insurance (VA, MD, DC)

Darren Kincaid - Saturday, September 08, 2018
TriState Commercial Vehicle Insurance  for VA, MD, and DC

This blog post is simply a heads up to all you business owners out there who are celebrating the economic recovery and the positive effect it is having on your business.  Many of our clients are experiencing rapid growth and along with that growth comes increasing investment in capital equipment.  We've witnessed numerous business widen their commercial auto fleet but are late to conduct an impact analysis on their fleet insurance policies to confirm that adequate protection remains in place. This blog post will be a refresher to some, but for you new business owners with commercial vehicle fleet, you might find this to be very valuable information.  

Businesses who want to stay in business need to protect themselves, their employees, their vehicles, and their property. This is done with business insurance that can protect you from liability.

One overlooked type of insurance protection is commercial auto insurance. If your small or medium sized business has vehicles, or if you use your own vehicle for business use, you need commercial auto insurance. Regardless of if your business has one car or 100 cars, commercial automobile insurance is the only way to protect your business, car and driver in the case of a loss.

Commercial vehicle insurance does not just protect you in the case of an auto accident. Auto insurance protects you in the event of vandalism, auto theft, or if property is damaged with your commercial vehicle. Regardless, commercial auto insurance needs to protect your business in a minor fender bender to loss of life.

Commercial auto insurance policies are not cookie cutter. They should all be created to accommodate your business, the amount the vehicles are driven, the driving records of the drivers, the cargo, and what they are used for. With the proper insurance policy, your company will be protected for any type of accident to ensure you aren't paying out of pocket for any type of damage.

However, choosing the policy with the lowest possible price is not always the best decision. Choosing the policy with the most coverage for the price is a better decision. You want a cost-effective policy that will protect your business in the case of a loss.

For more information on commercial auto insurance, contact TriState Business Insurance.

Homeowner Insurance 101 (VA, MD, DC)

Darren Kincaid - Saturday, September 01, 2018
TriState Homeowner's Insurance  for VA, MD, and DC

With fires in the West, floods in the south and hurricane season still in full swing, homeowners are wise to periodically review their home insurance policies. Mother nature demands that you plan for the worst. Wise insurance planning minimizes the heartache when natural disaster strikes.  

When it comes to protecting your VA, MD, or DC home, homeowners insurance is not just about safeguarding against structural damage or theft—it’s just as much about feeling secure in where you live. If disaster strikes, your focus should be on reclaiming your sense of stability. The last thing you should worry about is money.

1. What It Covers

A typical policy will pay for damage to your property and your possessions in the event of certain storms, fire, theft or vandalism. They also provide liability coverage if someone gets hurt on your property and decides to sue. Homeowner’s insurance also covers shelter costs, so you don’t have to face crazy hotel bills if you’re temporarily displaced from your house.

Homeowner’s insurance can protect belongings outside the home, too, like if something is stolen from your car.

2. What It Doesn’t Cover

A standard policy has exclusions, including landslides, earthquakes, sinkholes, power failure, war, nuclear hazard, government action, faulty zoning, bad repair or workmanship, defective maintenance and flooding. Windstorms are typically covered, including tornadoes, although insurance companies exclude tornadoes or hurricanes in some high-risk areas.

Water damage is tricky. As a rule of thumb, water from above (rainwater or a burst pipe in an upstairs apartment) is usually covered, but water from below (backed-up sewers or ground flooding) generally isn’t. If your region is prone to floods and earthquakes, you should consider supplemental coverage.

3. Why You Should Shop Around

Before committing to a policy, take the time to research an agent whom you trust—preferably one with good reviews online or via a personal recommendation.

Bottom line? Don’t just shop for a policy. Make sure you also select the best agent.

4. Which Preventive Actions Can Reduce Premiums

A working smoke detector might also help you land a lower insurance quote. The same goes for a burglar alarm. You can reduce your premium by about 5% if you install something as a simple as a deadbolt, and up 15-20% for a burglar alarm system.

5. How Replacement Coverage Differs From Market Value

Know these two key distinctions: “replacement cost” versus “market value.” Replacement cost covers repairing or replacing your entire home. Market value is how much someone would pay to buy your home and accompanying land in its current downtrodden condition.

When you’re considering the type of coverage to take out, a policy that’s based on market value is typically less expensive.

6. Why You Shouldn’t Wait to File a Claim

Make sure to ask about time limits to report a claim, and then abide by them! If you wait too long, you may not be eligible for benefits, especially if waiting has made the problem worse.

7. Why You Should Write Everything Down

Many claims are denied because people don’t keep good enough records. Homeowners must document everything that occurs during a loss, do as much as possible to mitigate the loss, and document such mitigation.
In addition to saving receipts, contracts and appraisals, document phone calls by writing down who you spoke to and when.

8. How Jewelry Is Covered

When signing up for homeowner’s insurance, note the limits on jewelry. Most people don’t realize that things like wedding rings aren’t usually covered by the basic limits in their policies. You can get an appraisal at your jeweler, and then consider buying a supplemental policy to cover it.

9. Why Good Maintenance Matters

Insurance companies would rather pay as little as possible to repair damage, so they prize early detection and prevention.

10. How to Save by Bundling

One way to save money is to bundle your homeowner’s insurance with other policies that you already own.

For more information or for a review of your policy, contact TriState Insurance.

Fox Business

Wind and Flood Insurance Considerations (VA, MD, DC)

Darren Kincaid - Thursday, August 16, 2018

As fall approaches and the notion of those strong northeaster storms come to mind, take a moment to consider how well you are covered for flood and windstorm damage.  This blog post takes a moment to explain to you how flood and windstorm insurance coverage works. Here are five things you should know:

1. People usually underestimate the risk.  90% of all natural disasters involve flooding, according to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). To further underscore the danger, the NFIP notes that homes have a 26 % chance of flooding during the life of a typical 30-year mortgage. That compares to the nine percent risk your home will suffer fire damage.

Also, keep in mind that if you live in flood-prone areas, your homeowners policy doesn't protect you for flood damage. You'll need separate insurance for that.
2. The 30-day clause. You can't just go out and buy flood insurance after learning that a hurricane or tropical storm is approaching. Coverage becomes effective 30 days after purchase.

3. Wind damage and insurance. Insurance for windstorm damage caused by hurricanes usually comes with a deductible tied to your home's value. That deductible typically ranges from 1 to 5 %. In some coastal areas, with high wind risk, hurricane deductibles may be higher and even approach 10 percent.

4. Premiums for flood insurance. The average premium for flood insurance in 2010 was about $600 a year. But it can climb dramatically in a high-risk area. Flood insurance in low- to moderate-risk areas is much less, as low as $129 a year in some cases.

5. Limits of federal flood protection insurance. Flood insurance provided by the NFIP tops out at $250,000, so you may have to buy more flood coverage with a private insurer.
These policies can add as much as several million dollars of extra coverage to your NFIP base, but can only be purchased after first securing the NFIP protection.

The Street

Fall RV Travel -- Are You Covered

Darren Kincaid - Wednesday, August 15, 2018
TriState Insurance - RV Insurance for VA, MD, and DC

In today's booming economy, AAA predicts more people will hit the road for family fall travel than in anytime in recent memory.  We encourage all of you to conduct safety inspections of your RV's long before your planned departure date.  RV's that have not been used in a while can suffer issues with brakes, axles, motors, tires, and any number of other components that when neglected, can put both your family and the overall enjoyment of your vacation at risk.

While your considering the safety of your RV, why not also consider your financial safety by reviewing your RV insurance coverage.  Has that coverage lapsed?  Has the overall value of your RV increased or decreased thus possibly having you underpaying or overpaying for RV insurance?  Independent insurance agents (like us here at TriState) work for YOU and not the insurance industry so we have a vested interest in making sure you are properly (but never overly) insured.

Also consider what's going on with your RV when you are not using it.  If you store your RV in a storage yard, what's going on there late at night. Some owners find out the hard way when thieves and vandals strike. If your RV is in your back yard, you may or may not be covered by your homeowner's insurance. Regardless of where you store or how you use your RV, it is wise of you to have an independent insurance agent assess your recreational vehicle insurance policy. Far too many people have trusted insurance agents of the large insurance firms only to discover that multiple other avenues exist for both better coverage and better value for your insurance dollar.

Your RV of choice has distinct features so it is just right to customize a comprehensive coverage specifically designed for it and it can only be done with the help of our independent insurance agents. By having a recreational vehicle insurance in VA, MD, DC, you can be confident that you and your RV are well-protected all seasons of the year.

TriState recreational vehicle insurance policies (in VA, MD, DC) offer you with special coverage that only an independent insurance agent can design for you. These policies offer special coverages that include, but are not limited to, custom equipment, road side assistance, total loss replacement, as well as collision and other damages to your RV. Aside from that, there are also be a coverage that can be provided for uninsured and under-insured motorists. You can also have a special coverage to compensate for medical payments and legal defense costs when worst case scenarios occur.

To find out more about your options when customizing a comprehensive coverage for your recreational vehicle, consult an expert of TriState Business Insurance.

Chiropractor Malpractice Insurance (VA, MD, DC)

Darren Kincaid - Wednesday, August 08, 2018
TriState Business Insurance - chiropractic malpractice insurance for VA, MD, and DC

One should never procrastinate seeking professional help with chronic pain.  Sadly, in tough financial times, people do just that.  Thankfully in today's booming economy, more and more chiropractors are opening and expanding their businesses due to high demand for their service. That's the good news.  The "bad" news is that more patients equates to more liability risk.  Smart chiropractors understand this and see the need to review their malpractice insurance policies.

Although chiropractic insurance is available from most medical insurance providers, these providers do not provide the same incentives because they provide insurance to individuals employed as chiropractors specifically. That is why it would be best to review and adjust your chiropractic insurance policy with TriState for VA, DC, and MD chiropractic practices. 

Chiropractic insurance that protects your reputation

You should seek insurance coverage that is specifically designed for your practice and the specific treatments that you offer.  Get a chiropractic insurance that is also devoted to protecting your reputation and preserving your businesses.  If you've a new chiropractic clinic owner, talk to your peers who've been in the business for a while.  They will help you understand why Chiropractor Liability insurance from TriState is so important. We are independent insurance agents who work for you and not for the insurance industry. 

To find out more about chiropractic insurance in VA, MD, or DC, contact TriState Business Insurance.

Review Your Catering Business Insurance Annually

Darren Kincaid - Wednesday, August 01, 2018
TriState Business Insurance - restaurant and catering insurance policies in VA, MD, and DC

The economy is BOOMING!  American disposable income is on the rise and people are electing to reward themselves by dining out. But they also are increasingly using that extra money to pay for someone else to cater their meals via home delivery.  Caterers are filling that market void at a high rate with more and more caterers adding home delivery services to their business portfolio.   As with any business enterprise, home food delivery introduces unique business insurance considerations.  As your independent business insurance agent (in VA, MD, and DC) we are uniquely skilled to consult you on the litany of considerations and coverage options specific to the food catering industry.  All of the restaurant and catering insurance policies that we craft (for clients in VA, MD, DC)  cover you against the obvious risks but also all the not so obvious risks that you are subject to.  Some of those risks include: 

  • Physical damage or loss of catering items
  • Damage that you or staff inflict upon delivery sites  
  • Theft or vandalism of your catering vehicles
  • Protection from food allergy and other food-born illnesses
  • Auto insurance for your delivery vehicles
  • Losses incurred by illness or unforeseen circumstances

We highly advise you to secure your restaurant and/or catering business insurance policy long before you turn your business sign to "open".  It's simply a risk not worth taking.  We'll do the leg work for you so you can concentrate on getting things set up.  So contact your independent insurance professionals here at TriState Business Insurance and get that dream of business ownership started on the right foot.

Umbrella Liability Insurance Offers Extra Protection for your Business

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, July 26, 2018

As is the current business trend, you might seriously consider additional commercial insurance protection to your existing liability insurance policy given the latter often does not cover all expenses.  Typically the under insured choose umbrella liability insurance. Business umbrella insurance provides additional protection where your existing policy leaves off.

Hopefully you will never find yourself in the position of needing your business insurance policy. But in the scenario where you do, umbrella liability insurance gives your business another layer of protection. Excess liability policies add additional coverage to your general liability insurance. Umbrella liability insurance will help ensure that your business is protected.

If you are looking for the most affordable way to get higher policy limits on small business insurance policies, excess liability insurance is generally the route to take.

For information on how Umbrella Liability Insurance can help your business in VA, MD, or DC, contact TriState Business Insurance.

Proceeds of Life Insurance Policies can Pay More Than Estate Taxes - Fairfax, VA

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The life insurance policies we write for our clients in VA, Maryland, and DC can be customized to prepare your family.  We ensure coverage  for multiple death benefits which are critical to cover many unexpected costs to include sometimes brutal estate taxes. Some families are crushed by estate-tax payments that approach 50% of the total value of their estate. That is why the life insurance annuities policies that we write throughout VA, MD, DC get  you covered. The proceeds of the policy that you chose and customized with an independent agent are payable immediately and the amount your family will receive are designed to cover (at the very minimum) the estate taxes, funeral costs, and a variety of other "must pays".

We can't emphasize enough the need to plan for the tax inevitability, and you do this smartly by seeking life insurance researched and shopped foe you by an independent agent. You will be given options that are applicable for you and your family and tailor-fit it to your specific needs. If properly structured, your life insurance will be generally income tax-free and will not add to your estate tax liability. This only means that your heirs will take care of the estate taxes and other liabilities without having to hastily liquidate other assets which is often at a fraction of their true monetary value.

To find out more about your options on optimizing your life insurance policies, contact TriState Business Insurance.

Commercial Auto Insurance for your Business – VA, DC, MD

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, July 19, 2018

If you use an automobile in the service of your business, any auto whether it (or they) are personal cars or cars owned by the business, you are highly advised to investigate the need for commercial auto insurance. Commercial auto insurance provides protection for your business in the event of accidents, property damage, theft or vandalism.
Unfortunately, the potential for liability that can arise as a result of your or your employees driving company vehicles are endless and can include injuries to the employee or other individuals. If an employee causes damage with a company car, additional damage may be your company’s responsibility as well.

If you use your car frequently for business purposes, then your personal auto coverage may not provide coverage in the event of a loss. Certainly if your business owns a fleet of vehicles, you need a commercial auto policy.  However, be sure that your commercial auto insurance quotes are very clear and that they specify all of the policy limits and coverage levels. Financial loss as a result of an auto accident or injury can often be more than a business can bear.

Commercial auto insurance brokers can design an insurance policy that will protect their vehicles and cover any liability that could occur during the course business operations. Be sure that you shop around for your business auto insurance quotes, contact TriState Business Insurance.

Boat Insurance: A Must Read for Every Boat Owner

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, July 18, 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!