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Independent Contractor Insurance Considerations

Darren Kincaid - Thursday, January 31, 2019
Tristate Business Insurance - VA, MD, DC

As a general rule, employers conducting work in the states of Virginia, Maryland, and DC are required to provide workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. While there are exception based rules that can apply, the specific employer coverage requirements are based on the individual state, type of industry, number of employees and entity organization.  

As an independent contractor, one of the joys of being independent is the general ability to conduct business your way.  On the other hand, working independently means that you will be completely responsible for any accident or injuries, property damage and even liability lawsuits. There exists a wide variety of contractor insurance options. Here are the most common types of coverage.

Bodily injury and property damage: This coverage is for contractors who work with heavy machinery and need to be prepared for accidents due to power tools and other hazards.

Professional liability: For contractors who provide consulting and advice, this coverage can protect you from liability risks due to losses a client may experience. Business liability insurance protects your business’s finances if a client accuses you of errors, whether due to mistake or negligence.

Commercial vehicles: Any vehicles owned by your business must adhere to state auto insurance laws. You can also protect your vehicles from various damages. Commercial auto insurance coverage protects not only the 1099 contractor but also the hiring entity in the event an accident occurs while the contractor is driving as part of the job he was hired to do.

Builder’s risk insurance: This one covers property and raw materials while construction is underway. This type of policy is often written per project.

Workers compensation insurance: Independent contractors may or may not need workers compensation. If you have employees, you’ll need workers compensation insurance in place in case they experience injury or illness on the job. This coverage compensates employees for medical expenses and lost wages after an on-the-job injury.

Disability Insurance:Disability insurance is a prudent insurance type for 1099 contractors to purchase. It is insurance that will pay a pre-established weekly benefit to the contractor in the event the contractor is unable to work due to a disability. It is not only the contractor engaged in potentially dangerous work who needs disability insurance. For example, a freelance graphic artist or writer due to an accident while in the parking lot or any other physical incident. The disability insurance typically requires a waiting period following the event that causes the disability before the policy begins to pay. The premiums fluctuate depending on the chosen waiting period length, the percentage of salary that will be paid each week and the general riskiness of the contractor's chosen occupation.

Performance Bond: Performance bond insurance guarantees the work will be done according to expectations, if not,  the bond money could be released to repair or complete the agreed project. This coverage is especially helpful when a contractor become disabled and not be able to finish the project. Rather than risk being sued personally and having assets seized to pay for damages, a cash performance bond protects everyone involved by guaranteeing the project completion within the agreed upon deadlines.

Your too busy taking care of business to learn all the regulations and nuances of these things.  Insurance agents who work directly for insurance companies will likely try to sell you all of these coverage options and likely at far higher maximums than you really need.  The path to value-based small business insurance acquisition is via your independent insurance agents like all of us here at TriState Business Insurance.  We serve all of Virginia, Maryland, and DC and can put you on an affordable path to the protecting you, your business, and your family at the most valued pricing being offered by the vast insurance markets today.  

Call us!

Data Privacy Regulations and Your Small Business

Darren Kincaid - Thursday, January 24, 2019
Tristate Business Insurance - VA, MD, DC

Greetings from your friends at TriState Business Insurance serving all of Virginia, Maryland, and DC.  Today we're going to discuss one of the singular biggest risk to small business owners: Data Privacy Regulations. 

Are you and your small business read into the nation's new data privacy laws and are you compliant?  Large enterprises with IT staffs in large part are.  But it is the small business owners across the country who in large measure are not read in and compliant.  This subjects you and your business to potentially significant business risk. with the right combination of privacy protection insurance coverage and common sense data privacy policy enactment within your company, you and your company can rest easy. Here are a few pointers on minimizing risks and limiting the costs of events like breaches, hacks, and cyberextortion.

The State of U.S. Data Privacy Regulations

Even with widespread public adoption of data technology, the U.S. lacks a comprehensive federal privacy framework. This doesn't mean, however, that your growing enterprise can play things fast and loose when it comes to safeguarding personal information. In the absence of one universal law, firms are instead subject to a host of different statutes. Your compliance burdens are partially dependent on what field you specialize in. For example, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, includes strict rules regarding the storage, transmission, sharing, and handling of patient data. HIPAA impacts everyone from private practices and clinics to the insurers and medical records software providers they do business with.

The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA, covers activities that involve collecting data from kids under the age of 13. This means it can impact a large number of companies whose users include minors. The FTC hasn't been shy about fining businesses that fail to follow COPPA rules, such as ensuring that children have parental consent before using websites and posting age-specific privacy policies.

Thanks to the Judicial Redress Act of 2015, citizens of certain covered foreign nations have the right to bring lawsuits against U.S. companies that don't protect their information as specified by the Privacy Act of 1974. This law might affect you if you do business with partners from overseas or want to expand your product sales to new territories.

The Most Common Small Business violation of U.S. Data Privacy Regulations -- Credit Card Processing Violations

If you and your business process credit card transactions on line, you must secure the transaction via secure socket layer protection (or SSL).  This is the easiest breach of data privacy law to identify by the federal government.  You simply can't afford to allow this vulnerability within your business model.  Smart consumers today can easily spot this vulnerability with damning consequence upon your professional reputation.  Plus, it is just not right.  You would not want your financial data placed at risk at the hands of others.  We insure IT management small business owners across Maryland, Virginia, and DC.  Between us (your independent insurance agents) and our network that we can reach out to on your behalf, your path to full and confident data privacy regulation compliance is just a phone call away.  Contact us!

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!