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Fairfax, VA 22030
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When to Make the Jump to Small Business Ownership

Darren Kincaid - Thursday, February 28, 2019

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

You are REALLY ready to be your own boss:

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

You have savings:

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

You can go back:


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

You're ready to sacrifice:

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

You can't keep up with demand:

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

You have support:

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

You're not the only breadwinner:

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

You can't take it any longer:

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

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

Contact us! 

Most Common Risks to the Small Business Owner

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

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

Fire

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

Storms

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

Flooding

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

Product Defects

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

Software Defects

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

Professional Indemnity

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

Bodily Injury

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

Machinery Failure

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

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

Is Your Tavern or Bar Business Risk Covered?

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

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

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

1. DUI's

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

2. Activity hazards

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

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

3. No exit zone

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

4. Extreme hot food and drinks

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

5. False Id’s

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

Call us!

Risk of Ride Sharing to Beat HOV Minimums

Darren Kincaid - Sunday, February 10, 2019
Tristate Business Insurance - VA, MD, DC

It comes as no surprise to all of us who live in and around the national capital region that car sharing continues to be a growing trend.  Inviting those you don't know into your vehicle to take advantage of high occupancy vehicle (HOV) conveniences offers clear rewards, but it introduces risk as well.  The risks associated with participating in ride-sharing services are multiple but the most glaring risk is associated with the potential for gaps in insurance coverage in the unfortunate event of an accident or injury. Let's discuss the potential effects upon your private auto insurance policy when you ride share in VA, DC, or MD.   

Some auto insurers are considering revising their policies to address car sharing. While every personal auto insurance policy differs, most contain exclusions when a person uses their vehicle for non-personal uses.  Believe it or not, beating beltway traffic by sharing your vehicle may or may not be considered personal use of your vehicle from the insurance industry's perspective. Several insurers have developed products to fill gaps in coverage created by commercial ride-sharing and the common use of livery exclusions in personal auto insurance.

Before you agree to care share, consider this:

1) If you ride share, it is commonly accepted that you carry a minimum of $100,000 in bodily injury, $300,000 per accident, and property damage up to $100,000.  In this sue-happy age that we live in, high net-worth individuals should carry higher limits. 

2)State minimums vary and liability requirements can be as low as $10,000 per injury per person; $20,000 for all injuries and $10,000 for property damage per accident.  Don't fall for that as it is not enough to cover your ride sharing risk. 

3) If you have dropped collision and comprehensive coverage from your policy on an older car to save money, that may or may not add risk to you as a ride sharing driver.  We point that out here to remind you that should you ever rent a car, you'll need to purchase additional insurance coverage when you rent a car to be covered in the event the car is lost or stolen.

4) Parents of teens and young adults who allow them to ride share within your vehicle puts you at unique risk.  Placing the lives of others in the hands of your inexperienced child driver is only asking for trouble. 

We're not advising you to forgo the undeniable conveniences of sharing your vehicle with others.  We do, however, recommend that you be fully informed about the risks involved and to assess whether or not you are adequately protected against the unthinkable.  Your independent insurance agents at TriState Business Insurance can help you assess that.  Give us a call