Tag Archives: Business Management

Transition Policies for Cancelled Healthcare Plans?

cancelled-greeceThe Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes key reforms that create new coverage standards for health insurance policies, beginning in 2014. For example, effective for 2014 plan years, the ACA imposes new modified community rating standards and requires individual and small group policies to cover a comprehensive set of benefits.

Over the last few months, millions of Americans have received notices informing them that that their health insurance plans are being canceled because they do not comply with the ACA’s reforms. President Obama has received criticism that these cancelations go against his assurances that if consumers have a plan that they like, they can keep it. Both Republican and Democrat members of Congress have been advocating changes to the ACA to resolve the cancelation issue.

Responding to pressure from consumers and Congress, on Nov. 14, 2013, President Obama announced a new transition policy for 2014. Under the new policy, individuals and small businesses whose coverage has been canceled (or would be canceled) because it does not meet the ACA’s standards may be able to re-enroll or stay on their coverage for an additional year.

However, this one-year reprieve may not be available to all consumers. Because the insurance market is primarily regulated at the state level, state governors or insurance commissioners will have to allow for the transition relief. Also, health insurance issuers are not required to follow the transition relief and renew plans, and have expressed concern that the change could disrupt the new risk pool under the federal and state Health Insurance Marketplaces.

Transition Relief Policy

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) outlined the transition policy in a letter to state insurance commissioners.

For 2014, health insurance issuers may choose to continue coverage that would otherwise be terminated or canceled due to the ACA’s reforms, and affected individuals and small business may choose to re-enroll in the coverage.

Under this transitional policy, health insurance coverage in the individual or small group market that is renewed for a policy year starting between Jan. 1, 2014, and Oct. 1, 2014 (and associated group health plans of small businesses), will not be considered to be out of compliance with specified ACA reforms if certain conditions are met.

According to HHS, it will consider the impact of the transition relief in assessing whether to extend it beyond the specified timeframe.

The transitional relief is not available to grandfathered plans because these plans are not subject to most of the ACA’s market reforms. According to President Obama, the transition relief is an extension of the grandfathered plan rules to additional health insurance policies.

Specified ACA Reforms

The specified ACA reforms subject to the transition relief are the following reforms that are scheduled to take effect for plan years starting on or after Jan. 1, 2014:

  • Modified community rating standards;
  • Guaranteed availability and renewability of coverage;
  • Prohibition of pre-existing condition exclusions or other discrimination based on health status, except with respect to group coverage;
  • Nondiscrimination in health care;
  • Coverage for clinical trial participants; and
  • Coverage of the essential health benefits package.

Requirements for Transition Relief

The transition relief only applies with respect to individuals and small businesses with coverage that was in effect on Oct. 1, 2013. It does not apply with respect to individuals and small businesses that obtain new coverage after Oct. 1, 2013. All new plans must comply with the full set of ACA reforms.

Also, the health insurance issuer must send a notice to all individuals and small businesses that received a cancelation or termination notice with respect to the coverage (or to all individuals and small businesses that would otherwise receive a cancelation or termination notice with respect to the coverage).

Notice Requirements

The notice to individuals and small businesses must provide the following information:

  • Any changes in the options that are available to them;
  • Which of the specified ACA reforms would not be reflected in any coverage that continues;
  • Their potential right to enroll in a qualified health plan offered through a Marketplace and possibly qualify for financial assistance;
  • How to access such coverage through a Marketplace; and
  • Their right to enroll in health insurance coverage outside of a Marketplace that complies with the specified market reforms.

Where individuals or small businesses have already received a cancelation or termination notice, the issuer must send this notice as soon as reasonably possible.

Where individuals or small business would otherwise receive a cancelation or termination notice, the issuer must send this notice by the time that it would otherwise send the cancelation or termination notice.

Dana Rostro is the Director of Employee Benefits Sales and Operations at Texas Associates Insurors. Dana is ACA certified and has helped clients develop the best strategies for their operations within the new healthcare legislation.

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Business Insurance Policies are the Total package

A Business Owner’s Policy (also known as a BOP policy) is a package policy, providing both property and liability coverage geared toward small to mid-size businesses. They are worthwhile because, unlike separate property and liability policies, they are bundled to contain extra coverage at a low price. Many companies now offer specialized BOP policies for home based businesses or specific classes of business, like retail stores and small restaurants. These policies offer more comprehensive coverage to business owners who may not be able to afford purchasing coverage a la carte.

Property Coverage

The property section of a typical BOP policy will include but is not limited to office equipment, furniture, leased or rented equipment, and property belonging to someone else damaged while in your care. This also includes additions to your building and premises that you rent. When deciding on your limit of property insurance, don’t forget to include the cost of your build-out and improvements, equipment used to maintain the building, and permanently attached fixtures. Always consult your lease agreement, if applicable, so you can include any items you are responsible for and confirm that these items are covered.

Liability

Liability coverage under the BOP policy covers Bodily Injury and Property Damage claims that you are liable for. A claim can be filed against you for medical bills and expenses resulting from injury, sickness or death caused when you act negligently. If not covered correctly, these situations can drain your financial resources and can result in thousands of dollars out of your pocket.

The most common example is a slip-and-fall accident. These can result from something as simple as spilled liquids, uneven flooring, or narrow stairs. These accidents account for around 17,000 deaths in the United States each year. They are among the most frequently filed claims against small businesses, making it important to carry liability coverage in the event of such unfortunate accidents.

What’s Not Covered by BOP

Several key coverages are not included in the basic policy but may be added to the policy by endorsement. A few of these coverages are Automobile, Disability, Health, Worker’s Compensation and Professional Liability. Each business has different needs, meaning not all of these coverages may apply to you. When buying a BOP policy, carefully review what coverages are included and what are not.
Worker’s Compensation is required by most states for businesses with more than one employee and you may need to purchase a separate policy for this coverage. Talk to your insurance representative about the Worker’s Compensation laws in your state.

Running a Business is Inherently Risky

Buying the right Business Owner’s Policy is a first step in protecting you from the risks inherent to running a business. Carrying this policy may also be a requirement of your rental agreement or leased equipment agreements. By not carrying the right BOP policy, you may be vulnerable to lawsuits or uncovered damages. It is a low cost alternative to out-of-pocket expenses and is packed with coverages which may otherwise be costly.

Ryan Niles is an insurance advisor for NewFirst Insurors, specializing in the development and implementation of risk management strategies for small- to mid-sized businesses in the Texas Coastal region.

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The Unintended Consequences of the Affordable Care Act

For better or for worse, the Affordable Care Act is upon us. As more and more of its details get released and as businesses like yours start to make adjustments to deal with its requirements, some unintended consequences are arising. Here are some of the problems that businesses are dealing with or will soon have to deal with.

Avoiding Applicable Large Employer Status

Not every business is subject to the Affordable Care Act and its provisions. As written for 2014, it only applies to companies with an average of 50 full-time equivalent employees. Furthermore, it defines full-time as an employee that works an average of 30 hours per week. This is leading to two consequences as businesses attempt to skirt its requirements:

  1. Companies are cutting full-time employee hours back, turning them into part-time employees that aren’t counted towards the Affordable Care Act’s 50 employee threshold.
  2. Part-time workers are having their hours cut back to ensure that they stay under the 30 hour limit.

It’s not clear yet what the long term consequences are of these cut backs, but this certainly stands out as a trend to watch in the coming year.

Potential Premium Increases Due to Adverse Selection

The nature of the individual insurance provisions and mandates of the Affordable Care Act create an incentive for healthy people to stay uninsured. First, the penalty for being uninsured is in many cases much less than the cost of insurance. Second, the requirement that exchange plans accept anyone at any time means that an uninsured person would only need to sign up at the instant that they need care. This process leads to the phenomenon of adverse selection, which refers to when only people that are bad risks choose to be insured. Since insurers will have a higher proportion of claims to premiums from their private business, they may have to compensate for the additional expenditures by raising premiums on their employer clients who pay all of the time.

Changes in Family and Spousal Coverage

As a result of the costs of complying with the Affordable Care Act, many companies are dropping coverage for spouses. While this, in and of itself, was an unintended consequence, it brings up a second set of challenges. If you employ one of the newly-uninsured spouses, you could find them coming to you, asking to be added to your workplace plan, if you offer one. This could generate more expense for you as an employer to pay the cost of their coverage.

Cancellation of State Small Business Insurance Assistance

Some states offer special plans that help their citizens or small businesses either defray the cost of health insurance or provide a basic level of insurance. If these programs aren’t compatible with the Affordable Care Act’s provisions, they can be cancelled. One example of this is Tennessee’s CoverTN plan, whose $25,000 annual benefit cap made it a perfect adjunct for businesses that offer low-cost, high deductible plans. It will be cancelled effective January 1, 2014.

Given that insurance from the Affordable Care Act exchanges hasn’t come into effect yet and that the mandates that apply to individuals and employers also aren’t fully operational, the true impacts of the bill remain to be seen. As of now, many unintended consequences for business have already been identified but if history is any indicator, more may be coming down the line as the law’s implementation grows.

 

Dana Rostro is the Director of Employee Benefits Sales and Operations at Texas Associates Insurors. Dana is ACA certified and has helped clients develop the best strategies for their operations within the new healthcare legislation.

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4 Risk Management Challenges for Small Businesses

Risk events can come in many different shapes and sizes, but regardless of your profession, risk management is something that can give you the edge over potentially damaging risks. For Small Businesses, there are several reasons why Enterprise Risk Management should be implemented. These reasons range from legal obligations to budgetary requirements and below, we highlight four of the foremost reasons for introducing Enterprise Risk Management to your Business.Risk management flow chart on paper

Market Risks

In large companies, market risk covers the risk that the value of the company’s assets will decrease due to a change in the value of external factors. Changes in interest rates, foreign exchange rates and commodity prices can all negatively impact on a company’s assets. Similarly, changing economic and environmental factors can negatively impact on the productivity of small businesses.

By monitoring market influences and assessing other external influences that could impinge on the company’s market presence, you can protect against market risks and ensure the productivity of the business. For small businesses, accounting for market risks can help ensure projected growth patterns and prosperity. By formulating an enterprise risk management plan, employers can effectively address and mitigate unfavourable market forces.

Operational Risks

Operational risk represents the risk of loss from failed internal processes. These risks can arise out of everything from poor or inadequate employee practices to hardware malfunction.  While operational risk is relevant to all categories of profession, many small businesses often overlook or underestimate the possibility of operational risk-related events damaging their business. Operational risks such as internal and external fraud, employment practices, business continuity processes can all negatively affect the overall business process of a small enterprise.

Through in-depth analysis, the identification, measurement, monitoring and managing of operational risk, small businesses can ensure the security and efficiency of the operating process. This involves having well-defined and organized roles, segregating duties and responsibilities, and implementing management review mechanisms that will allow employers to account for operational risks and ensure they don’t threaten the business.

Reputational Risks

Reputation is one of a business’ most important assets, particularly if they operate globally. That said, reputation is everything for small enterprises and start-ups as it represents the extent to which the company is meeting the expectations of its stakeholders, and this can often prove a determining factor in whether or not a small business can take off. While reputation is one of the most important assets of the business, reputational risks are indelibly difficult to protect against. Factors such as negative publicity, whether accurate or not, can compromise the business’ reputation capital while marketing channels such as social media can carry a lot of risk potential.

By defining how you want your business to be perceived, you can begin to clearly identify what risks could negatively impact on the company’s public image. Outlining an enterprise risk management strategy can greatly help a small business to actively monitor the effects of operational incidents on reputation capital and the public perception of the business. This involves an assessment of relationships with consumers, partners and the media as well as assessing the functionality of the business in terms of commitment and quality processes.

Emerging Risks

Emerging risk accounts for any new risk that is in the process of being quantified and understood. Emerging risks have the potential to substantially impact on a business or insurance policy and significantly damage the company’s reputation, reach and overall process. Emerging risks can infiltrate any part of your business or personal life and have a huge impact, and unfortunately, as there tends not to be any resolute method of predicting and protecting against emerging risks, they are considered some of the most potentially damaging risks that businesses face.

Typical emerging risks include Cyber Risks and Social Media Risks, both of which can be reduced greatly through a comprehensive risk management plan, but other emerging risks such as changing economic factors and wholly unpredictable risks like natural disasters can have devastating consequences for unprepared businesses.

Enterprise Risk Management is all about predicting, preparing for and protecting against the occurrence of a risk event. Each of the risks discussed in this post carry the potential to inflict serious damage on a company’s reputation and overall business process. However, if a small business incorporates each of the aforementioned risks into their overall Enterprise Risk Management plan, they can significantly protect themselves against the possibility of a risk event occurring and devastating the business.

Ensure your Risk Management Strategy is up to scratch with a free risk assessment.

 

Lonnie Meadows is a risk advisor for NewFirst Insurors. Lonnie specializes in developing commercial risk management plans for small to mid-sized businesses and focuses on leadership and management relationships to improve his clients’ overall operations.

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Reinsurance Fees—Possible Exemption for Certain Self-insured Plans

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) creates a transitional reinsurance program to help stabilize premiums in the individual market for the first three years of Exchange operation (2014-2016) when individuals with higher-cost medical needs gain insurance coverage. The program imposes a fee on health insurance issuers and self-funded group health plans.

On Oct. 24, 2013, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released an advance copy of a final rule  under the ACA. In the final rule’s preamble, HHS states that it intends to issue a proposed rule that would make the following changes to the reinsurance program:

  • Exempt certain self-insured, self-administered plans from the reinsurance fees for 2015 and 2016; and
  • Modify the collection deadlines for the fees to reduce the upfront burden to plans and issuers.

Reinsurance Fees

Contributions to the reinsurance program are required for health plans (fully insured and self-insured) that provide major medical coverage. Certain types of plans are exempt from the requirement to pay reinsurance fees, such as health flexible spending accounts (FSAs), health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) that are integrated with major medical coverage, health savings accounts (HSAs) and coverage that consists solely of excepted benefits under HIPAA (for example, limited-scope dental and vision plans).

For insured health plans, the issuer of the health insurance policy is required to pay the reinsurance fees. For self-insured health plans, the plan sponsor is liable for paying the reinsurance fees, although a third-party administrator (TPA) or administrative-services only (ASO) contractor may be used to make the fee payment at the plan’s direction.

The reinsurance program’s fees are based on a national contribution rate. The reinsurance fee mainly consists of amounts collected to cover reinsurance payments and administrative costs, but it also includes funds that must be deposited into the general fund of the U.S. Treasury.

For 2014, the national contribution rate is $5.25 per month ($63 per year). The national contribution rates for 2015 and 2016 have not been established yet. The reinsurance fee is calculated by multiplying the number of covered lives (employees and their dependents) during the benefit year for all of the entity’s plans and coverage that must pay contributions, by the national contribution rate for the benefit year.

HHS has indicated that issuers and plan sponsors will be required to submit an annual enrollment count to HHS no later than Nov. 15 of 2014, 2015 and 2016 based on enrollment data from the first nine months of the year. Within 30 days of this submission or by Dec. 15, whichever is later, HHS will notify each issuer or plan sponsor of the amount of its required reinsurance contribution. The issuer or plan sponsor would be required to remit this amount to HHS within 30 days after the date of HHS’ notification.

Possible Changes

In the preamble to the final rule, HHS states that it intends to propose in future rulemaking to exempt certain self-insured, self-administered plans from the requirement to make reinsurance contributions for the 2015 and 2016 benefit years. At this point, it is not clear which self-insured plans will be covered by the proposed exemption. However, it appears that self-insured plans will be required to pay the reinsurance fees for the 2014 benefit year.

HHS also intends to issue a proposed rule that would change the collection method for the reinsurance fees. Under the revised collection method, the fees would be collected in two installments to reduce the upfront burden to plans and issuers. The fee for reinsurance payments and administrative expenses would be collected at the beginning of the year and the fee for payments to the U.S. Treasury would be collected at the end of the year. Under this payment schedule, a larger payment would be due in January 2015 and a smaller one would be due in December 2015 for the 2014 reinsurance fee.

These changes will not become effective until HHS issues additional guidance.

More Information

Contact your Texas Associates Insurors representative for more information on the ACA’s reinsurance fees.

 

 

Dana Rostro is the Director of Employee Benefits Sales and Operations at Texas Associates Insurors. Dana is ACA certified and has helped clients develop the best strategies for their operations within the new healthcare legislation.

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A Casual Look at Property & Casualty Insurance

While shopping for insurance, whether for your home or business, you may have heard the term “property and casualty insurance” used by your agent or insurance representative. When looking at your quote or reviewing your issued policy, you will see lists of coverages such as “personal property” or “general liability”. These coverages fall under either Casualty or Property and make up the essential parts of your policy. Without these, there would be no coverage and no protection for your assets.

But, “what is property and casualty insurance and do I need it?”

Property Coverage

You may find Property coverage more straightforward than its counterpart, Casualty. If you carry any insurance for your building, equipment, furnishings, or your home, car, or personal belongings, then you already have property coverage built into your policy. This coverage protects you against direct damages to your property by covering causes like fire, lightening, and wind.

Property coverage can also apply to loss of income generating ability, as you would find in Business Income coverage. This applies specifically to your ability to generate income in the event of a covered accident or damage that prevents your business from operating. A few days or several weeks could cripple your business and result in closing without this type of property coverage.

Casualty Coverage

Casualty can be difficult to define but it typically refers to the liability coverage found in business and personal policies. The term casualty is not applied to Life, Health or Property policies where liability is not a factor. You will probably hear most often that casualty is insurance covering injury or property damage to others “for which you are legally liable”.  In simpler terms, it is coverage for damages caused by you due to your negligence.

Accidents happen both at home and on the job all the time which can result in injuries.  A friend visiting your house could be seriously hurt because the deck you built collapsed.  Or, a customer at your salon might slip-and-fall because of an unsecured mat and suffer serious fractures. These types of accidents are not anticipated but because of our potentially negligent acts, could result in thousands of dollars in medical bills and legal fees.

Why Do I Need It?

If you own anything of value that you could not replace out-of-pocket in the unfortunate event of disaster, then chances are that you need Property and Casualty insurance.

If you have ever been careless while driving, at home, or at your place of business, you need Property and Casualty insurance.

For all the savings you may have or for all the planning you’ve done, nothing can prepare you for an unexpected event like a fire. The cost to repair and replace your belongings and cleanup the damage in the aftermath could total in the thousands. The best and most effective plan for protecting yourself and your family from financial crisis is insurance.

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Taking the Risk Out of Building

As the U.S. home market slowly recovers, builders are seeing a boost in construction contracts. New commercial buildings are being built at a rapid pace. With these surges in construction, specialized policies like Builder’s Risk provide important protection against exposures that are unique to the building trade.

The Basics of Builder’s Risk

The Builder’s Risk policy provides protection for homes or commercial buildings under construction, while being remodeled, or undergoing renovation. The policy covers materials like concrete, lumber, and fixtures as well as machinery and equipment used to maintain the building. The policy also covers the cost to remove debris caused by a covered accident, like a fire or lightning strike.

In most cases, a Builder’s Risk policy is required for buildings under construction and purchased when the home or building is at least 30% complete. The limit of insurance is based on the estimated value of the project once its complete. Because the value will increase as glass, framing, and other materials are added, the limit should also be increased. Once the project is done, coverage will end when the building has been taken over by the owner, the work has been complete for 90 days, or the builder has abandoned the project.

Pitfalls and Perils

Accidents happen and by their nature, they’re never anticipated. An accident can stall or completely stop a building project. To avoid the pitfalls of damage, there are three types of perils coverage to choose from: Limited Perils, Specified Perils, or Special Perils.
Each has their own unique advantages but the most inclusive is Special Peril, which covers accidental losses that are not specifically excluded. While this type of coverage is the most attractive, it is also the most expensive. Though the cost may be more than its counterparts, the broad coverage pays for itself in the event of a large loss that might otherwise have been excluded.
Valuing Your Property

It’s a common misconception that all property policies replace damaged items based on their original replacement value. While many companies sell enhanced policies with special endorsements, like Replacement Cost, a great majority of policies come with Actual Cash Value.

In the event of covered damage to your property, claims are paid on an Actual Cash Value basis by default. This means only the depreciated cost to repair or replace will be paid. This can leave the project with a shortfall in funds and possibly halt further construction. To avoid this common mistake, check the policy and endorsements to ensure that Replacement Cost coverage is included.

Policy Limitations

While the coverage provided is vital to most building projects, limitations apply. Builder’s Risk does not cover Earthquake, Flood, Steam Boiler, or intentional acts of damage. Because policies vary by company, coverage for materials in transit, equipment such as scaffolding and trailers, or theft of materials may be limited or excluded. For an additional premium, separate policies or endorsements can be added to ensure coverage is in place where it is needed.

Coy Sunderman is a risk advisor specializing in risk solutions for construction businesses, oil & gas operations, manufacturers and distributors/wholesales. Coy is a Certified Work Comp Advisory and holds his CIC (Certified Insurance Counselor) designation.

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Small Employer Tax Credit Changes for 2014

The small employer tax credit was created in 2010 upon the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Next year, a few key aspects of the tax credit will change.

For 2014 and later taxable years, the maximum credit increases to 50 percent of premiums paid for taxable small employers and 35 percent of premiums paid for tax-exempt small employers. But those credit percentages are based on the average premium in the small group market in the rating area where employees sign up, instead of the specific premium chosen by employees.

Also beginning in 2014, the health care tax credit is only available to an employer for two consecutive taxable years, and cannot start before the 2014 taxable year. Finally, the new rules require employers to obtain group coverage through an Exchange to claim the credit.

Please contact Texas Associates Insurors for more information on the small employer tax credit.

 

 

Dana Rostro is the Director of Employee Benefits Sales and Operations at Texas Associates Insurors.

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What is Commercial Umbrella Insurance & Why Do You Need It?

Most businesses have a variety of insurance policies to cover things like employment liability, property damage, officers and directors, commercial vehicles, workers compensation, etc. The coverage you purchase should be specific to your business, the industry in which you work, and the unique risks you and your employees face in a typical workday. In theory, your business insurance policies should cover you in the event your business is sued. The reality, however is that the amount of liability protection these policies offer may not provide enough financial protection. This can leave your business open to risk and make your assets vulnerable.

Lawsuits Are On The Rise

Our society is becoming more litigious every day. In fact, recent research shows that 89% of Americans believe lawsuit abuse is a problem. The rise in the number of lawsuits (both legitimate and not) and the size of jury verdicts impose a heavy financial burden on many businesses, large and small. Just consider some recent cases that have hit the courts:

  • Pizza maker Papa Johns is the subject of a $250 million class action lawsuit over text messages it sent to customers offering discounts and coupons on pizza
  • The maker of Nutella, a popular hazelnut spread, agreed to settle a $3 million class action suit that alleged it falsely claimed its product was healthy
  • And who can forget the famous case of Liebeck v. McDonald’s, in which 80-year-old Stella Liebeck spilled a McDonald’s coffee in her lap, causing third-degree burns on her legs, lap, and groin area. Liebeck tried to solicit McDonald’s for a mere $800 to cover the skin grafts required for her injuries, but McDonald’s refused. Ultimately, the jury settled, awarding Liebeck $2.7 million.

Such lawsuits are not restricted to large companies like Papa Johns, Nutella and McDonalds. Take the case of Eric Nordby, who owns several small businesses in Auburn, California. He was the subject of a lawsuit alleging non-compliance with ADA requirements. At the time the suit was filed, the plaintiff in the case was been responsible for filing 140 of the 200 ADA-related cases in the Eastern District of California. Whereas other defendants chose to settle for upwards of $15,000, Nordby chose to fight the suit.

In cases like Nordby’s, there are no guarantees that the outcome will be in the business owner’s favor, and there is a very real possibility that the legal fees incurred, or the settlement, may cause extreme financial hardship for the business. This is because no matter what precautions you have taken, there may be gaps in your business insurance policies.

Why Umbrella Insurance

A commercial umbrella insurance policy can augment your existing business policy with supplementary liability protection against financial losses stemming from lawsuits and accidents. These types of policies are designed to provide increased limits of financial protection to your business from unexpected risks, and best of all, they are surprisingly affordable. That’s because the underlying policy limits are used first and your commercial umbrella coverage limits only kick in after those policies have reached their limits.

For example, if your current policy covers you for $2 million and you are successfully sued for $3 million, your business umbrella policy can pay the outstanding $1,000,000. Without umbrella coverage, this money would have to come out of your business profits.

There are a variety of things that an umbrella policy can cover. Some common examples include:

  • Excess General Liability
  • Excess Commercial Auto Liability
  • Excess Employers’ Liability
  • Excess Product Liability
  • Excess Marine Liability
  • Excess Energy Liability
  • Excess Premises Liability
  • Excess Contractors’ Liability
  • Limited Excess Professional Liability

If you’re not sure whether your business should have a commercial umbrella policy, give us a call. One of our experts will be happy to review your existing policies and identify any potential gaps in coverage that a commercial umbrella policy can address.

Dave Perez is a risk advisor at Texas Associates Insurors and specializes in property and casualty risk assessments for business owners.

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4 Small Business Legal Risks to Watch Out For

Every business has to make legal considerations on a daily basis, regardless of what industry they find themselves a part of. For small businesses and start-ups, legal considerations can often determine whether or not the company can achieve growth potential. Therefore, accounting for legal risks should be one of the fundamental characteristics of a small business’ enterprise risk management (ERM) strategy. Here are four legal risks that your ERM strategy must account for in order to safeguard your business.Insurance policy

Choosing your ownership structure

Choosing your ownership structure shows how businesses face legal risks before they even begin to operate. That’s why choosing the right ownership structure is such an important decision for businesses. This decision will impact whether or not you’ll be able to accept investors as well as how many and what types of investors. Your ownership structure will also influence whether you’ll be able to easily sell your company, what your personal legal liability will be and what your tax liability and benefits will be.

Litigation

Litigation is something that almost each and every operational business will have to deal with at some point. It is also something that can cost businesses a lot of money. For small business and start-up owners, legal fees can have a crippling effect on the company’s finances, often more so than actual settlements may demand. While juries tend to be sympathetic towards small businesses, the risk and cost of litigation is hardly ever justified and is something that should be avoided at all costs.

How do you avoid litigation? Seeking legal advice before you make any important business decisions that could lead to litigation can certainly help. Which brings us to our next point..

Failing to seek legal consultation when necessary

It’s only natural for small businesses and start-ups to avoid hiring an attorney in order to reduce legal costs. However, without appropriate legal advice, you run the risk of making decisions that could negatively impact on the business such as entering into legal agreements that don’t fully protect your interests. These failed decisions could end up costing the business much, much more than any legal consultation would. By failing to seek appropriate legal advice when necessary, your business may become threatened in the long run.

Ignoring Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property law is a complex area that is often avoided by small businesses, especially non-tech businesses that believe that they don’t face any intellectual property risk. However, failing to account for intellectual property and intellectual property insurance will leave your rights unprotected when it comes to the ownership of original ideas. This has the potential to significantly damage the future success of a small business, whether they realise it or not.

If your business is constantly experimenting and creating new technologies/processes that are unrivalled and eligible for patent, you may want to amend your employment agreements so that they clearly specify ownership of intellectual property. This can prove critically important when it comes to potential investments, particularly if you end up licensing your trademark to another company.

Legal matters may strike some small business owners as the itch that cannot be scratched, however, it is important to safeguard your business on an ongoing basis so that emerging legal implications are acknowledged and mitigated. By reviewing your risk management strategy and amending policy so that legal risks take focus, you can ensure your small business or start-up can become a success.

Small Businesses face many risks on a day to day basis but you can ensure the safety and future of your Business with a free risk assessment today.

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