Ways to Protect Your Business from Burglaries and Break-Ins

Owning and running your own business is an extraordinary achievement. The last thing you want is for that business to undergo any sort of harm, including burglaries. Break-ins can be expensive, stressful, and traumatic. They can even result in some businesses closing due to such high costs on top of the loss of whatever merchandise was stolen. There are various steps your business can take in order to prevent burglaries as best you can. By installing lights outside, keeping your exterior neat, reinforcing doors, installing alarm and video surveillance, and establishing a community watch, you can feel confident that your business is protected as much as possible.

 

Install Adequate Lighting

Adequate and secure lighting will deter many burglars away from your business. To ensure your business has preventative lighting, install lights in areas that are not in plain view. Often enough, this is where burglars will gain access to the inside of the building. Be sure to use durable, well-examined lighting so that your lights are both reliable and will stand the test of time. It’s also best to install these lights inside bulb cages that can prevent them from being easily broken, whether by a burglar or the elements. Finally, be sure you’re maintaining your lights and replacing them when they come out. Installing protective lights won’t do you any good if burnt bulbs aren’t replaced.

 

Exterior Maintenance

On top of ensuring your exterior is well lit, there are other preventative steps to take in order to impede burglars. Although you most likely already do this, shrubbery and trees should stay trimmed and neat — especially those in close proximity to the building — because they can provide excellent cover for someone attempting to break in. Your windows are also an easily accessible entrance into your building. Burglar resistant glaze can be purchased from various security companies. This glaze is built to hold against burglars attempting to break in, and is a wise investment as broken glass can ruin merchandise and is expensive to replace. This brings us to the next point, which is not to place valuable merchandise in your business’s windows. Unfortunately, paying customers are not the only kind of person this will attract, so it’s best to avoid the strategy altogether.

 

Burglar Proofing Your Door

Doors are another important factor in preventing break-ins. Having a sturdy, protective door will prevent many burglars from causing any harm to your business. Generally speaking, solid-core wood or reinforced steel will do the trick. In addition to this, installing deadbolt locks with heavy duty strike plates (the attachment to the door in which the lock itself goes into) will increase the security of any entrances very well. Of course, also be sure that the door hinges are located on the inside of the building so that they cannot be removed from the outside by potential burglars.

 

Purchase an Alarm System

An alarm and video monitoring system is the fail-safe plan to ensure that damage is minimized in the event of a burglary or break-in. With technology becoming more affordable every day, there is no reason why your business shouldn’t be reinforced with both types of security. Alarms are also versatile in use. They can be used to protect the perimeter or area of your business, where alarms are placed around the building and generally cover the outside surface of it. Area alarms will protect the inside of the building and are usually motion detectors of some kind. There are also object alarms which can help to protect against specific, valuable items like a safe. If any of these alarms go off, they will alert trained professionals who will contact the owner of the business and local authorities immediately to prevent as much damage as possible.

 

Video Surveillance and Monitoring

Another aspect mentioned above is video monitoring. These services used to be fairly expensive, but prices have dropped significantly as new technology is developing. For a perfectly reasonable investment, business owners can install surveillance on the inside and outside of their building. You can even go back and review the footage as often as you want, because these systems can store massive amounts of footage. Some are even saved directly to cloud databases, in which unlimited amounts of video can be stored digitally. This isn’t just great for preventing burglaries, it can also help you and your staff feel safer throughout the day. Anytime handling money is involved, robberies are a possibility both during working hours and at night.

 

Community Watch

Just like developing a good relationship with your neighbors at home, business owners should get to know those working in nearby buildings. By doing this, local businesses can keep an eye out for suspicious activity in the area. Much like a neighborhood watch program, this is a community system that has mutual benefits for anyone involved. Any time you get the opportunity to keep your community safe, do so! These tips are geared towards small business owners, but they’re also applicable to homes and anywhere else susceptible to burglary. Families can take similar steps to keep themselves safe from burglars. By doing so, they can feel secure in their own homes as well as their small businesses.

 

Big life events like burglaries are stressful, and having financial strain on top of emotional distress can be disastrous. It could mean the difference in whether or not your company stays afloat. Make sure you have the right coverage in place so you don’t have to worry about that if the time comes. Our risk managers are trained in these areas and can help you when assessing what kind of coverage will fit your needs. Take the time and think about what’s important to you. Give us a call today and let us help you in any way we can.

What to Do If An Employee Gets Hurt on the Job

No matter what sort of business you run, accidents can always happen. Even in a “safe” office environment, an employee could be badly burned from a pot of coffee or slip on a wet floor. Since an accident could happen at any time, you’ll want to already have a worker’s compensation plan in place before rather than after an incident. To make sure you have all your bases covered, here are the steps you should take when an employee gets injured at the workplace.

Seek Immediate Medical Attention

Regardless of if you think the injury is minor or not, medical attention must be provided to the employee to assess the damage. Remember that safety always comes first and the faster you get professional help, the more likely your employee is to recover faster from their injury.

Keep a Record of the Accident

Accidents usually happen so fast that no one remembers the story right, but the second the craziness dies down, talk to everyone who witnessed it. Even if a coworker wasn’t watching the injured employee specifically, they may remember some detail that will be of use later. You will need to write down their statements of what happened, from the accident to the aftermath, as well as take pictures of the scene that caused the accident to happen. File these records away in case the employee ever tries to come back and sue you over the incident.

File the Workers Comp Report

If the injury is bad enough, your employee will likely claim workers compensation for the doctor bills. If they choose to file, as is their right, you are legally required to provide them with a form and report their claim to your insurance agent. This claim is the most important reason your business should have workers comp in place, because it will save you financially from any fees and costs that come from the injury claim.

Stay On Top of the Claim

Once your employee files for workers comp, your insurance agent will request some documentation and evidence of the accident (this is where your record-taking and pictures of the scene will come in handy). During this time, you should be open with your agency about all the details of the situation as well as check in on your employee to make sure they are recovering well.

Prevent Future Accidents

If an accident happened once, it will likely happen again. Prevent a repeat incident by looking at what caused the first injury and making adjustments. If the building was responsible, preventative measures may include a simple repair. If the injury was a result of lack of training, a company-wide education class may be in order. You could also take this time to ask your employees about other possible dangers around the workplace. For instance, maybe they need better equipment or more safety items such as gloves or masks. By taking proper precautions, you can eliminate future workers comp claims and injuries, thereby making your workplace a happier environment for your employees.

Welcome Back Your Employee

Once your employee has recovered from their work-related injury, you are legally required to allow them to return to work at your business, regardless of whether their claim was successful or not. The injury was likely not their fault and they shouldn’t be punished for something they couldn’t control.

 

By having workers compensation in place, you can protect both your employees and your business. And since your employees are essential for your business to keep running smoothly, you should want to protect them as best as you can. If your business is operating without workers comp or you need help deciding which policy to choose, give your insurance agent a call today and they will discuss the best options for your industry and amount of employees.

Ensure Success: Protect Your Small Business with These 3 Types of Insurance

No matter what position your small business is in, there are three types of insurance that we recommend all small business owners to consider. We understand that with any small business, money can be tight. Insurance may seem like an unnecessary expense at the time and although this may feel true, the costs of your premium are nothing compared to your costs if you were paying for legal troubles out of pocket. Whether it’s workers compensation, commercial vehicle insurance or an overall business owner’s, policy, your small business needs to have the right coverages in place. Below, we talk about what each of these policies are and why they are important for your team.

 

Workers’ Compensation Helps Cover Your Business and Employees

An on the job injury can be difficult, expensive and inconvenient. With workers’ compensation plans, your small business can rest assured knowing your company is covered if something were to arise. Commonly referred to as workers’ comp, this insurance covers wage replacement, medical treatment, vocational rehabilitation, and other benefits as well. Keep in mind, injuries do not have to necessarily occur on the job in order for your firm to be held liable. The various situations in which workers comp would be of help are physical injuries on the job, pre-existing conditions accelerated by the job, injuries occurring on breaks and injuries resulting from physical or emotional strain at work.

Now that you know what is protected by workers’ compensation insurance, here’s what isn’t: injuries occurring while a worker was committing a serious crime, while they were not on the job, while they were violating a company policy, while they were intoxicated, and also self-inflicted injuries. There are also situations in which both the company and the employee may be entitled to legal compensation. For example, if an injury suffered by an employee is the result of a machine malfunction due to manufacturer negligence, your employees have the right to sue the manufacturer for this. Another great example would be if an employee was driving a company vehicle and another driver failed to yield, resulting in a collision that causes bodily harm. In this case, both the employee and the company are entitled to sue the person responsible for the incident.

 

Commercial Insurance for Company Vehicles

Although your personal insurance may help to cover some of the costs affiliated with a damaged vehicle, they cannot be relied on in the incident that major damage or bodily injury occurs. In general, states will at least require business owners to purchase liability insurance for bodily injury / property damage. There are also many states that require your business to have uninsured or underinsured motorist’s coverage. This is also referred to as Personal Injury Protection, and helps to cover medical payments as well.  Really, commercial insurance for your company vehicles is the best way to know that you are covered as best you can.

It’s best to speak with your insurance agent about what coverages should be in place for your firm, as everyone’s situation is different. Since you can customize your coverages to each vehicle, take the time to sit down and go over everything with your agent so that you know you are getting the right limits in place at the right price. For the most part, the Business Auto Coverage Form is used to provide businesses with their auto insurance. Our professional recommendation if you are planning on having some form of commercial vehicles (whether it be a company car or a fleet of rental vehicles), is to sit down with your agent and take into consideration the benefits of your policy.

 

Business Owners Policy:

Business Owner’s Policies, or BOPs, are not required by law. However, we recommend for small business owners to consider purchasing a BOP as a general safety net if anything goes wrong that is not covered by the insurance policies listed above. Most business owners policies can be customized and tailored to fit your individual needs. This means your policy doesn’t have to be some wildly expensive and irrelevant coverage that you feel is a waste of precious dollars that could go elsewhere. BOPs typically cover property coverage, business interruption insurance and liability protection. What is NOT covered by BOPs is professional liability, workers comp or health and disability insurance. Some of these are included with the insurance listed above, but some will require additional insurance policies.

So we know that BOPs cover property damage, business interruption and liability protection, but what does that actually mean? Property insurance is insurance for all personal property of the company, including buildings and contents owned by the firm. This comes in the form of standard and special coverages which vary in terms of comprehensive coverage. Business interruption insurance covers loss of income you may experience after some sort of unexpected hardship, such as a fire. This should also include costs of operating in a temporary workspace. Finally, liability protection covers your company’s legal burden for any harm it may cause others. This can include any harm that occurred due to something you or your employees have done (or not done) to cause bodily injury or property damage.

In short, having these three insurance policies under your belt can help to give you peace of mind that your company has a safety net to rely on if something catastrophic was to occur. Some of these coverages are required by law, but we advocate that having the state minimum is not going to cut it. Take the time to speak with a risk management expert about insuring your small business. Our agents are always available to help you find the best policies, so give us a call today!

 

Retirement Plans: What You Are Truly Saving For

At first, it may seem like all that money you put into retirement savings over the years is pointless. However, in actuality, you will be thanking yourself for setting aside so much money once the time comes. Take a look at what you can look forward to after saving for retirement for so long.

Savings For: Travel & Vacation

Now that you have so many hours in the day to fill up, why not spend it going to places you’ve always wanted to see? Instead of daydreaming about paradise, you can actually go visit it with all the money you have saved up in your retirement plans! Retirement is the perfect time to see the world and all it has to offer. You may be surprised what you find out there. And with the right amount in your 401(k) or IRA plans, you can even make a vacation out of your adventure. You don’t have to worry about taking a personal day when you can have as many as you want to do whatever you want!

Savings For: A New Hobby

Have you ever wanted to take cooking classes? Or maybe even dancing classes? You may not have had time for hobbies in the past, or money, but now you do! Enjoy the things in life you couldn’t before by putting your savings to use the way you want. There is no better time to do this than during retirement.

Savings For: Your Loved Ones

When saving for retirement, you are not just trying to put aside money to spend on things you couldn’t afford before. You are also ensuring time with your loved ones. By saving enough money to enter retirement through various plans, you can spend your free time with your loved ones and bond like never before instead of focusing on work. You have worked so hard to ensure they have a good and happy life. Now you can be a part of it too.

Savings For: Volunteer Services

Volunteering is a great way to help those in need, but it can be difficult when you have to take care of yourself first. However, with your savings on your side, you don’t have to worry. Instead, you can spend your time volunteering without worrying about the fact that you do not make money profit because you know you are safe and secure with your retirement plans. Instead of constantly working to make ends meet, you can work the way you want by helping others.

Savings For: A Better Future

Many people look forward to retirement because it provides a time that is dedicated to the things you want. You can finally live happily after all the work you’ve put in. Without saving or investing in an insurance plan, your retirement may not be a fun time filled with all the opportunities listed above. Enjoy retirement by having our agency go over with you the best options for your retirement plan so your future is filled with joy. 

How to Lower Your Premiums on Home Insurance

As long as you own a home, homeowners insurance doesn’t go away. What’s worse is that insurance premiums have the tendency to increase over the years. Whether you are shopping for homeowners insurance for your first home or looking to decrease your premiums for your current home, here are a few tips to help you make your insurance more affordable.

Improve Your Home Security

By decreasing vulnerabilities in your home, you can potentially cut your insurance premiums by as much as 15-25 percent. Methods of improving your home security can include adding a smoke detector, burglar alarm, dead-bolt locks, sprinkler system, and professionally installed storm shutters and doors. With these added safety measures in place, your house is less likely to receive damage from unforeseen instances such as storms, floods, fire, or burglary. If you do make these safety upgrades to your home, keep a record of your receipts in case your provider wants proof before lowering your premium.

Know Your Location

If you haven’t bought your home yet, check the CLUE (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange) report of the home you are interested in. These reports will be able to tell you the property’s insurance claim history so you can be familiar with any problems the house has had.

Increase Your Deductible

A deductible is the amount of risk you agree to accept before the insurance company starts paying on a claim. The higher your deductible, the more money you can save on your insurance premiums. You could save up to 25% on your premiums simply by doubling your deductible.

Bundle Your Home and Auto Policies

If you already have auto insurance, consider either purchasing your home insurance with the same provider or moving your auto insurance to your new home insurance provider. More often than not, you can save a lot of money on your premiums by bundling the two with the same provider. In fact, bundling can save you anywhere from 5 to 15 percent on your monthly payment.

Determine if Loyalty Matters

Insurance providers typically reward their loyal customers by offering policy discounts. Some insurers will reduce your premiums by 5 percent if you stay with them for three to five years and by 10 percent if you remain a policyholder for six years or more. However, while loyalty has its benefits, some providers offer cheaper discounts to new clients who switch over to their agency.
Make sure you do not ignore such opportunities by occasionally checking your price with other policies that could potentially be cheaper from the beginning.

Don’t Buy What You Don’t Need

This might sound obvious, but don’t have insurance for things you don’t need to cover. For example, if you aren’t in a flood zone, flood insurance may not be the best option for you. Or, if you don’t have any expensive jewelry, you shouldn’t need a jewelry policy. So unless you have a good reason for having a type of insurance, you probably shouldn’t have it. With that being said, it would also be a good idea to reevaluate your coverage each year to make sure your policies are relevant to your current lifestyle. Having one that is unneeded will only make you spend unnecessary money that could be used elsewhere.

Shop Around

Odds are that you aren’t going to pick the cheapest insurance provider with your first choice. In order to make sure you don’t pay more than necessary, shop around either before purchasing home insurance or before renewing your current policy. Ask your friends who they are covered through and check consumer guides to be sure you get the lowest rates that fit your current situation.

To be sure you get the lowest premiums on your homeowners insurance, contact Life Stages Insurance agency today. We’ll do the shopping for you to get you the best coverage at the best price, whether it’s your first time or you need a readjustment upon renewal time.

How Will Adding a Teenage Driver Impact My Car Insurance?

So, your teen is ready to get their license. It’s an exciting time for them! And maybe for you too, although you may have a number of concerns when it comes to adding a less experienced driver to your insurance plan. There’s the matter of their safety, whether or not they will break certain rules and restrictions on the road, as well as how they will affect your car insurance rates.

Keeping a teenage driver covered under an insurance plan can be extremely expensive, but going without insurance is not an option. While adding a teen driver may be pricey and stressful, there are many ways to lessen the cost. Below are just a few ways you can keep costs down while sending your new driver out on the road.

Mentor by Practicing Good Driving Habits Yourself

If you’re not practicing good driving habits yourself, how can you be your teen’s best mentor? To avoid additional costs, you’ll want to do everything in your power to help them avoid an accident. Have your teen strictly follow safety practices when driving such as putting their phone away, limiting distractions, and buckling up. Make sure they know and follow basic rules of the road every time they drive with you, and hold yourself accountable as well.

Increase Your Liability Coverage

You’ll probably want to increase your liability coverage before your teen even gets behind the wheel. The car they will be driving is in your name, so that means YOU are liable for whatever happens when they’re on the road. Because they are just learning to drive, you’ll definitely want to make sure you have the right coverage plan in case you are held accountable for something you did not do. While you probably do not wish to add an additional amount to your bills, liability will literally save you should a bad accident and subsequent lawsuits occur.

Have Them Drive an Older or Used Car

Because teenage drivers are at a greater risk of getting in an accident, it would be wise to have them drive an older or used car. The car shouldn’t be so old that it’s not up-to-date regarding safety, but having them drive in a well-running vehicle that’s a bit older could save you a great deal of money in the future. These cars are much less expensive to repair should damage occur to them.

Enroll in a Driver Tracking Program

Today, a number of insurance companies provide small devices that monitor driving habits and patterns. These trackers can tell how fast you’re going, the distance at which you break, and other important factors that can give your teen insight as to how they are regularly driving. With this type of information feedback, teens should be able to recognize where their driving could use improvement. Once your teen begins implementing better driving habits, you may see your monthly rates gradually decrease.

Ask About a Distant Driver Discount

When the time comes for your teen to head off to college, they may not take a vehicle with them. Less than half of teenage drivers head off to college with a car in tow. If your child falls into this category, you may be able to get a discount during the time they are away and not driving. In many instances, they don’t have to be very far from home to qualify for a distant driver discount. Check with your insurance provider to see if your teenage driver qualifies you for this type of discount today.

As soon as your teenager begins to think about driving, you’ll want to inform your insurance agency so that your son or daughter can be added to your current plan. This way, they will be covered throughout the experience of learning this important life skill. Make sure they are under the right car insurance plan by having them covered with Life Stages Insurance Agency. To get started, give us a call and let us insure you for all of your major life moments.