Do you hire any vehicles to perform work for your company? Do your employees ever use their personal cars to conduct company business? If so, you may have gaps in your insurance coverage. I know what you’re thinking: “I already have liability insurance, property insurance, and business auto insurance among others. How do I possibly have any gaps in coverage?” Well as you know, there are several nuances to running a business, so there are also several types of business insurance to cover those nuances. That’s where we come in. At Berry Insurance, we want to educate all our clients of potential exposures they may have and help them cover those exposures through coverages such as hired and non-owned insurance. Let’s begin by discussing everything you might need to know about hired and non-owned insurance. How does hired and non-owned auto insurance work? Hired and non-owned auto is a commercial auto coverage that extends your auto liability coverage to vehicles that aren’t owned by your business, but are used for your business tasks. These can include “hired” vehicles, rented, leased, or borrowed to perform business operations. It also includes “non-owned” vehicles, owned by employees. If one of your employees or a contractor were to cause an accident doing a work-related task in a vehicle your company does not own, the driver’s auto insurance would kick in first, then hired and non-owned would cover the remainder of the damages after the employee’s insurance is exhausted. This coverage can usually be added as an endorsement on your business’ general liability policy or commercial auto policy. What does hired and non-owned auto insurance cover? Specifically, hired and non-owned insurance provides liability coverage for property damage and bodily injuries caused by someone driving while performing business duties for your company. It also covers any legal fees associated with a lawsuit resulting from the accident. It does not cover collision damages to the hired or non-owned vehicle. Do I need hired and non-owner auto? We recommend that any business who uses vehicles they don’t own (whether hired or owned by employees) for any business-related-operations have hired and non-owned auto. You may be thinking this scenario doesn’t apply to you, but think again. There are several small tasks that can be considered work-related. Some of these include: Going to the bank Going to the post office Delivering supplies from one location to another Picking up supplies at a store Going on a lunch or coffee pickup run for the office Traveling between work sites Making client visits If a car accident occurs while performing one of these company tasks or others, without hired and non-owned insurance, your company may be found liable and stuck with a large, out-of-pocket cost. As we mentioned before, hired and non-owned kicks in when the driver’s personal insurance has exhausted. And you have no way of knowing if the driver has low coverage limits on their insurance or worse, if their insurance has lapsed, which could make you responsible for a significant portion of damage or injury expenses. What if I already have commercial auto insurance? If you have commercial auto insurance, it covers all vehicles that your company owns. However, it does not cover any vehicles that are not owned by the company, even if they are being used for business purposes. So if any vehicles your company does not own are used for business purposes, you need hired and non-owned, regardless of any other coverages you already have. How much does hired and non-owned auto cost? The cost of hired and non-owned auto coverage can vary based on several factors such as number of vehicles/drivers, driving records, types of vehicles being used, driving distance and locations, vehicle use and more. However, you can generally expect the coverage to cost around $100 per year. Cover the gaps in your business auto insurance We know you work hard to protect your business. So you definitely don’t want something trivial like an employee on a coffee run to be the cause of its downfall. With hired and non-owned insurance, your business is covered from liability for property damage or bodily injuries caused by non-company-owned vehicles performing work on behalf of your company. If this is a protection you think you need, you don’t want to spend another day unprotected … it’s time to talk to your insurance agent. While you’re at it, it may be a good time to review all of your business insurance, specifically your commercial auto insurance, to make sure you’re covered on the road and more.
The leaves are changing colors, the air is becoming crisp, and the sky is getting darker earlier. You know what that means … snow is on the way. While this thought may make many New Englanders cringe, if you make money by snow plowing, you may actually be looking forward to it. But are you actually ready? You might think you’re ready to hit the snowy roads this winter, but in fact, you might have gaps in your snow plow coverage. At Berry Insurance, we routinely help many clients secure the coverage they need to avoid costly claims and we want to help you too. Read on to learn if you have adequate snow plow coverage and where you may need to make some changes. First, let’s brush up on what snow plow insurance is When someone says “snow plow insurance,” they are typically just referring to a general liability policy to cover your snow plow operations. This policy covers you for any bodily injury or property damage caused by your plowing. It will also give you “completed operations coverage”, which we’ll discuss more in a minute. One thing that is important to note – you may already have a general liability policy in place for your contracting operations. Unfortunately, unless it is specifically endorsed to cover your snow plow operations, you do not automatically have coverage. Am I covered if I plow for a business? Possibly, but most likely not. Here’s the thing. When you offer snow removal services, there are few specifics you’ll need to decide before you can find out what type of coverage you may, or may not, need. They are: Will you plow residential driveways, commercial properties, parking lots, residential streets/roads, or highways? Will you be charging for services? Will you provide additional snow removal services – like sidewalks, walkways, or roofs? Will you be sanding or providing any surface treatments? Do you want coverage for any damage to the plow itself? Will you be hiring new employees? Which vehicle will you be using to plow – personally owned or owned by the business? Once you’ve ironed out the details of your snow plowing operations, by answering the questions above, you can begin to determine what type of coverage you have already, and what you may need going forward. Let’s dive deeper into how the answers to these questions may affect the insurance coverages you’ll need. Are you plowing residential driveways, commercial properties, parking lots, residential streets/roads, or highways? Some insurance companies are comfortable offering liability coverage to contractors who plow streets and roads, but not contractors who plow commercial parking lots. Other insurance companies prefer contractors who only plow highways. Some will allow you to do the occasional driveway for a neighbor or for your home, while others won’t cover that at all. Some insurance companies also put restrictions on the size of parking lots you can plow. It’s enough to make your head spin. And it changes each year. In addition to this, your general liability policy may have a snow plowing exclusion. Or it may have some limited coverage. It is important to identify all your potential plowing operations ahead of time so that you can be sure everything is covered before the first snowflake falls. Note: If you plow for a city or town, you will likely be asked to provide a certificate of insurance, verifying that you have high limits and you may also be asked to name the city or town as an “Additional Insured”. There could be a charge for this, so be sure to find out what is required of you before you begin work for a town. Do you charge for your plowing services? This may seem like a silly question – but it’s important. If you just plow a few driveways to be a good neighbor, then you may have coverage under your auto policy. But if you are charging for your services, that can be considered a business exposure. If all you have is a personal auto policy, you need to change your insurance rating to “business use” in order to be covered. Do you provide additional snow removal services like sidewalks, walkways, or roofs? Additional snow removal services typically result in additional insurance costs, especially if you are getting up on a roof. If you have a policy for snow plowing, you need to discuss any additional services you complete with your agent, so they can ensure you’re covered for them. Do you provide surface treatments? Road treatments can be a slippery proposition (see what we did there?). If someone slips and falls after you’ve treated the area, you could be held responsible for their injuries. In addition to this, sanding typically requires specialized equipment attached to your trucks, which may need extra insurance. This brings us to the next question… Do you have coverage for your plow itself? If the plow is attached to your truck, and your truck has physical damage coverage (collision and comprehensive), then damage to the plow would be covered under your Massachusetts auto policy. However, it’s on an actual cash value basis. So if you would be looking for replacement cost coverage, you’d need a separate equipment insurance policy to provide that coverage. The same would apply for any specialized equipment that you may want full replacement cost on should a claim happen. You’ll want to provide a copy of the receipt for the plow and any additional equipment so that you can update the values on your auto policy, or to obtain the separate replacement cost equipment policy. Are new employees covered? Many contractors will hire additional employees/drivers during the winter months to cover the various snow plowing shifts they take on. If that is something you also plan to do, you’ll want to be sure to check driving records of those new hires. A “true and attested public driving record” copy of the individual’s Massachusetts driving record costs $20 and can be ordered right online by the potential new hire. Checking this prior to the start of employment could give you an indication of whether they will be considered an acceptable driver for insurance coverage. (Note: Applicants/Employees with several moving violations or citations may be excluded by your insurance policy.) Do you own your plow vehicle, or is it owned by the business? Here’s where things get interesting….and I find it best to use examples. First and foremost, any damage to your vehicle is covered under your auto policy – whether that is a personal policy or a commercial business policy. If you are plowing a street and scrape your truck/plow against some parked cars, the damage to your truck/plow is covered under your auto policy. If you are plowing and hit a car, the damage to that car would be covered under your auto policy. However,what about what could happen after you’re done plowing? This is known as your “completed operations” and is only something that can be purchased on a general liability policy. Again, let’s use some examples: You plow a commercial parking lot and a patron slips and falls. They sue you for their injuries. Your auto policy provides coverage for damage to your vehicle, or liability for accidents involving your vehicle. Neither of these are applicable here, so you’d be left without protection. You plow a residential driveway for someone while they are away on vacation. You didn’t realize that some snow was piled against the side of the property and when the weather warmed up, melted and flooded the resident’s home. They want reimbursement for the damages and cleanup costs. Again, you don’t have coverage without a general liability policy. Finally, do you have enough coverage? There’s no point in having plow insurance if you’re still going to be stuck with a large out-of-pocket expense if you have a claim, right? For anyone that plows, we recommend a $1 million liability coverage limit and $1 million auto liability coverage limit. This may seem like a lot, but an accident involving a plow can be extremely costly, and if you’re paying for plow insurance, you want to be sure you’re fully covered. Let your plowing service pay you … not suck you dry: Plowing during the winter months can provide a great source of additional income – whether you’re a business or an individual. But as you can see above, it also could come at a cost, especially if left unprotected. At Berry Insurance, we’re here to help you review your snow plow insurance before you begin plowing this year, so you don’t get stuck with any costly claims. While you’re reviewing your snow plow insurance, it may also be a good time to review all your commercial insurance to ensure you have no gaps in coverage heading into the winter months.
Individuals & Families | Business Insurance | General Liability | Learning Center | Home Insurance | Workers Compensation | homeowners insurance | individuals and families | Personal Umbrella Insurance
2020 sure has been the year of getting creative — especially when it comes to schooling. When the country shut down in March as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers, school officials and parents scrambled to come up with a plan for remote learning for the remainder of the school year. Now that school is back in session after summer break, parents, teachers, and students are taking even more innovative approaches to learning. Some students are back in the classroom part-time, others are remote full-time. But some parents have also opted for hiring private teachers or tutors, or conducting “teaching pods” gathering a small group of students together under a home school instructor. At Berry Insurance, most of us have kids taking a new approach to schooling this year. We’ve also had several clients inquiring if their insurance will cover their teaching pods or home tutoring. Since this is obviously something we’ve never had to confront in the century we’ve been in business, we reached out to our carriers to find out if this type of situation would be covered under existing homeowners insurance or if it would require supplemental insurance. And well … we got some mixed answers. Let’s dive into what we discovered. What’s the insurance risk with home instruction? Your home insurance covers a whole slew of incidents that could happen in your home. It covers property damage, medical payments to others, and personal liability (if someone sues you for injuries). The more people you have in your home (like students or teachers) the more you are at risk for one of these situations happening, and the more your insurance company will see you as a risk. While we like to assume nothing will ever happen in our homes, it can and does, so you need to make sure you are prepared with the right insurance coverage. Are home school instructors covered under homeowners insurance? Many of the insurance situations we’ve had to confront during the COVID-19 pandemic haven’t been straightforward and well … neither is this one. When we asked our carriers if home school instruction is covered under homeowner’s insurance, many said this type of situation wouldn’t be an insurance problem. Given the pandemic, insurance companies know people are having to make teaching adjustments and are likely to be lenient during related insurance claims. However, some carriers said they would at least need to have the situation noted on file. On the other hand, some carriers did not have the same outlook. Certain carriers are treating this unique homeschooling scenario as essentially a daycare situation and are cancelling policies if they learn of it and not writing any new policies with that kind of exposure. They did say that if the homeowners get a commercial liability policy that covers all the exposures associated with the education/daycare center with a minimum liability limit that at least matches the limit on the homeowner policy, they can renew the policies. So whether or not your specific policy will cover this situation? We don’t really know. You’ll have to reach out to your insurance agent with your specific scenario to find out if you’re covered or if you need to make one of the following changes. You might need a commercial liability policy As we mentioned above, your insurance company might require you to get a commercial liability policy in addition to your personal liability coverage over your homeowners insurance. Business general liability insurance is a type of business insurance policy that covers claims made against your business from someone who experienced bodily injury or property damage. It can also provide coverage for injuries sustained from your product, claims for libel, slander or defamation, and claims filed by your employees or other 3rd-parties. Since hiring a teacher is technically a business operation, commercial insurance could be the only way to cover risks associated with the home teaching. While the cost of liability insurance can vary, we estimate it would cost around $250 – $750 a year for a policy covering one teacher. Commercial liability not needed? Our suggestion: personal umbrella insurance If you don’t need a commercial liability policy, our suggestion is to get an umbrella insurance policy if you don’t already have one. Sometimes known as excess liability or personal liability, umbrella insurance supplements a policyholder’s existing liability coverages, such as auto, homeowners, renters, and condo insurance. It offers an extension of the policyholders existing coverages. Umbrella insurance covers the costs of damages or legal defenses arising from incidents leading to property damage or injury when the policyholder is considered responsible. Specifically, it protects you and your assets if you are found liable for damages beyond what your underlying policies will cover. Having an instructor in your home, or having other children learn in your home automatically creates additional liability risks. If something were to happen and you were to be sued by the teacher or parents of other students, without umbrella insurance, you could be stuck out-of-pocket costs. In our opinion, it’s definitely worth it to buy the protection, especially because it is relatively affordable. A $1 million personal umbrella policy may cost between $160 and $300 per year. As you increase policy limits beyond $1 million, the premium cost increases in smaller increments. For example a $2 million policy might only cost 1.8 times the cost of the million dollar one (rather than double), a $3 million dollar policy might cost 2.55 times the million dollar policy (rather than three times) and a $10 million dollar policy might cost 8.9 times the million dollar policy (rather than ten times). You may also want personal injury coverage While it may already be included on your homeowner’s policy, if it is not, you might want to add personal injury coverage. Personal injury is an optional coverage which provides protection if someone were to sue you for libel, slander, or defamation. In today’s society (especially with the prominence of social media), the chances of these types of claims are much higher. We recommend this coverage in general, but would especially suggest it if you are bringing teachers and other students into your home. You probably also need workers compensation If you have a nanny, tudor, teacher or something similar that you are paying to serve your family, you are technically their employer (unless they are employed by an agency), which means you need workers compensation insurance. Workers’ compensation insurance covers medical payments and a portion of lost wages for employees who become injured or ill due to work-related causes. It also protects the employer from liability for these work-related injuries or illnesses. In Massachusetts, all businesses (this includes individuals who employ home teachers) are required to have workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. Without coverage, employees could sue their employer for injuries or illness sustained on the job. For each person you employ, the base charge for workers comp is $141 per year. (With fees and state assessment charges, the total cost for one nanny on a $1 million policy is $285.) Protect your children and their educators We know you’ve already invested more than you should have had to into your child’s education this year, but don’t forget to invest in insurance to protect it all. While your homeowners insurance might be adequate for your new homeschooling situation, there’s a chance you will need an umbrella policy, commercial liability insurance, or workers compensation. And remember, how you need to change your insurance might not be the same as how the parents next door need to change their insurance. The best way to find out what you need is to contact your insurance agent so they can evaluate your specific situation. Even without having a home school instructor, remote learning alone may prompt changes to your insurance. Read this article to find out how remote learning will affect your personal insurance.
As a business owner, you have a lot on your mind. Between keeping things running smoothly, bringing in enough revenue, complying with laws and regulations, making sure your employees are happy and so much more, you probably don’t have time to think too much about your insurance. We get it! But, if something went wrong and you didn’t have the proper insurance or enough of it to pay a claim, wouldn’t you wish you spent a little more time thinking about your insurance? At Berry Insurance, our goal is to not just be a check box on your business’ to-do list. We want you (and all our clients) to be educated about your policies, so you understand why you need the coverages you do, and so you can recognize when a change in your business may need to translate to a change in your business insurance. If you’re a business owner, you might know you need a business owners policy (often called a BOP). A business owners policy is a bundled policy including both property insurance and general liability insurance. But do you know what that really means? Today, we’re going to dissect a business owners policy a little bit, specifically diving into general liability insurance. What is general liability insurance? In simple terms, general liability insurance is a type of business insurance policy that covers claims made against your business from someone who experienced bodily injury or property damage. It can also provide coverage for injuries sustained from your product, claims for libel, slander or defamation, and claims filed by your employees or other 3rd-parties. What does general liability cover? Liability insurance covers a wide range of injury, property damage and other types of scenarios that could happen at your business. Examples include: Injuries to someone else for an accident you cause Damages to someone else’s property Contractual liability (limited) Coverage for your products (limited) Advertising and personal injury coverage Pollution (optional) Emergency medical payments (optional) Electronic data/cyber liability (optional) Claims made against you by your employees (optional) What doesn’t general liability cover? While liability insurance covers a lot of scenarios, there are some exclusions. Examples include: Intentional bodily injury or property damage Employee work-related illness or injuries Mistakes from your professional services or advice Damages to or caused by company vehicles Damages to goods being loaded to, or unloaded from a vehicle Do I need general liability insurance? General liability insurance isn’t legally required, so while you don’t technically need it: TRUST US, you need it. Whether you are a sole proprietor operating under your personal name, an LLC, partnership, non-profit or corporation, business liability insurance is a policy every single business should have and most every business does. Liability insurance covers a wide range of entirely possible scenarios — scenarios which could leave you with a detrimental out-of-pocket cost if you weren’t covered by the insurance. Many vendors and clients will also need to confirm you have liability insurance before working with you, so going without really isn’t a smart business decision. How much liability insurance do I need? Well, this is a great question, but we can’t fully answer it without knowing the details of your business. When buying liability insurance, you have to consider what factors of your business determine liability risks, such as industry, size, location, equipment, employees, and more. We can say however, we always recommend at least $1,000,000 of coverage to start. This might seem like a lot, but liability claims can actually exceed that amount, and you may even need much more. How much does general liability cost? Premiums for coverage are typically based on business type, industry, location, sales for the year, payroll, square feet of the premises or even average number of guests or attendees at the business, and the limits, deductibles and optional coverages you select. Due to these factors, the cost could range significantly from $200 for an independent consultant to $2,000 for a large contractor with higher risk operations. Of course, when bundled with a property policy in a BOP, the total cost is higher. What if someone is asking for my proof of liability insurance? As we mentioned, many business partners including clients, vendors, and suppliers may require you to have liability insurance in order to work with you. To prove to them you have insurance, you can provide them with a certificate of insurance (COI). This is a one-page document that outlines what you have for insurance. To get a COI, simply contact your business insurance agent and provide the name and address of the person requesting the COI (the hiring company) and the insurance requirements of the hiring company. If the coverages match up, the agent will provide you with the COI to provide to the company you are doing work for. If your coverages are inadequate, you have the option of buying the additional insurance (whether it be higher limits, or other coverages), or declining it, but if you decline it, that probably means you are losing the job. Alternatively, some subcontractors choose to buy the extra insurance, then add the extra cost of that insurance to the price of the job they are completing, so the person requesting the insurance (the hiring company) ends up paying for it. Cover your business’ unique risks I’m sure you know your business is not like any other business. Each business comes with it’s own unique features and associated risks. If you own a company, you likely need a lot more than just liability insurance to ensure a costly claim won’t put you out of business. A comprehensive set of business insurance policies catered to your needs can help you be covered through all your business needs. Looking for a quote of what you may need? Before you apply, check out this valuable resource What Information Do I Need for a Business Insurance Quote?
If you run a business, or are planning on opening a business, by now you know there are many costs associated with it. You may have to pay for the office space itself, the supplies and equipment you use, your employees, and so much more. On top of that, you have to pay for insurance to cover all of those things you are already paying for. This is done through several groups of policies known as “business insurance” or “commercial insurance.” We get how frustrating it can be. At Berry Insurance, we insure a number of businesses across diverse industries, ranging from a handful to thousands of employees. Plus, we are a business ourself, so we see the complexities every day. If you’re not too familiar with insurance, you might not know what to expect and you might be wondering what it actually costs to insure a business. Honestly, even though we sell the insurance, this is a very hard question for us to answer. Not because we don’t understand insurance or we have something to hide, but because there is no straightforward answer. Asking what business insurance costs is kind of like asking how much it costs to buy a house on Earth. There are so many variables that influence the price. But we also know you want to have an idea of what to expect before you buy insurance, so we want to help you understand the costs of business insurance as best as you can. Below we’ll address the costs of business insurance (most specifically property, general liability, commercial auto, and workers compensation insurance) and what factors influence each of them. While some businesses may be outliers, with even higher or lower annual premiums than we present, these numbers are general ballpark estimates of what you can expect. What is a business owners policy (BOP) and what does it cost? When you own a business, your main business owners policy comprises two policies bundled together: property insurance and general liability insurance. Since these two coverages are bundled, we’ll talk a little bit about each, then go over what the package could cost. Property insurance: What it covers: Property insurance can cover the actual structure of your business’ building and its contents, as well as the exterior features such as fencing, or signage. What determines the cost: Premiums for property coverage are typically based on replacement value or actual cash value and take into account the location, cost to rebuild, building construction, type of materials, sprinklers, alarm systems, distance to the coast, and the limits and deductibles you select. General liability insurance: What it covers: General liability insurance covers costs arising from claims against businesses resulting from their operations, such as property damage, physical injury, and personal injury, including libel and slander. What determines the cost: Premiums for liability coverage are typically based on sales for the year, payroll, square feet of the premises or even average number of guests or attendees at the business, and and the limits and deductibles you select. So, what does a business owner’s policy generally cost? What it costs: Annual premiums for a business owners policy (both property and liability) can range from $233 for a home-based business to closer to $80,000 for larger businesses with higher risk operations. Commercial auto cost What it covers: Commercial auto insurance covers the cost of bodily damage or property damage caused by vehicles as well as physical damage of your own vehicles, just like personal car insurance does, but for commercially owned vehicles. What determines the cost: Premiums for commercial auto coverage are generally based on the number of vehicles the company owns, the cost of the vehicles, where the vehicles are garaged, business operations, coverages inclusions, and limits and driver history. What it costs: Annual premiums for commercial autos can range from $1,500 for a private passenger vehicle to $40,000 for a larger company with many work vehicles. Workers compensation cost What it covers: Workers compensation insurance covers wage replacement and medical payments to employees injured while performing job-related duties and protects companies from liability against employee claims. What determines the cost: Workers compensation costs are usually based on the number of employees in the company, estimated yearly payrolls, and job duties/business operations, and the limits you select. What it costs: Premiums for workers compensation policies can range from $218 for a basic nanny policy, for instance, to $100,000 or more for large corporations with higher-risk operations. Let’s look at some business insurance cost examples: By now, I’m sure you can see how much business insurance cost varies based on details about the business. Let’s look at a couple of realistic scenarios of what business insurance might cost. For a very small business, take for example a singular residential house cleaner with no employees, no property, and no commercial vehicles, they may only pay around $500 a year for business insurance (they only need general liability coverage). Now let’s look at a larger business. An HVAC contractor with a property coverage limit of $60,000, general liability limits at $1M/$2M, a $625,000 payroll, and 10 vehicles may pay around $60,000 per year for the business insurance they need. An even larger corporation with many employees, work vehicles, expensive equipment, and high risk operations, like a mechanical engineering company could pay $250,000. Other business insurance costs: Above, we talked about the most common types of business insurance that nearly every business needs to buy, but there are more types. Depending on the specifics of your business, you may need one or more of the following more specialty coverages. We aren’t going to dissect the costs of these additional insurances, but be aware that you may need to spend additional money to get them. If you have any questions about the costs, feel free to reach out to your agent. Professional liability insurance: Also known as errors and omissions insurance, professional liability protects certain types of professionals from costs associated with accusations of negligence. Business umbrella insurance: Business umbrella insurance provides excess coverage on a business liability insurance in the case of a lawsuit exceeding policy limits. Cyber and identity theft insurance: This insurance covers costs associated with a cyber attack or data breach. This includes malicious actions such as hacking, viruses, phishing, denial of service (DoS) ransomware, malware and more; but also data losses from incidents such as computer glitches, power surges, and accidental deletions. Flood insurance: For businesses at risk of floods, flood insurance provides coverage from damages caused by floods. Pollution insurance: Pollution insurance covers costs related to pollution caused by a business’ operations. Bonds: Commercial bonds are required in certain industries to protect the business and its customers from specific risks. Having one or more of these insurance policies would increase the amount you spend on insurance for your business. Protect your business with a comprehensive business insurance policy: We know your business is important to you, so it is crucial you protect it. While the combination of business insurance policies you need can sometimes be pricey, it’s worth the protection against even more costly incidents that can put you out of business. As I’m sure you can tell, the cost of business insurance can vary greatly depending on a variety of factors. The best way to know what you will need to pay is by reaching out to your agent or carrier. An agent, like our agents at Berry, can help you create a custom policy to protect your business without breaking the bank. Don’t have an agent or carrier yet? Check out this article about what to look for when selecting an agency or company.
Back in March when the COVID-19 pandemic was ramping up and businesses were temporarily closing or transitioning to remote operations, we wrote this article to help businesses know where to adjust their business insurance during a crisis. Now a few months later, things are starting to get (at least a little bit) back to normal. Some Massachusetts companies may have decided to maintain remote operations, but others are partially or fully re-opening, or working on a plan to slowly shift employees back into the office. For usat Berry Insurance, we are slowly getting back to normal, but things are looking very different for us. We are currently following a detailed plan to slowly phase our team back into the office, while implementing strict social distancing and cleaning practices. So whether you’re ready to fully re-open or are transitioning employees back into the office like we are, there may be some areas of various insurance policies you may need to adjust at this time (or soon). Where to adjust insurance after a crisis: If you changed certain insurance coverages during the pandemic, or are making operational changes post-COVID-19, you might need to adjust some of the following coverages. 1. Increase sales revenue on liability insurance: It’s safe to assume most businesses (aside from Zoom, Netflix, Nintendo, food delivery services, and liquor stores) had a drop in income during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you lowered your sales revenue on your liability insurance during the crisis, or if your business is booming after the COVID-19 era, it is time to adjust your sales revenue to reflect it. If your sales revenue is not accurate on your insurance policy at the end of your policy term, you may run into issues when being audited. 2. Increase payroll on workers’ compensation: If you had a reduction in workforce during the pandemic, you may have lowered your payroll on your workers’ compensation policy. If you’re rehiring and adding employees, don’t forget to readjust your payroll. Again, keep in my mind that your policy may be audited at the end of the policy term, so as things progress, be sure to keep your policy accurate so as to not result in a large audit premium due. 3. Adjust property coverage: For those of you who had to purchase new equipment to enable remote working (laptops, webcams, remote servers, etc.), you probably increased your property coverage to protect that new equipment. Assuming you are keeping that equipment, you’ll need to keep it on your policy (or add it if you haven’t already!), but if you are getting rid of it, you can remove it. You should also consider any equipment that you may be adding when you re-open. For example, at Berry Insurance, we are investing in new safety, social distancing, and cleaning equipment to enhance the safety of our employees and guests. If you are doing the same, you should add that new equipment to your insurance. 4. Re-add collision coverage: If you’re putting business vehicles back on the road after not using them during the crisis, make sure the vehicles have the proper coverages. During the crisis, we were recommending that businesses remove collision coverage on vehicles they weren’t using to save some money. If this is the case for you, you should re-add the coverage before using the vehicles. Collision insurance covers damages to your vehicle from a collision (whether you are at fault or not). These collisions can be with any object like a tree, pole, guard rail, pothole, or with another vehicle. This coverage is optional (as long as you don’t have a loan on the vehicle), but not having it can leave you with a large out of pocket expense if there were to be an accident. 5. Adjust your billing plan/method: Many insurance companies offered payment plans and/or extensions on a case-by-case basis during the crisis. If you are using one of these payment plans, you may need to transition back to a traditional payment plan once the insurance companies require you to. In this case, the company will probably reach out to notify you directly, so just be prepared that this may happen in the coming weeks or months. 6. Remove hired and non-owned auto liability: To adapt to stay-at-home orders, many companies adjusted by offering delivery or using new vehicles for work purposes. These companies needed to add coverage for hired and non-owned auto liability to ensure all drivers and vehicles were fully covered under their commercial auto policy. If this applies to you, you may want to remove this coverage once you are no longer using those vehicles or offering those services. It should even save you a little bit of money! Be protected when you’re back up and running We know you’re excited to get your business back up and running as close to normal as possible (we are too!). But in all the excitement and chaos that will most certainly ensue, don’t forget about your insurance! The last thing we all want is to have to deal with an uncovered insurance claim right after finally getting to open up again. During this time and as always, Berry Insurance is here to help you through your changing insurance needs. We know every business is different, so feel free to reach out so we can make sure you are making the right decisions for your specific business. If your business has gone through significant changes during this time, you may need to make some additional changes. Check out this article about when you may need to switch or update your business insurance.