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Featured Insurance Blog

Business Owners Policies (BOPs)

Business owners have a lot to consider when choosing insurance that fully protects their business. One coverage option, a business owner’s policy (BOP), can take the guesswork out of the process. A BOP bundles several types of coverage in one package, similar to the way a homeowners policy works but is designed for small and midsized businesses.

BOP Key Features

A BOP generally combines the following types of coverage in one convenient bundle:

  1. Commercial property insurance—Covers losses to property from common perils. It also covers office equipment, furniture, inventory, machinery, raw materials, computers and anything else that is vital to business operations.
  2. General liability insurance—Covers a company’s legal responsibility for any harm it may cause to others, up to the policy limit. It also covers attorney fees and medical bills for anyone injured by the company.
  3. Business interruption insurance—Reimburses for loss of income if a covered disaster interferes with the successful operation of the business.

Exclusions

Although a BOP is a convenient insurance option for small to midsized business owners, it does not cover professional liability, auto insurance and workers’ compensation. Workers’ life, health, and disability coverage is also excluded. For those exclusions, business owners can purchase separate insurance policies. Other examples include the following:

  1. Crime coverage—Although it is minimal, crime coverage can be added to a BOP to cover losses as a result of crime, such as employee dishonesty and computer fraud. Typical crime coverage ranges between $1,000 and $5,000.
  2. Data breach coverage—This coverage is commonly added to BOPs to help remedy the following losses resulting from data breaches:

A. Notifying impacted individuals
B. Hiring crisis communication consultants
C. Defense and settlement costs from associated lawsuits
D. Replacement of lost income
E. Extortion and ransom payments

3. Errors and omissions (E&O) coverage—Businesses that provide services for a fee can be sued by customers who claim that they were harmed because the business failed to perform its job properly. E&O coverage pays for any judgment for which the insured is found legally liable, up to the policy limit. It also covers legal defense costs.

Ideal Candidates for a BOP

Businesses that have the following characteristics are ideal candidates for a BOP:

  1. Operate in a physical location, whether home-based or outside the home
  2. Have assets that can be stolen, including products, cash, furniture and digital property
  3. Are at a high risk for lawsuits
  4. Employ less than 100 employees and have less $5 million in sales

Eligibility

Small to midsized businesses need to meet specific criteria to be eligible for a BOP. When determining eligibility, insurers consider factors that include the type of business, size of its primary location, class of business, and revenue.

Premiums for BOP policies are based on eligibility factors, as well as financial stability, building construction, security features, and fire hazards.

When purchasing business insurance, it is important to obtain the right amount. Contact Midwest Professional Insurance for guidance as to whether a BOP is a logical choice for your business.

Summer Travel Safety Tips

As millions of Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and businesses resume normal operations, people are likely making plans to travel this summer.

Of those planning to travel, 74% will take a domestic trip and 13% will travel internationally. Also, millennials report being the most excited to plan trips and get back out there this summer.

If you’re trading your staycation for a getaway, here are some tips to keep you as safe as possible this summer:

  1. Get vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends delaying travel until you are able to get fully vaccinated.
  2. Stay domestic. Although Europe continues to open up to fully vaccinated U.S. travelers, the global travel situation is in flux. Some countries are closing their borders again or enforcing strict curfews and mandates.
  3. Take a road trip. Traveling by car is still safer than flying as it involves less exposure to people.
  4. Explore the outdoors. Outdoor activities are generally safer. Get outdoorsy or visit small towns to distance yourself from others easily.
  5. Check travel restrictions. Be flexible and continue checking state and local policies for where you are, along your route and where you are going.
  6. Keep up with COVID-19 safety precautions. Pack extra masks and hand sanitizer for any outing. Regardless of your vaccination status, you should still wear a mask, avoid crowds and wash your hands frequently when traveling.

If you’re not traveling this summer, use your vacation time to reconnect with friends and family who you’ve missed.

CDC Travel Considerations

If you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and travel within the United States, the CDC says you do not need to get tested or self-quarantine after travel. If you are traveling with young children who aren’t eligible yet for vaccination, check out CDC recommendations at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus

The most important aspect of traveling is to stay safe and healthy. If you’re not comfortable traveling this summer, you can always start planning your 2022 dream getaway.

This article is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended to be exhaustive, nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as professional advice. Readers should contact a health professional for appropriate advice.

What to know before sending your student to college with a car

If you’re sending your child off to college, one of your discussion topics may be whether their car is going with them. Depending on where your child is going and the field of study, having a car may be beneficial. However, on the flip side you may have several concerns.

Before packing your college student’s car and saying good-bye, there are some things you should know and do.

Find out the college’s policy

Depending on where it’s located, the number of cars allowed on campus may be limited. For example, some college gives first priority to the juniors and seniors. If there are additional spots available, the remaining students are put into a lottery. So, spending a lot of time discussing if the car can go, may be a moot point.

Discuss your auto policy with your insurance agent

There are many variables that may come into play with your insurance policy. If your student is attending college 100 miles or less from your current residence and is full-time, it’s likely your policy provides coverage. Because the car will be parked in a different environment, you may want to discuss policy coverage and limits to make sure you have adequate coverage. For example, if the car was parked in your garage, but now it’ll be outside, having comprehensive coverage may be a good idea.

Even if your student is going to college out of state, they may still be able to stay on your policy. However, some states have different car insurance laws. Talking to your insurance agent can help you adjust your policy accordingly.

Lastly, just because your student is off to college, it doesn’t mean the good student discount automatically ends. Many companies will continue the discount for unmarried, full-time students up to age 25 if they maintain a 3.0 GPA.

Don’t forget about safety

To keep your student and car safe, here are some things you can do:

  1. Install a dashboard camera.
  2. Always keep the windows up and the doors locked.
  3. Remove valuables items.
  4. Install a car alarm.
  5. Put an anti-theft device on the steering wheel.
  6. Review the vehicle crime statistics at your school.
  7. Know where campus security/police are located.
  8. Purchase roadside assistance.

Discuss responsibility

There are many benefits of taking a car to college. However, doing so increases your student’s responsibility. Things to discuss include:

  1. How to handle a friend who wants to use the car.
  2. How to handle friends who want you to be their ride service.
  3. What to do if car warning light turns on.
  4. The car as a distraction i.e., grades come first.
  5. What to do if in an accident.

Understand state requirements

If your car is registered in your home state, there’s nothing you’ll need to do. However, if your student decides to become a permanent resident of the state where he/she is attending college, that changes the situation. Not only will a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) be necessary, your child will also need to get his/her own insurance policy.

Each year, it’s important to review your insurance needs before your student leaves for college. Just when you think you have it figured out, something changes.

Insurance for Students FAQs

Q: Will my child’s belongings be covered if his/her dorm is subject to theft, fire or other disasters?

A: Usually homeowners’ policies extend to a campus dorm room, but only up to a certain amount. If your student has expensive items, consider getting more coverage.

Q: Will my child’s belongings be covered if he/she lives in off-campus housing?

It depends. Call 913-747-1000 to determine whether your student’s property would be protected under your homeowners’ policy. If not, consider purchasing renter’s insurance, which ranges from $15 to $30 per month and also provides liability coverage if anyone is injured in the residence.

Q: Does my child need to be a full-time student to be covered under my health plan?

No. Your child is eligible as long as they are under 26 years old.

Q: What happens if my student gets seriously injured while at school?

A: This is a very real possibility, so it is important to contact Midwest Professional Insurance to discuss your health plan and whether there are providers near your child’s university or college.

Q: Can I get a discount on my auto policy if my young driver is away at school?

A: Usually you can, provided your son or daughter attends a school that is more than 100 miles away from your home. Your auto policy could also change if he or she takes a car to school, so be sure to contact Midwest Professional Insurance.

PLAN AHEAD

Call our office today at 913-747-1000 to learn more about insurance solutions for your student.

This article is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended to be exhaustive, nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as professional advice.

13 Risks Facing Professional Services Companies and How to Help Protect Your Business

Working with businesses, the stresses range from inability to meet staffing needs (very real right now) to lack of availability of materials. As your trying to navigate these, to have large equipment come up missing or have a data breach (or even an accusation of one) can put everything on hold and cost you time and money! Remember it’s a policies’ job to RESPOND to these claims and losses, you’re not just paying for the COVERAGE, you are paying for the REPRESENTATION. Call me today and let’s determine where and what to insure, and how.

– FELISHA MCDOUGALD CIC CPRM

Call 913-747-1000 | Text 913-359-9121

The exposure to risk for professional services businesses continues to grow as the world becomes more and more dependent on technology and as the industry faces other emerging risks. Here are 13 professional services risks to look out for and the types of insurance coverage that can help protect your business:

1. Cyber Risks

It takes only one cyber event or data security breach to impair a professional service company’s financial results, or even potentially put them out of business. One successful hack lost laptop or lost paper record can cause a data breach that impacts the privacy of customers, employees, and others.

Travelers can help protect your professional service business before, during, and after a breach. CyberRisk coverage* can be a crucial safeguard against the devastating financial consequences of a cyberattack, with protection that provides coverage solutions for digital forensic investigations, litigation expenses, regulatory defense expenses/fines, crisis management expenses, business interruption, cyber extortion, and betterment.

2. Employee Injuries

Work-related accidents are an unfortunate reality in any industry. For example, musculoskeletal injuries can occur in slippery walkways on your property, or as a result of prolonged hours at workstations that may not facilitate optimal employee efficiency and comfort.

Significant medical bills may result from workplace accidents or injuries. Travelers’ Workers Compensation insurance can provide resources aimed at helping employees make a timely recovery and smooth transition when they return to work.

3. Employment Practices

In an increasingly litigious environment, there’s a risk that an employee can sue your professional service company if they believe they were treated unfairly in your workplace. Terminations, promotions, hiring practices – all invite scrutiny and can increase your risk of being sued. And there is the potential publicity surrounding a wrongful termination or discrimination lawsuit that can harm your reputation and brand. Travelers Employment Practices liability insurance* can help protect your organization from the costs associated with an employment-related claim.

4. Equipment Failures

Equipment breakdown of heating, cooling or electrical components can disrupt operations and result in increased costs and lost profits. Often armed with digital sensors and microprocessors, much of this equipment’s sophisticated nature may render it more susceptible to failure and downtime.

Repair or replacement costs to get your operations back up and running can be covered through policies that insure equipment failures. Travelers’ Equipment Breakdown insurance can help cover costs and expedite a return to normal operations, and a comprehensive package like EnergyMax21SM can help cover your lost income caused by a shutdown.

5. Errors & Omissions

Regardless of how well you plan, the potential for mistakes in the performance of a professional service is very real. Your business’s financial security can depend on how well protected you are from a lawsuit or claim. Travelers Miscellaneous Professional Liability coverage* offers protection for an array of emerging exposures, as well as for losses resulting from negligence or errors and omissions in the performance of professional services.

6. Evolving Workforce Dynamics

Adopting a culture of safety starts with recruiting and hiring, and continues through to onboarding and day-to-day employee engagement.

To build and maintain a safe and healthy workforce, start by leveraging preventive programs designed by insurers. For instance, as a customer, you could take advantage of the traveler’s Workforce Advantage® platform, which can help you analyze working conditions in offices and facilities, as well as implement changes that emphasize ergonomic techniques to ensure people and equipment are interacting efficiently and safely.

7. Going Global

For companies with international operations, a vehicle accident or workplace injury could have costly ramifications if the occurrence isn’t adequately covered by domestic policies. Your insurance representative may help you conduct a quick check of covered risks and policy limits in foreign countries where you may operate to help you identify any potential gaps.

Insurance programs for international exposures seek to equate foreign coverages to U.S. standards. Extending to more than 100 countries, Travelers Global Companion Plus+ ℠ coverage is an effective solution for international exposures and includes Property, General Liability, Commercial Auto and Workers Compensation policies, and more.

8. Large Losses

There are routine claims and then there are incidents with the potential to generate catastrophic losses that exceed the limits of a primary liability policy. Consider the case of a sales rep who causes an at-fault accident with a company vehicle, resulting in severe injuries and extensive property damage.

Consider adding excess liability coverage that works with your primary insurance policies. Helping to insulate your organization from potentially crippling losses, Travelers’ Excess Casualty coverage can provide additional financial protection when a loss exceeds the limits of your primary general liability policy and other qualifying coverages.

9. Mobile Equipment

State-of-the-art surveying equipment that moves from job to job may hold value beyond prescribed policy limits. It’s not unreasonable to think that theft of or damage to that job-critical property may result in substantial costs for replacement or repair.

To appropriately cover property that is transported to different locations, the ability to schedule specific items and cover them for a stated or appraised value is important. With Inland Marine Coverage from Travelers, that coverage can extend to unique works of art or antiques displayed in offices or common areas.

10. Third-Party Risks

Hiring subcontractors can help expand your business’s capacity, but what happens if they make a mistake?

Transferring risk to the appropriate party is an important aspect of your insurance strategy. While Travelers’ General Liability insurance could help cover you for the negligence of a subcontractor, you should require these parties to carry their own insurance. In addition to securing Business Insurance from Travelers, consider discussing risk transfer strategies with your agent.

11. Vehicle Accidents

From company cars to vans and heavy trucks, your fleet can be both an asset and a liability. Serious vehicle accidents not only pose a threat to the value of your vehicles but can also involve serious injury to pedestrians or occupants of other vehicles. And the risk is ever-present.

Commercial Auto Insurance lets you select liability and property damage amounts that cover minor fender benders on accidents of a more complex nature. In addition, Travelers’ Commercial Automobile insurance coverage may extend to rented vehicles and medical expenses incurred by third parties.

12. Visitor Injuries

As clients and other visitors come and go, the odds of an on-site injury to those parties increase. Nowadays, litigation over these types of incidents is all too common and can lead to significant legal expenses as well as the possibility of verdicts that can carry devastatingly high damage awards.

In light of these possibilities, general liability coverage is critical. It can help protect your business from the costs of a legal defense and payments for damages when someone claims your business has caused them bodily injury or property damage.

13. Weather and Unexpected Events

Hurricanes along the Atlantic coast, California wildfires, and powerful storms just about anywhere typify the perils that businesses face. Damages to buildings and computer systems can upend operations and constrict cash flow.

Consider the right insurance that provides financial protection to enable your business to get back up and running as soon as possible after weather damage occurs. For offices and business equipment that are the backbone of your operations and comprise the bulk of your physical assets, commercial property insurance can provide coverage for your business’s physical assets, and coverage helps keep revenue flowing when the unexpected happens.

Solutions for All Risks

For service-oriented companies, insurance needs can be complex. Find a trusted partner who understands the unique risks facing your business and offers comprehensive solutions to help you prevent losses and mitigate claims costs. With Travelers, you get an insurer that has your back.

Call Midwest Professional Insurance at 913-747-1000 for all your business insurance needs.

Biden’s Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy – Impact on You and Insurance

The American economy is finally recovering President Joe Biden’s administration wants further stimulate the economy. So he recently signed an executive order aimed at increasing competition among businesses.

They say that corporate consolidation has been accelerating for many years, leaving the majority of industries in the hands of only a few entities. This is the main reason for slow wage growth and rising consumer prices. This latest executive order intends to reverse these effects.

The executive order includes 72 initiatives by more than a dozen federal agencies to help address competition inequality.

Summary from Felisha McDougald, CIC CPRM

Competition is good, for you and for me. In the insurance industry, it ensures that my businesses are not unfairly penalized for losses by other companies in markets they rate in. While loyalty is important in insurance, no Commercial Agent can deny that Actuaries (those that gather data and make rate recommendations) ‘group’ data into buckets that often unfairly price smaller companies (especially those that cannot afford larger deductibles) out of the market. This is like a windfall effect, the carrier charges a higher price to Company x, y, z. Company y, z, get out, because they cannot be profitable. Company X has the staff to modify bids, and charge overages, however they pass that on to the Company requiring the insurance… and so it goes. In short: the more players we have in the game the better.

LABOR MARKET

Currently, nearly half of all private employers make employees sign non-compete agreements, limiting where employees can work during certain periods. Separately, many workplaces require certain licenses to perform specific jobs. The Biden administration believes these current trends are limiting growth.

In the first executive order, the White House encouraged the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to ban or limit noncompete agreements as well as occupational licensing restrictions. Additionally, the executive order urges the FTC and Department of Justice (DOJ) to strengthen antitrust guidance to prevent employers from collaborating to suppress wages or reduce

HEALTH CARE

The executive order addresses competition in health care in four main areas:

Prescription Drugs
Right now, large drug manufacturers enjoy incredible profits year over year. The White House alleges that this is due to

lack of competition and “pay for delay” tactics, where name-brand drug manufacturers pay generic manufacturers to stay out of the market. Such strategies result in Americans paying 2.5 times more for the same medications as peer countries.

The executive order directs the Food and Drug Administration to work with states and tribes to safely import prescription drugs from Canada, where drugs are less expensive. It also directs the Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration to increase support for generic and biosimilar drugs. Additionally, the order encourages the FTC to ban “pay for delay” and similar agreements.

Hearing Aids
The executive order directs the HHS to consider issuing proposed rules within 120 days for allowing hearing aids to be sold over the counter.

Hospitals
Charge far higher prices than hospitals in markets with more competition.

Hospital price transparency rules and finish implementing bipartisan federal legislation to address surprise hospital billing.

Health Insurance
The executive order directs the HHS to standardize plan options in the National Health Insurance Marketplace so people can comparison shop more easily.

TECHNOLOGY

The executive order addresses competition in the technology sector in four main areas:

Purchasing Would-be Competitors

Greater scrutiny of mergers, especially by dominant internet platforms, with particular attention to the acquisition of nascent competitors, serial mergers, the accumulation of data, competition by ‘free’ products, and the effect on user privacy.

Gathering Personal Information

The current business model of many large tech platforms is the accumulation of individuals’ personal information. The Biden administration is concerned about the breadth of this collected information— information is sometimes compromised through security breaches.

The executive order encourages the FTC to establish rules on surveillance and the accumulation of data.

Unfairly Competing With Small Businesses

Big tech platforms have incredible control over the online marketplace. Often, small businesses rely on these platforms to reach their customers. However, large platforms will sometimes examine the most popular products sold by these small businesses, then replicate them and promote them more prominently on their websites.

FTC to establish rules barring unfair methods of competition on internet marketplaces.

TRANSPORTATION

The transportation sector is dominated by a handful of corporations. The executive order addresses competition as it relates to:

Airlines
There are four commercial airlines that control two-thirds of the industry. This contributes to high prices for consumers, such as with baggage and cancellation fees. The Biden administration points out that these increases often come in lockstep, meaning the top airlines tend to raise them at the same time. These simultaneous increases demonstrate “a lack of meaningful competitive pressure,” according to the White House. Notably, despite this industry consolidation, airlines were late delivering 2.3 million checked bags in 2019, according to the Department of Transportation (DOT).

The executive order directs the DOT to consider issuing clear rules requiring the refund of fees when baggage is delayed or when service isn’t actually provided, such as when the plane’s Wi-Fi or in-flight entertainment system is broken. Additionally, the order directs the DOT to consider issuing rules that require baggage, change and cancellation fees to be clearly disclosed to the customer.

Rail
The rail industry, like airliners, is heavily consolidated, going from 33 “Class I” freight railroads in 1980 to only seven today. Moreover, four rail companies dominate their respective geographic regions of the United States. These companies can prioritize their own freight traffic, sometimes to the detriment of passenger trains and other companies’ freight cars.

The executive order encourages the Surface Transportation Board to require railroad track owners to provide rights of way to passenger rails and strengthen their obligations to treat other freight companies fairly.

Shipping

The industry’s 10 largest shipping companies control more than 80% of the global market, leaving manufacturers who need to ship goods “at these large foreign companies’ mercy,” according to the Biden administration. These companies are allowed to charge exorbitant fees for when their shipments are sitting, waiting to be loaded, or unloaded.

The executive order encourages the Federal Maritime Commission to ensure vigorous enforcement against shippers charging American exporters exorbitant charges.

AGRICULTURE

Agriculture consolidation is another concern for the Biden administration. Four companies now control most of the work’s seeds, and seed prices have increased as much as 30% annually. This consolidation also limits to whom small farmers can sell their goods, meaning lower price sharing for these farmers. Summarily, farmers are getting less for their goods, and consumers are paying more for them, all while large corporations are reaping profits.

current labeling rules allow for shady business practices that can harm consumers. For instance, foreign beef manufacturers may use the label “Product of USA” merely if the product was processed here. In fact, that beef may not be from the United States—the White House notes that most grass-fed beef labeled “Product of USA” is actually imported.

The executive order aims to combat these practices.

INTERNET SERVICE

The executive order addresses issues in the internet service sector in four primary areas:

Lack of Competition

According to the White House, more than 200 million U.S. residents live in an area with only one or two reliable high-speed internet providers, leading to prices as much as five times higher in these markets than in markets with more options. This situation is sometimes exacerbated when landlords enter exclusivity deals with internet service providers (ISPs), effectively blocking broadband internet expansion for an area.

The executive order encourages the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to prevent ISPs from making deals with landlords that limit tenants’ choices.

Lack of Price Transparency

High Termination Fees

Indiscriminate Service Slowdowns

BANKING AND CONSUMER FINANCE

In the last four decades, 70% of U.S. banks have been lost to closures, mergers, or acquisitions

SUMMARY

The executive order broadly addresses competition inequalities across market sectors. These proposed initiatives have the potential to help individuals and small businesses alike. However, it remains to be seen how all of these initiatives will play out, as executive orders are essentially a directive to federal agencies to revise their regulations. In other words, some of the proposals may never come to fruition, and those that do may take months to implement. At the very least, this executive order and its initiatives indicate the position of the Biden administration—signaling that it may pursue these agenda items through alternative means, if necessary.

Employers should continue to monitor exactly how the executive order plays out. In the meantime, employers can read the full overview of the order on www.whitehouse.gov.

Outdoor Exercise Safety Tips

As we move into summer, many will want to exercise outdoors to stay active and get some fresh air. That’s great news, as experts recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week. Working out in hot and humid weather can put extra stress on your body; however, there are simple precautions you can take to protect yourself.

Workout Tips

By moving your workout outdoors, you can boost your mood and improve your concentration. Also, you don’t need to stick to your own yard or neighborhood. Jogging trails, exercise parks, sports fields and stairs provide endless opportunities to switch up your workout. Keep in mind the following tips to safely exercise outside during the summer:

  1. Avoid the hottest part of the day. If possible, plan your workout before 10 a.m. or after 3 p.m. to dodge those strong sun rays.
  2. Wear light-colored clothing. Dark colors absorb the heat, while light colors will reflect the sun. Lightweight, loose-fitting clothing will help air circulate and keep you cool.
  3. Apply sunscreen. Opt for a broad-spectrum sunscreen that’s at least 30 SPF. Reapply every two hours, even if the label says it’s sweatproof. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat can also protect your face from sun exposure.
  4. Stay hydrated with water. Drink water before you head out, and try to take sips every 15 minutes during your workout—whether you’re thirsty or not.
  5. Replenish your electrolytes. Instead of reaching for a sports drink after a workout, consider replacing electrolytes through real food like chia seeds, kale, coconut, or fruits and vegetables.
  6. Listen to your body. If you’re feeling dizzy, faint or nauseous, stop immediately. Sit down in the shade and drink some water until you’re feeling better.

Your body may need to adapt to outdoor workouts, so follow its lead and gradually pick up the pace or intensity. As always, talk to your doctor before you start a new exercise regimen.

Health Benefits of Gardening

It’s likely that you may already have a garden. According to the Garden Media Group, 16 million people started gardening during the pandemic

As we enter the growing season, gardening is a great way to spend time outdoors—and get some exercise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention counts activities like raking and cutting grass as light to moderate exercise—while shoveling, digging and chopping wood are vigorous exercise.

In addition to physical activity, consider these health benefits of gardening:

  1. Increased vitamin D levels essential for body functions
  2. Boosted self-esteem
  3. Improved mood
  4. Reduced stress and anxiety

Talk to your doctor to learn more about ways to manage your well-being

3 Ways to Snack Smartly

It’s completely normal to snack throughout the workday. However, it can especially be tempting to opt for the fast, easy (but unhealthy) option if you are working from home. Keep the following three tips in mind to help you snack smartly during the workday at the office or at home.

  1. Plan your snacking. Think ahead so you don’t desperately reach for unhealthy items. At the beginning of the week, make or pre-portion your healthy snacks so they’re ready to go.
  2. Be mindful of portions. Avoid eating directly out of the bag or original container, and portion your snacks before eating.
  3. Choose healthy snacks. Nibble on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats to stay satisfied and full. Pass on the junk food since chips, candy and cookies can leave you feeling sluggish.

You might not have control over where you’re working, but try to work away from the kitchen.

Seven Insurance Policies for Small Businesses

With so many different types of insurance to choose from, it can be overwhelming to determine what type is best for your small business. Midwest Professional Insurance is here to help explain the types of insurance policies available and how they can help protect you, your employees and your business’s bottom line.

Commercial Property Insurance

In the case of a catastrophic event such as a fire, explosion, burst pipe, storm or theft, commercial property insurance compensates you for losses or damage to your building, leased or owned equipment, and other property on the premises. In fact, commercial property insurance can cover items such as furniture, inventory, computers and anything that would be considered necessary for performing normal business operations.

Commercial property insurance is typically purchased as a stand-alone policy or as part of a comprehensive business owner’s policy that includes property and general liability coverage. Commercial property insurance is offered on either a replacement cost or actual cash value basis.

  1. Replacement cost: Pays the cost to replace or repair the damaged property with materials of like kind and quality, without any deduction for depreciation.
  2. Actual cash value: Pays the cost to repair or replace the damaged property, minus depreciation.

General Liability Insurance

General liability insurance policies typically cover an organization for claims involving bodily injuries and property damage resulting from its products, services or operations. What’s more, this form of insurance can help cover medical expenses and attorney fees resulting from bodily injury or property damage claims for which your organization may be legally responsible.

General liability insurance policies typically have four coverage elements:

Premises liability covers you in the event that a person who is not employed at your business becomes injured on your property. If someone sued your business because they tripped and fell on your property, liability insurance can help cover those expenses.

Products liability covers you if a product or service causes injury to someone’s body or inflicts damage on a consumer’s personal property. If you’re a tech company that broke a customer’s computer while performing a service on it, those damages could be covered.

A personal injury is when your business inflicts a physical, financial or mental injury to a third party. For instance, let’s say you take action in detaining someone who you had reason to believe was stealing from your store. If it turns out your accusations are false and the person decides to sue you, you’d be covered under your general liability policy.

Advertisement injuries are caused by alleged misinformation, copyright infringement or slander made by your company. If you were advertising a product that claimed it could help clear acne and it ended up making a consumer’s acne worse, that could be considered an advertisement injury.

Overall, a general liability policy is beneficial for covering any medical bills or legal costs that accrue if the injured third party decides to sue your business.

Employment Practices Liability

Employment practices liability insurance (EPLI) is a form of insurance that covers wrongful acts that occur during the employment process. The most frequent types of claims covered under an EPLI policy include claims of discrimination, wrongful termination, sexual harassment and retaliation.

These policies will reimburse your company against the costs of defending a lawsuit in court, and for judgments and settlements. EPLI covers legal costs, whether your company wins or loses the suit. However, these policies typically do not pay for punitive damages, or civil or criminal fines.

Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation is important in the event that an employee suffers a work-related injury or illness. This type of insurance is required in most states and is used to cover medical bills or wage replacement for employees who experience a work-related injury.

For example, if a worker pulled a back muscle at work and was unable to perform their duties, workers’ compensation would help in covering any physical therapy costs as well as compensating the employee for any lost wages.

Having worker’s compensation insurance can also protect your business from civil suits made by employees against your company related to their injuries.

Cyber Liability Insurance

If any part of your business is on an online platform, it is crucial to obtain cyber liability insurance. This type of coverage can protect your business from a cyber attack or interruption that can cause a loss in data, revenue and the trust between you and your customers. Cyber liability insurance is not only there to protect the internal information of your company, such as employees’ social security or financial information, but it also protects your customers’ personal and banking information.

Most cyber liability policies include both first- and third-party coverage:

  1. First-party coverage is for the business itself— helping the business recover from any losses after a cyber attack.
  2. Third-party coverage is to cover claims by people who have been injured because of your business being hacked.

Restoring compromised or lost data can be very costly, so cyber liability insurance is there to help cover financial losses to your business and the costs of claims made against your company by clients or other third parties who were affected.

Commercial Auto

Commercial auto insurance helps cover the costs of an auto accident if you or an employee is at fault. This coverage can help pay for damaged property and medical expenses.

Your business should consider a commercial auto policy if any of the following are true:

  1. Your business owns, leases or rents vehicles such as cars, trucks or vans.
  2. Your business has employees who drive their own vehicles to conduct business.
  3. Your business has employees who operate leased, rented or owned company vehicles.

Professional Liability Insurance

Professional liability insurance can cover the cost of defending your business in a civil lawsuit for an alleged error or omission. What’s more, depending on your industry, professional liability insurance may be required by law.

While many types of businesses need professional liability insurance, you should especially consider this type of insurance if your business works directly with customers while providing services.

More Information

Contact Midwest Professional Insurance to help you analyze your needs and decide on the right coverage for you and your growing business.

This Coverage Insights is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel or an insurance professional for appropriate advice.

Self-care and Your Mental Health

More than half of adults in the United States will experience mental illness—which refers to a variety of conditions that affect one’s mood, behavior, feelings or thinking—at some point in their life. Mental illnesses can occur occasionally, while others are chronic. Common mental illnesses include anxiety, depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Mental Health Awareness Month, observed every May, is a time to raise awareness about mental health, break the stigma and support people with mental illness.

Each condition has its own unique symptoms, but common signs of mental illness include the following:

  1. Feeling sad, irritable or angry for an extended time
  2. Feeling excessively paranoid, worried or anxious
  3. Experiencing extreme mood swings
  4. Avoiding friends and social activities
  5. Changing eating habits due to increased hunger or lack of appetite
  6. Having trouble sleeping or making dramatic sleeping pattern changes

One or two of these symptoms alone can’t predict a mental illness, but they may indicate a need for further evaluation.

Taking Care of Yourself

One way to improve your mental health is through self-care. Self-care looks different for every person since it involves doing things that you enjoy or need.

Here are some ideas for how to practice self-care:

  1. Live healthy by eating well, getting enough sleep and exercising regularly.
  2. Connect regularly with friends and family who encourage and support you.
  3. Pamper yourself by watching your favorite TV show, taking a bath, applying a face mask, getting a massage or reading a book.
  4. Find ways to relax, including meditating, practicing yoga, going on a nature walk or baking.

The goal is to try to do something you enjoy every day. If you have concerns about a loved one’s or your mental health, contact a doctor or mental health professional.

Skin Cancer and You

One in 5 Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime. That makes skin cancer the most common cancer in the United States. Fortunately, skin cancer is highly preventable by avoiding excessive sun exposure.

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, but sun protection is important year-round. Here are a few tips to protect yourself outdoors:

  1. Stay in the shade under an umbrella, tree or other shelter. Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the rays are the strongest.
  2. Wear dark-colored clothes made of tightly woven fabrics and a hat that shields your face, neck and ears.
  3. Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes and the skin around your eyes.
  4. Use sunscreen that is at least SPF 30, applying it all over your body and lips. Reapply at least every two hours—and after swimming or sweating.

Routinely inspect your skin for any spots or changes in color or appearance. If you have any concerns, see your doctor.

Sunscreen label 101

Like other over-the-counter drugs, sunscreens follow regulated labeling guidelines. Here’s how to decode your sunscreen label:

  1. Broad-spectrum protection works against both UVA (skin cancer and premature aging) and UVB (sunburn) rays
  2. The sun protection factor (SPF) is the level of protection against harmful UVB rays
  3. Check the expiration date. Sunscreens are usually good for 2-3 years.

Fast Food and Heart Health

Fast food is highly processed and contains unhealthy trans fats, especially when food items are fried in oil. Eating fried food may increase your risk for heart disease and stroke.

According to new research, people who ate the most fried food per week had a 28% higher risk of major cardiovascular events, compared with those who ate the least. Those people also had a 22% greater risk of heart disease—and a 37% elevated risk of heart failure.

Along with choosing baked or grilled items, consider the following heart-healthy alternatives to fried food:

  1. Skinless poultry and fish
  2. A variety of fruits and vegetables
  3. Low-fat dairy products
  4. Whole grains

Limit your daily intake of fast food, and talk to your doctor if you have questions.

Benefits of Bundling Commercial Policies

Insurance carriers realize that offering additional lines of coverage to an existing customer is less expensive than trying to attract new customers. They also know that the more lines a given customer has, the longer they’re likely to stay with them.

While bundling policies is beneficial to insurance carriers, it is also highly beneficial to their customers. Similar to how bundling your personal home and auto policies may give you a discount, bundling your business policies can provide benefits way beyond cost savings.

Simplified Bookkeping

Most businesses require a number of insurance policies in order to properly insure their operations, including:

  1. Workers’ compensation
  2. General liability
  3. Commercial property
  4. Professional liability
  5. Commercial auto
  6. Business interruption
  7. Cyber liability
  8. Directors and officers

Keeping up with that many policies isn’t an easy task for business owners. Therefore, bundling multiple policies with the same carrier simplifies things for bookkeeping purposes. Besides having fewer bills to keep track of every month, it also makes it easier come renewal time if the bundled policies renew at the same time each year.

Your HR department will also appreciate having one number to call when you’re hiring a new employee, have claims questions, are adding a location, or making any other business decisions that impact your insurance.

Fewer Agents to Educate

Properly insuring your business requires explaining to your insurance agent exactly what your business does and the exposures that come with it. But without bundling your policies, you have more agents to educate, which takes time. The fewer agents you have to work with, the better equipped they’ll be to help identify and address your exposures.

Assurance That Your Policies Work Together

There may be circumstances when two of your business insurance policies have to work together. For example, you may assume that something not covered by your commercial auto policy would be covered by your commercial umbrella policy. However, many umbrella policies will only extend above an auto policy if the insurance company offering it has a specified financial strength rating. If your carrier’s rating falls below a certain grade, your umbrella policy may not cover an auto loss. That’s just one type of problem that could arise if you keep your policies under separate roofs, with separate agents.

Less Security Risk

When obtaining insurance, business owners are required to divulge sensitive personal information about their employees, as well as financial information about the business itself. When dividing your policies among multiple agents, you’re basically providing all that information to more people than you would have to if you’d bundled your policies with one agent. And in doing so, you’re increasing the risk of highly sensitive information ending up in the wrong hands.

This Coverage Insight is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel or an insurance professional for appropriate advice.

Alcohol Awareness Month During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Observed every April, Alcohol Awareness Month is meant to raise awareness about alcohol use and break the stigma by discussing how alcohol-use disorders affect individuals, families, and communities. This year is especially critical as COVID-19 restrictions and stress can increase your susceptibility to substance misuse, addiction, and relapse. In fact, alcohol sales in the United States have grown nearly 30% in the last year.

Alcohol abuse can affect both your personal and professional life. Prolonged drinking puts you at risk for developing serious health complications—such as high blood pressure, heart disease, liver disease, and stroke— and can trigger other life-threatening consequences.

Know the warning signs

Alcohol use disorder can be mild, moderate, or severe, based on the number of symptoms you experience. Keep in mind that symptoms often occur at the same time. It can also include both periods of alcohol intoxication and withdrawal symptoms—such as sweating, shaking, and nausea.

Common physical and behavioral signs and symptoms of alcohol misuse include the following:

  1. Feeling irritable or experiencing mood swings
  2. Having poor coordination
  3. Showing signs of slurred speech
  4. Experiencing blackouts or short-term memory loss
  5. Isolating from friends and family
  6. Failing to complete responsibilities and obligations at home or work
  7. Drinking alone or in secrecy
  8. Making excuses for drinking, such as to relax or deal with stress
  9. Engaging in risky behavior, such as drunk driving

If you or a loved one are concerned about alcohol use, talk to a doctor or use the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Helpline by calling 800-662-HELP (4357).

Moving 11 Minutes Per Day Can Improve Your Health

There’s no denying that the pandemic has hampered activity levels. On top of exercising less, you are likely sitting more than normal too. However, a sedentary lifestyle can be hazardous to your health. Although this type of lifestyle may be a pandemic reality, there’s good news about the benefits of small move goals.

According to new research from the Norwegian School of Sports Medicine, just 11 minutes of daily, moderate exercise can provide long-term health benefits and increase your life span. Additionally, people who worked out at least 35 minutes per day saw the biggest results in terms of health, especially joint health.

Any movement, no matter the duration, is beneficial, as long as you accumulate enough of it. And, if you take your movement outside, you can improve your mental health in addition to your physical health. Start moving today, and talk to your doctor if you have questions about any lifestyle changes.

Mental Health Support During the Pandemic

Rarely has there been a greater need for mental health support than now. Before the pandemic, there were already shortages of mental health professionals. For example, there were 45 psychologists or psychiatrists for every 100,000 Americans. In some places, that ratio was just one professional per every 30,000 people. Additionally, Mental Health America data reveals almost a quarter of adults with a mental illness say they aren’t able to get the treatment they need.

As the pandemic continues to strain health care resources and take a toll on personal well-being, there are some ways to still receive mental health support. Telehealth is a great place to start receiving mental health care via video conferencing. Additional support resources include:

  1. Your primary care doctor, who can point you in the direction of mental health resources
  2. State psychological associations
  3. Work-based wellness and employee assistance programs
  4. The SAMHSA’s National Helpline, which is free, confidential and available
  5. 24/7 by calling 800-662-HELP (4357)
  6. The United Way’s free and confidential service for community resources

There’s hope on the horizon with COVID-19 vaccine rollouts, but the pandemic is still evolving. Continue to check in with yourself and reach out for help.

A More Proactive Approach Toward COVID-19 Protection

New COVID-19 guidelines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released under President Joe Biden’s administration signal a more proactive approach toward protecting U.S. workers from COVID-19.

The new guidance seeks to protect all types of workers, not just those deemed to be at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 depending on where they work. The guidance also asks employers to shield workers from retaliation if they have concerns about unsafe work conditions. The guidance also looks to establish ways for employees to voice work-related concerns anonymously. In general, OSHA wants employers to give their staff a bigger say in developing workplace safety protocols. Such protocols already require employers to enforce 6-foot distancing and face mask wearing, both of which are carryovers from former President Donald Trump’s administration.

The Biden administration is also pushing for some federal emergency standards that could carry more legal weight— something labor advocates have been wanting. OSHA has until March 15 to decide if it will issue those standards. OSHA also announced that it is resuming public announcements on workplace fines for unsafe conditions.

It is important that businesses remain vigilant during these unprecedented times, providing safe and healthy workplaces for all employees. This new guidance from the Biden administration may help workers in high-risk sectors maintain their unemployment benefits and avoid unsafe work, even if doing so puts added pressure on business owners.

For additional safety guidance and insurance information, contact Midwest Professional Insurance.

Workers’ Compensation Premium Audit Tips

At the end of every workers’ compensation policy period, insurance carriers conduct audits to ensure that paid premiums accurately reflected a business’s operations over the duration of the policy period. This is necessary because premiums paid at the beginning of the policy period are only estimates based on projected payroll and assigned employee classification codes.

These audits can be done by phone, mail, or in-person, depending on the assigned auditor. Workers’ compensation premium audits are very common and, once completed, can indicate if any additional premium is owed, or if any credits need to be returned or applied to the next policy. Some business owners select “pay as you go” workers’ compensation policies to help reduce their exposure to large audit balances. Premiums for these types of policies are based on actual payroll and are reported/paid in real-time, contrary to that of traditional estimated programs.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has complicated the audit process, thus affecting workers’ compensation premiums. It is important to know that there is no guarantee of the return of workers’ compensation premium credits due to the pandemic. To give your company the best chance of receiving a returned premium credit, it is critical to maintaining proper recordkeeping.

Other important items to note include:

  1. Payments to paid furloughed employees—If you have continued paying employees to stay home and not work while your business operations have been suspended because of a federal, state, or local emergency order, you need to identify the wages your company has paid to furloughed employees and provide them to your auditor during your audit.
  2. Temporary changes in your business operations—If you temporarily change your operations because of a federal, state or local emergency order, you must identify these changes. Such operational adjustments may affect the rating and classifications of your policy.
  3. Employees working from home or being assigned different job duties—If your employees are temporarily being paid to work from home or have been assigned different job duties, you must note this on your payroll records and provide these new duties to your auditor.

It is in your best interest to know your workers’ compensation classification codes, payroll, and subcontractor payments prior to any audit. For more information on how to prepare for workers’ compensation audits, contact us today.

Audit Tip

Have all Independent Contractors provide a certificate of insurance stating that they purchased workers’ compensation insurance.

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