Common Insurance Tips
Please click a tip below to see explanation:
Life insurance: Do you need it?Hide
The most frequently asked question about life insurance is: Do I need it? The answer depends greatly on your situation. So, let’s determine if you need it. Review these statements and check all that apply:
- I am married.
- I have children.
- Our family recently welcomed a new baby.
- I am single, but I have dependents (a child or an elderly relative) who I support.
- I am the sole breadwinner in my household.
- I recently changed jobs.
- My income has changed.
- I recently bought a house.
- I will pay for my children’s college education.
- I own a business.
- I am in debt.
- My family has a history of illness, such as diabetes or heart disease.
- I have trouble saving/investing money.
If you checked any of these statements, you need life insurance to protect the loved ones who rely on you for their financial support.
Imagine if you died unexpectedly. What would happen to your spouse, your children and other dependents? Would their standard of living or care slip significantly? Who would pay your children’s college tuition? Who would pay your mortgage and other debts? Would your business survive?
With life insurance, these concerns go away. If for no other reason, get life insurance for those most important to you—your family.
Life insurance tips
Now that you’ve determined that you need life protection, here are 10 suggestions to help you look for the best life policy for your family’s needs:
- Get the right amount. Remember that the amount of life insurance you need is directly related to the dependency of your family.
An eight-year-old child is more dependent than a 20-year-old already is in college. Plus, knowing how much coverage you need prevents
you from paying for unnecessary insurance.
- Start young. Get your life insurance while you’re young. Generally, premiums are cheaper for younger people because they are
healthier than the rest of the population. Also, buying young will enable a cash-value policy to grow in value.
- Live healthy. Don’t smoke. Tobacco users pay more than twice the premium as non-smokers. Also, don’t cheat because benefits can
be denied if someone who claims to be a non-smoker dies of a smoking-related illness. Also, you can improve your insurability and get
a better rate by routinely visiting your doctor and improving medical conditions, like high blood pressure.
- Know what life policy you need. Learn the difference between term life and whole life policies, as well as that of a cash-value
policy versus an annuity. There are products that serve several purposes and those that serve a single purpose. Know what your needs
are first. Then you’ll know which coverage you should purchase.
- Dual incomes? If you and your spouse are breadwinners, get life insurance for both of you. That way, if either of you passes away,
the family’s standard of living will not suffer.
- Prepay the premium. Ask the insurance company if you can pay your premium in advance, instead of monthly. This approach will save
money on administrative or handling fees. Not all companies do this, but it never hurts to check.
- Want to save money, too? Some life insurance products—known as “cash-value policies”—are both a savings tool and a death benefit.
These polices are ideal if you cannot save money. The cash value accumulates and can be borrowed or used for other purposes.
- Buy ‘bulk.’ Some insurance companies charge less for buying more. For example, it may be cheaper to purchase a $250,000 policy
rather than the $230,000 you need.
- Don’t rely on employer-provided coverage. Many group plans limit the amount of coverage offered, which may not be enough for your
needs. Additionally, you likely cannot take the life insurance with you if leave your job.
- Keep your coverage current. Major life events will impact the amount of coverage you need. Many events—such as having a child,
getting married or buying a big house—will increase the amount of coverage you need. Others—such as children leaving the roost—may
decrease the coverage you need.
Losing you would be painful enough for your family. The right life insurance can at least alleviate concerns about the financial implications of your death.
Allow Sun Insurance Services Insurance be your personal umbrella when the unforeseen occurs. Call us at 407.781.1600.Hide
Why You Shouldn't Brush Off Getting an Umbrella PolicyHide
Most Americans view auto insurance as necessary to protect against the costs of a car accident. Likewise, it’s common knowledge that homeowners insurance helps families rebuild their lives and homes. An “umbrella” policy is not as well known, but anyone who owns a home or any assets should consider buying it.
Umbrella liability insurance covers you in many situations if you are held responsible for bodily injury, property damage, or personal injury. The product got its name because it adds a higher level of protection above auto, homeowners and boat policies, which are “primary” policies. Umbrella coverage kicks in after primary insurance is exhausted. What’s more, an umbrella policy offers primary coverage for losses not covered by other insurance.
Typically, insurance agents sell an umbrella policy in conjunction with auto and homeowners coverage. You can usually add $1 million-plus of liability insurance for a few hundred dollars per year, and a multiple-policy discounts often can be had. One tactic insurance pros suggest: raise deductibles on auto and homeowners policies, and use the premium savings to pay for umbrella coverage.
What does primary insurance pay for?
Liability insurance under auto and homeowners policies pays expenses (for example, an injured person’s medical care, rehabilitation and lost wages) because the policyholder was at fault through negligent actions. Liability coverage also pays for costs of defending against a claim or lawsuit.
It’s common for a driver, vehicle owner, homeowner, or boat operator/owner to be held responsible for someone else’s injuries, property damage, lost wage and/or expenses. An at-fault driver also can be held liable for personal injury (which is distinct from bodily injury), including psychological injury such as “pain and suffering.”
What does umbrella coverage do?
The umbrella is a shield to protect an individual from having to tap into savings or sell assets to pay a judgment or claim. The umbrella policy keeps the hands of the claimant from the personal, family and business assets of the negligent person.
Intoxicated drivers leaving a party at your home, dog bites, and the neighbor kid falling off the trampoline– these incidents can cause financial losses. Even lending a friend a ski house or lake house for the weekend can create a claim. A tree in your yard that blows over in a storm and crushes the neighbor’s car is another example. A home-based business that requires visitors to come to your house may create a loss that’s excluded from homeowners coverage.
But all these incidents may cause bodily injury, personal injury and loss of wages. These losses might exceed (or be excluded from) primary insurance limits and coverages.
Who should consider an umbrella policy?
Most homeowners should consider an umbrella, but especially those active in community affairs. Serving in civic, charitable, and religious organizations can lead to conflicts, claims, and even lawsuits. Even if a lawsuit is thrown out of court, you still must defend yourself. Umbrella liability coverage picks up these costs, whether or not a person is actually found to be liable. Defense costs generally are covered in addition to the liability limits of the umbrella policy.
Conversely, a person might face a damaging situation such as a false arrest or imprisonment, defamation, invasion of privacy, wrongful entry, eviction or malicious prosecution. Most will want to defend themselves, but will face legal and other costs to do so. Homeowners coverage won’t cover it; umbrella coverage can.
Contact Sun Insurance Services Insurance today to review your insurance requirements and decide on your umbrella policy needs!Hide
The #1 question everyone asks about insuranceHide
“Am I overpaying?”
That’s a question that every consumer asks from time to time. Everyone is curious and concerned as to whether he or she is getting a good value for the money, whether it’s for a candy bar, a car or an airline ticket.
It’s a good question to ask about insurance, too. After all, Americans spend a lot of money on insurance for homes, autos and businesses. In 2008, American drivers spent $161 billion for personal automobile insurance, reported the A.M. Best Co., an insurance research and ratings firm.
This large market for auto insurance is highly competitive. Consumers play a large part in keeping insurance rates competitive by virtue of shopping—whether online, by telephone or on the World Wide Web. More than one of four (about 28 percent) of auto insurance buyers shopped around for car insurance in 2009, reported J.D. Power & Associates in its 2009 national auto insurance study.
But consumers aren’t the only ones shopping around for auto insurance. So too do independent insurance agents, including Trusted Choice® insurance professionals.
For auto insurance buyers, research showed that independent agents rank most highly on the most important element of customer satisfaction. The J.D. Power study measures customer satisfaction with auto insurance companies across five factors (in order of importance): interaction, policy offerings, billing and payment, price and claims. Insurers who sell their auto insurance products through agents performed “stronger in the interaction factor than do direct insurers,” reported J.D. Power.
Overall, customer satisfaction with auto insurance companies reached a five-year high in 2009, reported the J.D. Power study. The biggest improvement in satisfaction among the five factors has been in price. Interestingly, 42 percent of customers in 2009 reported that their auto insurance premiums declined without switching insurers.
Are you “overpaying” for your insurance? Let Sun Insurance Services Insurance review your insurance requirements and help you shop around to find the best policy that’s right for you!Hide
Tips on Identity Theft Protection and CoverageHide
The U.S. Justice Department’s announcement last week that it had uncovered one of the largest identity theft schemes in U.S. history is a reminder for consumers to protect their financial information, say the insurance industry.
“With the sophisticated computer hacking techniques being used today, consumers should carefully monitor their credit card bills and bank balances to make sure that they actually made all of the purchases,” said Jeanne M. Salvatore, senior vice president and consumer spokesperson for the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).
Identity thieves take personal information and use it to impersonate a victim, stealing from bank accounts, establishing phony insurance policies, opening unauthorized credit cards or obtaining unauthorized bank loans.
In the recent identity theft case, it was alleged that the defendants stole the credit and debit card numbers of unsuspecting consumers via a technique known as “wardriving.” This involves using a laptop to locate accessible wireless Internet signals, which enables technologically savvy criminals to hack into the wireless computer networks of major retailers and capture card numbers, as well as password and account information.
According to the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) 2006 Identity Theft Survey Report, 8.3 million Americans were victims of identity theft in 2005, and 37 percent of those victims discovered that their identity was stolen by monitoring their accounts. Victims of identity theft are often left with lower credit scores and can spend months, or even years, getting credit records corrected. They frequently have difficulty getting credit, obtaining loans and even finding employment.
Some insurance companies include identity theft coverage as part of their homeowners policy, selling it as either a stand-alone policy or as an endorsement to a homeowners or renters insurance policy. This coverage provides the customer with reimbursement for the expenses associated with the identity and credit restoration process including phone bills, lost wages, notary and certified mailing costs, and sometimes attorney fees (with the prior consent of the insurer). They may also include the added services of a fraud specialist to assist and guide victims through the process of restoring and protecting their identity.
The I.I.I. has the following tips on guarding financial security against identity theft:
- Keep the amount of personal information in a purse or wallet to the bare minimum. Avoid carrying additional credit cards, a social security card or passport unless absolutely necessary.
- Guard credit or debit card when making purchases. Shield the card with when using ATM machines or making long distance phone calls with phone cards.
- Always take credit, debit card or ATM receipts. Do not throw receipts into public trash containers, leave them on the counter or put them in a shopping bag where they can easily fall out or get stolen.
- Proceed with caution when shopping online. Make sure to buy from a reputable retailer with a secure network.
- Do not give out personal information. Whether on the phone, through the mail or over the Internet, do not give out personal information unless initial contact has been made with the retail outlet.
- Do not fall for online or e-mail scams. Be wary if receiving e-mail solicitations for personal information. In online scams like “phishing,” thieves use e-mail inquiries purporting to be from financial or other online organizations in order to obtain sensitive account information.
- Monitor accounts. Do not rely on a credit card company or bank to send an alert of suspicious activity. Carefully monitor credit and debit card statements to make sure all transactions are accurate. If a problem is suspected, contact the credit card company or bank immediately.
- Order a copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus.
- Place passwords on your credit card, bank and phone accounts. Avoid using easily available information like a mother’s maiden name, birth date, any part of a social security number or phone number, or any series of consecutive numbers.
- Shred, shred, shred. Tear or shred any documents that contain personal information such as credit card numbers, bank statements, charge receipts or credit card applications, before disposing of them.
In order to make it more difficult for identity thieves to open accounts, contact the fraud department of any one of the three credit reporting agencies to place a fraud alert on the credit report — by law, the agency is required to contact the other two agencies. The fraud alert tells creditors to contact the identity theft victim before opening any new accounts or making any changes to their existing accounts. The three major credit bureaus are Equifax, TransUnion and Experian.
If someone is a victim of an ID theft crime, report it to the store in question and the police immediately. Ask for a copy of the police report, which is needed to file an insurance claim or report the crime to the FTC for their assistance. Victims of identity fraud can file a complaint on the FTC Identity Theft Web site, or by calling 877-IDTHEFT. The FTC also offers information on the laws concerning theft of credit cards on their Consumer Protection page.
When it storms, it molds: 8 Tips for Effective Cleaning of Mold After a StormHide
Strong storms can bring more than just damage to a household – it can contribute to the growth of mold and mildew in homes with moisture and heat.
Maryland Insurance Commissioner Therese Goldsmith cautions that in addition to the health risks associated with mold, its presence can create damage that may not be covered under many insurance policies.
Cleaning mold early can prevent problems. Here are some effective ways to clean mold and mildew:
- Clean, disinfect and dry all affected areas. Use a non-ammonia soap (ammonia plus bleach will result in toxic fumes) or detergent and hot water to scrub contaminated areas.
- Bag and dispose of materials with moldy residue, such as rags, paper, leaves and debris. Hard-surfaced materials can be kept once they are cleaned and disinfected.
- Use a stiff brush on masonry walls and similar surfaces. Rinse with clean water. After cleaning, apply a solution of one cup of household bleach per one gallon of water and allow it to dry.
- Ventilate the area well before, during and after entering work area.
- Turn off utilities.
- Wear a paper mask, coveralls, waterproof gloves and goggles while cleaning.
- Clean yourself with disinfectant soap when you are done.
- Call in a licensed contractor if wall interiors and sub-flooring areas seem to be the source of the fungal problems.
Is your home fully insured?Hide
If you’re like most Americans, your home is your largest investment, so you know how important it is to protect it. You probably take safety precautions and have insurance that will cover you in case of a loss.
But are you fully protected? Chances are, no. You probably are running the risk of having to pay money out of pocket to rebuild your home after a loss, to replace stolen items or to settle a liability lawsuit.
Consider the following questions to determine if you are, like most homeowners, underinsured.
- Are you working at home? Do you have a home-based business? If so, you’re not alone—40% of Americans operate a home-based business that provides their sole means of living or extra income. Most people don’t know that their standard homeowners insurance provides very limited coverage for business property and generally no liability protection for business use of the home. You can get this coverage added to your homeowners policy by an endorsement or by purchasing a separate business policy.
- Do you have recreational vehicles? Watercraft, snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles and similar recreational vehicles add spice to your family’s life. But you should know that liability coverage for these type vehicles is not provided by your homeowners insurance. Accidents happen. So add this critical coverage to your policy by an endorsement or addition.
- Did you build an addition recently? If so, did you update your homeowners policy? Most Americans neglect this important step, leaving their family vulnerable to significant out-of-pocket expenses to rebuild after a loss. New additions to the structure and grounds may increase your liability and coverage needs. So, if you’ve added a pool, another bedroom or a home theater, you best inform your insurance agent so that you can be adequately protected.
- Will your policy pay to rebuild or replace your home? The recent ballooning of home prices has lead to a corollary increase in the cost of building materials. These increases directly impact the amount of insurance homeowners must carry to avoid costly penalties for being underinsured. Get a home appraisal now so you can determine how much homeowners insurance you need to rebuild or replace your home.
- Do you own an historic home? If the answer is yes, your home poses a unique requirement on your homeowners insurance. That’s because older homes do not meet the stringent building codes in effect in most towns and cities today. If there is a loss, your old home will have to be rebuilt to the new code. A standard homeowners policy limits increased construction costs and the lost value of property. Again, add this coverage as an endorsement to your policy.
- Do you have expensive items or a collection? Most standard homeowners policies limit coverage for high-value items like expensive jewelry, art collections, antiques and other collectibles. Think about how valuable these items are to your family—both monetarily and emotionally—and decide if you need to secure additional coverage either by an endorsement to your homeowners policy or through a specialty policy.
- Do you have medical payments coverage? Most homeowners don’t carry this protection, often called “goodwill” protection. It provides payments for medical care for people injured on your property (regardless of fault) up to three years after an accident. In today’s lawsuit-happy society, medical payments coverage could save you tens of thousands of dollars. Get this affordable coverage added to your homeowners insurance policy today.
- Check for leaks regularly. If there’s a leak in your house, then you’ve got problems and probably damage to your home, too. To prevent a lead from mushrooming you should regularly inspect your home. Look for discoloration in ceilings, floors, walls and tiles. Check for water in the basement and around appliances. Check the foundation. And, check indoor hose connections in the laundry room, bathrooms and kitchen. Repair damaged or suspect areas immediately.
- Get an alarm system. Unfortunately, there are crooks among us who are looking to take away your prized possessions. Arm yourself! If you don’t own an alarm system, get one. It is a great deterrent against break-ins and could save you money on your homeowners insurance. Test it regularly—at least monthly—to ensure it is operating properly. And, most importantly, use it. An alarm system will not dissuade burglars if it’s off!
- Got a pet? Fido sure is cute. But he could cost you a lot of money if he bites the neighbor’s kid or the mailman. Pet bites and attacks are one of the most common causes of homeowner liability claims. Insurance companies judge certain breeds to be more dangerous. Some, such as pit bulls, may be excluded from coverage altogether. Before adopting a pet check with your insurance company to ensure it will be covered by your homeowners insurance.
By addressing these issues now you can prevent costly claims and save money on homeowners insurance premiums over the long term. And, your family will have peace of mind knowing that your homeowners insurance will be there no matter what life and Mother Nature throw at you.
Find the right coverage for your home with Sun Insurance Services Insurance today at 407.781.1600. We will be happy to review your goals and budget to identify the specialized ranch insurance policy that works for you.Hide
Starting a Business? 10 Steps Every Entrepreneur Needs to KnowHide
Starting a business? Confused about the planning, legal and regulatory steps you should follow?
Did you know that home-based businesses are required to hold permits to operate legally in most states? What about incorporation? Many new businesses assume they need to incorporate or become an LLC from the get-go – but the truth is, more than 70 percent of small businesses are owned by un-incorporated sole proprietors (although even this group is required to register their businesses).
So, variables aside, there are still some fundamental steps that any business needs to follow to get started. SBA has compiled 10 steps that can help you plan, prepare, and manage your business – while taking care of the startup legalities. Not all these steps will apply to all businesses, but working through them will give you a sense of what needs your attention and what you can check off.
Step 1 – Write a Business Plan
Yeah, yeah, you know you should write a business plan whether you need to secure a business loan or not. The thing is, a business plan doesn’t have to be encyclopedic and it doesn’t have to have all the answers. A well-prepared plan – revisited often – will help you steer your business all along its growth curve. Try to think of your business plan as a living, breathing project, not a one-time document. Break it down into mini-plans – one for marketing, one for pricing, one for operations, and so on. Take a look at SBA’s Business Planning Guide for more ideas.
Step 2 – Get Help and Training
Starting a business can be a lonely endeavor, but there are lots of free in-person and online resources that can help advise you as you get started. Check out what’s offered at your Small Business Development Centers; SCORE (which offers free mentoring services); Women’s Business Centers, or your local SBA office.
Step 3 – Choose Your Business Location
Where you locate your business may be the single most important decision you make. Many factors come into play such as proximity to suppliers, the competition, transportation access, demographics, and zoning regulations. Check out SBA’s Tips for Choosing a Business Location and this blog: How to Choose the Best Location for your Business.
Step 4 – Understand your Financing Options
You may choose to bootstrap, fall back on savings, or even keep a full-time job until your business is profitable, but if you are looking for an external source of financing, these resources explain your options.
Step 5 – Decide on a Business Structure
Going it alone or forming a partnership? Thinking of incorporating? What about an LLC? How you structure your business can reduce your personal liability for business losses and debts. Some choices can give you tax benefits. To help you determine the right structure for your business, here’s an overview of your options and some information on how to file the necessary paperwork in your state and the tax implications of your decision. You might also want to read:
- LLCs Explained: A 101 for Small Business Owners
- Should You Incorporate Your Freelance or Consulting Business?
- “Working Together” – How to Start and Formalize a Business Partnership
Step 6 – Register Your Business Name (“Doing Business As”)
Registering a “Doing Business As” name or “trade name” is only needed if you name your business something other than your personal name, the names of your partners, or the officially registered name of your LLC or corporation. Here’s how to register your “Doing Business As” name.
Step 7 – Get a Tax ID
Not every business needs a tax ID from the IRS (also known as an “Employer Identification Number” or EIN), but if you have employees, run a business partnership, a corporation or meet certain IRS criteria, you must obtain an EIN from the IRS. You’ll also need to start paying estimated taxes to the IRS; this blog explains more about this process.
Step 8 – Register with Tax Authorities
Employment taxes, sales taxes, and state income taxes are handled at the state-level. Learn more about your state’s tax requirements and how to comply.
Step 9 – Apply for Permits and Licenses
All businesses, even home-based businesses, need a license or permit to operate. This guide explains more and includes a handy “Permit Me” tool that lets you determine what your permit and licensing needs are, based on your zip code and business type.
Step 10 – Hiring Employees
If you’re hiring employees, follow these 10 steps. If you’re working with a contractor or 1099, read 5 Things to Know About Hiring Independent Contractors.
Call Sun Insurance Services Insurance today to help you get customized solutions for your small business.Hide
Simple Tips to Increase Gas MileageHide
Just What is MPG, Exactly?
MPG-Miles Per Gallon-is exactly what it sounds like, a measure of how many miles your car travels on a single gallon of gas. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gives every car an MPG rating so consumers have an impartial idea of fuel economy. To set each MPG rating, the EPA performs a series of tests and calculations that determine the number on the window sticker of a new car.
You may have noticed that MPG numbers have decreased recently. That’s because mileage tests created during the ’60s and ’70s were revamped in an effort to more accurately reflect today’s road conditions and driving habits. As a result, the EPA adjusted its MPG statements beginning with 2008 model cars. The figures are more accurate now, but most MPG ratings have actually dropped with the new tests.
Driving Tips to Increase Gas Mileage
Car manufacturers and the EPA aren’t the only determinants of MPG. Surprisingly, how you drive plays a big part in your car’s real MPG.
The single most helpful thing you can do as a driver is to:
- Drive the speed limit on the highway. Driving over 60 miles per hour can cut your fuel economy by as much as 33 percent. In fact, each 5 mph increment over 60 is like paying an additional $0.24 per gallon of gas. In addition to better mileage, maintaining the speed limit means you’re driving more safely. Pro tip: Use cruise control on the highway to help control your speed.
You can also:
- Cut extra weight from your trunk and backseat. If you’re hauling around heavy, unnecessary weight, you’re making your engine work harder and that lowers gas mileage by as much as 2 percent for every 100 pounds.
- Avoid congested times and areas, and drive sensibly. Planning your route and the time of day you travel can help you save gas and money. So can getting rid of a “lead foot.” All those quick starts from a green light just to slam on the brakes at the next red light don’t make a lot of sense-for your car’s engine or fuel economy.
Maintenance Tips for Better Mileage
When you’ve done all you can to coax out every last mile between fill-ups, the rest is in the hands of your mechanic. Visit a shop or mechanic you trust with these tips in mind.
- A precisely tuned engine can get you back as much as 4% in fuel economy. If it’s been awhile since your last engine tune-up, or if you recently failed your emissions test, make an appointment with your mechanic.
- Use the correct grade of motor oil for an MPG bump. Consult your owner’s manual to make sure you’re using the recommended motor oil. Your engine will thank you, and your gas mileage may improve 1-2 percent. In addition, an “Energy Conserving” oil helps via friction-reducing additives-just look for those words on the bottle.
- Properly inflate your tires to roll a higher MPG number. An underinflated tire can decrease your gas mileage by as much as 3%, and correct inflation actually helps prevent blowouts. It’s also something you can manage yourself. Just check the recommended tire inflation for your car-usually found on a sticker inside the driver’s door or gas tank door. Check out our Preventing Flat Tires article for tips on keeping your car on the road and off the jack.
Looking for quality car insurance? See what auto insurance coverage options are available for you by calling Sun Insurance Services Insurance.Hide
How to Prevent and Detect Business Identity TheftHide
Identity theft is a crime that impacts the lives of more than 10 million consumers every year-and the numbers are increasing. It’s hard to imagine that one out of every 20 consumers is at risk of being a victim this year alone.
The cost of identity theft among consumers costs businesses worldwide an estimated $221 billion a year, according to the Aberdeen Group.
However, consumers are no longer the only ones being targeted by these criminals. Now business owners have a new kind of threat to be concerned about that can cause a whirlwind of devastation to a victim’s business.
Business identity theft is the newest threat to small businesses all across America. In the case of a business, a criminal will seize a company’s identity and use it to acquire credit in the company’s name.
Once they successfully obtain these credit accounts, the criminals will go on a spending spree buying electronics, office equipment, gift cards, and any other items that can be purchased and sold for cash.
The damage inflicted can cripple a business, prevent it from acquiring any credit, and even threaten its very operation while a victim is trying to clean up and recover from it.
The following five strategies can help you prevent and detect business identify theft:
Develop a protection plan – While most businesses focus on developing business plans to grow their company, little attention is paid to developing a protection plan. Design a step-by-step plan to protect your company’s identity at the same time putting in place an action plan in the event that you do become a victim.
Protect company documents – Keep all your company documents and records in a safe and secure location. Dispose of any unnecessary information by using a micro cut shredder for the highest level of security. Also, never provide your company’s federal tax identification number, financials, or bank statements to anyone unless you have made the initial contact. Finally, consider using a prepaid business credit card for employees as opposed to a traditional business credit card. With these cards you can set limits, deactivate a card in real time, and even limit the merchants for which the card can be used. If a criminal happens to steal a company card from an employee, you can quickly take action.
Protect company information online – One of the surefire ways to put your company at risk is by using sensitive information such as an employer identification number (EIN), account numbers, financial documents, or personal information via email or the web. If you must provide this information for a specific reason such as applying for credit, make sure the site is secure and its security certificate is up to date.
Monitor business credit reports – One of the fastest ways to detect a possible identity theft is to monitor your company’s profiles with all three major business credit bureaus. You can accomplish this by subscribing to their monitoring services which give you access to your files 24/7. Take advantage of email alert notifications so you can be notified of any new activity occurring on your company credit files in real time.
Avoid the “master” user – You should avoid creating any type of “master” user account and password where an employee or individual can gain access to all your company information.
Taking the following precautions can dramatically improve your chances of avoiding business identify theft. If you believe your business is a victim of identity theft, contact your local law enforcement agency, the business credit bureaus, as well as your company’s credit and bank providers to report the theft.
As a business owner, you should always remain vigilant in protecting your company’s identity. You’ve worked hard to build your business to where it is today and you should work equally as hard in protecting it.
Don't Get Robbed Twice!Hide
Your business has been burglarized and, you find yourself standing amid broken glass. There’s trashed shelving, broken displays and missing merchandise. While vowing revenge the thought comes to your mind: Will my insurance cover this?
You realize your favorite cashier is been stealing from you. Taking $20 here and $50 there for several months. Now your loss totals more than $2,000. You make a note to ask your agent: Will my insurance cover this?
You can’t believe it! Although your inventory records say you have 50,000 widgets in stock, there are only 1,000 in the warehouse. What happened to the other widgets? Lost? Stolen? Never delivered? As your heart sinks over the lost sale, you think: Will my insurance cover this?
You watch sullenly, held motionless by the gun, as the thief cleans out the cash from your register. As fear mixes with anger, it is doubtful you are asking yourself: Will my insurance cover this?
The quick answers to the above are partially, possibly, unlikely and maybe.
One of the often confusing attributes of crime insurance coverages is that the terms used in the insurance policies reflect legal definitions, not the meanings we assume in everyday conversation. For example, in relating any of the above situations to a friend, you may describe all four as “I was robbed” or “that thief took everything I had!”
Yet, according to an insurance policy, the above incidents are four very different types of claims, and are described by four different, and sometimes mutually exclusive, terms. In order of their appearance, the terms are burglary, employee dishonesty (often called fidelity), disappearance and robbery. All of them, once connected to a dishonest act, are considered a form of theft.
The significance of knowing these terms, and the types of crime each refers, is that you purchase crime insurance to cover each crime or combination. For example, if your crime policy only provides burglary coverage, only the first scenario above would be a covered loss. If your policy only covers robbery, then only the last of the four would be covered.
So, if you want to be sure you have the proper crime insurance, do you have to memorize a batch of legal definitions, or risk buying the wrong coverage for your business?
No. This is where using the services of a Trusted Choice® insurance professional comes in hand. Trusted Choice® agencies who deal with crime insurance are already familiar with the vagaries, and can make sure you get the coverage most needed by your type of business.
And that is where you come in. Sit down with your Trusted Choice® insurance professional and talk about the types of crime losses that are most likely to apply to you, and which will cause the most pain. There are two basic issues to consider.
First, what is it you are afraid will be the focus of the crime?
For some businesses, cash is their biggest exposure. For example, the owner of a plant store who also has his or her own nursery may feel the merchandise is easily replaceable at little cost. But if a robber comes in at the end of her ‘Welcome Spring Saturday Sale’ and takes the receipts from their biggest day of the year, they could be financially crippled.
For other businesses, merchandise is the key target. A jewelry store may have little cash on hand and a guard on duty during store hours. Their real exposure may be the risk of someone breaking into the store safe in the middle of the night and making off with a fortune in merchandise.
Second, who is most likely to commit the crime?
For many businesses, the real exposure is not someone outside the business trying to break in, but rather someone inside the business carrying the property out. It will do you no good to put bars in the windows, install a state-of-the-art security system, and then hand the keys to a employee you hired last week and say “be sure to lock up on your way home.” Do you have a bookkeeper, cashier or store clerk who can readily walk out the door with your property?
For other businesses, particularly those with few or no employees, the greatest exposure will clearly come from the outside.
Once you have determined these key coverage issues, your insurance professional will be able to recommend the crime insurance options best applicable to your business. Obviously, the more types of crime you try to cover, the higher the premium.
In making your decision, keep in mind the ultimate cost to your business health if you try to cut coverage too thin. Work with your Trusted Choice® insurance professional to be sure you have the coverage you need to keep your business thriving.
A criminal may steal your stuff. Don’t let poor insurance planning steal your dream.
Get your commercial business insurance through Sun Insurance Services Insurance, and you’ll receive a tailor-made program to protect your company the right way!