Implementing Group Health? Watch For These Challenges

18 07 implementing group health COPY - Implementing Group Health? Watch For These Challenges

As the cost of living rises, more and more employers are looking to offer their employees group health insurance plans, keeping their costs low while still offering healthcare to their staff. Although this continues to be an economically viable means of providing health care for both the employer and the employee, there are certain challenges which your company will face when implementing group health plans. Here we have outlined some of the biggest challenges you will encounter!

Remote working issues

The website International Advisers recently claimed that workforces are becoming more remote and mobile, as evolving technology means that workers aren’t necessarily stuck in their office all the time – they are able to work away from home, perhaps even overseas. As a result, more companies are now relying on international health insurance plans to protect their global team. This can affect group health plans significantly, which are usually designed to be applicable to the US only.

Balancing costs with needs

US companies, of course, want to offer competitive group health plans as it encourages top talent to come to them over a competitor, making their workforce better and healthier overall. However, companies with fewer funds to spare are likely to require bare-bones group health coverage which might not necessarily cover the costs for employees with more complicated or chronic medical conditions.

Although in-patient and out-patient coverage are normally covered under all group health plans, with varying limits, some attractive coverage options are normally omitted from cheaper health plans. For example, maternity cover, dental plans, and other forms of cover will usually not be included in more affordable plans. How much this matters depends on your workforce and their attitude, but you may need to assess how many group health benefits you are willing to offer and how much cash you’ve got spare to pay for them and retain top workers.

Not using plans enough

Once you have settled on a group health plan that you and your employees are happy with, you better make sure that they use it! If you’re paying for your employees to have access to things such as dental care but they aren’t actually taking advantage of it, then you’re simply wasting money for no reason. Be sure to educate your employees on the benefits they are entitled to and how they can use them, making sure that you point them in the right place and tell them the process they need to follow in order to use the benefits.

Renewal

When it comes time to renew your group health plan, it may be worth taking a look at your policy and how useful it has been over the past year. Do you want to adjust your benefits with the current insurer because some were seldom used? Do you want to change insurance carriers entirely? There’s no right or wrong answer, but renewal periods may force you to look at your group health plan and make some tough decisions in order to save money.

Benchmarking

You should ideally compare your group health plan to others within your industry, assessing how valuable it is and whether you’re paying a fair price for what you’re getting. If your premiums are going up come time to renew, maybe you should look into the premiums of similar businesses and see if they are rising too. At the end of the day, you want to make sure that you are getting a good group health plan at a competitive rate, and benchmarking is one of the easiest ways to ascertain this information.

The bottom line

Group health plans worth their salt can undoubtedly put a financial strain on your business, especially if you’re strapped for cash. However, they can also make your employees happier, healthier, and more loyal to you as a company. Although you can’t explicitly purchase a boost in morale, decent employee benefits are a great way to encourage it, with increased employee morale frequently being positively correlated with boosts in productivity from workforces. The question is – can you afford to pay the costs necessary?

Contact us today if you’re looking for advice about group health plans and whether they’re right for your business. We work with dozens of insurance carriers and can advise you on the best affordable group health plans for your company’s unique circumstances.

Buying the Right Business Insurance

Buying the Right Business Insurance - Buying the Right Business Insurance

Business insurance is crucial if you are to protect your company from unforeseen forces in the future, whether they take the forms of fraud, fires, floods, plumbing problems, or a whole host of other potential issues. However, buying the right business insurance is rather difficult, as you need to know exactly what your business is most vulnerable to. Although you could buy an expensive catch-all policy which covers everything under the sun, the premiums may bankrupt you before you even get going!

So how do you choose the right business insurance? Here we offer you some advice.

Think about your specific risks

According to various professionals who have worked in/with the insurance industry, you mustn’t give in to exaggerated fears, but fears which make sense for your industry of choice. Before you go looking for business insurance, do your homework on what perils and risks businesses in your industry usually face. This allows you to base your policies on existing data, meaning it is more likely to be relevant to you one day. For example, if you’re opening a coffee shop and you find that a lot of coffee shop businesses have to claim for problems with their plumbing due to enhanced water usage, be sure to include this in your policy.

Belinda Pillow, a former insurance salesperson, recommends that you call your relevant trade association. She explains: “ask for any risk assessment tools for, papers on, or expert opinions about your particular industry.”  This information should guide you toward common types of coverage which are commonplace in your industry, providing you with good guidelines for your own coverage. Nevertheless, there can always be loopholes and confusing jargon buried within business insurance policies, so be sure to speak to an agent or legal advisor before signing off on all of the terms.

Cover yourself for the basics too

Basically every business requires workers’ compensation insurance, although the guidelines differ slightly from state to state, sometimes excluding smaller businesses. Workers’ compensation covers things such as rehabilitation, lost wages, and medical expenses if one of your employees injures themselves in your workplace. Furthermore, in the unlikely event that they die on the job, it will pay death benefits to their named beneficiaries. You don’t necessarily have to cover yourself too, but it’s probably a good idea, and it’s usually very cheap to do so.

Also remember to purchase property insurance, which protects buildings and contents, and is crucial for smaller businesses in times of disaster. Bear in mind, however, that some things such as “acts of God” and utility failures may be excluded from this policy. You should also purchase general liability coverage if you can, as this protects you if a member of the public injures themselves in your business and sues you, with the policies usually covering you for costs up to $1 million.

You can also get business insurance policies which feature a combination of these property and liability insurance models, providing you with a basic umbrella business policy. However, as with any policy, you should be sure to check the wording and confirm that there aren’t any hidden terms or clauses which could be difficult in the event of a claim.

Buy from an independent agency

Buying from an independent insurance agency means that you can shop between multiple carriers, looking for the best rates and coverage options. This is a great way to look for business insurance, as you are working with an unbiased party who can offer you bespoke advice and compare various deals from different insurance providers.

Insurance agencies also have the knowledge and expertise to explain different policies to you and explain why one policy may be more valuable than another despite not seeming so on the surface. Independent agencies are also likely to have experience working with other businesses in your industry, giving them a good idea of what kind of protections your business requires in order to operate safely and not go broke in the event of a claim.

If you’re looking for business insurance which is right for you and your industry, contact us today! We have years of experience in matching businesses with their perfect insurance policies, putting the busy minds of entrepreneurs at ease!

Make Your Small Business Better by Avoiding These Mistakes

18 06 DB Make Your Small Business Better by Avoiding These Mistakes - Make Your Small Business Better by Avoiding These Mistakes

Being your own boss and starting a small business always sounds attractive as a prospect, but few people have the business acumen and work ethic necessary to make a small business survive in the long term. Many entrepreneurs fall into some common mistakes when starting out, and here we have highlighted a few of the most common!

Not networking

One of the most essential aspects of business, and life in general, is meeting people. It doesn’t matter how independent you think you are – we always rely on other people to keep us going in our times of need. Networking is thus one of the easiest ways to meet future business partners and perhaps even secure major deals.

Having a subpar phone system

If your customers are subjected to a terrible phone system when they call you up, it’s more than likely that they’ll abandon your company in search of someone better-equipped with better customer service. When your company is new and small, you can’t afford to lose out on those initial customers – a decent phone experience can enhance their confidence in your company and see them singing your praises to other potential customers.

Not hiring an attorney

Contrary to popular belief, you should seek legal help from the inception of your business – not just when you’re facing legal troubles. Having an attorney on hand as you set up your business allows you to ensure that you aren’t making any mistakes which could land you in hot water down the road. Accidentally or unknowingly breaking federal/state laws when setting up your business could see it collapsing before it has even begun, something which no entrepreneur desires.

Not delegating tasks

You may feel the need to be a one-man-band and do everything yourself, but you should avoid doing this if possible. Once your staff is well-trained enough to deal with issues and operations, delegate tasks as appropriate, allowing yourself to relax from time to time. If you try to tackle an entire business’s problems by yourself, you’ll probably spread yourself too thin and do a poor job, perhaps even leading to a climactic burnout. Delegating tasks to your team shows that you trust their abilities, especially if the tasks are complex or important. Although it may be difficult to let go of your inner control freak at first, it’s an essential step of running a successful business as it grows.

Being Underinsured

Alas, not having adequate insurance protections in place could be catastrophic for a business of any size. Although larger companies may have backup funds at their disposal if really necessary, smaller businesses could be completely wiped out if they get taken by surprise and don’t have a decent insurance policy to back them up. Be sure to review your insurance policy and make sure that it reflects the ever-changing needs of your business.

If you’re a small business owner and you’re concerned about insuring your company’s future, get in touch with our team from a free consultation over the phone today!

3 Tips to Control Commercial Insurance Costs

3 Tips to Control Commercial Insurance Costs - 3 Tips to Control Commercial Insurance Costs

We all need insurance, but it is nonetheless expensive. Commercial organizations require good insurance in order to survive, as they need to be able to weather any unexpected storms which may come their way. Whatever the size of your organization happens to be, it is essential to minimize your insurance overheads while remaining suitably protected. Here we offer your 3 tips for reducing commercial insurance costs!

1. Track incidents

You should track your incidents, even if no formal case arises from them. You may feel like you should only track claims which have become a case of their own, but incidents need to be tracked with insurers too. For example, if you have a shop and 5 people slip on one of your aisles, but only 1 decides to sue, not documenting the other 4 slips makes it appear as though it was an isolated incident. Keeping records of all incidents will make it obvious that your aisle is a hazardous area, allowing you to take preventive measures and subsequently stop your premiums from increasing.

2. Analyze data

Analyze your claim and incident data, as you may find that patterns quickly emerge. For example, analyzing your incidents and claims may point out that a certain location, team, or demographic is consistently leading to problems. This allows you to easily identify root causes and prevent them from occurring in the future, meaning you are less likely to see rising premiums as claims rack up without any attempt to stop them from happening in the first place.

3. Mitigate risks

If you were to carry out a thorough risk assessment of your workplace(s), you would find that hundreds of specific risks are ever-present. If you can analyze your trends and mitigate the biggest risks in your workplace, this helps to see your claims go down over time. Letting your insurance company know that you are identifying your biggest risks and mitigating them paints you in a good light, making it look like you’re doing everything in your power to give the insurance company (and yourself) an easy time with as few claims as possible. This makes you a lower-risk client in the insurance company’s eyes, leading to lower premiums going forward.

Sadly, there is no one-size-fits-all easy solution to cutting down your costs when it comes to insurance – the best thing you can do is to simply minimize your risk of accidents occurring in the first place, which makes you a much “safer” organization to insure, thus leading to lower premiums as you prove your organization to be one which is careful and meticulous. Of course, you should also shop around for the best insurance policies and rates available to you, but most (if not all) insurance companies will assess your risk and rate of claims as a major part of their premium calculations.

Looking for more advice on reducing insurance costs for your company? Get in touch today and see how we can help!

How to Keep Your Small Business Protected

18 05 DB Tips for Protecting Your Small Business - How to Keep Your Small Business Protected

While most larger companies have entire departments dedicated to the protection of their business, smaller businesses are often left to tackle unique risks without the same extent of protective resources.

No matter the size of your business, protection should be a top priority, that’s why we’ve put together eleven tips for small business protection, that can easily be implemented into your current business model.

Here are our eleven tips for legal, digital, and physical protection:

  1. Eliminate Personal Devices

Removing personal devices/bring-your-own-devices, or putting in place adequate monitoring regulations, can help to stop weak links in overall business security. If personal devices can’t be completely removed, consider a universal security package for all employees.

  1. Malware Defense

Malware defense is an essential form of digital protection, safeguarding your business online. To avoid sensitive document tampering, theft, or destruction, it’s important to train employees on computer security and make sure malware is aptly protected against.

  1. Make Your Business Brand Unique

A business logo and name need to have no litigation potential, to avoid potentially enormous legal problems, break customer trust, and stall business growth. Research your chosen name and logo, and make sure it’s not in use before establishing your business.

  1. Use Strong Passwords

To prevent catastrophic hacks, password protection is a must, no matter the size of your business. Just a little extra employee advice on mixing up their passwords and incorporating numbers and symbols, instead of using simplistic passwords, can help to prevent hacks. Data breaches can cost millions on average, so changing passwords on a regular basis and using strong ones is a must.

  1. Secure Your System

Physical security is just as essential as digital security. Cameras can give you the edge over crime prevention and equipment recovery in the worst scenarios. Strong locks will make it more difficult to break into your premise and also deter criminals.

  1. Use Written Documents

Using written contracts and agreements shows that your business is professional, but also provides additional security. Everything you promise is down on paper, as are the promises of other parties in a transaction, helping you to avoid problems down the line.

  1. Keep Data Backed Up

From hacking to a technical malfunction, anything can come along and destroy vital business data. Keeping it backed up is essential for smooth business operation and comprehensive protection.

  1. Maintain a Safe Workplace

Health and safety is crucial in the workplace, both to establish a safe working environment for employees and to avoid potential lawsuits. Claims of bad treatment, harassment or discrimination should be investigated quickly, competently, and in line with relevant regulations.

  1. Add Arbitration Clauses

An arbitration clause in a contract can prevent major legal costs, stop long legal processes, and provide a better way for your business to handle disputes of all scales.

  1. Use Required Permits and Licenses

All businesses need to have certain permits and licenses, but they can differ from business to business and location to location. To avoid shut-downs and legal problems, do all the relevant research to make sure you’re adequately covered.

  1. Get Business Insurance

Business insurance provides multiple levels of protection, making it essential, even if you’re at the earliest stages of starting your business. Having business insurance can involve protecting your business in varying ways, like through professional indemnity insurance, home business insurance, or public liability insurance. With insurance, you make sure that you’re covered from instances like financial loss and reputation damage.

If you need extra assistance with insurance for your business, then don’t hesitate to ask us for help. We’ll make sure that you know the essentials about protecting your small business with the right insurance.

Protecting your Business from Natural Disasters – Top Three Tips

Tips on How to Protect Your Business Against Natural Disasters - Protecting your Business from Natural Disasters – Top Three Tips

Business owners and residents in the US have faced some tough challenges in recent years, with multiple natural disasters causing chaos around the country. From hurricanes to floods, natural disasters can cause significant damage to local communities and the businesses that operate in them.

In the face of the chaos that natural disasters can cause, it’s important for businesses to be prepared for severe weather and think of safety and recovery as key priorities. The on-going damage caused by natural disasters puts a heavy toll on insurance claims – a essential finance that many businesses rely on to get them back on their feet.

Damage to local businesses during natural disasters can affect the whole community. Many residents rely on local businesses for their livelihood, and they play an integral part in the strength of the community as a whole.

Businesses that don’t have plans to deal with an unexpected crisis or adequate insurance cover, may never recover from a natural disaster. In fact, around 25% never open their doors again after a natural disaster, according to statistics from the Institute for Business and Home Safety.

With one out of every three businesses being affected by natural disasters to some capacity, according to statistics from Business Insider, it’s incredibly important to make sure that your business insurance is up to scratch.

Worried about what a natural disaster could mean for your business? Here’s are three of our best tips for ensuring that your business is safe from the chaos caused by natural disasters:

Get the Right Insurance for Your Business

In the event of a natural disaster, insurance will be a key financial safety net that you need to get back on your feet – but only if that insurance is right. There are multiple different insurance policies to choose from, and it’s essential to make sure that they cover natural calamity. There are two insurance types that you should consider:

  • Property Insurance – covers you in the event of property or equipment damages. Policies can be customized to include cover for different natural disasters, such as flooding.
  • Business Interruption Coverage – covers you in the event of lost income due to business interruption. Solutions should be discussed with an insurance specialist to tailor a plan that suits your business.

Keep Up-To-Date with Your Insurance

The risks that your business could face may change over time, so it’s important to make sure that your insurance changes with it. Staying up-to-date with your insurance means knowing what you’re covered for and what you’re not, and making sure that your insurance accounts for emergencies.

Understanding where your business stands with insurance, what you’ll receive and what you won’t, will help you to prepare for the worst-case scenario and ensure that your business is protected.

Create a Disaster Plan

A disaster plan is vital for helping your business to prepare for the unexpected. Key things to consider in your plan, include:

  • Create and practice a plan for evacuation
  • Choose a person to contact everyone in the event of a disaster
  • Develop a plan to notify customers
  • Invest in back-up software to protect sensitive information
  • Select a potential office back-up location
  • Design a plan to prepare office spaces if there is time, such as unplugging electronics and moving equipment=

If you’re concerned about the safety of your business and whether your insurance is providing suitable cover, then make sure that you contact us today and keep your business safe.

Tips that help you avoid business insurance mistakes

18 04 DB Tips that help you avoid business insurance mistakes - Tips that help you avoid business insurance mistakes

It’s essential to find the right business insurance for your company, especially if you manage a small business with limited finances. Although every insurance provider will try to sell itself to you, which one actually offers you the best deal overall? You need to ensure that you protect your business, your customers, and your employees without breaking the bank or making regrettable mistakes. Here we offer you some tips on choosing the best business insurance for you and avoiding some common business insurance mistakes.

1. Sometimes you have to pay more

If you’re running a business, you’re undoubtedly counting your pennies very carefully, ensuring that your business stays afloat financially. This can often mean that you select cheap business insurance in order to keep costs down, but this may not be a very good idea. Cheap business insurance often will not cover property damage or common injuries, leaving business owners in a pickle when it comes time to claim. Always assess your options carefully, being sure to choose business insurance that is right for you overall. You may find a policy that covers everything you need at a bargain price; you just need to compare the market thoroughly.

2. What do you really need?

With that said, you easily purchase too much coverage as well. While it may feel satisfying to know that you’re comprehensively covered, you may be wasting your money if you simply do not need all of the coverage. As an example, if you run a retail business which sells clothes, you’re probably not going to need coverage for protecting your business against slander and libelous statements. Similarly, if you run a business which manufactures equipment, you probably won’t require malpractice insurance like a doctor would, for example. Buy the insurance that will actually benefit you in areas that are relevant to you. Purchasing extensive insurance policies for the sake of it could be a waste of money unless you got an amazing deal.

3. Get professional help

Getting professional help allows you to consult with an insurance professional throughout your decision-making and insurance-purchasing processes. It can be frustrating to evaluate your insurance options alone, especially if you don’t have extensive knowledge of the industry.

Business insurance brokers can guide you through the process and offer impartial advice on the best insurance solution for your company. Business insurance brokers work independently, allowing them to pit companies against one another in order to shop around and get you the best deal from competing insurance companies. They can also offer you advice on getting coverage that protects all the essential aspects of your company, as well as for many other things too.

If you are still without adequate business insurance, you need to act quickly in order to secure yourself a policy! Accidents do happen, and they will always happen at the most inopportune moments.

Business insurance allows you to run your business while safe in the knowledge that you’re covered for any accidents and incidents which may occur. Looking for more advice on insuring your business? Get in touch today!

What You Need to Know Before Buying Business Insurance

18 04 DB What You Need to Know Before Buying Business Insurance - What You Need to Know Before Buying Business Insurance

There are many reasons why a business may choose a less-than-adequate insurance policy. Business owners may be looking to save money, or they may simply not be taking into account the risks and liabilities attached to their operations. Despite many business owners’ hesitance, it is always a good idea to be alert of risks for your business and to patent your unique ideas. Legal proceedings can easily crush your business should they come about, especially if you’re not armed with a decent insurance policy.

So, having illustrated the importance of business insurance, what types are there? Here we give you a rundown of the different types of business insurance available.
Different Types of Business Insurance

These insurance types will be suited to certain businesses and industries more than others, so be sure to conduct a thorough assessment of the policy and read all the fine print before you come to any conclusions on which insurance is best for your business.

  • General liability insurance: This insurance covers the legal liabilities resulting from injuries, accidents, or negligence claims. It is essential to have general liability insurance when operating a business. General liability insurance will cover property damage, damages incurred from medical expenses, legal defense fees, court settlements, and more.
  • Product liability insurance: If your company sells, manufactures or distributes goods, then you need to have product liability insurance. The degree of risk attached to your goods will determine your premium. A company selling vehicle parts will have a higher degree of risk than a company selling clothes, for example.
  • Commercial property insurance: If your buildings are vandalized, stolen from, or damaged by a natural disaster, this insurance is designed to protect your assets. You will subsequently be able to cover lost income and business interruption costs, as well as many other forms of damages.
  • Errors and omissions insurance: This insurance is for companies which sell services rather than products. Numerous US states will actually require proof of errors and omission insurance before you can open your business’s doors legally. Malpractice insurance (for physicians) is a common type of this insurance.

Protecting Your Business in Other Ways

Patents

There are other ways to protect your business too, though they are more optional than they are mandatory. We would recommend, however, protecting your intellectual property with a legal patent. Being issued a patent means that your competitors cannot create or sell your product(s) within the United States.

There are two main types of patents available – utility patents, which protect machines and processes, and design patents, which protect your product’s overall ornamental design. Patents are a great way on ensuring that your competitors don’t steal your ideas or adapt them in order to siphon your customers and profits away from you.

Trademarks

You can also copyright, trademark, or create a registered trademark for your brand. A registered trademark is the most powerful of the three options, legally speaking, as requires you to file an application with the US Patent and Trademark Office. If approved, you’ll receive a federal registration certificate for your registered trademark.

Trademarks (regular ones) and copyrights don’t necessitate any paperwork or documentation; your intellectual property assumes copyright automatically under US federal law. Copyright does have its problems, however, and can lead to bitter legal battles as different parties claim ownership of a “copyrighted” thing.
It’s important to protect your business with the right insurance policies and documents, but it can be hard to know the best way to do this. If you’re looking to find out more about business insurance and other legal protections, get in touch with us today!

Watch out For These Payroll Tax Mistakes

18 03 DB Watch out For These Payroll Tax Mistakes - Watch out For These Payroll Tax Mistakes

If you run a small company or a large one… you have many responsibilities. One that can cause quite a bit of headaches is taking care of pay-roll tax obligations. It’s easy to make mistakes and the penalties can be large.

So review these tips to avoid those headaches…

Misclassification of Employees

Hiring independent contractors to avoid paying typical expenses associated with employees is a growing trend. However, there are specific tests to determine whether these “independent contractors” should actually be classified as employees instead. For example, if you control what they do, when they show up for work they are not independent. (You can learn more about employee classification by visiting the IRS site here: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/understanding-employee-vs-contractor-designation)

Reimbursements

If you regularly repay employees for job-related expenses such as traveling on the companies behalf, you need to have a solid system in place to track these expenses and prove they are legitimate business expenses. This way your workers will not pay tax on the reimbursements.

Insufficient Payroll Records

All companies with employees must maintain consistent reliable pay-roll records. This consists of time sheets and pay-roll tax calculations along with copies of W-2s and I-9s. It is important to save these records for at least 4 years.

Making Use Of Withholdings to Pay Other Operational Costs

Never make use of withholdings to cover other company expenses. Regardless of your company’s financial condition, you must ensure those funds are kept separate and untouchable. If you do, you’ll run afowl of the IRS and face significant penalties.

Skimping on Oversight

Yes you can outsource payroll to a 3rd party company. However, you are still ultimately responsible if they make a mistake. As the business owner, you must make sure all reporting is handled properly and is accurate.

For other insights on how we can help you protect yourself from the risks of running a business, be sure to reach out to one of our professionals. We are here to help!

How to Leverage America’s Aging Workforce in Your Business

- How to Leverage America’s Aging Workforce in Your Business

The job market is tightening. Finding great workers is getting more difficult. Yet if you set age aside, there’s a great pool of folks with fantastic business experience, interpersonal capabilities, and general proficiency. (And it’s important to know… studies show that for each 90 days a position remains unfilled, a company loses $14,000.)

As companies battle each other to fill open positions, a number are looking at the pool of highly experienced, talented, slightly older workers to help fill the need.

Older workers also tend to carry institutional expertise and specific abilities that expand their worth. Smart companies are capturing this knowledge and implementing programs to ensure it is passed on to younger workers via mentoring, etc.

Recruitment

AARP has a program to help recruit older employes. (https://www.aarp.org/work/employers/) The website helps connect workers and employers…

One critical element to attract older workers is your benefits portfolio. You could provide additional plans that cover gaps in Medicare as an example. You can do the exact same with various other benefits too ranging from dental to vision. And remember pet insurance has also become a popular benefit to offer. These various benefit programs can be added in a way that is affordable to employees with little out-of-pocket costs to the company.

We recommend speaking with our team on options you can leverage to help you build a targeted benefits program that would be attractive to more mature workers.