Business Insurance: Where Do I Start?

So you have decided to do some research on business insurance (also known as commercial insurance). It’s probably safe to say your business is your biggest investment, correct? Well, I commend you for doing your research. My goal is for this article to be a useful starting point for you so you know what your insurance agent/broker is talking about and presenting to you. Surely, they will explain it to you as well, but this way you’ll already be somewhat informed. And there is much more to business insurance than what I will explain below.

First thing you’ll want to inquire about is your general liability. Now, I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this, not because it’s not important, because it is VERY important, but because it can vary from business to business. The most important thing to make sure your general liability includes is your “Products/Completed Operations”. If it says “EXCLUDED” and your agent/broker doesn’t explain why they excluded it, it’s a red flag to get a proposal from another agent. The proposal from the other agent will probably be a little higher, but at the end of the day, it’s probably the coverage you’re looking for. Surely you want your “Products/Completed Operations” Included. Another item I would include is “Hired and Non-Owned Autos”. If you have an employee(s) using their personal auto(s) to run errands for the business, like going to the post office or the store, every once in awhile this is coverage you don’t want to go without. It might cost you an additional $150 annually, but it will be well worth it when and if you need it.

Moving onto property coverage. And you’re thinking, I rent/lease, so I don’t have to insure any property. Well, what about your computers, desks, inventory, and all that decorative art (yes, your nicely framed degree) you have in your office? This is called “Business Personal Property”. Also known as BPP. Why do they say business “personal” property? They just do. Make sure your BPP is covered at Replacement Cost. You could insure it at Actual Cash Value, but it’s probably not that much more to insure at RC. Also make sure the deductible is reasonable. I would go with $500 or $1,000. If you do own the building make sure your agent uses a replacement cost estimator for the value of your building (search Marshall Swift Beck for more info.). It wouldn’t hurt to ask your agent for a copy of it just to make sure he/she has all the specs. The estimate should also include debris removal, which can get very expensive. “Business Income” also falls under property. Not a bad idea to get a quote for this as well. If something does happen, like a fire, “Business Income” helps sustain the business while you rebuild/relocate. Some policies will even cover salaries for key employees. The last thing you want is to lose your best sales manager to a competitor while you rebuild.

Workers Compensation, some states require it and others do not. I highly recommend WC. Some agents will sell you on these “accident policies”. Probably tell you how they cover the employee. That is nice. I’m all for covering the employee, but what about the employer? As the employer, you need to make sure that policy protects you from a possible lawsuit from that injured employee.

As I said earlier, there is much more to business insurance, but hopefully this will get you started. Ask your agent a lot of questions. Make him work for that policy. Be loyal to your agent and they will be loyal to you!

Find the Best Auto Insurance Company

An individual moving to Texas will learn that having Austin Auto insurance is going to be one of the most important parts of the moving process. This is an extremely busy, metropolitan city that is growing and expanding enormously. The needs for coverage in Austin and throughout the state of Texas is compounded by the fact that there is usually a long driving distance involved for most commuters who live in the area.

Evaluating your Austin auto insurance needs prior to making your move will be helpful. If you will be living in a rural area outside of town and commuting to the downtown area, you will require coverage that may not be needed in less expansive areas. Roadside Assistance coverage is invaluable to Texas person who are often driving on freeways, highways, and off-road throughout much of their day.

A person who has Roadside Assistance insurance coverage does not have to worry about getting stuck on the road without a way of getting help. If you are in an unfamiliar location, this coverage provides you the immediate assistance you require from a reputable team. A single call to your insurance provider will have a qualified technician on their way to you within minutes.

The service technicians who work with an Austin auto insurance provider have been checked and tested to assure that they are qualified to provide both immediate minor assistance, or take you to one of the reputable repair facilities near where your car has become disabled.

For a person who may be commuting several miles to and from work, or an individual who drives as part of their job, having this coverage will provide the security that you want when you are in remote locations. There is no need to have numbers or locations for repair facilities as your insurance provider will take care of locating the facility nearest you.

The incentives and discounts that are offered by Austin auto insurance providers will make it very beneficial to explore the option of covering multiple cars and family members under the same policy. In most cases, have multiple vehicles covered under one policy will save you a significant amount of money of your premiums. And, families with young drivers will find that they are able to insure their students for much less than an individual policy would be.

Understanding GAP Insurance

When you buy a great used car and take it off the lot, its value immediately drops. Though it is unfortunate, this is just how automobile pricing works. The same holds true when you buy a new car; the moment it leaves the lot, it loses thousands of dollars in value.

Individuals with full coverage insurance will have the value of their cars paid off in the event it is totaled. Unfortunately, that is not always enough to cover the full amount that an individual owed on the car if he or she chose to finance the vehicle. Even if a financed car is totaled in an accident, whatever payments are left must still be paid by the owner.

Fortunately, individuals have options for saving themselves from this unfortunate occurrence. GAP insurance, also called loan / lease payoff coverage, pays what an individual owes on the automobile in the event that the car is totaled and the settlement the individual receives does not cover the total balance left on the vehicle.

Typically, the price of this insurance depends on the price of the insured vehicle. In some cases, this may be several hundred dollars while in others, it may be several thousand. Though the individual does not get the money back if he or she never has to file a claim, there is still a benefit to having GAP coverage.

The biggest advantage of GAP coverage is the peace of mind it brings. Whether a car is totaled, destroyed by weather, vandalized beyond repair, or stolen, the individual is off the hook for paying for the car.

In many cases, the dealership where an individual buys the car will offer GAP insurance coverage. If not, there are several insurance companies that sell this coverage after the vehicle is purchased.

Austin Texas Electrolysis Centers Become the Mecca for Zapping Unwanted Hair

The consumer demand in Austin, TX has made Austin the cream of the crop nationwide. Whether you want a permanently hairless chinny-chin-chin or a smooth bikini line, you can find the perfect Texas laser hair removal salon in Austin. With over 65 salons, day spas, and medical spas, you can find exactly the right laser hair removal provider for you. If you want one close to home, no problem.

Who should seek this solution to their hairy problems in an Austin Texas Electrolysis Centers? People who get tired of shaving or waxing, spend the money undergo the procedures for the removal of hair in a certified and safe setting. Most people welcome the outcomes of laser hair removal and consider the negatives insignificant.

When women reach the ripe old age of forty, they usually begin to see the dreaded coarse hairs on their chins, causing them to review laser hair removal options. With so much at stake-self-esteem, fear of aging, fear of being perceived as old-they pluck and pluck. Laser hair removal can improve their self-perception, not to mention their self-esteem.

However, remember-it may take several procedures to achieve your purposes you desire. Laser hair treatments don’t necessarily insure permanent long-term hair removal. It will extend the period of time without hair, often lasting for several years. Extended treatments can go a long way toward long-term hair removal.

Tips for choosing the right laser hair removal facility:

ü Ask your friends about their experiences and get recommendations from them.

ü Find out what the business provides other services than hair removal. In other words, some places specialize in other areas as well. You want a laser specialist who does many procedures.

ü What kinds of removal procedures do they offer? Both electrolysis and laser hair removal? Study the benefits of both before you make a decision.

ü Ask about the number of hair removal procedures performed by the particular operator who will perform yours, and compare this to other centers.

ü What kind of equipment do they use? Age of the equipment? Sophistication of the equipment? You want state-of-the art, relatively new technology for the best results. The newer the better.

ü Ask about the training of your operator. You don’t want an amateur coming near your skin with a laser. These practitioners can get their training from many sources. Ask where the technicians in the were trained.

ü Does this provider use a cooling treatment as a part of the hair removal procedure? A laser can easily burn your skin. You want to avoid that if possible. In fact, for this reason, electrolysis hair removal options increased in popularity for this very reason.

Be sure to ask the appropriate questions so that the outcomes will make you feel better about yourself rather than making you regret you ever complained about your unwanted hair. Join in the trend that has made Austin the mecca for laser hair removal.

Local Austin Texas Artist – Brian David Johnson

Johnson’s Austin roots run deep. His great-great-grandfather immigrated to Austin in the 1850s from Sweden, and his family still remains. After several years of working with carpenters and a fine woodworker, Johnson has gained the knowledge and experience to create fine heirloom pieces with all the handmade precision of his forefathers.

Johnson started with small creations, such as wood veneered lamps, and quickly began building several different pieces, working against the old adage of, “form follows function.” Johnson’s technique relies more on his creative side, and how he wants a piece to work, then concentrates on the nuts and bolts of the project.

In 2002, Johnson established Brian David Johnson Fine Craft and Design, and now works out of the Splinter Group Cooperative workspace in east Austin. The Splinter Group houses other self-employed woodcraftsmen, each with his own design niche. Johnson defines his work as contemporary with organic sensibility.

After originally designing a coffee table for a client, Johnson entered a revamped version of the table into Design Within Reach’s Floating Chair show, which featured contemporary handmade furniture from local designers. Now known as the Yama coffee table, this massive curved piece of wood is sold through IF+D, a furniture store in Austin’s Second Street District. Along with building benches for Whole Foods in Austin, Johnson has spent the past couple of years building the majority of cabinets and built-ins for the Tortuga residence on Lake Austin (a massive remodel run by Austin’s design/build firm Bercy Chen Studio, and recently featured in the Design Vanguard issue of Architectural Record magazine).

Though Brian David Johnson is kept busy meeting clients, building furniture, and working from the office, he also finds time for his duties with the Architectural Artisans Collaborative, for which he is the president. As their website states, the Collaborative is, “An organization of professional, highly skilled artisans, architects, and artists dedicated to the renaissance of architectural craft in buildings constructed in Austin and central Texas.”

At the recent East Austin Studio Tour, Johnson had pieces of his work on display, and explained his different methods. In the corner of the workshop stood a purchase he had made a week earlier at the Settlement Home Charity Sale. It was a chair created by mid century furniture designer Hans Wegner, known simply as The Chair, that he picked up for a few hundred dollars- a better deal than the four thousand dollar price tag The Chair goes for fresh out of the factory.

The Chair is a true marvel of precision and craftsmanship with only 200 to 300 made every year. Johnson was actually chosen by the seller after realizing he designs furniture with the same sustainable aesthetic that goes into Wegner’s 1949 masterpiece. Though Johnson tries to use sustainable materials in his work, he concentrates primarily on insuring his furniture is well made, and will last a long time, instead of ending up in a landfill ten years from now. When Brian David Johnson builds a piece of furniture for a client, he also builds a relationship with them- a personal touch that cannot be found in a mammoth IKEA store.

When to Call a Lawyer For an Insurance Dispute

Here is the advice we give time and time again to our clients: Do not speak to insurance representatives for the other party involved in an accident; do not give statements to anyone; do not explain anything until you have a chance to speak with a lawyer. This advice needs to be heeded for the simple reason that insurance companies are not your friends and they do not really want to help you. What they want is to settle with you for as little as they can get away with in the long run.

While this may sound cold and calculating, it is a fact of business. Insurance companies are in business to stay there, not put themselves out of business by offering more for an accident claim settlement. They also won’t think twice about using any statements you made, at the scene or later, against you if it means they can offer a lower settlement or none at all. This is why you need a qualified insurance lawyer who knows the system and will get you a just settlement.

Dealing with your own insurance company is one thing; dealing with the other person’s insurance company is something else entirely. This is where things like delays, stalling, low-balling and other not-so-nice tactics come into play, such as intimidation and harassment.

Many people who have just been in a car crash have no idea what their accident claim may be worth. They think if the other party is at fault, the other party’s insurance company will offer a fair sum and won’t make you hire a lawyer.
Most often that sum is more like a pauper’s pittance and you can do better by having a qualified insurance attorney in your corner.

It’s a simple fact that insurance companies want you to settle right away so they can get rid of the claim and not put out much money on it. They don’t want you to see a lawyer who knows what s/he is doing. That only means they are going to have to pay out more money. If they are able to persuade you to take their figure, you have not only lost the battle for a just claim, but may wind up with a great deal less than you are entitled to.

When you’ve been in an accident, even if you think it is minor, take the time to call an auto accident attorney for advice. The first consultation is usually free and you will find out quickly if you have a leg to stand on in making a good settlement or court case. Don’t assume you are entitled to only what they offer. You may be way off the mark because you are not familiar with how the justice system works. This is your lawyer’s job and that first call is often well-worth your time.

Condominium Living – Purchasing Group Insurance Coverage for Your Condo

“As the proud owner of a condominium, you are well aware that you do not own the actual structure when you buy a condo. Rather, you just buy the unit in which you live. Therefore, obtaining the proper coverage to keep your condominium and the entire structure protected can be a bit confusing at times. In fact, in order to make sure you are entirely protected, you will likely need to buy condominium insurance as well as group insurance coverage for the structure.

What to Expect When You Buy Condo Insurance

When you buy condo insurance, it typically covers only the actual unit in which you live. This insurance is different from apartment insurance because apartment insurance only covers your belongings and none of the structure. When you buy condo insurance, on the other hand, you will receive coverage for part of the structure.

Condo insurance, which is more formally known as HO-6 insurance, covers your personal belongings while also providing you with liability protection. This is because the structure is covered by the policy owned by the actual building in which your condo is located.

Getting Group Insurance for Your Condominium

Obviously, you will need the structure in which your condo is located to be covered as well. After all, if the structure becomes damaged, it is likely that your unit will be damaged as well. Or, even if your unit is not damaged, the damage to the property will take away from the aesthetic beauty of your condo.

In order to make sure the structure of the condo is covered, most condos require their residents to buy into the group insurance coverage when they buy the unit. The amount of the group insurance premium may be included in the regular dues that a condo owner must pay or condo owners might simply be asked to pay a certain amount of money each year to go toward the payments for the group insurance.

The types of damage that are covered by your group insurance will depend largely on the type of insurance you decide to buy and what you choose to include in your policy. Typically, group insurance coverage for a condo does not include items such as:

o Water damage that is caused by underground water or flooding

o Damage from earthquakes or mudslides

o Damage from deterioration, settling, nuclear hazard, or contamination

o Damage caused by rodents, birds, domestic animals, and insects

If you live in an area where earthquakes, flooding, or mudslides are a concern, you might want to look at having this coverage added to your policy.

Those costs that are covered by group insurance for a condo, on the other hand, typically include:

o Property damage for reasons other than those previously mentioned

o Theft or damage of personal property

o Personal liability protection when someone is injured or property is damaged within the condo property boundaries

o Replacement of locks after a theft

o Loss of refrigerated content after mechanical or power failure

o Loss assessment coverage

In most cases, you won’t have an option about paying into group coverage when you buy a condo. Since you have a vested interest in the property, however, you will typically have a say in the type of coverage your condominium decides to carry. Therefore, it is essential that you consider all possibilities as well as cost when you decide which type of policy you will buy.”

Understanding Flood Insurance

Introduction Flood Insurance protects your house & possessions from loss by rising water from the outside. Think about a river or creek overflowing into your home… a frightening thought. Homeowner’s and other property insurance specifically exclude this peril.

If you own a house in a known flood risk area (i.e., the 100-year floodplain) with a bank loan, your mortgage bank will normally require flood insurance. For most homeowners, handling this mortgage bank flood insurance requirement is all they focus on and they ignore their true flood hazard. Then when a major storm does come, they have inadequate flood insurance coverage often with too little coverage on their house (often only the home loan balance) and no contents protection.

Also, over 25% of flood damage happens each year to properties outside of a known flood risk area (100-year floodplain). Central Texas had a recent example of an “out-of-the-blue” rain event that caused very intense flooding well beyond the known flood risk areas. The so-called “Marble Falls Rain Bomb” in June 2007 damaged over 100 homes & business around the city of Marble Falls with a very sudden 19 inch rainfall. A “Preferred Risk Flood Insurance Policy,” available to homeowners beyond the 100-year floodplain, can protect your home and possessions at a very modest price.

My city of Austin is part of the Central Texas “Flash Flood Alley” and has a long history of major flooding along its creeks and the Colorado River. Dams located on Lake Travis and Lake Buchanan, built in the 1940’s, has helped control the very destructive flooding of the Colorado River. Today, the biggest risk is along the many creeks in our urban areas and the Colorado River south of Lady Bird Lake dam. Shoal, Bull and Walnut creeks in North Austin plus Onion and Williamson creeks in South Austin have considerable history of inundating adjacent areas.

Our neighboring Hill Country also has many creeks subject to flooding plus several major rivers that can rage with great torrents after heavy rain. The Llano and Pedernales Rivers both have had major flood events in recent years. The Llano River, surging into Lake LBJ has caused major flood damage along its normally calm waters on several occasions.

The hardest part of understand both your flood risk and flood insurance policies is the terminology. Most folks are confounded by its mix of insurance and engineering terms. Once you have a key to decipher the flood insurance nomenclature, things will make more sense. You also want to understand what your “Flood Zone” designation means. Finally, I have included an overview of the main components of a flood insurance policy.

Flood Insurance Terminology:

Base Flood Elevation – This is the level at which there is a 1% chance of flooding in any given year. A building that is located on land below the “Base Flood Elevation” is inside the 100-year floodplain.

Elevation Certificate – Clarifies the relative elevation of your house in relation to the know flood risk. This allows for more accurate rating of the flood insurance policy and may reduce your flood insurance rates.

Flood Maps (“FIRM” – Flood Insurance Ratings Maps) – Created by FEMA’s (Federal Emergency Management Agency), these maps were created to determine which land areas are likely to be flooded. These maps are based on surveys of the elevation of land areas relative to known flood risks (creeks, rivers, lakes, etc.).

Floodplain – Any normally dry land area that is susceptible to being inundated by water often because it is adjacent to a watercourse. The 100-year Floodplain is the land that would be inundated by a 100-year flood event.

Flooding – Rising water from outside enters a structure. An example would be a house inundation from a flash flood. The flood peril also includes mudslide.

Hundred Year Flood – An engineering term used to describe the relative flooding risk. A house that is located inside the Hundred Year Floodplain is considered to have a 1% chance of being flooded in any given year. Most mortgages require that a house that is located in a Hundred Year Flood risk area must be insured for flood.

LOMA (Letter of Map Amendment) – Document used to establish that a building is not located in a Special Flood Hazard Area. A typical situation in which a LOMA would be important is when a part of a house lot is subject to flooding in a 100-year storm but the house itself has been built at a higher elevation.

National Flood Insurance Program – This is the government agency that provides insurance for the flood peril in the United States. Insurance companies are licensed to sell flood insurance policies for this government agency. All financial backing, rules and contract terms are set by the National Flood Insurance Program which is part of FEMA.

Special Flood Hazard Area – A geographic area that is prone to flooding. An example would be an area adjacent to a river that has an elevation low enough to be subject to flooding.

Flood Zones Designations:

A – River / stream flood risk AE – River / stream flood risk with mapped base flood elevations
AO – River / stream flood risk with shallow water depths (1-3 feet)
AH – River / stream flood risk with shallow water paths (flows of 1-3 feet)
V – Coastal or Storm Surge flood risk
VE – Coastal or Storm Surge flood risk with mapped base flood elevations
X – Not a Special Flood Risk Area (elevation above the 100-year floodplain)

Flood Insurance Overview

Property Coverages:

Building – Provides protection up to your limit for damage or destruction of your house or other dwelling from peril of flood including rising water and mudslide.

Contents – Provides protection for your clothes, appliances, furniture and other possessions at your residence from peril of flood including rising water and mudslide. Flood Insurance offers “Actual Cash Value” as the basis of settlement. Contents coverage is optional and has a separate deductible.

Secondary Structures (fences, sheds, etc.) – None (No coverage is extended to secondary structures from the standard flood policy. Coverage is only available for the main structure.)

Austin Insurance

Austin cars are a now defunct British motor car manufacturer having first been formed in the early days of motorcar manufacture and coming into existence from 1905 and achieving the status of large car manufacturer with the later Austin motor company merger with the British Morris motor car company in 1952.

Austin motor company was formed by the later knighted Sir Herbert Austin in 1905 Herbert Austin was the then manager of the Wolseley Tool and Motor Company based in Worcestershire.

Early Austin motorcars were of a standard for the day design consisting of a four-cylinder five-litre engine with a chain driven transmission.

Only 200 or so Austin motor cars were built in the early days from 1905 to 1914 but with the advent of World War 1 production was expanded enormously due to government backed orders for all kinds of thins from Aircraft to Artillery.

Shortly after the end of WW1 Herbert Austin went into mass production of one model starting with a design based around a 3620cc engine. The order book was however never enough to fill the capacity of the large Austin factory as it had been built during the war and Austin faced an uncertain time eventually falling into receivership in 1921. However the company was saved and restructured and went on to become a much stronger and more successful motor car manufacturer a lot of Austin’s success during in this period has been attributed to the appointment of Ernest Payton as the new finance director. And Carl Engelbach as works director.

Austin Motorcar Company expanded their range to include small and more economical cars for a growing market and branched out into America with the formation of the US based subsidiary American Austin Car Company. Austin as well as all companies had to weather the storm that was the great depression but by the end of the 1930s sales were growing especially with the introduction of the very successful Austin seven models and its spin offs.

Austin continued to make cars throughout World War 2 but branched out into making military vehicles and trucks for the war effort.

By the early 1960s Austin had decided on creating a range of small economical cars to cater for the growing car market but by the start of the 1970s Austin along with many other British carmakers had been part nationalised and run under the banner of British Leyland. By the end of the seventies Austin along with British Leyland were in trouble however Austin regained some ground by the design and manufacture of the innovative Austin Metro again by the late 1980s Austin had merged with Rover to create Austin Rover but it wasn’t long before Austin was removed leaving only Rover as the makers name.

Stranger Than Fiction: Bizarre, Real-Life Insurance Policies

Welcome to the weirdest of the weird – strange insurance policies that you would have to read to believe. For many special circumstances, insurance coverage extends far beyond cut and dried homeowner’s, renter’s, and auto insurance to include policies like:

Celebrity Body Part Insurance

It may make your jaw drop to find out that Heidi Klum has both of her legs insured; even more interesting is the fact that her right leg is worth $1.2 million, while her left leg is worth only $1 million since it has a small scar. America Ferrera is also insured by Aquafresh White Strips for $10 million on her beautiful pearly white teeth.

But let’s not forget the infamous Dolly Parton. Well known for her ample chest and twangy music, Dolly Parton’s breasts are insured at $300,000 each. To add to that sentiment, Latin diva Jennifer Lopez has a $27 million insurance policy on her derrière, the body part that has made her most famous.

Wedding Insurance

As if the cost of a wedding isn’t expensive enough, many couples decide to pay for wedding insurance in case the bride has cold feet and cancels at the last minute. This coverage will also cover a death in the family or another eleventh-hour disaster that could ruin a perfectly good wedding day.

A couple can choose to purchase wedding insurance to cover the wedding ceremony and reception, as well as expenses like the bridal gown, wedding pictures, and even stolen gifts.

UFO Abduction Insurance

If you’re concerned about alien abduction, as many people are, you can take out an insurance policy to provide compensation for both physical and psychological damage that could occur. The good news is that this insurance coverage is relatively cheap at up to $50 for a lifetime policy. It can provide an impressive payout of up to $10 million.

The catch? In the event that you make a claim, your payout will be minimal at a maximum of $5 a year over the next 2 million years. If you’re interested in this type of protective UFO insurance, make sure to read the fine print before signing on the dotted line.

Multiple Birth Insurance

This type of insurance coverage is ideal for those who want to prepare for a worst-case scenario, even in conception. Lloyds of London provides insurance coverage for multiple births to compensate for the financial impact of unexpected mouths to feed.

One Michigan couple with this insurance policy was able to collect after having twins. They continued to pay for the multiple birth insurance in case it were to happen again; as luck would have it, they soon gave birth to a second set of twins.

In the great world of insurance coverage, protective policies are available for the weird to the wonderful. If you take anything away from these strange insurance policies, make it a priority to talk with your Austin insurance agent about any and every curveball that life throws your way to see if insurance protection is available.