Should You Take Insurance for Your Small Business

Every business regardless of its scale or scop needs insurance to protect it from any untoward and unfortunate incidents. This is especially true for a small business where owners to not have a huge cache of funds to fall back on to meet emergency liabilities. However, what is important is to know the types of insurance covers that are available and which should be availed almost mandatorily.

Here is a lowdown of types of insurance that you should take out as a small business owner.

General Liability Insurance

This insurance cover protects your business from third part liability and claims. Such claims can arise due to a minor incident but can have a devastating effect on your business. Suppose a client slips on the floor where water had been spilled earlier, her/she can file damages against you. If you do not have General Liability Insurance, the whole amount would have to be paid by you personally or from your business. The consequence can be crippling for a small firm or a business start up. If you own a business that sees heavy customer footfalls in your premises like a retail store, this cover is obligatory for you.

Commercial Property Insurance

While General Property Insurance protects you from third party claims from your customers, Commercial Property Insurance guards your property like buildings, plant and machinery, office equipment and anything else of similar nature. Any untoward incidents like theft or fire is covered by this insurance. For a small business a fire or theft of costly equipment can have a crippling effect. Because of the importance of these two types of policies for a small business owner, many insurers offer a simple Business Owners’ Policy which covers both in a single package.       

Directors & Officers (D&O) Insurance

This policy safeguards your executives, managers, members of the board and authorities in power from being sued by stake holders for negligent decision making that might have adversely affected the company’s functioning. Top ranking officials can sue other directors if they feel that they have been wrongly terminated. Even vendors can file claims against your small business in case of bankruptcy. Without D&O to fall back on the executives and you would have to personally meet the liabilities, putting your own assets to risk. If you want to build up a pool of talented and experienced directors and other key personnel, having D&O insurance will be an added advantage.

Workers Compensation Insurance

Workers Compensation Insurance is mandatory in most States and even otherwise it will be beneficial to opt for this cover. The insurance takes care of medical costs and lost wages if an employee falls ill on the job or is injured. If you are in an industry that is hazardous in nature or has a history of high work related illnesses, you should always consider purchasing this policy. Further, if an employee decides to sue your business for any reason whatsoever, you will be protected with this insurance.

As a small business owner, you will do well to take out required and specific insurance policies so that you can safeguard your personal assets from any liabilities that might crop up.

Tips for Purchasing car insurance within budget

Nowhere is the old maxim that “you get what you pay for” more relevant than when buying auto insurance. Paying a high premium means that you have a good comprehensive cover for your car but it can also indicate that you are over-insured. Similarly, for a low premium policy, a few clauses of a good standard policy will be missing but that does not mean that you get a below par policy or you have to face poor customer service in case you need to file a claim. There are pros and cons for both and it is advisable to carry out extensive research on what various companies have to offer before buying an auto policy.

A few tips are provided here on how to get car insurance within your budget without compromising on coverage, claims processing, customer service or any other factors that make for a good and quality insurance coverage.

  • Buying a car – The process of getting cheap auto insurance starts before you buy a car and not after. Most new owners consider only the sticker price but there are a lot of other factors too. Luxury and other high-end cars naturally have a higher premium than middle level solid and dependable cars. Insurers charge high premiums for fast sports cars. If yours can zoom 0 to 60 in 6 seconds you are liable to pay higher insurance for it. This is because insurers feel that fast cars are prone to more smash-ups than others. So if you are resident of Melbourne for example, they feel that your fast car is more liable to be towed to an accredited garage for smash repairs at Hoppers Crossing than other slower ones.

Another factor is the safety features in the car that you intend to buy. Those with traction control systems, anti-lock brakes, airbags, alarm and anti-theft system are offered discounts on insurance premium as the car will be highly rated in safety crashes, resulting in lower claims.

  • Deal with one company – Most companies deal in a wide variety of products such as life insurance, homeowners insurance, RV and motorcycle insurance apart from auto insurance. If you are an existing customer with a bundle of products to your name you can bargain for and get up to 15% discount when you add auto insurance to the list. However, go for this route only if the discounts and policy price offered justifies it. In today’s fiercely competitive insurance business environment, you can get discounts from any company if you can prove that you are getting a cheaper premium from a rival service provider. This is regardless of whether you are a loyal customer of other offerings or not.
  • Compare and buy – Do not stop by the first insurance company you come by after buying your car and get auto insurance. The Internet has opened up infinite possibilities and you should take full advantage of it. Do an extensive research on average car insurance premium in the State that you are residing in and then compare it with the premium you are being charged. Check on the lowest, average and highest rates of insurance not only by State but by zip codes too.

Finally, get quotes from at least three providers and compare the rates as well as the inclusions and exclusions. Read testimonials of other customers about those companies on their websites. Customer support is a crucial issue. You definitely would not want a service provider that does not care for you later when you submit a claim.

There is another option before you. Top and certified garages offer their customers help in all insurance related issues from preparing claim forms to sanction of claims. For example, if your car is involved in a smash up in Melbourne and you take it to authorised service station MACS Auto & Panel, they will complete the insurance formalities on your behalf. Hence, you can also rely on them to give you a clear and honest picture of the best insurance service providers, both in terms of rates and customer support.

  • Increase your deductible – The higher you choose to have your deductible, the lower will be the premium even though you have to pay more from your pocket in the event of an accident. Since accidents are rare occurrences, high deductibles mean regular savings on insurance premiums. However, make sure that you put away a small amount every month to meet margin on claims should your car be involved in a smash-up.
  • Improving credit score – Insurance providers are permitted to access credit scores of applicants and a high credit score means lesser premiums. This is because insurers have found a strong correlation between drivers with good credit scores and safe driving!

When looking for cheap car insurance your focus should be on getting the best policy coverage and features and not the lowest price only. Dirt cheap policies from a company with a poor customer service record can be a harrowing experience for the insured in the event of a claim to be settled.

Reasons for Rejection of Car Insurance Claims

It can be really devastating to be involved in a car accident. Apart from dealing with personal trauma, a host of actions have to be taken – informing the authorities, contacting authorised car service garages for repairs and then the paperwork for filing insurance claims. At this stage, people tend to get a bit complacent knowing that their vehicle is comprehensively insured. However, when the insurance claim gets rejected for some reason or the other, it generally turns out to be a financial calamity of sorts. But why do insurance claims get rejected? Here is a rundown of some of the major causes which if avoided can give you some respite even after an accident.

  • Lapsed insurance policy – You will be more than careful about keeping a valid insurance cover when you have a new car. But sometimes in the case of an old car, people are not that scrupulous about timely policy renewal. Most insurers will reject a claim if an accident or theft has occurred even a single day beyond the date of expiry of the policy.
  • Fraudulent claim – You have to be meticulously truthful and honest while submitting your claims. Exaggerated claims to get more from the insurance company or to have additional car repairs done beyond accident damage is an act of fraud and can get you into legal trouble. Hence it is always advisable to have your car checked and a quote for damage repairs obtained from a reputed and certified service station in your locality. For example if you are a resident of Melbourne you can opt for top of the line garages for smash repairs at Hoppers Crossing for an estimate. You will be on the right side of the law and thereby reduce the possibility of claim rejection.
  • Delay in accident reporting – Most insurance companies have a 24 to 48 hours window for reporting an accident to your car. This is generally to give you time to get over the incident before getting down to the formalities. Your claim may be rejected for any delay beyond that. Moreover, if you continue driving your car in that period and further aggravate the damage, the claim will be definitely rejected.
  • Driving without a licence or under influence – It is mandatory that a car should always be driven by a valid licence holder. Any deviation in this regard will mean that a claim cannot even be raised. Similarly for accidents that occur when the driver is under the influence of alcohol a claim made will be summarily rejected.
  • Wrong use of vehicle – Every vehicle use is defined by the insurance company in the policy including the number of permitted passengers. For example, a racing car has a higher premium than an average family car due to the increased risk factor. However, if it is seen that a car has been in an accident during racing when it is not insured to be so, the claim will not be allowed. Another instance is overloading the vehicle beyond permitted capacity even if that was not the cause of accident.
  • Not informing the insurance company before repairs – It is necessary that the insurance company be informed of the accident before repairs are carried out so that they can trace back the cause of accident. You cannot have the car repaired from own funds and place a claim later. This is because if any claim has to be considered a survey has to be carried out by an authorised person of the insurance company before repairs can be taken up. Not following this process will lead to claim rejection.

Keep these things in mind if you want to avoid the possibility of car claims rejection.

Career Opportunities in Insurance Companies

There are two main functions of insurance companies. The first is underwriting which is measurement and calculation of risk and the second is investment which is utilising the surplus of premium collected over claims paid. In underwriting, the degree of likelihood that the insurance company has to make a payout on a claim is calculated and the quantum of premium fixed accordingly. This is a crucial aspect of insurance companies as high payouts on low premium policies can adversely impact profitability.

Given this scenario, here are some of the job opportunities in the insurance sector. In most of the jobs, you can either choose to be connected with an insurance company or be an independent free lancer with your own office set-up. If the first option is your choice, you can contact the local employment agency for job openings. For example if you are residing in the State of Victoria, Australia, you may send your resume with choice of job in the insurance sector to agencies specialising in labour hire employment in Melbourne.

  • Actuary – An actuary draws upon his skill and e3xpwerience to forecast the degree of risk in writing insurance policies in a wide range of areas – property, health, automotive and business. Statistical and mathematical data as well as societal trends are taken into account by actuaries for fixing insurance premiums. It is actuaries that have stipulated that the premium for insuring a vehicle driven by a 25 year old should be more than that driven by a 50 year old and not without reason too. Young drivers are more prone to breaking speed limits than the elderly. As an actuary you can be a part of an insurance company, Government or third party advisors.
  • Claims adjuster – Adjusters are people who negotiate with people to determine the quantum of claim in case of a loss. He is the key to reaching a settlement between all parties and ensures that the ultimate figure is fair to all. To be successful as a claims adjuster you have to have good man-management and communication skills and be tactful with people. You can opt to be an employee of an insurance company or work out from your own office. It pays in this field to have a fair idea of the legalities of claims settlement.
  • Agent and broker – An agent is the first link between the insurance company and the insured. He will advise people on how best to protect their property or assets and which policy will optimise their needs. He will also be the first person who will be contacted in case of an accident or fire or injury. As a broker, you should have a good control over insurance contracts. This is a very financially rewarding occupation and is a very good job if you love interacting with people. Must have a flair for sales and marketing.
  • Underwriters – Underwriters decide if it is prudent to provide insurance coverage to applicants. He will evaluate the exposure to risk of the applicant to determine if the insurer’s standards are met. Further, an underwriter often takes the responsibility of setting the insurance price for applicants. To be in this vocation you should have a great deal of analytical skills and have a good hold over human behavioural tendencies.

Apart from these main job opportunities, you can also try to be a loss control specialist, service representative and risk manager. All of these are highly paid and lucrative career options.

Secrets which Auto Insurance Companies Don’t Want You to Know

Many people find themselves in an unenviable position where they have to sue their own auto insurance company to get claims that they have always thought was theirs by right, even after promptly paying their insurance premiums. Most people simply want their insurers to do what they promised in the event of a crash – repair their damaged cars, pay medical bills if there is a need to see a doctor and compensate them for lost wages. However, many of them go into a mode of shock when they find that they have to work hard for it – numerous phone calls and personal visits to the insurer and as a last course of action, calling on a lawyer.

But is all this really necessary? Why should people be lied to, ignored and even threatened and intimidated? It would not be if insurers companies discussed all clauses with you and did not hide most of them in fine print in the contract.

Here are a few of the secrets auto insurance companies do not want you to know and would rather give you a piece of discouraging advice –

  • Hiring attorneys – Auto Insurance companies will try and stop you from hiring an attorney. They know that once you do so, they’ll have to pay more than they would normally have to. You will hear a variety of reasons from them – that hiring an attorney will cost you the earth, that your case once it gets to court will drag on for ever and other similar reasons. However, you can silence them by enquiring why they hire a retainer in the first place. Most often than not, simply by informing them that you are planning to see a lawyer if you do not get what was mentioned in the contract in full, you can be sure that you will be offered a better deal. Remember that an adjuster is not your friend, he is there to make money and the less they pay you, the more they will make
  • Getting recorded statements – You will often see that insurance adjusters will try and get recorded statements from you; something on the lines of you being “not that hurt” or the cause of the accident could “possibly have been your fault”. Both types of statements will be used against you to sanction lower claim amounts. Even devious means may be employed to gain access to your medical reports to see if some issues can be raised against you for the same reason. Further, a whole lot of enquiries will be done of which most were not raised when you signed the contract. For example, if you have bought the car in question second hand in the State of Victoria, do you have a roadworthy certificate in Melbourne or even if you do, has it been issued by an approved service station and garage like Western Auto Services. The reason why the adjusters were not as scrupulous before as now is simply because they had to get your policy then and it is payback time now.
  • Not giving correct picture – There are many things that an adjuster will inform you, just to check if you fall for it. Some of them are ridiculous and some have an edge of seriousness to them. This is one reason why most adjusters would love to see your medical records when you file a claim. A few cases will help illustrate this trend better. Suppose you have a back injury in a collision and you reveal that you have had back problems for long, an attempt might be made to link the two! You might be told that you are not entitled for compensation for suffering, prescriptions or lost wages. Even a claim for injury might be disregarded in case of a minor accident since the impact was insignificant. The way to change the tone and tenor of the adjuster in sanctioning claims is to hire a professional lawyer to look into the matter.

Finally, be aware of doctors on medical boards of auto insurance companies. They are used to lower the importance of your injuries or to access your medical records and refuse claims on the grounds of pre-existing ailments.

Customise your Car Insurance at the Best Price

There are different types of car insurance offered by service providers and the package you choose depends almost entirely on the clauses you opt for as per your budget and the amount of coverage you want. Some covers are mandatory as required by the State and still others depend on the extra precautions that you would like to take.

Here are a few options that you can pick from.

Collision coverage – If your vehicle hits another or a guard rail, road divider or a telephone pole, collision coverage will pay for the costs to have your car repaired. However, the payout is not total and you have to bear a certain percentage of the bill depending on the age of your car and the type of parts that need to be replaced.

Liability coverage – This covers both damage to personal property and bodily injury in case of an accident. If it is proved that you are legally responsible for the damages, this cover will pay for the costs. It includes medical expenses for personal injuries too. A minimum amount of liability coverage is compulsory in almost every state and is required for registering a vehicle or obtaining a driver’s licence.

Uninsured or underinsured coverage – Strange as it may sound, more than half the cars on road are without any form of car insurance. So where do you send your bills for damage if you are hit by one in this category? It is recommended that you get an uninsured or under insured insurance coverage which pays for bodily injury as well as damage to property. In the USA, 22 States have made this insurance coverage mandatory while in others it can be taken as an add-on to liability coverage.

Personal Injury protection – This is on the lines of Medical Payments coverage but covers a much broader spectrum. It pays for medical and rehabilitation expenses and compensates for loss of work. It even pays for funeral costs. Having a minimum coverage is a requirement in almost all States.

Comprehensive coverage – Have this cover to protect your vehicle from any eventuality that can lead to damage and loss to your car. Whatever falls outside the purview of the usual like collision and other similar liabilities are taken care of in this scheme. It includes riots, vandalism, floods, fire and even damage from animal collisions.

Select the best car insurance coverage through a judicious mix of the must-haves and the optional within your budget.