Vaught Wright & Bond
P.O. Box 1328
533 Main Street
Placerville, California 95667
Phone: 530-622-1835
Toll-Free: 800-652-0168
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CA Lic. #00448556

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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!

Is Your Business Hiring This Summer?

Is Your Business Hiring This Summer?

Many businesses today offer college students the opportunity to hold a summer intern position. These can be rewarding for the college student as well as provide some help to the business. Offering paid or non-paid internships can create risk for your business. We wanted to highlight some of the business risks associated with having interns. Before you bring that person on board, make sure your business is well prepared.

  • You should have a written plan. It should include a job description, hours, and line of authority.
  • Check to see if there are any state regulations that might be impacted.
  • If you offer a paid internship, you will need to treat the intern like any other employee. We suggest having a formal agreement indemnifying the terms of the agreement, including the time period of the internship.
  • If the internship is a paid position, don’t forget about workers’ compensation.
  • Make sure you comply with Healthcare Reform relating to employee benefits.
  • Make sure the intern understands they are not entitled to “regular” company benefits, i.e.  retirement, insurance, vacation, etc.
  • The internship must provide similar training that would be given in an educational environment.
  • There must be a “true” benefit for the intern.
  • The internship cannot be for the sole benefit of the company.
  • The intern must not replace regular employees, and should work under the close supervision of existing staff.

Unpaid internships for for-profit companies are subject to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Fair Labor Standards Act. There are provisions if you offer educational credit. Here is a link to the U.S. Department of Labor.

We recommend you check with the department of labor to make sure your program meets all of the requirements. There have been many businesses who have been sued as a result of improper internship programs.

We represent the best insurance companies; these include Hartford, Allied Insurance, Travelers, CIG, State Fund, Safeco, and many others. Without proper guidance, commercial insurance for your business can be a nightmare. No two businesses are alike. At Vaught Wright & Bond our Commercial Lines specialists not only tailor a policy to fit your business’ needs, but also work diligently with you to avoid unnecessary costs and exposures.

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

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.

How To Reduce Workers’ Compensation Costs

Workers’ Compensation Defined

Workers’ Compensation is coverage purchased by the employer that provides insurance if employees are injured while on the job. Most states require that employers purchase the insurance on behalf of their employees.

Workers’ compensation costs can make up a large portion of business operating costs. It is beneficial for employers to find methods of reducing both the direct and indirect costs associated with workers’ compensation.

Workers’ Compensation Cost Reduction Methods

Using an independent agent who can help you market your workers’ compensation program is a good way to keep premiums competitive.

Selecting the right carrier. Not all insurance companies are created equal. Does the carrier have experienced loss control and claims professionals? Low rates can mean the insurer does not have quality support; and if the claim goes bad due to lack of supervision, you will end up paying more in the long run.

Does your company have an up to date safety and return to work program? This is critical in the management of the injury and post-accident process. Getting injured workers back to work as soon as medically possible is very important and can reduce indemnity costs.

Provide ongoing staff training. Keeping all employees informed and part of the process will make them feel invested in the long term benefits of your safety program.

The small amount of money you spend on these items will have a positive impact on your overall costs.

Placerville Workers compensation insurance is available for any size and type of business. As you may have seen, it can be difficult to qualify, so it is best to work with an experienced broker/agent to cut through the red tape. In California, many businesses believe that State Fund is their only option, when it is often possible to find other companies offering similar coverage at a better rate. If State Fund is your best or only option, we believe it is much better to buy your coverage through an agent/broker so you have unbiased assistance and support, rather than working directly with State Fund’s employees. Who wants that conflict of interest that may not put your interests first?
The rate you pay is the same either way; it’s a no-brainer!

Click here to get your quote started:

WORKERS COMPENSATION QUOTE PAGE

Or call (800) 652-0168 to speak with a specialized agent.

 

 

 

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!

How Your Business Can Reduce Risks?

There is no question that operating a business comes with certain risks. But there are also many benefits. The range of business threats is evolving rapidly but your organization can thrive and gain a competitive advantage if you know how to manage your risk. Here are a few simple ways to manage risk:

Follow insurance company loss control recommendations. These are designed to reduce the probability of a loss and to reduce the severity if a loss occurs.

Develop an employee handbook. Having a set of procedures involving roles and responsibilities will help reduce employment issues in the long term.

Evaluate your facilities. Unused equipment, obsolete security systems and lack of attention to risks on the site present significant potential for loss.  Insurance companies encourage all business owners to maintain clean and safe premises for the health and safety of employees, vendors and customers.

Make safety a priority. Having a safety program can not only reduce your costs but will improve employee productivity.

Train your staff. Employees perform better if they have an understanding of what their roles and responsibilities are. Make safety part of every job description.

Keep employees healthy. A local company, for example, has instituted a comprehensive wellness program that includes disease management for afflictions such as asthma and diabetes, as well as offering flu shots, cancer screenings, smoking-cessation sessions and a round-the-clock phone line staffed by nurses. The company found that for every dollar it invested, it saved $4.23.

If your business changes, your insurance should too.  Meet annually with us to determine whether your business has changed in significant ways that require modifying or adding coverage.

Raise your deductible. Raising the deductible on your insurance usually lowers your premiums. Even if you end up having to pay the deductible, it’s likely to be less than the amount you save.

 

We believe our greatest asset is the relationships we build with our clients and we are dedicated to being the right choice for all of your insurance and financial needs. We take pride in our ability to tailor a comprehensive insurance package that maximizes your insurance protection while minimizing money out of your pocket.

We maintain relationships with underwriters who are specialists in the commercial property insurance arena, and we consistently monitor the marketplace for new and innovative underwriters. We will evaluate your specific business needs and make personalized recommendations for your business.

At Vaught Wright & Bond our Commercial Lines specialists not only tailor a policy to fit your business’ needs, but also work diligently with you to avoid unnecessary costs and exposures.

 

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

 

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!

Does My Business Need Commercial Liability Insurance?

A Business Insurance Update

We understand every business is unique. You serve people first and foremost. Just because you are a small business does not mean you are exempt from litigation. Every business large or small needs general liability insurance to protect your organization from unforeseen events.

General liability insurance should be the foundation of your commercial insurance program. General liability insurance provides the following coverage:

  • Bodily Injury– Bodily Injury to a third party.
  • Property Damage– Damage to a third parties’ property (equipment building etc.).
  • Personal Injury– Injury to the mind or emotions, as opposed to an injury to property.
  • Advertising Liability– Damages arising out of advertising, libel, slander and invasion of privacy.
  • Products & Completed Operations– Liability arising out of the Nonprofits products or business operations and services conducted, excluding Professional services.
  • Premises-Covers liability arising out of injury to third parties while on your premises.
  • Medical Payments- A general liability coverage that reimburses others, without regard to the insured’s liability for bodily injury while on your premises.

General Liability Insurance is designed to cover defense costs as well as judgments. It is an important part of your insurance program that we recommend for your organization.

We maintain relationships with underwriters who are specialists in the commercial property insurance arena, and we consistently monitor the marketplace for new and innovative underwriters. We will evaluate your specific business needs and make personalized recommendations for your business.

At Vaught Wright & Bond our Commercial Lines specialists not only tailor a policy to fit your business’ needs, but also work diligently with you to avoid unnecessary costs and exposures.