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

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Policy Services

Down to Business

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.

 

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.

5 Insurance Tips to Help You Protect Your Small Business

According to statistics, there are 28 million small businesses in the United States, which account for 54% of all sales. These businesses are driven by entrepreneurial spirit and the burning desire to introduce a unique idea to the market or offer a unique skill.

Launching a business and keeping it thriving demands great passion, robust business plan, significant capital and some other things most people usually overlook, such as insurance.

Starting a business is itself a risk, so all business owners must take the time to insure themselves, their investment, employees, and property the right way. There are lots of things to put into consideration, such as commercial auto, property, and workers’ compensation. As complicated as it seems, it is straightforward if you know where to start. Here are some tips below:

Risk abounds… understand possible threats

It is essential to understand threats that may work against your business before deciding on how to protect it. Since there are several commercial insurance options, you must first understand your needs and your level of exposure before opting for a coverage. Loss of income, slip and falls, fire, defective products, equipment breakdown, injured employees or customers are some of the threats that can affect a business. Do not just wish them away, assess every step of your business, contemplate the worst that could happen and get insurance for it.

Employment Practices Liability Insurance

Sometimes, the employer-employee relationship can go south. Although most business owners try to maintain a good, healthy relationship with their employees, disputes are inevitable. Every business owner must protect themse just in case any minor conflict translates to litigation. With Employment Practice Liability Insurance, employers are protected against wrongful acts that may occur out of their employment practices, which may include age, race, sex discrimination, failure to promote, and wrongful termination. In today’s insurance market, this coverage is quickly becoming indispensable.

Find security in a digital world

In 2017, CNBC reported that hackers had hacked 14 million businesses in less than 12 months; that is nearly half of all small businesses in the United States. So, endeavor to get insurance for any online threat your business may face. If your business requires you to conduct transactions or collect customer’s personal information online, then the Cyber Risk Coverage or Data Compromise coverage will be ideal for you. If hackers ever were to successfully steal a customer’s information or if the information leaks, such customer may want to take legal action against you. Usually, Data Compromise Coverage provides Response Expense Coverage that helps cover the cost of informing and assisting your customers after a data hack. Selecting this option also provides Defense and Liability Coverage, which takes care of third-party action brought against you by those affected by the data hack. Comprehensive Cyber Risk coverage provides coverage against electronic data damage and computer systems from a virus or computer attack. It also protects your business’s liability to third parties if there is any damage to them as a result of your business’s computer system vulnerability.

Home is where the heart is

If you run a home-based business and you have a homeowners’ policy, please note that the policy does not protect your home-based business. After assessing the risks associated with your business, you may want to add a rider to your policy to protect the primary business risks. Be sure to add business insurance to protect your home-based business.

Consult an agent

This is the most important tip. Work with our team with the aim of determining the right coverage for your business. We’ll develop a plan that will help protect your business.

And as always, if you’re on the lookout for great information about insurance topics that impact health and pocketbook… Contact us anytime for all insurance related questions.

Small Businesses Have Big Risks

A Business and Risk Update

You buy commercial insurance to protect your business from the unforeseen events that might cause a claim, damage, or loss.  Commercial insurance provides the financial resources necessary to help your business recover from a covered loss.  As your business grows, so does your risk.  As societal norms change, your business risks also change.  A commercial insurance review can help you better understand your new risks and how best to manage them.

Common Emerging Risks

  1. The connected workplace is allowing employees to work from remote locations. However, this can create new liabilities for businesses.  Remote workplaces create increased risk of cyber breaches, undocumented workers’ compensation claims, and other HR issues.
  2. The use of imported products can adversely affect your businesses risk. If you use imported products as part of your manufacturing process, you have an increased risk of that product failing.  You may then have difficulty recovering your losses in a foreign county.
  3. The shortage of skilled workers can also increase your business risk. Set up a thorough training program to ensure all new employees have an understanding of their job duties and functions.
  4. Business interruption losses can close your business down. It is important to have the right kind of business insurance to cover a shutdown. Coverage can include payroll, extra expenses, and lost revenue.
  5. Loss of brand reputation can kill your business overnight with the use of social media. Make sure you respond quickly to all client concerns and have a social media policy for your business.

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’s Wrong With Insurance?

There are many insurance myths floating around, and most of them have been around for years.  We want to respond to some of these myths with clear information, so that you can make educated decisions about your insurance purchases.

Commercial Insurance Myths

“Having two agents is better than one, because they keep each other competitive.”

Having two agents duplicates effort and can create coverage gaps and/or duplications.  For example, there is certain coverage that can be included under a liability policy as well as under an auto policy.  If you have two agents, who coordinates coverage? One agent is better able to manage your entire insurance program.

“I am covered under workers’ compensation; therefore I do not need medical insurance.”

Workers’ compensation only covers on-the-job injuries.  It does not cover off-duty accidents, illness, or other things like cancer.

“Umbrella insurance is for only large firms.”

Every business should consider an umbrella policy. Claims can come from employees, clients, and other third parties.  Defense costs range from $250 to $750 per hour on more complicated claims.

“My claim was an act of God; therefore my deductible does not apply.”

All losses are subject to your policy terms including the stated deductible.

“Earthquakes are covered under my commercial insurance.”

Earthquakes and floods are specifically excluded under commercial insurance unless you have added it.

“I can’t control my commercial insurance costs.”

There are a number of actions you can take to control your insurance costs:

  • Increase your deductible
  • Follow all loss control recommendations
  • Only report larger claims
  • Develop a safety program

 

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.

 

Get the Most from a Commercial Insurance Policy

Small business owners are constantly implementing innovative ways to increase productivity, revenue, and reviews. With so much energy dedicated to promoting the success of the business, seldom is time spent thinking about the insurance side. Businesses face inherent risk regardless of size, location, and company size. In an instant, random occurrences can damage or destroy a business. A business insurance policy can help entrepreneurs recover, yet differences in coverage, service, and rates leave many confused where to begin. Before sourcing a business insurance policy or switching insurance carriers, get to know these tips for finding the right business insurance policy.

Business Insurance Basics

Small businesses range across the board which means the same insurance policy for one business will likely be a poor match for the next. The right policy for your small business is one crafted to suit the specific needs of your organization. Some types of insurance may be automatically required such as unemployment and workers’ compensation, while others are voluntary. A number of additional options are available to help bolster an insurance policy; here’s a breakdown:

  • Liability Insurance. Business owners assume a great deal of liability, including entrepreneurs operating from the security of their home. Liability insurance can protect from claims resulting from persons injured on the business premises, damage resulting from advertising, medical and legal costs, and more.
  • Commercial Auto Insurance. Companies that operate vehicles require commercial auto insurance. Commercial auto insurance is necessary any time an employee utilizes a vehicle for a commercial purpose. This can include personal, company-owned, rented, leased, or otherwise appropriated vehicles. Cyber insurance must be in place any time an employee is behind the wheel.
  • Cyber Insurance. The latest in commercial insurance, cyber insurance may be a match for your company. Cyber insurance can help protect businesses in case of lost customer data or malicious cyber attack. Attacks in cyberspace can have devastating effects on equipment and may lead to interruptions in operating. Cyber insurance can replace revenue for interruptions caused by cyber activity.
  • Business Interruption Insurance. Business interruption insurance ensures companies can continue to earn following a disruption. Natural disasters, accidents, deliberate actions and more threaten to interrupt revenue. Employee salaries, loans, and more can become daunting without the means to pay them. With business interruption insurance, the insurance company will compensate for lost revenue while the business gets back on its feet.
  • Errors and Omissions Insurance. Entrepreneurs working with details may want to add errors and omissions insurance protection to a commercial policy. For professionals offering services or advice, a small oversight can have big consequences. This insurance helps protect entrepreneurs in case of accidental errors or omissions resulting in damages.

Getting More

A Business Owner Policy (referred to as a BOP) is a means of bundling commercial insurance policy options into a single policy. Other discounts may be available. Speak to an agent about saving with a BOP and other ways to save on commercial insurance.

A commercial insurance agent can help locate gaps in protection to ensure your business is prepared for anything. There are many layers to commercial insurance policies. Speak to an agent for information on comparing policies, quotes, and insurance options. An agent can help uncover more ways to save on insurance and will help your business remain current with coverage and discount opportunities.

The cheapest insurance policy may be attractive in cost, yet lacking in protection. Compare quotes for coverage, service, deductibles and more. Small businesses are in a steady state of evolution. The same policy from last year may be insufficient moving forward. Perform annual reviews of insurance policies to ensure adequate coverage and maximum savings.

For more information on getting the most from a commercial insurance policy, speak to an agent. Agents are ready to help with quotes for rates, answer questions about coverage, and help with other insurance needs. Make sure to visit often for more information on getting the most out of your insurance policy.

The Basics of Business Insurance

Entrepreneurs have a lot to think about. It’s understandable if some have yet to obtain adequate commercial insurance for their small business. Some may grab policies off the shelf, while others may lack coverage completely. Businesses are subject to many of the same risks as homes and much more atop that. Protecting a business with commercial insurance helps preserve revenue, owner credit, and the hard work placed into creating an enterprise.

Whether it’s time to purchase a commercial policy or you’re looking to compare rates, you can help match the right policy to your business. When purchasing commercial insurance, here are 5 things to keep in mind.

Take Inventory of Risks

Small businesses are unique. The same insurance policy for a dry cleaning operation would be a poor match for a bakery. Look at your business the way an insurance agent might and find where protection may be necessary. An agent can help, and be sure to remember enough liability protection.

Insurance companies take more than location into thought when determining overall risk. Entrepreneur credit, claims history, and more may affect the decision. Premiums are, in turn, affected by risk factors and may be higher or lower depending on carrier and policy options. A policy created to address the needs of a specific business, with deductibles set at an appropriate rate, will help entrepreneurs save on insurance costs, and better respond to damages.

Bundle Insurance with a BOP

Commercial insurance policies are often bundled into what’s referred to as a Business Owner Policy, or BOP for short. Combining multiple insurance protections through a single carrier can save money. With discounts for bundling, gain access to improved insurance policy options for reduced annual rates.

Compare Insurance Policies and Rates

Commercial insurance is an ongoing obligation. Overpaying for insurance will add up over time. Hesitate from leaping at the first insurance quote and shop around. Policies, options, customer service and more will vary greatly both by the insurance carrier and by the insurance agency. Insurance companies compete for customers and may offer extra discounts or incentives. An independent insurance broker can help with objective advice on obtaining the best policy.

Find the Right Insurance Agent

There’s more to obtaining commercial insurance than finding a cheap policy. For claims, having a personal insurance agent familiar with you and your business can make all the difference. The right insurance agent will create a policy based on your business, find the best rates available through reputable carriers, and be there when needed.

Revisit Insurance Coverage Annually

As businesses grow, so do insurance obligations. Launching products, starting advertising campaigns, and bringing new people into the fold adds liability and more. Meet with an agent at least once per year to look over insurance coverage for gaps. Staying proactive with commercial insurance helps with responding to damages. It’s always a good time to think about protecting livelihood and investment.

Have questions about commercial or other insurance policies? Call today and speak to an agent.

Getting Started with Business Insurance

Businesses are subject to many of the same insurance risks as homes, and then some. Following a mishap, some business owners are surprised to find their small business insurance policies are inadequate. Studies show a number of small businesses carry insurance policies lacking complete coverage. The kicker is that often, the business owners find out only after filing a claim, leaving costs up to them.

Looking at a city street, a small business can mean anything from a cafe to a boutique, to a bottle shop and much more. Tailoring an insurance policy for the right coverage while excluding the rest pays off. Insurance is a many-layered cake. To get the best insurance coverage it’s recommended you speak to an agent but in the meantime, knowing the basics of business insurance can pay dividends.

Understanding the Risks

The list of potential insurance risks for a small business is lengthy. The type of business, location, and so much more affect risks businesses face. For some businesses, there are specific insurance requirements mandated by law. For others, the potential for risks calls for additional insurance protection. The same insurance policy for a bakery will be an awkward match for a yoga studio. The right insurance coverage will be ready to respond, should a claim occur.

Tailoring an insurance policy, factors which may affect levels of coverage include:

  • Food and beverage service
  • Customer presence
  • Pollution footprint
  • Public advertising
  • Transportation risks and more.

An entrepreneur knows their business best. For questions about coverage, ask. An agent can help determine gaps in coverage and create bridges with comprehensive insurance. Preparation ahead of time helps secure a net of protection, allowing business to continue unhindered in case of claims.

Getting a Business Insured

Ask 4 people for the right time to get business insurance and you may receive 5 different answers. Many entrepreneurs are unsure on the right time to get insurance while starting, or making changes to a business. The most common times to start, bolster, or change a business insurance policy include:

  • Launching a business. Before opening the doors, obtaining adequate insurance is an important part of launching a business. From home-based operations to retail storefronts, insurance helps protect the owner and community from the unexpected. It may be possible to bundle several types of coverage into a single policy for additional savings and ease of management.
  • Renting Space. Leasing a physical space adds insurance requirements and compounds risks. Often, property agents want proof of insurance before signing a lease. Prepare with the right policy beforehand.
  • Adding staff. Managing staff and volunteers can add to insurance demands. Beyond liability protection health, disability, and other insurance options are available. Speak to an agent and be ready to add to the team.
  • Announcing new products. New products can create risks for consumers, as well as their accompanying advertisements. Before launch day, check with an insurance agent.
  • Implementing a Board. Utilizing a board of directors is necessary for some companies and a choice for others. Directors help steer the direction of companies and organizations, yet they are human after all. If a director errs in their decision making, Directors and Officers Insurance can mitigate any legal fallout.

The best time to review an insurance policy is before it’s needed. Get protection early and respond to changes with the help of an experienced insurance agent. A local agent can help identify risks unique to the area, and help uncover risks specific to a small business or industry. Always keep insurance policy documents secure and readily accessible. For more on commercial insurance protection for small businesses, or for answers to insurance questions, call an agent today.

“My Business Does Not Need Business Insurance” – Think Again After You Read This

If you own or operate a business, commercial insurance needs to be part of your business plan.  If not properly insured, your business most likely will not withstand the effects of a common loss.  Business insurance, or commercial insurance, is designed to protect your business from accidents and loss.

Your business can be shut down for a number of reasons including; fire, cyber breach, water damage, customer litigation and more.

Key Business Coverage for Your Business Needs

  • Business Interruption Insurance covers the loss of income that a business suffers after a covered loss (fire, windstorm, etc.), while its facility is shut down or in the process of being rebuilt.
  • Directors and Officers Insurance is needed even if you are a privately held business. Directors and officers liability Insurance protects your business, owners, executives, and managers if individuals, competitors, third parties, or government regulators make claim for damages.
  • Cyber Liability is a risk that every business has. According to the Insurance Information Institute, businesses have a greater chance of having a cyber breach than they do of having a fire. Most businesses should consider cyber liability insurance, which is designed to cover the costs of investigations, notification, and credit monitoring for affected individuals, regulatory compliance, defending lawsuits, and payment of any resulting judgments or settlements.

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.