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

Agritourism Insurance

cattle 640985 1920 300x200 - Agritourism InsuranceAgritourism Insurance

California Agritourism is any activity that allows members of the general public on your farm property for recreational, entertainment, or educational purposes. Agritourism activities include everything from a bed and breakfast, a corn maze, an educational field trip, a store or wine tasting, to “pick your own” and roadside farm stands. It is important to understand your increased farm liability, by having visitors on your property.

Here are issues to remember

Almost 36 million people visit farms, winery’s and ranches each year according to the US government. Most visitors are unfamiliar with the agricultural environment. Owners need to ensure the safety and health of all guests visiting their operations.

Residing in the heart of the foothill wine country, as well as a stone’s throw from “Apple Hill,” we understand the needs of farmers.

Here are a few safety tips for you to consider as part of your Agritourism activities:

  • Develop emergency plans just in case the worst happens. Have procedures in place for major   injuries, heart attacks, pet bites, and more.
  • If you serve food make sure you follow all the state food handling policies.
  • Make sure you have traffic control procedures and extra staff if needed.
  • Address the safety issues with all ponds, machinery, and chemicals.
  • Do you use outside vendors? If so, make sure you obtain certificates of insurance.
  • If you have rides of any kind you should require a waiver of liability.
  • Have safety equipment such as fire extinguishers and first aid kits throughout the farm.
  • Use signs to post rules and vehicle speeds.
  • Train your employees on all safety measures.

Implementation of these guidelines is not intended to absolve the farm and ranch owner of all liability. They are, however, intended to reduce the risk of a guest being injured and to demonstrate a “good faith” effort to protect guests.

Our home office is in Placerville, California, El Dorado County, but we insure customers across California, Oregon, and Nevada! We are your source for Allied Insurance, Hartford, Grange Insurance, Blue Cross, Nationwide, Blue Shield, Travelers Insurance, State Fund and dozens more!

 

 

 

Implementing Group Health? Watch For These Challenges

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

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

Remote working issues

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

Balancing costs with needs

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

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

Not using plans enough

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

Renewal

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

Benchmarking

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

The bottom line

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

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

Insurance for Newlyweds

wedding 698333 640 300x200 - Insurance for Newlyweds

What Kind Of Insurance Should Newlyweds Have?

Congratulations!  You have decided to share your life with that special person.  Your honeymoon is over and you are settling into your new life together. Now is the time to start thinking about how to protect that life, especially as you start to make plans for the future.  Personal insurance protection is a good way to help make sure your dreams come true.

Personal Insurance Considerations for Young Married Couples

  • Life insurance. Now may be a good time to consider life insurance. Life insurance offers replacement income and peace of mind for your spouse.
  • Health insurance. You must have health insurance.  If it is not provided by your employer, you can purchase coverage on an individual basis.
  • Renter’s Insurance. If you rent, do not go without renter’s insurance. Renter’s insurance can provide coverage for damage to, or loss of, personal property, and also cover your personal liability.
  • Auto insurance. You will also want to review your auto coverage. If you each have a car, and they are insured in your individual names, combining them into one policy may qualify you for a multi-car discount from the insurer.
  • Your Wedding rings. You will want to insure your wedding rings for theft or accidental loss.
  • Do you own a home business? Many young people have home based businesses; if so, you may need business insurance.  Call your agent today.

At Vaught Wright & Bond, our Personal Insurance specialists work with you to tailor an insurance program to protect your family, home, auto, and other valuable possessions at the most reasonable costs our carriers can provide.

What That New Car Really Costs…

What That New Car Really Costs... - What That New Car Really Costs…

If you’re looking to buy a new car, there’s an awful lot of factors to consider in addition to the purchase price, and ensuring that you can afford them all is an essential part of the car-buying process. Here we list some factors to consider when buying a new car!

Financing vs Purchasing

If you can purchase a car in full, this is always the better option financially, as you won’t be paying any interest on the price. However, if you’re looking to finance your car, you need to assess the deal carefully and look into the loan term, interest rate, and more. If you must finance, try to put down a large down payment, as this will reduce your interest rate and reduce your monthly payments overall.

Taxes and Fees

Bear in mind that you’ll have to pay sales tax when purchasing a car, and this is calculated differently depending on which state you’re in, so be sure to check the local sales tax regulations. In addition, some states charge your car with an annual tax which is variable according to the vehicle you own. All of this is also combined with registration, license plate, and title fees, which could easily set you back up to $800 per year depending on your car’s make and model.

Auto Insurance

Insurance companies use a magical formula of never-ending criteria in order to ascertain the monthly premiums on your car insurance, and the power of modern data analytics is helping them to scrutinize drivers more than ever before. Although quotes will inevitably vary from carrier to carrier, younger and more inexperienced drivers will always be charged substantially more for their premiums, and people who have been involved in accidents will have higher monthly premiums too. Some vehicles are cheaper to insure than others due to a range of factors, so be sure to look into which vehicles within your price range are cheap to insure for you. There are also other ways of potentially lowering your auto insurance premiums, such as volunteering to pay a higher excess in the event that you do have to put in a claim.

Gas

If you’re looking to buy a huge gas-guzzling SUV, prepare to pay a lot in gasoline every month. Of course, your gas spending will vary widely on your type of vehicle and how often you drive, as well as the type of fuel that your vehicle uses. Buying a smaller car with an efficient engine and driving it rarely will obviously bring your gas budget down compared to driving around in a large SUV for many hours a week.

There are many other things to consider when buying a car, such as maintenance costs when things go awry. If you’re looking to lower the cost of your auto insurance, speak to a member of our dedicated team today!

Buying the Right Business Insurance

Buying the Right Business Insurance - Buying the Right Business Insurance

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

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

Think about your specific risks

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

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

Cover yourself for the basics too

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

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

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

Buy from an independent agency

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

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

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

Wildfires Are A Real Risk For California Homeowners

bigstock House Fire 1402893 300x200 - Wildfires Are A Real Risk For California Homeowners

According to the Federal Government, almost 90 percent of the wildfires in the United States are caused by humans.  Wildfire can occur is the country and major cities. Wildfires can start in a vacant lot and spread to the neighborhood very quickly. From January 1 to March 31, 2017, there were 13,458 wildfires, compared to 9,218 wildfires in the same period in 2016. Source; iii.org

Wildfires And Homeowner’s Insurance

Unlike earthquakes and floods, wildfire damage should not require a completely separate policy, and probably does not even require a high risk policy. It is a good idea, however, to know what your homeowner’s policy does cover.  In many cases wildfires are covered, but it is always good to call your agent for a homeowner’s insurance review.

If your homeowner’s policy covers wildfires it would normally protect the building and contents from a covered loss. In addition, you will need additional living expenses if you must leave your home during re-construction.

Wildfire Prevention

Become familiar with your community’s disaster preparedness plans and create a plan for your family. Identify escape routes from your home and neighborhood and designate an emergency meeting place for your family to reunite if you become separated.

  • Use fire resistant materials for roof and home construction.
  • Keep wood piles at least 30 feet from your home.
  • Create a 100 foot safety zone around your home.
  • Prune trees within 15 feet of any chimney outlet.
  • Follow local ordinances when burning yard waste. Avoid backyard burning in windy conditions, and keep a shovel, water, and fire retardant nearby to keep fires in check. Remove all flammables from your yard when burning.
  • Make sure that fire vehicles can get to your home. Clearly mark all driveway entrances and display your name and address.
  • Teach children about fire safety. Keep matches out of their reach.
  • Keep roofs and gutters clean and free from debris.
  • Have a ladder that reaches your roof.
  • Have an extra-long hose.
  • Rake leaves, dead limbs and twigs. Clear all flammable vegetation.
  • Back as many vehicles as possible into the garage, then close the door. In the event that you evacuate, remember to close the garage door behind you as you leave. If you do not have a garage or if yours is full, park your vehicles heading in the direction of the evacuation route.

At Vaught Wright & Bond, our Personal Insurance specialists work with you to tailor an insurance program to protect your family, home, auto, and other valuable possessions at the most reasonable costs our carriers can provide.

Make Your Small Business Better by Avoiding These Mistakes

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

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

Not networking

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

Having a subpar phone system

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

Not hiring an attorney

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

Not delegating tasks

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

Being Underinsured

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

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

What’s the Best Time to Shop for Home Insurance?

Whats the Best Time to Shop for Home Insurance - What’s the Best Time to Shop for Home Insurance?

It’s hard to know when to shop around for your home insurance, as there are no set guidelines in place unless you’re moving or getting married. Because of this mysteriousness surrounding home insurance, here we have ascertained some guidelines to help you decide that it’s time to look into your home insurance.

Buying a house

This is, of course, the most obvious one, as it’s critical to insure your new investment. You should take out a home insurance policy before you close on the home, although bear in mind that you may not know everything you need to know about the property if you don’t live there yet.

When your home’s value changes

The most obvious time that your home’s value changes is when you have extension work or restoration work done. Whether you’re building a large storage shed or you’re remodeling your bathroom, any major changes which affect your home’s value need to be accounted for in your home insurance policy or you’ll risk being underinsured.

After you buy expensive items

Your personal property is covered by your home insurance, so you should consider adjusting your policy or shopping around if you decide to bring home a 50-inch 4K TV or a priceless set of golf clubs one day. Sometimes your current insurer may raise your premiums substantially if you buy a bunch of high-value items and put them in your home, so it may be a good idea to shop around at this point if necessary.

When your premium goes up for no apparent reason

Home insurance premiums are inevitably affected by factors outside of your control such as burglaries and floods in your local area. Most homeowners will realize these changes when it comes time to renew their policies, and this may be a good time to shop around. It may turn out that your premium is low when compared to other insurers who have also adjusted their rates according to new data, or you may find that your insurer is taking advantage of you. Whatever happens, there’s no harm in heading to your laptop and finding out whether other insurers would also charge you similar premiums for forces out of your control.

When switching auto insurance

Many companies offer combined bundles for home and auto insurance, meaning that you could be entitled to generous discounts if switching your policies in one fell swoop. However, entangling your insurance policies in this way can make things complicated if you want to switch or amend things in the future. For example, if you get a new car or move, you might find that your rates are adversely affected.

When you’re not satisfied with your current insurer

We’ve all heard horror stories of insurers not paying out when the time comes, and this is an obvious alarm bell if you’ve had a bad customer experience with an insurance company. In an ideal world, your insurer should be customer-oriented, knowledgeable, and they should fill you with confidence. There are many polls and surveys available which detail the best companies for customer service and satisfaction – insurance providers are no exception and you should look to switch if you’re unhappy with how you’re being treated.

If you are dropped as a customer

Insurers are indeed able to drop you as a customer, although it obviously depends on the circumstances and their reasons for doing so. If your insurer does drop you, try to find out the exact reason(s) why and take note, as this information could help you to negotiate a deal which covers you when looking for alternative insurance providers down the line. Take note of the dates and amounts paid, as this information is important, and be sure to maintain a record of your claims and any relevant details. You could also order a CLUE report in order to help you with your insurance shopping process.

Home insurance ultimately protects what is usually your largest asset – your home. As a result, it is important to speak to a team which is knowledgeable and up-to-date on the latest developments in home insurance policies and premiums. If you need help, contact us today and see how we can assist you in your personal situation.

3 Tips to Control Commercial Insurance Costs

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

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

1. Track incidents

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

2. Analyze data

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

3. Mitigate risks

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

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

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

Ways to Protect and Secure Your Home While You Are Away

Ways to Protect and Secure Your Home While You Are Away - Ways to Protect and Secure Your Home While You Are Away

It’s easy to worry about your home when you’re away on a vacation or a business trip. Did you lock all the doors? Did you leave the stove on? Does it look obvious that the house is empty? These are all legitimate worries when you’re spending time away from your humble abode. Fret not, however, as here we have compiled some ways of securing and protecting your home while you are away on business or pleasure!

Basic measures

First things first, you should start with the basics. For example, put your interior lights on timers if you want your home to appear to be occupied while you are away. Next, you should ensure that your mail and newspaper deliveries are delayed so that mail isn’t piling up on your porch or in your letterbox. Also, make sure to set your thermostat appropriately and ensure that most of your appliances are unplugged or switched off entirely. Don’t forget to set your house alarm!

Water damage and appliance damage

If you want to save energy, turn down your water heater’s temperature and switch off your hot water recirculation pump. You can also suspend your internet with many ISPs, temporarily halting your internet service. It’s also a great idea to unplug appliances which aren’t necessary while you’re away (i.e. don’t unplug the fridge) or plug them into surge protectors and then turn them off.

If you have any leaky faucets or other similar problems, you aren’t going to be around to keep an eye on them. As a result, you should look to get these issues fixed before departure. Also, it may be a good idea to shut off your home’s main water supply while away. Shutting off individual appliance valves and clearing your gutters are also good measures to take.

Preventing burglaries

Although having the appropriate insurance will certainly help to ease your mind, there are ways to prevent burglaries from ever happening in the first place. First of all, secure your windows and doors, even if they are on the higher levels of your house. Burglars are not incapable of accessing your property via trees or ladders. Next, make sure that you use a reliable home alarm system which covers the appropriate areas of your home. Then, make sure that any high-value items such as jewelry or high-end appliances are secured, out of sight, and hidden. You should also consider installing motion-activated lights outside your home.

Never leave a spare key under a doormat or in a similar place – you’re just asking for trouble. If absolutely necessary, install a high-end key lockbox or give a spare key to a trusted friend/family member for emergencies.

Ask people to conduct minor maintenance

It’s worth asking a trusted friend or family member to keep an eye on your house while you’re away, perhaps even allowing them to stay there and housesit while you’re away. Making your home look occupied (or actually having it occupied) is one of the easiest ways to prevent a break-in. Just be sure to arm the helper with any information they may need for their stay in your home. For example, tell them where your shut-off valves and circuit breakers are located, and provide them with the codes to your alarm system too.

Think before you Tweet

Although we all like to make our friends jealous on Facebook and Twitter when we’re jetting off around the world and doing exciting things, it could also leave us vulnerable if done in real-time. During WWII, the British government used to put up posters reading “Careless talk costs lives”, meaning that you shouldn’t say confidential things in public, as you never know who’s listening. The same applies here with social media too! Even if you have your settings set to “private” and “share with friends only”, it only takes one suspicious Facebook friend or Twitter follower to spill the beans that you’re away from home to a potential burglar. Posting that you’re on vacation may seem harmless and fun, but you could essentially be nailing an “I’m not here!” sign to your front door.

Many people worry about keeping their home out of harm’s way when they’re on a trip, but we have information and resources to help calm your mind. Contact us to find out how we can help!