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!

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!

How To Contain Workers’ Compensation Costs

As a business owner, you go to great lengths to provide a safe working environment for your employees, but when dealing with humans, accidents can happen.  Despite your best efforts and vigilance, accidents will happen. The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that in 2016, there were more than 1.1 million workplace injuries. Make sure you have adequate workers’ compensation to protect your business from loss. That is when Workers’ Compensation Insurance can help.  Workers’ Compensation Insurance should be an important part of your risk management program. There are proven methods to help you contain your costs as much as possible.

Here are some proven tools to help you contain your workers’ compensation costs:

  • Create a company safety policy and clearly define safety rules
  • Make sure upper management provide support
  • Designate a safety committee or coordinator
  • Create safety checklists and hazard reports for each job function
  • Investigate all accidents
  • Have a clear safety enforcement policy
  • Provide safety training to all employees
  • Request regular claim review meetings with your carrier and agent
  • Develop a return to work program

Do not delegate safety, the companies with the best records have an owner on their safety team.

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.

When These Life Events Occur, You Need an Insurance Checkup

Personal Insurance Update

We often get asked the question, “When should I have my personal insurance reviewed?”  Remember, if you bought your personal insurance online, you do not get a review, you are on your own.  Most of us know that major life events can make it necessary to update our insurance coverage.  However, did you know that even subtle changes could have an impact on your financial needs and plans?  Call our office today, and we can help you find the right combination of coverage and price.

Many life events might trigger a call to your personal insurance agent.  It does not matter if you own or rent, these life situations require a change or update to your personal insurance.

  • Have you bought or sold a car?
  • Has your marital status changed?
  • Is a parent now living with you?
  • Do you work from home?
  • Did you buy a boat, RV, or ATV?
  • Did you change your address?
  • Always let your insurance agent know if you install a pool or trampoline.
  • Have you welcomed a new baby into the family?
  • Did you acquire a dog that may be on the insurers watch list?
  • Have you remodeled your home in a way that may increase your home value?
  • Have you received a major inheritance?
  • Do you have a new teen driver in the family?

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.

 

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.

Six Top Tips for Home Protection

A big part of owning your own home, or even renting a property, is protecting it and your personal belongings inside. If you’re concerned about home protection, then here are six of the best tips that you need to keep your home and belongings safe from harm:

  1. Change Your Approach

The only way to achieve comprehensive protection is to consider just where your home is the most vulnerable. Instead of going into home protection blind, you need to create a tailored plan that pinpoints the exact liabilities of your property.

Go around your home, look for weaknesses, and take note of where others might be able to see into your home. Then assess your doors, check their strength, and think about how you would break in if you were in the shoes of an intruder.

  1. Think About Security

Doors and windows should be secure, which means that new locks, stronger frames, and better hingers, may be an investment that you need to make. Double check to make sure there are no cracks around your doors or windows, invest in a security door or high-impact glass, and always lock-up when you’re leaving the house.

  1. Hide Your Keys

If you’re constantly losing your keys, having a spare outside may seem like a good idea. However, it’s one of the easiest ways for someone to break into your home.

Try a different approach and opt for a keyless door, or even leave a key with a trusted friend, instead of outdoors.

  1. Protect Your Wiring

Wiring is a major vulnerability in the home, and the weak spot of a security system. Make sure all wiring is fully hidden and properly covered.

  1. Change Your Garden

Anywhere outside that restricts your view from the property can be detrimental to property protection, but so can landscaping that puts your home on full view from the street. Consider a garden makeover and take care of blind spots in your landscaping.

  1. Insure Your Home and Belongings!

Prevention methods to stop burglaries are vital, but so is protection if the worst happens and your belongings or property are damaged. Getting adequate home insurance is a must to avoid the financial stress and upheaval of having to pay out for expensive repairs and replace belongings in your home.

Talk to us today for information about comprehensive home insurance and plans that are tailored to your needs. For a peace of mind over home protection and the best insurance, don’t delay in giving us a call.

Flood Insurance, Do You Really Need It & Is It Worth It?

Flood Insurance

Many homeowners decide to go without flood insurance. Some people figure the odds are low that anything will happen, while other people think that a flood is covered under their current policy. Let us correct you; unless you have added flood insurance coverage, it is excluded. We agree that the probability is low, nonetheless, it does exist. Now is the time to consider California flood insurance especially if you live on the side of a hill or mountain, or close to water. The average flood claim for U.S. homeowners is about $30,000, according to the National Flood Insurance Program.

Flood Defined

According to FEMA, a flood is defined as an overflow of tidal waters, rapid accumulation or runoff of waters from any source, mudflow, or collapse of land as a result of erosion caused by waves of water. You do not have to live close to water to have a flood loss.

Flood Insurance & Your Homeowners Insurance

All homeowner’s policies exclude flood. You need a separate policy to cover a flood loss. If you live on a hill you are still exposed to a possible flood loss from water run off above your property. We recommend that homeowners. Even those who do not live in designated flood plains need to weigh the dangers and consider buying flood insurance.

If you rent your home or live in a condo, you can buy flood insurance for just your possessions.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) offers coverage and we can help you secure affordable coverage.  We will review your property and location and review the NFIP and other private markets with whom we have relationships with. We bring our expertise to provide you with the best possible combination of coverage, price and service.

 

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.

First Time Getting a Home Insurance Policy? Here Are the Top Tips You Need…

Buying a home is one of the biggest decisions that you’ll make in your life. Not only does it free you from the restraints of having to pay rent, but it’s a valuable long-term investment that makes sense in more than one way when it comes to finances.

One of the biggest things that first-time home buyers have to face, is how to save vital funds when they are trying to purchase a property. This puts home insurance near the top of the priority list, not just because it can protect your belongings and property, but because it’s a key area to start saving money.

First-Time Home Insurance Policies – The Costs

You can expect insurance rates to cost you around an average of $952 a year, according to the statistics from Value Penguin. While this is the average, prices can fluctuate quite severely. There are a number of key factors that can influence home insurance cost, including:

  • Non-payment that resulted in insurance cancellation
  • High-risk properties, use of specialist materials in construction, high-claim area, or special feature properties
  • No insurance history or sparse insurance history
  • Paying separately for different insurances instead of using bundles
  • Making insurance claims

Many homeowners get the benefit of discounts on their home insurance, but this often isn’t the case for first-time buyers. Due to this, it’s important to make sure that you thoroughly investigate all the options open to you and take advantage of all money-saving opportunities.

Top Tips for Saving Money on Home Insurance 

Just a few simple tips and tricks may lead to some substantial savings on both the purchase of your first home and your home insurance. Here are our top five ways to make savings:

1.) Plan Ahead

Leaving home insurance as the last item on your to-do list means limiting your options for a good home insurance policy. It will pay in the long-run to research early, know your options, and find the right insurance for your needs. Always bear in mind:

  • Your home insurance will be in relation to your dwelling value not your real estate value.
  • Never feel pressured into making a decision without knowing what you’re covered for.
  • Get complete coverage for the important things.
  • Plan for potential increases in other insurance areas.

2.) Think About Insurance History

Your insurance history is incredibly important when getting house insurance – the better established your history is, the better discounts you’ll have access to. If you don’t have an established insurance history, then try building a good history by getting renters insurance or even contacting your parent’s insurance and seeing if you can be recognized by them.

3.) Know When Costs Change

Your home insurance will likely not be the same as the insurance that the current owners of the property pay. Personal information is needed to create an insurance plan, so be prepared to pay something different!

4.) Get That Home Inspection

A home inspection may be a big cost, but it could save you so much more in the long-run. Spotting major problems with a property now, could prevent serious financial disasters in the future. You might also get some top tips from your inspector about bringing down insurance costs.

5.) Double-Up and Get Mortgage Insurance

Not all insurance bundles are good, but it doesn’t mean that they are all bad either. Consider mortgage insurance alongside your home insurance, as the price may be substantially cheaper than if you went to a mortgage lender.

Need advice on home insurance, or want to get a head start with renter’s insurance? Give us a call today and we’ll make sure that all your insurance questions are answered!

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.