5 blogs small business owners should be reading.

If you are a successful small business owner, you probably realized along your journey, you cannot do everything yourself. Who you surround yourself with and who you go to for guidance are as important to your success as your own personal attributes.  One activity that many successful business owners have is reading.  Reading the newspaper, reading books, even reading small nice blogs about your industry.  Here are 5 small business blogs that all successful small business owners can benefit from.

MyInsuranceQuestion.com offers their list of the best Small Business Blogs.

The Harvard Business Review is one of the most well respected voices for small business advice in the country.  It is one of the best places to find new ideas and classic advice on strategy, innovation and leadership, for global leaders from the world’s best business and management experts.  HBR is generally a management magazine published by Harvard Business Publishing, which is a subsidiary of Harvard University. The magazine is published 6 times a year and the small business blogs are an area for more frequent advice.

Staples:  Small Business Network  The Small Business Network Blog from Staples.com focuses on a variety of topics including technology, marketing, risk management, human resources, disaster preparedness and operations.

The My Corporation Blog is another small business advice blog that many small business owners from many different industries can benefit from.  My Corporation is a business that helps people during the initial phases of setting up your business. They can help businesses fill out the proper paperwork to incorporate and consult the business owner on which type of structure is best for your goals as a small business owner.

Moz is a company that operates in the industry of Search Engine Optimization. Moz is a group of the industry’s top experts who offer their best advice, research, how-tos, and insights to help you develop your SEO and online marketing skills.

Small Biz Trends offers advice in the areas of technology, management, marketing, social media, finance and general advice.  It is an online publication focused on providing advice for small business owners, entrepreneurs and the people who interact with them.  The blog solicits the advice of hundreds of expert contributors who bring up to date news, advice and resources you need to succeed no matter what industry you operate in.

 

 

 

Have a Work Comp Audit soon?

Here are 7 tips for a Smooth Workers Compensation Audit

Find the best advice for a smooth workers compensation audit at myinsurancequestion.com

Each year all businesses must go through a workers compensation audit process. If you are like most small business owners, this is not one of your favorite parts of owning a business.  The process can be long a tidious, but the more prepared you are for this process, the more quick and more smooth the process will be. Consulting with your independent insurance agent can help you prepare for the process and make sure the audit is done well the first time through the process. Here are 7 ways to ensure this process goes as painless as possible.

Communicate with your agent.

Open communication with your insurance agent is essential to a smooth workers compensation audit. This is a reason why it is important to consider an independent insurance agent.  An independent agent is not as closely associated to the insurance carrier.  They can help you prepare for the audit and negotiate on your behalf if anything does not go in your favor. Open communication throughout your relationship with your insurance agent is essential to a satisfied experience during your small businesses workers comp audit.

Have paperwork prepared in advance

Having all necessary paperwork prepared in advance of your audit will make the process move as smooth as it possibly can.  This includes any and all payroll and employee records.  Job descriptions need to be included for each employee and their annual weeks, days and hours worked.  The more detailed the better.

Payment and cash disbursement records,

Throughout the year it is important to keep a record of all payments and cash disbursement.  Not having these available and organized is a good reason to have the auditor dig a little deeper. The more open, honest and organized you are throughout the entire audit process the more smooth the process will be.

Certificates of Insurance 

In order to ensure a smooth workers compensation audit, make sure to keep a detailed record of all needed certificates of insurance for any and all sub-contractors or independent contractors your business used. The primary reason for providing these documents is that if you do not, these contractors will be listed as employees and it can substantially raise what you pay in premium.

Experience Modification Worksheet

The experience modification worksheet is a document that is published annually by the rating bureau in your state.  It covers the loss history for your business during the most recent three-year period, not including the most recent year.  The most recent year is not included due to overlap from some claims not being closed.  If you have had a large claims or a large amount of minor claims during any year it is important to have this worksheet available in order to show the true loss history of your business.

Make yourself available for the exit interview 

After a typically smooth workers compensation audit there is an exit interview at some time.  It usually lasts several hours and is a way for the auditor to ensure they have all the necessary information to accurately audit your business. The more up-front you are with the auditor the more smooth the process will be.

Respond promptly to auditor follow-up questions  

There will more than likely be questions you do not have the answer to, the auditor will have for you during the audit.  The more quick and more thorough you respond to these questions the more the auditor will work with you to promptly and accurately finish the audit process.  The time period after the audit, before the auditor will finish the process, normally takes two to three weeks. There may be additional questions that need clarification.  This may be a frustrating part of the process, but the more accurate the audit is the better it is for your company.  Your agent can help you with any of these questions if you are having a trouble finding the exact information to satisfy the auditor.  It is also important to keep in mind that for security purposes, the auditor does not keep your payroll records.  You very likely will be asked to provide additional information or records that you have already provided.

An Accurate audit is in your best interest, moreso than a fast audit.  This process is frustrating even during a good audit.  It will take time away from your normal work, but it is within your best interest to ensure your audit is fair and accurate. Keep a positive attitude and consult your independent insurance agent in order to ensure your audit process goes as smoothly as possible.

5 cool projects recent grads in the risk management industry may work on

Guest writer Matt Krumrie with College Recruiter

Careers in risk management and commercial insurance may sound dry to recent grads, but that couldn’t be further from the truth, says Peg Newman, Partner with Sanford Rose Associates, Newman Group, an executive search firm that has been placing professionals in the risk management and commercial insurance industry for over a decade.

Risk Management

So what do risk management professionals do? According to this risk management career profile “risk management involves assessing and quantifying business risks, then taking measures to control or reduce them. Risk management often is part of the compliance function, but also may be part of specific business units, such as securities trading desks or loan origination departments.”

“The wow for people who join the field is that they will be trained to provide business consultation services to companies of all types and sizes,” says Newman. “Risk management professionals work directly with company leadership of small mom and pop shops up to multinational businesses with interests in many different industries.”

Risk managers evaluate and make recommendations for insurance coverages, business process changes and more. Aspiring risk management and commercial insurance professionals should not only develop skills specific to risk management and insurance careers, but they should also understand sub-sectors within a wide variety of industries, such as manufacturing, health care, technology, engineering, consumer products, and more. If there is a business or an industry, it needs someone with a risk management background. There are are also subsectors within these industries that need expertise. Operations, cybercrime, human capital, finance, management, workers’ compensation, safety, training, and more, says Ryan Daniele, Director of P&C Operations for MJ Insurance, one of largest privately held insurance agencies in America, with offices in Indianapolis and Phoenix.

So what exactly do interns or recent college grads working in risk management within the commercial insurance industry do all day? Check out these 5 cool projects as described by Daniele.

  • Loss control visits: Several things are conducted during a loss control visit, and the needs of the visit vary, says Daniele. The visit could find the risk management professional analyzing property (brick and mortar), potential safety hazards, workers’ compensation exposures, and examining auto fleet (if applicable).

 Find the best information about risk management at college recruiter and my insurance question.com

“These initial visits typically end with recommendations for improvement upon those risk management controls and require a follow-up visit,” says Daniele. “Company loss control is really another set of eyes to help a client improve their risk controls that they may already have in place.”

Loss control consultants (sometimes called risk engineers) can also conduct training, says Daniele. Some are certified to offer ISO training that is required for many manufacturers. They also can do fleet safety, lock out/tag out (for proper machinery operation), and forklift training, among many types of training.

“A loss control visit is an excellent way to get to know and understand the operations of our clients (insureds) because we get to be really intimate with what they do,” says Daniele. “We typically get to tour the facilities and get to see the operations while they are going on. It can be very interesting. We feel that it is a great way to see another aspect of risk control and how we can help our clients in a multitude of ways and it exposes them to many facets of risk management and risk consulting. It helps tie into why they need specific coverages and why certain losses may happen.”

  • Policy maps: Interns and entry-level employees are creating visual diagrams depicting current coverages and coverage gaps to C-level executives. This work is non-industry specific, so this can have an impact on any type of client, or company, big or small.
  • Self-insurance project: Risk management professionals in the commercial insurance industry research rules and costs associated with being self-insured for workers compensation. The task involved discussing self-insurance requirements with individual state insurance departments/rating bureaus.
  • Client visits, including sales calls: It’s important for interns and recent college grads to attend client visits. “We do this so they can see what our interactions look and feel like,” says Daniele. “To me, this is a very valuable experience getting to sit in front of clients and being a part of a business setting. We also strive to give our intern different dynamics depending upon their interest. We don’t want them sitting behind a desk the whole time.”
  • Special projects: This may include working with account managers to review specific accounts, seeking specific coverages in policy language, review of insurance schedules, policy checking reviews, and other projects as needed. “It’s quite a variety,” says Daniele.

For example, one intern recently went through cyber training, and will be accompanying other team members at a client meeting dealing with their cyber security risks/needs. Another is spending time within the risk analytics department, learning policy maps and loss analysis – critical elements of risk management.

Exploring a wide variety of project work, and taking on new challenges early in one’s career can better prepare them as they move forward in their risk management career. And a diverse background and variety of experiences can lead to more career opportunities in the future.

“It’s endlessly interesting, and every business needs insurance and risk management tailored to their specialized business and the scope of their operations and their risk,” says Newman.

College Recruiter

BIO

Matt Krumrie: Matt is a freelance writer and digital media professional. He regularly contributes to College Recruiter, which believes that every student and recent graduate deserves a great career. College Recruiter features thousands of articles, blogs, videos, and other content as well as 300,000 internship and entry-level postings for open jobs. Matt’s writing focuses on careers and jobs, business and sports. He is also an expert resume writer who works with clients all over the U.S. to help write professional resumes that get results. Follow Matt on Twitter @MattKrumrie.

HVAC Contractors

Heating and Air Conditioning Contractors ( HVAC Contractors ) are those business that provide services for and repair heating and air conditioning units.  They provide these services for both commercial and residential clients.  They have to be knowledgeable about both duct and vent work, the different types of fuel sources for heating equipment, which can be natural or LP gas, electric, steam, solid fuel, coal, or fuel oil.  Many contractors also install, service, and repair air conditioners. While air conditioning units are normally electric-powered, they are charged with different coolants, some of which may be hazardous.

All of these different types of work bring their own unique risks to the contractor. For this reason, it is very important for you to have an extended conversation with your insurance agent about all of the types of work you do and do not participate in.  It is equally important to inform your agent if there are certain types of work you do not partake in. There are more than one classification code for this industry and the types of risks you take on can dramatically impact what you pay in premium for a number of commercial insurance policies.  Below are 6 policies most HVAC Contractors need to secure in order to protect their business properly.

•   General Liability

•   Property Insurance

•   Hired and Non-Owned Auto (full commercial auto if vehicles owned)

•   Inland Marine

•   Business Income with Extra Expense

•   Workers’ Compensation

General Liability Insurance

General Liability Exposures at the contractor’s office or shop are generally limited due to lack of public access to the premises. Retail sales increase the possibility of customers slipping, falling, or tripping if customers visit office to view products.

Property Insurance

Property exposures at the heating contractor’s own location are generally limited to those of an office, shop, and storage of materials, equipment, and vehicles. Operations may also include retail sales. The fire exposure is generally light unless repair operations involving welding take place on premises. Welding involves the use of tanks of gases that must be stored and handled properly to avoid loss. The absence of basic controls such as chained storage in a cool area and the separation of welding from other operations may reflect a greater risk.

Commercial Auto

Automobile exposures are generally limited to transporting workers, equipment and supplies to and from job sites for HVAC Contractors. Hazards depend on the type and use of vehicles and radius of operation with the main hazards being upsets. Vehicles may have special modifications or built-in equipment such as lifts and hoists. Large heating systems may be awkward and require special handling and tie-down procedures. Age, training, experience, and drivers’ records, as well as the age, condition and maintenance of the vehicles are all important items to consider. If employees utilize their own personal vehicles for work related tasks then Hired and Non-Owned Coverage should be purchased.

Inland Marine Coverage

Inland marine exposures include contractors’ tools and equipment, including ladders and scaffolding, hoists, and portable welders, the transport of materials, and installation floater. Goods in transit consists of tools and equipment as well as products purchased by the customer for installation at the job site. HVAC units can be of high value and susceptible to damage in transit; they frequently require expertise in loading to prevent load shift or overturn.

Workers’ compensation

Workers compensation exposures vary based on the size and nature of the job. Both residential and commercial work involves lifting, work with hand tools, wiring, and piping. Cuts from the fabrication and installation of sheet metal for ducts and vents are common. Lifting injuries such as hernias, strains and sprains plus back injuries may occur. Electrical burns are common; electrocution can occur from the use of high-voltage lines. Any time work is done above ground, injury or death from falls and being struck by falling objects can occur. Slips and falls, foreign object in eyes, major and minor burns, and inhalation of fumes are all potential hazards.

Auto Repair Shops

Direct Primary vs Legal Liability for Auto Repair Shops

Auto Repair Shops

The difference between Garage Liability coverage and Garagekeepers coverage is the difference between liability insurance and physical damage insurance. The first covers the insured’s liability for operations and autos and the other covers damage to customer’s vehicles. All garage risks need both coverages to properly insure their loss exposures.

A Garage Keeper’s Legal Liability policy is intended to cover damage to an auto held in their care, custody, or control while it is on consignment for sale or you are servicing, repairing, parking, or installing equipment into the vehicle. Direct Primary Coverage provides coverage even if the loss is not the insured’s fault and is not legally liable. On the surface, this seems relatively easy to understand.

For Example, a customer’s locked vehicle is in a fenced and locked yard. There is adequate lighting in the yard and the vehicle alarm is armed. The electronics are ripped from the vehicle and there is $25,000 in lost equipment and damage.  Although you are clearly not negligent – and not legally liable – the claim is submitted to my insurance carrier.

With Direct Primary Coverage, the customer – the owner of the vehicle – is paid no matter whose fault it was. You have a happy customer again and your insurance paid for everything. Well that is great until renewal time, when we can assume that the insurance company will raise the Garage Liability premium by a substantial amount because of the claim. That $25,000 claim typically will continue to affect your premiums for three years.

If you had purchased Legal Liability Coverage, the owner of the vehicle would have had to submit the claim to his own insurance company. Your insurance company would not pay anything on the claim – after all, it was not your fault, you were not legally responsible for the damage – thereby saving you thousands in renewal premium increases.

What is the best option to take? If you have repeat customers that represent a significant part of your business, than Direct Primary Coverage may be the best choice. However, if you do business with thousands of different people and have no significant relationship with them, then Legal Liability Coverage may better suit you.

To recap. Garagekeepers insurance refers to coverage for the cars left in your care, custody or control. Direct primary garagekeepers pays for the loss whether you are legally obligated to do so or not and legal liability garagekeepers only pays out if you are legally responsible for the loss. As a result, direct primary garagekeepers coverage is usually more expensive than legal liability garagekeepers coverage. Both of these options have their positives and negatives. Talk it over with your insurance agent and then make a decision on what you feel is the best for your business. Think long-term vs short term on the cost of the policy. Once you take cost out it will help you determine which is actually the best option.