Small Business Insurance Jargon

Small Business Insurance Jargon you need to know as a business owner

Buying commercial insurance is something a small business owner has to do once a year. It is not something most business owners think about on a daily basis. When interacting with employees within the industry, there may be an awful lot of small business insurance jargon that is not exactly common knowledge to the general population. Here are ten terms to familiarize yourself with before your next renewal.

Small Business Insurance Jargon

BOP

BOP Stands for Business Owner’s Package or Business Owner’s Policy. A BOP is a package of policies, sold in tandem for businesses in a certain industry or classification code. Because of historical claims records, insurance carriers know the common risks for certain businesses in certain industries and they have created packages of policies specific to that industry.

Experience Mod

The Experience Modification Rating is frequently referred to as the Mod or the Experience Mod. This rating is a formula that includes the businesses Employer’s FEIN by the rating bureau (NCCI or the State Bureau).  The rating compares your loss data to other employers within the same class code of your business. The rating is expressed as a credit or debit on your policy.

Actual Cash Value

The current value of an insured piece of property. This is simply the appraisal value of a piece of property and does not include additional expenses related to a property loss.

Replacement Value

The value of purchasing a new property to replace a lost or damaged property,but it pays for the replacement at today’s value. Depending upon the language in the policy, a replacement value policy may include additional expenses like tear down and removal of debris, bringing the property up to current codes, and construction costs on the new property.

First Party

First Party Insurance Policies are policies that deal with the damages to you and your business. They may include damages like replacing a vehicle after a crash, replacing specialized equipment damaged during a storm, or even hiring a PR Firm to restore the reputation of your business after a data breach.

Third Party

A Third Party Insurance Policy deals with the liability your business faces relating to outside third parties that are damaged by the actions of your business. This may include repairing a broken window caused by the employee of a landscaping company or medical costs for someone slipping on their way to the bathroom in a restaurant.

EPLI

EPLI stands for Employment Practices Liability Insurance. This is an insurance policy that can protect your business when it faces a lawsuit related to hiring and firing of employees. In 2016, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, collected more than $482 million for victims of discrimination in private, federal and state and local government workplaces. The reason there is a need for this policy is that a lawsuit does not have to be founded to take up an enormous amount of time for you and your business to prove your innocence. An EPLI Policy can help your business stay afloat when you face one of these claims.

E&O

E&O stands for Errors and Omissions Insurance. It is also called Medical Malpractice in the Medical Profession. This policy protects the insured (you the business owner) against liability for committing an error or omission in performance of professional duties. This may include work done by an engineer or architect on a particular construction project. It may also include the work done by a doctor during surgery. Generally, such policies are designed to cover financial losses rather than liability for bodily injury (BI) and property damage (PD).

Hired and Non-owned Auto

Hired and Non-owned Auto Insurance Coverage is designed for businesses who have employees who use their personal vehicles for business purposes or employees who use rented vehicles. The time that these employees are using the vehicle for business purposes is a time when your business is liable for the damages that are caused to third parties as a result of an accident that is the fault of your employee. It is commonly added as an addition to a commercial auto policy, but if your business does not own any vehicles it can be sold as a stand alone policy.

Inland Marine

An Inland Marine Insurance Policy is a specialized form or property insurance that is often referred to as equipment coverage. The primary distinction between inland marine and other property insurance is the fact that inland marine is designed specifically for property which is likely to be moved or in transit. Landscaping companies that have equipment on a trailer is an example of this risk. Inland Marine may be needed for companies with highly specialized property that requires a unique valuation. A land surveyor who uses specialized surveying equipment may need this policy.

 

Claims Made Vs Occurrence

Have you ever wondered what the differences are between a Claims Made Vs Occurrence Based Liability Insurance Policy?  

The choice to choose a Claims Made Vs Occurrence Based Liability Policy can have an enormous impact on your business.  Making certain your business has the proper coverage can make an enormous impact to your bottom line, when a claim occurs.  Claims Made Vs Occurrence Policies are typically in relation to a general liability, professional liability, and employment practices liability insurance.  The types of businesses who are more likely to need this type of coverage include contractors, architects, engineers, attorneys and medical professionals.

Claims Made Vs Occurrence Based Insurance Policies

Claims Made

A Claims Made Insurance Policy covers claims filed during a given period of time. In most cases, a claim must be filed during the term of the claims-made policy in order for it to be covered by the insurance carrier. If the claim is filed two months after the policy has ended, the claim will not be covered.  The positive to this type of policy is price. Claims Made Policies are generally less expensive compared to Occurrence Based Policies.

Occurrence

An Occurrence Based Insurance Policy covers claims that arise from damage or injury that takes place during the policy period.  This is regardless of whether the claim was filed during the term or after.  A claim can be filed many years later and still be covered, as long as coverage was in place during the time of the occurrence.  This is important for professionals like architects who give professional advice and services to physical structures that may have a problem years down the road. If it is found the problem with the structure was the result of the engineers faulty work, the engineer can be liable for damages.  With an occurrence based policy in place this would be covered under most circumstances.

For most business owners, an occurrence policy is more appropriate and is commonly purchased.  Only using a claims based policy can be a bit of a gamble.  In most instances, the additional cost of an occurrence policy form is minimal compared to purchasing a claims made policy.

Why are both Claims Made Vs Occurrence Based Insurance Policies Offered.

Why are both Claims Made Vs Occurrence Based Insurance Policies offered?

The primary reason claims made coverage is still around is because there is a demand and because insurance companies may only be willing to write certain types of risk on a claims made basis.  This is because it is much easier for an insurance company to estimate price for insurance premium and measure their profitability with a claims made policy compared to an occurrence policy.  This is because there is a clear start and stop date to coverage. With occurrence coverage, it can take years or even decades for insurance companies to measure their profit and loss.  In the most simple terms, a business owner who purchases an occurrence policy for one year will always be insured for future claims while a claims made policy only covers the insured for that time period unless they purchase additional tail coverage.  If the business owner is willing to take the risk in exchange for a lower premium, claims made policies are still offered.

5 Insurance Policies you might not realize your Small Business needs.

Once a year every small business owners takes on the daunting task of purchasing insurance for their business. Most start with the bare minimum coverage. In most states it is legally required to have workers’ compensation and general liability coverage in place before you open your doors. This is just the bare minimum coverage a business needs to protect it from the risk the business faces. A few other coverages, like commercial property or auto coverage, are obvious to most business owners.  There are several other risks business owners may face that they may not realize. Here are 5 such coverages business owners may not realize they could benefit from.

 

Inland Marine

Inland marine coverage is a specialized form of property insurance for equipment your business owns that is not a piece of property nor a vehicle. It is frequently referred to as ‘floaters’ coverage. This is because the equipment covered is meant to be in transit.  A prime example of a company who needs this coverage is a landscaping company who has trailers and lawnmowers that they transport away from their premises on a regular basis.

Hired and Non-owned Auto

Many small businesses think if they do not own vehicles they do not need any form of auto coverage. That may be right, but in many instances this is not correct. If you have employees who run simple errands like running to the post office or to the bank to make change for the register than your business is liable for injuries that happen as a part of that business activity.  Another common time this coverage comes in hand is when you have employees who travel and use a rental car as part of their trip. In most instances the coverage you buy from a rental car coverage will cover the car you are driving, but not other liability risks related to the business. Hired and Non-owned Coverage take help protect your business from those risks.

Cyber/Data Breach Coverage

Cyber insurance consists of two coverages that are almost always sold in tandem. One covers first party damage to you and your business and the other covers third party liability to third parties who may be damaged by your business as the result of a data breach.

EPLI

Employment Practices Liability Insurance is a specialized type of liability coverage for wrongful acts the may arise from the employment process. This coverage includes claims that include wrongful termination, discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation.  Depending upon the carrier and the particular policy you secure it can extend to cover claims like inappropriate workplace conduct, defamation, invasion of privacy, failure to promote, deprivation of a career opportunity, and negligent evaluation.  Lawsuits of this type have been on a steady increase for two decades.  If you stay in business long enough it is a matter of when, not if, you face an EPLI Claim.

Owners and Officers Coverage

This type of insurance coverage is specifically designed to cover defense costs and damages arising out of wrongful act lawsuits brought against an organizations board of directors or officers.  It is crucially important to have this coverage in place for growing small businesses and especially Non-profits.  Officers can provide very beneficial guidance to these types of organizations and one claim, whether founded or not, can result in huge losses for the organization.

8 interview questions that could cause an EPLI Claim.

When interviewing candidates for an open position there is a lot of information a hiring manager is trying to find out about an applicant. No matter what industry you are hiring for nothing is more important than a good fit. Personality and communication skills go a long way towards determining if someone is a good fit for your agency. As you are narrowing your search to a few good candidates, more personal questions seem like the way to go about finding out if one candidate can rise up above the other. Making sure your hiring managers know what is and what is not acceptable can save your business from the damages of an EPLI Claim.

EPLI stands for Employment Practices Liability Insurance. This is an insurance policy that covers a business from the legal costs that arise from lawsuits related to the employment process. The coverage can include lawsuits that result from issues with hiring, firing and harassment in the workplace. These types of lawsuits have been on the rise for more than two decades. For this reason it is extremely important for hiring managers to be crystal clear what they can and what they cannot ask in an interview.

Here are 8 examples of questions to never ask when going through the hiring process.

  • What is your religious affiliation?
  • What is your ethnicity (or race, or color)?
  • How old are you?
  • Are you married?
  • Do you drink (or smoke) socially?
  • Do you have children or plan to?
  • Are you pregnant?

 

What is your religious affiliation, may seem like an innocent question until you ask it to someone who may take offense to it. Many people are religious and the hiring manager may bring up a question like this just as a way to relate to someone on a personal level. No matter what your intentions are with asking questions about religion it is always best to keep them out of the workplace.

What is your ethnicity (or race, or color), is never an appropriate question to ask. In 2016 it is very likely that a hiring manager will interview an international person at some point in time.  Even a question as simple as what country are you were you born can be misunderstood. It should not be brought up in any way shape or form.

Age is not a question that can be asked in the hiring process. Regardless of whether the person in question is young or old, bringing up age is not an acceptable part of any job interview. EPLI Lawsuits in relation to age are one of the most common forms of lawsuits filed.

A persons Marital status is not an acceptable question to be a part of the hiring process. As long as a person shows up and is able to do the job they are being hired for their marital status has nothing to do with their relationship with their employer.

Questions about lifestyle choices are not allowed in the hiring process. The most common place where this becomes an issue is asking about peoples habits in relation to drinking and smoking. after the hiring process this can only be an issue if there is reason to believe the person is coming to work under the influence or that the employees drinking or smoking habits are interfering with their performance at work.

Asking about children and if a candidate plans to have children is a slippery slope. In many cases this is just simple water cooler talk among people in their 20’s and 30’s. If a hiring manager has a child they may find that asking about family members or children is a normal part of daily conversation because they dominate so much of their life. This may be an issue the potential employee has a problem with. If the candidate is trying to have children, but can’t this may be a stressful personal question they are not comfortable talking about. It has the potential to be interpreted in the wrong manner no matter how innocent the question is. These types of questions are best to always be kept off the table.

With todays’ litigious society, the chances you will face an EPLI Lawsuit go up every year you stay in business. The smaller the business and the longer the employee has been with only make the damage more severe when a claim does occur. Small businesses today are beginning to purchase this coverage more often, but still a majority of businesses with less than 100 employees still choose not to purchase this coverage. This is a decision that can save them a few hundred dollars per year on the front end, but when a lawsuit does happen it may cost them thousands on the back end if the business is not covered.

Insurance policies are not all created equal

Taking the leap of starting your own business is never an easy one. Whether you are a weekend warrior looking to pick up some extra income or branching out all on your own; you are taking a risk and putting yourself out there. this is something that most of the population could not fathom, but you are truly the future of our economy.

Most new businesses determine a budget, buy tools/equipment, set up a website and plan for all the business to come in. Insurance tends to be a side note that you know you will need to check off your list, but far too many too not take this aspect serious. Many new business owners seem to look at insurance and attempt to find the cheapest price they can find. This is a mistake that can lead to financial disaster for your business. Here is why this method of thinking can get you into trouble:

When you are a new business a few things tend to be very common. You generally know what kind of work you want to d. You might or might not have an idea of what work you are not willing to do. You also might have only a few employees, but you probably don’t know how much you’ll pay them. On top of that who knows how much sales you will have your first year. When you are shopping for a General Liability Insurance Policy these are all things you need to know. Before picking up the phone to call an insurance agent, here are a few things you need to keep in mind when comparing quotes:

 

Compare the Total Premium but also the rate being charged

Many companies will quote based on minimum premium. For an owner only company this might keep you at this level and not be a problem. Once you start adding employees or increase your operating space, other coverages might be necessary. The rates could increase much faster with one company as your company starts to grow. Talk with your insurance agent about these types of things so you have a ball park idea of what to expect down the road.

Look at the Exclusions on the Policy

As a general rule no insurance policy covers everything. All insurance policies will have some sort of exclusion. These exclusions outline a “hazard” that the insurance carrier will not be responsible for covering. This is very important to know, so you can avoid these exposures. Especially since your business will be on the hook for them. A lot of times they are exclusions for a reason. It is not typically for a carrier to strip down the policy just for a cheaper price. Most of the time these inclusions are in higher hazard areas. In the past these areas have cost insurance companies big and they are attempting to limit the risk they take. Taking this approach in your business operations can help you decide what work are not willing to do. It is usually easiest to make changes early on in your business as opposed to later down the road. Knowing these exclusions is important to minimizing the risk to your business and helps you determine what amount and type of risk you are willing to take in your daily operations.

Occurrence or Claims Made?

General Liability forms are written on either an Occurrence or a Claims Made basis. Occurrence is typically going to be more expense. If it is even available. Claims Made Policies limit the reporting period that you can report a claim to be covered under your policy. Professional Liability policies are typically offered only on Claims Made basis. If Claims Made is your only option, one of your main priorities should be making sure you don’t have a lapse in coverage. A lapse in coverage can leave your business vulnerable for much more than you may think.

 

Compare rating factors

Depending on the policy type, your type of business and coverages being offered; rating factors could vary into what determines your premium. Here are a few variables that can drive the premium though:

Square Footage: The amount of space for your building, the amount occupied and the amount of retail space can directly impact pricing of your liability policy. This is especially important for retail businesses. As well as General Liability, it can also impact your Commercial Property Coverage.

Payroll: Payroll is a direct rating factor for all Workers Compensation Policies. It also is a primary rating factor for most Contractors General Liability policies as well. Getting help to anticipate what your payroll will be should be something a decent agent can help you with.

Employee Count: Employee Count can be a direct rating factor for some General Liability Policies. It can also be a determining factor for Employment Practices Liability Insurance Policies.  In some cases full time vs part time can make a difference as well.

Property Value & Valuation Type: The amount of Value, Reinsurance rule and Valuation type can all impact your pricing for your property coverage. If the Valuation is Replacement cost vs Actual cash value, than the coverage is very different. This is because of how the claim will be paid and the amount your business is insured for. If the valuation amount is not sufficiently covering the amount of property you have this can leave you not receiving the full value you lost in the event of a claim. This is something that is much better to compare when choosing an insurance policy than hashing it out with your insurance carrier when its too late and you have a claim.

Gross Sales, Garaging Zip Code, Location Address: These are a few other of many variables insurance carriers will look at in quoting your insurance policies. Sometimes they are direct rating factors but on most policies they can be a gauge for determining your pricing.

 

There are many factors to consider when determining which policy and coverages are right for you. There are less expensive policies that don’t cover as much, and there are also Cadillac plans that might cover more than you are looking for and many options in between. The key to take from this is not that you have to go with the Cadillac or to take the cheapest option, but make sure you are comparing the correct variables to know you are choosing the right option for you and knowing what you are covered for and what you are not covered for.