Landscaping: Pay as You Go Workers Compensation

4 ways Small Businesses can save when purchasing Pay as You Go Workers Compensation for Landscaping Businesses

The Landscaping Industry can be seasonal in nature depending upon the climate where a business is located. The industry is also dependent, to some extent, upon the weather. Because of this seasonal nature and the dependency on the weather, it can be difficult to forecast man hours throughout the entire year. This can make a traditional workers compensation policy costly and in accurate. For this reason it is wise for most companies to go with Pay as you Go Workers Compensation for Landscaping Businesses

Pay as You Go Workers Compensation for Landscaping Businesses | My Insurance Question

Low Up-front Costs

With a traditional workers’ compensation policy the insurance carrier requires a down payment of around 1/4 to 1/3 of the total premium up-front just to get a policy in place. This amount is estimated depending upon the previous year or the previous three years payroll. In the landscaping business this can be a problem because the amount of man hours is dependent on a number of factors that are out of the businesses control. In most cases, with Pay as You Go Workers Compensation for Landscaping Businesses, a business owner can get a policy in place for little more than a few hundred dollars. This allows the business to free up additional cash that can be better spent on more immediate business needs.

Pay Premium in Real-time

As previously stated, a traditional workers compensation insurance plan is based off of an estimate from a previous years payroll. This can be extremely different than the current years staffing levels. This can cause a landscaping business to severely over or under pay for premium throughout the year. When you have over paid this might be a pleasant surprise after an end of term audit determines you get a refund. On the contrary if you under pay premium it can cause you to take on an unexpected cost. When a business goes with a Pay as you Go Workers Compensation for Landscaping Businesses, they pay the premium in real-time based upon the previous months actual payroll levels. This dramatically improves accuracy and frees up cash for other expenditures.

Less risk of being audited

Pay as You Go Workers’ Compensation allows business owners to pay their premium in real-time each month based upon the previous months payroll. They do this through a three way partnership between a payroll company, the insurance agency, and the landscaping business. This benefits all three parties involved because the payroll company keeps an accurate count of man hours worked each month, the insurance agency bills the landscaping company based upon an accurate payroll from the previous month, and the landscaping company is at less risk of being audited mid term for their payroll and insurance premium payments.

Frees up Cash

When a small business decides to go Pay as You Go Workers Compensation for Landscaping Businesses they are able to free up cash for two main reasons. First, because of the accuracy of your insurance payments there are less surprises at the end of the term due to over or under paying. Also, there is a lower up-front cost due to not having to pay up to a third of the premium just to get coverage in place. This is great for start ups and cash strapped businesses alike.

Residential Cleaning

How a Residential Cleaning Company Can Benefit From Pay as You Go Workers Comp

A Woman Working at a Residential Cleaning Company. Workers’ Compensation Insurance is required by law for businesses in most states. So is General Liability in most industries. For that reason, these two policies are the bare minimum coverage a business needs to be in business. Now for a cash-strapped, seasonal, or start-up business; coming up with the initial payment to get coverage in place can be difficult. Because of this issue, many carriers have come up with alternative payment options for these necessary coverages. The most popular alternative payment option is Pay as You Go Workers’ Compensation. One industry in particular that benefits from this option is the residential cleaning industry. Here are four ways residential cleaning companies benefit from choosing the Pay as You Go Option for Workers Comp Coverage.

  • Pay-as-You-Go has lower up-front costs.
  • Pay-as-You-Go frees up cash for more pressing business needs.
  • Pay-as-You-Go allows businesses to pay premium monthly.
  • Pay-as-You-Go prevents most audits

Residential Cleaning Companies depend upon their employees to keep their customers happy.

Lower Up Front Costs

When a cleaning company decides to go with a traditional workers compensation policy, they are required to make a large lump sum payment just to get coverage in place. They later have to make nine monthly payments at the end of the term. These payments are based upon an estimate of payroll from last year. If your business has plenty of cash on hand and your employee hours are regular from year to year this may not be much of a problem. Most residential cleaning companies do not have regular payroll or mounds of cash on hand. If this sounds like your business than the Pay as You Go Option is a great way to get coverage in place without tying up too much cash.

Frees Up Cash

Now if you are a business that is not rolling in cash, you may need to consider the Pay as You Go Option.  This type of alternative payment method for workers comp coverage allows you to not only lower your up front costs, but it allows you to free up cash throughout the year by paying your premium in real-time each month based upon the accurate payroll from the previous month. This is instead of paying premium based upon an estimate of payroll from last year or the three previous years. This estimate can cause you to severely over or under-pay on premium.

Allows Monthly Payments

Allowing payments of premium each month can help your business in many ways. One of the best ways it helps is by keeping your payments accurate from paying them in real-time. When workers comp premiums are paid on an estimate basis, it can cause you to severely under or over-pay throughout the year. This gets cleared up whenever an audit takes place and an audit takes place at the end of each term, but if you under pay throughout the year it can cause your business to have a surprise payment at the end of the term. Even if you are one of the lucky businesses who over-pays and gets a refund at the end of the term, you still have had additional cash tied up in premium payments throughout the year. This is cash that could have been spent on more pressing needs.

Buying the proper chemicals is an essential part of any successful residential cleaning company.

Prevent Audits

An additional benefit your residential cleaning business can gain from choosing the Pay as You Go Option is to prevent audits mid-term. Because the payroll is calculated monthly by a payroll company it is accurate. This eliminates the need for a mid term audit because the payroll company is auditing the premium payment each month. The Pay as You Go Option also makes the end of term audit much more smooth because the payments have been done based on actual payroll each month. Your staff will spend less time gathering data to compare your actual payroll with the estimated payroll and premium payments based on that estimate. If you have ever underpaid premium and owed a significant amount at the end of the term, you appreciate the accuracy this program provides.

Restaurant Insurance

3 tips to find the best Restaurant Insurance. 

How much insurance do I really need? What are the correct types of insurance for my restaurant? What types of restaurant insurance can I do without? What is the bare minimum I can get away with for restaurant insurance? These are all very common question that insurance agents get asked when a restaurant owner is looking to protect their business for the first time or a seasoned business owner is looking to renew their coverage. The answer to this question is like many things; ‘It depends’. There are many variables that go in to owning and operating a restaurant and those variables bring on many risks. Not every business owner is comfortable with the same amount of risk.  Depending upon how much risk you are willing to take, here are 3 tips to help you make sure you are purchasing the amount restaurant insurance.

Are you classified correctly?

First off, the small business owner needs to make sure their business is classified properly. This applies for both workers compensation and general liability insurance. Each state has their own governing body for these coverages.  The best way to determine if you are properly classified is to ask for help from an experienced independent insurance agent. When talking with your agent, it is crucially important to be honest with them.  This is important for the time you are open, how much and what types of alcohol you serve and what exactly your employees do.  Restaurants are classified different based upon the risks they face. Being properly classified can save your business immensely.

Pay as you go option

Workers comp coverage is required by state law in 48 out of 50 states. getting this coverage in place is an enormous cost.  Pay as you go workers’ compensation is s a great option for seasonal or cash strapped businesses. Pay as you go workers’ compensation allows a business to pay premium based upon the amount of payroll as opposed to an estimate of the monthly payroll. For many businesses they can get coverage in place for as little as a few hundred dollars.

Determine the proper type of Commercial Auto Insurance

Many business owners do not think they need any type of commercial auto insurance. Just because your business does not own vehicles, doe snot mean you do not need to secure some form of commercial auto insurance. If you do own vehicles that are going to be used for business purposes you most definitely need commercial auto insurance coverage. Also, if you have employees who use their own vehicles for business purposes than the business is liable for all accidents. Hired and Non-Owned Auto Coverage is a policy that kicks in when your employees use their own vehicle or a rented vehicle not owned by the company. Regardless of how small the activity may seem, when the employee is using any vehicle to do business activity you are liable.

 

 

14.5% Workers Comp Rate Hikes in Florida! What do I do now?

Get the best answers to your Florida Workers Compensation Insurance questions  at MyInsuranceQuestion.comYou do what you can to do your business every day and create opportunities for yourself, your employees and your customers. Rates of everything is rising, property cost, materials, shipping, employee wages. The state of Florida has now said its time for workers’ comp insurance to do the same. The rate increase is to be 14.5%! Articles can go into much more detail but ultimately medical costs, legal costs and claims expenses rise over time and Florida workers compensation rates are rising to catch up for the natural changes that have taken place and certain court rulings have made precedence that support the increased cost. There are fair arguments for and against this change but at this point we work with what we have, so as a business owner what can you do?

The state of Florida is a rate mandated state for Workers Compensation which means the starting rate is the same for everyone based on their classification code, so every carrier should be offering the same rate. There are some exceptions that can be helpful for you to keep in mind. Here are a few things that can help benefit you in combating this increase with a more competitive option:

 

There are some exceptions:  Some of our carriers have programs for particular industries that allow for discounted rates(5% below state set rates) one in particular caters to Retail stores, Restaurants and Professional Offices(Law firms, Accountants, Doctors offices, etc.)

Check with appropriate discount programs:  The Florida workers compensation system has discount options available if you meet the guidelines and have these policies in place for your business. They do have an application for each and require certain protocols in place but these can save 5% on your Florida workers compensation rate.

  • Drug Free Workplace Credit
  • Safety Credit

Divident Plans:  Some of our carriers offer dividend plans in Florida that reward businesses that control their claims. One in particular offers a 5% dividend for businesses paying 5-10k in premium and keeping a loss ratio under 5% and for accounts over 30k in annual premium they can qualify for a 20% dividend if they have a loss ratio under 20%. Like anything they do have some basic eligibility criteria but this is a huge way to reward safe business operations and lower your overhead against your competition.

Review loss control Measures: We do understand accidents do happen, however most accidents with better preparation can be prevented. A few areas to focus on:

Hiring Practices: Hiring the right employees that are experienced in the field and vested in your business are your lifeblood. Don’t put that in the hands of just anyone.

Safety Controls: Start with OSHA basics and if you have a unique business you might need more. Keeping your employees safe and preventing workers comp claims is the best way to save money on your workers comp.

Document everything: If you have safety meetings, a safety policy, drug free workplace, make sure this is all in writing and in your employee handbook. Make sure sign offs are in place so your employees are aware of these policies. This can be a great tool to prevent claims and keep a culture of safety that you take seriously in your business.

Manage your workers compensation claims:  As you develop an Experience MOD over time for your Florida workers compensation claims history, your premium can go up or down based on this experience. This means your premium is directly affected by claims you had 2-5 years ago. Settling those claims and learning from them can help you combat the rising workers comp costs. This process takes time but you will thank yourself in the next couple years as that MOD drops lower.

Buy in to avoid the increase:  If you have not placed your workers comp coverage for your business yet and are in the market, get this coverage before December 1, 2016. This is when the rate change takes place. You will still have to face the rates next year but at least this is one year you are paying 14.5% less on this policy.

Put some skin in the game:  Especially if you are paying premiums in excess of $20,000 annual, Deductible plans as well as coinsurance plans can allow you to put some skin in the game and take on a little risk of your own. Some start as small as $500-$1000 deductibles but go up and the savings increases with that. It might not make a lot of sense for the smaller premium amounts but this is a good tool to help save money without putting too much of your business at risk. Pick a deductible that saves you money and you feel comfortable with.

Alternate payment options:  Plans like Pay-As-You-GO can be helpful tools which allow you to pay your premium when you run your payroll. This won’t change the price but for companies that have a tough time with premiums in the slow season but still have a year round payroll, this can be a great solution.

In times like these were pricing can have such a direct impact on your business and its livelihood, Rate increases are inevitable, however taking these steps above if you are not already, could show savings of up to 25% below market for some clients but 5-10% is very obtainable for most clients. The increase in Florida is a tough one to swallow, however taking these actions could allow you to offset these increases. Speak with one of our Professional Insurance agents to learn how you can implement and benefit from some of these tools.

7 questions to consider when renewing or purchasing a Workers Comp Quote.

When should I start looking into getting competitive Workers Comp Quotes?

For a new business this should be before you hire your first employee. Depending on the state you are operating in, the type of business you run and the amount of employees you plan to hire; it is required by law in most states to have workers compensation coverage in place before employees start working. If you are an existing business you should start shopping for new coverage approximately 90 days before your policy ends. This gives the agents and carriers you are quoting with enough time to accurately assess your business and find the best coverage at the best price possible for your business.

Why should I shop around for Workers Comp Quotes?

Unfortunately insurance carriers are not as forgiving to customers who have been a customer of theirs for several years. In an ideal world carriers would reward businesses for sticking with one carrier for several years. In reality only a few carriers operate this way and finding ones that do gets more difficult every year. This is because carriers appetites change from year to year for certain industries and particular coverages. Shopping around to make sure your premium is competitive, is something a business owner should do just about every year. That is not to say you should switch carriers every year for only a small difference in premium, but you should have the information at hand to at the very least negotiate better prices on premium with your carrier. Choosing an insurance agency who partners with multiple carriers and not just a select few can save you a lot of time finding multiple options.

Are there any costs involved with getting workers comp quotes?

No, simply getting a quote doe snot carry a charge except for the time it takes you to contact agencies and fill out the necessary paperwork to get a quote. Partnering with an independent agency instead of an agent who woks with one or a few carriers can speed up this process.

Are there any other payment options?

Yes, some agencies offer Pay as You Go Billing for both workers compensation and general liability coverage. This tends to be a good option for cash strapped and seasonal companies. With a typical Pay as You Go Policy you can get policy initiated for a small amount of money and then pay your premium monthly based upon the payroll each month. With a traditional workers’ compensation program, 25% of the total premium is due at the beginning of the term and then there are 9 monthly payments that are estimated from past years payroll. Pay as You Go prevents over or under paying because payments are based upon this years payroll and not an estimate. For most business this frees up cash for more immediate business needs.

What are your state rules and regulations for coverage?

Workers’ Compensation coverage is left up to being regulated by each individual states. In 48 out of 50 states it is required by state law for most businesses. There are exceptions to this requirement based upon how many employees you have and what industry you operate in. The Department of Labor has a list of websites for each state where you can get the most up to date information about the requirements for your state.

Does workers’ compensation cover my family members?

If you have a family business whether or not those family members are covered by a standard workers’ compensation policy is determined by your industry, how your business is classified and the role of your family member in the business. Checking with your insurance professional and state department of insurance is the best place to determine if your family members are covered by your policy and in what degree.

Does workers comp cover sole proprietors, partners and corporate officers?

Most standard workers’ compensation policies can include sole proprietors, partners and corporate officers, but it depends upon the state regulations whether those groups are automatically included in coverage. In many policies it is required to ad those officers or partners to the policy in order for them to be covered. Some are required by law to be covered and some are not. Again it is crucial to bring this to the attention of your insurance professional and check with the proper state governing agency.

 

How to properly prepare for a Pay as You Go Workers Compensation Audit

Pay as you Go Workers Compensation Audit

Get the best information about a Pay as You Go Workers Compensation Audit at MyInsuranceQuestion.com

Workers Compensation Insurance policies require an annual payroll audit to be completed. The purpose of the audit is to verify payrolls for the policy period, confirm operations (class codes) and to check for 1099 sub-contract labor. 1099 sub-contract labor can be added to your audit if they are uninsured. In order to exclude a 1099 from your workers compensation audit, they must meet the standards for an independent contractor and must provide a valid workers compensation certificate or state approved exemption. The workers compensation auditor will typically contact you by mail or phone to set-up a time to gather the necessary payroll related documents. There is typically a small period of time to complete the audit otherwise it’s submitted as non-productive. When the audit is non-productive the insurance company produces an “estimated audit” that increases payrolls over the original estimate and a notice of cancellation. The business owner then has to “reopen” the audit and complete within the time frame determined by the cancellation date. If the audit remains non-productive and the policy cancels, the insurance company then reports to the workers compensation bureau. Due to the unproductive audit the workers compensation bureau can prevent coverage from being purchased for that business until the audit is completed.

Typical payroll documents that are provided to the auditor includes the 941’s or Quarterly Tax Reports for the nearest 4 quarters of your policy period. Most policy periods do not work perfectly with the start of a new quarter, therefore, auditors collect the closest quarterly tax reports and commonly use a Payroll Summary for the exact time period to verify payrolls. Most auditors are not familiar with the Pay as you Go model, therefore they audit using the traditional method only, using the Quarterly Tax Reports. The use of the payroll summary for the exact time period is VERY IMPORTANT for the Pay as you Go billing option. Since the business owner is paying premiums based on actual payrolls it’s important to provide the payroll summary for the exact time period. It’s important for the business owner to communicate the need to use the payroll summary for the exact time period at time of audit. After the audit is completed the insurance company will generate a document that shows the payrolls used to complete the audit. If those payroll figures do not match to your payroll summary report either contact your agent for assistance to dispute OR the insurance company. Explain that your billing is Pay as you Go and the auditor’s results do not match your payroll summary.

In addition to payrolls, the auditor is confirming the employees classification is correct. For most businesses all employees belong in 1 of 3 classification codes. Each industry has a workers compensation code that is assigned.   Some employees belong to a classification code that is not included in the main code OR their hazard is minimal, therefore classified separately. If an employee is performing job duties that belong in multiple workers compensation codes, typically those wages are either classified to the highest rated exposure or divided between multiple exposures. In order to separate payrolls, the business owner has to provide the auditor with verification of the hours worked in each code per employee.   The two best methods for accomplishing this is a payroll system that documents the job description and the hours worked for each employee. Otherwise the business owner will need to use a Log Book to document the jobs and hours worked for each employee to properly separate. The clerical workers compensation code is one of the few codes that cannot be separated with another job duty. Clerical is 100% or nothing.

Are you paying too much for Workers Comp or too much for Payroll? Maybe Both

 

Have you ever purchased a used car or found a great deal on a piece of used furniture at a “sale”?  Than got home to find out it was not the steal you thought when writing the check. Buying commercial insurance can sometimes be this way. It can be a stressful and time-consuming process, especially if you do not have an experienced insurance agent on your side. A good insurance agent can help you find things you might be overpaying for, or maybe some parts of your insurance policy are not set up right at all.

 

For example, I recently worked with a client who’s business is in a high risk agriculture industry. They pay a significant amount on their workers’ compensation insurance each year. This business was part of an alternate service organization, which provided payroll services. It than reports the payroll to their workers’ compensation carrier for the companies Pay-as-You-Go reporting. This was two separate companies doing these processes.

 

In the case of this business we found the workers’ compensation rates were a little high. So to help this business we found a carrier who could save them money on their workers comp coverage. We also found their payroll reporting charges were very high. In this business there are lots of companies that provide work comp and Payroll services. both services. Most of these agencies can offer a better rate because they are getting both businesses. Some try to charge lower workers comp rates, but make up the difference by charging more for the payroll processing side of things or vice versa.  Sometimes it is just that a payroll company knows they can build in a little extra that ends up costing you a lot!

 

For this business we were able to find an aggressive workers’ compensation carrier that provided competitive workers comp rates.  This carrier also integrated their payroll services and collected on a Pay-As-You-GO billing plan. By combining the two services, we were able to save this client nearly $25,000 per year on their work comp premiums and $23,000 per year on their payroll processing. Part of this savings was based on the payroll being reported by a company different than the insurance carrier. This disconnect can cause inaccurate reporting. Many companies work with agencies who actually operate the payroll service in house. They do this with the insurance carrier operations to make this fully integrated. This process also helps prevent fraud by acting as an extra verification procedure.

 

There are a lot of solutions out there for getting coverage in place.  If you can get workers compensation in place on a hard to write class code and get it on a pay-as-you-go basis, it seems like a dream come true.  However, this is an example of how just looking at the down payment or the workers comp rates alone can end up costing your company significantly. It’s always best to review the rates you are paying for this type of plan.  Review what is being charged for all the services provided. Sometimes this is where another company is really making their margin at your expense.

Lets talk about Landscaping!!

When I first started doing workers compensation insurance, I had the privilege of writing a lot of landscaping types of risk. I have never been a landscaper, so it was difficult to understand all the aspects of landscaping insurance. For example, are you just mowing yards, are you trimming bushes, are you cleaning the yards, are you replanting the grass or flowers, are you doing edge work? Who knew there would be so much that goes into just one risk?

Landscaping insurance liability questions at myinsurancequestion.com

So, while you ponder on the type of landscaping you do, let me tell you there are plenty of carriers that love writing landscaping insurance.  Except tree trimming and that does not classify as landscaping!! So moving on, I find it very interesting that all the types of work my clients have been doing and the challenges I had to write them. So let me walk you through the process of how this is done.

First, we need to talk about exactly what you do. Never be scared to tell an agent what you actually do on a daily basis. If you cut grass, say that. If you trim trees, tell them! I can’t stress how important it is that you tell the agent exactly what you do. The agent and underwriter will do research on your company and we will scroll through every picture and question whether or not you are doing something… so tell us everything!! It is beyond stressful for the client (i.e. you) to have to wait for a carrier to quote your work comp landscaping insurance policy and at the very last minute tell you they found some issues with what you say you do. Especially if you didn’t tell them that you did something. If you have a website that says you do tree trimming, we will know. If your Facebook page has pictures of you climbing ladders to hang plants, we will see them. So tell us exactly what you do. We understand you might have been declined by a lot of other agents, but we are trained to write tough/difficult risks, or we can tell you who to call exactly. We won’t waste your time and we don’t want to waste ours.

Secondly, after you have told us exactly what you do, we will discuss the payroll and employee count. No agent has your actual monthly payroll reporting in front of us, so we need you to be honest. If you pay one of your landscapers $10,000.00 a year, tell us! Honesty is the best policy. If you are starting out as a new company, we will help you figure that out.

Thirdly, this is the best part, we quote your landscaping business. Believe it or not there are a lot of carriers that are competing to write landscapers. You need work comp for a reason, so let us find the best price for you. I get how stressful it is to try to find coverage in your area… but let me take that stress away. I can shop dozens of carriers and I can get you the best coverage for the lowest price.

In the past three months I’ve spoken with 19 landscaping companies. Seven of those companies have become my clients.  I’ve used four different carriers to place those policies. That shows how much our insurance carriers are willing to compete against each other for landscaping insurance. Landscaping has so many aspects to it that it is a fun risk to write. Also companies are competing for the general liability and business owners insurance too.