How to Navigate the Affordable Care Act as a Freelancer

affordable care act for freelancersSmall business doesn’t get much smaller than freelancing, but freelance issues don’t come much larger than health insurance. In the past, a freelance writer, artist, or other practitioner basically had two paths to health insurance – a costly standalone policy from a private provider or family coverage from a spouse’s employer. But for many of the 42 million freelancers in the U.S. today, those “paths” often meant going without coverage. Read the full entry

Don’t Crash and Burn By Forgetting About Commercial Automobile Insurance

commercial auto insurance for small businessesJust as every driver in every state is required to be covered by some form of car insurance, every commercial automobile should also be insured specifically to account for the unique risks a business presents. Commercial automobile insurance can protect your venture, whether you own a fleet of delivery vehicles or just occasionally use a personal vehicle to transport clients.

What’s the big deal? If there’s a wreck involving a vehicle while it’s being driven for commercial purposes, the business could be liable for the injuries and damage it causes, as well as any legal awards. That obviously could exhaust your capital in a hurry.

Related: 9 HR Basics for Any Small Business

It could get even worse if you have a home-based business and cause a wreck in your personal vehicle. Remember: Your homeowners insurance liability coverage won’t apply to anything involving your business. Read the full entry

Does Your Small Business Need Commercial Liability Coverage?

small business commercial liability coverageIn a word – yes. In a litigious society such as the one we live in, not even a small business should go without liability coverage. Why? It’s all about risk. You might call them customers or clients or employees right now. But there’s always the scary chance you’ll have to call them plaintiffs some day – in a lawsuit against you.

Commercial liability coverage can assist you in case you find yourself in a courtroom. It can help pay for your legal defense as well as any award or settlement made in the case. Of course, different businesses operate with different risks, so you don’t necessarily want a one-size-fits-all solution. That means you should talk your coverage over with a trained, independent agent who can give you the industry perspective on your risk and how you can manage it. Read the full entry

Business Liability Insurance: Why Are Your Rates So High?

General Liability InsuranceEvery business is different. Even businesses operating in the same industry and using the same business model can vary depending on its leadership and staff.

Thanks to the infinite diversity of human beings and the unique ways in which we all go about things, there is always something to set one company apart from another. Read the full entry

5 Ways to Save Money on High Speed Internet

saving money on internetIt’s an oversimplification, but remains true: businesses need to spend money in order to make money. However, there’s no reason that a savvy business owner can’t save on some of the things that he needs in order to run his business effectively.

It’s imperative that your business is connected, so consider how you can go about saving money on high speed internet, for instance.

Related: Shop with our hand-picked internet service vendors for your business internet needs Read the full entry

Small Business and the Need for Workers Comp

Depending on the size, scope and location of your small business, you may be required to carry workers compensation insurance. If that is the case, do you know the ins and outs of this coverage?

For small businesses in the state of California, workers comp coverage in recent years has been nothing short of a headache. High rates have sent a number of smaller companies fleeing the state to places like Nevada and Arizona where they could better afford to provide the necessary coverage for their workforce.

In other states, the rates have been affordable, but people trying to cheat the system have led to issues.

In its most basic terms, workers comp insurance is in place to cover an employer should a worker be injured on the job. For the employee, it is peace of mind knowing that if they are injured while on the clock, they have coverage to pay for what can be high doctor bills.

For the employee to have access to workers comp coverage, they will need to prove that their employer was responsible for their injury or illness.

In the event an employee does suffer an injury or major illness due to work and are turned down for coverage or medical care, they should discuss the matter with a workers comp attorney to see what they are eligible for.

For any small business owner who is not up to speed on workers comp insurance, they are required to supply the funds for workers comp benefits through a policy, with the expense of the coverage not being taken out of an employee’s paycheck.

Most employees nationwide are covered through workers comp insurance, with some exceptions in some states being those in agricultural, domestic or independent work situations.

So, do you as a small business owner fully comprehend the need and the facts behind workers comp insurance?

If not, keep these factors in mind:

1. How workers comp is determined – The premiums get decided through an equation centered on the amount of payroll per job function within the company’s business. In most states, the agency in charge of workers comp payroll and guidelines sets the rates, while there are some statutory states whereby only state-run funds are allowed to write coverage. The most important factor here is to make sure your payroll figures are as up to speed as possible;

2. Rates can vary – Given the fact that insurance carriers utilize various underwriting companies, what businesses are charged for coverage can and oftentimes do differ. The key here is to locate a carrier seeking to write coverage in your industry, therefore allowing you to find the best rates;

3. The better the employee the less paid for coverage – It is a no-brainer, but emphasize to your employees that the better shape and condition they are in, the less chance for injuries on the job. Remind your employees that it behooves them to be in good shape, thereby lessening the chances they will be out with a serious work injury or illness. Also make sure that you reinforce training for your employees therefore decreasing the chances of any of them getting injured;

4. Be on the lookout for fraud – While it is not the norm, there are oftentimes cases of workers comp fraud, so employers need to keep their eyes open for such actions. Especially given the tough economic times that many employees find themselves in these days, some turn to unlawfully collecting comp benefits. An example would see an employee who was injured at work and takes time off while collecting benefits, then is spotted during an investigation exercising or doing something else they supposedly would not be able to do due to their injury.

While workers comp insurance will cost you differently from the next guy depending on the state your business is in and its size, not having it can be much more costly.

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Don’t Let Employees Drive Off Without Being Covered

In today’s litigious society, it is important for all business owners, both big and small; to make sure their employees using company vehicles for business are properly insured when they leave the parking lot.

From companies with employees using trucks to haul goods and services to businesses where employees use company cars to transact business, it is important that business owners make sure the proper insurance is in place in order to avoid a potentially damaging lawsuit.

Among the things to take note of are: Read the full entry

Don’t Make an Error by Leaving Your Business Uncovered

For any small business to go without errors and omissions (E&O) coverage, they run the risk of potentially dealing with a major financial issue should their company be sued.

That being said, is your small business properly covered should it have to deal with a lawsuit from an unhappy customer or other individual or entity?

Whether you are an insurance expert or not, your small business needs to make sure it is protected, especially in today’s litigious society. Read the full entry

Truck on Forward with the Best Rates and Coverage

Much of the products that Americans purchase from their neighborhood grocery stores, Target or Wal-mart, thrift shops and other venues didn’t get there by accident; they got there via a truck.

It isn’t just stores that receive goods through trucks, as gas stations, construction sites, hospitals and more also oftentimes pick up supplies courtesy of the trucking industry.

In order to deliver those goods, trucking companies need to make a profit, something which can be harder to do in a bad economy.

If your trucking business has seen a spike in expenses in recent years due to higher gasoline and maintenance costs, reviewing your company’s insurance policies to operate your vehicles on the road can lead to savings.

As with any insurance coverage purchases, businesses are best-served when they do their share of research on both insurance policies and companies, especially given the fact that companies insuring drivers and different trucks are not all the same.

Among the differences are:

  • A number of companies insuring the trucking industry work via independent agents, while others work in-house through sales personnel;
  • Some companies focus on big fleets or owner-operators, while others work with smaller, independent businesses;
  • Some companies selling insurance will offer quarterly or monthly payments, while others may require a one-time yearly fee;
  • A number of companies only sell in certain states, so check to make sure coverage is provided in your locale.

Now that you know some of the differences, make sure you also understand some of the questions you should be able to answer when deciding on an insurer.

Among the questions to ask are:

  • What is the cost for basic trucking insurance as opposed to the costs for riders? ;
  • Is the company’s insurance good in all states? ;
  • How long has the company been around and do they have a good track record? Have they had a number of claims filed against them? ;
  • What is the company’s FSR (financial strength rating) and has the company had monetary issues in the past?

Along with the basic trucking insurance coverage you and your drivers will require, you also need to ask your agents about uninsured motorist (UIM) coverage, personal-injury protection and cargo coverage.

For those companies who continue to search for financial savings, there are ways to lessen your expenses over time.

Among the ways to reduce expenses are:

  • Make sure your drivers maintain a clean driving record;
  • Joining a trucking association where members have access to both group and association rates;
  • Make sure your workers are aware of your safety policy, including what can happen if there are accidents or drug and substance abuse;
  • Increase your deductibles in order to save some green on your premiums.

As an owner/operator of a trucking fleet large or small, it pays to do your homework and get the best deals on insurance, insuring yourself and your employees a more successful company.

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Make It Your Business to be Insured

Businesses have enough to worry about, the least of which should be getting sued if someone is injured on company property or one of their top employees suffers a major injury or illness and is out of work for a substantial time.

In order to protect a company, business insurance coverage adds to the company’s value, making it more attractive to both potential customers and buyers, should it go on the market some day.

When reviewing policies, company owners should be sure to follow several key steps. Read the rest of this entry Read the full entry