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Archive for the ‘Business Insurance’ Category

Contributed by Steve Schneider, President, CB Insurance

ImageThe hail storm has passed…now what? It is difficult to determine from the ground whether roof damage has occurred. Most times, a professional roofing contractor is required to make that determination. The roofer will look for “bruising” of the asphalt shingle, granule loss or damage to the edges of the shingle, and actual penetration or holes. For tile and wood shake roofs, the contractor will look for splitting or cracks, and can often repair the individual shingles, rather than a full roof replacement. You may find shingles lying around your property, which is a good indicator that a more in-depth inspection is needed.

Damage to automobiles is easier to spot and—in many cases—easy to fix. Should you have damage to your car, contact your insurance agent to discuss the next steps. This will usually entail taking the vehicle to two or three reputable auto body repair facilities for estimates. Be patient, as your insurance carrier will be swamped with storm-related calls and may take up to 48 hours to contact you. Your agent should be there to assist you if your insurance carrier becomes unresponsive.

Finally, large hail storms will attract “storm chaser” roofing contractors. Be very careful here because most are not experienced roofers and will be very difficult to track down should their workmanship be poor. Most are uninsured, creating additional liability exposures for you as a homeowner. Always work with your agent and insurance carrier to find reputable roofing contractors.

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Contributed by Steve Schneider, President, CB Insurance

ImageSo the gifts are all opened, the holiday cookies are all gone, and you’re now anticipating a week of uninterrupted football bliss. Sounds good, huh?

There is only one thing that could make this better: An insurance review!

Now is a great time to take stock of new jewelry, gifts, and other trinkets that should be added to your insurance. And, take stock of older pieces of jewelry, art, or other collectibles that have appreciated in value over the years.

Those items valued at over $2,500 may require special coverage on your homeowner’s insurance. New “grown up” toys such as ATVs, motorcycles, and snow mobiles should be insured properly for damage to the equipment and liability arising from their use.

Finally, dig out your old homeowner policy and look to see that the replacement-cost values are correct. While the market value of your home could have dropped over the past few years, the cost to actually replace the home, should it be destroyed, has likely increased.

So, drop that turkey leg, grab a pencil and paper, and make a list of items to review with your insurance consultant.

The time spent now reviewing these items can save you countless hours and headaches in the future should the unthinkable occur.

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Contributed by Steve Schneider, President, CB Insurance

This year has been a catastrophic one – and who pays for all of the damage and destruction we have been inundated with from Japan to Joplin?

Recently, one of our national insurance carriers announced a second quarter loss of over $350 million,  much of which was driven by the devastating storms of this past spring.  Total losses incurred by this company alone from these catastrophes were well over $1 billion, with an active hurricane season projected for the coming months.  Other insurance carriers have reported similar loss trends.  So how will this impact YOUR insurance renewal costs in the future?

A few pundits are predicting large increases, particularly in property lines of coverage and workers compensation.

We don’t share this broad-brush view for three simple reasons.

  1. Insurance carriers and reinsurers continue to sit on large capital reserves, even after said storms, earthquakes and floods.
  2. Competition is increasing with new players in the market, including small regional insurance companies, which continue to hunt for market share at the expense of large national carriers thus keeping rate increases in check.
  3. The demand for insurance, as measured by increases in client sales, payrolls and higher limits purchased, remains muted by our economic malaise.

Ultimately we see large amounts of capital chasing smaller and fewer insurance clients, which basic economics tell us will stunt significant increases in rate over the coming quarters.

Carriers are reporting roughly a 2% average rate gain, and while we will advocate on behalf of our clients for a better outcome, those insureds with poor loss history, poor risk management practices, or those located in storm-prone areas will likely face unpleasant renewal negotiations this summer and fall.

And my hedge – all bets are off should this hurricane season turn really ugly or we see the economy slip back into deep recession.

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Contributed by Todd Morris, VP Commercial Lines, CB Insurnace

In today’s economy it has become commonplace for companies to use independent contractors.  However, there is new legislation outlining the requirements to qualify as an independent.  It is critical that business owners correctly determine whether individuals providing services are employees or independent contractors and then have the correct documentation in place.

Colorado wage law defines an employee as any person, including a migratory laborer, performing labor or services for the benefit of an employer in which the employer may command when, where and how much labor or services shall be performed.  An individual primarily free from control and direction in the performance of contracted labor or services and who is customarily engaged in an independent trade, occupation, profession or business related to the service is not an employee.

Our current administration has begun to crack down on misclassified, independent contractors who they believe are actually employees.  The courts, U.S. Department of Labor, Internal Revenue Service, Colorado Division of Employment and Colorado Division of Labor may consider many different facts in making the determination of whether an individual is an independent contractor or an employee.  However, all these agencies will use three main categories in that determination:

  • Behavioral control
  • Financial control
  • Type of relationship

For more information on how to determine if an individual is an employee or an independent contractor go to www.irs.gov.   If, after searching for information to help with the determination, it is still unclear, then you can download and submit the SS-8 form.  The government will review the information and provide the correct status.

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Contributed by Todd Morris, Vice President Commercial Lines, CB Insurance

I had every intention of posting on a different topic than my last blog until I read this article.  To summarize, a couple in Colorado was in the process of refinancing their dream home and, as most of us would have, they expected everything to work smoothly.  However, when a cyber criminal stole the funds intended to pay off their existing mortgage, the couple was left facing the battle of fixing their credit and keeping their home. This situation makes it painfully clear that cyber crime is a real problem.

Our own president recently commented on the issue of cyber security.  The growing number of attacks on our cyber networks has become, in President Obama’s words, “one of the most serious economic and national security threats our nation faces.”  Long gone are the days when hackers would brag about the fact they were able to gain access to your systems or deface your website.  Today’s hackers are sophisticated criminals who want your money.

The Department of Homeland Security plays an important role in countering these threats.  Check out DHS tips on cyber security  so you can become more aware of how serious these threats are and can begin taking steps to protect yourself, your identity, and your hard-earned assets.

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Contributed by Steve Schneider, President, CB Insurance

For the first time in two years, we are seeing some improving trends with the sales and payrolls reported by our clients.  That’s good news after several quarters of severe declines.  While some clients continue their downsize, many we talk with are now planning for at least some growth in their business in 2011, while still keeping a strong eye on expenses.  We think the hiring of new employees on average will be limited, due to continued economic risk (and increasing health care costs), but expect some upward pressure on salaries for key employees who have weathered the storm.

Indeed, Travelers Insurance just reported sales and payroll growth over their small and mid-sized business insurance portfolio for the fourth quarter of 2010.  There is no doubt that chronic high unemployment will continue to be a drag on this recovery, but trends seem to indicate improvement from the low points of late 2009 and early 2010.

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Contributed by Todd Morris, Vice President Commercial Lines, CB Insurance

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With Thanksgiving around the corner, you are sure to be getting your camera ready to capture those special moments.  But be watchful next week when you receive an email from a friend who is sending you pictures from their Turkey Day in an attachment or through a photo-share website. Why?  You may open the attachment or click on the link only to have unknowingly downloaded malware that now allows someone unauthorized access to your computer.  Sounds a little more Halloween than Thanksgiving, huh?

The sophistication of cyber criminals today has greatly evolved from the days of experimentation to highly-profitable cyber crime.  Cyber criminals intend to use your machine (as part of their network of millions) for illegal activities and leave a trail so difficult to track that they are long gone before they are noticed.

These threats are real as I’ll explain more in future posts, but there are also many measures you can take to protect your business network and your personal computers. In the meantime, be safe, enjoy your turkey, and be sure to send me your favorite holiday photos too!

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