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| Fall Series

Benefits for Small Business

Being a small business owner can be difficult with handling a lot of the day to day aspects of keeping your customers and your employees happy.  Often happy employees can make for better products and happier customers. So what is a good way to attract and keep good employees?

There are many ways to attract and keep good employees, but one important part of that process is offering benefits. A recent LIMRA study found 7 in 10 employers offer voluntary benefits to improve morale and attract and retain new talent.  Even if you are unable to afford to pay for the benefits fully through your business, having them available offered through your business allows employees to have access to them at a lower group rate even if they have to pay for the whole or partial cost.  This group rate is usually less expensive cost for you or for your employees than they would be able to find individually in the marketplace. There is also minimal underwriting to get these benefits in a group versus if you were to do it individually so those who wouldn’t normally qualify can have benefits..

Since health insurance is highly sought after, many employees are looking towards their employer to make an affordable option available to them.  Typically health insurance policies with higher deductible have a lower policy cost, but this leaves the employee with higher out of pocket cost to use their health insurance. Having a health saving account option or other health rewards program can help your employees save up towards that higher deductible to pay for any of their out of pocket medical expenses.

Supplemental benefits can be offered with or without offering health insurance.  These plans can include accident, critical illness, disability, and term life insurance policies.

Offering a mixture of health insurance, supplemental benefits, and retirement saving options can help you attract the kind of employees you would like your business to have and keep your current employees satisfied with their employment packages.

If you are a business owner and would like to set up a free consultation to see the specific options that you could offer employees, please contact us. Our supplemental insurance options—such as accident, critical illness, disability and term life—are 100% employee-paid, but they’re group rates only you—the business owner—can make available.  We’d be happy to help you add supplemental insurance to your compensation packages. I’m here to answer any questions you have and we also offer business insurance, retirement plans, and business transition planning.

Tips to Quickly Stop the Damage of Identity Theft

Tips to Quickly Stop the Damage of Identity Theft

Have you been a victim of identity theft? Do you know someone who was? Chances are you answered yes to at least one of these questions. According to CNN, every two seconds another American becomes a victim of identity theft – and it’s growing rapidly!

There are clear steps you can take to protect yourself from identity theft before it occurs, but what about after it has already taken place? Consumers should be made aware that most homeowner or renters insurance policies don’t cover much, if any money stolen from property, and none of the money stolen from a bank. Once the damage is done, you can still manage its impact by following these key tips to stop the damage from going any further.

Check your bank accounts daily

The few minutes of your day it will take to diligently check your bank accounts, is well worth the price of fraudulent spending cleaning out your savings. Beyond just spotting ID theft, this practice will also help you spot erroneous fees or mistakes made when depositing checks. Online platforms, such as mint.com, can help you aggregate all of your different bank accounts into one location where you can view them seamlessly. This daily practice will ensure ID theft will have no more than 24 hours impact on your bank account, increasing your chances of getting all of your stolen funds restored.

Check your credit score three times per year

While you’ve likely seen commercials out there for all sorts of credit score companies, keep in mind that there are just three main credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. You should run your credit score with them each once per year. Spread these out over the year, so you are checking your credit every four months. Checking all main credit bureaus will give you the full picture of your credit, so you can spot anything that appears fraudulent. The sooner you catch these errors, the sooner you can report them to the bureau and restore your credit.

Set alerts on spending

One of the best ways to catch ID theft in real-time is to set alerts on any spending from your bank accounts or charges to your credit card. Most banks or credit card companies will monitor your account for what appears to be fraudulent spending, but this may not be enough to catch a sophisticated ID theft. Take matters into your own hands and get an email alert for any time a card is used. These may result in a few extra emails a day, but it’s easier to delete these emails than to recover money lost due to ID theft.

Change all passwords on important accounts

Once you see fraudulent charges occur, it’s safest to assume the ID theft has all of your sensitive information. Immediately change your passwords for all bank accounts, email accounts, government accounts, social media and PayPal. This is one of the fastest and smartest ways to reduce the impact of ID theft. Additionally, don’t reset your password to something obvious or something you’ve recently used for another account.

Send creditors and credit reporting agencies a copy of your ID theft report

Once ID theft takes place, you should share copies of your ID theft report with your creditors and credit report agencies so they can note the fraudulent charges as such and remove the impact these would otherwise have on your credit score.

Escalate things to the police or FTC

If after you have taken all of the actions listed above and the fraudulent activity continues to occur, it may be time to take your case to the police or Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Usually the entities only get involved if the case is extremely sophisticated, but yours just might be. With their resources, you have a better shot at restoring your identity and the money or credit you may have lost in the process.

The good news is there are services and insurance out there that can offer you some additional peace of mind. Companies like LifeLock and IDShield offer subscriptions to closely monitor your private information and alert you of any potential threats. However, these services are by no means a guarantee you will never experience identity theft. Additionally, you can usually add on ID theft expense coverage as part of your homeowners’ insurance policy for about $30 a year. While this doesn’t cover the actual money stolen as the result of ID theft, it does provide up to $25,000 to cover the cost of hiring an attorney, credit recovery and monitoring service, and pay for time off work related to getting your ID back.

Remember, the best safeguard against ID theft is using precaution, closely monitoring your bank accounts and credit score, and taking action immediately if anything looks out of place.

What other questions or tips do you have related to identity theft? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below!

6 Ways to Get More Out of Your Insurance in 2018

6 Ways to Get More Out of Your Insurance in 2018!

It’s a new year and the perfect time to take a fresh look at the many areas of your life which you can improve. Aside from improving your health and breaking some bad habits, it’s also smart to take a critical look at your insurance policies to be sure you are properly covered and getting the best rates possible.

Take a look at these six tips for getting more out of your insurance in 2018 and plan to put them to use in the coming months!

Learn What Coverages You Really Need

When it comes to insurance, you don’t want to overpay for coverage you don’t need and you certainly don’t want to be underinsured. It’s smart to educate yourself on what coverages you really need for home, auto, life and any other type of insurance you purchase. Your agent should offer you sound advice, but you should also have enough base knowledge to ask questions and understand exactly what you’re getting in a policy.

Bundle Insurance Packages

Working with a single agent and bundling multiple insurance packages can save you time, money and stress. Many insurance companies offer a full suite of insurance policies and when you purchase multiple policies, there is a cost-savings involved. You will get the most out of your insurance by bundling packages because you will (most likely) only need to work through one company and one agent which increases efficiency and lowers costs.

Invest in Safety and Anti-Theft Devices

Get more out of your insurance this year by investing in safety and anti-theft devices for your home, car, boat and other insured assets. Most insurance policies will then offer a discount for installing such devices that reduce the risk of your items being stolen or damaged. Not to mention, this is a huge benefit to you, too. Win, win!

Stay in Direct Communication with Your Insurance Agent

It’s important that you have a direct line of communication to your agent, especially in case of emergency. Get the most out of your insurance, and reduce your stress, by working with an agent who is professional, responsive and proactive. You should also schedule a regular (i.e. annual) meeting with him or her to review your policies and insurance needs, as these frequently change over time. You want to be sure you always have accurate coverage and are taking advantage of the best possible rates.

Maintain Good Credit

For so many reasons, it’s smart to regularly check your credit score and to take steps to improve it. When it comes to insurance, your credit may play a role in setting your policy rates. Your credit-based insurance score helps the insurer determine your likelihood of experiencing an insurance loss. It’s important to note that not all insurance companies consider credit ratings when determining your policy rate, but a good credit score will help you in so many other areas of your finances that it’s one more way you can get more out of your insurance in 2018.

Consider service, not just price

It’s easy to focus on the bottom line of what your insurance costs, but don’t forget to consider the service aspect. Working with a company and an agent who delivers exemplary customer service is invaluable. This will save you headaches – and likely money – in the long-run. When shopping around, consider how responsive and knowledgeable the agent is and whether you would feel comfortable turning to this person in an emergency situation.

What other insurance-related questions do you have? Leave a comment and let us help you find an answer!

6 Ways to Make the Most of Your Business’s Slow Season

6 Ways to Make the Most of Your Business’s Slow Season

Along with the seasons of the year, many businesses experience the ebb and flow of busy and slow seasons. Sometimes this is dictated by the weather, school year, fiscal year, tax season or something else altogether. No matter the cause of the seasons of your business, each brings its own advantages. Here are a few tips for making the most of your business’s slow season. Take a look!

1. Re-engage Former Customers

Do you keep a record of former customers who no longer use your services? You should! Using your slow season to try and re-engage former customers is a smart marketing tactic that can have a big payoff. Think strategically about the best way to reach them and with what message. You could offer them a promotion for considering your services again. Or you can offer them something completely free, like a free audit for whatever service it is your provide. Re-engaging customers you’ve already worked with is a warm lead compared to cold calling someone completely new. Take advantage of this in your slow season!

2. Focus on Internal Planning

When business is slow, this is no reason to shut down and go into vacation mode. Rather, use your available time to focus inward on your business model, marketing strategy and other branding efforts. If you’re not fully utilizing social media, your slow season is a great time to implement a social media strategy for your business. Then, once your busy season hits again you have a plan in place to keep this running. Give your business the personalized attention it likely lacks when you’re busy.

3. Schedule Appointments You’ve Been Putting Off

Is there a vendor you’ve been meaning to meet with? What about your accountant or lawyer? During your busy season these types of meetings often take a back seat to serving your customers. Now in your slow season, get ahead of the game by knocking off all those meetings and research you’ve been meaning to do to streamline and grow your business. You’ll be better prepared than ever to take on your next busy season!

4. Look for New Revenue Streams

Your slow season is a time to get creative. Sure, you stay busy most of the year serving your customers in one way. But what other skills and services can you provide in your slow season to bring in new revenue? Think about a landscaping company whose business substantially declines in the winter months. They would be smart to repurpose their tools and labor to hang outdoor holiday décor for their clients. Now they have a whole new revenue stream utilizing the same tools and labor they already had on hand. Brainstorm how your business might do something similar.

5. Make New Hires

Your slow season is the prime time to ramp up your staff. While this may seem counterintuitive since you currently have less work to do than in your busy season, your slow season is a great time to onboard a new team member. You can give them a lot more of your time and attention to make sure they are fully trained and prepared to handle the influx of business when your busy season hits.

6. Do Something for You!

Finally and most importantly use at least a little bit of your downtime in your slow season to do something relaxing. After all, you’ve earned it! Take a family vacation or take a personal retreat where you can refocus on your business goals and strategies. With this mindset, you won’t look at your slow season as a time to worry, but rather as a time to be grateful for the ebb and flow of your business.

How does your business maximize its slow season versus busy season? Share your ideas by leaving a comment below!

Don’t Think You Need Business Insurance? Read this First!

Don’t Think You Need Business Insurance? Read this First!

If you’re a business owner, you know that there are real costs and risks associated with doing business. Just one unfortunate event like a fire or theft could be enough to put you into bankruptcy – that is, if you’re not insured properly.

If you’re tempted to cut business insurance out of your budget, you could be putting your livelihood at great risk. The investment you make in insuring your business completely is more than returned to you if you use it just once. Plus, the peace of mind is priceless for a business owner who has many other matters weighing on their mind.

Before you buy – or deny – business insurance, read these five points first!

Know the cost of insurance before you begin your business.

If you are considering starting a new business, get commercial insurance estimates prior to taking the entrepreneurial leap. You might find the cost of fully insuring your risks makes your business less profitable than is worthwhile. Additionally, if you go without insurance for a period of time, it’s often then very difficult to find an insurance company that will take you later on. The five major areas of insurance to shop for are: property insurance, general liability insurance, professional liability insurance, commercial automobile, and workers compensation. Many times these are bundled together to offer a cost savings and efficiency.

Insure your risk completely.

If you are a retail location, make sure you estimate your business personal property correctly. In case of a fire, where just about everything is destroyed, your insurance needs to fully cover everything you will need to purchase or repair in order to again open your doors for business. If your coverage falls short, and you are unable to restart your business, you’re nearly in as bad of a position as if you had no insurance at all.

Know the age of the building you buy or rent.

This may seem like a small detail, but it’s an important one. The age of a building impacts the cost and coverage of your commercial insurance, even for a renter. If the age of your building works in your favor to save you money, you want to take advantage of this! And even if it doesn’t necessarily reduce your cost of insurance, you will be sure that you are fully and accurately covered, which is extremely important.

If you are a contractor, insure your tools.

One critical error that is commonly made, is that contractors will insure their truck, but fail to insure the individual tools inside the truck. If the truck is stolen or damaged, resulting in lost or damaged tools, you’ll have to pay out of pocket to replace all of these – if you fail to insure them! Just because they are stored in an insured truck, this doesn’t mean they are covered. It’s not just contractors that have tools though!  You may own other types of tools or supplies that aren’t immediately covered as well!

Insure your digital information.

Finally, and so importantly in this digital age, make sure you have some form of cyber theft and cyber liability coverage to help protect you financially if you are hacked and you or your customers’ information is stolen. Many businesses operate completely virtually, meaning their main assets are the information they store in a cloud or on their computers. As hackers continue to grow more and more sophisticated in their tactics, sensitive and valuable information created by your business could be here today and gone tomorrow. Without insurance, this could be a business-ending scenario!

What other questions do you have about business insurance? Leave a comment!

4 Insurance Mistakes That Could Cost You Big!

4 Insurance Mistakes That Could Cost You Big!

Insurance is meant to be your safety net should life throw you a curve ball. Not many of us have the disposable income to purchase a new home, a new car or replace all of our belonging if they got damaged. This is why it’s so important to have insurance to cover you in the event of a loss. However, having too little insurance or not the right insurance could cost you big. Take a look at these four insurance mistakes and be sure to avoid making them!

#1. Buying only the minimum

Most states set a legal limit to the minimum amount of insurance you must have, particularly for cars. Don’t make the mistake of buying only the minimum! Sure, it might save you a few bucks now, but it will certainly cost you big in the event of an accident. Most often, this minimum insurance will cover the other driver and their car, but will not fully recover the damage to your vehicle. You will be forced to pay out of pocket or fulfill a high deductible to fix or replace your vehicle. If you rely on transportation to get to your job, run errands and anything else, think about how this could impact your finances – and your life!

#2. Not seeking out discounts

Always be sure to ask your insurance agent about possible discounts or money saving tips. Some companies will reward safe drivers or offer a diminishing deductible after a certain length of time. If you consider yourself to be safe and responsible, there is likely a discount program that will reward you for that! Ask and do your research to be sure you aren’t leaving money on the table.

#3. Selecting a deductible that is too high or too low

Let’s talk about deductibles. It’s important to pick a deductible level that fits your finances. How much money could you reasonably pay out of pocket at any time to fix damage to your home, car or personal belongings? Setting a high deductible will often reduce your monthly premium, but if you cannot fulfil it in the event of an accident, it really won’t do you any good. On the flip side, don’t set your deductible too low, either. You will likely see your monthly premium increase as a result and you may go years without ever needing to take advantage of it.

#4. Shopping by price alone

Finally and most importantly, be sure to consider more than just the price of your insurance policy. Look for online reviews of an insurance company or ask someone you know who has worked with them before to gauge their professionalism and customer service. The cheapest coverage may save you some money right now, but if their customer service is substandard, this will most certainly cause you headaches and frustration in the long-run.

Have you personally experienced any of this mistakes or maybe another one we didn’t mention? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment!

LOCAL AGENT

David Downey
Insurance Agency Owner
11 N US Hwy 15, Ste 7
Dillsburg, PA, 17019
717-432-1361
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