The insurance industry has seen dramatic changes in the past few decades. Choosing insurance has become a complex task, especially when it comes to ever-evolving issues like employment law, cyber liability, and professional liability.

The right insurance advisor makes all the difference. An experienced advisor can explain complicated subjects and provide first-hand examples of situations they’ve seen. Instead of just shrugging your shoulders and taking a shot in the dark, you can pinpoint a perfect policy that fits your company’s needs.

SEE ALSO: 5 Questions to Ask Your Insurance Agent About Umbrella Coverage

Licensed and Educated

A good insurance advisor is fully licensed in their state and has an educational background in insurance. Reputable insurance companies check their employees’ credentials as part of the hiring process. If you’re concerned about an advisor’s qualifications, you can always search them at finra.org, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority that regulates advisors, brokers, and agents.

Stays on the Cutting Edge

Good advisors also stay up to date on the industry’s latest laws and trends. When health care regulations change, they know the latest information. When a major court case sets a new precedent in employment law, the advisor is on top of it. They should alert you to new issues that might affect your coverage selections.

Goes Beyond Cost

Any advisor can give you a menu of insurance costs. A great advisor goes beyond premiums alone, explaining the details of coverage. They make apples-to-apples comparisons, which is essential. They explain why the cheapest option isn’t the best option in most situations: it leaves you exposed to risk.

Your advisor is your risk manager. If they’re willing to let you be exposed to lots of risk for the sake of saving a little money, you have to wonder whether you can truly trust them.

Looks to the Long Term

If an advisor seems too pushy, as if they can’t wait to get your signature on the documents, they might not have your best interests at heart. A good advisor allows you to take time to review your options.

They also keep an eye on the long-term picture for your business. If you’re a new startup, they should be asking about your goals for the future. If you’re nearing retirement, they should know how your plans will impact your business. And the advisor should stay in contact with you, encouraging policy reviews along the way.

SEE ALSO: You’re An Expert In Your Business, You Need Experts For Your Professional Services…

Personality Fit

Your advisor should also be a good personality fit for you. If you don’t enjoy interacting with them, you might inadvertently neglect your insurance coverage just to avoid them. Finding the right advisor personality is a combination of individual tastes and finding the right kind of professional.

For example, if you are price-sensitive and want to see lots of choices, you might mesh well with an independent advisor. These agents aren’t tied down to a certain insurance provider and can offer plans from many different sources. They’re predisposed to gathering lots of competitive bids and giving you the power of choice.

If you’re ready to choose a new advisor, click here to get a free quote from Cherokee Insurance Center, LLC and an agent will reach out to you soon.

Reprinted with permission from Links Insurance.

Renters insurance comes in handy when the unexpected happens. From a house fire to a break-in, it’s important to know that your personal items are covered when it matters most. What’s more, covering your potential liability is equally as crucial. If you’re sued because of negligence or something completely out of your control, like a party guest breaking an ankle in your driveway, renters insurance can be your saving grace. Many insurance companies offer substantial coverage at an affordable rate, but there are still several things to consider before starting a policy. As a licensed insurance agent, I’ll share answers to five common – yet critical – questions about renters insurance. Your renters insurance checklist:

1. Who needs renters insurance?

Most landlords require proof of insurance before a new tenant moves into a home or apartment; making renters insurance a foregone conclusion in most cases. Since you aren’t buying the place you’re moving into, the property owner wants to make sure that you will be able to pay for any damage that may occur while you’re occupying their space. A wild party or overflowing sink can cause significant damage to a structure, which can lead to astronomical repair bills that most renters just can’t cover out of their own pockets. Requiring renters insurance is the easiest way for a property owner or landlord to ensure that their investment is covered if the tenant causes major damage during the lease. This means that the tenant’s liability is covered, as well.

Even if you find yourself in a living situation that does not require renters insurance, maintaining coverage is still a good idea. If you are a dog owner, for example, your furry family member can open you up to a significant risk of a lawsuit if they were to bite someone. The truth is that all dogs bite, no matter how docile, and this fact alone is a prime reason to cover your liability. The same can be said for children, who are your responsibility wherever they may go until they become adults. When you begin to realize how much exposure you face on a daily basis, it’s not difficult to comprehend the value of protecting yourself against a lawsuit.

renters insurance for apartment

2. Are all renters insurance policies the same?

Nope. Outside of liability, it’s also important to cover the items you’ve spent hard-earned money on to fill your home. If you were to lose everything in a fire, would you be able to replace all of your personal property out of pocket? The answer for most people is a definitive “no.”

While renters insurance does provide coverage for personal property, it’s important to understand how you would be compensated in the event of a claim. You choose the amount of personal property coverage on your policy so you need to have an understanding of how much money would be required to replace your belongings in the event they are damaged or stolen.

Renters policies cover personal items in one of two ways: actual cash value (ACV) or replacement cost.

  • Replacement cost coverage means that your policy would pay to replace your items (like a camera) with a new, comparable version.
  • Actual cash value takes depreciation into account so the amount you receive in the event of a claim depends on the age or condition of the item (the same way your car insurance company would value your vehicle in the event of a total loss).

The main thing that consumers need to understand about the two valuation types is that replacement cost policies generally cover your items at a higher amount than one that uses ACV. The premium for a replacement cost policy is a bit more expensive, however, so it’s important to consider how much it would take to replace your personal items before you decide which option is right for you.

3. Should you make an inventory of your personal items?

Renters insurance allows the flexibility for you to choose the amount of coverage for your personal property. In the event of a claim, though, you will have a much easier time getting compensated for the things you lost by having an inventory of your belongings.

Without proof of exactly what you had before incurring a loss, your insurance company may not agree to cover all of your personal property.

What’s the best way to inventory your property?

I recommend a multi-faceted approach. It is impractical to save every receipt for every purchase you make; storing receipts can be cumbersome and there is a risk that they could be lost in the event of a fire.

A simple fix would be to snap a picture of your receipts and save them to a Google Drive or Dropbox. This also allows you to access those receipts from any device with internet access even if the original is rendered unusable. And for items which you no longer posses a receipt, taking a video of your belongings makes them easily identifiable. It’s also a good idea to update the video or pictures of receipts and personal items as you add them.

making a renters insurance checklist

4. What other coverage does renters insurance include?

Medical

Medical coverage is offered on most renters policies to pay for injuries that a guest may suffer at your residence.

Imagine your friend trips on your lawn during your backyard BBQ and breaks his leg. Ideally, your guest won’t want to file a lawsuit against you, but he probably doesn’t want to pay for expensive emergency room bills either.

Fortunately, the medical coverage on your policy will normally pay for those costs as long as this person isn’t a member of the household. This can help your friend avoid having to pay the deductible on his medical insurance and also help you avoid a potential lawsuit.

Loss of use

One last coverage that renters policies offer, and one of the most important in my opinion, is loss of use. Also referred to as “additional living expense” coverage, loss of use is intended pay for expenses that arise when you aren’t able to stay in your home or apartment after a covered loss.

If you suffer a fire or a break-in, you may not be able to stay at your residence until repairs are made. Loss of use coverage pays for things like hotel stays and even food expenses if your place becomes unlivable due to a covered loss. This coverage can vary by provider so it’s a good idea to account for an extended stay when determining how much coverage is right for you.

5. What makes renters insurance more or less expensive?

  • A cap on certain categories of personal items: While your belongings are generally covered by renters insurance, it’s important to note that certain pricier items, like jewelry, golf clubs, or other collectibles, have a cap on the amount you can claim after a loss. If you own high-dollar items, it’s a good idea to ask your agent about how this policy would protect those things if you file a claim.
  • Sharing a policy with a roommate: Sharing a policy might split coverage in half, but you should consider having each renter living in the same residence maintain his or her own policy to avoid a decrease in coverage limits. This is especially true if you have some of your own expensive items to cover as previously mentioned.
  • Your deductible: Just like with car insurance, a personal property claim is subject to a deductible. While a higher deductible will result in lower rates, the difference in premium is often not significant and you need to make sure you can easily afford to pay it if you have to file a claim.
  • Your dog: However unjust this may seem, insurance companies do discriminate against certain dog breeds because of the potential liability exposure. It’s a good idea to mention the breed of your dog(s) to your agent so they can quickly let you know whether or not they can insure you with a specific company. Lying about the breed of your pet simply to procure coverage can lead to a denial of a claim, especially if your dog is involved.

First and foremost in your renters insurance checklist is the answer to whether or not you should have it, and the answer (whether you’re required to carry it or not) is a resounding “yes.” The potential benefits far outweigh the costs, and the peace of mind alone can make the cost of the policy worth it.

Not all renters policies are the same so it’s important to ask the agent providing a renters insurance quote as many questions as necessary to make an informed decision. The worst time to find out that you aren’t covered is after something serious has happened.

And as always, shopping with as many companies as possible will result in the best coverage at the best rate.

Cyber liability. It might sound futuristic, but its time has come.

To address a common misconception head on, it’s not limited to tech companies. Cyber liability coverage is a must for any business that handles sensitive client information— credit cards, customer records, and other confidential data. Nowadays, nearly every company deals with this sort of information as a part of the normal course of business.

The Basics

Cyber liability and data breach coverage provides protection against the costs your company can incur when a data security situation occurs. For example. say you run a small-town fitness center that charges cards on a monthly basis, and an employee steals customer bank account information.

You gathered this information with good intentions – to charge your customers’ monthly membership fees in a convenient way – and did your best to protect it in a secure system. But, unfortunately, an employee with some computer knowledge accessed the information and made fraudulent purchases on customer bank accounts. This is a data breach— and now you’re on the hook for the cost.

These situations often end up in court. If a judge orders your company to pay a settlement, legal fees or other court costs, cyber liability insurance can help. It was designed to save your business from a devastating financial blow.

A Bit of History

The first cyber policy was written in 1997 in response to the alarming rise of hackers, or high-tech thieves, who began targeting organizations in a systematic manner. During the late 1990s and 2000s, these insurance policies expanded as hacking expanded.

The insurance industry has updated policy coverage over the years to include many types of sophisticated data breaches. Cybercrime now costs the global economy $450 billion a year – yet 53 percent of businesses still report being ill-prepared for cyber attacks.

So is your business really at risk? Small business owners sometimes think data thieves primarily target big companies like Target – one of the famous cases we see in the headlines. However, 62 percent of cyber attacks are on small and mid-sized businesses. And of those, 60 percent of small businesses go out of business within six months due to the financial strain. Plus, small businesses rely on homegrown strategies like word of mouth and friend referrals – which are quickly tainted when a security breach occurs. Suddenly your business is the talk of the town, and not in a good way.

Risk and Planning

So the question is not so much if your business will be affected by a data breach, but when – and what you can do about it. Security experts say the best way to prepare for cyber attacks, and minimize their impact, is to put a plan in place ahead of time. Train employees how to handle sensitive data and train them how to respond if a data breach is suspected. Make sure everyone in your organization knows the plan from the first moment they handle customer information.

Having cyber liability insurance also creates a plan. If the worst case scenario happens, insurance helps you quickly defray the cost of a data breach and move on to restore confidence in your company.

Click here to get a quote and ensure you’re fully covered for cyber attacks.

Original post printed with permission from Links Insurance blog

Umbrella policies help cover your business for catastrophic losses, providing protection above your primary commercial-insurance policies. With the rising medical and legal costs associated with accidents, third-party lawsuits, and other severe loss exposures, it’s important to start a conversation with your independent insurance agent about umbrella coverage–and soon.

But not sure where to start? Here are five must-ask questions to ensure you’re getting the coverage you need to keep your small business in the black when a catastrophic accident occurs.

  1. How much coverage do I need?

This answer varies from business to business, depending on the size and value of the operation. Keep in mind that brick-and-mortar storefronts are at extra risk; it only takes one customer tripping over a power cord, frayed rug, or merchandise rack to potentially put your business at risk. Work with your independent insurance agent to ensure you have enough coverage to handle expenses related to third-party lawsuits.

  1. When will I need umbrella coverage?

Don’t assume that your business should be a certain size before purchasing. It’s an unpleasant truth that your business might never reach that hypothetical milestone without the right coverage. An accident is just as likely on your first day of business as it is years into your operation. Cover now, so you can grow safely.

  1. What makes some umbrella coverage providers better than others?

Not all insurance providers are created equal and not all of them navigate the scale of umbrella claims as well as others. Make sure your agent connects you with a provider that understands the risks associated with your type of business, knows the ins and outs of managing large legal and medical scenarios, and is dedicated to making certain you’re getting everything you need within the scope of your coverage.

  1. What else can my umbrella provider do for me?

Some insurance providers add value by helping you proactively identify and mitigate risk, providing consulting and more. Liberty Mutual’s crisis management support, which offers up to $250,000 in expenses for PR consulting to help remake your post-accident image after a catastrophic accident, is a great example. Ask your agent which providers can do more than simply cover you.

  1. Can I afford umbrella coverage?

At the risk of sounding cliché, can you afford not to have it? The truth is that a single accident can be very costly to your business; and in an extreme case, can be enough to put you out of business. The cost of umbrella coverage is low–a fraction of the amount you pay to acquire your primary commercial coverage. You’ve invested your emotional, physical, and intellectual efforts into your business; it’s worth making this reasonable investment to protect what you’ve built so far–and what you’ll build in the future.

Click here to get a quote for Umbrella Insurance coverage.