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Business Interrupted? Don’t Let a Property Loss Jeopardize Your Business

by Anita Byer8/18/2016
Closed Sign

Did you know that nearly 40% of businesses do not reopen and another 25% fail within a year after a catastrophe or disaster? The actual loss or damage to buildings, facilities and property is often the reason for this frightening statistic, but it isn’t the only reason. Businesses are increasingly struggling to recover after a property loss because of the economic impact caused by the interruption of business operations during and after the event.

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Is Your Business Ready for New FLSA White-Collar Overtime Rules?

by Anita Byer4/27/2016
timeclocks

Over two years ago, the possibility of new overtime rules for white-collar employees under the Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA) first appeared on the horizon. Last year, the Department of Labor (DOL) released proposed revisions to overtime exemption regulations, including those for executive, administrative and professional employees. Today, that once looming possibility is looking more like a fast approaching reality. Fast, as in possibly by mid-July, fast.

On March 14, 2016, the DOL submitted its final version of the revised overtime exemption regulations to the White House's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review. Once the OMB completes its review, the final regulations will be published. After that, it’s just a matter of time. Unfortunately, there are some details we still don’t know about the final regulations. Minor details, really, like what they are or when they will go into effect.

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Does Your Business Need a USDOT or MC Number?

by Setnor Byer Insurance & Risk3/17/2016
Fleet of trucks with Commercial Insurance

The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) monitors and ensures compliance with motor carrier safety and commercial carrier regulations. Contrary to what many believe, 18-wheel trucks aren’t the only vehicles covered by FMCSA regulations. Depending on its operations, any business may be required to have a USDOT Number, an MC Number, or both.

USDOT Number

USDOT Numbers are unique identifiers used by the FMCSA when collecting and monitoring a company's safety information, compliance reviews, crash investigations and inspections. A business involved in interstate commerce must have a USDOT Number if it owns a vehicle that:

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Special Insurance for Your Special Event

by Anita Byer12/2/2015
wedding rings

If you’re planning a wedding, anniversary, graduation party, Bar/Bat Mitzvah or other special event, consider adding insurance to your ‘to-do’ list. Special Events Insurance provides financial protection—just in case things don’t go as planned on that special day.

Perhaps the most popular feature of Special Events Insurance is cancellation / postponement coverage. If there is a necessary and unavoidable cancellation or postponement, this insurance covers deposits and other amounts paid or owed for various event-related items, such as catering services, location and equipment rentals, accommodations, flowers, photographers, videographers and entertainment. Rehearsal dinners within 48 hours of a wedding may also be covered.

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Can You Save Money by Customizing Your Homeowners’ Insurance Coverage?

by Anita Byer11/10/2015
medical symbol

Many believe that expensive homeowners’ insurance is just the reality of living the American Dream. But, there are ways to lower your premium. This year, instead of (only) cringing and cursing about the cost of renewing your homeowners’ insurance, find out if any of these tips can reduce your policy premium.

Increase Your Deductible: The deductible is the amount you have to pay before the insurance company starts paying a claim. As a general rule, policies with higher deductibles have noticeably lower premiums. More...

Homeowners' Insurance Claims: By the Numbers

by Anita Byer1/21/2015
Home Insurance Claims

Homeowners insurance is designed to protect against losses to your home and its contents, as well as liability for accidents that may occur on the property. Since the United States homeownership rate is nearly 65%, homeowners' insurance is an important topic for many of us. To get a better understanding about the nature of homeowners' losses and insurance claims, let's take a look at some research compiled by the Insurance Information Institute.

  • Approximately 1 in 15 insured homes have a claim each year.
  • Wind and hail claims, which are experienced by approximately 1 in 30 insured homes each year, are the most frequent.
  • Claims related to fire, lightning or debris removal, which are experienced by approximately 1 in 230 insured homes every year, are the costliest.
  • Approximately 1 in 55 insured homes have a damage claim caused by water or freezing each year.
  • Approximately 1 in 190 insured homes have a theft claim each year.
  • Approximately 1 in 830 homeowners have a liability claim related to the cost of lawsuits for the bodily injury or property damage of others.
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Are You Protecting Customers' Credit and Debit Card Data?

by Anita Byer12/17/2014
security locks over data

It's hard to ignore the fact that data security breaches seem to be increasing in frequency and severity, particularly those involving credit and debit card data. Just ask Home Depot, Michaels Stores, Neiman Marcus, or their 50+ million customers whose payment card data may have been compromised in 2014. To reduce the chances of making the list in 2015, preventative measures must be taken by every business that accepts credit and debit card payments.

The PCI Security Standards Council developed the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) to encourage and enhance cardholder data security. This standard includes 12 requirements.

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Employee Assistance Programs under the Affordable Care Act

by Anita Byer10/29/2014
business handshake

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are designed to help employees prevent, identify and resolve various personal issues and matters. Many employers include EAPs in their benefits packages to enhance employee effectiveness and maintain workplace productivity. In addition to providing benefits like pre-paid legal, crisis intervention or professional development services, EAPs commonly provide health-related benefits, such as mental health, substance abuse and wellness services. Does this mean that they must comply with the Affordable Care Act?

According to final regulations issued by the Departments of Labor, Treasury and Health & Human Services on October 1, 2014, the answer is…maybe.

If an EAP qualifies as an excepted benefit, it will generally be exempt from the ACA's requirements. Otherwise, the EAP must incorporate the market reforms mandated by the ACA, such as no lifetime or annual limits. Under the final regulations, an EAP must satisfy four requirements to qualify as an excepted benefit.

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Understanding Business Insurance: What is BOP?

by Anita Byer9/3/2014
business men shaking hands

Many businesses take a piecemeal approach to buying insurance. One policy for property insurance, another for liability insurance, and so on. Unfortunately, this approach can be difficult and time consuming, particularly for small- and medium-sized businesses. For these businesses, a Business Owners Policy, a BOP, may be an attractive alternative.

A BOP is a pre-packaged bundle of coverages that insurance companies offer to eligible small- and medium-sized businesses. BOPs are designed to provide a number of essential insurance coverages in a convenient and cost effective manner. BOPs typically provide:

  • property insurance to cover damage to buildings and contents;
  • business income (business interruption) insurance to cover the loss of income resulting from a covered loss that disrupts business operations; and
  • liability insurance to protect against liability claims for bodily injury and property damage occurring on a business’s premises or arising out of its operations.

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Every Business Should be Worried about Cyber Liability

by Anita Byer8/19/2014
woman's hands on keyboard

Regardless of industry, cyber attacks and data breaches expose businesses to potentially enormous losses and liabilities. According to a report by the Insurance Information Institute (III), the potential economic fallout from the cyber threat cannot be underestimated, particularly because the number of publicly disclosed data breaches soared from 449 in 2012 to 614 in 2013. This is likely why cyber risk cracked the top 10 list of global business risks in 2014.

According to the III report:

 

  • The majority of data breaches affected the medical/healthcare industry (43.8%) and business organizations (34.4%).
  • Business organizations accounted for the majority of records exposed by data breaches in 2013 (84%).
  • A report by PWC found that cyber crimes are considered a high-level threat.
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Counting Employees under the Affordable Care Act's Pay-or-Play Provisions

by Anita Byer8/13/2014
money, calculator, and pen

Employers subject to the Affordable Care Act's Employer Shared Responsibility provisions may be assessed a penalty if they do not offer affordable health coverage that provides a minimum level of coverage to their full-time employees and their dependents. Whether an employer is subject to these pay-or-play provisions depends on the number of people it employs. When counting employees, however, there are specific rules that must be followed.

An employer is generally considered an "Applicable Large Employer" subject to the pay-or-play provisions if it employed an average of at least 50 full-time employees, including full-time equivalent employees (FTEs), on business days during the preceding calendar year. To determine whether an employer is considered an Applicable Large Employer for a calendar year:

  • Add the total number of full-time employees for each calendar month in the preceding calendar year, and the total number of Full Time Equivalent employees for each calendar month in the preceding calendar year.
  • Divide the sum by 12.
  • If the result is not a whole number, round it down to the next lowest whole number

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SEC Commissioner Emphasizes the Importance of Cyber Insurance

by Adam Levit, Law Clerk - Setnor Byer Insurance & Risk8/11/2014
man on computer

Cyber risks are a growing concern among businesses of all kinds. In a recent speech given at the New York Stock Exchange, SEC Commissioner Luis A. Aguilar emphasized that cyber security should be a number one priority of businesses and regulators alike and warned companies, and more specifically their directors, to “take seriously their obligation to make sure that companies are appropriately addressing those risks.”

The New York Stock Exchange’s Governance Services Department hosted the Cyber Risks and the Boardroom Conference where Commissioner Aguilar expounded on the responsibility of corporate directors to consider and address the risk of cyber-attacks. The commissioner made it clear that despite all efforts to prevent a cyber-attack, companies should prepare “for the inevitable cyber-attack and the resulting fallout.”

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Settling Insurance Claims: Good Faith or Bad Faith?

by Anita Byer8/6/2014
gavel

Insurance companies have a general duty of good faith when settling the claims of their policyholder. This duty of good faith can come from statute, common law, or both. For example, in addition to having a common law duty of good faith, insurance companies in Florida have a statutory duty to act fairly and honestly toward their insureds. Insurance companies that fail to act in good faith may end up in court defending a claim for bad faith.

Contrary to what many believe, it's not bad faith for an insurance company to deny a claim that is not covered under a policy or to defend a claim subject to a reservation of rights. So what does it mean to act in good faith? According to one court, the duty of good faith requires insurance companies to investigate the facts, give fair consideration to settlement offers that are not unreasonable, and settle, if possible, where a reasonably prudent person, faced with the prospect of paying the total recovery, would do so.

Those damaged by an insurance company's failure to act in good faith may be able to sue the insurance company for bad faith. Bad faith claims can be first-party or third-party.

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A Contract's Fine Print: Find the Devil in the Details

by Anita Byer7/30/2014
woman and man reviewing contract

Contracts are an essential part of doing business. Regardless of size or industry, contracts with customers, vendors, suppliers, service providers or independent contractors are an important part of a business's operations. While good contracts can help manage risk and maintain good working relationships, bad contracts can be incredibly harmful. This is why every business must proceed cautiously when negotiating and signing contracts.

Ideally, an attorney will be consulted when negotiating or signing contracts. The reality, however, is that many businesses handle their own contracts. Though it may be easy for some to identify and understand a contract's main provisions, like cost, volume, part numbers, etc., the devil is in the details, which, in the case of contracts, is the fine print.

Every provision in a contract has a purpose, including those found in the fine print. Despite being underemphasized, they are often important when defining a contractual relationship, particularly when things go wrong. The following provisions, for example, are not only commonly used, but commonly overlooked.

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A Narrow View of Cyber Risks Can Leave You Overexposed

by Anita Byer7/16/2014
digital numbers and code

Recent, high-profile incidents show that every business is at risk of suffering a data security breach, regardless of size, resources or sophistication. To combat the risk, many organizations are taking steps to identify and secure organizational vulnerabilities, such as wireless networks, laptop computers, and even the office copy machine. However, a report by Zurich Insurance and the Atlantic Council suggests organizations must look beyond their own operations to truly recognize their exposure to cyber risks.

Businesses are increasingly using the internet and information technology functions to expand their operations and create opportunities. They are also increasing their exposure to external cyber risks that are often beyond their control. This is why businesses need to expand their horizon when evaluating and managing cyber risks. According to the report, businesses must consider these seven aggregations of cyber risk to fully understand their exposure.

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Shopping for Homeowners Insurance Video from Tower Hill® Insurance

by Anita Byer7/2/2014
Ordinance or Law Coverage Video Screenshot

For most people, their biggest purchase is their home. Following the four must-dos for shopping for homeowners insurance can help you find the best value and the best protection for your home:

  1. Get advice from a professional agent who will take the time to guide you through the selection process
  2. Shorten your list to the best companies, those with a great reputation for financial strength, claims handling, and customer service.
  3. Compare multiple quotes for similar coverages, and ask your agent to explain any differences in coverages.
  4. Tailor your policy to your wants and needs, as well as your tolerance for risk. Make sure price is not the primary factor.
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Loss of Business Income Caused by Civil Authority Action

by Anita Byer6/18/2014
closed sign

Public safety concerns may prompt civil authorities to take action to protect people and property. For example, a governor can issue a mandatory hurricane evacuation, a mayor can close roads during inclement weather, the police can enforce curfews during riots, or a fire department can restrict access to a neighborhood during a gas leak. Though these actions may be good for public safety, they may be bad for business.

In some cases, a Business Interruption policy’s Civil Authority coverage may offset income losses suffered during a civil authority action. Business Interruption, also known as Business Income, is a type of commercial insurance that protects against loss of income when a covered loss causes a business to reduce or suspend its operations. Civil Authority coverage is an additional protection that may be included in a Business Interruption policy.

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Florida's New Data Breach Notice Law

by Anita Byer6/11/2014
man on laptop

Florida has a new law to combat the recent surge of data security breaches involving sensitive personal information. On July 1, 2014, Florida’s current data breach notification statute will be replaced by the Florida Information Protection Act of 2014 (Act). Though similar to Florida’s current statute, the Act makes some significant changes that businesses must incorporate into their data security practices and procedures.

Under the Act, sole proprietors, partnerships, corporations, trusts, estates, cooperatives, associations and other commercial entities that acquire, maintain, store or use personal information (Covered Entities) are required to take reasonable measures to protect and secure such personal information. The Act broadens the definition of Personal Information to include:

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Is a Resident Manager Ideal for Your Self Storage Facility?

by Anita Byer4/30/2014
self storage facility

Resident managers are not as common as they used to be in the self storage industry. For some self storage facilities, however, a manager living on the premises may be the key to running a successful operation. Though cost is an important factor when deciding whether a self storage facility could benefit from a resident manager, other factors should be considered as well, such as:

Service: Automated facilities may not be enough to create an advantage over the competition. Depending on a self storage facility's location or specialty, clients may want more than just an access code after signing a contract. Facilities with a resident manager can service clients in ways that others cannot. This is why the existence of a resident manager is often mentioned in promotional and marketing materials.

Security: Even with surveillance cameras and 24-hour monitoring services, it is difficult to deny that resident managers can make a self storage facility even more secure. Their presence alone will likely deter most criminals, and their response time will be quicker than even the fastest police departments.

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Why Did I Get a Reservation of Rights Letter?

by Anita Byer4/16/2014
insured receiving reservation of rights letter

Upon receiving notice of a claim, an insurance company must determine whether it is covered by a policy. If a claim is clearly covered, the insurance company will begin the process of defending or indemnifying the insured. Alternatively, claims that are clearly not covered will be denied. A Reservation of Rights letter is used when the insurance company isn't sure whether a claim is covered.

Assume a customer files a lawsuit after being injured by a falling box. If the box fell because it was carelessly placed on a high shelf, a general liability policy would likely cover the claim. Coverage would be unlikely, however, if the box was intentionally dropped on the customer.

Though it may take months to find out what happened, the insurance company may only have days to take action. Rather than risk denying a covered claim, the insurance company can send the insured a Reservation of Rights letter, which gives the insurance company time to investigate the claim, and defend it, if necessary, without waiving its right to deny all or part of a claim at a later time if the facts ultimately establish a lack of coverage.

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Setnor Byer Insurance & Risk's newsletters and publications are intended as an information source for the clients and friends of the firm. Their content should not be construed as legal advice, and readers should not act upon the information in these publications without professional guidance. Please note that newsletters and publications that are archived by Setnor Byer Insurance & Risk are not updated after initial publication and may not contain the most current information available.

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