Specialized Business Insurance & Risk Management Blog

Do I Need Umbrella Insurance for My Business?

umbrella insurance

If a client sues your business or an employee causes a devastating car accident, will your current insurance policy cover the settlement and defense costs? If not, your business could be in serious financial trouble.

With lawsuits and claims occurring more frequently, an umbrella insurance policy can be the safety net to keep your business out of financial harm. This coverage pays the remaining costs of a claim when your primary insurance limits are exhausted. For example, you’re hit with lawsuit settlement and defense costs of $1.5 million after your employee driving the company van strikes another vehicle. If your auto liability policy only covers $1 million of this cost, the umbrella insurance will pay the outstanding $500,000.

Advantages of Commercial Umbrella Insurance

An umbrella insurance policy offers benefits that your primary liability insurance policies can’t provide.

Affordable, high coverage limit. For only a few hundred dollars a year, you can have $1 million in umbrella insurance. This coverage is available in increments of $1 million and comes with low premium payments.

More protection. Umbrella insurance is there to back you up financially when your primary liability insurance isn’t enough to cover the costs of lost assets, bodily injuries, legal fees, and more. This extra coverage better protects your business from financial loss, particularly when hit with a costly lawsuit.

Cost savings. A single umbrella insurance policy extends the coverage limits on multiple liability policies – and for a lower premium, too! Instead of paying to increase the coverage limits on each of your general liability and auto liability policies, for example, one umbrella insurance policy gets you extra coverage on both of these liability policies. And, if hit with a costly lawsuit that your primary insurance policy can’t fully cover, umbrella insurance saves you money by paying the outstanding costs.

To decide how much umbrella insurance coverage is needed for your business, identify the risks your business faces and any assets that would be covered under this policy. Then, review your current insurance coverages to determine if these terms cover all of the areas where your business is vulnerable to a claim.

Knowing this information helps you better determine the umbrella insurance coverage limits required to keep your business out of financial harm. Your insurance broker can answer questions regarding insurance options and get you coverage specific to your business needs.

Looking for an umbrella insurance policy that will save you money and provide more protection for your business? Check out NIP Group’s business insurance programs that include umbrella insurance and other coverages specific to your needs by visiting http://www.nipgroup.com/programs.

4 Basic Insurance Policies for Greenhouses and Nursery Garden Centers

young plants in greenhouse

Having the right insurance for your business plants the seed for a stronger financial future.  When a costly claim or lawsuit is made against your business, even basic coverage can help dig you out of a financial hole.  This liability and workers’ comp insurance covers the costs when certain unexpected situations happen.

Below we provide an overview of four basic insurance policies – general liability, property, commercial vehicle, and workers’ comp – that can help safeguard your horticulture or plant grower business.

General Liability Insurance

If a third party claims your employee or work environment caused them injury or physical damage to their property, you might be held liable for paying the bill(s).  Even if not at fault, these claims are common and can be costly.  For example, a customer breaks their arm from slipping and falling on wet leaves in the aisle of your nursery garden center.

To protect your business against the high costs of property damage, bodily injury, and personal or advertising injury claims, general liability insurance is necessary.  This popular policy covers the costs of related legal fees, third party medical expenses, and much more.

Property Insurance

Structures, stock, equipment, and other business property can be expensive to repair or replace.  This property loss often results from fire, extreme weather, and theft.  During winter, for example, a greenhouse roof collapsing from the weight of snow and ice damages your stock, supplies, and everything else it crashes on top of, in addition to interrupting your business operations.

In case of an unfortunate incident,  property insurance is designed to help you get back to business after a loss of your stock, structures, equipment, or commercial and  business personal property.

Commercial Vehicle Insurance

If an employee causes an accident when delivering plants, going on a sales call, or driving a company vehicle for any business related purpose, you could be responsible for paying the damages.  These costs significantly increase when a third party is injured as a result of the accident,.

For greenhouse and nursery garden centers with traveling employees, a commercial vehicle insurance policy is essential.  This policy covers the expense of physical damage repairs to a covered auto, as well as the potential defense and payment of bodily injury claims to a third party.

Workers’ Compensation

Using sharp gardening tools, lifting heavy equipment, spraying chemicals on plants, and other daily tasks could result in injury or illness for an employee.  Even with safety procedures in place, accidents can still happen.  For example, an employee is hurt after tripping on a hose being used by another employee to water plants. When  employees are  hurt on the job, this policy covers the resulting medical costs and lost income during recovery, as well as potential litigation expenses.  Workers’ compensation is a legal requirement in most states, and a necessary policy when running a business with paid employees.

These four fundamental insurance policies better protect horticulture and plant grower businesses.  To fill any gaps where you would not be financially protected, additional coverage can be added to each policy.

Find insurance coverage for your business.  NIP Group’s GrowPro insurance program includes general liability, property, commercial vehicle, workers’ comp, and other important coverages that can be custom-tailored to your operational and financial needs. For information on insurance coverage specific to your needs, visit nipgroup.com/programs/growpro or contact your broker.

What Should I Put in My Cleaning Service Contract to Avoid Client Disputes?

cleaning service contractHaving your client sign a written contract before starting a job could save your cleaning or janitorial business a lot of money and headache later on. If a dispute with a client or unexpected lawsuit happens, this document will help you better defend your business. Otherwise, you could be left cleaning up a financial mess from disagreements over service expectations, payment, and more.

Contracts are helpful in building and strengthening relationships with clients, too. Clearly defined rates, terms, and conditions help eliminate confusion between parties and set expectations for the quality of work to be performed. A lawyer can help you draft an initial contract which can then be tailored to each job after.

Below are some details often included in a cleaning or janitorial service contract that can help avoid future conflicts with clients.

Service Schedule Details

• Start and end dates of service
• How many times a month work will be performed
• Days and times work will be performed
• Procedures for entering and exiting the premises each workday

Services to Be Performed and Supplies

• Areas and facilities to be cleaned
• Detailed list of tasks to be completed in each area
• Responsible party for purchasing and maintaining cleaning supplies and equipment

Rates and Payment

• Costs for services (per hour or per job)
• How often the client will be billed (e.g., monthly)
• Payment due date
• Payment methods (e.g., check, credit card, cash)

Refund and Cancellation Terms

• Refund policy for incomplete work or complaints
• Notice period for canceling services
• Cancellation fee, if any

If no further clarification is needed, ask your client to sign the contract. Both of your signatures make it legally binding and enforceable.

Looking to better protect your cleaning or janitorial service business from costly claims? Check out NIP Group’s MaintenancePro insurance program and contact your broker for more information.

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3 Tips for Controlling Costs in Your Cleaning Service Operations

iStock_000013933799_MediumReducing and controlling costs in your cleaning service includes increasing productivity and saving money where possible.  For this, it’s important to look at your business operations and identify areas for improvement.  This will help improve your bottom line and strengthen the financial future of your business.

Below are three tips that can help you control costs within your cleaning service operations.

Train Your Employees

Proper training of employees is vital to controlling costs better.  Make sure each employee is trained in safety procedures, cleaning methods, and proper use of equipment and chemicals.  This helps prevent future rework, product waste, and costly claims that can add to your expenses.

Create an Efficient Process

Increased efficiency can decrease labor costs.  To better manage your budget, it’s important to understand the time and resources needed to complete a job.  After evaluating the facility you’re contracted to service and work requirements, clearly define a cleaning method (e.g., zone or team cleaning) and prioritize tasks that will get the job done through an efficient process.  Establishing an effective process helps employees increase productivity without compromising quality of work.

In addition, consider using equipment and products that make the cleaning process more effective and less time-consuming.  Although sometimes pricey, the higher performance, durability, and longer lifespan of certain equipment and products can help you control costs better over the long term.

Keep Your Business Insurance Premium Low

There are simple ways to keep your business insurance premium low without giving up coverage.  This includes maintaining a clean claims history, enforcing safety procedures, bundling multiple policies with one carrier, and increasing your deductible.  Learn more about saving money on your business insurance here.

For better coverage that protects you from financial loss, NIP Group’s MaintenancePro insurance program can be custom-tailored to meet the financial and operational needs of your janitorial or cleaning service business.  Visit http://www.nipgroup.com/programs/maintenancepro/ for more information or contact your broker.

How did you reduce costs in your janitorial or cleaning service operations?

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Safety Tips that Protect Outdoor Workers from Heat Stress and Illness

worker with large crane site and sunset backgroundThe physical demands of outdoor work and extreme heat is a dangerous combination.  Landscape, tree service, construction, and other  outdoor workers spend hours under the hot sun, making them more vulnerable to heat stroke, exhaustion, dehydration, and other serious health problems.  This is not only bad for their health, but bad for your business too.

Heat stress and related illnesses have been one of the many occupational hazards OSHA aims to prevent.  In May 2015, for example, the State of California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) changed employer requirements to better protect agricultural and other outdoor workers from illnesses related to heat exposure.  This includes stricter regulations.

To avoid violating OSHA regulations and control hazards, enforcing safety procedures is your best bet.  Below we list some tips for protecting your workers from these heat-related health problems.

Safety Tips for Working in Hot Temperatures

  • Dress cool.  Wear light-colored, breathable clothing and a hat.
  • Stay hydrated. Thirsty or not, drink water every 15 – 20 minutes.
  • Take breaks. Rest in the shade when possible.  Eat during lunch or other breaks to re-fuel.
  • Watch your workers’ backs. Keep an eye out for signs of exhaustion and other heat illnesses.
  • Have a response plan. Know which steps to take if a worker shows symptoms of heat illness.

Each employee should be trained in safety procedures, including recognizing and controlling hazards, and steps to take in an emergency.  By creating a safe working environment, your workers are better protected from harm and the risk of a costly claim is significantly reduced.  If a health problem does occur even after following safety procedures, an insurance plan with workers’ comp will cover medical costs, foregone wages, and other related costs to take the heat off of your business financially.

NIP Group’s insurance programs include comprehensive workers’ comp to back you up financially so your employees can focus on restoring their health and you can continue growing your business.  Click the links below for more information or contact your broker.

LandPro Insurance >

For landscape and lawn care professionals

TreePro Insurance >

For arborists and tree service professionals

GrowPro Insurance >

For greenhouse and plant grower professionals