Specialized Business Insurance & Risk Management Blog

Found a Negative Online Review of Your Commercial Business? Here’s How to Respond


Respond to a Negative Online Review of Your BusinessA negative online review of your services could discourage other prospective clients from hiring your commercial business.  In a study by Dimensional Research, 88 percent of respondents said they “have been influenced by an online customer service review when making a buying decision.”  Not so good for your bottom line.  Don’t panic just yet, though – a quick response coupled with some TLC (tender loving care) can help turn a negative review into a positive.

A bad review can happen to even the most reliable service businesses, whether it’s from a dissatisfied client (warranted or not) or a sneaky competitor using a fake name.  Monitoring both social media and service review websites helps you gauge customer satisfaction and your reputation.  It also enables you to showcase your company values to the World Wide Web and do damage control if an online user writes a less-than-stellar review.

Below we provide some helpful response tips for maintaining a positive reputation when an unexpected bad review is written for the world to see.

Step 1: Breathe

Your passion as a business owner makes any feedback more personal.  While it’s normal human response to get defensive, staying positive will get you the best outcome.  Remember, “the customer is always right” (even if they’re wrong).

After seeing a nasty review, collect your thoughts first and then respond in a professional way.

Step 2: Show You Care

It’s important to remember that other prospective clients browsing the web will read your reply.  To make a personal connection with the reviewer, send a private message first, if possible, before posting a public reply.  A thoughtful, prompt response communicating a solution to resolve their complaint can restore your reputation.  Offering a refund or discount on their next purchase doesn’t hurt either.

For example, a reviewer complained about a delay in your cleaning or janitorial service.  Although this delay may have been due to an unavoidable situation, such as an unexpected equipment malfunction or bad traffic, this is the chance to highlight your company values, not to backlash.  Your reply could include an acknowledgement of their complaint, a statement that reinforces your company’s commitment to customer satisfaction, and how you will rectify the problem or who to contact for resolution.

Step 3: Take the Good with the Bad, and then Learn from It

Comments about your business on review sites, both positive and negative, can be used to improve your product or service.  Make it a learning experience.  For example, incorporate negative reviews into your employee training with steps to prevent future issues.  Highlight positive reviews to keep up the good work.

Rectifying a negative online review doesn’t end with these steps, however.  If given another chance, make sure the client’s next experience with your business meets or exceeds expectations.  Follow up with them after service to see how it went.  By being responsive and showing you care both online and offline, you can help influence other prospects into becoming clients.

How did you handle a negative online review?





How to Get a Business Insurance Claim Resolved More Efficiently


Get a Business Insurance Claim Resolved More EfficientlyAccording to a recent study by The Hartford, four out of ten small businesses will experience a property or general liability claim within the next ten years.  Knowing which steps to take when an unexpected situation happens, including theft, property damage, and injuries, can save you a lot of headache and time.  To get fair resolution of a claim through a more efficient process, prompt response and preparation are required.

Below we’ve detailed the steps that will help you move along the claims process more smoothly.

Before an Incident

Following a risk management plan, including safety procedures, can help prevent a claim from occurring. However, even the most careful businesses can face loss or damages.  For this, preparation is important to ensure you’ll be covered financially.

  • Review your insurance policies so you know exactly what is covered and if these terms fit your business needs
  • In case of a claim, store your insurance policy, including policy number and expiration date, and the contact information of your insurance provider in a safe place

Reporting a Claim

Failure to report theft, property damage, injuries, or other incidents right away drags out the claims process and, if evidence is lost, could compromise how much you’re covered financially.

  • Contact law enforcement to file a police report and request a copy of the report
  • Contact your insurance company to have a claim filed immediately
  • Have a surveillance camera or digital camera readily available for documenting evidence to support your claim
  • Make a list of any stolen or damaged items for your insurance company
  • For any damages, get multiple estimates for repair costs and confirm with your insurance provider when repairs can be made

After a Claim is Filed

Save all copies of the evidence, police reports, and claim information.  When you can, communicate in writing for documentation.  After the claim is filed, there are more steps that may need to be taken to get fair resolution.

  • If you have a business interruption insurance policy, document the length of time your operations are shut down (e.g., from building fire damage) and income lost during that time period for later compensation
  • Ask your insurance provider for a cash advancement if money is needed to get your operations running again before the claim is settled
  • Follow up routinely with your insurance provider to keep track of progress

At NIP Group, our dedicated claims expert reviews each claim routinely to ensure they are being handled properly and promptly.  Through a customer-focused network, we’ll update you about the status of a claim, assist you with loss control, and work directly with the carrier to get you fair and fast resolution.

To get comprehensive coverage specific to your business risks and responsive claims handling support, check out NIP Group’s commercial insurance programs by visiting http://www.nipgroup.com/programs/.

Related Articles:

Will Your Insurance Carrier Be Able to Pay Your Claim?  Here’s One Way to Tell




5 Ways to Save Money on Your Business Insurance Bill

Save Money on Business Insurance

A few simple and quick actions could put more money into your business.  The components that influence the cost of your insurance bill, including your business risks and coverage selection, can be controlled to lower your premium without compromising the quality of your coverage.  With a lower premium to pay each year, there’s more money for you to continue growing your business.

Here are five simple ways to save money on your insurance bill without sacrificing coverage:

1. Implement Safety and Loss Reduction Practices

Control workplace hazards and maintain the working condition of your commercial equipment and vehicles to keep your insurance premium low (and avoid injuries).  With a lower risk of a claim, the lower your premium will likely be (see item #3).

2. Bundle Your Policies with One Carrier

Bundling multiple lines of insurance coverage through one carrier usually comes at a lower cost than purchasing each policy individually through various carriers.  A Business Owners Policy (BOP), for example, can benefit small and medium-sized businesses because it packages major liability and property risks into one insurance plan for a lower premium.

3. Ask About a Claims-Free Discount  

Your carrier may reward you with a discount on your insurance plan if your business hasn’t had a claim in years.  To get this cost benefit, avoid filing small claims that can be paid out of pocket.

4. Increase Your Deductible

A higher deductible can lower the premium you pay annually.  It’s always good to have money set aside, however, in case an unexpected claim does occur.

5. Talk to Your Insurance Broker 

Choose a knowledgeable agent that can help you get the best coverage for you and your business.  Your broker can answer questions about different coverage options and available discounts.

Following these five tips can help you save money to continue growing your business.  At NIP Group, we get businesses custom-tailored insurance coverage at a competitive premium rate to better fit your operational and financial needs.  Visit nipgroup.com/programs or contact your broker to find out how you can save money without compromising the quality of your insurance coverage through NIP Group.




Dog Bite Prevention Week


Dog Bite Prevention Week

Dog bites are a dangerous risk faced by veterinarians, their staff, and owners every day. Veterinarians play an important role in their own safety, the safety of their staff and clients, and the welfare of the dogs presented for care. However, while the risk of dog bites is high in veterinary practice, it is often dismissed as an expected aspect of the job. When implementing safety measures, these measures not only include the veterinarian and veterinary staff, but also the owner and other clients and patients in the clinic and its surrounding facilities, such as the parking lot.

Did you know there are 4.5 million dog bites reported every year in the United States? Even the nicest dogs can bite, making it particularly important for dog handlers to be aware of dog biting prevention techniques. Before learning these techniques, it’s important to first understand the motive behind their biting triggers.

Preventing injuries can only happen if the causes and contexts of biting are considered. By nature of clinical practice, we restrain, palpate, poke, and perform procedures that trigger fear and sometimes pain in our patients. Escape is impossible, so biting becomes a practical defense for some animals.

Biting triggers may include:

  • Feels Frightened. Dogs that have been in a veterinary setting previously may have developed fear from the experience. Classical conditioning (think of Pavlov and his bell) often occurs; white coats, the smell of disinfectant, stethoscopes, and other innocuous stimuli become aversive or predict the possibility of an aversive event.
  • Feeling Trapped. In many veterinary hospitals, the examination room is often a small space with only 1 access door. In addition, typically the dog and owner are the first to enter and wait. Defensiveness and anxiety can occur when the pet feels that there is no escape.
  • Injured or Sick. Hip dysplasia, severe otitis, or any chronic injury can cause even the friendliest dog to bite.
  • Bites by Accident. The dog may not have learned bite inhibition.
  • Overly Excited. This likely stems from boredom or lack of stimulation. Redirect the dog’s high energy to keep it occupied and away from biting.
  •  Views You as Prey. This may occur when a person runs or screams while moving past the dog.

All dog bites can be prevented. With a better understanding of their behavior, you can employ techniques to reduce the likelihood of a dog biting you or someone else. Here are some prevention tips:

  1. Read Body Language. Pay attention to the dog’s body language for signs that it may be fearful, anxious, or ready to bite.
  2. Adjust Entry/Exit and Schedules. For dogs that may be potentially fearful or reactive, provide separate waiting and/or entry areas or schedule them for the first or last appointments of the day.
  3. Let the Dog Be Last. Allow the dog and owner to be the last individuals to enter the examination room.
  4. Postpone Greeting the Patient. Do not rush to greet the patient; instead, give the dog some time to decide about interacting and respect the dog’s space until the physical examination.
  5. Approach Sideways. Have the owner bring the dog to the center of the room and approach the dog from the side instead of the front.
  6. Feed Tidbits. Use food liberally throughout the visit to create a positive experience for the dog.
  7. Make Use of Muzzles. Use a basket-style muzzle on any dog with a history of biting.
  8. Write it All Down. Keep a medical record for each patient that includes a behavior score as well as specific information about the dog’s behavior.
  9. Protect the Client. Educate the client about safely medicating the dog at home or have the client board bring the dog to the clinic for medication administration.
  10. Keep Patients Happy. Make every effort to ensure that the dog’s visit to the clinic is as positive as possible; allow the pet to learn that visits include delicious food, consistent routine, and gentle handling.

Before a dog bite occurs in the workplace, make sure your business has insurance coverage specific to your unique risks. NIP Group provides a comprehensive PetPro insurance program and claims handling support that protects professionals who make a positive impact on the lives of animals every day.

To learn how PetPro insurance program can protect your animal care business from significant financial loss, visit us online at http://www.nipgroup.com/programs/petpro/.

Info from: http://www.doggonesafe.com/why_dogs_bite and http://www.floridapeninsula.com/blog/post/May-17-23-is-Dog-Bite-Prevention-Week.aspx

Protecting Your Pet Service Business in 3 Easy Steps

iStock_000013258038XSmallPet Pro is truly a program like no other. We exclusively serve pet care specialists, such as veterinarians, adoption organizations, shelters, pet trainers, animal hospitals, groomers, and many more. We know how hard it can be to find the right coverage for your business, but at PetPro, you come first. The risks in the pet care industry are abundant and widespread, and generic coverage is inadequate. To help protect you and your business, here are three easy steps that you can take!

1. Make Sure All Employees Have the Proper Education/Training:
The best way to reduce liability is to ensure that both you and your employees are up to date on all techniques and procedures. Different pet professionals require different levels of certification, so make sure all records are recent.

2. Keep Detailed Records:
With pets, there is usually a lot of information to keep track of. By ensuring that all information is not only documented, but backed up as well, could help prevent errors. Basic information about the pet, for example date of birth, breed, color, and health history should also be on record to prevent errors. Also be sure to list all veterinarian contact information, in case of an emergency, as well as all client contact information. This includes an address, an email, a phone number, and an emergency contact number. Daily care sheets are also a good idea, to ensure you are feeding, exercising, and medicating (if necessary) the animal properly.

3. Get a Signed Contract:
A clear and detailed contract between you and the client is one of the most efficient ways to mitigate the risks of your business. A contract should clearly state an outline of provided services, pricing, payment options, cancellation policies, and damages. Make sure each new client signs the contract before you begin any work on the pet. Contracts help manage a client’s expectations and can prevent misunderstandings.

Info from: http://petservices.insureon.com/small-business-insurance/ways-to-protect/166

Reducing Veterinarian Risk: Handling, Lifting, and Restraining Dogs

A large part of the day-to-day business of a veterinary hospital is the physical handling of dogs. These animals may be calm and docile, or they may be angry and irritated. In either case, the level of risk is high and the opportunity for an accident that leaves the veterinarian opened to litigation is always present. This is why it is so important to train staff on the proper way to handle animals that are brought into the hospital. The entire humane handling process requires an appraisal of each animal’s behavior, an adequate number of properly trained staff, an appropriate choice of location for the procedures, and proper equipment that is readily available

Always observe the animal behavior before approaching and get their attention by calling the pet by name and encouraging him to come to you. If the animal does not come to you, slowly approach him from the front. Approaching the animal from behind can cause the animal to be surprised and raise the chances of an accident occurring. If the owner is holding the pet, let them place the animal down on the table, instead of taking the pet from the owner’s arms. Otherwise, the animal may become protective of the owner when you reach out to them.

To lift a dog from the floor to the examination table, put one arm in front of the animal’s chest and the other behind the rear legs or under the stomach and lift in a scooping motion. A larger dog may require 2 people to lift with one person lifting behind the front legs and the other under the stomach.

When it is determined that restraint is necessary, always remember that less is more. Excessive restraint may cause the animal to become irritated, aggressive, and/or uncooperative. The least amount of restraint needed to allow the Vet to do their job should be applied. Talk to the dog in a soft, soothing tone. The owner can be within sight of the animal and talk to it try to calm it down but should NEVER be the one to restrain the animal. This would leave the business opened to serious lawsuits if an accident were to happen. If the animal attempts to bite or has a history of biting, than the use of a muzzle is necessary.


Proper handling, lifting and restraint of dogs during a physical examination will lead to happier customers and a lower chance of a claim being filed against a Vet. But even with a well trained staff and a properly equipped facility at a veterinarian’s disposal, claims can still be filed against a business owner. In this event, veterinarians deserve to have a defense with their needs in mind through a coverage program like PetPro.

For more information about pet care insurance and risk management, visit PetPro.

TMPAA Announces 2013 "Program Marketing Campaign" Award Winners

Three Member Agencies Score Highest in Competition Co-Sponsored by the IMCA

Wilmington, DE — The Target Markets Program Administrators Association (TMPAA) announced at their Mid Year Meeting in Baltimore that 20 entries were received for the third annual marketing campaign competition. TMPAA’s co-sponsor, the Insurance Marketing & Communications Association (IMCA) has sponsored its own marketing and communications “Showcase Awards” for 55 years. IMCA provided a panel of independent judges that reviewed all TMPAA member entries for both creative design and marketplace impact.

The winning member agencies were Venture Insurance Programs from West Chester, PA, K&B Underwriters from Reston, VA and MiniCo Insurance Agency from Phoenix, AZ. Venture’s entry was for its “Suite Life” campaign in support of its hospitality program. K&B Underwriters’ entry featured its multi-media campaign in support of its “DigniCARE” senior living facilities program. And MiniCo’s entry was the launch of its new “Family of Products” campaign featuring a branded icon supporting four of its specialty insurance programs. All three Award of Excellence winners supported their entries with impressive marketplace metrics that achieved desired upfront marketing objectives.

David Springer, TMPAA President, presented the winning award plaques at the recent Mid Year Meeting. The semi-annual association meeting attracted 600 agency, carrier and vendor members. Springer commented, “The TMPAA was thrilled to continue the creative competition in partnership with IMCA. We hope to have even more entries in 2014.”

Additionally, Springer announced that two other member agencies were named runners up in this year’s competition – GMI Insurance from Valley Forge, PA and Willis Programs of Portsmouth, NH.

The Association’s recent Mid Year Meeting was held in Baltimore, MD, May 6-9. Complete details of this event are now on the TMPAA website. The 13th Annual TMPAA Summit is scheduled for October 21-23 in Scottsdale, AZ.

Program Administrators / MGA’s interested in learning more about the TMPAA and the Program Marketing Awards can visit the Association website at www.targetmarkets.com, or contact Ray Scotto, Executive Director, at (877) 347-5700 or ray.scotto@targetmkts.com.

Challenges Facing Pet Care Professionals

Pet CarePet care professionals face unique challenges finding the right coverage for their businesses. The generic products are simply inadequate for them. The industry is evolving and businesses are converging, creating hybrids that offer multiple services.

Liability is also not necessarily limited to the market value of a companion pet anymore. In fact, in a groundbreaking court ruling in November 2011, the 2nd Court of Appeals in Fort Worth ruled that a pet’s value is greater than its price tag. In doing so, the court overruled a 120-year-old case in which the Texas Supreme Court had ruled that pet owners could recover only the market value of their pets. And while this ruling is being appealed, it clearly illustrates the depth of emotional attachment that owners have for their companion pets.

Businesses offering multiple services require specialized coverages and knowledgeable underwriting. These businesses are unique and require specialized coverages to avoid coverage gaps. This is especially true in the pet care industry where the risks are abundant and widespread. For instance:

  • Veterinarians – Does their professional liability have consent to settle language? Is their specialized equipment covered?
  • SPCAs – Are volunteers covered under the GL? Are fosters covered? What about off-site events like adoptions or fundraising community activities?
  • Boarding Facilities – Is their fencing covered? What about veterinary bills for animals injured while under their care?
  • Pet Sitters – Will they be covered if a dog escapes? Will they be reimbursed for lock and key replacement?

The biggest challenge facing the pet care industry is the wide array of coverages they need in order to make sure they’re adequately protected. General small business policies are just not going to cut it if a pet care specialist is seeking a complete coverage solution; and coverage gaps are most likely going to be an issue down the road.

For more information about pet care insurance and risk management, visit PetPro.

Veterinary Response in the Wake of Fertilizer Explosion

In the wake of disasters, such as the fertilizer facility explosion in West, TX on April 17, 2013, it is not uncommon for veterinary teams to get deployed just as EMTs and paramedics would get deployed. Many animals were injured in the Texas explosion a couple of weeks ago, prompting the response of veterinary teams to the field.

According to DVM360, the Texas A&M Veterinary Emergency Team (VET), was deployed at 3:30am on Thursday, April 18; not very long after the explosion had taken place.

This represents an extremely unique risk for veterinarians. Heading out into the field where an explosion of a facility containing dangerous chemicals just took place comes with exposures that vets just will not see on a daily basis.

There were many dangers present when the veterinary team embarked out to the site of the explosion:

The threat of chemical exposure, specifically anhydrous ammonia, is still being managed.

Stationed several blocks from where the fertilizer facility still smolders, glass is out, doors are blown in, structures crippled on the ground. The structural damage to homes around the blast site left many residents and pets homeless.


The above quote was taken from a Veterinarian, Wesley Bissett, who was at the scene. From the quote it is easy to tell how dangerous of a situation his team was in: chemical exposure, broken glass, busted down doors, crippled structures, and so on.

The moral of this story is that veterinarians can be called upon at any time to the scene of a disaster; and this should always be a factor when providing insurance coverage. Should an accident happen and a vet gets injured at the scene, coverage needs to be provided.

For more information on veterinary insurance and risk management, visit PetPro.

The Sentimental Value of Pets

A recent case in a Texas appeals court has bubbled up many questions about how we view our companion pets, both personally and legally. For years and years, pets have been viewed as property; no different than a car or piece of equipment. Typically, the legal action for damaged property amounts to reimbursement for the market value of said property.

Pets are walking a fine line between owned property and being members of a family. The main difference between the two is that once pets breech the line of no longer being just property, pain and suffering losses come into play. This can push the litigation costs for the practitioners and pet care associates way beyond the market value of the pet.

A real life example of the difference would be:

Situation 1:
Your car is at the shop and the mechanic’s negligence damages the car further. In a lawsuit, the mechanic would be made to pay for the market value of the replacement parts and the labor to install it.

Situation 2:
A pedestrian is hit by a passing car and ends up hospitalized for a few weeks. The driver is liable for the medical bills, but should the pedestrian choose to, they can also go after the driver for pain and suffering (the legal term for physical and emotional stress caused by injury).

It is easy to see the difference between these two situations. Situation 1 illustrates property being damaged and paid for at the cost of the negligent party. Situation 2 illustrates the costs of the victim being covered (the medical bills) but also the pain and suffering of the victim due to the injuries imposed.

Pets walk the line between being just property and being a living entity that can suffer due to the negligence of a pet care professional. History shows that courts have been treating pets as property for years; but as of late, more and more cases are considering pets to be members of the family and plaintiffs are being awarded for emotional damages.

Pets being considered family members is a huge game changer for those who practice in the pet care industry. Malpractice cases will begin to have the potential to reach much higher payouts to the party who is suing the pet professional. It represents a major new risk to all pet care professionals and they should definitely begin to consider specialized insurance coverage to avoid detrimental coverage gaps.

For more information on pet professional insurance and risk management, visit PetPro.