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.




April is Safe Digging Month – Tips to Help Your Contractors Control Exposures and Claim Costs

iStock_000013069217_MediumAn underground utility line is damaged every six minutes because someone decided to dig before calling 811. All states have laws that require utilities be pre-located by an appropriate locator service, which can be reached by calling 811 – the national “Call Before You Dig” phone number.
The following steps can help contractors control exposures, avoid losses, or contain losses that do occur:

Take daily photos of the work site

Check utility marks to help ensure all known utilities have been located

In the event a strike does occur, once site safety is established, gather detailed documentation of where the marks were in relation to the excavation; documentation can include photos, diagrams and witness statements

Not collecting these facts immediately could seriously damage your contractor’s defense. The average utility damage claim is approximately $25,000, and as such, implementing an effective incident investigation plan containing the elements above can help you defend your contractor.

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.

Admitted vs. Non-Admitted Carriers

There are both advantages and disadvantages to insuring your clients through non-admitted companies. The greatest advantage is undoubtedly the price, as insurers are allowed more flexibility in setting rates and premiums for non-admitted policies.

That being said, there are major disadvantages to using non-admitted companies that far outweigh the lower premiums:

Classification Limitation Endorsement
This endorsement is designed to only cover the insured for operations specifically described in the description of hazards section of the General Liability policy. Therefore, under this endorsement, the insurer limits its liability coverage to the classifications noted in the policy. The insurer may agree to pay all sums that the insured is legally obligated to pay as damages, but coverage applies only to those occurrences having to do with the classifications named in the policy. This being the case, the designated classification must match the nature of the activity, or the insurer is likely to deny both defense and coverage.

General Liability Is Usually 100% Minimum Earned
In order to be more competitive, markets have occasionally reduced it to 90% or 80%. In other words, the policy may generate additional premium on audit because of an increase in payroll due to more work than projected. However, it will not generate a return premium if the actual payroll is less than what was estimated. This is not a very uncommon turn of events in today’s economic climate.

While you may find your client a cheaper rate with a non-admitted carrier, the coverage can be spotty in certain situations that are quite common. Coverage needs to be closely examined to ensure that there are no gaps that could become problematic in the long run.

For more information, visit NIP Programs.

Fall Protection For Billboard Workers

Billboard workers face dangers day to day in their line of work. Many billboards around the country have workers towering over the ground with a well over 100 foot drops. Injury or death from falling is the greatest exposure billboard companies face in the outdoor advertising line of business.

SignagePro, an insurance program designed for the specific needs of sign, display, and awning manufacturing, installation, and servicing, knows mitigating this exposure should be a top priority for any billboard owning company. Fortunately, there have been astounding improvements in accident prevention relating to workers whose occupation bring them to high places with high risk of falling. Training in fall protection and fall retrieval has been fostered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration since 2003 and has proven beneficial in multiple incidents.

In Stratford, Connecticut on April 21, 2004, two men working on a pair of billboards, 60 feet above the ground, were not harmed when one of the billboard’s supports buckled and the signs toppled to the ground. Both men were wearing harnesses, in accordance with OSHA’s rules, that prevented them from falling from the structure.

On May 25, 2004, a gust of wind sent a man working on a billboard off the sign’s platform in Erie, Pennsylvania. He was wearing a safety harness that prevented him from falling more than 100 feet to the ground. The harness held him in place, 15 feet below the platform, until a bucket truck was able to reach the employee and transport him to the ground.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Fall protection and fall retrieval training kept these workers from serious injury or death. It can happen to any billboard worker at anytime by no fault of their own. Whether it is caused by a support buckling or a gust of wind, falls can be prevented by wearing the right equipment. Any company involved in the servicing of billboards should be employing these fall protection and training practices.

For more information visit SignagePro.

TMPAA Welcomes New President, David Springer

David Springer is the President and CEO of the NIP Group. NIP Group is a specialized business insurance and risk management intermediary ranked among the 100 largest in the United States. NIP Group has more than 150 employees headquartered in Woodbridge, NJ. Prior to joining NIP Group Mr. Springer held senior positions with AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. and Prudential Insurance Company.

I embrace the opportunity to serve as the Association’s 6th President and look forward to driving the TMPAA on its path of growth and expanded services for members of the group. The TMPAA is fortunate to have a wealth of extraordinarily talented members and it is the collective influence of this forward thinking group that drives the innovative spirit to provide even greater benefit to our membership. In the recent past our group has implemented a new Certified Programs Leader Certification in connection with Target University, completed its second annual Program Business Study, and retooled both the Association website and commercial site, “Target Programs.” I expect to be busy in helping to expand the current set of Program resources, and want to thank our outgoing President, Jeremy Hitzig for the tremendous job he has done over the past two years.

– David Springer

Identifying Risk Before Natural Disasters

Severe WeatherAny business that operates out of a facility is at constant risk. Natural disasters, whether it be snow, rain, tornadoes, hurricanes, or even earthquakes, have the potential to disrupt business in very serious ways.

Damage or destruction to a facility can seriously damper, or even out right stop, revenue generating activities such as retail (stores being able to open to public, like a Garden Center), production (facilities being able to produce goods like Greenhouses and Sign Manufacturers), or services (like a Veterinary office or Funeral Home). As anyone can see, disruption of any of these activities can cost a business a lot of revenue.

It is imperative that business owners and their teams try to prevent disruptions in business caused by natural disasters as best as they can. Doing so can effectively mitigate the chances of business being disrupted.

Heather Janoski at Cherry Logistics wrote a great piece on ways to identify risk before a natural disaster strikes. The five points of identity she wrote about are as follows:

1. Identify the Critical Functions of Each Facility
The best way to keep each of your facilities protected from a disaster is to determine in advance the critical function of each facility and the exact utilities which are required in order to keep this function operating. Meet with your teams from each facility to assess what systems failure would completely shut down business, and then identify the tools and utilities that control the system. Facilities managers have little control in general over the utility distribution system outside their facilities, but often these utility loops create redundant systems that can provide a backup during a disaster. Go over your site plans and know how to access these systems. Also, umbrella insurance coverage is helpful in the event that any of your utilities are permanently damaged.

2. Identify Technical Threats
An internal network of computers is what keeps pretty much every modern business running. It’s simultaneously the heart and brain of your business. Prepare for power loss or disruption by having plans in place for a failure of system or application software, or a malfunction of the CPU due to power surge. Have numerous backups in place and make sure they are surge protected in the event of a storm. That last thing you want is to lose data because of weather. Also, give your employees access to two-way radios and cell phones so communication is never lost.

3. Identify Single Point Failures
A key point of risk assessment in construction is keeping track of single-point failures or bottlenecks. These are points along your operations wherein an interruption can stop the flow of business entirely. Identify as many of these bottlenecks as you can and, if possible, eliminate them. If the single-point failure could shut down your company, try and find an alternative method. It’s not always simple, but in a facilities crisis, it’s vital to have options.

4. Identify Structural Weakness
Your facility itself can take immense punishment during a storm or disaster. Go over the exterior of your facility to look for exposed ventilation, damaged or cracked surfaces, and any plants or trees which could damage your facility if they were to fall. Also identify internal structural weaknesses such as supporting walls or pillars. Physical damage to the facility itself is often where recovery costs skyrocket. Risk management courses can also offer many valuable tips in this area.

5. Identify Critical Supplies and Contact Numbers
As a facilities manager, you know what supplies your employees need to do their job and stay protected during a disaster. Make sure all emergency supplies and equipment are accounted for, and take regular inventory to make sure nothing gets lost. Consider that a technical failure can lead to temporary or permanent loss of contact information if backups fail. Be sure to keep a physical record of all your most important numbers.


Following these five important points can be an essential practice in managing the risk of facility damage due to natural disasters and can therefore effectively protect revenue generating activities. With the continued pattern of severe weather, these practices are more imperative than ever.

For more information on risk management, visit:

Health Risks of Xylene: Sign Manufacturing

Sign PrintingXylene is a solvent used in the printing industry as a thinner for paints, inks, and adhesives. It is considered a very hazardous material due to the detrimental health effects it can have on people in both long and short term exposure. Also, it is important for any company using the material to know that it is hazardous both before and after its use.

Xylene has different effects that depend on the exposure intensity and time. Some of the different effects it can have on the human body include:

Eyes, Nose, and Throat
Irritation of the nose and throat can occur at approximately 200 ppm after 3–5 min. Accidental splash in the eye may damage the surface of the eye, which will heal within a few days.

Exposure to xylene at levels of 200 ppm or greater can irritate the lungs, causing chest pain and shortness of breath. Extreme overexposure (e.g., in a confined space) can result in pulmonary edema, a potentially life-threatening condition in which the lungs fill with fluid. However, there is no evidence that repeated, low-level exposure has any long-term effects on the lungs.

Liver and Kidneys
At very high levels of exposure, xylene can injure the liver and kidneys, but this is extremely unlikely to happen without noticeable effects on the nervous system. Generally, such damage is reversible. Low-level occupational exposure does not affect the liver and the kidneys.

There is no evidence that exposure to xylene affects the blood cells in humans. Earlier reports of low red blood cell counts (anemia) may have been due to contamination of xylene with benzene.

Gastrointestinal Tract
Symptoms of nausea, vomiting and gastric discomfort were observed in workers exposed to xylene vapors (unspecified concentration), which were reversible.

Xylene, like other organic solvents, can dissolve the skin’s natural protective oils. Frequent or prolonged skin contact can cause irritation and dermatitis, dryness, flaking and cracking of the skin. Damaged skin may allow greater absorption of chemicals. Xylene easily penetrates most ordinary clothing and can become trapped in ordinary gloves and boots. Xylene trapped in the clothing can cause burns and blistering.


Xylene has different effects on different parts of the body at varied time and intensity of exposures. But it is clear by the information above that Xylene is a dangerous chemical if not handled correctly by display companies who utilize it.

Mitigating this risk is essential to the well-being of employees. The best ways to try and prevent health implications of working with xylene are to have exhaust vents and proper ventilation that can remove the fumes from the area and proper protective equipment on employees working with the chemical. Utilizing these two risk management practices can help lower the likelihood off employees getting sick from xylene exposure.

For more information, visit SignagePro.