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Which of these factors will reduce my Commercial insurance premiums?

Do you know the in’s and out’s of commercial insurance? Test your premium knowledge by taking the quiz below!

Which of these will reduce my Commercial insurance premiums?

Need some more help after taking that quiz? Read more about the four types of insurance you should have for your business here!

Hiring in California: How to Reduce Your Risk

Hiring new employers can be risky for company culture and the bottom line. 

Since new employees are hard to come by, sometimes the decision to hire is rushed and there can be increased risks involved with the hiring process. 

Even Brenda Jo Robyn, founder of Competitive Edge Insurance, screens employees pre-hire on Motor Vehicle Records (MVRs). This checks if they have a clean record and can they legally drive for your company, which ultimately will help with company rates. 

Screening Employees

Who you work with matters.

On one hand, creating a positive company culture will benefit your employees and overall employee retention, which reduces financial and social risk. One way to create this company culture concerns how you screen potential employees in order to avoid a toxic environment. 

A DMV screen costs 60 dollars and has proved to be worth the extra step. This DMV screen includes a general background check and driver’s license check. 

It’s important to require DMV screens every year. This can save your company a lot of time and money in the long run by retaining the right employees. 

Lastly, if your employee is driving on company time, it is important to make sure that the employee has their own car insurance.

Intellectual Property

In California, your client list can be considered intellectual property. In each employee offer letter, however, it’s crucial to have a separate section outlining that all clients will stay connected with the company if they were to leave. 

If you have failed to do so already, you might consider reaching out to current employees and stating the new company policy. 

Physical Space

The separation of class (for example, warehouse space vs. office space) for employees might take a couple of extra steps as a business owner but will reduce risk when hiring new employees. The separation between the physical warehouse and office space is the main separation to be considered as a business owner.

There are regulations for how the space is separated. For example, for some, areas being separated by chain link is considered acceptable. 

Invest in EPLI

The Employer’s Professional Liability, also known as EPLI, causes different claims to arise from employees. There are a few ways to protect your business from a flood of EPLI claims. Employee lawsuits are rising and in return, settlements are becoming even more expensive. Although there are different types of insurance, workers’ compensation and EPLI are both ways to reduce risk with employee benefit plans. 

EPLI is crucial to invest in as a company if it comes to a disgruntled employee—even if you are a small business. In the chance that your company gets sued, your EPLI insurance will cover it.

High-Risk Coverage

High-risk insurance addresses companies whose coverage was either terminated because of a claim, those who are new and cannot get coverage because of industry risk, or those who have experienced drops in revenue or industry disruption such that carriers are broadly refusing coverage. 

You might be wondering, what risk class am I in? Luckily, there are various ways to determine this subgroup:

“An insurance risk class is a way for insurers to underwrite policies based on one’s belonging to a particular risk group.

People in each risk group will generally share similar characteristics that help insurers better estimate the chances that the policyholder will file a claim

Riskier risk groups will pay higher premiums—for example, people who are sick, older, or have a poor driving record.” 

As a business owner, it is important to put the gates, systems, and processes in place to protect yourself, and Competitive Edge is here to help! 

We follow the practices we write about because we believe in the importance of preventative risk. For those who are interested in reading more about what classifies as high risk, read on.

What Classifies High Risk?

At Competitive Edge, we specialize in high-risk insurance. We often get the question, “What is high-risk insurance, and how do I know if I need it?”

Well, the answer is, if you’re a small business owner, general contractor, or even car owner, you likely need high-risk insurance. Depending on the industry you’re in, however, it can be difficult to fund coverage or losses. 

There are a couple of ways to identify what classifies high-risk insurance. 

Risk Class

Investopedia defines risk class as, “A group of individuals or companies that have similar characteristics, which are used to determine the risk associated with underwriting a new policy and the premium that should be charged for coverage.” 

There are some main points that are needed to understand the risk that is associated with coverage: 

  • “An insurance risk class is a way for insurers to underwrite policies based on one’s belonging to a particular risk group.
  • People in each risk group will generally share similar characteristics that help insurers better estimate the chances that the policyholder will file a claim
  • Riskier risk groups will pay higher premiums—for example, people who are sick, older, or have a poor driving record.” 

Once you determine if you qualify for high-risk insurance, there are additional factors that will determine your premium. These might include: 

  • Age
  • Amount of coverage
  • Number of years the coverage is guaranteed
  • Risk class
  • And more!

Additional Classifications

One example of a scenario of hard-to-place insurance is from our very own founder, Brenda Jo Robyn of Competitive Edge Insurance. Brenda Jo had to pay an extra $15,000 in order to get her directors on board for her project.

If you have had excessive losses, shock loss, or are a startup (tech and service), it can be challenging to get professional liability coverage. There are, in fact, some extreme costs associated with high-risk coverage.

So, even the professionals have dealt with the difficulties and hoops that surround high-risk insurance (trust us, we get how frustrating it can be to navigate). That’s also why we’re here to help! 

Contact Us Today! 

Competitive Edge Insurance can help you perform a comprehensive review of all your risk exposure. 

Reach out today for more information from our experts on high-risk insurance! 

BEWARE: Workers’ Comp Insurance for Independent Contractors

As you may know, most states require employers to have workers’ compensation insurance. These insurance policies can help recover most of your employee’s lost wages while they recover from a work-related injury or illness.

It also helps to cover your employee’s medical expenses as it provides their family with death benefits if they, unfortunately, pass away.

What is Workers’ Compensation Insurance?

Workers’ compensation insurance are policies that provide medical benefits and wage compensation to workers injured on the job, in exchange for eliminating their right to file a lawsuit against their employer’s negligence.

Workers’ compensation benefits are designed to help employees if they are unable to work, cover medical expenses, as well as other expenses and rehabilitation costs associated with disability or illness. As you look to explore workers’ compensation options, it’s important to look for one that provides adequate coverage and compensation for your employees.

When you invest in a properly designed policy, it ensures you and your employees remain financially secure. It’s also important to look at the specific benefits that are offered within your policy. Typical workers’ compensation insurance policies cover medical benefits.

What is Covered with Workers’ Compensation Insurance?

Specific workers’ compensation laws vary depending on your state; however, the most common compensation states that require workplace injury insurance include the following:

  • Payment for lost wages
  • Vocational rehabilitation
  • Permanent disability
  • Temporary disability
  • Medical costs and treatment 

How to Prepare for Employee Claims

Accidents happen. It’s part of life. It doesn’t matter how safe your business is, there’s always the chance an employee will get sick or injured on the job. For this reason, nearly every state requires business owners to have coverage for their employees. Different states, however, have various regulations. 

Ensure you have an expert on your team to help understand what your specific business needs are. For example, if your business is in California, you are required to obtain workers’ compensation insurance even if your business is as small as just one employee. In Florida, however, you need this coverage if you have at least four employees. 

Signing up for workers’ compensation depends on the location of your business. Typically, states recommend you purchase workers’ compensation insurance through a private insurance company, while others may require you to buy it through a state-run insurance fund.

It’s also important to understand the cost associated with investing in workers’ compensation insurance. The risk associated with your specific business will determine the cost of your insurance payments. This all sounds pricey, but remember: the costs associated with not having workers’ compensation insurance might be the motivation you need to start considering your options.

Without workers’ compensation insurance, you put yourself and your business at risk of fines, and could even face potential jail time for not complying with regulations. If an employee runs into a problem that would have been covered by workers’ compensation insurance, you may be responsible for covering their expenses, and you may also open yourself up to litigation.

What You Need to Know About Workers’ Compensation as an Independent Contractor

Every contractor needs general liability insurance. While the law does not require it, it is considered best practice to ensure against the kinds of injuries and lawsuits general liability is targeted to.

Large contractors may own commercial buildings that require property insurance, where smaller contractors or those with a specialty may need different coverage. 

At Competitive Edge, we don’t claim to know your needs until we talk to you. What’s right for one company may not be a choice that meets your needs. Even if you have suffered a shock loss, large claim, or lawsuit, and find that your options have narrowed, we can work with you.

The first step is to show us under the hood so we can help you find the right carrier and coverage to protect your business today and always. Contact Competitive Edge Insurance today for more information about high-risk coverage today!

The Key Differences between General Contractors and Construction Managers

Hard to place insurance is not impossible to place. 

Although being a General Contractor (GC) and Construction Manager (CM) may sound like the same type of position, the difference is often overlooked in the industry. The difference between positions equates to a difference between the type of construction insurance needed.

General Contractor

A General Contractor “agrees to build the entire project—they’re the party ultimately responsible for the timely and proper performance of the work for a set price.”

The general contractor isn’t doing the manual labor at the job site, but instead managing the subcontractors who do.

In terms of insurance as a general contractor, general liability insurance is the type of high-risk coverage you should be looking toward. With construction coverage, there are specific risks to be made aware of, including: 

  • Canceled or non-renewed insurance coverage
  • Repeated rejection from multiple carriers within a short time period
  • Shock losses
  • The high volume of small claims
  • High risk of property damage, illness, injury, or death

Construction Manager

On the other hand, a Construction Manager, “is a consultant hired by a developer or property owner to manage and oversee the performance of contractors that they’ve hired. The developer, owner, etc. hire each of these contractors directly.”

When you’re a construction manager, the type of insurance that will give you the best coverage is professional liability insurance. 

The main difference between a GC and CM is the legality behind their hiring process, including coverage. The CM is hired, for lack of a better word, as a consultant whereas a GC is given a distinct payment with the job fully in their hands. The construction business needs to be protected with high-risk coverage, and Competitive Edge specialized in construction coverage.

At Competitive Edge Insurance, we work with insurance carriers across the country to place all types of business coverage. We are always seeking out new insurance companies to write hard-to-place and high-risk business insurance.

Don’t let cancellation dissuade you from finding comprehensive coverage. We can help! Learn more by connecting with Competitive Edge Insurance today.

Unique Risks of Cannabis Insurance

The emerging cannabis market has created a new space for industry coverage. There are unique risks that come with cannabis insurance that shouldn’t be overlooked. If you’re wondering the difference between cannabis and hemp insurance, read our article explaining the differences here. But for now, let’s talk about the unique risks of cannabis insurance.

General Risks

Cannabis and CBD products require a custom product liability policy for their manufacturers, retailers, distributors, cultivation, facilities, and more. This coverage applies to any business working to bring a product to market. These custom product liability policies help to defend your company against claims and allegations and to pay damages if your business is found liable if an incident were to occur.

These claims can vary, but some of the most common in the cannabis industry include:

  • Bodily injury or property damage caused by a product misuse
  • Product-related/manufacturing defects that result in some kind of loss
  • Inhaled, edible, and infused products that may have caused illness
  • Faulty/misused equipment (which includes vape cartridges, batteries, and lighters)
  • Marketing/labeling misrepresentations

For these reasons, product liability insurance is essential to your cannabis coverage. Similarly, you may want to consider product recall insurance that would cover the costs of removing a defective product from the market, and further preventing third-party claims. 

Unique Risks

The National Association of Insurance (NAIC) acknowledges that companies might need to reevaluate their coverage when considering cannabis and hemp. With the rising popularity of different forms of cannabis (think edibles), there are mental effects that need to be accounted for with insurance risk.

NAIC claims that products like edibles, “increase the risk of product liability and safety recalls. The psychoactive effects of CBD raise the risk that products may be deemed mislabeled, misrepresented or harmful.”

Young people have shown more interest in illicit drug use in recent years, which could change the insurance services and risks available.

Some other unique risks associated with cannabis coverage to consider: 

  • Cannabis businesses are complex
  • The market is constantly changing
  • Policies are not on the same playing field
  • Vaping products are muddling the market

Carriers have their own best interests at heart and only cover the safest bets to protect themselves. At Competitive Edge Insurance, we build your case with the carrier to ensure that you get the right coverage at the best price based on your real-world conditions. Learn more at our website today! 

What’s happening with EIDL?

Are you like many others received an alarming email from the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL) through the Small Business Administration (SBA)?

As part of the EiDL loan requirements, you are required to have hazard insurance in order to apply for the EIDL loan. The SBA recently sent out an email to all of those who have received the EIDL loan, and they are requiring proof of insurance in order to get your loan forgiven. 

As a business owner, if you do not have hazard insurance, now is the time to get it! Brenda Jo at Competitive Edge has helped many people acquire hazard insurance to ensure they remain compliant with the EIDL requirements. 

Here’s a look at what the email states, and why you might need hazard insurance. 

The email stated: 

“The SBA is launching a new round of Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Advances – called Targeted EIDL Advance – which provides eligible businesses with $10,000 in total grant assistance. If you received the EIDL Advance last year in an amount less than $10,000, you may be eligible to receive the difference up to the full $10,000. The combined amount of the Targeted EIDL Advance and any previously received Advance will not exceed $10,000.” 

Along with additional information claiming that: 

“Businesses eligible for the Targeted EIDL Advance must meet ALL the following eligibility criteria:

  • Located in a low-income community, as defined in section 45D(e) of the Internal Revenue Code. The SBA will map your business address to determine if you are in a low-income community when you submit your Targeted EIDL Advance application.
  • Suffered economic loss greater than 30 percent, as demonstrated by an 8-week period beginning on March 2, 2020, or later, compared to the previous year. You will be required to provide the total amount of monthly gross receipts from January 2019 to the current month-to-date.
  • Must have 300 or fewer employees. Business entities normally eligible for the EIDL program are eligible, including sole proprietors, independent contractors, and private, nonprofit organizations. However, agricultural enterprises, such as farmers and ranchers, are not eligible to receive the Targeted EIDL Advance.” 

The EIDL has said that loans won’t be forgiven unless you have proof of insurance coverage. If you’re looking to check which Covid-19 loans are forgivable, check this list

Why is SBA changing its loan policy?

Lenders and CDCs are required to ensure that all collateral with a recoverable value is adequately insured in order to protect the ability to recover on the SBA loan. Generally, SBA will not require that you pledge collateral to secure a physical disaster home or business loan of $25,000. 

What type of insurance do you need?

Under the requirements for the EIDL, the SBA requires that your business has hazard insurance to cover 80% of the loan amount. Hazard insurance is a term for coverage the may be included within several different types of property coverage. 

If you have any kind of business property insurance, you are probably covered. Commercial property insurance is considered hazard insurance. This coverage protects your company’s physical assets, like buildings, furniture and equipment, supplies, computers, inventory, customer’s goods, signs, fencing, and even lost income from damage or loss. 

The SBA does not allow personal hazard insurance to be considered for loans. Business auto insurance is also not allowable coverage for this requirement. 

Do you have the right coverages and the correct amounts to satisfy your SBA loan? 

The SBA is requiring you to have hazard insurance as a requirement to apply for the EIDL loan. If you received EIDL funds without coverage, you should contact your insurance agent as soon as possible. The SBA requires that at least 80% of your loan amount is covered with hazard insurance. It may be beneficial to have 100% of your business property value covered with hazard insurance. 

There are a few other rules related to the insurance coverage that the SBA has stated:

  • The insurance must be in the name of the business and must show proof of business property.
  • If someone is a sole proprietor, and they have a DBA, the DBA must be on the policy. 

As you look to ensure you provide proof of insurance that is compliant with the SBA’s requirements, reach out to Brenda Jo Robyn at Competitive Edge for all of your insurance needs. 
Please submit the requested documents as soon as possible to complete your file. Talk to Brenda Jo Robyn today for more information!

Payment and Performance Bonds Explained

The two are an odd pairing—unique in their own way but dependent on each other. While payment and performance bonds have their differences, both are essential to protect yourself as an individual or even business owner. Let’s explore the differences.

Payment Bonds

In simple terms, a payment bond enforces that everything must be paid once a project is completed. Payment bonds are also surety bonds and are required for most state projects based on the Miller Act

The Miller Act was passed by the U.S. General Services Administration Public Buildings Service (GSA) with the intention to explain how payment bonds protect subcontractors and suppliers.

The GSA responds to any reports of nonpayment, following the legal action needed and protected by the Miller Act. The GSA states that “the Miller Act requires that prime contractors for the construction, alteration, or repair of Federal buildings furnish a payment bond for contracts in excess of $100,000.” 

Payment bonds additionally play a major role in construction. As an insurance company, we have relationships with carriers who understand the specifics of construction risk and can provide better solutions, better prices, and more comprehensive coverage—even for hard-to-place and high-risk companies.

This is where payment and performance bonds come into play. The reasoning behind payment bonds is protection. Investopedia states that “a payment bond guarantees a party pays all entities, such as subcontractors, suppliers, and laborers, involved in a particular project when the project is completed.”

There are legal consequences to breaking a contract through the Miller Act. The GSA expands on the topic: “Failure by a contractor to pay suppliers and subcontractors gives such suppliers and subcontractors the right to sue the contractor in the U.S. District Court in the name of the United States.” 

Performance Bonds 

The main differentiator between payment and performance bonds is that a performance bond ensures the employer is satisfied with the job. While both are surety bonds, performance bonds can be helpful in industries apart from construction. 

A performance bond, according to Investopedia, “ensures the completion of a project. Setting these two together provides the proper incentives for laborers to provide a quality finish for the client.” 

A performance bond has three parties involved: 

  • The principal is the primary contact in the performance bond and is responsible for performing the contract
  • The obligee is the person receiving the obligation
  • The surety is responsible for making sure each party complies with the performance bond obligations

Surety bonds are a line of credit granted to the principal to reassure the obligee that the principal will fulfill their side of the agreement. 

Often used in contracts where trust or relationships have not yet been established, surety bonds put the company’s financial well-being at risk. In these cases, the hiring entity can request that the contractor be bonded.

Competitive Edge Insurance offers various types of bond coverage. But remember, a surety bond is not an insurance policy. The payment made to the surety company is paying for the bond, however, the principal is still liable for the debt. Learn more about bond coverage by contacting Brenda Jo today.

It’s a Good Time for an Insurance Review!

Maybe you’re thinking, “I’ll review my insurance at the end of the year, along with all my other financial planning.” 

Think again, because right now is a good time for an insurance review!

Why Should I? 

At Competitive Edge Insurance, we believe that you are more than a history of insurance claims. There’s so much more to the story of your business than shock losses and industry pivots. We make sure to learn about your whole business because articulating who you are as more than a series of profit and soss (P&L) statements allows carriers to confidently cover you and your business.

Here are some steps that you as an individual, health and wellness practice, or general contractor can take to review your insurance now.

What Are The Steps?  

One of the first questions to ask yourself is, “What has changed over the past year?” The insurance coverage you have is bound to change based on the previous 12 months. This is even more so given the aftermath of a global pandemic.

Next, one key factor in an insurance review is to consider risk. To successfully mitigate risk, you need to ensure there is a transparent and frequent line of communication between project managers and stakeholders. Stakeholders might include owners, contractors and subcontractors, architects, and so on, depending on your project.

Work in tandem with stakeholders and go down the rabbit hole: What is everything that could potentially go wrong? After going down the rabbit hole, assess the risk. For each potential risk, rate it. On a scale, discuss the impact each risk would have on the project. Then, assign priority to the largest risks.

After evaluating each risk that is currently affecting your coverage, seek more developed opportunities. You may qualify for discounts if circumstances have changed, which is worth looking into. 

How?

Let’s connect! At Competitive Edge Insurance, our team is dedicated to your safety, security, and ongoing success. Our clients stay with us for decades because we have their business’ best interests at heart and the depth of knowledge and experience to protect and insure them no matter what the market conditions.

What You Need to Know About Insuring your Fitness Studio

The health and wellness industry is booming. Over the last few years, there has been a greater demand for health and wellness services beyond traditional medicine. As a fitness center or studio owner, you prioritize the health and wellness of yourself and your patrons. As you look to continue to grow your business, it’s important to also look out for the health and wellness of your business.

Whether your fitness studio focuses on cycling, yoga, martial arts, boxing, or it is a classic space for people to come throw some weight around, you need to ensure your business is protected. Let’s get started!

Insurance Coverage for Fitness Studio Owners

General Liability

General liability coverage is, first and foremost, the coverage you need to cover incidents when your employees, products, or services may be deemed negligent or cause injury or property damage. This coverage protects your fitness business from general claims from patrons when they are on your property.

Professional Liability

This coverage ensures your business remains protected in case of claims against employees who act on your behalf. For example, trainers, physical therapists, or yoga instructors who work in your studio. 

Workers’ Compensation

You should also ensure you have workers’ compensation insurance to cover potential employee injuries while on the job. Some states contain workers’ compensation statutes that cover injury in an employer-sponsored fitness center, therefore it’s important to understand what your state covers. 

Occurrence Coverage

Occurrence coverage covers incidents that have occurred in the past. Within the fitness industry, an example would be a former patron injuring themself on your equipment and issuing a complaint years later.

Business Income & Extra Expense Coverage

Accidents happen, however, if your studio isn’t properly insured, those accidents may turn into something much larger. In the case of fires, floods, or other studio-closing events, you need the coverage to relocate your facility and continue to provide for your members.

Business Personal Property Coverage

Your fitness studio may include additional amenities such as locker rooms, pools, a sports court, and classrooms. These amenities also need coverage in the case of unexpected accidents. 

Equipment Breakdown Coverage

Coverage in the case that equipment breaks is important to have if you own a fitness facility. This coverage protects you and your business from expenses that are incurred due to the breakage of equipment. 

Premises Liability Coverage

This coverage is essential to your fitness studio, as you likely have a high volume of foot traffic. This coverage, however, not only covers potential injury within your facility, but it also covers injury if the patron gets injured on another area of the premises (for example, in the parking lot).

There are a few ways you can begin to mitigate these risks. First, your facility should provide spotters for weight lifting–– especially with free weights. You should also ensure your facility has a well-maintained parking lot and entrances/exits to limit the risk of slips and falls. 

Participant Liability & Accidental Medical Coverage

Not all fitness studios need this coverage. This coverage mainly applies to fitness facilities that sponsor tournaments or supervised competitions. This liability insurance protects from liability claims that are a result of injury during competitions.

What you need to know about employee insurance coverage

As a fitness studio owner, you may decide to hire independent contractors, trainers, physical therapists, or teachers. In doing so, you will need to make sure they have a certificate of insurance with a general liability insurance limit of at least $1 million incidental medical malpractice coverage.

Depending on how you choose to classify your employees, the insurance options may vary. If you choose to classify your employees as W-2, your trainers and other employees will be covered under your business’s liability coverage. 

It’s equally as important to understand when you can classify your workers as 1099 contractors. Many states argue that as a fitness center, you are setting appointments, schedules, and dress codes, which leads to an employee/employer relationship.

As you look to begin your journey in opening your fitness center, you need a partner who is ready and prepared to help you mitigate your risk. Contact Brenda Jo and her team at Competitive Edge to get started!