Business Insurance Tips
• Before speaking with an insurance representative, write down a clear statement of your expectations.
• Do not withhold any important information from your insurance representative about your business and its exposure to loss. Treat the individual as a professional helper.
• Get at least three competitive bids using brokers, direct agents and independent agents. Note the interest that the representative takes in loss prevention and suggestions for specialty coverage.
• Avoid duplication and overlap in policies; you will be paying for insurance you do not need.
• Ask your insurance firm if it's an "admitted insurance company." If so, it should have a solvency fund should a catastrophe put the insurance company in danger of going under. An unadmitted carrier has no such solvency fund.
• The small businessperson should not consider any form of self-insurance. The pool of funds necessary to safely insure losses is extraordinarily large.
• Get your insurance coverage reassessed on an annual basis. As your firm grows, so do your needs and potential liabilities. Underinsurance ranks as a major problem with expanding firms. Get an independent appraiser to value your property; if it has been more than five years since it was last appraised, chance are you're in for a surprise.
• Keep complete records of your insurance policies, premiums paid, itemized losses and loss recoveries. This information will help you get better coverage at lower costs in the future.
• Business Insurance Tips II
• Premiums for fire, casualty and burglary insurance on business property are all deductible for tax purposes as trade or business expenses. If a business taxpayer has a self-insurance plan, however, all payments into the self-insurance reserve will not be tax-deductible for purposes; the actual losses incurred by the taxpayer would be the deductions.
• Premiums for life-insurance are tax-deductible. But premiums paid on a policy covering the life of an officer, employee or other key person are not deductible if the business is a direct or indirect beneficiary under the policy. Premiums paid on a life insurance policy of which the business is a beneficiary are not deductible, since life-insurance proceeds would not have to be included in taxable income when received by the company.
• Virtually all policies require notification of an accident within 24, 48 or 72 hours of the incident. The claim itself does not necessarily have to filed at this time. Failure to report the loss may nullify your right to recovery.
• There must be come proof of loss, though you will have a reasonable period to provide documentation if needed.
• The insurer usually has three options when it comes to fulfilling the terms of a replacement policy: paying cash, repairing the insured item, or replacing the insured item with one of similar quality. Don't hesitate to let the insurer know if you prefer one of these reimbursement methods.
• Disputes regarding the amount of the settlement are put to arbitration. Thus an independent appraiser acts as judge in the conflict Don't hesitate to use this system of resolving differences. If a compromise cannot be found, a lawsuit can be initiated.
Avoid Moving Fraud
While most moving companies are reputable businesses that do quality work, there are some that attempt to take advantage of clients through fraudulent practices. Follow these guidelines to protect yourself against moving fraud:
- Get a written estimate from several movers. Some companies quote a low price to get a contract—and later ask for more money before they remove your belongings from their truck.
- Make sure the mover has insurance and is licensed by the proper authority.
- For moves from one state to another, a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) number is issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). You can search for a registered mover through the FMCSA.
- For moves within a state, requirements vary. Check with your state, county or local consumer affairs agency or your state attorney general.
- Check the mover's record. You can find out the mover's complaint history with local consumer advocacy organizations, such as the Better Business Bureau.
Prevent Identity Theft
Take steps to protect yourself from identity theft:
- Secure your social security number. Don’t carry your social security card in your wallet or write your number on your checks. Only give out your social security number (SSN) when absolutely necessary.
- Don’t respond to unsolicited requests for personal information (your name, birthdate, social security number, or bank account number) by phone, mail, or online.
- Watch out for “shoulder surfers.” Shield the keypad when typing your passwords on computers and at ATMs.
- Collect mail promptly. Ask the post office to put your mail on hold when you are away from home.
- Pay attention to your billing cycles. If bills or financial statements are late, contact the sender.
- Review your receipts. Ask for carbon copies and incorrect charge slips as well. Promptly compare receipts with account statements. Watch for unauthorized transactions.
- Shred receipts, credit offers, account statements, and expired cards, to prevent “dumpster divers” from getting your personal information.
- Store personal information in a safe place at home and at work.
- Install firewalls and virus-detection software on your home computer.
- Create complex passwords that identity thieves cannot guess easily. Change your passwords if a company that you do business with has a breach of its databases
- Order your credit report once a year and review to be certain that it doesn't include accounts that you have not opened. Check it more frequently if you suspect someone has gained access to your account information.
Scam artists in the U.S. and around the world defraud millions of people each year by using the Internet to trick victims into sending money or giving out personal information.
Types of Internet Fraud
Internet crime schemes target victims using various methods:
- Internet auction fraud - This scheme involves the misrepresentation of a product advertised for sale on an Internet auction site, or non-delivery of merchandise.
- Credit card fraud - Through the unauthorized use of a credit or debit card, or card number, scammers fraudulently obtain money or property.
- Investment fraud - This is an offer using false claims to solicit investments or loans, or providing for the purchase, use, or trade of forged or counterfeit securities.
- Nigerian letter or "419" fraud - Named for the violation of Section 419 of the Nigerian Criminal Code, it combines the threat of impersonation fraud with a variation of an advance fee scheme in which a letter, e-mail, or fax is received by the victim.
Tips to Avoid Internet Fraud
Take these measures before entering into transactions over the Internet:
- Know your seller - If you don't know who you're buying from online, do some research.
- Protect your personal information - Don't provide it in response to an e-mail, a pop-up, or a website you've linked to from an e-mail or web page.