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umbrellaIf you already have commercial insurance to cover liability and property damage, you may think you are good to go. However, you should carefully consider whether the payout caps on your regular business insurance policy adequately cover your risks. If you cannot increase your business coverage to a satisfactory amount, commercial umbrella insurance can help you fill the gap.

What Is Commercial Umbrella Insurance?

This type of insurance gives you an extra layer of protection because it pays for expenses that go above your regular liability limits. For example, if your commercial liability limit is $100,000 but you are held responsible for $250,000 in damages, your commercial umbrella insurance can cover the difference, up to your umbrella liability limit.

Extra Layer of Protection

This insurance provides additional coverage above the limits of existing coverage types, including:

  • general liability
  • employer’s liability policies
  • commercial auto

Typically, commercial umbrella insurance pays for legal costs and settlements over and above the amount on your underlying policy. Umbrella insurance is only available if you have regular coverage for the area you want additional coverage for. For example, if you want additional coverage on your commercial fleet, you must first have traditional commercial auto insurance.

Why It's Important

Commercial umbrella insurance safeguards your business assets with extra coverage on policies such as auto, liability and errors and omissions insurance. An umbrella policy is often more affordable than raising the underlying claim limits. In some cases, however, you might also have to carry the highest liability limits available on that policy for it to qualify for umbrella protection in the first place.

Commercial Umbrella Insurance in Action

You can customize your umbrella coverage to cater to your business or industry. The risk you experience may be unique from other businesses. For example, if you own a brewery, you might need additional liquor liability insurance. If you rent boats and jet skis, your umbrella should include additional watercraft liability coverage. Your agent can help you determine if a certain policy qualifies for umbrella coverage.

Read Your Commercial Umbrella Insurance Policy Carefully

Speak with your agent and review your commercial umbrella policy carefully. Look for exclusions that vary from your underlying policies. An umbrella policy may be written with wider exclusions that you may not notice at first glance. For example, the injury exclusion for your basic liability coverage includes an exception for the use of force to protect your property, other people or yourself. The exclusion in the coinciding umbrella policy might not cover these exceptions.

Posted 4:00 PM

car driving down the highwayCommercial auto insurance is one of the most valuable investments a company can make for their asset. It is generally a must-have financial tool. Yet, when you can file a claim depends on a variety of factors. If a fire occurs, the cause of that fire plays an important role in determining if you have coverage for it. Here is a look at when you have coverage.

What Caused the Fire?

Imagine a commercial vehicle catching on fire on a highway. The damage is significant. Your employee may be okay, but the vehicle is a total loss. This is a big loss for most companies. Will your commercial auto insurance help?

That depends on the cause of the fire and the type of coverage you have. Specifically, fires fall under comprehensive auto coverage. Verify that you have this type of non-collision coverage.

Commercial auto insurance never covers neglect of maintenance and upkeep. It does not cover damage brought on by normal wear and tear, either. In other cases, it can help. Here are a few examples:

  • The vehicle’s electrical system catches on fire. There’s no known reason for this to happen in terms of maintenance.
  • Lightning strikes the vehicle during a storm. It creates an instant fire and damage to the vehicle. If you have comprehensive coverage, it may cover these losses.
  • A fire occurs as a result of an act of vandalism. Coverage generally applies in this situation.

What happens if the engine’s overall health was the cause of the fire? In this case, the commercial auto insurance may deny a claim. It may not cover any instance in which the cause was due to poor upkeep.

What happens if your driver is in an accident that causes a fire? In this case, several things can happen. If your driver caused the accident, your policy may help cover the losses. This is the case if you have collision insurance. There are limits here (such as the employee’s action and use of the car). If the other driver caused the accident, that driver’s liability insurance should provide financial compensation.

What to Do if an Incident Occurs

If there is such an incident, call the police. Get help immediately. Then, call your business insurance agent. Discuss what happened, why, and what claim options are available. Your agent will need information about the fire to file the claim.

Posted 5:58 PM

hard hatWorkers’ compensation insurance protects your employees from financial loss due to injuries occurring at work. You know the value of having this coverage. Yet, there can be some gray areas to consider when it comes to defining who has coverage. State laws differ in some areas, so it is important to verify information with your agent. These guidelines can give you a place to start, though.

Who is Your Employee?

An employee is a person who works for your business. It seems like a straightforward question, but there are some areas that can be confusing.

Generally speaking, your state’s laws determine who an employee is. Most of the time, they will include:

• Those who work for you daily

• Leased employees

• Part-time employees

• Unpaid volunteers

• Borrowed employees

• Any type of day labor

In some situations, subcontractors may fall in this area, too. This is less common.

If you have an employee with a unique situation, be sure to talk to your workers’ compensation insurance agent about this employee, including what he or she does and how they work for you.

There Are Some Exceptions

Some states have exceptions in place for covering employees for workers’ compensation. For example, most states will state that independent contractors – those that you do not file taxes for—have no coverage under this policy.

Some states also limit some categories of workers from eligibility. This may include seasonal employees or domestic employees, for example. In some areas, agricultural workers may have less protection. This is only possible when the state’s laws allow for it. Other states only require businesses with certain numbers of employees (say five or more) to buy coverage.

Why It Is Best to Cover Them

If you have someone working for you, but you are not sure if they qualify for workers’ compensation insurance, talk to your agent about it. Discuss what your needs and concerns are. If the employee could have coverage, and has a claim to file, doing so may be a good thing. By providing your employees with access to coverage, you ensure they get the care they need. This may help you avoid a lawsuit. It can also help you reduce risks associated with losing the employee to a company with more protections.

There are limits in every situation. And, the terms of your workers’ compensation policy can play a role in this, too. It’s important to speak to your business insurance agent about any concerns you have about proper coverage for your team.

Posted 9:00 PM

insruance policy papersA lot of things about running your business have to do with upkeep, both on the building’s interior and exterior. One of your most-important assets likely is the building’s exterior signage. After all, it is an important part of your advertising and marketing strategies. If something were to damage your company signs, would you have help available?

In many cases, a business owners policy (a BOP) would help you cover the costs related to your damaged signage. However, talk to your agent about the exact types of signs you have, and where they are located. They can then better ensure that you receive the right coverage.

Signs on Business Properties

a variety of signs throughout businesses.

· Multiple types of signs within the building can help with advertising, decoration or safety instruction.

· Signs can attach to the outside of the building as a type of attraction or advertising scheme.

· Many businesses place signs near the street. These might be elevated signs, or ground-level signs. Some might be lighted.

Regardless of where you place the business’s signs, they will all face risks of damage or losses. A fire might damage the signs inside or on your building. A severe storm might blow over detached signs, or cause signs attached to the building to topple. Detached signs might even fall victim to damage if a car hits them.

BOP Property Insurance

The good news is that in many cases, BOP coverage can help you pay for the damage to your signage. Most BOPs contain property insurance, which will cover damage to your commercial property in cases of unavoidable or unanticipated damage.

So, if a fire were to occur, damaging one of the signs, then BOP coverage could help you pay for the repairs or replacement of the item. When it comes to signs attached to the building, then your regular property coverage will likely apply to the value of the items, up to a certain limit.

When it comes to detached signage, you might need to tell your agent that these assets exist on the property. In some cases, you might need to add outdoor signs coverage to the policy to help apply to damage to these items.

Keep in mind, sign damage will likely only have assistance from your insurance in cases of covered damage. A covered loss might be anything from a fire, to theft, vandalism or severe weather. Simple neglect or wear and tear to the sign won’t have coverage. Contact us now for more information on signage insurance for commercial properties.

risk management tableThe general liability insurance policy you have for your company provides financial protection for many risks. Among them is the risk of customers or other people falling on your property. When this happens, you may be responsible for paying for the losses an individual suffers. To avoid this, it is best to have a comprehensive liability policy in place. However, its important to know how to prevent fall risks. Here’s some insight to get you started.

First, Understand Your Coverage

In nearly all situations, general liability insurance provides coverage for instances in which a person falls on your property, and you are responsible for their injury.

There are many restrictions on this, however. For example, it covers only those who do not work for you who suffer a fall that you might have otherwise been able to prevent. As a result of this, it becomes critical for you to know how to prevent these types of occurrences. They can help you avoid a lot of legal risks.

Preventing Risk Factors at Your Business

It is not possible to avoid all types of risks associated with falls. In many situations, falls are going to happen because accidents occur. However, these tips may prevent many of those risks from occurring.

  • Remove clutter. One of the most common causes of injuries like this is clutter. Be sure there is nothing impeding the movement of a person through the location. Signs, items on the floor, spills or even equipment in the way can cause a fall.
  • Improve lighting. If the lighting in an area is low, this can create an increased risk of a fall on your property. Improve both interior and exterior lighting especially in high-risk areas.
  • Avoid providing step stools or other types of equipment that encourage people to climb. Never leave stocking systems out. Avoid allowing any room along shelving in which people can step up onto it.
  • Keep floors dry. Though this can be difficult, it is critical to do what you can to prevent wet floors. And, be sure to use a wet floor sign. Having the sign present limits your liability.
  • Keep steps easy to use. Avoid placing anything on steps. Do not place carpeting on steps either. Be sure that there are handrails in place. Always fix broken steps.
Look at previous claims for general liability insurance. What caused slips or falls previously? Be sure to fix these concerns to eliminate the risk that someone will suffer an injury.

Have more questions about general liability insurance? Contact Insurance Planning Service today to get your questions answered.

Also Read: Five Losses Covered by Commercial Umbrella Insurance

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Lighthouse Group Main Office in Grand Rapids, MI
Mailing Address | P.O. Box 530009, Livonia, MI 48153

Phone: 734.421.9900 | Toll Free: 800.220.5582 | Fax: 734.421.9911

Also serving these Detroit area communities in Michigan: Livonia, Farmington Hills, Ann Arbor, Southfield, Plymouth, Canton, Westland, Northville, Novi, Dearborn, South Lyon & Walled Lake