Even those who rent face risks. A case for renter’s insurance

You finally moved out of your house to a place you now rent. Maybe you are on your own, maybe you moved in with friends. Either way you are on your own.

Have you ever asked yourself if you had to go out today and buy all new clothes and furniture how much it would cost? Look at the clothes in your closet and ask yourself how much you would have to if this building you lived in burnt to the ground how much would you have to pay to replace all of this?

Don’t be surprised if you see numbers of $10,000 or higher.

What would you do if you had to temporarily live somewhere else while the building you live in was being rebuilt after a fire? How much would it cost you to rent another place? If you got a really good deal on rent in your apartment could you afford to live somewhere else with higher rent?

Did you know the average rent for a one bedroom apartment in New Jersey is around $1,200?

If you have a dog and he bites a guest in your apartment, can you afford to pay his medical bills?

Did you know that in 2011 the average dog bite claim was $29,396?

Do you like to use social media to talk about people, products or services? What would you do if you were sued because you said the wrong thing, at the wrong time, to the wrong person/company?

Did you know that a woman in Texas was sued by a local board of education because she posted criticism about them on her blog? The board claimed her blog posts about the board of education were considered libelous statements.

Be honest with yourself. Can you afford to pay out-of-pocket for any of the above?

What if I told you that you could buy an insurance policy that would provide financial protection for you in the cases mentioned above? Would it be worth it for you?

All of the above are real life scenarios and a well- written renter’s insurance policy can provide you with financial protection for a fraction of the cost.

Call, click, or email us for a quote for a renter’s insurance policy. We would love to talk to you about your concerns and craft an insurance policy that will meet your needs.

PEOs and Employment Practices Liability Insurance

Amazing-InsuranceProfessional Employer Organizations (PEOs) are growing, and more small to mid-size businesses are taking advantage of some of the services which help them cut costs.

One of the advantages that PEOs provide is low cost Employment Practices Liability insurance.  The main reason behind the low cost is the buying power the PEO has in the insurance marketplace.  But one has to look at the fine print to see if the coverage provided through the PEO is sufficient to protect your company’s financial statement.

Recently we worked with a company that provides EPLI coverage at an extremely low cost, $34 an employee.  Here is the protection they were giving our customer:

  • Limit of Coverage: $100,000
  • Defense coverage only
  • $2,000 per claim deductible
  • Choice of legal counsel is decided by the PEO
  • Covers current employees only
  • Claims limited to complaints given to the EEOC or the equivalent state agency.

So what are the problems we see with this low cost insurance protection?

  • No coverage for any court awarded judgments or settlements of claims outside of the courts.
  • EPLI claims are only limited to those where an employee filed a complaint through a government agency.  We see claims brought directly against our client’s through a lawyer, especially wage and hour claims.
  • No coverage for claims from former employees who were not enrolled in the PEO.
  • No coverage for claims from 3rd parties like your customers or vendor who claim to be harassed or discriminated by one of your employees.

In a previous post to our blog we talked about what the costs were for an EPLI insurance policy.  In the examples we gave the average cost per employee varied from $89 to $171 and provided the following protection:

  • Limit of coverage: $1,000,000
  • Defense and Damages coverage
  • $2,500 per claim deductible
  • Client chooses which law firm to use from the insurance carrier’s highly experienced team of lawyers
  • Covers current, past, and future employees
  • Claims are not limited to EEOC complaints but from any lawyer.

Having a separate EPLI insurance policy to cover your company, in addition to coverage from the PEO, is a smarter solution that reduces your long term cost of risk.

If you are in a PEO or are contemplating joining one we created a coverage analyzer which will help you gauge the strength and weaknesses of their EPLI insurance policy.  And we are always here to help.  Give us a call at 1-800-272-4RUE or drop us a line here.

Rue Insurance has been recognized by The MIDJersey Chamber of Commerce as this year’s Outstanding Small Business Honoree

Logo for Mid Jersey Chamber of Commerce

 

 

 

The MIDJersey Chamber of Commerce announced the Hall of Fame honorees to be celebrated at the 2014 Annual Dinner scheduled for April 9, 2014.  This is a yearly tradition in which the Chamber recognizes the outstanding achievements of individuals and organizations from across the region.  The honorees for 2014 were selected from a destinguished group of candidates who have made a commendable impact in the community.  This year’s winners include:  Sherise Ritter, the Mercadien Group (Citizen of the Year); The Times of Trenton (Distinguished Corporation of the Year); Rue Insurance (Outstanding Small Business); and the Girl Scouts of Central and Southern New Jersey (Community Impact).

Visit www.2014AnnualDinner.org to reserve your seat, to purchase a congratulatory ad, become a sponsor or to view the other honorees’ profiles.

 

 

What is Wedding Insurance? How much Does it Cost?

What is a wedding?  One modern day educator asked this question and said “Well, Webster’s dictionary describes a wedding as: the process of removing weeds from one’s garden.”  While Professor Homer J. Simpson does not provide an accurate answer we want to dig deeper and ask what is Wedding Insurance, what does it do, and how much does it cost?

Simply put, Wedding Insurance provides financial protection to a couple who are about to experience the most costly and busiest 3 to 5 hours of their lives.

It’s not uncommon for a couple to spend $15,000 or more for a wedding.  You are orchestrating a complex event where multiple parties are involved to do one thing – make your day special and memorable.  For example:

  • You hire a DJ or a band.
  • You rent a hall.
  • You hire a caterer.
  • You hire a photographer.
  • You hire someone to record a video.
  • You hire a limousine.
  • You rent a tuxedo.
  • You buy a wedding gown.
  • You hire a florist.
  • You hire a minister to conduct your ceremony.
  • You hire a musician to perform at your ceremony.
  • You buy rings to be exchanged .
  • You have a rehearsal and rehearsal dinner.

 

So what could possibly go wrong?  Here are some things we have seen couples experience:

  • A week before the event the catering hall has a fire and burns to the ground
  • A destination wedding in Cancun, Mexico was canceled due to a hurricane that hit the resort.
  • The day of the wedding the limo company does not show up
  • The caterer goes out of business and the deposit paid is gone
  • A guest at the wedding breaks a statue at the catering hall.
  • An intoxicated guest leaves the reception, gets behind the wheel of his car, and is involved in an auto accident.  Weeks later the bride and groom receive a lawsuit from a person who was injured by this drunk driver because he drank at their wedding.
  • The priest has a heart attack the morning of the wedding.

A well crafted Wedding Insurance Policy can provide you with protection for certain expenses you incur from an event being canceled, postponed, or moved to another location.  Also liability coverage, including host liquor liability, can be included to protect you from someone who is injured at your event.

You may be wondering why a couple should be concerned about liquor liability.  Most likely the hall or restaurant has their own staff serving the liquor.  Why would the couple be responsible?  Ultimately they may not be responsible, but because it was their event, and they picked the hall or restaurant; they could still be named in a lawsuit and would have to hire a lawyer to defend themselves.  The liquor liability coverage would pay for a lawyer to defend them.

The cost of insurance is small compared to the overall amount you have to spend on the event.  To give you a “rough idea”, for a $25,000 event with 120 guests including liability and liquor liability coverage you will pay around $470.  That’s about 1.9% of the total cost of the event.

Depending on the area of the United States where you are having your event or where you live, the premium and coverages provided may be different or not even available.

Also with any insurance policy there is the fine print.  Some Wedding Insurance policies have sub-limits or restrictions of coverage.  For example, a policy that offers $50,000 of coverage may have a restriction that if wedding rings are lost the most the policy will pay is $2,000.  Some policies have deductibles, others do not. 

If you are buying a policy online you should ask the company to give you information about restrictions and sub-limits so you know what you are buying.  The best option is to get a copy of the actual policy language and read firsthand what kind of coverage is really provided.

Although we at Rue Insurance have a bias…you should call us and talk about this important piece of insurance.  A website isn’t your neighbor, but we are.  You may like us so much that you would want to invite us to your wedding.

Can you be held responsible for serving alcohol at your Super Bowl Party?

It’s Super Bowl weekend!  The world’s largest sporting event will be held in our home state of New Jersey. It’s also one of the biggest events where more people drink and drive.  If you are having a party at your house or apartment and you are serving alcoholic beverages here is some food for thought. 

You probably have heard stories of bars or restaurants that served too much alcohol to a patron.  He then gets into his car, has an accident, and someone is injured or killed.  The bar gets sued because they didn’t cut off the alcohol to their customer and take proper steps so this person did not get behind the wheel of a car.

Did you know that hosts of a private party can also be held responsible for the same thing?

For many years New Jersey has a Social Host Liability Law on the books that will hold a host of a private party responsible.  The law only focuses on drinking and driving.

The law and subsequent court cases give social hosts added responsibility when alcohol is served to guests at their party.  It doesn’t make a difference if the host or guests provided the alcohol, nor does it make a difference if the host or guests served the alcohol.  If the host allows alcohol to be served to a “visibly intoxicated” guest and that guest leaves the party, drives off in his car, and causes an accident the host can be sued.

So what does this have to do with insurance?

Most homeowners and renters insurance policies provide some form of liability protection for Social Host Liquor Liability.  These kind of policies usually have a limit of $100,000 but that may not be enough liability protection.  Usually you can buy up to $500,000 and anything above that is covered under a separate personal umbrella policy.

We do stress that some insurance companies do not cover social liquor liability.  So always take a look at your policy and give us a call (or your agent a call) and we can go over it with you.  By the way, if you are with another agent we do have one question – Why are you with them and not us?

Even if you have liability coverage through your homeowners or renters insurance policy there are steps you can take to help you prevent an accident from happening. 

  1. If you are having a big enough party why not have it at a restaurant, hall, or bar that will serve the alcohol?  The staff who serve alcohol for a living are more in-tuned to people’s drinking habits and the signs of intoxication.
  2. Encourage guests to have a designated driver who is not going to drink.
  3. Always serve food and provide non-alcoholic beverages that can help counter the effects of alcohol.
  4. Do not pressure your guests to drink alcohol.
  5. Set a reasonable cut off time for serving alcohol.  Most restaurants or bars cut off serving alcohol 30 to 60 minutes before they close.  Have non-alcoholic beverages like tea, coffee, water, or soft drinks available.
  6. Call a cab to bring a visibly intoxicated guest home.
  7. Offer them a room or couch to sleep on your place.  (Word of caution: If the person likes you and you don’t like them….pony up the money to pay for a cab.  That cab is the best investment you will ever make).

Want to talk more to us about this?  Give us a call or send us an email.  I you want a quote for a homeowners or renters policy you can get a quote right on our web site!

Remain Vigilant with Your Credit Cards

Mega retailer Target revealed last month the unauthorized access of its customers’ credit card data to hackers. It admitted that approximately 40 million credit and debit card accounts may have been adversely impacted by this breach. This is not the first time hackers have illegally accessed credit card information, and it won’t be the last. So what can you do to reduce the chances that you can become victims of identity theft, particularly when it comes to the wrongful access of their credit card information? Here are some tips from our friends at the International Risk Management Institute Inc which you will find valuable. 

  • Periodically check your credit card statement online to verify that the charges are correct. If you believe a hacker has gained unauthorized access to your credit card, or if you are unsure about a charge, contact your credit card company immediately.
  • Federal law stipulates that a consumer can order a free copy of his or her credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit-reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). If you discover information on your credit report arising from a fraudulent transaction, you should request that the credit-reporting agency immediately delete that information from your credit report file.
  • You can add a fraud alert to your credit report from any of the three credit reporting agencies to help protect your credit information. A fraud alert can make it more difficult for a criminal to get credit in your name since it instructs creditors to follow certain protocols to protect you. Note that you need to contact only one of the three agencies. As soon as that agency processes your fraud alert, it will notify the other two agencies, which will then place the same alert into your file.
  • To take it a step further, you can also contact one of the credit reporting agencies about placing a security freeze on your credit report to prevent a credit-reporting agency from releasing credit information without your explicit authorization.
  • Creditors should be contacted if various bills do not arrive in time. A missing credit card bill could mean an identity thief has taken over the credit card account and changed the billing address to cover his or her tracks.
  • All old financial documents, including bank statements and credit card bills, should be shredded to reduce the exposure to what is called “dumpster diving.”

Employee Titles and Their Implications

By LawsIf you are a fan of the TV show “The Office” you will remember how Dwight Schrute would call himself “Assistant Regional Manager” when he really was just an “Assistant to the Regional Manager” – a title position only.

It’s not uncommon in the business world for a company to give the title of Vice President to an employee but not give that person true authority as an officer or manager of the company.  One industry where this is practiced is the Financial Services Industry.

The Goldman Sachs Group recently lost a court case where they were required to pay certain legal fees for a former employee of theirs who had one of these Vice President titles but was not a true officer of the company.

On October 16, 2013, the Honorable Kevin McNutly of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey rendered his decision to have Goldman Sachs pay for the legal fees of former employee Sergy Aleynikov for his defense against state criminal charges alleging that he stole computer code while working at Goldman Sachs.

Mr. Aleynikov was one of many Vice Presidents who worked for Goldman Sachs and his argument to the court was that he was entitled to have his legal fees paid because he was considered an officer of Goldman Sachs as per their By-Laws.

The court rejected Goldman Sachs’ arguments that Mr. Aleynikov was given an “Inflated Title” and that the company has discretionary authority as to whom they can reimburse regardless of what corporate By-Laws say.

 Here is the heart of the court’s decision:

 “It may be the case that Goldman (or the industry of which is a part) has been profligate in conferring the title of Vice President.  If so, Goldman must bear the consequences of that profligacy.  Goldman might easily have chosen to be more sparing with job titles, or to confer them in some other way.  It might easily have drafted its By-Laws to restrict indemnification to a well-defined class.  It did not.”

The court stated that the By-Laws should be interpreted to mean what they mean.  If you say someone is a Vice President, they are a Vice President.  A company has the freedom to restrict their By-Laws if they so choose. 

Any business owner should take in consideration the court’s opinion on this matter.  If you are allowing certain employees to have the title of Vice President you should look closely as to what implications this has to your company and discuss with your legal counsel if you should change your By-Laws or not.

From an insurance standpoint it’s usually against public policy to insure for criminal acts.  However, some Directors & Officers Insurance Policies will allow coverage for defense costs for criminal allegations against individual directors and officers in certain circumstances.  But usually there is a payback provision for those legal fees if the director or officer is found guilty or pleads No Contest.

If you would like to discuss this further with us, feel free to give us a call or drop us a line here.

What is Employment Practices Liability Insurance?

Previously we talked about how much does Employment Practices Liability Insurance cost.  But what does this insurance policy even cover you for?

Rue Insurance has been around for well over 90 years and we have seen and heard some amazing stories from business owners about employment issues.

  1. You terminate an employee because he annoys the heck out of you.
  2. An employee complains about your company operations and threatens to call OSHA, so you move him to a more “remedial” job.
  3. You fire your secretary/ex-girlfriend because you broke up with her.
  4. A male employee of your company is sharing private photos of himself with a female employee who wants nothing to do with him.  She has complained a few times to her supervisor, but nothing was done to resolve it.
  5. There is an employee of yours who insists that he can’t work on Sundays because of religious observations and is asking you for consideration.  You tell him to get to work or he is fired.
  6. A customer calls you screaming on how one of your employees wouldn’t provide her service because of her race.  Her next phone call is to her lawyer and a local TV station.
  7. A “friendly” letter from the EEOC just came in asking you about a former employee that you just recently let go.

It may be a surprise to you that a properly constructed Employment Practices Liability Policy can provide your company with liability protection for damages and legal costs for the above scenarios.

Note the words “properly constructed” in the previous paragraph.  There are insurance companies that claim to sell Employment Practices Liability Insurance and it’s not worth the paper it’s written on.  So it’s important to sit down with an experienced insurance broker or agent and talk about your company’s needs.

What we are seeing more insurance carriers doing is providing a free Human Resource Consulting hotline or web site that can help you set up Employee Manuals and other important HR related documents to help you avoid having an employment situation in the future.

We mentioned in a previous post on our blog, the low cost of Employment Practices Liability Insurance.  We think it’s a sound investment for insurance protection.

Want to know more about Employement Practices Liability?  Give a call at 800-272-4783, drop a line here, or if you are up for a quote for insurance click here to send us some information so we can get to work for you.

How Your Presence On the Internet Can Scare Insurance Companies

Let’s face it, we love the Internet.  Unless you have mastered the Vulcan Mind-Meld you are using the Internet to read this article.  But the Internet is a scary place, not for you but for an Insurance Company Underwriter.

It’s common practice for Insurance Underwriters to look at your company’s web site and social media presence to better understand what your company does.  They are also checking the veracity of your insurance application comparing it to what they find.

When it comes to your web site and social media pages Underwriters assume you mean what you say on them.  If you say you do “A, B & C” type of work, they interpret that you do A, B & C work.

But what happens if your web site says more about what you do than what you really do?  That is something which can scare an insurance company underwriter.

Here is an example of a situation we faced where a business had a very robust web site that listed a variety of services some of which the owner never intended to perform.

The business was a residential plumbing contractor.  For years he served in our local community working on new homes that were being constructed and service work for existing homeowners.  These services were prominently featured on his web site.  The web site shows “other services” such as installation of water and sewer mains in public roads, service of boilers at Public Schools, and industrial plumbing services to Refineries. 

The owner told us before he started this company he had some experience in these areas.  He wanted to show his “breadth of experience” even though this was never going to have the “other services” be a focus of his business.

Some underwriters we spoke with said they would not offer a quotation for insurance because the contractor, given the opportunity, could provide these “other services” which the underwriters consider to be “riskier”.   Therefore they feel they were not able to charge an adequate rate.

The direct impact to the business owner was instead of having multiple insurance carriers competing for his business, he only had one company that was willing to offer a quotation.

So what does your Web Site or Social Media page say about your business?  Have you sat down with your insurance agent or broker and asked them about how an insurance underwriter could interpret your web site?

Here’s a better move.  Drop us a line or give us a call at 800-272-4783 and we can talk about it.  Because how you appear to the insurance marketplace could mean the difference between a costly insurance plan or better insurance protection.

The Top Four Hurricane Tips and Checklists You Need to Weather a Storm

It’s Hurricane season and time to be prepared.  So we have for you the Top Four Hurricane Tips & Checklists to help you be ready for any storm that comes.

#1 – Know what to do before the storm

We created a Hurricane Check List that helps you identify what you need to do before a hurricane is forcasted and when a storm is coming to your area.

#2 – Know the supplies you need

Steve Jobs once said, “Good artists copy, great artists steal.”  We were going to create the next checklist until we saw FEMA had one already.   So here is a list for creating your own Emergency Kit of supplies that you should obtain before a storm comes to your area. 

#3 – Know where to meet after the storm

FEMA also created a Family Emergency Plan that helps you and your family decide what you are going to do and where you will meet if you are seperated from each other. 

#4 – Know what to do after the storm

We took FEMA’s list of what to do after a storm and created a list of important contact information and tips you should follow.

Want to know more about what to do and also talk to some really cool people?  Give us a call at 800-272-4RUE or drop us a line here.