What You Need to Know About the Keeping American Workers Paid and Employed Act

entrepreneur working at home in her kitchen due to COVID-19 and reading about the Keeping American Workers Paid and Employed Act

The forced indefinite closure of many small businesses throughout the nation has caused many owners uncertainty about their ability to retain employees and successfully reopen following the COVID-19 pandemic. The Keeping American Workers Paid and Employed Act, which was passed on March 27, provides emergency funds to qualifying businesses with a maximum of 500 employees. 

What Is the Keeping American Workers Paid and Employed Act? 

The Keeping American Workers Paid and Employed Act is a $377 billion package of grants and loans intended to help keep small businesses across the nation functional during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. The Paycheck Protection Program, the largest section of the act, provides small businesses with loans that are to be used to continue paying employees while businesses are closed. These loans may be obtained immediately through over 800 SBA-certified banks and credit unions. Other aspects of the act include:

  • Entrepreneurial assistance.
  • Emergency EIDL grants.
  • Small business debt relief. 

Paycheck Protection Program

Under the Keeping American Workers Paid and Employed Act, the Paycheck Protection Program will provide loans to qualifying small businesses. The amount can be as great as 250 percent of the business’s total monthly payroll. It provides temporary funds to cover employees’ salaries, tips, and benefits. In doing so, the act hopes to minimize the financial difficulties that both employees and the small business will face in the coming months. 

Other Elements of the Keeping American Workers Paid and Employed Act

The act also includes several billion dollars in funds that may be used to grant immediate relief to qualifying businesses. This section allows for:

  • Up to $10,000 through the EIDL program.
  • The provision of counseling, training, and other services to struggling businesses.
  • The provision of sick leave.
  • Easier access to other loan programs.

Many small businesses will need to adjust how they handle their finances in the coming weeks and months in order to successfully reopen and stay open. However, the emergency funds provided by the Keeping American Workers Paid and Employed Act make it easier to pay bills and employees. By keeping employees paid throughout the pandemic, businesses keep their employees’ financial struggles to a minimum and increase their likelihood of returning instead of searching for new positions.  

Do I Need Professional Liability or E&O Insurance in Massachusetts?

In a nutshell, Errors and Omissions (E&O) insurance is a professional liability insurance policy created to protect professionals, employers, and employees from claims of inadequate work or negligence. Here in Massachusetts, it’s a useful policy for professionals who work with contracts, finances, investments, and other risks. 

group of professionals conversing and looking at a file

In other words, if your organization could get sued for giving bad advice, or even making an honest mistake on paperwork, E&O insurance is for you. Choosing the right coverage can be complicated, so Vargas & Vargas is here to help.

Businesses That Should Have Professional Liability Insurance

Examples of organizations that should always have professional liability or errors and omissions insurance are:

  • Realtors and real estate agents
  • Insurance agents
  • Investment specialists and stockbrokers
  • Retirement planners
  • Funeral homes and funeral directors
  • CPAs and contracted bookkeepers
  • Homebuilders
  • Some businesses in the manufacturing sector
  • Medical professionals

How E&O Insurance Works

Let’s imagine you own a small retirement planning firm in Massachusetts. You have two fully licensed employees. During the flu season, you and one employee are both out sick for a whole week, leaving a single employee to run the office. She’s an excellent employee. You trust her, and so do your clients.

However, the workload is too much, and your good employee makes a few honest mistakes. She provides inaccurate projections to one family and accidentally gives them the wrong answers for what their whole life insurance policies will be worth in a year. Of course, she does this all via email, and your clients have proof of her statements.

All is well until next year when those customers come back to complain they were given the wrong information! They were expecting to have much better results from their investments. They get together and hire a lawyer to sue your business.

This is when your errors and omissions coverage comes into play. It will cover your court costs (up to the limits on the policy). If you need to hire a lawyer and end up paying the difference to these clients, E&O has you covered.

Does My Business Have Enough E&O Coverage?

You’ve worked hard, and your business is growing. Congratulations! It’s probably time to review all of your commercial policies, including your Business Owners Policy (BOP), commercial liability, and errors & omissions coverage. Get in touch with us today to speak with a Massachusetts licensed insurance agent. We’d love to review your policies and get you a free quote. 

How to Read Your Declarations Page(s)

Have you ever read an insurance contract? Not many have.

However, this voluminous document has everything you need to know about your insurance coverage and is essential in the event of a claim.

There is a short cut: The Declarations Page.

This document outlines and summarizes your insurance coverage. And it’s easy to read and only a few pages. It’s also key to determining if you have adequate coverage at an affordable price.

Policy Number and Policy Period  This is the top of your policy.  If you need to speak to your Independent Insurance Agent about your policy, you should direct your attention to this section at the outset of your conversation.

The policy period also helps for you to mark your calendar so you can be reminded of your annual review.

Maybe your credit score is improved or maybe your kids are grown. These are just a couple examples of life events that can occur that warrant an annual insurance review.

In addition to lifestyle changes, there is the likely possibility that insurance carriers have revamped their policies. You may be eligible for new discounts or more competitive pricing.

Coverages and Premiums.  The different coverages of your policy are presented line-by-line with the attendant premium in the right column, or in some cases, the discount in a line item, such as a security device.

The coverages are accompanied by the coverage limit. For your homeowner’s policy for example, the dwelling limit will show what your house would cost to be replaced. Notice your liability limit. This coverage limit should never be lower than the value of your home.

Total Annual Premium.  Down at the bottom of the page is the TOTAL PREMIUM for your Insurance Policy.  Usually this will show as an annual number, although that may be different depending on your payment plan for the policy.  You can also see different payment options for your premium; some insurance plans give you discounts depending on the frequency of payments. 

These declaration pages will help when it’s time to review with your independent agent. Know your coverage, know your renewal date so you can discuss with your agent if your coverage is maximized and your premiums are competitive.

Please read our other blogs related to annual insurance review suggestions.

You can reach us by calling 617-298-0655 or text us at 617-409-0329 for a free, no-obligation annual review. Click here to Visit our Contact Us page.

Managing Growth

Growth can sneak up on us.  Whether it’s your family or your business, one day you realize you’ve grown larger than when you started. 

  • Two cars when once there was one.
  • Five employees when previously you had two. 
  • A new spouse when you once lived alone. 

Growth is a good thing, it’s the keeping-up-with-growth that’s difficult.  Unless you’re organized and prepared, then growing becomes easy-peasy.

One area we often overlook, when growth occurs is whether it sneaks up on us or we prepare for it, is with our insurance.

Here’s where your Independent Insurance Agent comes in. We help your growth spurt feel smooth, organized, and best of all, prepared for any happenstance.

We often advocate that our clients undertake an annual review with us to see what coverages best suit their needs with natural changes over time. This helps to ensure quality coverage at an affordable cost whenever possible.

Our facility as your Independent Agent is there for you to advocate and manage when the “growth” word pops up.  Not only can we find the right insurance coverage for your new larger family or business, but we can help you control the costs of that insurance. 

Call us today so we can discuss all of your wonderful growth opportunities and reduce any growing pains so you experience the best possible insurance solutions.

You can reach us by calling 617-298-0655 or text us at 617-409-0329 for a free, no-obligation annual review. Click here to Visit our Contact Us page.

Recap: Business Spring Cleaning

“Spring cleaning doesn’t have to be a dreaded list of chores. It can be a rewarding experience that helps provide some structure and organization in your life.”

– Peter Walsh

March has arrived, and on the 20th it will officially be Spring! We know that life as a business owner can get busy, but have you put any thought into your business’s spring cleaning routine? In last week’s blog, we made a few suggestions, including:

  • Deep clean your office space, bust through clutter and organize any scattered paperwork.
  • Your virtual workspace also probably needs to be organized – clean your computer’s files and move yourself down to a zero inbox if you can.
  • When was the last time you backed up all of your business’s files? If it’s been a while, now is the perfect time for a backup (and a thorough virus scan too).
  • Most businesses nowadays have a website. When was the last time you looked at yours? Check to make sure your content is still accurate, and that all the links work properly.
  • Have you been working on your 2019 goals? Reevaluate your progress and continue to plan your business’s future.

And remember, Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency is here to help you clean up your business’s insurance portfolio! One call to 617-298-0655 and you will get a free business insurance consultation. Our agents can asses whether you have enough coverage or if there is anything we can do to help lower your premiums. Who knew that Spring Cleaning can save you money? Don’t wait – call Vargas and Vargas Insurance today!

7 Spring Cleaning Steps for Boston Businesses

March is nearly here – are you ready for spring in Boston? As we prepare for the snow to start thawing, the Vargas and Vargas Insurance office is preparing for its annual spring cleaning. Want to use this opportunity to organize your Boston business? Here are a few things that you can do to ‘Spring Clean’ your way to success!

1. Clear the Clutter

The most well-known Spring Cleaning task is unarguably the physical cleaning. It’s time to break out your sanitizing supplies and make sure that your office sparkles. Get rid of dirt and grime, and make sure not to miss any of the hard-to-reach spots.

Now is also the perfect time to evaluate the state of your office. Could the paint use a little touching up? Have you been putting off a cosmetic repair? Get those done now, especially in areas that clients see. Remember – your office only gets one chance at a first impression, so make sure it’s a good one for both customers. Employees will also appreciate a new and fresh look, so think about improving your décor or rearranging your office space.

2. Get Organized

Now is also the perfect time to go through your pesky files and make sure that everything is in order. Shred anything you don’t need and organize the rest. Remember that your digital files should also be included in this task! All of your files should be logically organized and easy to find in a jiffy.

Now is also the perfect time to organize your Social Media pages. Who in your business takes care of these? Do they have a posting schedule? Are they planning out posts ahead of time? How quickly are they able to answer any questions that come in via these platforms? All of these questions need to be addressed.

3. Assess Your Expenses

When was the last time that you cleaned up your business’s expense account? You should be combing through your outgoing payments often, but a deep cleaning once a year will give you peace of mind. Keep a keen eye out for any recurring expenses that you no longer use or need, since those types of charges can add up fast and end up affecting your bottom line.

4. Put Safety First

The safety of your employees, your customers, and your business should be your topmost priority, so make it a focus when you do this year’s spring cleaning. Make sure that your shop or office space is a safe environment so that everyone is less likely to suffer an injury.

Also practice cyber safety! Back up all files with company information – preferably on the cloud where it is easily retrievable in case of a hard drive failure. If you store customer data, you should make sure that it is safe from hackers. Also teach yourself and any staff that you have about digital password safety, and learn the benefits of a password manager.

5. Check Your Website

Your business probably has a website, but when was the last time you visited it with the eyes of a customer? Set aside some time during your Spring Cleaning to dust off your website. Open it and try to see it as a new customer would and look for anything that needs a little freshening up. Make sure that all of the links still work! Also, when was the last time that you updated your content or posted a blog? Now is the perfect time to start anew.

6. Evaluate Your Goals

Did you set a 2019 resolution for your business? Now that two months of the year are in the books, it’s a great time to evaluate your progress. Are you on track to achieve what you planned, or does your goal need to be reevaluated? Have you been taking the steps necessary to accomplish (and maybe even exceed) your goal?

If you need help getting your business on track to succeed, talk to Carlos Vargas about his business coaching and consultations!

7. Plan for the Future

Once your Spring cleaning is complete and your business is sparkling, it’s time to take a look at your future. There should be fewer tasks on your ‘to-do’ list, but that is no excuse to sluff off! Create a list of things that you should be doing to keep your business running smoothly and make your experience better for your clients.

Need help cleaning up your insurance portfolio? Talk to the commercial insurance experts at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency about your business insurance needs. We can help you evaluate your risks and find the perfect coverage options to meet and exceed your expectations. We will even help to ensure that you’re receiving all of the discounts for which you qualify! It will be one of the easiest tasks on your Spring Cleaning to-do list, so don’t put it off any further – call 617-298-0655 today to speak to a Vargas and Vargas Insurance representative.

Recap: New Business Owner Tips

“Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard.”

–Guy Kawasaki

Small businesses are the key to making a neighborhood special and unique. As a Boston small business owner, you know both the rewards and struggles inherent in running your own business. If you’re looking for some motivation and advice for running your business (and let’s face it – you should always be looking for advice!) then look no further than the Vargas and Vargas Insurance blog from last week. There, we highlighted several tips for new business owners, such as:

  • When it comes time to bring in additional people to work in your business, make sure to look for quality employees.
  • Show others how great your business is, and then let them spread the word! Good marketing is infectious, so get the word out and let it spread – your network is a key part to bringing in new clients.
  • Focus on your business, but don’t forget to take care of yourself too. Eat well, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly to stay healthy.

Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency is always here to help you with your Massachusetts small business. We also happen to provide the best small business insurance in the area! Want a free quote, or some insurance advice? Just call 617-298-0655 and speak to one of our friendly and knowledgeable commercial insurance agents about your business’s unique needs.

Tips for First-Time Business Owners in Massachusetts

Here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, we love our neighborhood, and one of our favorite things about the local area is the diversity of the businesses. Instead of shopping at huge national chains, we love to make our purchases at the local ‘mom and pop’ shops that make the area unique.

As a business owner, you are no doubt always looking for ways to make your business better (and make yourself a better business owner). In service of that, we want to share with you some of the tips that we have found useful in our journey of becoming one of the businesses that ‘makes it’ and even, dare we say it, thrives!

Build a Great Team

The vast majority of small businesses start off as a one-person operation. At some point, though, you will need (or you already have) brought on another (or several extra) sets of hands. The quality of the people that you bring in to business is a critical factor in determining your business’s success or failure. You have to realize that experienced workers will cost more, but the extra quality that they will bring to their work will help your business stand apart. So, before you hire your neighbor’s college-age kid that’s home and looking for a summer job, do a cost-benefit analysis of whether they are the right person for the job.

Networking is Critical

You can have the perfect product, but you won’t sell anything unless you have help getting the word out about it. Instead of being a lone wolf when it comes to marketing your business, use the power of networking to spread the word. Think of it like this – if you can recruit 10 raving fans, and they each recruit 10 more fans, etc., the results are exponential! It’s much more effective than one-on-one marketing.

One of the best ways to network is to meet new people and give them your ‘elevator pitch’ – it may sound like business school 101, but it really is that important. You need to know how to explain who you are and what your business does succinctly. And remember that you will need several different versions depending on your industry. You may need one for potential clients and another for referral sources, for example.

Prioritize Your Customers and Clients

As a business, you want to keep old clients while also recruiting new ones into your fold. Remember, though, that when looking for a place to shop for a product or service, many potential customers will look at reviews for the businesses that they are considering shopping at. This means that in order to bring in new customers, you need to make sure that your current customer experience is excellent, and that your satisfied clients are leaving you great reviews online to promote your business.

Carefully Evaluate Opportunities

Small businesses are given a lot of opportunities. As the new owner of your small business, it is your job to evaluate potential opportunities and to decide whether they are worth it. Remember – small businesses only have a limited amount of resources (including funds) so you need to pick and choose wisely. It is inadvisable to try and take advantage of every offer that comes along, since you could easily stretch yourself too thin and end up suffering.

Learn to Adapt to Circumstances

For a new business, things can change on a dime. You need to be prepared to roll with the punches. As famed businessman Michael Scott would say, “Adapt, react, readapt, act.” When your business is still small, you have the flexibility to make things work – unlike your bigger counterparts that are plagued with regulations and red tape. Take advantage of this to figure out what works and what doesn’t, just make sure to account for the fact that you will hopefully need to scale up your processes in the future!

Take Care of Yourself

When you’re running a fledgling business, it’s easy to get caught up in doing everything you can to make your business perfect. Don’t forget to take care of yourself, though! Make time to sleep, eat right, and exercise – that will keep you in shape so that you can continue to shape and grow your business for years to come.

Take Care of Your Employees

You can’t make your employees take care of themselves, but you can give them the tools that they need to do exactly that. Ask your Boston insurance agent about adding employee coverage to your business insurance policy – it’s a great way to show your employees how important they are to you and your business.

If you’re looking for business insurance for your new Boston business, talk to the local agents at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency. There’s no better small business to use for your commercial insurance policy – we are an independent agency, so we can compare quotes from several insurance providers to find the one that’s right for you and your new business.

And if you need help with getting your new business on track, call the agency and ask to speak with Carlos Vargas about his business coaching! He is available to help you get your business running and will help you take it to the next level.

Recap: Before Buying Business Insurance

“Finance is not merely about making money. It’s about achieving our deepgoals and protecting the fruits of our labor. It’s about stewardship and,therefore, about achieving the good society.” – Robert J. Shiller

Protecting your business is something that you must take seriously. That’s why you need a great business insurance policy. If you’re getting ready to start a new business and purchase your first policy or get a quote for a new policy, read our full blog post about how you should consider some of the following factors:

  • There is a minimum amount of insurance you must carry based on Massachusetts laws.
  • Your business has unique risks that need to be accounted for.
  • You should make sure that you get a great deal on your policy without sacrificing great coverage.
  • When in doubt, get a little extra coverage – the peace of mind is well worth the cost.
  • Once you have a policy, review it with your agent and update as needed – at least once a year.
  • If you need help with your business insurance, ask a Massachusetts insurance expert from our agency.

Want a helping hand in building and choosing your next business insurance policy? Call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655. One of our agents will get to know your needs and will find the perfect commercial insurance coverage for you. The process doesn’t have to keep you up at night – just get some help from your neighbors here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance!

Steps to Take Before Buying Business Insurance

At Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, we help Boston residents with many types of insurance needs. We handle home and auto insurance, as well as renters and condo insurance. You should also know that we handle many different types of commercial insurance policies for local businesses! If you’re a business owner and you’re in search of the perfect business insurance policy (and let’s face it; who isn’t?) stop and consider the following seven factors:

Determine your insurance requirements

When purchasing insurance for your business, you should first know what types of coverage you are required to have. Every state is different,so you will need someone in your corner that is familiar with the Massachusetts requirements. In addition, there may be requirements based on your industry, or certain obligations that you have if you rent your business space. Also find out about your workers compensation requirements and stay on top of those as your business grows if you hire new workers.

Thankfully, you don’t have to sift through all the legalese on your own. A qualified Massachusetts business insurance agent can help you navigate the often-murky waters of insurance requirements.

Know the risks in your area of business

At Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, we know that every business is different. We want to offer you complete protection, so we will help identify your unique risks to ensure that you get full coverage. For example, a restaurant may need coverage for food spoilage and liquor liability, where a tech-based business could require cyber liability coverage and errors and omissions insurance.

No matter what type of business you own, we’ve got you covered.We insure many types of businesses here in the Greater Boston area, and we are confident that we can craft a policy that is tailored to the special needs and risks of your business.

Focus on your amount of coverage…

Business owners know – bottom line is important, but it’snot the only thing that you should focus on when you make decisions for your business. As you talk to your business insurance agent, don’t fall into the trap of asking for only the bare minimum insurance coverage in order to save money.Your insurance coverage is critical in making sure that you are protected in all kinds of scenarios, so your coverage is not the place to skimp. Just remember – your insurance is what will protect you if there is a lawsuit or a fire or another type of huge disaster, so ask your insurance agent how much coverage they recommend. They will be able to find a coverage amount that suits your needs.

…As well as your deductible

So, we firmly stand by everything we said in the last paragraph…but we know that your bottom line is still important to your business. We want you to have the best of both worlds – a great insurance policy at a price that won’t overburden your budget. That’s why you should use an independent insurance agency when purchasing your policy. We can shop several insurance providers to find you one that will offer the best deal. We will be on the look out for discounts that you qualify for and other savings that you could use.

Err on the side of caution

If you’re faced with a decision of how much coverage to purchase for your business, we recommend that you err on the side of caution.Just remember – you never know when or why your business might be affected by something devastating, so purchase a little bit more coverage, or buy that extra bit of umbrella insurance. You’ll be glad that you did if for some reason you ever need to use it.

Become familiar with your policy

Once you have a commercial insurance policy in place, it is your responsibility to become familiar with it. If you’re brave, you can read over it yourself… if, however, that makes your eyes glaze over (and don’t worry, it happens to everyone) ask your insurance agent to go over the basics of your coverage with you. It is also important to make sure that you review your business insurance coverage at least every year so that you can refresh yourself on the protection that you have, as well as update your policy based on any changes that are happening in your business.

Ask an insurance expert for help

Owning a business is tough, but if you know the right people it doesn’t have to be. Thankfully you have Massachusetts insurance experts in your corner and ready to help with all your insurance questions, concerns, and needs.

Want to talk to a Vargas and Vargas Insurance agent about getting a commercial insurance quote for your business? Don’t put it off any longer – the process is simple. Just call 617-298-0655 to get started and we will have a free quote for you in no time.