What You Need to Know About Commercial Insurance

As a business owner in Dorchester, MA, you need to have commercial insurance for your business to cover specific liabilities. However, sometimes it is very challenging to understand the entire concept of commercial insurance, especially if this is not your area of specialization. Vargas & Vargas Insurance has realized that many business owners make grave mistakes when it comes to business insurance and offer some basics on this policy. 

Why Commercial Insurance?

So, some business owners do not know why they need commercial insurance, and some of them ignore it entirely, only for them to regret it later after disaster strikes. It is essential to understand that commercial insurance protects your business and the investments you have made against disastrous events. 

Having commercial insurance is necessary because it protects all the assets that your business owns. However, commercial insurance may also help you cover the different types of liabilities your business may cause to suppliers, customers, and other parties. 

How Does It Work?

Generally, commercial insurance is an agreement that lasts for one year and can be renewed by either party. It involves paying an agreed amount of money to an insurance agency that will assume the liabilities and the damages that your business may experience during the year. 

The amount of money paid to the insurance company typically depends on the properties at hand, possible risk exposure, and other possible requirements such as the number of customers and vendors associated with the organization. 

Do You Need Commercial Insurance?

Before you start running your commercial organization in Dorchester, MA, you need to have your commercial insurance in place so that you can be ready from the first day of your operations. Vargas & Vargas Insurance will guide you in the process of getting the best commercial insurance to meet the needs of your business. 

Entrepreneurs — Quickly Review Your Commercial Insurance Policy for 2021

small business owner wearing a mask and holding an open sign

Commercial insurance policies are complicated. At Vargas & Vargas, we know small business owners are focused on running their businesses. You don’t always have the time to pour over commercial insurance policies in detail. Today, we will make a few key points that you should consider as we move forward in 2021.

Review the Most Important Points of Your Commercial Insurance Policy

The declarations page (dec page) of your commercial insurance policy is usually the first page. It contains a ton of essential information. 

Before getting into the minutia, check that all the information on your dec page is correct:

  • A correct property address is vital for claims.
  • Ensure the contact names and business owner names are right. Only the named insured can make changes to a policy.
  • Be sure the contact phone numbers and email addresses on your policy are correct, too.

Then, consider your coverages. In the wake of COVID-19, we know many small businesses have evolved.

Has Your Business Changed Much in 2020? If So, Talk to an Agent

From social distancing and healthcare concerns that limit foot traffic to increased online shopping and curbside meals, we know the business landscape has changed in Massachusetts. You might need to adjust your insurance if:

  • You have much lower sales numbers than predicted in 2019 — maybe you’re stocking less inventory or hosting fewer customers. Either way, you might be able to reduce your premium because your risks are lower.
  • You’ve sent your workforce home.
  • You’ve scaled back operations.

In short, if you made any significant changes to your business in 2020, it’s time to talk to an insurance agent. 

If You’re Concerned About Civil Unrest

Commercial insurance policies usually cover civil unrest, riots, and malicious mischief. But if you’re worried about political turmoil in your neighborhood, then check your policy to be sure.

What if you’ve closed up the shop, but you’re still operating out of your home? Know that your homeowner’s insurance policy won’t cover much related to your business. You might still need a business owner’s policy. 

Vargas & Vargas Insurance is proud to be your premier local independent insurance agency. We work for our clients, not the insurance company. We’re ready to customize your commercial insurance to your unique needs at the right price, and we’re here to answer your questions. Remember, if you have deeper questions about commercial insurance in Massachusetts or need help with a Business Owners Policy (BOP), contact a licensed agent today.

3 Recommended Commercial Insurance Changes for Companies Switching to Remote Work

An increasing number of businesses are considering a permanent shift to remote work for their employees. The change is taking place in different industries, especially the technology industry. When a business switches to remote work, its potential risks and liabilities change. If your small business is considering changing to a remote workforce as a long-term strategy, start with a review of your business’s commercial insurance policies. This will help you identify potential gaps and changes in coverage that need to be addressed.

woman on a video conference while working from home

Some of the insurance implications that may arise under conventional insurance policies include:

1. Employers’ Liability and General Insurance

Coverage for your employees’ potential injuries depends on the categorization, where the injury took place, and the activity undertaken at the time of injury. Your business needs to ensure that the definition of covered employees under the employers’ liability insurance includes all employees to which the company may be found liable. Also, you need to ensure that the coverage consists of all places where your workers are located.

2. Property Insurance

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increased focus on different aspects of property insurance. While transitioning to a remote workforce may create less loss as a result of property damage, you may have more devices and equipment spread across different locations. Therefore, you need to make sure that property being used by workers in remote locations is insured.

3. Cyber Insurance

The switch to work remotely can make your business more susceptible to schemes of social engineering and hacks. When your employees work from home, they adapt to different modes of communication and may create new vulnerabilities in your system. But you need to do more than allow your IT personnel to increase security in remote working environments. Consider adding more coverage, such as cyber insurance, to protect your business’s data, systems, and hardware. Your business needs to make sure the coverage matches the risks.

For more assistance choosing the right commercial insurance policies during changes to your business, contact Vargas & Vargas Insurance today. We’re here to help.

Does Your Renters Insurance Cover Your Side Hustle at Home?

A side hustle is an excellent option for most people to generate extra income. If you run a side hustle from your home, you may not have insurance to cover the business. Without proper insurance, you could find yourself at a loss if you get sued or if your property is damaged.

woman working on her side-hustle in her home office

Renters Insurance

Your renters insurance policy covers an extensive range of property inside your home. It can help you recover laptops, computers, tablets, projectors, and printers after theft or damage. Sometimes, renters insurance can cover items you keep outside and use for deliveries such as a bicycle. In some cases, you can cover your side hustle by adding a rider to your current policy.

However, there are exceptions. Most renters insurance policies cover items you use at home and not for business. Some policies might not extend to cover items used outside the home. For example, if you are a photographer with expensive equipment that you use outside the house, a standard renters policy might not help you.

If your policy provider chooses to cover property that you use for business, the limit might be lower than one provided under a business policy. When the business item you want to include in your renters insurance is not part of your current contract, talk to your provider about an endorsement.

How to Know When Your Side Hustle Needs Insurance

When you are considering finding separate insurance for your side hustle, there are several questions you should ask yourself. Those include:

  • Do customers come to pick products from your home?
  • Do you handle critical and private information?
  • Do you handle people’s children or pets?
  • Could anyone get sick as a result of your business?
  • Would a lawsuit leave you broke?

Commercial Policies

Let’s face it, your side hustle may be safe for now, but there is no assurance. When tragedy strikes, you need to be prepared. Finding commercial insurance for your business will provide better coverage than your current policy. There are various commercial policies available depending on the risks of your business.

Looking for Insurance?

To find the right insurance cover for your side hustle, contact Vargas & Vargas Insurance today!

Does Commercial Insurance Cover Storm Surge Damage?

People often get confused when referring to storm surge damage as opposed to flooding. Storm surge creates damages as a result of the force of the water pushing and pulling a structure, whereas flood damage occurs with inland flooding and standing water. 

Storm Surge Damage

When it comes to storm surge damage, most commercial insurance policies directly cover this type of damage. Although the damage stems from water, it isn’t classified as flood damage. Anyone who lives near a coastline or waterway adjacent to an open body of water that experiences storms should make sure their commercial policy mentions this type of protection specifically to help prevent losses when a storm occurs.

Getting the Right Policy

Finding the right commercial insurance policy can be tricky, which is why it helps to use reputable insurance agents who have agents with insight and experience helping clients get the right coverages. Anyone who lives near the Dorchester, MA area, should sit down with an agent from Vargas & Vargas Insurance to find out what options are available and can help protect from threats such as storm surge damages. With an agent to assist you, losses and gaps can be minimized and you get greater peace of mind knowing that you are covered. 

Don’t guess when it comes to selecting commercial insurance coverage that will protect property from storm surge damage. Call or stop by Vargas & Vargas Insurance, serving Dorchester, MA to find out what policy terms and conditions outline and how to find a policy that matches current and future needs. Agents are ready to help serve clients to give them ultimate protection. 

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.  

The Essential Insurance Checklist for Massachusetts Restaurants

The Massachusetts restaurant industry is thriving, and you have invested substantial time and money into launching a successful eatery. It is important to protect your investment, but the dining industry poses certain risks that may not be covered by standard commercial property, general liability, or workers’ compensation insurance policies.

Owner of a restaurant standing in the doorway of her restaurant

Restaurant entrepreneurs should be aware of several specialized coverages available to them:

  • Product Liability Coverage: The food-service industry demands rigorous health and safety standards. However, even with sound food-handling protocols, foodborne illness may strike and make guests ill. Also, cross-contamination in the kitchen may trigger allergic reactions in some diners. Product liability coverage can help insure against claims made by guests who become ill from eating at your restaurant.
  • Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Restaurant equipment can be expensive to own, lease, maintain, and repair. Unfortunately, this expensive equipment can break down or fail as a result of weather events or a power surge. Equipment breakdown insurance can help you cover out-of-pocket costs associated with certain instances of equipment failure.
  • Food Contamination Coverage: This insurance may protect against losses arising from spoilage resulting from mechanical or power failure.
  • Liquor Liability Insurance: If you serve alcohol, you should already maintain the liquor liability insurance required by Massachusetts law. However, you will want to check your limits and exclusions and make sure you are covered for both your on-site and catering activities.
  • Loss of Business Income Insurance: If your business is closed for any period of time because of property damage or severe weather, loss of business income insurance may help bridge gaps in income so you can meet your financial obligations.  
  • Commercial Auto Insurance: You may need commercial auto insurance for company-owned vehicles like food trucks or catering vans that employees drive. If your employees use their personal vehicles to deliver food, you may require hired and non-owned auto insurance to protect against accidents caused by the employee in the course of his delivery duties.
  • Additional Coverage: Your restaurant likely has furniture, furnishings, and artwork, and you will want contents coverage to help pay the cost of replacing these items in the event of damage or destruction. If you lease the building in which your eatery operates, you may also need betterment coverage. This coverage provides protection against loss or damage to fixtures or improvements you have made to the space.

A restaurateur who owns her building will have different insurance needs than one who leases space in a food court. Similarly, a steakhouse that offers a selection of expensive wines may require different coverage than a deli that serves paper-wrapped sandwiches. Contact the local experts at Vargas & Vargas Insurance to ask about a customized insurance package that is suited to your specific needs.

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!