Commercial Insurance Blog

Voluntary Parting - When theft isn't covered for small business

Posted by Geoffrey Gordon on Fri, Oct 30, 2015 @ 11:12 AM


Today, many small businesses sell their products online. An order comes in, you run the cutomer's credit card, payment is approved, and you ship the item.  To this point everything appears to be in order.  But then, when your bank reverses the deposit, and takes the money out of your account, maybe a day, a week, a month or even several months later, you find out that you paid with a stolen credit card.  You think, isn’t this be the bank's responsibility to make sure the card is good?  From cases we've seen, it is not.   And insurance won't help you either, for an exclusion known as "voluntary parting".

We assisted a customer of ours who had a payment denied for a large order shipped six months earlier. Evidently the owner of the card was someone who didn’t pay close attention to her purchases, and hadn’t notice the charge for over six months. Finally, she noticed that a 5-figure charge was made to her card a half year earlier and contacted her bank. Indeed the charge was bogus, and the bank credited her account accordingly.  That's when our customer noticed the same amount withdrawn from their corporate checking account. What was not a particularly noteworthy transaction for the woman whose card was charged, it was a big number for this business. They called the bank whose representative referred them to the bank agreement.  The agreement was written by the bank, by well qualified attorneys, to protect the bank's interests for any acts of fraud.  How well it protected the bank was remarkable: the bank indeed had the expressly stated right to withdraw, without notice, the full amount of the transaction made on the stolen card.  Naturally, our customer hoped she had insurance for this loss.  But insurance was no help either. This transaction is what insurance companies refer to as "voluntary parting".

Remember back to when you were ready to buy a car, and the salesman would give you the keys and say, “Take her for a spin”? Those days are long gone. Why? Because some people would take the car for a spin, and never return.  Because the salesperson voluntarily gave up the keys, the car was not stolen: no theft, no insurance coverage.  Being duped for sending product to a location far away falls onto this same category, the product was not stolen; no insurance coverage.

This scam has become more common lately. The bank accepts a card, the product is shipped, and at some point later on, the bank takes the money back. The banks and insurance companies want nothing to do with absorbing this loss, and write their contracts accordingly.

A tragic after-story to the first customer described here: several months after having the money taken from their bank account, they got another order from the same company at the same address in California.  They had already contacted the police in California when the scam first happened, and neither the local or state police said they could do anything about it, as it was probably a fake business or address.  But now they had the same company, operating from the same address, trying to take another shot at scamming our customer. They called the local and state police again and were told they had to elevate to the FBI, since this was an interstate commerce fraud. When they contacted the FBI, they were told that the FBI only got involved with scams over $200,000. I also spoke separately with a friend who is an FBI agent and he confirmed that they only have resources for the big fraud cases. 

The small business takes the hit from the fraudsters, and can’t get help from big financial companies or their government.  Further research suggests that one solution is Pay Pal. We have found that more and more small businesses selling and shipping property prefer the small fee that PayPal charges is well worth it.   We use our Pay Pal account for some of the few services we buy non-locally.

 Bottom line, be ever watchful when you take your first order from a big customer who is in a rush.  It could wellbe a scam where there's no insurance to back you up.

Tags: voluntary parting, credit card fraud, stolen credit cards, small business fraud

Technology Errors and Omissions Liability

Posted by Geoffrey Gordon on Fri, Oct 02, 2015 @ 10:14 AM


Technology Errors and Omissions (Tech E&O) provides protection for the professional services provided by technology companies. Cyber Liability refers most often to a breach in private records held by a company. Where the two coverages intersect is when a cyber liability event happens, resulting in stolen customer records, and the breach may be attributed to the failure of the technology company in providing adequate professional services.


For example, in our office we buy Cyber Liability Insurance in case hackers from a Foreign government, a crime organization, or a high school student next door breaks into our server and steals our customers' private information. The Cyber Liability Insurance will provide notification, life-lock type security for all of the customers affected, and third-party coverage in case the break results in actual losses to our customers. This insurance also includes Forensic Investigations. The Forensic Investigation is not just an academic exercise that asks ‘Wonder who stole all that information?’, the insurance company has an ulterior motive; they want to know how the data was hacked. Let's assume the forensic investigation uncovered that our IT partner had left a vulnerability in our firewall, and that the breach was a direct result of this negligence. The insurance company that paid our claim will look to the Tech E&O coverage of our IT partner provider.  Errors and Omissions Insurance coverage provides protection to professionals, including doctors, lawyers, insurance agents, consultants, and ...IT providers. If the tech who was programming our firewall left a huge vulnerability that was discovered by a robot or human hacker, this represents an error in the professional services expected.


Tech E&O and Cyber Liability are not always exclusive coverages. The two intersect when a tech company provides co-location services or services such as Platform as a Service (PaaS) where they not only maintain the security aspect, but actually hold the information that is stolen.  Professional Errors and Omission insurance must always be reviewed carefully for specific exclusions. Be on the lookout particularly for exclusions for unauthorized access, mechanical or electrical failure, delay in delivery, or deliberate acts by rogue employees.  What this protects against is the unknown Edward Snowden working in his cubicle causing tremendous damage to a company. If an executive officer of the company creates similar acts, including intentional acts, no insurance policy will protect against that.


Some professional liability policies provide limited coverages where only specific services defined in the policy are included for coverage. Underwriters always prefer to know exactly what kind of services are provided in order to quantify the cost of professional liability insurance. Because the functions performed by most tech companies are varied and evolve with available technology, we prefer Enterprise coverage when it is available. This means that all professional activities are protected, even those that the underwriter never even knew about, because they are new or because they are one-offs.


A type of liability that has been somewhat dormant over the past 20 to 30 years has been fully resurrected with the advent of the Internet.  This is Advertising Liability, and today can include what is known as Media Liability. When advertisements were mostly in printed form, or on the radio or TV, the publishing newspaper or controlling radio or television would often vet the contents of ads in production, so that aggressive companies could not spread lies about their competition and get everybody in trouble. With Websites there is no such third-party protection; companies often just put up online whatever they feel like. Web hosting sites and web development Service companies are the new TV and radio platform. While most web hosting and social media service companies have terms of service that limit liability on specific comments or statements, they are immune from advertising liability claims.


Tags: commercial insurance, cyber, reinsurance, liability, errors, technology, omissions

Employment Practices Liability

Posted by Geoffrey Gordon on Wed, May 27, 2015 @ 03:09 PM

Employment_practices_liability_business_insurance_Andrew_G_Gordon_IncEmployment practices liability is the chance of being sued if you fail to observe and practice certain employment practices regulations. Here’s a guide to keep from getting sued, and what to do if / when you are.

First, the good news: Many states, including Massachusetts, permit an arrangement known as “at-will” employment. This means employment continues as long as employer and employee decide things are OK. The key is that it’s a 2-way street, both for the employer and by the employee. The employee may quit to pursue better opportunities, or just to stop working for a while, without giving a reason. Similarly, the employer may terminate employment without a specific cause or reason: if business changes or other reasons such as when things just aren't working out.  Every employer (where permitted) should actively state that employment is “at-will”: in the employment application, in the employee handbook, and at termination.

Employers are still held to a very high standard, in spite of the “at-will” doctrine, so don’t get complacent. The past year has seen a broad array of new state and Federal regulations, including the Massachusetts Paid Sick Leave law and new federal regulations on accommodating pregnant employees and changes to FMLA and ADA.

There are many new laws and regulations that apply to the three stages of employment; it's hard to keep up.  A good HR department or outsourced partner is critical*.  The timeline of employment risk runs across these three areas: 

  1. Pre-employment, including the application process and interviewing:
  2. During employment:
  3. Termination

There are other steps to be taken at each part of this process. For example, the employment application and the employee handbook should state clearly that employer does not permit discrimination by gender, race, religion, age, sexual orientation, and other characteristics. Not only is this good business practice, it's the law. Tolerating a rogue employee’s discrimination towards any co-worker  member of these protected categories makes the employer complicit in discriminatory practices. And your company can face fines from regulators and get sued for the rogue employee's behavior. Non-discrimination should be part of any business’s culture. 

That troublesome employee - what to do?

When the employer decides that an employee just isn't working out, there are steps that can be taken to mitigate the risk of being sued for wrongful termination.  Performance or misbehavior needs to prompt quick action, but these are more often terminations for cause, always more defendable.  For others, If termination can happen deliberately, over a period of time where documentation can be gathered, that’s safer. Lots of documentation is always better.  Imagine you're in front of a judge or jury in a year: Give your defense team something to work with!

In Massachusetts, employment regulations require that the employee must be notified whenever a negative review is placed in an employee’s file. Unfortunately, the effect of this is often conflict avoidance: a friendly manager may avoid a negative review, since asking the employee to sign the review to place in the employees file can be so uncomfortable. Too often, no note is added to the file, as though everything is just fine. When the time comes to give the termination notice, the file is empty, sometimes because of the notification regulation, so on paper a perfectly reasonable termination appears to be a thoughtless decision by a capricious employer. The employee feels unfairly treated, and hires an attorney to pursue his or her rights. 

When the letter from the lawyer comes in, it will allege all kinds of allegations that are certain to make the employer's blood boil, and escalate tensions. After all, the plaintiff’s attorney has heard only one side. Additionally the attorneys are skilled at exaggerating and fanning the flames. This is where employment practices liability insurance (EPLI) can be valuable. Employment practices liability insurance (EPLI) provides money for legal defense, and usually includes consultation with claims adjusters (many of whom are attorneys)  to de-escalate the situation and take stock of the merits of the case. Insurance allows businesses to out-source the cost and many of the headaches, skill sets that are seldom part of a business's core competencies. 

But nobody wants a claim. It’s better to provide employees with training and opportunities to develop in a position. But people are people, and you never know.  

Our own experience offers these suggestions:

  • Make sure your employment manual is up to date. Regulators love to cite employers for not providing up to date employment rights information to their employees.  Don't let them play "Gotcha"
  • If you are sure that you are going to let somebody go, it's a good idea to talk to a labor attorney* first.  The attorney’s fee may seem an un-necessary expense, but the conversation itself will be valuable for future situations as well as protect you for the immediate need.  (We network extensively and can refer you to a labor attorney)
  • Document, document, document.
  • Don't tolerate poor performance, but address it in written format.  This can be difficult but is an easier solution than being sued, as well as being fairer to the employee. Every employee should know their value to the organization, as well as ways to enhance that value, and avopid self-sabotage.

Check out our business pages at for more resources and feel free to contact us with any commercial insurance questions.

* Geoff Gordon neworks broadly with other professionals and can refer qualified HR specialists, labor attorneys, and others throughout southeastern Masssachusetts. 


Drones and Insurance

Posted by Geoffrey Gordon on Fri, May 15, 2015 @ 04:12 PM

Drone_usage_in_commercial_insurance_Andrew_G_Gordon_IncDrones will soon fill the skies, and be used for many applications, commercial and personal,this blog will provide an update with a focus on the risk and insurance angle.

Note: coincidentally, just a few days after posting this, the Boston Globe ran an artcle 'Don't be that guy - learn to fly your drone' that we link here:  The article recommends getting lessons, a very good idea before sending your new toy up above your neighborhood,

Drones are expected to be used with the ruling from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in U.S. skies. The United States has the most complex and busy skies anywhere in the world, so the regulations are highly anticipated. Clearly, many large business interests are angling for broad commercial use, and the FAA is working on regulations now.

There are already some regulations in place, but these regulations really are in place to limit the use of drones commercially. For civil operations, which include business use, there are two ways to operate a drone:

  1. The first is to obtain a Special Airworthiness Certificate (SAC). This certificate provides information about design, airworthiness, operating software, quality control and so forth.
  2. Section 333 is an exemption to the certificate. 289 have been granted in the whole country.

Thus, commercial use of drones is in a holding pattern until the FAA completes its new regulations. Both commercial and recreational use have great latent demand, and federal regulations are late to the show.  17 States have already passed their own regulations, but is airspace best regulated individually by the states and municipalities? This approach seems unnecessarily complicated.

Model and hobby use is permitted currently, but this is changing rapidly. Police logs will show that complaints are soaring, frequently for privacy concerns, but occasionally for damage. Traditionally, the FAA has not regulated airspace below 500 feet, meaning you own your airspace up to 500 feet. Under proposed regulations, the FAA is regulating down to the ground. These regulations include:

  1. Keep under 500 feet altitude;
  2. Conduct pre-flight checklists for safety and reliability;
  3. Keep in visual sight at all times;
  4. Keep away from people and stadiums;
  5. Keep clear of manned aircraft (including no flying within 5 miles of any airport);
  6. Weigh less than 55 lbs.

The FAA has a summary list of its proposed regulations for Small Unmanned Aircraft here:

Drone use clearly creates risks that the insurance industry is trying to quantify. Pricing for commercial use is difficult given the lack of loss experience, so this will develop over time, particularly once commercial use regulations have been promulgated.  In the meantime, because the general liability policy is so broad, early commercial use may be covered until the industry excludes drone exposures to price buy-back coverage. On the personal recreational use side, we have not yet had a drone related claim here in our South Shore office, but they’re easy to imagine:

  1. A drone falls from the sky and damages someone else’s house, car or other property;
  2. A drone falls and hurts someone physically;
  3. Invasion of privacy. This is the one that bothers many of us the most. 

Commercial use will be highly regulated, especially with a higher expectation of safety, privacy and predictability. Different industries have different reasons for wanting full access to drone use. Amazon has said it would like to deliver packages to your door by drone, and surely drone deliveries will play a large role in consumer product delivery. In addition, some jobs are more safely handled by drones than by humans; for example, inspections of high places, like high wire or antenna inspections.

The insurance industry has its own benefits planned for drone use. For underwriting, a visual view of insured properties will be less expensive and less intrusive than a human inspector. Working with security firms, physical security and early response to claims will be a benefit that should drive down the cost of risk to covered properties.  

The biggest benefit for the insurance industry will be for claims, and particularly post-disaster assessment and response time. Today, insurance companies respond to disasters by bringing in teams from other regions, folks who do not necessarily know the local roads or resources. Prioritizing claims by severity is an inexact science at best: subjective claims descriptions vary tremendously. Insurers already know the physical concentration of their “rooftops”; sending drones in right after a big event will provide valuable information to prioritize claims and assign to the most qualified staff.

Contact us for more commercial insurance info!

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Commercial Insurance Audits

Posted by Jane Logan on Thu, Feb 05, 2015 @ 02:30 PM

Commercial_insurance_audit_tips_from_Andrew_G_Gordon_IncInsurance Audits

A Commercial Insurance premium is based on the how much activity a business has; the more activity, the more exposure to loss and the higher the premium.  At the beginning of the policy term, the exposure (payroll, gross income, admission, gallons, etc.) is estimated.  At the end of the policy term the insurance company conducts an audit to determine the actual exposure. Audits ensure that your insurance premium is based on your individual level of activity.

The three most common measures of exposure are:

  • Gross Payroll – Includes wages or salary, commission, bonuses, overtime, holiday, sick and vacation pay as well as the value of housing if provided for employees. Overtime is adjusted back to straight time if records total overtime paid by job type / rating class code. Tips are deducted from payroll as are dismissal or severance pay. 
  • Gross Sales – Includes income for all goods and services provided.  Deductions include Sales Tax, the value of merchandise returned and freight charges - if freight is a separate item on your customer invoices.
  • Subcontract Labor Cost – Total cost of all labor, materials and equipment furnished and used to produce your product or service.


 Tips for preparing for your audit:

  • Have the auditor send you a list of all information required for the audit.
  • Prepare records to take advantage of allowable deductions.
  • If you hire subcontractors have Certificates of Insurance for each subcontractor with policy term dates that cover your entire policy term – you may need at least two Certificates on each subcontractor.
  • Restaurants and retail stores should always report gross sales of food and alcohol separately.
  • Lottery Sales – only commission is included.


Tips for the audit appointment:

  • If you prefer an exact appointment time and not an appointment “window of time” ask for the first appointment of the day.  Being the first appointment means you won’t be kept waiting because the audit before you took longer than expected.
  • Provide the auditor with an area to work with enough space for your records and a laptop computer.  Providing a good work area reduces the time it takes to conduct the audit and reduces the risk of errors.
  • Auditors may ask questions that don’t appear to be relevant such as gross income on an audit based on payroll.  Insurance companies use gross income to judge if the payroll is credible, so even though the policy is rated on payroll, they may ask for gross income.
  • If the auditor asks you to sign an authorization to release the audit worksheets to your agent sign the form, it will expedite the process if you dispute the audit.
  • Finally, auditors are paid to audit-not try to audit; their income is based on the number of audits they conduct.  Time spent by an auditor making multiple calls to schedule the audit or waiting for records during the audit takes time which the auditor could use to identify and apply credits you’re due to reduce your premium.  The same auditor may conduct your audit year after year, and building a good relationship with an auditor could save you money!

Contact us with any questions about commercial insurance! Check out this other blog on insurance audits and workers' comp!

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Terrorism Risk Insurance Act – TRIA – Expired December 31, 2014, reauthorized

Posted by Geoffrey Gordon on Tue, Dec 30, 2014 @ 05:27 PM

The Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA )was conceived in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.  The damage caused by those attacks exceeded $40 billion in insured losses, the worst example of intentional destruction on American soil since December 7, 1941 when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

Acts of terrorism had never been addressed by insurance before September 11, however the unpredictable nature of acts of terrorism are impossible for the insurance industry to quantify.  Insurance companies are in the businesss of quantifying rrisks, so this created immediate problems for the industry.  Reinsurers, the large financial behemoths who provide insurance to the insurance industry, exited the market for terrorism coverage after paying out the vast majority of the claims in New York, Washington DC, and Pennsylvania.  With no financial backing to cover such unpredictable losses, retail insurance companies that provide 


In November 2002 Congress authorized the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) which provided the badly needed backstop to the insurance industry.  The forms that many business owners are familiar with today where they must accept or reject terrorism coverage, are manifestations of this law.  But most importantly, coverage was available for businesses and building owners in urban areas thought most vunerable to future to businesses began to add exclusions to avoid this risk to their own financial stability. 

The conditions for an act of terrorism are certified by the Secretary of the Treasury along with the Secretary of State and Attorney General.    However one of the features of the law is the requirement that at least $5 million in damage.  Thus, the act perpetrated at the Boston Marathon bombing never was certified as an act of terrorism because damaged never rached that $5,000,000 threshold, even though the attack was called terrorism by most Americans including President  Obama.

Fast forward to December 2014. In the final “Cromnibus Act” passed in December 2014 by a partly lame-duck Congress, the terrorism risk insurance act was not reauthorized.  This failure to continue the reinsurance through the federal government was not expected by most experts in the insurance industry.  Fortunately the hiatus was temporary:  One of the first acts of the new 114th Congress was to reauthorize the Act. 

For more on TRIA’s history and features, visit

We update this blog periodically as situations in Washington change.

Independent contractors and the IRS, insurance companies, and MA DoR

Posted by Geoffrey Gordon on Wed, Sep 24, 2014 @ 05:25 PM

Independent contractors, or subcontractors, are treated differently by insurance companies, the IRS and by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue.  The purpose of this blog will be to highlight the differences and to outline why the Massachusetts definitions are so important to so many businesses.

Independent contractors (ICs)perform a variety of functions, often which are not part of the core work of the hiring company.  The determination as to whether a worker should be classified as independent versus an employee comes down to several factors.  Every business wants to know how subs and insurance interact, but how governmental agencies view these relationships is important as well.  Consider the spectrum below to get a sense of where different authorities fall:  To the left side, a company has an owner and no employees: all work is done by independent contractors.  To the right, all workers performing work are employees.   Massachusetts has the broadest definition to classify workers as employees; the IRS is somewhat further down the spectrum.  Insurance rules and regulations fall somewhere between these two, depending upon the industry, the kind of insurance and the way insurance costs - particularly general liability adnworkers comp - are quantified.


In the past, it was simple: if someone was an employee they got a W-2, and ICs use the reporting form 1099.  Employers are responsible for collecting payroll taxes and income taxes from W-2 employees, but subcontractors are on their own to report their income and pay taxes.  Employee employer collection of taxes is more predictable, effective and enforceable, so tax collectors prefer workers to be classified as W-2 employees.

As more employers began using subs to manage labor costs and reduce insurance costs, the incidence of insurance fraud, below market wages, unfair competition, and tax compliance grew, and State officials worked to change that.

In 2004 Massachusetts passed a law intended to classify more independent subs as employees. This law established a three part definition: " individual performing any servce shall be an employee unless:

  • The worker must be free from control and direction in performance of service; and
  • The work performed is outside the usual course of business of the employer, and 
  • The individual is customarily engaged in an independently established trade. occupation, profession or business of the same nature as that involves in the service performed.
Failure to comply can result in taxes, simple fines, and criminal offenses.  Principles of corporations or members of LLCs (the people who are the employers) can be held personally liable for violations. 

Because of the large fines and potential for triple damages and huge legal fees, this wage act has been characterized by some as the new ‘tobacco’ for prosecuting attorneys.   Businesses beware.

Insurance companies want to collect premiums wherever a risk of loss exists.  The basis for developing an insurance cost can be broken down by payroll to employees and expenses paid to subs.  If the subcontractors have their own insurance (see certificates) the charge is a fraction of the charge for direct labor.  But when subcontractors do not have their own insurance, the employer pays the same wage as they would for their own direct labor.  This is why collecting insurance certificates, and being named as additional insureds, can be such an important cost consideration for businesses that use independent contractors.

Real Estate agents as independent contractors have long been an exception to the broad categorization of contractors as direct (W-2) workers.  A specific law (G.L. c. 112.§87 RR) protects this carve-out classification, but that law was recently challenged by a group of real estate agents who argued they should be classifies as employees.   A Superior Court judge ruled last year that the real estate law still holds, but attorneys we’ve consulted believe this decision will be challenged in the Appeals Court, and will probably end up in the Supreme Judicial Court.

As experts in risk we recommend careful collection of certificates of insurance to keep your own risk and insurance costs low.  The wage law can be a greater threat for which no insurance is available: consult with other professionals including legal and accounting counsel for more detail on how the 2004 Massachusetts wage law affects your business specifically.

This blog was inspired by a seminar developed by Thomas Marks, an attorney in Mansfield specializing in business law, contracts, civil litigation and estate planning. Visit for more.

Tags: insependent contractors, Subcontractors and IRS<, subcontractors

What is a BOP? (aka business owners policy)

Posted by Geoffrey Gordon on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 @ 10:59 AM

Learn about your bop and get commercial insurance from andrew g gordon incWhat is a BOP?

A BOP stands for a business owner’s policy, an insurance policy providing several coverages in a single package that can be customized for many types of small businesses.  BOPs are popular because they jam in a lot of coverage for a low price; extensive customization is generally not needed.   BOPs are most common in retail, office, building or condo ownership, and service businesses, but some companies offer a BOP in contracting, restaurant, light manufacturing, and garage based operations.   (Call us for eligibility).

There are three important parts to a BOP (business owner’s policy):

  1. The first is property coverage for your business property, including office furnishings, IT infrastructure, stock and inventory.  It can also include buildings if the building ownership is the essentially the same as the business owner.  The cost is affected by amount of coverage purchased (a small professional office may have $10,000 of furniture and computers, whereas a restaurant may have expensive kitchen equipment, and so forth).  Other rating variables are the building’s construction (wood frame is more expensive than sprinklered steel and concrete), security, location and age of the building.
  2. Next is time element coverage: this protects the income statement by replacing profits lost due to the inability to operate if the physical plant can't open while repairs are made.   A simple example would be if a fire kept a retail or service business from operating until all the repairs were completed and the businessre-opens.  Business income coverage allows the business to continue to pay the employees so they do not need to go look for work elsewhere.  After all, the greatest asset for most businesses is the workforce: this lets the business pay to keep them.  Naturally other fixed obligations including rent or mortgage, and other expenses can be paid as well.
  3. The third leg to the three-legged stool is liability coverage.   Typically provided for $1 million, this provides defense and judgments against slip and fall liability situations, products the business sells, and other kinds of legal liability.  Be careful with professional liability and employment practices liability, however, as these are not customarily included in a business owner’s policy; these usually need to be purchased separately.

Insure your office retail building with a bop from Andrew G Gordon inc insuranceIn addition to these three primary areas, most business owner policies provide additional coverages for a wide variety of business.   Some examples include fine art, property in transit, property of others, software, money and securities, and leased or borrowed equipment.  Others extend even furhter providing protection for Employment Practices Liability, Cyber liability and employee dishonesty.  

More useful are industry-specific coverage add-ons which normally would be purchased separately.  For example, liquor liability coverage for restaurants, dependent property coverage for some manufacturing operations, jobsite tools or installation floaters for contractors.  In short, BOPs can be designed to fit well within certain specific industry classes. 

Insurance companies like BOPs because they can provide a broad variety of extra coverages, with the knowledge that many of the coverages are important to targeted classes of businesses, while others are not applicable, meaning there is no risk, and no cost.  This allows great pricing for all kinds of contingencies while minimizing the laborious process of customizing that is required for larger operations.  

The minimum premium for most BOPs today is $500, a low cost starting point for start-up or small business that need to protect an initial investment or satisfy lease terms (for liability coverage and additional insured status to landlord).  For this low cost a small business can have about $20,000 of property coverage including furniture, inventory, computers and so forth, plus the liability, business income, and other coverages outlined above.

Many established medium sized businesses use a BOP as well, as the most efficient purchase of a broad variety of protection for an attractive price.   Always work with a broker like Gordon who can assess the greatest risks to your business and help design an affordable insurance package within your budget.

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Tags: commercial, company, BOP, insurance, Business, office, business owner policy, retail, service

The Health and Wellness Revolution - A Personal Testimonial

Posted by Geoffrey Gordon on Thu, Mar 20, 2014 @ 05:34 PM

I still recall vividly the events unfolding in Cairo's Tahrir Square a couple years ago as Hosni Mubarak was counting his final days in power.  I remember these events because I was at home on the couch paralyzed with back pain, stuck flipping between CNN, ABC, and Fox.   Going to work was out of the question - a rarity for me.  It took about a half an hour to get from the couch to the car and another half hour to get from the parked car to the doctor’s office, every step in excruciating pain (I should have called 911).  I was in my mid 50’s and felt like an old man.  My body was broken.

Fast-forward three years.   I am pain free, never miss work, sleep better, have an incredible energy level, and am a better skier, snowboarder, tennis player, and surfer than I was five, ten, even twenty years ago: (full disclosure, I only recently took up surfing). What's my secret? Actually no secret; the solution is well-known: diet and exercise.  But there’s more to this than the same chorus you've heard before. 

Stay healthy with personal life insurance and exercise with andrew gordon incMy personal epiphany came in a book entitled Younger Next Year.  The subtitle got my attention: “A guide to living like 50 until you're 80 and beyond”.   The book encourages people in their 50’s to get plenty of exercise, watch what they eat, and stay focused and committed in the mind.  At this same time a couple friends invited me to a morning “Boot Camp” training regimen that sounded like a fun, social way to rebuild my broken body.  I figured I could give it a try until I healed myself.  So while I was getting stronger at Boot Camp, I also began watching my food intake, for better performance.  Today I wouldn't dream of stopping my regular exercise routine.  There's too much on the line.

Be healthy with exercise nutrition and personal life insurance from andrew gordon incMy story is not unique.  Developments in the sciences of the body, including our genetic makeup and technology, have converged to make measurable progress in energy and fitness a reality for millions. We understand better for example how muscle deteriorates at roughly 1% per year (10% per decade) after about age 40. Our grandparents may have known this subconsciously, but didn't know it quantitatively.  Today we can measure exactly how our bodies are performing.

Another development is better training.  Trainers today have tremendous resources at their disposal for getting the most out of people.  Research starts at the high end; when any professional athlete is hurt, a lot of money is at risk, so research on getting them healthy and in top performance as efficiently as possible is well funded.  That expertise filters down to the rest of the training community, and is available through providers such as Trainer MD (full disclosure, Trainer MD is also a customer).  A good trainer, whether individually or with a group (I prefer the latter for its social benefits), is part motivator, part coach, part friend.   

One important caveat: talk to your doctor before embarking on a fitness program.   What we don't know we don't know can really hurt us.  With our health, always talk to an expert first.

Live healthy with nutrition exercise and personal life insurance from andrew gordon incIn business, we track a lot of numbers to help us make a variety of decisions.  Technology, such as the Garmin watch which monitors blood pressure and heart speed, has made tracking your physical progress much easier.  But if this becomes a task, ditch it.  (Personally I don’t use these, but most high performers quanfity a lot of fitness indicators carefully).

A few observations and my personal testimonial on the food we eat.  We understand better today how the consumption of processed foods that taste so good going down can be so harmful to us.  The average American consumes approximately 110 pounds of processed sugar (mostly high fructose corn syrup) per year; our grandparents consumed less than 10% of that amount including cane sugar.   While soda pop consumption is declining, sports drinks are mostly just sugar water.   Being just a little disciplined with our eating habits can make a world of difference.

Stay in shape and healthy with exercise nutrition and personal life insurance from andrew gordon incReasonable people can argue whether genetically modified foods have contributed to the spike in allergies to peanuts, milk (lactose), and wheat (gluten) in so many of our children, and other new maladies, but if the skeptics are right, doesn't it make sense to err on the side of caution?   Eating as our forebears did, consuming more unprocessed (real) food, rather than food that has been processed for taste and marketability.  Want proof?  Google a list of 10 successful diet programs, and notice the most common theme:  the absence of processed foods, substituting instead real fruit and vegetables, real meat or other protein, and a small dose of complex carbohydrates.

More good news is that our healthcare system is beginning to focus more on wellness than just fixing people who are already broken.  A development in the health-insurance industry is that many medical providers are now compensated for keeping people out of their offices, rather than billing them only when they come in.  Many employer sponsored insurance plans now pay for joining Weight Watchers, health clubs or other wellness organizations too. No secret here: weight loss and regular exercise mean fewer health problems.

The authors of Younger Next Year cite that some 70% of diseases today are lifestyle related, and that 50% of the maladies associated with old age can be eliminated altogether through diet and exercise.  Lifestyle (diet and exercise) have a direct impact on the cost of healthcare, and now there’s money – lots of it - in keeping people fit.   So this won't be the last you'll hear of this health evolution.

Here's the best news of all.  I still indulge myself: I love steak, I love pizza, I enjoy having a beer with friends.  But too much of any of these makes me feel less than fit, so it's easier to self-regulate than to be motivated by guilt.   For me, staying fit means staying with skiers 30 years younger, getting to a ball that nobody expects me to reach; it means showing up at work with energy and purpose, and it also means creating active memories with my family in fun and interesting places.  It means not being stuck on the couch watching Egypt on TV in paralyzing pain.  It means… life is good.  

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Tags: health, fitness, nutrition, exercise, wellness, in, your, 50s, stay, shape

Massachusetts Commercial Vehicle Inspection Program

Posted by Bill Cordaro on Thu, Feb 13, 2014 @ 11:11 AM

Every so often, we receive inquiries from our commercial auto clients regarding Massachusetts commercial vehicle inspection requirements, procedures and Department of Transportation (D.O.T.) requirements. Recently, I brought my personal auto to a commercial inspection station, DelCorp Mass State Inspection, Whitman, MA (they also inspect private passenger vehicles). They gave me some very useful information and provided the following website, This website provides useful Massachusetts information for all vehicle types. For commercial information, refer to their section: Commercial Inspection Program.

Massachusetts Vehicle Check is a joint program of the Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) and the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV).

The website states that “All commercial vehicles, trailers and converter dollies are subject to the Massachusetts Commercial Vehicle Inspection. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) approved the Massachusetts Commercial Vehicle Inspection as equivalent to the annual FMCSA or "DOT" inspection. If your commercial vehicle/trailer receives a state safety inspection, you are not required to obtain a separate FMCSA or "DOT" inspection”. The website also advises that “The Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR) issued by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that is signed by the licensed vehicle inspector is proof of compliance with FMCSA inspection requirements, not the windshield sticker on the vehicle. RMV recommends that the VIR is maintained inside the vehicle at all times”.

Learn about the MA commercial vehicle inspection program and get auto business insurance from andrew gordon incThis website provides a state listing of Massachusetts commercial inspection stations, as well as information regarding Federal DOT Regulations.

“Effective on October 22, 2008, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), added the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ annual safety inspection program for commercial motor vehicles to their list of Programs which have been determined to be comparable to, or as effective as, the Federal Periodic Inspection requirements contained in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs). Click here to download the Federal Register notice.”

(All information provided is from

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Tags: commercial, inspection, massdot, auto, insurance, Business, massachusetts, Vehicle

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