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Commercial Insurance Blog

Insurance for an IT Company

Posted by Val Feeney on Tue, Jan 31, 2017 @ 10:05 AM

Many IT companies grow steadily for several years without having the risk and insurance program evolve to match the needs of a larger enterprise.   When a company first opens, insurance is one of many simple checklist items: get essential general liability and workers compensation in place.   As the business grows and evolves, risks are attended to more on an ad hoc basis than with a strategy or plan in place.

Cyber_Lock.jpgBut the risks and exposures that IT companies face are greater and more complex than just a few short years ago.    Add a little growth and new services, and that early insurance program can't do what it's supposed to do: protect the business.

We recently were referred to a growing IT company and discovered these 5 areas not attended to, each which could quickly put them out of business, and not addressed in their old program:

  1. Professional Liability (AKA – E&O) – The advice a professional gives to its customers is very important, and can lead to the clients success, or in some bad cases, its failure. If a client claims the IT Company provided bad advice, or misguided the client, if there are financial damages, the company may be sued.  Professional Liability insurance provides defense coverage and judgments the Company/Professional from allegations of 'errors' or 'omissions'.  (More)
  2. Cyber Liability – The IT Company was surely assisting its clients with the creation and setup of servers, phones, computers, Wi-Fi and other services and if the client ever gets hacked and loses sensitive customer information, the IT Company may be on the hook. Cyber Liability insurance protects the IT Company for this exposure.  (See: How Target was hacked via it’s HVAC System)
  3. Business Interruption – If the company’s office was destroyed by a fire or storm and could not operate because its infrastructure (servers, laptops, etc.), the IT Company could lose significant revenue before coming back on line. It may not be able to make its payments for rent, vendor contracts, employee wages, utilities, etc.  Adding Business Income coverage protected them for this kind of lost revenue. 
  4. Employment Practice Liability – Termination of a bad employee can create a significant legal threat to any company, not just the IT industry. If the company does not follow the right steps to fire an employee properly, that employee could sue the company for unfair employment practices.  EPLI coverage protects companies in this, and other employment events, including allegations of discrimination in hiring and other employment practices.   
  5. Business Personal Property (BPP) – The IT Company had inventory, computers, cable, equipment, and other items that valued well over $100,000 in its office that has no coverage under a 'liability' policy. If the office was damaged by a fire or other event, the company could have lost all the investments in the physical stuff.  BPP coverage protects the company’s “stuff.” 

Each example above can be mitigated with an organized risk management program in place to help buy insurance smartly.  Risk management paired with insurance such as using a good HR partner for hiring and firing can lower your chances of getting sued by a disgruntled employee. 

Knowing your true risk and addressing it carefully will help you “sleep easy at night” in case disaster strikes. 

Val_Feeney.jpg

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Tags: IT, risk management, Cyber Liability, liability claims, business property

Construction and development tips when working near water or wetlands

Posted by Guest Blogger on Fri, Jan 27, 2017 @ 12:22 PM

Keeping water clean and abundant is important to us all which is why our federal, state and local governments have regulations that protect our water.  Here are some practices for before, during  and after construction, especialy when excatating or grading, to  keep water protected and to avoid violating storm water quality laws:

 

Before Construction:

Design with Water in Mind -Use low impact development design principles to minimize creating stormwater in the first place. By minimizing paved surfaces, concentrating development to retain as much of the natural landscape as possible, treating runoff using green infrastructure like rain gardens and grassed swales and staying as far away from surface water and wetlands as possible you will reduce the risk of damaging protected natural resources. 

 

During Construction:

Construction site owners and operators who disturb greater than ONE acre (in some towns the trigger can be less) are required to prepare and implement a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan that includes:

  • implement erosion and sediment controls (inspect and maintain to ensure they are functioning properly before and after rain events)
  • stabilize soils
  • manage dewatering activities
  • implement pollution prevention measures
  • provide and maintain buffers around surface waters
  • prohibit certain discharges, such as motor fuel and concrete washout
  • utilize surface outlets for discharges from basins and impoundments

Linked here is a 2-page pdf that describes those practices from an off-site resource.

 

After Construction:

The key to stormwater management is prevention of problems. Here are tips to keep pollutants out of the water.

  • Keep dumpster areas swept clean of litter, debris and sediments—and keep them covered. Schedule regular pick-ups. 
  • Sweep parking lot, walkways and patios on a regular basis. Do not use a hose to wash down pavement.
  • Keep stormdrains clear of debris and landscaping materials.
  • Avoid excessive salting in the winter, and sweep up spills.
  • Pour washwater down a sanitary sewer (sink or toilet), never down a stormdrain.
  • Use non-toxic cleaning products and organic lawn chemicals.
  • Water lawns and gardens only. Don’t allow irrigation to spray onto pavement.

 

NSRWA logo.png

This blog guest written by our friend, North and South Rivers Watershed Association executive director, Samantha Woods, at http://www.nsrwa.org/http://www.nsrwa.org/

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Business Owners: Consider Google

Posted by Gordon Atlantic Insurance on Sun, Jan 22, 2017 @ 09:00 AM

As social media engineer, I spend most of my time on the internet where I run into lots of great tools. Lately, I’ve become a bit of a Google addict. Now, most computer users are familiar with Google’s incredible search engine, but are unaware of the whole host of formidably effective tools that Google offers FREE. Google’s innovations have been so useful to me; I decided to write about them.

Business owners should operate with google and commercial insurance from andrew gordon inc

Google Chrome:

I’ll start with the big guy. Most PC users use Internet Explorer for web browsing …I’m so sorry. As someone who dealt with the frustrations of IE for many years before switching to Firefox and then Chrome, I can highly recommend Chrome as a replacement. Google Chrome is lightweight, offers fast web browsing that works seamlessly with Google applications and offers applications for download. It also feels incredibly intuitive to use; you could download it today and wouldn’t notice a huge difference from Internet Explorer, but deal without whatever problems and bugs are plaguing the latest version of IE.

Google Documents:

My personal favorite. The idea is that you can store and edit your documents through Google, which is incredibly useful for business:

  • The documents can be retrieved from any computer with internet, and can be categorized into folders like your documents on your hard drive.
  • Where Gdocs hit it out of the park is with sharing your documents. You can choose to give anyone else with a Google Account rights to view and/or edit your document. You can even have multiple people working on a document AT THE SAME TIME. For real.
  • You can save documents in a wide variety of formats, including PDF or HTML
  • You can upload your Microsoft Word documents straight to Google Docs
  • Let’s say you’re working on a group project, and after editing a document for weeks, you decide your version that you had last month was better. Good thing GDocs allows you to access the complete revision history of the document, and recall it from any of its previous stages
  • Oh yeah, everything that I said above also works with Powerpoint presentations and Excel spreadsheets that you’re familiar with in Excell are available for use in Google though their spreadsheet funcion

Google Calendar:

Another incredible feature. You can create an online calendar of your tasks and events, which can also be shared with anyone else with a Google Account. You can also create several color coded calendars to organize your events. It can even send you notifications through email o to your smartphone. I’ve used Google Calendar to organize my life for about a year now. When someone asks me for my availability, I just email them a screenshot of my week, print out a copy for their desk, or share it with them directly. I can even choose to only share my work schedule with them so they don’t know that I marked the Mythbusters marathon for watching!

gmail good for businesses, wikipediaGoogle Mail:

I’m not going to spend any time raving about Google Mail, but I would urge you to at least check it out. It’s just as great as the other tools and just as free.

 

Google Reader:

For those of you who manually check your favorite blogs and websites, join the 21st century and open a Google reader account. You can add the RSS feeds of your favorite blogs and websites and receive all your updates in one user-friendly application. I used to read the newspaper, but now read my news feed. It’s like my own customizable newsfeed from my favorite columnists, authors, and bloggers.

Google+:

This is Google’s new social media system, still in beta. Getting an invite is tough right now, but if you’re in, you’ll notice that it’s an upscale, cleaner Facebook. Instead of having 768 friends that see everything you do, you put your friends into circles then publish each post only to the circles that you select. So my family doesn’t have to see my school-related posts, and effectively eliminates the awkward 60-year-old-great-aunt-flora-commenting-on-every-status-you-post syndrome. Facebook does offer these tools as well, but they’re little used and frankly, Google just does it better. Google plus also offers group video chat and the ability to separate your news streams by your circles which is refreshing. Again, Facebook does offer a similar service, but it takes some headache to put in place. G+ also includes a feature called Google Sparks, which partners with Google’s search engine to match your interests with random content from the internet that it thinks you’ll like; it’ usually right. Basically, while it still has some catching on to do, Google plus represents a cleaner version of Facebook paired with the brute functionality of Skype and the addictiveness of StumbleUpon. If you can, check out Google plus.

What’s really cool is that if you choose to use all of these Google services, you can manage almost everything important though Google. I rarely have to open external programs anymore. Google does it all.

Tip of the Hat,

CF

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Corbin Foucart. Andrew G. Gordon Insurance

Tags: commercial, gmail, Google, chrome, calendar, plus, documents, docs, bussineses, consider, insurance, Business

Business Fleets: How GPS Technology can Lower your Costs

Posted by Gordon Atlantic Insurance on Fri, Jan 20, 2017 @ 09:42 AM

Keep track of your companys cars with commercial insurance from andrew gordon incWouldn’t it be great if you could watch your entire fleet of vehicles from 20,000 feet in the air? You could verify that workers are where they say they are, make sure they aren’t speeding, stop extensive idling, help a dispatcher identify location during urgent calls, or even find the most efficient route for a company vehicle to travel during a job.

Well, technology that used to be affordable only for big corporations is now not only available but economical for fleets as small as five vehicles, right here in the Boston area.

We recently saw a demonstration from Boston Global Tracking, a new local business dedicated to helping other businesses keep track of their vehicles. We don’t have any kind of interest in this company other than liking what they do, so our endorsement is based entirely on what we’ve seen, and how we think it can help you control your fleet.

The simplicity behind the technology is ingenious. The same GPS that many drivers already use to find directions can be monitored through the internet at any given time, providing you not only with precise vehicular location, but also with information like speed and trip information. Furthermore, improvements in GPS technology allow the devices to be implanted in the key of a company car, which eliminates any possibility of tampering.

This kind of a system often results in behavioral change without even having to discipline anyone. The value of better driving and fewer accidents are impossible to specifically quantify; but control over other things outlined above (such as eliminating lengthy idling), are.

Business Quote

Corbin Foucart

Tags: commercial, insurance, Business, Boston, fleet, gps, global tracking, driving

What happens if I get diesel fuel by mistake?

Posted by Jane Logan on Mon, Jan 16, 2017 @ 04:45 PM

Fuel from a gas station damaged my engine who pays for the damage? 

What are the signs of diesel fuel in a gas engine?

  • Engine misfire

  • Sputtering

  • Stalling

What are the signs of gas fuel in a diesel engine?

  • Sluggish performance

  • Engine stops running

  • catalytic convertor overheating

Gas pumps for gas and diesel are different sizes and colors, however if the gas delivery tanker delivers fuel to the wrong underground storage tank you won’t know you’re getting the wrong fuel!

If the wrong type of fuel is added to your tank and you notice right away (at gas station) don’t operate the vehicle, notify the gas station, get the complete name of the person that you report the incident to, ask for a receipt for your purchase and try to get the name of their insurance company or agent then:

  • Have the vehicle towed to a mechanic

  • Contact the gas station insurance company or agent to submit a claim for the damage to your vehicle as well as any other expenses such as towing, rental while your vehicle is in the shop.

Getting a receipt is critical if you paid cash for the gas to document you purchased gas at the station.  Bad gas from a gas station usually results in many claims so the insurance company may be aware the station sold bad gas, however you still need to prove your claim, having a receipt will be key in recovering your damages from the gas station

Whenever you pay cash for gas, always get a receipt – it could save you thousands of dollars in engine repairs if you get the wrong type or bad fuel.

Tags: car damage, fuel, gasoline, gas station, bad fuel, diesel

Liability Tips for Information Technology Professionals

Posted by Geoffrey Gordon on Fri, Jan 13, 2017 @ 01:00 PM

Network Administrators and managed services providers help businesses function at the speed of light.  But other businesses are out there testing how to penetrate firewalls or otherwise gain access to valuable information that can be readily resold on the dark web.

If a penetration is successful, and ransom ware is installed, or accounts compromised, or worst of all, private data released to the public, will the client hold the service provider responsible?

It depends on the amount of damages for one.  Professional services by IT professionals are similar to other professionals: if an error or omission causes the client harm and they sue, well there's insurance for that. Liability tips for Information Technology Professionals

A hot area of insurance today is cyber liability, the insurance that protects the company for the financial expense of a hack.  As outlined above, it should include protection for ransom ware, data theft, release of 'personally identifiable data', and may include regulatory fines such as those called for in 201 CMR-17 here in Massachusetts.

For IT professionals who watch over these business systems, professional liability and cyber liability really are one and the same.

Fortunately, custom insurance products have been developed that recognize this crossover of threats, interests and damages. 

What's an IT company to do to keep the professional liability insurance costs low?

To keep the cost of professional liability insurance low, begin with a good service contract.  This is part of a broad risk control technique known as 'Contractual Risk Transfer" (video).  Contractual risk transfer is a fancy way of saying we're transferring the risk back to the client, and enforcing this with a contract.

Another step is to have documented steps for all service personnel: this facilitates billing the customer (if hourly based), and provides an added measure of defense in case it's alleged that someone simply skipped an important task.

Finally, good communication with the client, both written and expressed verbally throughout the contract, that services imply no guarantee of safety from the powerful forces trying to steal information from servers you protect.   The best defense could in fact be recommending that every customer with data of any value, consider their own liability insurance. Because even if you do have insurance, you don't want to be the only party in the room who does.

 

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Tags: IT, insurance, liability, Cyber Liability, personal information protection

Yikes did someone draw outside the lines with the crayons?

Posted by Paula McDarby on Thu, Dec 29, 2016 @ 01:30 PM

What is professional liability for? Is it just for guys who wear suits?

NO!! If you are in the business of performing a service or providing advice you better be 100% right 100% of the time, never gonna happen right? You are going to need Professional Insurance.

We live in a “lawsuit happy world" so if and when you get slapped with one because something you designed or said went terribly wrong or due to your negligence, you are going to need this in your back pocket.

I’m not sure if you are aware of how much a typical lawsuit runs these days but they are usually looking for a whole pile of cha-ching$$$. Most of us don’t have extra millions lying around for these incidents however a professional liability policy will respond to the sharks!

court.jpg

 

So who needs this?

Lawyers, Engineers, Architects, Realtors, IT Consultants, Insurance Agencies (yes, even we make mistakes) Accountants, Medical Field, Hairdressers & many more. 

What does a Professional Policy Cover?

Alleged or actual negligence

Misrepresentation

Inaccurate advice

Defense Costs

Personal Inury

Copyright infringement

Claims & Damages

 

If you would like to discuss your potential for this exposure, let’s talk.

Tags: commercial insurance, coverage, professional liability, lawsuits

A rock hit my windshield...so who pays for repair?

Posted by Jane Logan on Tue, Dec 27, 2016 @ 08:00 AM

Truck on road.jpg

When you’re driving down the road and a vehicle in front of you kicks up a rock or other debris, do they have to pay for the damage to your vehicle?

Rocks and other types of road debris break windshields, damage vehicles and injure people every day. An AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports over a period of four years road debris caused over 200,000 accidents resulting in 500 deaths and 39,000 injuries, with 2/3 of the accidents caused by debris falling off vehicles and 1/3 of accidents caused by debris kicked up from the road.

  • When another vehicle kicks up debris, the driver isn’t at fault – for example, if the truck in front of you drives over a rock and it hits your windshield, they’re not responsible for the damage.

  • When another vehicle drops debris (gravel, trash, tools etc.) it’s transporting the other driver is at fault – for example, if a contractor drops a ladder off their truck they’re responsible for the damage.

Since road debris and falling objects cause so many accidents, as precaution you should:

  • Follow other vehicles at a safe distance

  • Avoid vehicles with unsafe loads

  • If you can’t safely avoid road debris slow down to reduce impact - that may be safer than suddenly changing lanes at high speed and hitting something bigger while going faster

  • If your vehicle is damaged by road debris you don’t want to be in the position where you’re trying to chase down the responsible vehicle to get their plate number or company name so you can try to get them to pay for the damage. Not only is chasing after a vehicle dangerous, it’s difficult to prove the other vehicle caused the damage and therefore difficult to get them or their insurance company to pay for the damage.

To reduce your financial loss from debris hitting your vehicle, purchase Comprehensive coverage (physical damage other than from a collision) . Comprehensive coverage includes glass coverage, and in many States you have the option for no or a lower deductible for glass damage.

Tags: commercial claims, insurance coverage, roadways, repairs, debris

Do I have coverage for my drone?

Posted by Paula McDarby on Tue, Dec 20, 2016 @ 03:00 PM

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Technology is moving so fast that laws and the insurance industry cannot keep up. This creates a huge exposure, especially with respect to drones.

What is a drone? Something that flies without a person.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) defines an unmanned aircraft as “an aircraft operated without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft.” (Sec. 331(8) of Public Law 112‐95)

There are many industries in which drones prove useful:

  • Construction

  • Engineering

  • Insurance assessments

  • Mapping/geophysical survey

  • Parcel delivery

  • Photography/videography

  • Realty

Regulations in the past only addressed a manned aircraft with passengers, as well as cargo planes or hobby aircraft for recreational purposes.

In 2015 the FAA authorized approval for the use of drones for commercial or business use which took effect August 29, 2016. This approval allowed small unmanned aircrafts to be operated in commercial operations. However, that came with a long list of do’s and don’ts regarding speed, height, transporting, etc.

In response to the FAA, new laws were put in place with mandates.  Drones are prohibited in:

  • Hunting or locating animals as game

  • Operating weapons

  • Voyeurism & violating ones privacy

  • Interfering with aircrafts

As it stands now, the insurance industry has Commercial General Liability language that addresses drones as follows:

Two coverage parts

Coverage A – Bodily injury/property damage liability

Coverage B – Personal and advertising injury

Standard CGL includes an aircraft and watercraft exclusion for Coverage A -  Removes coverage for liability arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of aircraft or watercraft that is owned, operated by, rented to, or loaned to an insured.

Coverage B has no specific aircraft exclusion. 

In Federal lawsuit: Boggs v. Merideth, No. 3:16‐cv‐6‐DJH (W.D. Ky. Filed Jan. 4, 2016), a man shoots down a drone as it hovers over his teenage daughter while she is sunbathing.  What may seem like a typical, fatherly reaction is not supported by law, as the air space above your land is considered national airspace, which is federal jurisdiction. In other words, it might be your back yard but it's not your space.

This law suit continues as the legal system, federal law and the FAA work to address new drone suits.  As drones grow in popularity, so do the number of filings. The commercial use of drones is not illegal but it is restricted unless you get a Certificate of Authorization from the FAA. Insurance coverages that include liability, personal injury, invasion of privacy, property, and workers compensation are all areas that the carriers are working to collect data on in hopes (or not) of entering the drone insurance market.   

 

Tags: commercial insurance, liability, technology, drone, drone coverage

Marijuana in the Workplace

Posted by Geoffrey Gordon on Tue, Nov 22, 2016 @ 10:51 AM

Massachusetts voters recently voted to decriminalize marijuana cultivation, possession and sale for limited amounts. Does this create a problem for employers in Massachusetts?

Pot Cannabis Leaf.pngThe short answer is of course introducing a longstanding illegal 'controlled substance' into society at large and workplaces in particular will create challenges for businesses.  The good news for employers is they hold a 'hole card': pot is still illegal under federal law. This provides powerful cover for employers when developing workplace rules. 

Some examples for employers' latitude include:

Random drug testing can continue such that even weekend use may be prohibited.
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act does not overrule federal law on marijuana so an employer may, as a condition of continued employment, prohibit even prescribed medical use by employees.

The most important point today is that employers should review or develop their drug use policy right away. As with other employment policies, having written and clearly communicated workplace rules guidance is always better than having no rules or unwritten rules, which are subject to interpretation and discrimination. When developing workplace standards, remember one of the greatest employment practices risk is treating different employees differently because no rules, or unclear rules exist.

So how does an employer develop a drug use policy? First, assess and analyze the overall workplace rules from the risk angle. Companies with a transportation element face risk every time a driver gets behind the wheel, so a no-tolerance policy makes sense in these cases. Same with machine operators, where the risk may be to employees themselves, to co-workers (workplace safety) or to a production line. Conversely, a creative or sales organization may not care what employees do on their own time as long as they perform when at work.

What about random drug testing? An old truth in business is that you get not what is expected, but what is inspected.  If you are going to be serious about a no tolerance drug policy, you have to test for use:  randomly and consistently.

As with all things in business, there are tradeoffs. One trade-off is with your specific labor pool, as different businesses have different labor needs. Certain businesses may draw from a labor pool with higher than median recreational marijuana use. Call me crazy, but might recreational drug use be higher in creative urban industries than say, insurance or accounting?  If a drug-free policy limits your labor pool for qualified talent, consider whether recreational off-hours drug use is relevant to the functioning of the business. If it isn't relevant to getting the job done, should the business really care? 

To this last point, as with many employment policies the overriding factor should be the following:  does off hours recreational marijuana use affect the business that gets done each day?  Or could it affect the safety of your employees, which has a direct effect on costs (see this article about workers compensation)?  If it does not, the best approach may be consistent with alcohol use: on your own time, but never, ever at work.

To discuss this and other employment risk factors affecting your business, let us know...

Business Risk Inquiry

 

Legal & technical disclaimer:  Any advice provided here is not legal advice.  Statements or advice are based on our experience in risk control, mitigation, and transfer, and is believed to be effective and valid when provided.  All legal or contractual wording, including any suggestions offered in a legal context should be reviewed by qualified legal counsel. 

Tags: employment safety, workplace rules, marijuana in the workplace in MA

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