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Business Protection Bulletin

Insurance for Aquariums

By Business Protection Bulletin

Aquariums entertain kids and adults with a variety of programs and activities. If you own or operate an aquarium, purchase adequate insurance for aquariums as you protect your patrons and your business.

What Activities Does Insurance for Aquariums Cover?

Depending on your specific insurance for aquariums, your policy may cover numerous programs, activities and people.

  • Animal rides
  • Play areas
  • Field trips
  • Day camps
  • Special events
  • Fundraisers
  • Volunteers
  • Food and beverage concessions

Types of Insurance for Aquariums

Protect your aquarium with several different types of insurance.

General Liability

Written on an admitted basis in most states, general liability offers broad coverage. It typically covers bodily injury and property damage. Ask your insurance agent about coverage for other liabilities, too, such as:

  • Employee Benefits Liability
  • Liquor Liability
  • Transmissible Pathogens Coverage
  • Volunteer Accident Medical Coverage

Property Coverage

Equipment breakdowns could cost your aquarium thousands of dollars. Property insurance can pay to cover these repairs. It can also cover emergency vacating expenses and crisis response coverage for your business.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Employees could be injured or become ill while they perform their job. Carry Workers’ Compensation to cover medical treatment, loss of income and other related costs. Because the Workers’ Compensation requirements vary by state, discuss your specific needs with your insurance agent.

Employment Practices Liability Insurance

EPLI covers claims employees make against your aquarium. These claims could include discrimination, wrongful termination, breach of contract and other wrongful acts. Purchase EPLI coverage as a stand-alone policy or as part of your packaged Businessowners Policy.

Commercial Auto Insurance

A vehicle you own and use primarily for work-related activities must be covered with commercial auto insurance. This policy can also cover a trailer you use to haul animals to other locations for educational shows or displays.

Directors and Officers Liability Insurance

Your aquarium’s board of directors guides your business, but they can be sued if they make a decision that creates financial consequences for someone. D & O liability insurance covers legal fees on a claims-made basis.

Crime Insurance

When a crime, including theft, occurs at your aquarium, you must absorb the loss. File a claim against your crime insurance to cover the theft.

Cyber Liability Insurance

The collection of customer data, including credit card information, is common in any business. Data and cyber breaches put your aquarium at risk, though, so protect your business with cyber liability insurance.

Insurance for aquariums protects your business and ensures you can continue to entertain guests. Discuss your aquarium insurance needs with your agent today.

Management Exempt Classification Mistakes

By Business Protection Bulletin

In Arenas vs. El Torito Restaurants, a California appellate court ruled on the possibility of a class action lawsuit for the misclassification of all managers at the El Torito restaurants as exempt.

Although the court gave a lengthy analysis about the appropriateness of the class action case, for our purposes, what’s important was that it warned employers that just because managers might be exempt at one store they might not be exempt at another store. It depends on the circumstances.

At some El Torito restaurants, many of the managers also did work performed by the staff or busboys. In other larger, busier restaurants, they did less of this work. Employers should determine whether managers are exempt on a case-by-case basis unless there’s complete uniformity in operations.

The plaintiff’s complaint also lays out the laundry list of exposures employers face by misclassifying managers as exempt; violation of wage and overtime regulations, failure to furnish wage and hour statements, or not providing rest and meal periods.

What Convenience Store Insurance Covers

By Business Protection Bulletin

Convenience stores, including those that offer gas, food, car washes, vehicle repairs and truck stop facilities, often enjoy a steady stream of traffic. As a convenience store owner, you do face multiple risks and hazards, however. Protect your business with convenience store insurance. It covers several key elements.

General Liability

With general liability insurance, you receive broad coverage that insures you against a variety of risks and hazards. It also grows with your business as you add new inventory, products or stores.

Purchase general liability insurance and receive coverage for:

  • Premises Liability – If a customer is injured on your property or their property is damaged while on your premises, you are liable for the medical payments or repairs. Liability coverage pays for these expenses.
  • Products Liability – There’s always a risk that one of your suppliers, manufacturers or distributers could provide you with a product that causes harm to your customers. Use your products liability insurance to pay medical costs, legal defense, settlements and related costs.
  • Completed Operations – When an employee makes a mistake activating a cellphone, issuing a money order or performing another service, the customer could sue your business. Completed operations insurance pays these claims.

Business Owners Policy

Also known as BOP, a business owners policy protects your physical and intangible business assets. It includes general liability and other protections based on your needs. Several options under a BOP policy include:

  • Buildings and Contents
  • Business Income and Extra Expense
  • Electronic Data
  • Employee Dishonesty Coverage
  • Newly Acquired or Constructed Buildings

Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ Compensation is normally required by law. When an employee is injured or becomes ill because of the job, this coverage pays for related expenses.

Business Auto

You or your employees may drive a vehicle for business purposes. Your business auto insurance will cover any liability if you cause an accident or property damage. It can also pay for any goods that were lost or damaged, vehicle repairs, injury expenses or medical bills.

Commercial Umbrella

Even if you purchase all the insurance options available, you may still need additional protection. A commercial umbrella policy extends your coverage limits and protects your business and assets.

Consider Additional Coverage Options

In addition to these five insurance categories, you can purchase insurance for:

  • ATM Machines
  • Canopies
  • Car Wash Building and Equipment
  • Flood Insurance
  • Garage Keepers Liability
  • Liquor Liability
  • Pollution Coverage for underground storage tanks
  • Pumps
  • Theft and Crime
  • Utility Time Element Coverage
  • Windstorm Coverage

Convenience store insurance is important. Discuss your needs and options with your insurance agent as you protect your business.

Review Benefit Administration

By Business Protection Bulletin

Once annual enrollment has come and gone, it’s a good time to brush up on some basic benefit plan requirements, to avoid some of the common mistakes made in employee benefit plan administration. The following list of potential errors is by no means exhaustive, but represents a sampling of issues to steer clear of:

Keep your plan documents up to date and reference them in related plan communications. ERISA requires that all employee benefit plans be maintained pursuant to a written plan document. As the governing document for the plan, it should be reviewed regularly, and amended if necessary, to keep up with new laws and regulations (such as health care reform). Since this will be the most detailed document regarding any given plan, it should be referenced in disclaimer materials included in less formal plan communications (such as annual enrollment materials) as the document that will control in the event of discrepancies, or errors or omissions in these other ancillary communications.

Keep summary plan descriptions (SPDs) up to date and distribute them to employees. ERISA requires that employees receive an SPD covering each benefit plan, and specifies the information that must be included in the SPD. Plan vendors might supply booklets or other communications materials to distribute to employees that describe the plan, but these are unlikely to meet the requirements for an SPD. When plan changes result in an SPD needing modification, an employer might distribute a summary of material modifications in the interim before preparing an updated SPD.

Include only eligible employees (and dependents) in your plans, as to do otherwise will run contrary to plan documents and represent unnecessary coverage costs for your company. Improperly covering ineligible individuals — contractors, leased employees, former employees, etc. — can be a costly proposition. Similarly, maintaining formerly eligible dependents who, for example, have aged out of the plan, unnecessarily adds to plan costs. Eligibility audits can help to mitigate this problem.

Follow plan terms in administrative practices. The plan document governs, and both internal staff and outside administrators must follow the terms of the plan when making eligibility and claims decisions, issuing plan notices, handling appeals, etc.

Make sure plan contributions are calculated properly. This includes taking into account the definition of compensation that is in the plan (which might include bonuses, commissions, etc.) and calculating matching and profit sharing contributions correctly.

If you allow employees to pay for any benefits on a pretax basis, a cafeteria plan is required. Although the term “cafeteria plan” might conjure images of employees selecting from a menu of benefit choices, a cafeteria plan is, at its most basic level, a premium only plan, and is required to be adopted before employees can pay their health (or dental, vision, etc.) plan premiums with before-tax dollars, or to make before-tax contributions to a health care or dependent care flexible spending account.

If employees make salary deferrals to a 401(k) plan, these deferrals must be deposited into the plan trust on a timely basis, as by DOL regulation they become plan assets as soon as they can be reasonably segregated from the employer’s general assets.

Review your COBRA administrative practices to make sure all individuals qualified to elect COBRA coverage receive the proper notices, for all plans subject to COBRA (the health plan, but also the dental and vision plan, and the health care flexible spending account). Administrative errors can result in fines and penalties, lawsuits, and employee discontent. An annual plan self-review can avoid these potential costly consequences of common mistakes.

What You Need to Know About Fitness Instructor Insurance

By Business Protection Bulletin

Your job as a fitness instructor is to help other people get and stay healthy. Unfortunately, accidents and injuries can happen during individual or group trainings or classes. Fitness instructor insurance protects you if you are sued by a student for injuries or damages.

Who is Eligible for Fitness Instructor Insurance?

Fitness instructors over the age of 18 are eligible for fitness instructor insurance. Depending on your policy, you can work in these fields:

  • Acrobatics
  • Aerobics
  • Cardio kickboxing
  • Children’s fitness classes and programs
  • Dance
  • Exercise
  • Fitness boot camps
  • Personal trainer
  • Pilates
  • Spinning
  • Strength
  • Tai Chi
  • Tumbling
  • Yoga
  • Zumba

What is Covered in a Fitness Instructor Insurance Policy?

Your fitness instructor insurance policy will cover several conditions.

General Liability – pays for bodily injuries and property damage caused by your fitness instructor activities

Professional Liability – covers wrongful acts, including breaches of duty, neglect, omissions, errors and misleading statements

Damage to Premises – pays for repairs if you or a student damages the building you rent for fitness activities

Sexual Abuse Liability – covers expenses related to charges of sexual abuse

Legal Liability – pays for expenses related to legal fees when a class participant sues you

You may also be able to purchase coverage for:

  • Personal or Advertising Injury
  • Medical Expenses
  • Defense Cost Reimbursement
  • Products Liability

Why do you Need Fitness Instructor Insurance?

Whether you teach fitness classes in your home, school, gym or training facility, you are responsible for your students. If they’re injured while training with you, they could sue you. You’ll be liable for the resulting medical payments, legal fees or other damages.

Fitness instructor insurance can cover your liability and pay any expenses that are your responsibility. It gives you peace of mind and protects your business and assets.

You also may need this policy to teach in certain settings, and clients may choose you over a competitor because you have insurance. With a fitness instructor insurance policy, you could potentially expand your business.

How to Purchase Fitness Instructor Insurance

Talk to your insurance agent today about fitness instructor insurance. Your policy can be customized based on the types of classes and style of exercise you teach, how often you teach and where you teach. Share details about your work with your insurance agent to ensure you purchase adequate insurance for your needs. Remember to update your agent, too, if your business services, location or focus changes.

Fitness instructor insurance protects you as you help others achieve their health goals. Purchase a policy before your next class to ensure you have this important coverage and protection.

Secondary Damage Caused by Poor Work

By Business Protection Bulletin

When a contractor works on several parts of a structure, and a mistake they make on one part causes damage to other parts they worked on, does their Liability insurance cover all of the damage, some of it, or none of it? This is the question a Texas court answered in a 2009 decision interpreting the Commercial General Liability policy’s “that particular part” clause. This phrase has been the subject of many court cases because, to some extent, its meaning is in the eye of the beholder.

In the Texas case, the contractor worked on a condominium project. They performed the water-sealing on exterior finishes and retaining walls improperly, permitting large quantities of water to enter the structure through multiple points, including ceilings and walls and under doors. The water damaged other areas of the project on which the contractor had worked, including stud framing and interior drywall. The contractor notified their insurance company, but the company denied the claim because of two policy provisions that exclude coverage.

First, the policy said that the insurance did not apply to “property damage to … that particular part of real property on which (the insured contractor) or any contractors or subcontractors working directly or indirectly on the (insured contractor’s) behalf are performing operations, if the property damage arises out of those operations.”

A second exclusion stated that the insurance did not apply to “property damage to … that particular part of any property that must be restored, repaired or replaced because (the contractor’s) work was incorrectly performed on it.” The insurance company’s intention was to not insure a contractor’s own shoddy workmanship. The contractor sued the company for breach of contract.

The court found that the first exclusion did not apply to this loss because the contractor was not working actively on the project at the time. The contractor had finished the exterior work, and the owner had suspended interior work on most of the condominium units while their sales were pending. The court noted that the exclusion eliminates coverage for damage to property on which the contractor is performing operations. Since the contractor was not performing operations at the time of the water damage, the exclusion did not apply.

The court also found that the second exclusion applied only to the contractor’s exterior work and not to the parts of the interior that suffered damage. It arrived at this conclusion by breaking the exclusion into its components:

No coverage for damage to:

  1. Property;
  2. that must be restored, repaired or replaced;
  3. because the contractors performed work on it incorrectly.

According to the court, this wording differentiates between property on which the contractor performed work incorrectly, and other property on which the contractor did not perform work incorrectly. Since the owner did not claim that the contractor performed faulty work on the interior components, the court said that the exclusion did not apply to damage to those areas.

According to the opinion, the exclusion “ … bars coverage only for property damage to parts of a property that were themselves the subjects of defective work, and not for damage to part of a property that were the subjects of only non-defective work by the insured … ”

Courts have interpreted these exclusions in various ways, depending on the circumstances of the individual cases. Contractors should be aware that, when they have liability for property damage, their insurance coverage might not be clear-cut. Our insurance agents can give you an idea of how companies providing coverage have handled similar claims in the past.

What is Lender Placed Property Insurance?

By Business Protection Bulletin

All mortgage lenders require home owners to buy adequate homeowners’ insurance. If the home owners’ policy lapses or is otherwise insufficient, though, the bank will implement a lender placed property insurance on the home. Understand this insurance product as you protect your home.

Why Is Property Insurance Important?

When a bank loans you money for your mortgage, they assume a risk. If your home is damaged or destroyed by weather, fire, vandalism or another peril and you do not have insurance, they are responsible for expensive repairs.

Homeowners’ insurance is important for you, too. With it, you can repair or replace your home.

When do you Need Lender Placed Property Insurance?

You’ll only need lender placed property insurance if your homeowners’ insurance policy lapses. This could happen for several reasons.

  • The policy is cancelled.
  • Your existing insurer goes out of business or stops offering homeowners’ insurance.
  • You forget to pay the premiums.

In any of these cases, you can purchase a replacement policy. But if you don’t, your bank will protect its interests with lender placed property insurance.

How do you get Lender Placed Property Insurance?

Your mortgage holder will notify you before they put a lender placed property insurance policy in place. They only put this policy in place after you’ve received several past-due or cancellation notices from your insurance company and they’re sure your homeowners’ insurance policy has been cancelled.

How Much Does Lender Placed Property Insurance Cost?

Lender placed property insurance can cost up to twice the amount of a regular homeowners’ insurance policy. While you’re responsible to cover the cost of the policy, you do not choose the company that issues it or the amount of coverage you receive. The lender has total authority over these decisions.

The increased cost is partially because a lender placed property insurance policy is usually put in place sight-unseen. The company doesn’t consider the home’s current condition, recent losses, occupancy or other details that could potentially decrease the policy’s cost.

What Does Lender Placed Property Insurance Cover?

A typical lender placed insurance policy has limited coverage. It may not pay liability claims if someone is injured on your property. It also may not cover personal items if they’re stolen, lost or damaged.

How to Avoid a Lender Placed Property Insurance Policy

To avoid paying for a lender placed property insurance policy, maintain the homeowners’ insurance policy of your choice. Pay your premiums on time and carefully examine and keep copies of all the paperwork your insurance company sends you.

A lender placed property insurance policy protects your mortgage lender and you. Know what it is as you protect your home.

Fraud and Abuse in the Workplace

By Business Protection Bulletin

A Report to the Nation on Occupational Fraud and Abuse by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners provides a wealth of valuable information for any company.

According to the report: 

Organizations with fewer than 100 employees have a higher rate of fraud exposure to billing, check tampering, skimming, expense reimbursement, cash on hand, payroll, and larceny than their counterparts do.

Conversely, employers with more than 100 employees have a greater exposure to corruption and non-cash theft. The most common anti-fraud controls include audits, codes of conduct, management review, hotlines, and training.

Companies with 100 or more employees are almost twice as likely as smaller organizations to employ anti-fraud controls.

It generally takes some time to detect fraud. Financial statement fraud had a median duration of 27 months. Check-tampering, expense reimbursement, billing, and payroll scams 24 months; corruption, cash on hand, skimming, and larceny 18 months.

The list of fraud examples is instructive:

  1. Skimming a small percentage of cash payments or assets.
  2. Accepting payment from a customer, failing to record the sale and instead pocketing the money.
  3. Stealing cash and checks from daily receipts before they can be deposited into the bank.
  4. Creating a shell company and billing employer for services not actually rendered.
  5. Purchasing personal items and submitting invoices to employer for payment.
  6. Filing fraudulent expense reports for personal travel, nonexistent meals, etc.
  7. Stealing blank company checks, and making them out to themselves or an accomplice.
  8. Stealing outgoing checks to a vendor and depositing them into their own account.
  9. Claiming overtime for hours not worked.
  10. Adding ghost employees to the payroll.
  11. Fraudulently voiding a cash register sale and stealing the cash.
  12. Stealing inventory from a warehouse or storeroom.
  13. Stealing or misusing confidential customer financial information.

Nearly one in five frauds were exposed by tips from fellow workers. Many organizations provide employee-tip hotlines. Perhaps you should too.

Risks for Remote Employees

By Business Protection Bulletin

Modern technology has made it easier than ever for employees to work from home and still remain connected to their place of employment. Using remote employment has actually become a popular trend over the last ten years, especially since selling to the global market has become such an important factor in a business being competitive. Many businesses have found that they can minimize their expenses and attract international customers with more attractive prices if they decrease their overhead by allowing workers to remotely commute.

Despite the many benefits of using remote employees, there are downsides. Many employers considering this trend wonder how they can ensure workplace safety when the employee’s physical workplace is their own home. Another consideration is the degree of employer liability in remote employment.

Fortunately, OSHA has addressed some of the safety issues surrounding remote employment. According to OSHA guidelines, employers are required to maintain a safe workplace, even for employees working from their own home. OSHA will not require an employer to inspect a remote employee’s home worksite, nor inspect it themselves.

However, OSHA may inspect the worksite of an employee that’s performing an at-home job on behalf of their employer if it possibly involves health or safety hazards and there’s a complaint. A record of all occupational illnesses and injuries must be kept on all at-home workers if an employer is subject to OSHA record keeping requirements. Keeping in mind that OSHA compliance measures shouldn’t involve controlling the home worksite of employees, employers might need to take some additional practical measures to ensure OSHA compliance.

As far as safety compliance goes, the absence of immediate supervision for remote workers is one of the main problems employers face. Experienced, highly-trained, long-term employers are generally the worst offenders when it comes to taking safety risks. This group of employees often become complacent due to the fact they’re so accustomed and comfortable with their job, feel they’re familiar with the job’s hazards, and might have escaped disciplinary action when ignoring safety procedures or taking shortcuts in the past.

One of the best ways that employers can counteract the above dangerous attitude toward safety is by using a holistic approach to safety. Employers should focus and place great importance on each individual employee actively participating in the safety process and taking responsibility for their own safety. Whether at home, on the road, or at a remote jobsite, remote employees need to be ready, willing, and able to take the appropriate actions to protect themselves in any given situation.

Employers will need employee support to make any approach to safety successful, which means that employers must have total employee involvement in the safety process. Involve your remote employees in the process of determining what’s needed to prevent injury to themselves and others during remote location work. Most employers find that the experience and firsthand knowledge of their employees is actually very advantageous in creating safe remote worksites.

Remember, employees that understand the value of safety are more likely to be motivated and willing participants. They’re also more apt to embrace safety behaviors for the longevity of their employment. Employers can reinforce their employee’s positive attitude about safety by having electronic or person-to-person safety counseling in place and ensuring safety managers are encouraging safety participation.

All Managers Exempt Status is Not the Same

By Business Protection Bulletin

In Arenas vs. El Torito Restaurants, a California appellate court ruled on the possibility of a class action lawsuit for the misclassification of all managers at the El Torito restaurants as exempt.

Although the court gave a lengthy analysis about the appropriateness of the class action case, for our purposes, what’s important was that it warned employers that just because managers might be exempt at one store they might not be exempt at another store. It depends on the circumstances.

At some El Torito restaurants, many of the managers also did work performed by the staff or busboys. In other larger, busier restaurants, they did less of this work. Employers should determine whether managers are exempt on a case-by-case basis unless there’s complete uniformity in operations.

The plaintiff’s complaint also lays out the laundry list of exposures employers face by misclassifying managers as exempt; violation of wage and overtime regulations, failure to furnish wage and hour statements, or not providing rest and meal periods.