College Basketball Parties: Are You Covered Against Liability?

Basketball Tournament bracketMarch Madness is here! Time to cheer for your favorite teams with friends and family.

(Hint: We root for UK in our offices!)

In addition to providing hours of college basketball entertainment, the NCAA Tournament is one of the largest gambling events of the year. The Fiscal Times estimates that Americans will bet a total of $9 billion on the outcomes of these games this year.

With all the excitement surrounding these games, watching parties and events are not uncommon. This leads to some to wonder about potential liability issues and whether or not they are covered against them.

In most cases, this depends on the type of event and the venue in which they happen, according to our partners at Trusted Choice.

Events Hosted by Bars, Restaurants and Nightclubs

If you are the owner of this type of establishment, you may be taking advantage of March Madness to increase your customer draw—particularly if you have a lot of big-screen TVs on which the games can be seen by your patrons. Naturally, the flow of alcohol is paramount to increased profits and a party atmosphere, but it can also lead to liability lawsuits in the event that an intoxicated patron causes personal injury or property damage to another.

If you own an establishment that sells alcoholic beverages, you will likely need a special insurance policy, known as liquor liability, to be protected.  Standard commercial liability policies exclude coverage for businesses that are in the business of selling or serving alcohol. You also will want to make sure you are in compliance with the laws in your state.  Liquor liability policies typically meet the coverage needs of a liquor license holder, but it is always a good idea to discuss your protection with your agent.

Private Parties Thrown in Your Home

Most NCAA Tournament parties are held in people’s homes. If you are hosting a watching party, you may worry about a liability lawsuit if one of your guests goes overboard with the booze. The good news for you is that your homeowners or renters insurance policy is likely to cover this sort of liability.

Chances are good that you won’t be charging your guests for drinks, or even that you will be serving them. In the case of most house parties, alcoholic beverages are made available, but guests serve themselves. This greatly lowers your liability risk. Of course, anyone can decide to sue for just about anything, and if this were to happen as the result of something that occurred at your party, your home insurance is in place to provide the liability coverage you need.

Office Parties Held in the Workplace

Maybe you’ve been working your employees really hard and want to reward them. Or maybe you are looking to the excitement of March Madness to facilitate team-building exercises. Whatever the reason, if you are allowing your employees to drink alcoholic beverages and watch the game at your place of business, you may have questions about liability coverage if things get out of hand.

So, are you covered? Chances are, yes. If yours is a business that sells, serves, provides or distills alcohol, you probably already have liquor liability coverage as part of your commercial insurance policy. Otherwise, so long as you are not charging your employees for the drinks you provide at the party, your commercial general liability (CGL) coverage will most likely handle any liability issues that may arise.

Corporate Parties Held at Third-Party Venues

Sometimes, corporate offices will hold large parties at an outside venue such as a hotel or reception hall where food and bartending services are provided. In many cases, invitees are given drink tickets that entitle them to a couple of free drinks, but they have to pay for their own drinks thereafter. Other times, there may be an open bar for the first couple of hours, and then guests must buy their drinks. Either way, this does open up the potential for alcohol-related liability.

It is possible that some, or all, of this liability will be covered by the policies you already have or by the policies held by the event’s venue. To be on the safe side, however, many corporations will purchase event insurance to supplement this coverage and ensure that they are fully protected against all possible liability. In some cases, the venue at which your gathering is held may require you to have event insurance.

Event insurance is designed to be in effect for the duration of your event only. It would therefore need to be purchased prior to any large gathering of this nature.

When in Doubt, Ask an Agent

As you can see, there are a number of different ways that people may be exposed to liability lawsuits during March Madness. If you are planning to host an NCAA Watching Party and you are uncertain about your protection, one of our Trusted Choice® agents can advise you about what coverage you currently have and any additional coverage you may need to fully eliminate your exposure.

Who Needs Commercial Vehicle Insurance?

Photo of delivery trucksThe risks you face as a business owner vary widely from liability concerns to workers compensation issues to the possibility that one of your workers could be responsible for an accident.

If you have staff members who get behind the wheel, your commercial vehicle insurance will protect your business financially in the event of incident on the road.

What Businesses Need Commercial Vehicle Insurance?

  • Freight companies and other businesses that use commercial trucks
  • Independent contractors who drive during the course of doing business
  • Any business that makes deliveries or transports goods
  • Limo services, taxi services, bus companies and other transportation services
  • If you or your staff members use a vehicle for commercial purposes, you need a commercial auto policy, as your standard personal auto policy will typically not cover you for business use of that vehicle.

The risks associated with commercial use of a vehicle, whether it is personally owned or company owned, often call for higher policy limits and different policy provisions, according to our partners at Trusted Choice.

Do You Need Commercial Vehicle Insurance?

In some cases, it is obvious that you need a commercial vehicle policy. For example, if you have a delivery service, limousine service, or a restaurant that delivers food, you know for certain that your business takes on risk each time you or a staff member drives one of your vehicles.

But there are many confusing scenarios where business car insurance is concerned. What if you use your personal vehicle to drive your kids around and to deliver cakes from your home bakery service? What if you attach a plow to the front of your truck each winter and offer snow plowing services?

It is typically a question of primary use, but you may have a unique situation to address. If you use any vehicle for business purposes, it definitely pays to talk with an agent who understands both personal and commercial vehicle insurance so you can make sure you have the right protection to meet your needs.

What Does Commercial Vehicle Insurance Cover?

Commercial vehicle policies, like personal auto policies, are primarily designed to cover your liability risks and provide compensation for damage to your vehicle. But instead of just covering your personal use of the vehicle, the policy covers you and any other person who drives the vehicle. If you have employees who use their own vehicles for work related to your business, you need to make sure your commercial auto policy covers those employees and their vehicles.

A typical policy will include:

  • Liability: Covers expenses resulting from an accident you or an employee causes, including:
  • Bodily injury to another person
  • Property damage to another person’s property
  • Legal fees
  • Medical payments: Covers hospitalization and other medical expenses for you or your employees, and any passengers in your vehicle
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist: Covers bodily injury and property damage you or your employees and passengers incur if an uninsured or underinsured motorist caused the accident.
  • Collision coverage: Covers your vehicle when another object or vehicle causes damage.
  • Comprehensive coverage: Covers “other than collision” perils such as weather damage, theft and vandalism.

If you are not sure whether you need commercial vehicle insurance, or what kind and how much you need, your best bet is to work with one of our knowledgeable independent agents who specialize in business auto insurance. We can advise you on the right coverage for your specific business needs.

Learn More About Commercial Vehicle Insurance >>

Get the Right Coverage for Your Small Business

Hairdresser photoA small business employs fewer than 500 people, according to the federal Small Business Administration.

By this definition, there are more than 27 million small businesses currently operating in the United States. These can range from incorporated, self-employed individuals to community banks and construction firms.

If you own a small business, it’s a good to consider acquiring the proper insurance to protect your business venture.

If you are one of the millions of entrepreneurial Americans who have started their own businesses, you can turn to our independent agenst in the Trusted Choice® network for guidance when shopping for small business insurance. These agents can work with several different insurance companies to provide you with several policies and premium rates to compare.

What’s a Small Business?

  • There are currently more than 27 million small businesses in the U.S.
  • More than 70% of these businesses are owned and operated by a single person
  • 77 million people, or 57% of this country’s workforce, are employed by small businesses
  • Approximately 70% of all small businesses remain in operation 2 years after inception
  • Approximately 50% of all small businesses remain in operation 5 years after inception
  • 54% of small businesses are home-based

What Is Small Business Insurance?

Small business insurance is an optional insurance plan that provides you with the coverage necessary to keep your business operational, especially in the aftermath of a catastrophe or a lawsuit, according to our friends at Trusted Choice.

Catastrophes can include fires, major weather events, and accidents with extreme losses. Lawsuits can also devastate your business. These insurance plans can be customized to meet the inherent risks faced by your particular business.

Nearly half of all businesses that are forced to temporarily stop operations because of a natural disaster fail within 5 years. Of those that are unable to resume operations within 10 days, nearly 80 percent close within one month.

A solid business insurance policy can prevent this from happening by allowing your small business to remain profitable, even in the face of disaster.

Learn More About How to Protect Your Small Business >>

Looking for Affordable Business Insurance?

How to Trim Costs and Find Deals

Office workersBusiness owners are always looking for ways to improve their bottom line. In a tough economy, especially, belt tightening measures can be the difference between survival and failure of a business. If you are eyeing your insurance coverage for places to trim expenses, you will find some opportunities; it just takes a bit of hunting.

Every commercial operation, from large corporate entities to very small shops, needs commercial coverage. The best way to find deals and get the best possible rates on your business insurance is to work with our independent agents in the Trusted Choice® network.

We have access to multiple companies and can find the most affordable business insurance plan for you. And these carrier partnerships allow independent agents to serve all of your business insurance needs, from property and casualty insurance to directors and officers coverage to workers comp. Contact one of our agents today to get started.

Digging Deeper to Find More Business Insurance Discounts

As a business owner, you have a range of opportunities to reduce costs through proactive efforts on your part.

One of the most critical steps you can take is to work closely with an independent agent who will devote the time to fully understand your business needs and risks. The process is similar to working with an accountant who knows where to find deductions you wouldn’t necessarily think of on your own.

Our independent agents in the Trusted Choice network will fully get to know your business and perhaps visit your facility, if appropriate, to learn how you operate. Your agent may identify several additional ways to cut corners on your insurance bill while still getting the highest quality coverage and maintaining an optimal risk management program.

For example, you may be able to get discounts by improving your company’s overall safety and security and remaining claims-free. Some of the ways you can do so include the following:

  • Develop a worker safety training program
  • Install security cameras and a building security system
  • Install a fire sprinkler system and make sure you have accessible, functioning fire extinguishers
  • Strengthen your company firewall against cyber-crime
  • Reduce risk in your daily operations through safety inspections
  • Improve fraud awareness; hire a forensic accountant to train your senior staff on what to watch for
  • Reduce your business liability through safe materials handling, a driver safety program and other safety measures that reduce the likelihood of claims
  • Some of the measures you take to reduce your commercial insurance costs may require an investment in the short term that will yield discounts and savings in the long run. Your agent can help you to assess which safety and security measures make the most sense for your organization and will yield the best outcomes.

More about Saving on Business Insurance >>

What Is Small Business Insurance?

Restaurant chef photoSmall business insurance is an optional insurance plan that provides you with the coverage necessary to keep your business operational, especially in the aftermath of a catastrophe or a lawsuit.

Catastrophes can include fires, major weather events, and accidents with extreme losses. Lawsuits can also devastate your business.

These insurance plans can be customized to meet the inherent risks faced by your particular business.

Nearly half of all businesses that are forced to temporarily stop operations because of a natural disaster fail within 5 years. Of those that are unable to resume operations within 10 days, nearly 80 percent close within one month. A solid business insurance policy can prevent this from happening by allowing your small business to remain profitable, even in the face of disaster.

What Types of Insurance Do Small Business Owners Need?

Very small businesses often do not have employees and are therefore exempt from insurance requirements. However, if your company does have employees, you may need the following insurance for small businesses, according to our partners at Trusted Choice:

  • Workers compensation insurance: This coverage can be purchased either through your state’s worker’s compensation insurance program or through a commercial insurance agent. Refer to the guidelines set by your state or speak with one of our agents in the Trusted Choice network for more information.
  • Unemployment insurance: This coverage is paid for through unemployment insurance taxes collected by your state. Once you establish and register your business with your state’s workforce agency, you will begin paying this tax.
  • Disability insurance: Small business owners are currently only required to purchase this insurance for their employees if they are located in one of the following six locations: California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island or Puerto Rico. Otherwise, this coverage is optional.
  • Medical insurance: Under the recently passed Affordable Healthcare Act, small businesses that employ more than 50 people could be required to purchase healthcare coverage plans for employees. Medical insurance for small business does not have to be unmanageably expensive. One of our Trusted Choice independent agents can help you find insurance providers that offer affordable rates through group insurance for small business.

Regardless of whether or not you have employees, you may want to consider the optional coverage provided by a small business insurance policy.

Insurance for Small Business Offers Other Coverage Options

Small business insurance policies can be customized to fit your business plan. Some other coverage options include:

  • Loss of income insurance: If your business is forced to temporarily cease operations because of a covered event, this coverage can provide you with continued income so that you can pay employees and cover your monthly bills and expenses. This coverage is usually limited to one year.
  • Fidelity insurance: This coverage will shield you from losses resulting from the illegal actions of an employee, such as theft or embezzlement.
  • Commercial vehicle insurance: If you drive a car, taxi, truck, delivery van or other vehicle for your small business, you will typically need a commercial vehicle policy to cover your risks. If your employees drive while on the job, you will also need this coverage.

What Risks Does Your Small Business Face? >>

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