By Anthony Tellers, Bowermaster and Associates Regional Vice President

Bowermaster and Associates has been providing insurance solutions to our customers for 60 years. Since 1954 we have placed customer service and insurance knowledge at the top of our list of priorities. As times changed, our forms of communication also changed. We have made significant investments in technology and communication equipment – computers and phones – to try and give our clients more ways to get their insurance questions answered. However, we still have not found a more effective method of communication than old fashioned face-to-face conversations. Those are the times when our clients feel most comfortable in asking the insurance questions that matter most.

We have found that many of our business clients face the same types of insurance issues. Here are some questions that seem to be common:

My lease has insurance requirements. What are they?

Whether you are a long time tenant or moving to a new location, you must comply with the requirements of your lease. We urge our clients to copy their lease and send it to us for review. At the same time, you should consult your attorney. Lawyers who are well versed in drafting leases are not always knowledgeable about insurance, while insurance brokers often know very little about the legalities of lease requirements. With input from both disciplines, you can address and even favorably negotiate the terms of your lease.

I have to rent a vehicle – should I buy the insurance?

Usually, the answer to this question is YES. If the rental car is in an accident, the rental company deems the renter responsible for damage to the vehicle as well as for the loss of rental income that the rental company might incur. Their reasoning is that, while the car you wrecked is being repaired, they are unable to rent it to others. Purchasing the insurance from the rental company relieves you of this worry. Of course, the time to talk about your individual situation is before the need arises, not while you are signing papers at the rental desk.

I’ll be hiring a new employee soon – do you have any tips?

This has become a very tricky task for an employer and goes beyond the area of insurance. Here is a situation where a human resources specialist can be invaluable to your business. Asking the wrong question during an interview or following an improper procedure during the hiring process can open up your business to a variety of annoying lawsuits. Equally as important, procedures are key when terminating an employee. Our answer to this question is always one of caution and preparation. The Human Resources department at Bowermaster and Associates can be of assistance to you.

Do I have enough liability coverage?

Is a limit of liability of $1 million enough or do you need $ 10 million? There is no magic answer for this question; however there are some key factors to weigh in making this decision;

Historical Patterns – just because you have never had a claim doesn’t mean that you never will. Remembering close calls, knowing your product, and recognizing potential hazards can be a guide;

Your Industry – is it low risk or high profile? How much liability insurance do other firms in your industry or market niche carry? Are your clients requiring you to provide them proof that you have more than $ 1 million of liability insurance? If so, is it possible that they see hazards with your product that you might not?

Corporate Philosophy – take into consideration your own attitude toward risk and how much exposure you are comfortable in retaining. If you must answer to shareholders or family members, this could influence your decision;

Price and Availability – it’s one thing to want $ 20 million in coverage but quite another to pay for it. However, most risk managers would recommend that you do not skimp on coverage to save a few dollars. If your business experiences an underinsured loss, no one will compliment you on the premium dollars you saved.

Whether face to face or through e-mail, consult with your Bowermaster advisor regularly to talk about your important questions.