Winter Readiness is Smart for Business

Winter weather is drawing near, signaling a new holiday season of excitement, merriment and . . . accidents. If you have clients whose business requires them or their customers to navigate snow or ice in any capacity, now is the time to make sure they have the coverage they need to keep everyone on their (twinkle) toes.

Tree Limb Removal

Winter storms are hard on trees. Frozen, snow-covered limbs crash on rooftops, power lines and cars — keeping employees at tree care companies bustling like elves. But there’s a certain amount of liability inherent in the work. The right insurance can make the difference in protecting a tree service owner from a bevy of liability issues as well as their bottom line.

It’s especially important for agents to take the time to educate tree service clients and prospects about the value of their insurance coverage, as well as the many options they should consider. Odds are that many clients haven’t sorted through the rules, regs and amounts of coverage they need. You can help them out, before the snow flies.

Snow Removal

If you have snow removal contractors as clients, look no further than UIG for A+ Rated coverage, including: contractors clearing ice and snow from parking lots, driveways and sidewalks, using motorized plows attached to pickup trucks. (Coverage is not available for work on streets, roads, highways or interstates.)

Coverage Highlights:

  • A+ Rated Carrier
  • Limits up to $1 million and as low as $100,000
  • Minimum Premium $1,250
  • General Liability Coverage Only

Ineligible Operations:

  • No city or state contracted work
  • No work on streets, roads, highways or interstates
  • Coverage not available in CA, CO or NY

Christmas Tree Lots

Don’t underestimate the excitement that surrounds picking out “the perfect” Christmas tree each year. Crowds of families vying for that special spruce (and youngsters running in all directions) presents any number of possibilities for an accident — especially if the surface of your lot is uneven or snow-covered.

UIG can protect clients operating Christmas tree lots this season with liability coverage that is sure to keep them in the Christmas spirit. Are your clients non-profit groups such as Boy Scout groups, Kiwanis, Lions Clubs, etc.? Consider this from UIG:

  • $100,000/$200,000 GL limit
  • $350 total cost, up to 2 months coverage
  • $35 for any additional Insured

To find out more about these and other Winter Readiness coverages with UIG, drop us a line at uigusa.com or call 800.385.9978.

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Winter Tree Trimming

Don’t let Jack Frost create a financial disaster for your clients who brave snow and ice to rescue property from downed tree limbs and branches.

ChainsawRegardless of the nature of the job, or if a tree service business has employees or not, there is a certain amount of liability inherent in the work. The right insurance can make the difference in protecting a tree service owner from a bevy of liability issues as well as their bottom line.

This is why it’s especially important that agents take the time to educate tree service clients and prospects about the value of their insurance coverage and all of the different options they should be considering.

Liability Insurance

Liability insurance is one of the most important and all-encompassing insurance options for any business owner. It is critical where activities could result in a lawsuit for potential damages: such as property damage and injury, which someone may suffer as a result of the service provider’s actions. If your client provides tree trimming or tree removal services, there is a high possibility they could cause damage to a building, car or other property, and/or bodily injury to an unsuspecting person in the area, due to a falling branch, tree trunk or equipment. In addition, many states will not allow a tree trimming service to operate without the proper liability insurance.

Equipment Insurance

Chances are most tree trimming services will have a special vehicle along with tree trimming equipment and tools. Any business that owns or operates a vehicle for commercial purposes should invest in commercial auto insurance. This type of insurance can protect clients from a lawsuit or medical liability if their company vehicle is involved in an accident. Along with commercial automotive insurance, the right equipment insurance can help ensure that the business will be able to continue operations even if it needs to repair or replace equipment.

Worker’s Compensation

If a worker becomes injured on the job, worker’s compensation insurance provides funds to pay for the worker’s medical expenses and salary while he/she is unable to work. If a tree trimming service has at least one employee, they should check the laws in their state to verify whether or not they are required to maintain worker’s compensation insurance.

Personal Accident Policy

If working as a sole proprietor or independent contractor, personal accident coverage may be a better solution than worker’s compensation. In a personal accident policy the insured is protected for injuries and loss of revenue.

Employment Practices Liability

UIG also recommends a tree trimming business invest in employment practices liability insurance (EPLI). This coverage can help protect a business and the business owner from litigation resulting from improper workplace behavior, including, but not limited to, sexual harassment, discrimination or wrongful termination.

While all of this may seem like “business as usual,” odds are that many tree service owners have not sorted through all of their options, if any of them. It is better to reiterate and remind than to assume that your clients and prospects are aware of all the rules, regs and amounts of coverage they need.

And, of course, once you’ve presented the options, be sure to have them sign off that they have declined any of these coverage lines, if they choose to do so, and keep it on file.

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Add Value (and more good things) to Your Liquor Liability Offerings

UIG is a recognized leader in Liquor Liability. And now we’re adding value to your offering with an innovative alcohol server training program — to improve your clients’ loss control handling and possibly even reduce their premiums.

Good Shift is a powerful online alcohol training program for taverns, bars and restaurants. It brings training right to employees’ fingertips, so your clients can always be assured that 100% of their workers are trained at all times. That level of compliance maximizes safety and loss control, and demonstrates a commitment to safe service.

Here’s how Good Shift helps:

  • Reduces customer loss in the event of a liability claim
  • Promotes responsible alcohol service
  • Prevents or limits customer injury or property damage
  • Positions establishments as responsible businesses in the community

Here’s how Good Shift works:

  • Lessons are available any time on any smartphone, tablet or laptop — when it’s convenient for employees
  • New employees can be enrolled at any time
  • Automatically manages training by emailing employees when a new lesson is ready and contacts the manager when training is complete
  • Ongoing education reminds workforce to serve safely with pop quizzes, true stories and Good Shift tips
  • Provides continuously updated list of certified participants to help with defense and mitigation.

As the Agent Agency, we’re bringing additional value to your clients. Together we can reduce the chance of loss and help keep premiums from rising due to claim activity. Learn more about Good Shift and join us in leading the way in loss control.

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Young Agent Assets: Want Happy Customers? Get Back to Them.

One of the main drivers of customer satisfaction in the insurance industry is responsiveness. In today’s 24/7, constantly-connected world, customers want your immediate attention. If they can’t get what they want, when they want, marginal clients will go to a competitor. Fickle, but true.

On the flip side, great responsiveness can lead to satisfaction, loyalty and could even convert some customers into evangelists for your brand.

It’s all in the research folks.

The J.D. Power 2016 and 2017 U.S. Property Claims Satisfaction studies show a direct correlation between responsiveness and satisfaction. According to the study in 2016, a belt tightening in the industry led to a decline in customer responsiveness, triggering a subsequent decline in customer satisfaction. The 2017 J.D. Power study  reported a different story. “Following the significant declines in customer satisfaction found in the 2016 study, property and casualty insurers redoubled their efforts to improve the settlement process and fine-tune their customer interactions, efforts that have been clearly recognized and appreciated,” leading to a new all-time high in overall customer satisfaction.

And, although Velocify’s Insurance Industry Online Buyer Experiences study focuses on the “online” experience, its stats paint a similar picture:

  • Online insurance buyers wait an average of 2.3 days to get a call after submitting an online quote form and a shocking 39 percent of potential customers do not receive a call back, resulting in lost business.
  • The average wait-time for an email response was 22 hours, even though responding within 20 minutes could increase conversion rates by 49 percent. Given the fact that email automation is common place these days, this lag time is unforgivable – especially to millennials.

Regardless of the products you offer, your pricing or creative marketing efforts – the aim should always be to create a better customer experience. Reducing response times is a big part of that. Never be too busy respond to your clients. They are the reason you receive a paycheck.

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Dog Breed Coverage

While your clients may consider dogs to be a part of the family, as an insurance agent it’s your job to be wary of them — especially if the dog’s breed happens to appear on the “aggressive,” “dangerous” or “bad dog” lists that are generally prohibited under homeowners insurance policies.

In 2017 alone, dog bites and other dog-related injuries accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners liability claim dollars, costing more than $700 million, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) and State Farmthe largest writer of homeowners insurance in the United States.

I.I.I.’s analysis of homeowner’s insurance data found that the number of dog bite claims nationwide increased to 18,522 in 2017, compared to 18,122 in 2016. The average cost per claim increased by 11.5 percent with the average cost paid out for dog bite claims jumping to $37,051 in 2017 compared to $33,230 in 2016.

“The increase in the 2017 average cost per claim could be attributed to an increase in severity of injuries,” said Kristin Palmer, chief communications officer with the I.I.I. “But the average cost per claim nationally has risen more than 90 percent from 2003 to 2017, due to increased medical costs as well as the size of settlements, judgments and jury awards given to plaintiffs.”

Being in the business of mitigating risk, it becomes easy to understand why certain dog breeds are widely considered to be a financial risk to insurers, making them hard to cover and usually at a higher premium if coverage is provided at all.

The specific dog breeds prohibited by insurers vary from company to company, but at least five appear on every list, including both purebreds and mixed breeds:

  • Pit Bull
  • Rottweiler
  • Doberman
  • Presa Canario
  • Chow Chow

Statistics show these are among the most aggressive breeds associated reported attacks, some of which are fatal. According to the Centre for Disease Control, dog attacks resulted in 279 human deaths in the U.S. over a 20-year period. Pit Bulls and Rottweilers accounted for more than half of those deaths.

While owners of these types of dogs may feel discriminated against, it’s good to note that the use of such lists is not acceptable everywhere. In the U.S., Michigan and Pennsylvania have restricted the use of dog breed profiling by insurance companies. Ten other states have pending legislation that would similarly prohibit companies to deny insurance to someone based only on the breed of dog owned by their household. These laws propose that insurance companies should only be allowed to deny or revoke a policy or to increase the premium, based on the risk associated with a specifically named dog. That means that the individual dog must have a known history of being aggressive or must have been officially designated as dangerous.

To find out more about dog breed coverages in your area, drop us a line at uigusa.com or call 800.385.9978.

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Young Agents Assets: The Trust Factor

In insurance, trust is a powerful business currency. The ability to develop meaningful customer relationships depends heavily on trust. It is impossible to develop impactful customer engagement without it.

Unfortunately, for many insurance agents and brokers, the trust factor is lacking. A study conducted by IBM shows that only 43 percent of customers trust the insurance industry. In fact, lack of consumer trust in insurance providers has remained above 50 percent since 2007 (when IBM first started taking surveys).

Litmus test: Do your customers trust that your product or service will deliver the kind of value that’s worth its price? Do they trust your company to help solve their problems and respond to their needs? Do they trust you enough to continue to give you their business and/or refer you to others?

Whether you’re a new agent trying to grow your business and build a client base, or you’ve been in the industry a long time and are looking to maintain and grow your client base – if your answer to any of the above is a “no” or “only some,” — you have options, that over time, can help you turn this tide and get a grip on the “business of trust”:

  • Be intentional. Incorporate “trust” into your annual business plan. Now that you’ve identified “building trust” as a strategy to achieve customer growth and retention, go the next step to develop tactics to support that strategy and then commit to executing your plan.
  • Build a culture of ethics. Ethics is the foundation upon which trust is built. Just like any behavior, ethical business practices, including decision-making, must be practiced daily. You can start by thoughtfully developing a framework to handle the most common conflict-of-interest in the insurance industry – the rub between income and your client’s best-interest.
  • Let your actions speak for you. Being a great talker, or giving a great sales pitch isn’t going to cut it in today’s competitive marketplace. The key to growth, retention and earning trust is successfully demonstrating to your clients that their needs are your priority.
  • Whether it’s by in person meeting, phone, text or social media, staying in touch with your clients is important. Become a trusted resource on all topics relevant to your industry as a means to build trust and loyalty with your client. Share changes to your business and in the industry, discounts and advantages you can provide and how your business can help them. Keep all communication relevant, professional and friendly.
  • Be AuthenticMarketing studies show that clients expect authenticity when it comes the people with whom they do business. By maintaining an open and honest relationship with your clients, you are showing them that you value them.
  • Win awards. There’s a plethora of awards for providers to earn, especially those connected with good business outcomes. Achieving recognition for user-friendly products and services is a clear signal to customers of good value and fairness. It emphasizes the real benefits of insurance rather than just the cheapest price.
  • Get Chartered. The insurance industry has a professional body, the Chartered Insurance Institute, that recognizes professional excellence with the designation, “Chartered”. Being chartered means adhering to a higher standard of professional ethics and behaviors rather than the minimum standards laid down by the regulator.
  • Call UIG. We’re here to help. We strive to be your partner and finest solution to help you address your clients’ needs, and that includes providing them with a product they can trust. 385.9978

 

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Get to Know UIG

If you’ve visited our website or met with a team member at a conference, you’ve no doubt heard or seen the phrase, “UIG, the Agent Agency.” But have you every wondered what it really means?

UIG, the Agent Agency, is more than just a tag line. It’s our value statement that regardless if your agency is big or small, UIG is committed to being your finest resource and most valuable partner.

And, there are several ways we go about delivering on our commitment. Two in particular:

No Volume Commitment

As stated earlier, we want to be your most valuable partner. That means we’re here when you need us. That’s why UIG does not require a volume commitment in order for an agency to work with us. It doesn’t matter if you write a single policy with a $500 premium once a year or if you write tens of thousands of dollars in premiums — every agent is given the same priority and consideration.

Direct Access to our Underwriting Team

With UIG, there is no wondering who will be assigned to your submission or having to work though a marketing representative to get things done. When you call or send an email, you are communicating directly with a member of your UIG Underwriting team. And, because you’re directly connected with an underwriting team member from the beginning, we’re able to get you an answer with fewer delays.

From the simplest to the most complex, will help you navigate comprehensive and personal insurance solutions in the specialty insurance market. And, we’ll continue to share more on how we do that throughout this “Get to Know UIG” blog series.

If you’re currently struggling with a hard-to-place client, don’t wait. Call today: 800-385-9978.

About the time you’re thinking no one can help you, is the right time to call on UIG.

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St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner. And for many, it wouldn’t be St. Patrick’s Day without a good drink, especially at an Irish pub. However, without the proper precautions, what starts out as innocent fun and entertainment can quickly spiral out of control given the right circumstances.

For example, Milwaukee, Wisc., St. Patrick’s Day, 2012: Fights between drunken people who punched and kicked each other and threw bottles at police led taverns to close down about 12:30 a.m. Sunday, ending the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations prematurely.

If your clients are getting ready to don their Irish green along with serving alcohol this St. Patrick’s Day, don’t leave them to be victims of the “luck of the Irish” when it comes to their insurance coverage. Having the proper insurance can make the difference between a minor bump in the road and a complete detour.

Be proactive, expect the unexpected

Like the pubs in Milwaukee, you never know when the worst-case scenario could become reality. Any time a major holiday is drawing near is the right time to reach out to your clients and offer to review their insurance policies to help identify any weak areas and options for filling those gaps.

Buzzed = Drunk walking, driving

Liquor liability and defense cost coverage are two areas to pay close attention to.

Driving buzzed on the holiday could cost patrons a pot of leprechaun’s gold — like up to $10,000 in legal fees, court costs and increased insurance rates. Not to mention the liability your clients could face if a guest hurts themselves on business property or, worse, drinks and drives and injures themselves or another person.

If a guest or third party is injured in an accident that is related to alcohol consumption and the drinking can be linked to a business, the business, and potentially its owner, could be held responsible. Legal costs could include payment of medical bills, vehicle repair costs, lost time from work and — in the worst case — claims for wrongful death resulting in huge monetary settlements.

In the unfortunate event a lawsuit should arise, a policy that includes coverage for liquor liability can help cover litigation costs.

Be your brother’s keeper — Serve Smart!

With green beer and a bevy of Irish whiskey, we know holiday-themed spirits will be flowing. Here are some additional tips for your clients to share to improve loss control:

  • Check ID’s carefully. If your client could have known or should have known an ID was fraudulent, it will open your client to loss.
  • Binge selling for binge drinking is a leading precursor to tragic claims. Be sure to monitor the number of drinks and time served. Make sure your clients understand that if they serve a person to a point of intoxication they are now liable for any actions of that person. Your clients can help keep their customers safe by limiting the number of drinks per hour, per customer.
  • The only cure for intoxication is time! Before drinking, plan ahead and designate a sober driver.
  • If your your client has a customer/guest who is impaired, call a taxi, sober friend or family member. Once your client has served a person to the point of legal intoxication they are subject to an insurance claim. However, they can mitigate the loss by taking this step.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

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Young Agents Assets: Your “Everything You Sell” Sheet

One of the reasons clients may not buy more lines of insurance or refer your agency more business is because they have no idea what exactly you sell!

Your full product line is obvious to you, but if you don’t make it crystal clear to clients, they’ll only think of you for the products they already own. By creating an easy-to-read, one-page flier that shows everything you sell, you can increase your odds of exposing your clients and prospects to your full arsenal of products. Check out this example.

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Flood Tips to Discuss with your Clients

Ninety percent of natural disasters are flood related. From 2010 to 2014, the average commercial flood claim amounted to nearly $89,000. That kind of money can be an overwhelming loss to any business. But with the right coverage and forethought, your clients can increase their odds at reclaiming their business if the worst does happen.

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BELOW ARE SOME HELPFUL TIPS TO SHARE WHEN DISCUSSING FLOOD COVERAGE:

  • Business Property Risk: high-risk or moderate- to low-risk. As a business owner, they should take the time to determine the risk associated with their property’s elevation and location in relation to a floodplain and local water sources. If a business is located in a high-risk flood zone, they should not put off reviewing their flood insurance options. There could be a waiting period as long as 30 days for this type of policy to go into affect.
  • Know What’s Covered. It is in their best interest to become educated on what a comprehensive flood insurance policy does and doesn’t cover, such as vehicles and equipment, property damage, cause of damage, loss of revenue, etc.
  • Mandatory Requirements. Businesses with mortgages from federally regulated or insured lenders in high-risk flood areas are required to have flood insurance. While flood insurance is not federally required, if a business is located in a moderate-to-low risk flood area, it is still strongly recommended.
  • Flood Preparedness. As part of their flood planning, business owners should consider taking measures to make the property watertight or installing pumps, if their building is in an area susceptible to floods. They should also regularly check and clean the drainage systems in and around the property.
  • Contingency Planning. Develop a plan to limit losses and continue operating during and after a flood, including the possibility of moving critical employees to another location.

Don’t assume your clients understand that flood insurance can only be purchased through an insurance agent.

Your proactive outreach may the difference between them weathering the storm or having their business sunk by floodwaters.

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