Importance of Arranging a Builder’s Risk Policy

contractors-policy

When building a new home, and sometimes even during a renovation, it’s essential to make sure that a Builder’s Risk/Course of Construction policy is in place. This policy provides coverage for the physical building while it’s under construction, from losses such as fire, vandalism, water damage and more. As a general contractor, you are responsible for the build and for the site, and as such, you could find yourself on the hook if you don’t arrange the Builder’s Risk policy yourself. Some of the pitfalls you might encounter if you don’t arrange the policy include:

 

No Coverage.

If you are working for a homeowner, they might say that they will purchase the policy and then forget to follow through or decide to save money and not purchase the policy or even let the policy expire before the project is complete. The general contractor is often considered to be responsible for all aspects of the project and as a result, you could find yourself paying for an uninsured loss due to the fact that you failed to purchase insurance for the project.

 

No Protection.

As the general contractor, you should always be a Named Insured on the Builder’s Risk policy in order to protect yourself. If you aren’t listed on the policy, you could be sued for a loss that occurs to the property and then not have a responding policy in place. This type of loss would not be covered under your Commercial General Liability policy as the house under construction would be deemed to be under your ‘care, custody and control’, which is an exclusion under a general liability policy. If you arrange the policy, you can ensure that your name is listed on the policy and that you will be protected under that policy in the event of a loss.

 

No Rights.

If there is a claim under the Builder’s Risk policy, say for example that a partially finished house caught on fire and burnt to the ground, you will want to be able to communicate with the claims adjustor and deal with both the repairs and the balance of the project. If you are not named on the policy, you would have no right to discuss the claim with the adjustor and they could even hire a different contractor for the repairs.

 

These are some broad examples of why a general contractor should arrange the Builder’s Risk policy. Our Bullfrog Insurance brokers are here to help if you have questions or want to discuss this policy coverage in further detail.

6 Tips for Taking Advantage of the Summer Slow Down

summer-small-business

Time goes by so fast! It’s now August and the summer is almost coming to an end. As your staff are finishing off their summer vacations and the business has slowed down, it’s a great time to take a breather and plan ahead for the coming months or catch up on some items.

Here are a few tips that you and your small business can implement and take advantage of before business begins to pick up again in the fall:

 

Review Invoices.

Make sure invoices are paid on time so that clients are happy and that there is no negative financial impact to your business. Instead of having only one individual who can sign off on cheques and authorize them, include another individual on this team so that there is always someone on staff with this responsibility.

 

Mid-Year Review.

The year is now halfway over and even though your fiscal year may not be in tandem with the calendar year, the summer provides an opportunity to review business objectives to see what is on track and/or what requires more attention.

 

Team Building.

As things may be slower around the office, it’s a good time to bring your staff together to discuss how they feel they can improve professionally on an individual basis, as a team and as a small business. From discussing these topics over a fun activity, perhaps trendy axe throwing competitions or even a team dinner, it allows for all staff to be open-minded and willing to offer constructive insight.

 

Online Reviews.

Potential new clients may be looking online for a company that offers the services/products that your small business provides; grab their attention, and business, by ensuring you have customer reviews available online. By having reviews and testimonials from your customers available online, whether through your business’ Google Plus page or another site such as Glassdoor, it provides potential and future clients with a window into what your business offers and how successful it is at providing it. You can request reviews from past and present clients/customers.

 

Community Involvement.

Small businesses rely on their communities, whether online or offline, to support their business endeavour and allow it to flourish. As things may have slowed down at the office or store during these summer months, it’s a great opportunity to head out to local events to spread the word on your small business. From attending street festivals and handing out information, to being a sponsor for an event that hits your target base, to even ramping up conversation on your social streams, staying connected with your community is important and will render positive results.

 

Take a Break!

With only a few weeks of summer left, treat yourself to some rest and relaxation. Although as a business owner it may be difficult to take a step back from your small business for a few days, it will give you the recharge needed to come back to work with more energy and with fresh new ideas on how to grow your small business. Avoid the burn-out!

 

If you have any questions regarding the information above or if you would like to discuss getting the right insurance for your business, our Bullfrog Insurance brokers would be happy to help you out. Contact us today for a free quote!

Safety 101: Emergency Response Plan

emergency-response


With fast-moving wildfires continuously spreading across British Columbia, many are claiming 2015 to be the worst wildfire season in a decade. Bringing with it a path of destruction, these fires are an unfortunate reminder that a fire can break out anywhere and at any time.

When it comes to your small business, it is important to remember that it is also susceptible to fires and numerous potential hazards. Whether it is an overloaded circuit, over used and deteriorating electrical cords, heat producing equipment or electrical appliances left plugged in at the end of the day, there are a host of factors that can cause a fire in the workplace. The first step in protecting your employees from injury, and your small business from property loss, is to ensure an emergency response plan is in place.

Not sure where to start or what to include in your small business’ emergency response plan? Click Here or on the image below to download a basic version of an emergency response outline.

 

Emergency Response Plan Outline

Emergency-Response-Plan--Link

 

It is important to modify and fill in the document to reflect your business and how it is conducted. As some industries may face more risks than others, there are additional sections that may need to be added to your small business’ emergency response plan.

In addition to your emergency response plan, the items below should also be completed/indicated and reviewed on a regular basis:

 

  • Exit locations are clearly marked
  • Emergency procedures should be posted on each floor
  • Review emergency procedures on a regular basis with all employees
  • Conduct fire drills on a regular basis with all employees

 

Keep in mind that all aspects of your emergency planning should take into account the type of business you run and the nature of your workplace/worksite. For example, assembly area procedures will differ between a contracting business that works on different job sites, versus a retail business where the location is constant.

As the owner/employer you should be ensuring that a properly tailored emergency response plan is in place and up to date, whether it is run by you or an appointed member of management. If you have questions on developing your response plan or any other aspects of risk management, our Bullfrog Insurance agents are always available to assist.

Seasonal Contractors: The Importance of Carrying Insurance Year-Round

 

Blog-Contractor


If you are a seasonal contractor, such as a roofer or a landscaper, the summer months are the peak of your busy season. You are probably trying to work as much as possible, knowing that in a few short months you’ll shut down for another season or the number of jobs will be radically reduced.

If you’ve been in business for a while, you may know that it’s very difficult to buy insurance for your business for a few months out of the year as most companies insist on selling you an annual policy. This might seem unnecessary given that you aren’t operating your business over the winter. However, an annual policy actually provides some very important protection for you.

 

Business Property.

If your insurance policy is covering any business property such as tools or equipment, it’s important to maintain this coverage year-round. Even though your tools might be kept at home or in a storage unit over the winter, they could still be lost or damaged due to fire, theft, water damage and/or more.

 

Products & Completed Operations Liability.

The Commercial General Liability portion of your business insurance policy should include coverage for ‘Products & Completed Operations Liability’. Let’s look at an example. Say you complete a project in August and cancel your insurance policy in October. In November, someone is hurt as a result of the work you did on that project in August. Since the injury occurred in November, after you had cancelled your policy (including your coverage for completed operations), you would have no coverage against a claim of bodily injury. Furthermore, many contracts require that the contractor carry continuous completed operations liability insurance for a certain period after a job is completed (usually 12-24 months).

 

Premium & Payment Implications.

Insurance companies don’t like to see a pattern of buying and cancelling insurance policies. Since you need to disclose your insurance history when applying for a new policy, they will recognize lapses in coverage and may require you to pay a higher price, and/or pay your full premium up front and make it fully retained, which means that no refund would occur in the event of cancellation, regardless of the reason. Keep in mind that they are charging you a premium heavily based on your type of operations and your estimated revenue, not the number of months you are operating for. Also, keeping continuous coverage will allow you to pick up a job over the winter if the opportunity presents itself, without having to worry about arranging insurance coverage.

 

If you have any questions regarding the information above or if you would like to discuss your current policy with a broker, our Bullfrog Insurance brokers would be happy to help you out. Bullfrog Insurance offers quick, easy and affordable insurance coverage for contractors. Contact us today for a free quote!

5 Common Small Business Insurance Myths

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There are often many misconceptions regarding small business insurance, especially when it comes to whether or not existing personal insurance policies protect your small business against potential claims. To help clarify what is and what isn’t covered, here are some common business insurance myths demystified. We have also included a few other ‘top’ myths, which are worthy of being debunked!

 

1. MYTH: Your Home Insurance Policy Will Protect Your Home Business in the Event of a Claim.

Don’t make the assumption that your existing home insurance policy will cover your home-based small business in the event of any type of claim; it won’t. Although your existing home insurance policy may offer very limited coverages, and may even give you the option of purchasing an extension for your business, it is highly recommended to get a separate policy for your home-based business so that you are properly covered in the event of a claim.

 

2. MYTH: You Don’t Require Additional Insurance Coverage If You Use Your Personal Vehicle for Work Purposes.

This really depends on how you primarily use your vehicle and what type of usage your auto insurance policy is based on.  If your auto insurance is rated for personal use only and you got in an accident on route to a regular delivery for work, you may run into issues getting your claim covered.  It is important to note that personal auto insurance policies may automatically exclude coverage for vehicles while being used for business purposes.  You should always talk to your insurance broker if you are going to be using your vehicle for work, and determine whether or not you need to change your rate class or purchase a commercial auto policy.

 

3. MYTH: Damage Caused by a Flood Is Automatically Covered by Your Business Insurance Policy.

First, keep in mind that ‘flood’ refers to the overflowing of a body of water, which is different then regular water damage (for example, a sink overflowing) or sewer back up. Coverage for flood damage is not a standard insurance coverage, even under what’s commonly referred to as an ‘All Risk’ policy. Flood is purchased as a separate add-on coverage to your policy and comes with a higher deductible then your other coverage. The cost for flood coverage on a business insurance policy is usually minimal, but it can be more if you are in a high risk flood zone. Make sure to check your policy or ask your broker to be sure you are covered for flood damage.

 

4. MYTH: Small Businesses Should Always Look for the Best Deal.

Purchasing the ‘best deal’ or cheapest insurance premium may mean that your business is not adequately protected for all potential risks. As premiums are calculated based on the exposures a business faces and the coverages it needs, buying a policy based on the lowest premium provided is not necessarily a good thing. Always be sure you are getting the coverage you need, while not blowing your budget; Bullfrog can help you with that.

 

5. MYTH: Using A Broker Will Add a Huge Additional Fee to Your Premium. 

This is a common misconception. Insurance brokers work on your (the clients) behalf to find your business the best rate based on your small business’ needs. Rather than get an insurance quote from just one insurance carrier, brokers are able to provide you and your business with quotes from multiple carriers. You also get to use the brokers expertise in ensuring your are getting the right coverage that your business needs.

 

 

If you have any questions regarding the information above or if you would like to discuss your current policy with a broker, our Bullfrog Insurance brokers would be happy to help you out. Bullfrog Insurance also offers affordable insurance coverage on tools, equipment and materials. Contact us today for more information.

Theft Protection Tips for Your Retail Business

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Retail businesses are prime targets for theft as they often have cash on hand and store valuable inventory on their premises. Here are three areas you should focus on when trying to prevent the risk of theft to your business and minimize the impact if it does happen:

 

Protect Your Premises.
Installing and using a monitored alarm system, keeping entrances secured with deadbolts, and making sure the interior and exterior of the building are well lit (especially entry points) are just a few of the ways to physically discourage potential break-ins. You should also be conscious of items in your window displays or near the windows as these may attract theft do to their easy accessibility. Be sure to remove expensive items from window displays at night as well.

 

Protect Your Cash.
Keep only a small amount of cash on the premises and post signs advising of this to deter thieves. If your cash register is visible from the outside, empty it at closing time and leave the cash drawer open. Make sure you have a good quality safe that is fireproof and anchored to the floor, and be sure to empty the safe as often as possible.

 

Protect Your Paperwork.
Whether you keep hard copies or electronic copies, all business records and personal files should be kept current and always be backed up, with copies kept off premises. This will help you assess your loss more accurately, prove your loss, and will save the headache of having to re-create these items from scratch should you lose them.

 

In addition to the items above, it’s important to make sure you have proper insurance coverage in the event that something does happen. Read your existing policy to see exactly what it covers and make sure to check for any warranties or requirements such as a monitored alarm or class II safe; failing to comply with these requirements could void your coverage. If you have questions or need help determining what coverage you require, contact one of our Bullfrog Insurance agents today.

Water Damage Prevention

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Water damage issues can affect more than just walls and ceilings; it can also affect your business’ bottom-line. Depending on its severity, water damage can result in a loss of inventory due to a flood or it can even halt your business entirely. It’s important to note that from damaged hose connections indoors to frozen pipes bursting in the winter, water damage issues can occur year round.

To ensure your business is protected and that proper safety measures are put into place, here are some tips to aid in water damage prevention.

 

Tips for Preventing Water Damage.

  • Properly insulate pipes so that they don’t get exposed to our harsh winter temperatures. This helps protect pipes from potentially freezing and ultimately cracking.

 

  • When the temperature drops below freezing, allow both hot and cold faucets to trickle in order to protect against frozen pipes occurring and potentially bursting.

 

  • You can also open cabinetry to expose pipes to warmer temperatures within your place of business.

 

  • If you’re going away over the winter months and plan to close your business down, drain all of your pipes and turn off the water supply to ensure that excess water doesn’t freeze and burst the pipes. Alternatively, maintain the heating to minimize the chance of freezing. This will also help protect your pipes from cracking.

 

  • If your business has a dishwasher, ice maker, or any other appliance that uses water, be sure to check hose connections to see if they are secure and that there is no cracking.

 

  • Regularly check older appliances for rust or leaks. Over time, older appliances can produce condensation which can lead to rust and leaks in supply hoses.

 

  • Regularly check gutters, eaves and downspouts for debris and clean when needed so that water can drain. Also, make sure that your downspouts are extended and pointed away from your foundation and aren’t connected to the sewer system or footing drains.

 

  • Fix any damaged or deteriorated roofing panels or materials so that water doesn’t seep through cracks.

 

  • If your building has a basement area, be sure to install a sump pump to prevent ground water from entering. Be sure to check it regularly to ensure it is properly functioning.

 

  • Take steps to prevent sewer backup such as installing a backwater valve or back flow device, checking and maintaining your sewer lines, and being conscious about what you put down your drains – no bulky items, oil, grease or fat.

 

 

If you have any questions regarding the information above or if you would like to discuss your current policy with a broker, our Bullfrog Insurance brokers would be happy to help you out. Bullfrog Insurance also offers affordable insurance coverage on tools, equipment and materials. Contact us today for more information.

 

Protect Your Small Business with These 5 Tips

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When it comes to purchasing insurance coverage for your small business, the process can feel somewhat tedious and at times a little confusing. To ensure that you are getting the right coverage for your small business without blowing your budget, here are some tips to keep in mind when shopping for or purchasing insurance coverage:

 

Use an Independent Broker.

Find an independent insurance broker that focuses on small businesses, who you can trust, and who makes the process as simple and stress-free as possible. Independent brokers have access to a variety of different insurance companies so they can shop around to find the best price and coverage for your needs.

 

Purchase the Right Coverage.

Make sure you have both the right type of coverage and the right amount of coverage. Depending on your business, you should consider coverages such as Property, Business Interruption, Crime, Equipment Breakdown, Liability and more. Look for package policies based on your industry as they will generally include all of the coverages you need but without all the guesswork.

 

Ask Questions.

Don’t be afraid of the unknown. Most people don’t fully understand what insurance coverage their business needs or even how insurance works. As a small business, you should ask your broker about coverage types, payment options, cancellation terms, and ways to reduce your premium. This one goes both ways, as you should also make sure to answer all questions as honestly as possible when filling out the quoting form. This will help prevent any issues with a claim down the road.

 

Be Aware of Factors that Affect Premiums.

It can be confusing trying to understand how your insurance premium is calculated and why you might be paying more than a neighbouring business. Insurance premiums for small businesses are based on a variety of factors, but some of the more significant ones include: Revenues, Operations, Business Location, Past Claims, and Coverage Types and Limits.

 

Extend Your Risk Management Procedures Beyond Insurance.

Purchasing insurance is only one piece of the risk management puzzle. Take steps to protect your assets and liabilities with proper security measures, staff procedures and more. You should also make sure to keep good records of property, purchases, accidents etc. In the event of a claim, good records will help verify your loss, making the process easier. In the event of a lawsuit, they could help defend your business.

 

If you have any questions regarding the information above or if you would like to discuss your current policy with a broker, our Bullfrog Insurance brokers would be happy to help you out. Bullfrog Insurance also offers affordable insurance coverage on tools, equipment and materials. Contact us today for more information.

What Legal Structure is Right for You and Your Business?

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One of the most important aspects of starting a new business is choosing what type of legal structure your business will have. The structure will determine your legal responsibilities, taxes and personal liability among other things. The most common types are sole proprietors, partnerships and corporations. Below is an overview of each type and some potential advantages and disadvantages of each.

 

Sole Proprietorship
In a sole proprietorship, you are the only owner and there is no legal distinction between yourself and your business activities. All profits and losses are yours alone.

Pros:

  • Simple and inexpensive to start up and discontinue
  • You have sole control over your business and reap 100% of the profits
  • Low regulation

Cons:

  • You have unlimited personal liability for the activities of the business. This means that creditors could go after your personal assets.
  • You are limited by your own ability and assets to raise capital
  • The operation of your business is solely dependent on you

 

Partnership
In a partnership, you and the other partners combine financial resources and share in the profits and losses associated with the business.  It’s important to write a partnership agreement that outlines the partnership structure and the rights and responsibilities of each party. You can also be a limited liability partner meaning that you aren’t involved in the management of the business and are only liable for the debts to a certain extent.

Pros:

  • Easy to create
  • You share the financial start-up burden among partners
  • You share the responsibilities and liabilities of the business

Cons:

  • All partners are still personally liable for any debts or other liabilities of the business
  • All partners are financially responsible for decisions made by another partner
  • There is potential for conflict between partners and it can be hard to dissolve the partnership

 

Corporations
This is the most common form of a business organization and it separates the business as a legal entity from the owner, protecting the owner’s personal assets from the business.  The corporation is owned by shareholders and they appoint directors to be responsible for running the company.

Pros:

  • Limited liability for the owner as the business is now a separate legal entity
  • Ability to raise capital through the sale of stock
  • Potential financial benefits such as tax advantages

Cons:

  • More complicated and expensive to start up
  • Strictly regulated
  • More reporting and filing requirements

 

For more information on the advantages and disadvantages of each structure, including tax implications visit here. If you have any questions regarding how each structure would affect your insurance policy or if you have any other questions, the brokers at Bullfrog Insurance are here to help.

Why You Should Have Your Insurance Broker Review a Contract

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If you’re a contractor or sub-contractor, you will likely find yourself signing contracts for clients or a project manager. Likewise, if you own a retail business or operate any type of office, you are probably required to sign a contract with your landlord.

Many business owners don’t realize that contracts contain insurance and indemnity requirements. Once you sign on the dotted line, you’ve made a commitment to abide by those requirements, regardless of whether or not they make sense for your situation. Whether it’s a two or thirty page document, you should always have your insurance broker review prior to signing it. Here are some of the reasons why:

 

What coverage is required?

A contract will usually state what type of coverage is required for you to have and in what amounts. This could range from property insurance, liability insurance, equipment breakdown, business interruption or even construction insurance. It’s not uncommon to see cookie-cutter contracts that ask for just about everything. If there’s something not applicable to your business or a limit that seems too high for your exposure, your broker will identify this and you can ask for it to be removed or altered so you’re not forced to pay for coverage you don’t need. Your broker can also quote increases in coverage or additional types of coverage, so that you’re fully aware of the extra cost going in.

 

What insurance clauses are required?

In addition to the type of coverage required, there are often specific insurance clauses that are outlined in a contract. At a basic level, these can include naming specific parties as Additional Insured’s, a Waiver of Subrogation, Notice of Cancellation of your insurance policy, Products and Completed Operations coverage being maintained for a certain period of time after the project is complete, and many others. Some of these clauses may cost extra and most will need to be approved by your insurance company. Similar to above, if you identify these ahead of time, you can request unreasonable requirements be removed or amended or at least determine whether or not your current insurance company can comply.

 

Lastly, having your insurance broker review your contracts will help them better understand your business and operations, ensuring that you have the right coverage in place. If you need help reviewing insurance requirements or want to learn more about the clauses above, contact us at Bullfrog Insurance today.

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