Home Based Businesses

pexels-photo-276549-home business

Own a Home-Based Business? Think ‘Presidentially’ When Considering Risks
No, we are not implying you fancy yourself the next Washington or Lincoln. But are you the proud owner or founder of one of the estimated 59% of established businesses in the United States that operate from a home? Then, even if your face doesn’t appear on Mount Rushmore, for your business you are still the top dog, head cheese, or grand high poobah. So welcome to your month, Ms. or Mr. President!

But just as you realize that there are similarities to all businesses, wherever located, you also know there are often concerns, considerations and risks unique to a home-based environment. And as your Trusted Choice® independent insurance agents, we want to remind you that designing proper protection encompassing both those common and unique risks requires ongoing communication and review of your current insurance and risk management programs.

Yet studies show that of the 11 million-plus home-based businesses, nearly 60% do not have insurance specifically recognizing and providing coverage for these unique risks. When asked about the reasons for this lack of additional insurance, business owners responded:

• They thought they were already properly covered by their personal insurance: 40%.
• They thought their business was too small to insure: 30%.
• They could give no specific reason: 20%.

The first assumption is demonstrably false. Standard homeowners policies are designed for personal exposures, not business. While there may be small areas or limits of coverage available for certain types of home-based businesses, the vast majority will find coverage severely limited or specifically excluded for business losses related to such common risks as theft, vehicle usage, employee injuries, or life/health/disability. The largest potential gap in proper coverage arises from the lack of liability protection for claims arising out of business activities, whether the claim occurs in the home or elsewhere.

The second assumption above is also wrong, and the third response, at a minimum, shows a dangerous lack of knowledge.

Starting a home-based business may be the first step on your road to successful
entrepreneurship. Whether your business ultimately remains in your home or grows into the need for outside facilities or a relocation, as your Trusted Choice® independent agents, we stand ready to be your ongoing valued partner. Schedule a time today to review your current or future business plans, and let us help you establish a comprehensive insurance and risk management program to protect what we both hope will be your most valuable growing asset.

You’re Not Home Alone in Business

The stereotype of a home-based business being about networking, consulting or holding sales parties has long been out-of-date. Today, the term can encompass everything from a one-person operation turning a hobby into an income to a major enterprise with dozens of employees. Here are a few facts from recent studies:

• Most home-based businesses — 67% — fall outside the traditional categories such as
freelancing, independent contracting, consulting and virtual assistance.
• Of all new businesses, 69% are started in a home.
• Three and a half years later, 59% of those new businesses are still operating from a
home.
• Home-based businesses that have employees: 75%.
• Women-owned businesses: 72% operate from home.
• Founders come from all age groups. Those planning to start a business include:
▪ 30.5% of young entrepreneurs.
▪ 25% of retirees.

Give one of our agents at West Town Insurance Agency a call at 252-368-4017 to see if you and your home based business are properly insured.

Sources:
Trusted Choice®
http://smallbiztrends.com/2013/07/home-based-businesses-startup.html
http://www.independentagent.com/News/PressReleases/Pages/2004/NA20040225120203.aspx

Advertisements

Flood Prevention and Safety

HowFloodInsuranceWorks

Flood prevention and safety 

Almost anywhere it rains, it can flood. Even if you live in an area that you think isn’t at risk, preparation is just as critical as with other types of emergencies.

Before we get into how you can prevent, limit or react to flooding, it’s important to note that flood damage is typically not covered by your homeowners or renters insurance. There are specialized flood insurance programs that we at West Town Insurance Agency can discuss with you. Just contact us at (252) 368-4017 or info@westtownins.com for more information if you live in North Carolina.

 Preparing for a flood

The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends a number of steps to stay safe during emergencies and limit damage from flooding. You should:

Build an emergency kit for your family containing such items as drinking water and nonperishable food for each member of your family (two-week supply), flashlights,  a radio, extra batteries, a first-aid kit, necessary medications, personal hygiene items and copies of important documents.

Create a communication plan so family members can reach one another.

Elevate your furnace, water heater and electric panel in your home if live in an area with a high flood risk.

Consider installing “check valves” to prevent floodwater from backing up into the drains of your home.

If possible, construct barriers to stop floodwater from entering your home and seal basement walls with waterproofing compounds.

Acting during a flood

 If a flood is likely in your area, quick action may be necessary to protect your family and property. You should:

Get information from the radio or television.

Move immediately to higher ground if there is any possibility of a flash flood. Do not wait for instructions to move.

If you need to evacuate, secure your home and move essential items to an upper floor. Turn off utilities if instructed to do so, and disconnect electrical appliances. However, do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.

Do not walk through moving water — it can make you fall. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.

Do not drive into flooded areas. If you are caught in your vehicle in floodwater, abandon your car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely.

If you have evacuated your home, do not return until authorities tell you it is safe.

Coping after a flood

 Flooding can cause emotional stress along with physical hazards, so be mindful of the well-being of you and your family during the aftermath.

Floodwater can be contaminated by oil, gasoline or sewage, so avoid contact as much as possible.

Make sure your city’s water supply is safe to drink.

Clean and disinfect everything that was in contact with floodwater.

The Red Cross has a free book available called “Repairing Your Flooded Home,” which contains useful information as you clean up. It’s available at www.redcross.org. Of course, don’t hesitate to contact us as well — we’re ready to help!

If you have flood insurance, contact the claims center of your provider as soon as possible.

Flooding is one of the most common hazards in the U.S. Being prepared for any emergency is crucial for the safety of you and your family. Don’t be caught off guard!

Flood Insurance Quote

If you would like a Free Flood Insurance Quote, submit the following information and one of our agents will contact you.

School Sports Safety

sports

7 Tips to Help Keep Student Athletes Safe

Your household may be one of the millions this fall in which student athletes are dreaming of victory on their school playing fields. Of course, we here at West Town Insurance Agency want to see them succeed, but we also want them to be safe.

So, here are seven tips for students, parents and school staff to keep in mind as the new season gets underway:

  1. Start off on the right foot: All athletes need a preseason physical and should share any medical conditions, such as sickle cell trait, with coaches. And, parents, don’t forget to provide your contact information and permission for emergency medical care.
  2. Think about nutrition: A healthy diet offers plenty of complex carbohydrates, plus moderate amounts of protein, salt, sugars and sodium. Keep fat, saturated fat and cholesterol to a minimum.
  3. Be smart about injuries: Athletic trainers and consulting physicians, not coaches, should decide whether athletes continue playing following an injury. Athletic staff needs to know how to use defibrillators and keep them nearby during both practice and games. Finally, athletes should always speak up about and seek medical attention for such symptoms as dizziness, memory loss, lightheadedness, fatigue or imbalance after a hit in the head or a fall. In most cases, they should not rejoin practice or play that same day.
  4. Maintain equipment and facilities: Helmets and pads should be properly fitted; gymnastic apparatus well-maintained. Facilities must be kept clean and checked for germs regularly.
  5. Warm up, cool down: Always warm up and stretch before beginning activities. Cool down and stretch when finished, and take plenty of breaks in between.
  6. Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water (costly sports drinks aren’t usually necessary) before, during and after a workout or practice.
  7. Build up a heat tolerance: To avoid heat illnesses, especially in sports requiring protective equipment, start slowly and build up to more intensive training requiring the full gear.

We hope these tips help set up your student athletes for success this season. We’ll be rooting for them!

Tornado truths that can help you stay safe

1024px-F5_tornado_Elie_Manitoba_2007

Tornadoes have caused severe and irreparable damage to tens of thousands of Americans and their property in recent years. On top of the physical and emotional fallout, many have also lost their lives as a direct result of a tornado.

Although you can never control the weather or the outcome of a destructive storm, there are steps you can take to help you and your family remain protected in the event of a tornado. Those steps of action begin with knowing fact from myth.

Here are a few tornado truths that could help keep you and those you love safe:

  • When indoors, shut all windows and doors. Do not leave them open in an attempt to follow the mythical need to “pressurize” your home because the result would more likely be debris flying through the window and causing severe harm, or wind pressure working to lift the roof off the house from the inside.
  • If you are inside your home or other structure, retreat to the lowest level (a basement is ideal) or the room closest to the middle of the home or farthest from windows and doors. Do not seek a “corner” of the structure for your retreat; instead, go to the center-most point, away from windows and anything heavy that could fall on your head.
  • If you’re outdoors, find the lowest spot, such as a ditch or dry river bed, and lie flat on your stomach, covering the back of your head with your hands. Do not follow the myth of seeking shelter underneath a bridge or overpass because it could collapse on top of you or large debris and winds could come rushing underneath and potentially sweep you up into the tornado itself.
  • If you are in a vehicle, abandon the vehicle and try to find shelter in a structure or outdoors in a low place where you should lay stomach-down and cover the back of your head with your hands. Most importantly, do not attempt to drive away from the storm unless it’s very obviously far away and moving in the opposite direction.
  • Do not take shelter near a road or foothill and expect the tornado to miss you. Some myths say that tornadoes will reverse their directions when nearing a road or foothill, but a tornado doesn’t discriminate and will keep on its path.
  • Keep head gear handy. Head protection can be the number-one most important factor in remaining protected from flying debris—indoors or outdoors—so know where bike, football, batting, boxing and other helmets are in the house, and make them easily accessible.

At West Town Insurance Agency, we want to help you know the tornado truths that will help keep you and your family safe. For more tornado safety tips, visit the Storm Prediction Center’s comprehensive guide at http://www.spc.noaa.gov/faq/tornado/safety.html.

 Contact Us!

 At West Town Insurance Agency, we can work with you to make sure you’ve got the coverage you need, while at the same time using all possible credits and discounts to make that coverage affordable. Just give us a call at 252-368-4017 or send us a note at info@westtownins.com. We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what’s important to you is protected!

Content provided by Safeco Insurance

RV Travel Tips

RV

Get the Most Out of Your RV This Summer

 There’s nothing quite like taking a road trip in an RV. Whether you’re headed to somewhere nearby in North Carolina or somewhere across the country this summer, we at West Town Insurance Agency want you to get the most out of your travels.

But before we get to travel tips and how to find the best places to stay, we want to remind you about safety. As with any vehicle, maintenance is important. After all, even though you can hang out in your RV if it breaks down, who wants to spend their road trip on the side of the road? We encourage you to visit www.safeco.com and click on the “Insurance 101” tab. The “Consumer Tips” section has a wealth of information on RV safety.

With that said, it’s time to hit the road!

General travel tips

  • Have a plan (and maps or a GPS). One of the reasons you’re traveling in an RV, no doubt, is for the adventure. But while the freedom to go wherever you want can be exciting, getting lost isn’t (at least for most people). You’ll cut down on frustration if you know where you’re headed.
  • Pack the right things. We’ve all forgotten to pack something while going on vacation. And buying new items at your destination can add up. So make a packing list, and remember that it’s not all about clothes and toiletries. Don’t forget your favorite road music or DVDs to watch at night. And if you’ve got kids with you, be sure to pack games and other things to entertain them.
  • But don’t pack everything. Of course, just because you have an RV doesn’t mean you should bring all of your possessions on vacation with you.
  • Be prepared for anything. You should have a first-aid kit in the RV, as well as some tools for smaller repairs. And if you’re traveling a long distance, why not bring some local items from your hometown to give as gifts when you make new friends?
  • Limit the driving. It’s tiring enough driving a car hundreds of miles a day, let alone an RV, so give yourself plenty of rest and don’t overdo the driving.

 Want to bring your car?

Taking a car along with your RV can give you a lot more flexibility on your vacation. But it can also make the driving more stressful, so keep that in mind. According to towingworld.com, there are three main options to bring your car with you:

  • A trailer: This of course, allows you to raise the car completely off the ground. They’re generally more expensive than other options, but keep wear and tear to a minimum for your car.
  • A tow dolly: This lifts the front wheels of the car off the ground. They’re useful if you can’t tow your car with all four wheels down, and can be easily used for front-wheel drive vehicles without another device to make it towable.
  • A tow bar: The most popular choice, because of its convenience. It’s the option with the least amount of equipment, and usually the least expensive; it also takes up less space than dollies and trailers. Note that not all cars can be towed with four wheels on the ground, so check your manufacturer’s recommendations.

Where to stay

If you’re looking for a campground or RV park, you’re in luck – there are seemingly endless options across the country. But how do you know which ones are good or safe? Plenty of online resources have information on various parks, including the ones below:

Wherever you stay, you’ll want to take some steps to prevent crime. RVs can be inviting targets for thieves, because they usually contain more valuables than cars. Always lock your doors when you’re away from the RV and keep valuables out of sight or locked away. If you’re parked for the night in a non-camping area, such as a parking lot, try to stay in a well-lit area and keep the door facing the light. Finally, try to make fuel or convenience store stops during the day, if possible.

You’ve got a summer full of fun ahead in your RV. We wish we were coming with you! Here’s hoping for smooth and safe travels.

And don’t forget, we can help you get the right insurance coverage for your RV (and everything else). Give us a call today!

It’s Almost Boating Season!

boat

Safety Tips for Boating Season

Every summer, our team gets calls from customers after a fun weekend on the water takes a turn for the worse. Often, these accidents could have been prevented with just a few simple precautions. Here are a few tips we like – courtesy of our partners at Safeco.

Don’t let an accident wreck your fun!

Life Preservers Aren’t Just for Kids. It’s not enough to just have life jackets on board — wear them! In an accident, people rarely have time to reach for a life jacket. This rule applies to adults, not just children: More people in their 30’s die in boating accidents than any other age group. Life vests have come a long way in style. Today, you can even get vests for your water-loving dog!

Watch the Back of the Boat. Carbon monoxide kills in minutes. So tell your passengers where your exhaust pipes are located and turn off your engine when people are in the water, and don’t let passengers “ski” or “teak-surf” by holding on to the back of the boat. Both Washington and Oregon made teak-surfing illegal in the last few years, after several tragic deaths. Carbon monoxide detectors are standard on most new boats; older boats install devices for less than $100.

Alcohol and Boating Don’t Mix. More than 50 percent of drowning’s result from boating incidents involving alcohol. You don’t drink and drive, so don’t boat and drive.

Boats Need TLC Too. When you’re out on the water, make sure your gas tanks are vented and bilges are free of vapors, oil, waste and grease. Carry a charged fire extinguisher. Have your boat’s operating systems checked yearly by a certified marine technician. The Coast Guard Auxiliary and United States Power Squadrons also offer free vessel safety checks.

Experience Counts! The U.S. Coast Guard says that operator errors account for 70 percent of all boating accidents. Make sure anyone who drives your boat is properly trained. You can also earn boat insurance discounts from Safeco and other insurers if you complete a safety course with the Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadrons.

Watercraft Insurance
Most home insurance policies have limited coverage for boats. If you own a boat, watercraft insurance is your best bet: It covers theft, damage, and injuries or accidents while you’re on the water, as well as some of your expensive watersports gear.

 

Sites for Information:

Coast Guard: http://www.uscgboating.org
Coast Guard Auxiliary: nws.cgaux.org/
Safeco tips: http://www.safeco.com/insurance-101/consumer-tips/your-boat

Call us at 252-368-4017 or e-mail info@westtownins.com for more info.

The Importance of Renters Insurance

prs-renters-ins-postcard_page_1

If you live in a rental home or apartment, chances are you don’t have the proper insurance. Despite the fact that rented homes are more likely to be burglarized than owner-occupied properties, nearly 60 percent of renters don’t have a renters policy.

Why does it matter?

“If you rent a house or apartment and think that your landlord is financially responsible when there is a fire, theft or other catastrophe—think again,” warns the Insurance Information Institute*. “Your landlord may have insurance to protect the building you are living in. But your landlord’s policy won’t replace your personal possessions or pay for your living expenses while the building is being repaired. The only way to protect yourself financially against disasters is to buy a renters insurance policy.”

Renters insurance covers your possessions, liability and additional living expenses. Let’s take a look at these three types of protection:

Possessions

Standard renters insurance protects your personal belongings against damage from fire, smoke, lightning, vandalism, theft, explosion, windstorm, water and other disasters listed in the policy. Floods and earthquakes are not covered.

To decide how much insurance to buy, you need to know the value of all your personal possessions—including furniture, clothing, electronics, appliances, kitchen utensils and even towels and bedding. The easiest way to figure this out is to create a home inventory, a detailed list of all of your personal possessions and their estimated value.

There are two types of renters insurance policies for your possessions:

  • Actual Cash Value pays to replace your possessions minus an amount for depreciation (the reduction in the value of items due to age and use) up to the limit of your policy.
  • Replacement Cost pays the full cost of replacing your possessions (with no deduction for depreciation), up to the limit of your policy. The price of Replacement Cost coverage is about 10 percent more than Actual Cash Value coverage, but can be well worth the additional cost.

Note that a standard renters policy offers only limited coverage for items such as jewelry, silver, furs, etc. If you own property that exceeds these limits, it is recommended that you supplement your policy with a floater. A floater is a separate policy that provides additional insurance for your valuables and covers them for perils not included in your policy such as accidental loss.

Liability

Standard renters insurance policies also provide liability protection in the event you or members of your familiar cause injury to others or damage their property.  It also pays for damage your pets cause.

If you are sued, the liability portion of a renters policy may pay for both the cost of defending you in court and for court awards, up to the limit of the policy. Liability limits generally start at about $100,000. Your policy may also provide No-Fault Medical coverage. If visitors are injured in your home, regardless of fault, you can submit their medical bills directly to your insurance company. You can generally get $1,000 to $5,000 worth of this coverage. It does not however, pay medical bills for your own family or your pets.

Additional Living Expenses

Many people are pleasantly surprised to learn that Additional Living Expense (ALE) coverage is typically included in a renters insurance policy. If the home or apartment you are renting is damaged or destroyed and you need to live elsewhere while it is being repaired or rebuilt, renters insurance will cover your additional living expenses—namely the difference between your regular living expenses and the additional costs incurred by having to live away from your home, such as hotel bills, temporary rentals, restaurant meals, etc.

Renters insurance is surprisingly affordable and when you bundle with an auto policy, you could save even more!  Need help deciding what coverage is best for you? Contact us today to find out how you can protect your valuables, save money, and give yourself peace of mind.

*Insurance Information Institute, September 30, 2009