Business Claims: Do You Know What to Do? 6 Important Steps

Commercial insurance can provide important protection for your business – but only if you know what to do when a loss occurs. The claims process is an essential part of making sure you get the reimbursement you deserve under your policy so you can get your business up and running as quickly as possible.

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Unfortunately, plenty of businesses – even large, established ones – don’t know the important steps they should take when a disaster occurs. If that sounds like you, never fear – we have a quick list of steps every business should take to protect their businesses, their property and their bottom lines in the event of an insurable loss:

  • First, call your agent. The sooner you contact your insurance agent, the sooner your claims process can begin. Plus, your agent will arrange to have an inspector come out to survey the damage and take notes and photos as needed.
  • Take your own photos. Don’t rely on the inspector or adjuster to take all the photos from every angle. It’s your loss, so for your own peace of mind (not to mention your records), take plenty of photos that clearly show the extent of the damage. Also keep a written record of the steps you’re taking throughout the claims process so you can refer to them if necessary.
  • Don’t move anything. As a business, you want to get things back to normal as quickly as possible to avoid losing customers or income. But moving debris or damaged equipment can make it more difficult for the adjuster to estimate your losses. If you must move items or debris, be sure to take plenty of pictures first.
  • Have your policy in hand and review it so you understand your coverage and can be ready to ask questions throughout the process. Ideally, your policy will be stored in a safe, easy-to-access location (and your agent’s number will be stored in your phone).

Those are the four essential steps to take if you have a loss. But there are a couple of things you should do before a disaster to help prevent losses and to make the claims process go as smoothly as possible.

  • Make a plan. Every business of every size should have a written plan that spells out the steps to take in case of a disaster. Knowing what to do can help ensure your business gets back to normal much more quickly and it can also avoid a lot of confusion when it comes to setting priorities.
  • Review your policy frequently. Businesses change over time, and even small changes can mean big gaps in coverage. Review your policy yearly as well as any time you add new equipment or make any other changes to ensure you’ve got the coverage you need to stay protected.

At Basi Insurance Services, we help businesses of all sizes throughout the Oakdale area get the coverage they need for their business’ specific risks. Call today and let us review your coverage.

Vacation Plans? Keep Your Home Safe While You’re Away

Nearly 1.8 million burglaries took place in the U.S. in 2014, resulting in almost $4 billion in property losses, according to the latest statistics from the FBI. The vast majority of those burglaries occurred in homes when the residents were out – either at work or, commonly, on vacation. In fact, while most of us consider summer to be a time of vacations and relaxed work schedules, for burglars, it’s the busiest time of the year. That’s because they know many people take at least one vacation during the summer, leaving a lot of empty and often poorly secured homes. If you’re planning a summer getaway, follow these tips to keep your home and your possessions safe while you’re away:

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Keep your plans to yourself.

One of the best ways to make sure your home stays safe when you’re on vacation this summer is to avoid posting about your plans online. Statistics show professional burglars make it a regular habit to surf the internet, looking for posts on Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms providing detailed information about upcoming vacation plans.

Invest in a security system.

There was a time when owning a security system meant a huge financial outlay and large, ongoing fees to keep it up and running. But all that’s changed, and today’s systems are much more affordable, making them well within the reach of even modest budgets. Plus, many systems offer cameras that enable you to keep an eye on your property from anywhere there’s an internet connection, and you can even control your lights and other appliances right from your smart phone or tablet.

Recruit your neighbors (assuming they’re trustworthy).

Obviously, your neighbors can keep an eye on your home while you’re away, calling the police if anything unusual happens. But they can also bring in mail or flyers left on your doorstep, and they might even have an extra car they can keep parked in your driveway so it looks like someone is home.

Use timers – judiciously.

If you don’t have a remote security system, you can still turn lights on and off using timers. Set them to turn lights on in different areas of your home at different times of the day to avoid having all the lights turn on at once, which can be a pretty clear indication timers are in use.

Check your locks.

Before leaving on vacation, make sure all your locks work, including the ones on your garage door and windows. Invest in a special locking bar for sliding doors as well.

One more tip: Before leaving on vacation, make sure your homeowners policy is up to date and offers the coverage you need to keep all your valuables protected. No one likes to think about being the victim of a burglary, but in the end, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. To have your own policy reviewed, call Basi Insurance Services today.

Planning Fireworks This 4th of July? Take These 5 Simple Steps for Greater Safety

For most people, fireworks are an integral part of 4th of July celebrations, but if you plan on setting off those fireworks at home, you could be setting yourself up some serious problems if those fireworks wind up damaging your home or someone else’s property. Every year, the news is full of reports of injuries occurring following inappropriate use of fireworks and firecrackers. But what’s often overlooked is the property damage that can – and often does – occur even when safety rules are followed to the letter.

If you’re planning on using fireworks during your own 4th of July celebration, the best way to be sure you, your guests and your neighbors are protected is to review your insurance policy. This step will help determine if your policy covers damages from fireworks, and if you have enough coverage to provide protection from big financial losses.shutterstock_214325266

The good news is, most basic homeowners policies do provide some coverage for property losses that occur on your own property, including losses that occur as a result of fireworks use. But there are some caveats: First, you need to be sure you’re using the fireworks according to their directions and according to any local codes and regulations. Failure to do so can be declared negligent, and that means your insurance probably won’t provide any protection.

Second, you need to make sure your policy has enough coverage for damage on your own property, and you should also inquire about coverage for neighboring property that could be caused by a spark or firework gone astray. Damage that occurs to another home is usually covered by that homeowners policy, but that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook – depending on their level of coverage, you could still be responsible for at least part of the losses.

The best way to avoid all these issues is to enjoy your fireworks at a public display. But if you’ve already decided to have fireworks at your own event, here are a few important steps you need to take to decrease your risk of property damage, or worse – serious injuries:

  • Make sure you know – and follow – local regulations regarding fireworks use.
  • Never use fireworks near trees, wooden structures or dry brush.
  • Follow the instructions carefully and completely while using fireworks.
  • Keep kids safely away from the area and keep pets indoors.
  • Have a hose on hand in case of fly-away sparks.

Finally, call Basi Insurance Services to make sure you have ample liability and property damage coverage. Adding additional coverage can be surprisingly inexpensive, and it’s a great way to make sure your 4th of July celebration is both fun and safe.

3 Steps to Keep Worker’s Compensation Costs Low

Slip-and-fall accidents, including falls from stairs and other heights and other fall-related accidents, are a common cause of job-related injuries as well as absences from work. In fact, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2010, about 300,000 slip-and-fall accidents caused lost days from work in businesses from across the country. That translates into millions and millions of dollars of lost revenue as well as countless hours of lost productivity – and significantly higher worker’s compensation claims costs, to boot.

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Worker’s compensation is an important type of insurance for business owners to have; after all, it provides critical coverage for workers who do become injured, and it also reduces the risks of lawsuits stemming from job-related injuries. What’s more, it’s required by law for most businesses. Still, despite its benefits, for businesses that have a large number of injuries, the premiums can be high.

The good news is that, just like any other type of insurance, there are steps you can take as a business owner to keep the costs of your premiums as low as possible. If the prospect of lower worker’s comp costs sounds goo to you, here are three steps you should be implementing starting today:

  1. Establish a safety program – and if you already have one, fine-tune it. Companies that don’t have responsive safety programs in place are setting themselves up for losses. Begin by identifying potential hazards, like stairs or poorly-secured warehouse shelving, then ensure safety measures are put in place to prevent injuries. Then move on to the policies that manage behavior so workers know what they can and should be doing to prevent injuries form occurring. Finally, plan to review your program on a routine basis. A safety program doesn’t just set safety standards; it also helps anticipate potential issues that can cause worker injuries as well as setting a schedule for periodic reviews to ensure the program is up to date.
  2. Set up a return-to-work program to make it easier for injured workers to get back on the job, even if it means modifying some of their activities and duties for a while to help them make the transition. The sooner workers can get back to work, the faster worker’s comp claims can be closed out, and the more money your business can save.
  3. Review your policy with your insurance agent. Insurance agents and brokers know the insurance industry inside and out, and that means they’re in a great position to help you identify changes you can make to help keep your workers safe and your premiums low. At Basi Insurance Services, we work closely with businesses in and around Oakdale, CA, to help them understand the important steps they can take to improve workplace safety.

Interested in learning more about how to keep your insurance costs low? Call Basi Insurance Services today at (209) 847-3065.

Stay OSHA-compliant with Our Safety Program

Running a business can be costly, and every year, it seems like the price of doing business rises just a little bit more. One of the best ways to save costs at your farm or other business is to make sure your business is up-to-date on all its safety features and compliant with the latest OSHA regulations. Here’s how:shutterstock_274000694.jpg

  • First, updating your business’ safety plan and features can result in significant savings in your insurance costs. Insurance companies determine premiums based on a business’ risk. Some businesses are considered to be riskier than others based on the type of business, the business location or other factors. But that’s just part of the risk analysis. A large part of a business’ risk profile is based on its safety programs and its level of compliance, as well as its history of accidents and claims. Businesses that take the time to understand and comply with OSHA regulations and to implement robust safety programs can reduce the likelihood of accidents and thus be perceived as a “better” risk – and that can result in lower premiums.
  • Second, making sure you’re in compliance with OSHA guidelines and other regulations can save you money in terms of fines and penalties. If your business is found to be in violation of an important safety regulation, it could be subject to financial penalties or even shut down until changes are made to bring the business into compliance. If your business is shut down for even a single day, that can result in a significant loss of income, not to mention a “ding” against your business’ reputation.
  • And finally, keeping a safe workplace usually means a lower risk of accidents, which means your employees are less likely to become injured. Fewer injuries mean a reduction in employee absences as well as a reduction in costly workers’ compensation claims and medical insurance premiums.

At Basi Insurance Services, we have a dedicated safety coordinator whose sole job is to make sure our clients have the guidance they need to establish and maintain comprehensive safety programs designed to keep them compliant with OSHA and other regulations. In addition to telephone consultations, we offer on-site visits with employee training in both English and Spanish to help ensure everyone is “on track” with existing safety programs and to aid in implementation of new initiatives.

If you’d like to learn more about safety requirements for your business and find out what changes you should make to stay compliant – and to potentially lower the costs of your premiums – we can help. Call Basi Insurance Services today at 877-590-4826 or call 209-847-3065 and speak directly with Safety Coordinator Aaron Canez.

Looking to keep your farm business insurance costs low? Better compliance is the key

Insurance companies are in the business of assessing risks, which is why learning to manage your business’ risks is so important to keeping your insurance premiums at their lowest. Of course, one of the best ways to keep your insurance costs low is to keep your claims to a minimum. When your farm business makes a lot of claims, your insurance carrier may begin to view you as a bigger risk – and bigger risks naturally are charged higher rates than those who pose less risk to the insurance company.

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Maintaining safety standards and ensuring your farm remains in compliance, especially when safety standards change or regulations are updated, is essential to helping you avoid accidents that result in insurance claims, and it’s also important to help your farm business avoid fines and other penalties that arise when your farm falls out of compliance. Your county extension agent and your insurance company are great sources of information about current regulations and compliance issues, and there are plenty of online resources as well, like:

Insurance claims don’t just raise premiums – they also represent lost time and lost revenue. Even small accidents can take a big toll on your bottom line, especially when the underlying cause remains uncorrected or undetected. To reduce accidents and improve your bottom line, it’s essential to make security, compliance and loss reduction a part of your every day job activities and to communicate safety protocol to your workers on a regular basis.

Learn more.

At Basi Insurance Services, we don’t sell farm insurance as “just another insurance product;” we have a dedicated farm department with a staff that’s devoted to the unique needs of agriculture businesses, including a safety coordinator who can come out to your site to help ensure your operation is OSHA-compliant. And we can even provide safety training in both English and Spanish to help your workers understand the regulations that affect them and their work. If you have questions about farm insurance or compliance, or you’d like more information on keeping your insurance costs affordable, call Basi Insurance today at 209-847-3065.

Small Changes in Diet and Exercise Can Yield Big Benefits for Your Heart Health

Heart disease is the leading cause of death among men and women in the U.S., accounting for more than 600,000 deaths annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Yet despite the high rate of mortality associated with heart disease, there are simple things you can – and should – do to help lower your risk of cardiovascular disease so you can improve your overall health and lower your own risk of serious and life-threatening complications.

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As with many chronic and acute health conditions, the best ways to prevent heart disease – or to lessen the severity of existing disease – is to make a few simple changes in your diet and exercise routines. Now wait – before you click to another site, hear this: The changes you need to make to help improve your heart health are small – so small, they’re remarkably easy to incorporate into your daily routine, and you don’t have to be a nutritionist or athlete to achieve optimal results from these changes in your diet and exercise activities. Here’s what you need to do, starting today, to help improve your heart health:

  • When it comes to exercise, you don’t have to go to a gym or join a team – just be more physically active. The American Heart Association says all it takes is 30 minutes of moderate physical activity – a brisk walk, for instance – five days a week to improve your heart health. You can even break up your activity into 10- or 15-minute intervals if it makes it easier to incorporate it into your regular routine.
  • As for diet, small changes work here, too. Eat more fiber and opt for healthy fats from fish, nuts, avocados and good olive oil instead of solid shortenings or animal fats in your diet. Switching from white or processed wheat bread to a whole grain variety and adding oatmeal or other healthy cereals once a day is a great start. Also try switching one sweet snack or junk food item each day with a piece of fresh fruit.
  • Finally, lose a little weight. You don’t have to lose a lot – just losing five to 10 percent of your body weight (10 to 20 pounds for a 200-pound person) can reduce your risks for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea and inflammation, all of which are major contributors to heart disease. Plus, you’ll also reduce the risks of type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. Make the first two changes, and losing weight will probably happen naturally, without any extra effort at all.

And that’s it. Just three simple changes to a healthier heart. Since February is American Heart Month, there’s no better time than RIGHT NOW to get started!