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Risk Management and Your Team’s Role in Lowering Risk

Risk Management and Your Team’s Role in Lowering Risk

Workers’ compensation rates have been steadily dropping for the last decade in Tennessee and other states. And while factors like market competition and legal system improvements are factors, one of the biggest impacts has come from a reduction in claims frequency and claims severity. How has this been achieved? Safety and risk management programs. When better procedures are in place to protect employees, fewer accidents – or less damaging accidents – occur. So, could this be applied elsewhere to lower your businesses risks?

Preparing Your Team for Success

Onboarding, training, screening, and testing of employees and potential hires can help you lower risk. And this isn’t just for jobs with physical risks. Training your employees on cyber risks, onboarding them for customer interaction, screening them for past loss history, and intermittently testing them on what they’ve learned can all help with your risk management. Let’s review some examples of how this approach can be impactful.

Cyber Liability Prevention

Most businesses store customer data or personal info in some fashion. Whether it be loyalty info like names and birthdays or financial info like credit cards stored for recurring payments, this data is sensitive and must be protected. If you train and test your employees on avoiding cyber risks like phishing, hacking, and human error, you’ll be helping lower your cyber risk.

Third Party Liability Prevention

How does your team interact with customers? If there is a physical location that customers visit for goods, services, or transactions, is it well-maintained? Does your team know to clean up spills, report malfunctioning equipment, or notify management of unsafe conditions? Quickly acting on these concerns not only makes for a better customer experience, it may also reduce your risk.

Property Damage Prevention

If you work on or interact with customer property, having your employees properly trained is critical. Whether it be a $20,000 car or a $1,000,000 piece of equipment, the work your employees do shouldn’t put position you for a claim. And while accidents happen, the better the training, the less likely they are to occur.

Good risk management leads to better options for your insurance, especially as your business’s loss history continues to be good or improves from prior claims. Contact Brandon Patterson at 865.453.1414 or email to discuss how it could help your business.

Is Increasing Your Deductible a Good Idea?

Is Increasing Your Deductible a Good Idea?
We’d all love to save more money, and insurance isn’t something people typically enjoy spending money to purchase. There are ways to decrease the cost of your insurance premiums, and one that is often mentioned is increasing the deductible of the policies. But is this a good idea? That depends on your specific situation.

What is a Deductible?
As you probably know, your deductible is the amount you’ll be responsible for if you have a claim paid by the company that insures you. For example, on a home insurance policy, “cheaper” insurance often has higher deductibles, meaning a claim resulting in $10,000 of damages might cost you $5,000 out of pocket on that cheaper policy, while a “more expensive” policy may only result in only $1,000 out of pocket expense.

So, I Can Save That Money Now, Right?
If you purchase a less expensive policy with a higher deductible, you may indeed save money on the front end. But what about if you have a claim? Since none of us knows when a claim will occur, a plan to save on the front end until you have a claim may not work out for you. Let’s take a look at why with an example of premium and deductible differences on a home with $350,000 in dwelling coverage:

Average Annual Home Insurance Premium1                  Deductible

$1,595                                                                                                    $1,000

$1,522                                                                                                    $1,500

$1,441                                                                                                    $2,000

With these averages in mind, raising your deductible from $1,000 to $2,000 would save you $154 per year. But if you have a claim in the first twelve years of your policy term, you haven’t saved any money once you pay your deductible. And what if you have another claim soon after? Your deductible is typically paid at each claim occurrence, so that means another $2,000 out of your pocket.

Does it ever make sense to increase your deductible. Yes, there are instances where it would based on the premium differences and the individual’s financial situation. But that is something you’d want to review carefully with your insurance agent.

Our agents can discuss your options and help you find the coverage that’s best for you. Let us help you find the insurance policy terms that are right for you!

1 – Quadrant Information Services. Averages are for $350,000 worth of dwelling coverage.

The Changing Marketplace for Cabin Insurance

In case you haven’t noticed, the insurance market has changed significantly this year. Prices are up and the options for coverage are fewer. So, what does that mean for insuring your cabin or vacation rental property? It means you need to work with someone who understands what’s going on and how it impacts your specific risks. Let’s take a look at what’s happening and how you can approach your insurance needs.

What Has Happened?
Natural disasters and other claim impacts have led to many property and casualty (P&C) insurance companies losing money. Some reports say that the P&C industry won’t be profitable again until 2025. Wildfires, hailstorms, tornadoes – all of these unexpected occurrences and more can add up quickly on claims – sometimes in bunches of the same times and locations. For many cabins and vacation properties, the impacts are greater because they are in more remote locations with less recovery and response service in place.

As a result, the premiums for most of these properties have continued to escalate. In addition, some companies have stopped offering coverage for them, either in certain areas or completely.

What Can be Done?
There is still coverage available for almost any property but finding it can be more of a challenge. Independent agencies like ours have access to multiple markets and can help research what’s available for your property. Once we identify your options, we can help you review the offering and the cost to discuss what’s right for you. We can also help you understand measures that might make your property less of a “risk” when these companies are underwriting your application for coverage.

Being proactive is critical when the market is in this state. Let us help you review the needs you have and help you find the right coverage for your cabin or vacation rental property. Give Brandon Patterson a call at 865.453.1414 or email and he’ll help you start the process!

Insurance Premiums and the Economy – What’s Happening?

Is it inflation? Is it a recession? Is it just weird? Our nation’s economy is definitely in flux right now. And while what exactly is happening might be debated, there is no debate that it is impacting everyday Americans. One of those impacts is in the cost of insurance. How and why? Let’s review the impacts and discuss your options.

Social Inflation
Referring to increases in lawsuits, the amounts awarded, and general impacts of litigation, social inflation is on the rise. Litigation funding is even a thing now, as firms and investors are “betting” on cases by backing the plaintiffs as a way to make money.

Cost of Claims
The costs to repair and replace are also a factor impacting premiums. Parts and materials, whether it be for a car, roof, building, or otherwise, are costing more and also taking longer to complete. Insurers are paying more for repairs, rental cars, loss of use, and more. Even if the amount of claims is lower, the severity of the claims is higher with these added costs.

Deductibles and Premiums
Some may suggest that saving money on your insurance is as simple as raising your deductible. And while that certainly can reduce your premium, the whole point of insurance is to help indemnify the party or parties that suffered the loss. With a higher deductible, you’d receive less money in the case of a large loss, and also have a higher threshold of when it would even make sense to file a claim. Raising your deductible is sometimes a solution, but it may only be a short-term fix.

What Can you Do?
We can help you review the coverages you have, look for options, and even consider variables like bundled coverage for saving money. There isn’t always a need to lower your coverage amounts to save money, and we want to help you understand your choices. In addition, we can discuss if you really have the proper limits and endorsements to make sure the things you want to protect are truly covered. Because sometimes, spending money can save you money in the long run.

Let us go to work for you! Give Brandon Patterson a call at 865.453.1414 or email and he’ll help you start the process!

What Coverage do you Need for Signs and Murals?

If your business’s building has a mural painted on its walls, or a monument sign that helps brand your location, you know that these things often add character to your property. If they were damaged, destroyed, or vandalized, you’d want them restored in the best way possible. However, some commercial property policies may not have the coverage you need to do so. Let’s talk about why.


Your commercial property insurance likely has some coverage that would pay for damage to signs or murals in a covered loss. The question is, what are the limits? If you paid an artist $3,000 to paint a mural on the side of your building, and someone drives into that wall – how much coverage do you have? Your insurance would likely pay for repairs to the wall, but would you have enough to have the mural redone?

The same may be an example for a roadside monument or elevated sign. If you have a BOP for your business’s insurance, there may not be coverage for outdoor signs that aren’t connected to the building. They likely can be added by an endorsement to the policy, however, and the same question about limits needs to be asked. How much would it cost to replace your sign and


Another thing to note about your signs and murals is what may be excluded from being covered. Some policies may exclude vandalism from coverage, and others may have specific language about lighting for signage. If you are currently having a mural painted, you may want to ask about coverage for it while it is in-process as well. Especially if it is a large financial investment.

Let’s talk through your signage and mural needs that may be unique, and make sure you have the coverage in place to protect them. Contact Brandon Patterson at 865.453.1414 or

What Does Your Small or Hobby Farm Need for Coverage?

If you have land on your property that you use for farming, you may think that you don’t need additional coverage if you don’t farm commercially. But the answer to that depends on your specific situation. Let’s take a look at what may be some common risks for small and hobby farms.


The coverage you need for farm property is typically based on how much land you use for it, and what those activities encompass. If you have a farm that is used primarily for enjoyment and not as a profit source, you likely have a “hobby” farm. It is unlikely that your home insurance policy properly covers your hobby farm, and you should discuss the additional options for your coverage. A farm insurance policy may be the best option, and


If you do any farming, you probably have equipment that you utilize for the work. If you have a “blanket” farm policy, your equipment may be covered. But not all farm policies offer blanket coverage, and even if they do, the limits may not be high enough for what you need.


Even with one cow or just a few chickens, you’re adding to your risk by having livestock. And while you may not need expanded coverage like a Livestock Risk Policy, you may be able to add an endorsement for livestock coverage onto your farm policy.


Have a pumpkin patch, corn maze, apple picking, etc. as activities on your farm? If you allow visitors onto your property – even for a small window of time – you should consider the liability you may incur should someone get injured. And although you may take the necessary precautions for safety, accidents happen. Small Farm Insurance may be the answer here, and the parameters of your use will determine the coverages you need.

Let us help you review the risks of your farm and help you understand the options you have for coverage. Contact Brandon Patterson at 865.453.1414 or

Does a Home-sharing Endorsement Properly Cover Investment Property?

The world of investment property has changed significantly over the past decade, as the short-term rental market has seen a meteoric rise thanks to platforms like VRBO and Airbnb. This has resulted in new risks as well as new insurance coverage options. One such option is home-sharing endorsements, which are being added to many individual home insurance policies as a way to cover short-term rentals. But is the right solution for covering investment properties? That depends on several factors, so let’s review them.

Personal and Commercial Use

You likely already know that your personal insurance is unlikely to cover commercial use of your property. A home-sharing endorsement may add coverage for property damage, theft, or liability claims that result from renters. But these coverages are typically tied to a primary residence. So, if you rent out rooms in your home or possibly even a guest house on the property of your primary residence, this may be a good option. If you have a cabin, vacation home, or other seasonal property, a claim filed through this endorsement that relates to a renter will likely be uncovered.

Primary Residence

If you have investment property like a short-term rental, or even your own cabin or vacation home that you rent out while not in your use – it is not your “primary residence” unless it is your legal domicile. As such, your homeowners policy is unlikely to cover it, no matter what endorsements are added. Insurance policies are contracts, and in this scenario they use the term “residence premises” to refer to the dwelling where you reside. In addition, if you’re being paid for rental, you’re involved in a commercial transaction.

Covering Investment Property Risks

What you actually need to cover investment property may still vary, but let’s start with the basics. Investment property, rental property, or even sometimes call landlord risk – these insurance policies are designed to cover you for losses to property you are renting out to others. Property damage, injuries, theft, and liability are all parts of this coverage you need to understand and know your limits for in the policy you have in place. You also need to keep in mind that while some coverages may be “bundled” into policies, there are often additional gaps to address. For example, sewer backup or flood insurance are unlikely to be included in these policies. Other considerations like loss of income or tenant rent default should also be discussed.

The Use is the Key

How is your property being used? That is the question to start with. Paying less money to add an endorsement won’t save you in the long run if you have a claim denied due to the policy language or exclusions.

Let us help you review your options and determine the coverages that are best for you! Contact Brandon Patterson at 865.453.1414 or email and let us help you get started.

Can Your Business Improve Your Work Comp Experience Mod?

Owning and operating a business can be very rewarding and potentially very profitable, but it can also be very expensive. Having inventory, property, taxes, and especially employees – it all comes with costs. But some of those costs can be controlled, is your workers’ compensation insurance one of them? Possibly so, and the source of control may be your experience modification factor (also known as experience mod rate, EMR, xmod, Mod, and more). Let’s review how.

Safety Programs

As you can read in another of our Blogs, your Mod is based on the comparison of your business to others in your industry. The average Mod is 1.0, so your business will be higher or lower depending on the circumstances. If you have a good business history with minimal and less severe claims, you will likely have a Mod lower than 1.0.

So, can you lower this Mod? Yes, and having a safety program in place is a great first step. To build one, take steps that include examining your risks, determining processes, deciding who is responsible for them, documenting the plan, and implementing/reviewing the plan and its results.

Your Data

Insurance companies are underwriting your coverage to predict future losses. They’ll review your company’s history and compare it to others in your industry. Making sure this data is accurate is critical. What are your employees’ roles, and are they classified properly. Is the industry you’re being compared with accurate to the work your company does? Do they understand your safety plan and the risk management measures you have in place. Work with your agent and the insurance company to be sure this information is complete and accurate.

Covering Investment Property Risks

What you actually need to cover investment property may still vary, but let’s start with the basics. Investment property, rental property, or even sometimes call landlord risk – these insurance policies are designed to cover you for losses to property you are renting out to others. Property damage, injuries, theft, and liability are all parts of this coverage you need to understand and know your limits for in the policy you have in place. You also need to keep in mind that while some coverages may be “bundled” into policies, there are often additional gaps to address. For example, sewer backup or flood insurance are unlikely to be included in these policies. Other considerations like loss of income or tenant rent default should also be discussed.

Claims Prevention

In addition to safety on-site, preventative measures can be taken before the job ever starts. Onboarding, training, screening, and testing of employees and potential hires can help you save.

In addition to safety, the above steps may help your company run more efficiently – which may lead to happier employees and higher profit margins. It’s a win-win!

Let us help you understand your Mod and the options you have to improve it! Contact Brandon Patterson at 865.453.1414 or email and let us help you get started.

Do Your Cabin & Vacation Rental Risks Change During Busy Season?

If you own or operate Cabin and Vacation Rentals, it’s likely that one of your busiest seasons is Memorial Day through Labor Day. You may have more occupants, and at a higher frequency than during the slower months of the year. So, does more use – and more users – equate to higher risks for your property? It may, and let’s take a look at how.

Damage from Renters

Even well-intentioned renters of your property may cause damage by accident, and these could be small concerns or large issues. The more people that are using the property, the higher the likelihood that an issue will occur. Doing a thorough check after renters complete their stay may help you identify any issues that need to be addressed before they become larger problems.

Risks for Liability

Having families or groups on your property under their own supervision can sometimes lead to accidents or injuries. And while you may have the proper structure in place to avoid significant liability, that doesn’t mean lawsuits can be completely prevented. In the litigious world we live in, there are unfortunately some “bad actors” as well. Having as much documentation of maintenance and systems in place might help you avoid a lengthy legal issue.

One specific area to monitor liability is for properties with pools and/or hot tubs. Be sure to have clear rules of use and waivers of liability in your rental agreement to help protect the interests of you and the renters.

Seasonal Risks

The Summer months also have concerns around their weather impacts. Dry weather can result in wildfire conditions; heavier storms can result in flooding, lightning strikes, or hail; and more active wildlife can also be a concern for property.

Preparation is the Key

Preparing your property for these risks and having the right coverages in place should an issue occur is critical. Some steps for preparation to consider include:

  1. Have very clear policies in procedures in place. Have extensive language in your rental agreement that addresses use and liability. Ideally, work with an attorney to review the language.
  2. Maintain your property. When you keep up with maintenance and fix issues as they arise, you are much more likely to avoid something larger occurring. Small leaks, loose fixtures, and unchecked equipment can result in larger problems if left unchecked.
  3. Review and understand your insurance. What would you be covered for, and what may be excluded or uncovered under your policies? What other options – like umbrella coverage – may be available?

Let us help you review these options and determine the coverages that are best for you! Contact Brandon Patterson at 865.453.1414 or email and let us help you get started.

Our Business has Workers’ Comp – Why do we Need Disability Insurance?

You know you want to protect your employees, but sometimes the different options for covering them can be confusing. If an employee gets hurt at work, you want to have coverage in place to help them and also protect the interests of your business. As a result, you purchase a workers’ compensation policy that will help support you both should that happen. But then your insurance agent asks you about short-term and long-term disability insurance – why do you need those policies if you’re already covered? Let’s break it down.

Workers’ Compensation Coverage
Workers’ comp coverage will typically cover medical expenses of employees that get injured on the job doing tasks related to their role. It may also replace a portion of their wages while the miss work to recover from the incident. Other claims, such as training replacement staff, permanent injuries, and in the worst case – death benefits – may also be payable from workers’ comp.

However, these injuries have to be work-related. What happens if your employee is an accident outside of work that leaves them unable to perform the duties of their job? That’s where disability coverage may come into play.

Short-term Disability Coverage
If you have an employee that is injured – let’s say in a car accident as an example – and needs time to recover, a short-term disability policy may help pay them a percentage of their salary for a time determined by the policy. This is often for a term of weeks, months, or possibly a year. And while disability “insurance” from Social Security may be available, that only applies after a term of five full months of the disability has occurred.

Long-term Disability Coverage
As you might imagine, long-term disability typically has a greater amount of time that the policy will provide income replacement. While the amount and time period depends on the policy, some terms are as long as though retirement age.

In addition to policies through a business, some people decide to purchase individual disability policies. These may cover more income replacement, and/or may have longer terms of coverage. What’s right for your business and your employees? Get in touch with Brandon Patterson at our agency by calling 865.453.1414 or emailing to discuss your insurance options.