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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 brandon@ownbyinsurance.com 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.

What to Expect This Year in Insurance

Over the last 18 months, the insurance market has been “hardening” up. A hard market in insurance means that insurance companies are increasing their premiums and reducing the amount of risks they cover. This has been especially apparent on property (i.e., homes, buildings, rentals, etc.) and auto risks.

Catastrophic events are often the driver for this in the property marketplace. Wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, hail, and more can bring large losses and frequently in concentrated geographic areas. In the auto insurance marketplace, higher cost for parts, slower repair completion, more expensive replacements for electronics (e.g., hybrids, EV, microchips, etc.) have resulted in a similar increase in rates. Many companies have also reduced their offerings in the market as well.

When insurance companies pay out these larger claims, their profitability takes a hit. In fact, the property and casualty insurance industry as a whole experienced unprofitable years in 2022 and 2023, having a combined ratio of over 100% (under 100% traditionally means profit).1 While many expect a return to industry profitability sometime this year, the impacts are still taking place. Companies are charging more to insure property, whether it is a home, business building, or otherwise.

So, why should you care if insurance companies make a profit? Certainly, these are large corporations, some of which are worth billions. But they still support millions (almost 3 million in 20222) of people and provide safeguards for almost every individual and business in this country. The insurance industry is needed for our economy to function.

In 2024, it is likely that rates will continue to climb, but possibly at a slower rate. Then we anticipate that things may begin to “soften” as the year progresses. But you do have options as a consumer. Independent insurance agencies – like we are at Ownby Insurance Service – can shop your coverage for you with other insurance companies. Those that directly write insurance for national companies can’t offer that.

Our agents can discuss your options and help you find the coverage that’s best for you. Let us help you weather the hard market!

1 – Per https://www.spglobal.com/marketintelligence/en/news-insights/research/us-pc-insurance-market-report-profitability-to-remain-elusive-in-2023

2 – Per https://www.statista.com/statistics/194233/aggregate-number-of-insurance-employees-in-the-us/

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.

Property 

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

Equipment 

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.

Livestock

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.

Liability

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 brandon@ownbyinsurance.com

Are Your Valuable Items and Collections Covered?

If you have jewelry, firearms, or art in your home – or if you have collections like coins, stamps, or other valuable items – you may assume that you have coverage for those items in your insurance policies. And you may be right, up to a point. The key is understanding the limits of your current insurance, and what other options you may have for coverage. Let’s take a look at how these items might be covered.

In Your Homeowners Policy

If you have home or renters insurance, you likely have coverage in your policy for specific valuable items up to a certain amount. For most policies, this limit is as low as $1,500. The question for you is, are the items covered worth more than your limit? Jewelry, fine silverware, furs, art, and other luxury items are likely worth more than that $1,500 limit (or other such low limits).

On a “Scheduled” Addition

You may have heard this term before, but scheduling your valuable items may be one way to increase the coverage for them on your current policy. Typically, this will require specific info about the item(s), including appraisals, serial numbers, photos, and other “proof” depending on what the item(s) is. This method will also likely require additional premium for your coverage. This is often a solution when you have a few items like engagement and wedding rings.

Valuable Items Insurance

There are policies available that may provide you more coverage if your valuable items are lost, stolen, or damaged. These “standalone” options can typically offer “blanket” coverage up to $10,000 – possibly more in certain policies. However, they typically do require valuations and details about the items so that amounts can be determined and agreed upon. This is often a solution when you have several specific items you’d like covered.

Specialty Insurance

If you have a collection, or very specific valuable items like firearms or art, you may want to consider a specialty insurance policy. Much like the standalone coverage of valuable items, these policies will require valuations, appraisals, details, and other verification of the items being covered. However, the difference here is that more specialized coverage – and possibly against broader causes on loss – may be available. Flooding, other natural disasters, and possibly even losses in shipping may be covered. If you have a large, unique, or more valuable collection, this may be the best path for you.

Let us help you review these options and determine the coverages that are best for your valuable items! Contact Brandon Patterson at 865.453.1414 or email brandon@ownbyinsurance.com and let us help you get started.

Insurance for Your RV: Home or Vehicle?

Whether you’re a weekend warrior or an RV full-timer, insurance is an important part of owning a recreational vehicle. But when it comes to insuring your RV, should it be treated as a home or a vehicle? The right RV insurance for you will blend aspects of each type of policy together and give you the coverage you need for your specific situation.

The “Vehicle” Aspects of RV Insurance

If you use your RV as a motor home and drive it on public roads under its own power, state laws require you to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance. The required minimum amounts of liability insurance that motorists must carry in Tennessee are:

  • $25,000 for each injury or death per accident
  • $50,000 for total injuries or deaths per accident
  • $25,000 for property damage per accident

The “Home” Aspects of RV Insurance

RV insurance is generally divided into two categories: recreational and full-timer. If you don’t live in your RV full time, recreational insurance will likely cover your RV inside and out when you’re on the road or parked at a campsite.

A full-time RV insurance policy is for those who use a motor home or travel trailer as their primary residence. It may include higher personal liability coverage, medical payments coverage, personal property/contents coverage, and possibly loss assessment coverage that could help cover RV park or association fees for common areas where your RV is parked.

Additional RV Coverages to Consider

Your unique RV use may also benefit from having specialty coverages added to or endorsed on your policy. Some examples would be:

  • Attached accessories coverage – May coverage damages from antennas, awnings, or other added accessories
  • International travel coverage – May cover you for traveling with your RV into other countries such as Canada or Mexico
  • Personal property coverage – May cover your personal property including tools, equipment, electronics, and more

Get in touch with Brandon Patterson at our agency by calling 865.453.1414 or emailing brandon@ownbyinsurance.com to discuss your RV’s coverage before you hit the road!

Spring is in the Air! What Coverages will Prepare You?

For those that don’t enjoy cold weather, springtime is a welcome relief! As the days get longer and the weather gets warmer, it’s an exciting time to be outdoors more and enjoy nature. But there are some risks that seem to “return” more heavily in the Spring, and we want you to be prepared!

Flood Risks
As the weather changes, storms are more common. Heavy, and more frequent, rains often lead to flash flooding or even overflowing creeks, lakes, and rivers. Every building is in a Flood Zone, and anywhere can flood if the worst conditions occur. Flood insurance is typically not included in your homeowners coverage, and our building and contents are also covered separately when it comes to Flood insurance. Make sure you’re aware of what you do – and don’t – have covered if a flood impacts your property.

Boats and Recreational Vehicles
Getting that boat, RV, ATV, or other vehicle ready for the season? Do you have it covered properly? Damage to these vehicles can often occur during their storage, preparation, and/or transportation – not just during regular use! Does your policy have coverage for when this other damage occurs?

Potholes
Road conditions often “show up” more frequently during weather changes. Potholes may open as road coverings warm up, leading to sometimes dangerous hazards. If you only have collision coverage on your vehicle, pothole damage is unlikely to be covered by your policy.

Vacation Rental Coverage
Americans begin to take more and more trips as the weather improves, with Spring Breaks a common “kickoff” to this heavier travel season. Is your rental property prepared? Often, the Winter season has impacts that lead to necessary Spring maintenance. If you’re properly maintaining your properties, you may be avoiding risks that can lead to damage or liability. Even so, heavier use of your properties also comes with increased risks. Having the right policies in place for high traffic seasonal use is a critical part of protecting your property.

To help ensure you have that right coverages in place for seasonal risks, contact Brandon Patterson in our agency at 865.453.1414 or email brandon@ownbyinsurance.com to get started!

Insuring Condos is Just Like Insuring Any Other Home – Right?

Owning a condominium is a big investment, and it’s important that you take the necessary steps to protect it. And while condos do have many of the same risks as houses, there are also other risks you need to be aware of – and coverages that can protect you. There may also be less that needs to be covered than a traditional house, but it’s important to understand what that really means. Let’s take a look!

What Kind of Insurance Do I Need?
As you might expect when insuring a condo, there are three common types of coverage: dwelling, liability, and personal property. Dwelling coverage typically covers any repairs or replacements needed due to fire, theft, or specific natural disasters. Liability coverage is to help protect you from lawsuits that may arise from an accident in or around your condominium. And finally, personal property coverage is used to cover items inside your condo if they are damaged or stolen.

However, condos are typically insured on an “HO6” policy. The main difference in that and a “regular house” policy (typically covered by an “HO3” policy) is that condo owners are not usually responsible for the “common areas” around their condo. As examples, the hallways, land, parking areas, etc. are usually the responsibility of the company that owns or manages the condo – or the condo owners’ association.

So, as a condo owner with an HO6 policy, you may have “less” to cover. But that doesn’t mean you have less to protect. HO6 policies don’t typically protect you against losses from earthquakes, sinkholes, floods, and municipal water/sewers.

What Other Coverages Do I Need?
To fully protect your condo, you should discuss additional coverage options with your insurance agent. Coverages for flood, water backup, earthquake, and umbrella policies for additional liability may make sense depending on your specific risks.

Another coverage to review is “unit assessment” insurance, which can reimburse you for your share of an assessment charged to all unit owners as a result of a covered loss. For instance, if there is a fire in the lobby and all the unit owners are charged the cost of repairing the loss.

Insuring condos, like most property, is often unique to the risks you face. Contact Brandon Patterson at 865.453.1414 or email brandon@ownbyinsurance.com and let him help you determine your risks and understand your coverage options!

Would You be Covered if Santa’s Sleigh Damaged Your Roof?

Have you ever thought of the possibility that Santa’s sleigh might cause damage to your roof? It’s hypothetical of course (or is it?), but if a large sleigh filled with gifts and a crew of flying reindeer landed on your roof, it’s hard to believe they wouldn’t ever leave behind some damage. So, if some tiles were damaged – or worse, you have a Santa’s sleigh-shaped hole in your roof – what would you do?

Would Home Insurance Cover It? Maybe.

Homeowner’s insurance generally covers any damages caused by sudden and accidental events. This includes damages from storms, fires, theft, vandalism, accidents, and more. The key here is that the incident must be sudden and accidental. So, what does this mean for Santa’s sleigh? Well, if it suddenly crashes into your roof and causes damage then it would likely be covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy.

It is important to note, however, that most policies have exclusions for any kind of intentional or expected damage. That means if Santa was aware of the potential for his sleigh to crash into your home but decided to risk it anyway then your insurer may not cover the damage costs as they are expecting him to take reasonable precautions when travelling around homes on Christmas Eve! In addition, some policies also exclude all kinds of “acts of god” type events so in that case even if Santa was unaware of the potential for crashing into your home your insurer could still choose not to cover the costs associated with repairing the damages.

How Can You Protect Yourself?

The best way to protect yourself against any unexpected events like this is to make sure you have adequate coverage in place with a reliable insurer who will provide prompt service when needed. Make sure you are familiar with all of the exclusions listed in your policy so that there are no surprises should something happen. Additionally, always keep detailed records including photos and video footage just in case you need them down the line (Plus, we want to see the sleigh!).

Lastly don’t forget about preventive maintenance – if there are any issues with your roof make sure they get fixed before Christmas rolls around; after all it wouldn’t hurt for us all to do our part in helping out old Saint Nick!

Contact Brandon Patterson at 865.453.1414 or email brandon@ownbyinsurance.com and let us help you plan for any unexpected events.

Don’t Let ATV Risks Ruin Your ATV Fun

Fall is a great season to get those 4-wheelers, UTVs, and other specialty off-road vehicles out to explore. And while all these types of vehicles can be fun, they also have risks that you need to be prepared to face. Having the right insurance in place is a big part of that preparation.

Some of those risks and coverages may be obvious, like collision coverage for accidents and comprehensive coverage for incidents of theft, fire, animal collisions, etc. But what about some of the less thought of risks you may face? Let’s take a look at a few:

Accessory Coverage
Many people add accessories to their ATV/UTV like trailer hitches, hunting equipment, custom seats, etc. This non-manufacturer-standard equipment may not be covered on your current policy. It may, however, be an option to be added or included in a different policy option. Even helmets, riding gear, radios, etc. may have the option to be covered if used exclusively for the insured vehicle.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist
Many people don’t insure their vehicles, especially if they are specialty vehicles like ATV/UTVs. If your vehicle is damaged in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured vehicle, you may not have coverage on a “standard” ATV/UTV policy. Adding this coverage, and/or potentially extending coverage to your ATV/UTV on a personal umbrella policy, may protect you from this type of liability.

Transport/Trailer Damage
Do you transport your ATV/UTV to other locations to ride? What about locations like trails, state/public parks, or hunting properties? If you do, you may have coverage limits, or a lack of coverage, that you’re not aware of having. Some state and public parks require ATV/UTV insurance for riders, meaning that if your vehicle is included under your home/auto policy, you may have coverage in these parks. In addition, the limits for damage to your ATV/UTV while it is trailered may not be enough to coverage damages in case of a severe accident.

As you can see, there is more to think about when covering these specialty vehicles. Contact Brandon Patterson at 865.453.1414 or email brandon@ownbyinsurance.com and he’ll be happy to discuss it and provide you info on the coverage you need.