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Your Guide to Choosing Business Insurance

Choosing business insurance is just one of the thousands of decisions business owners make when establishing themselves. While not as fun as choosing a logo or branding colors, it is still quite vital. When building and running a company, protecting it should be the first step.

Lake Region Insurance Agency understands your need to protect yourself and your business. Whether your company is home-based or has its own site, we are here to ensure that you have sufficient coverage. There are many options to consider, and our staff will help you select exactly what you need.

From liability to workers’ compensation, we find the policies you need. Our independent agents search through countless options to determine the best fit for your needs. We take the guesswork out of choosing your insurance. Give us a call or visit one of our offices in Greater Minnesota for a free quote.

Why Business Insurance is Essential 

Statistically speaking, you have a 40% chance of needing to file a business insurance claim within the next ten years. That is a relatively high possibility of something going wrong for your business. If you are running your company without sufficient protection, you could find yourself paying out-of-pocket if problems arise.

Choosing business insurance gives you protection if there is a fire.

Business insurance helps you to keep going without losing income if something happens to impact your revenue. Whether you sustain damage to your brick-and-mortar operation or have a claim filed against you, protection is critical. If you have business insurance, you have security and can keep moving forward. 

Even if you run your company from home, you should consider a business policy. This type of coverage provides protection that you do not have under a homeowners policy.

No matter what type of company you own, from a restaurant to an IT consulting firm, you need some level of business insurance. And this protection isn’t only for replacing damaged items. When you choose the right plan, it can help with all of the following:

  • Liability claims if someone gets hurt or sick at your business
  • Equipment repair and replacement after vandalism, fire, etc.
  • Making payroll if you are unable to bring in revenue due to a covered issue
  • Commercial vehicle coverage
  • Cyber liability issues

These are just a few of the protections you can have. Be sure to speak with your independent agent to discover the right options for your needs.

Choosing business insurance also gives you peace of mind when you have worked so hard to do what you love.

Choosing Business Insurance that Meets Your Needs

Workers' compensation insurance protects you and your employees.

With about two dozen different types of business insurance policies on the market, it can feel overwhelming to choose the right plan.

Just as with auto, home, and life coverage, no two situations are the same. For that reason, business insurance policies can be as varied as the business owners themselves.

You will be able to eliminate some policy options based on your industry. For example, if you are not running a garage, farm, or winery, you can bypass those choices. But that still leaves many more plans to consider.

When you meet with your agent, they will go over many questions with you about your company. While it can feel a little time-consuming, it’s crucial to make sure you have adequate and appropriate coverage without buying too much.

Some of the topics you will discuss with your agent include:

  • Is your business service-based or product-based?
  • How many employees do you have 
  • What is your gross annual profit? 
  • Is your business run from your home or its own building?
  • What equipment do you use?
  • Do clients or customers come on-site?
  • Do you store client information digitally?

These questions are critical in crafting a policy that protects the business and your assets, capital, and employees. And as your company grows and changes, your insurance will, too. 

Different Types of Business Insurance to Consider

Commercial auto insurance protects your company's vehicles.
Dark colored passenger vans in a parking lot

No matter what type of business you own, it’s likely that you will need one or all of these basic insurance coverages:

  • Liability – Liability insurance protects you if a customer files a claim against you for an injury or illness caused by or at your business. There are sub-categories within this category, such as general, professional, cyber, and product liability.
  • Property – This type of policy is fairly self-explanatory. It covers your structures, assets, and inventory in the case of loss due to covered incidents. If you have a home-based company, be sure to talk with your agent about how far your homeowners insurance will cover you. You likely need a separate policy for adequate protection.
  • Workers’ Compensation – If you have employees, this protection is crucial. Liability insurance does not cover employees while they are on the clock. 
  • Commercial Auto – Many businesses own one or more vehicles that need protection, as well. Don’t mistakenly think that your personal auto insurance will cover your company’s fleet.

Depending on the number of employees you have in your company, you may need to purchase a group health plan, as well. Be sure to talk with your agent about this option.

Come Get to Know Us 

With offices in New London, Willmar, and Cokato, Minnesota, Lake Region has been serving our community for over 50 years. This vast experience gives us the expertise to provide you with a unique policy perfect for you and your business. 

Our team does not work for any particular insurance company. Instead, we are independent agents who can seek the best plan for your needs. We have no reason to oversell you on coverage because we are not trying to meet a carrier’s quota.

We believe that your business is valuable to the community and deserves the best protection possible. With that in mind, we eagerly serve your unique situation. Choosing business insurance is a painless process with us on your team.

Whether you need auto, health, car, or business insurance, Lake Region Insurance Agency is here for you. Visit us today to get a free quote and see all the options we offer to protect your business. 

 

 

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How Does Workers’ Compensation Work?

Having an employee suffer an injury on the job can be a scary idea. You worry about their recovery and the impact the injury could have on your operations. How does workers’ compensation work when an accident happens? It takes time, but it offers you significant protection.

The Lake Region Insurance Agency team has a wealth of expertise in all insurance types, including workers’ compensation insurance. Our experienced agents have the tools to help you make an informed, educated choice to obtain the protection you need.

Keep your business secure by protecting your operations in the event of an employee injury. Give us a call or stop by one of our Greater Minnesota offices to understand all of your options.

How Does Workers’ Compensation Insurance Work?

As the name suggests, workers’ compensation is a specific type of insurance policy explicitly designed to support workers. Employees who experience a work-related injury or develop an illness due to their work have protection under this sort of plan.

Workers’ compensation insurance can cover the costs of medical care needed due to injury or illness. These bills can be very high and may prohibit the injured employee from accessing the right treatment for their condition on their own. But workers’ comp gives them the coverage to seek medical care.

How does workers' compensation work if your employee gets hurt?

In addition, worker’s compensation insurance can help cover the loss of earnings. The injured worker may be eligible to receive a portion of their wages for the period they are off work. The amount will vary depending on the individual state’s law.

Policies also may offer permanent disability coverage and death benefits. Although no one wants to consider these possibilities, it’s crucial that you have a policy in place that provides the right protection.

In addition to it being a smart business practice, carrying workers’ compensation insurance is a legal requirement in most states. And the states typically set the guidelines for what your policy must cover.

What Happens If There Is a Claim?

Worker’s compensation claims generally have very specific steps and protocols for the employer and employee to follow. Your insurance agent will be able to walk you through the process for your state. 

Filing a claim requires a lot of reports.

Typically, the following things must happen:

  1. Employee Report – Any employee who suffers an on-the-job injury or develops an occupational illness must report the situation to their employer as quickly as possible. Most states have a strict timeline for this step to validate a claim. The report needs to include the time and date of the incident and the names of any witnesses.
  2. File the Claim – Most likely, both you and the employee will have forms to file to initiate the claim with your insurer. The worker will need to submit medical records to substantiate their claim.
  3. Medical Care – The injured worker must seek medical assistance right away. Not only could a delay be detrimental to their health, but it could render the claim invalid. The medical professional will need to provide a report to go with the claim.
  4. Follow All Instructions – Stay on top of any forms or information you need to provide to the insurer while the claim is open. Delays or omissions can cause significant problems for you and the employee. 
  5. Follow Medical Recommendations – The employee’s return to work must be under medical approval. Do not pressure your employee to come back against medical advice. And be realistic about what a return to work will look like for your employee. They may not have medical clearance to return to full-time duties. You may need to offer a reduced schedule or responsibilities. No matter what, only allow your worker to be back on the job when their doctor approves it in writing.

How Many Accommodations Do I Have to Make?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires businesses to make reasonable accommodations for workers who experience disabilities, whether they are job-related or not. Unless you can prove an unreasonable hardship to your company, you will need to comply with the requested accommodations.

Injured workers may need accommodations.

Some of the most common changes you may need to consider include:

  • Shifting the employee’s job requirements – For example, if a person has a back injury from working in the warehouse, they may need to switch to a desk job.
  • Reducing the employee’s work hours
  • Providing more frequent workday breaks
  • Adding a ramp to enter the building
  • Allowing for remote work

Can My Employee Sue Me Because of a Workers’ Comp Claim?

In most instances, workers’ compensation offers you protection against a lawsuit from the injured employee. Unless you were grossly negligent or intentionally caused the injury, you probably are safe from legal action. Just be sure you follow all the necessary steps in the claims process.

Non-Eligible Injuries

There are situations when an injured or sick employee cannot file a workers’ compensation claim. These instances include:

  • Intentional, self-inflicted injuries
  • Injuries resulting from a fight the employee started
  • Injuries resulting from the employee’s use of drugs or alcohol
  • Injuries resulting from the employee’s commission of a crime

How Worried Should I Be About Fake Claims?

Insurance fraud is a significant concern, and workers’ compensation fraud occurs in about 1-2% of cases. The good news is that most insurers are quite thorough when investigating a claim. After all, they are the ones paying for the medical care and other covered expenses.

Fraudulent claims require investigation.

Investigators are careful to watch for signs of false claims, such as:

  • Late Reports – Employees who file a report about an injury that happened a week or more before are more likely to be lying than those who report promptly.
  • Monday Mornings – Insurance companies are quick to investigate Monday morning reports because there is a chance the injury occurred off the job during the weekend.
  • No Witnesses – The lack of anyone to corroborate an employee’s claim can raise a red flag to insurers.
  • Vague and Unclear Details – If the explanation of what happened doesn’t fit the normal circumstances or job duties, investigators may do more digging.

If you have any concerns about a claim’s validity, talk with your insurer. Let their personnel do the investigation. On your end, be sure to keep clear and detailed notes about what you see and hear from the injured employee and other workers.

Let’s Find You the Right Coverage

The independent agents at Lake Region Insurance Agency can help you find the right workers’ compensation policy. Protect you, your employees, and your business with this critical insurance plan. 

We are available to serve you from our offices in New London, Willmar, and Cokato, MN. We look forward to hearing from you today.

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Prevent Drunk Driving This Holiday Season

As we head into the winter season, thoughts turn to frivolity, festivity, and seeing family and friends. Parties are a significant part of the holidays, but they also can be the prime scene for too much imbibing. Knowing how to prevent drunk driving is the key to celebrating safely.

At Lake Region Insurance Agency, our job is to help you protect you and your loved ones. Through comprehensive insurance policies, we offer you the coverage you need for peace of mind. And we encourage you to stay safe this holiday season by following these crucial tips.

An Urgent Crisis

Recent statistics show that there are over 10,000 fatalities caused by drunk driving each year. More than 10,000 families each year experience this horrific loss. As well as earning you a criminal record, drunk driving can cause untold heartbreak and devastation. 

What Counts As Drunk Driving?

In the state of Minnesota, as in most other states across America, a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or above constitutes drunk driving. If a driver is younger than 21, there is no tolerance at all. If you are not yet 21 and are driving with any alcohol in your system, it will count as a drunk driving incident.

Blood alcohol content determines drunk driving legal consequences.

Different places use varied terminology to mean the same thing:

  • Driving While Intoxicated or Driving While Impaired – DWI
  • Driving Under the Influence – DUI
  • Impaired Driving

No matter what your state calls it, these are all phrases that mean driving drunk. And they all lead to significant trouble.

What Are the Consequences of Driving While Impaired?

With someone dying every 50 minutes as a result of drunk driving, the primary consequences are self-explanatory. When you drink, your cognitive ability and response times become significantly compromised. You become a hazard behind the wheel.

As well as the moral and safety issues, the legal ramifications of drinking and driving can be life-altering. You could lose your license for a while or even permanently. 

This loss will have a significant impact on your daily life since you’ll lose a lot of freedom and flexibility when you can’t drive. Most drivers find themselves with very high insurance rates following a conviction if they can get insurance at all. 

In addition, a conviction will likely come with fines and maybe even a jail sentence. And it could cost you your job and future employment prospects. Professional and personal damage to your reputation is also a likely consequence.

A drunk driving arrest carries significant consequences.

How Do I Know If Someone Is Driving Drunk?

The truth is that you cannot always tell if a driver is impaired. But there are a few warning signs that can alert you to a problem. If you see any of these while on the road, call the police to report it:

  • A driver who is drifting, weaving, or making overly wide turns
  • A driver who narrowly misses another vehicle
  • A driver on the wrong side of the road
  • A driver with very delayed responses at stop signs or stop lights

If you are riding in a car, and your driver is exhibiting any signs of impairment, ask them to pull over. Get out right away to keep yourself safe.

How Can I Prevent Drunk Driving?

Impaired drivers rarely recognize that they shouldn’t be driving. Alcohol naturally reduces inhibitions and hinders decision-making. So to prevent drunk driving, the key is to act and plan before anyone has a drink.

Use taxis or ride-sharing services when drinking.

  • Always name a designated driver. One of the best ways to prevent drunk driving is to plan who will be the sober driver. Do this before heading out on the town. By having a designated driver selected well in advance, you avoid the temptation to drive at the end of the night. Instead, the plan is already in place, and everyone knows their role.
  • Plan to use a ride-sharing service. If you know you plan to imbibe, don’t take your vehicle out at all. Instead, use a ride-sharing service from door to door so that there is no chance for you to consider driving once you are drinking.
  • Protect those around you. If you see someone who was drinking head for their car, you need to take action. Take their keys from them if necessary to help ensure that they do not drive away. They may be angry right then, but it is better than the alternative. Never get into a vehicle with anyone who has been drinking. Refusing to ride with them not only protects you, but it also can make them reconsider their ability to drive.
  • Always report your suspicions. If you suspect there is a drunk driver on the road, call the police. Provide as much information as possible, including location, travel direction, car make and color, and license plate number.
  • Offer alcohol-free options. If you are hosting a party, you can do your part to reduce the risks and help prevent drunk driving. Ensure that there are plenty of alcohol-free options to help your guests make the right decision and stay safe. Have space available for people to sleep if needed.
  • Pay attention to other dangers. Alcohol isn’t the only substance that impairs drivers. Marijuana is legal in many states, and driving under its influence is just as dangerous and illegal.

Lake Region Insurance Agency Works to Keep You Safe

Here at  Lake Region Insurance Agency, we want to help you stay safe on the roads. Drinking and driving can have serious, life-altering consequences, so please be careful this holiday season.

We also want to help protect you by offering a wide range of insurance policies to cover you, your family, and your belongings. Our independent agents work in Cokato, Wilmar, and New London, MN. Call or stop in to see us for a free insurance review.

Enjoy your holiday season safely and securely. No celebration is worth risking your life or someone else’s. Make a plan, pay attention, and get home safe.

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8 Snowmobile Safety Tips for All Riders

You wake up to a fresh coat of snow and can hardly wait to take your sled out and hit the trails. But before you do, it’s essential to be clear on snowmobile safety tips, regardless of how experienced you are as a rider. 

And don’t head out on your machine until you make sure you have sufficient insurance coverage. Contact a friendly team member at Lake Region Insurance Agency today for a free review and quote. As independent agents, we search for the best policies to meet your needs.

Seven Crucial Snowmobile Safety Tips 

No matter how many years you’ve been enjoying the thrill of snowmobiling, you should review safety tips every year. Look over these pointers to stay safe on the trails.

1. Do the Pre-Trip Work

Plan your trip by checking weather forecasts, reading up on trail conditions, and letting someone know your itinerary. Never take off to ride the trails without telling someone where you plan to go and when you anticipate coming back. 

Make sure your gear is in good shape and ready to protect you. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recommends always wearing a DOT helmet and facemask. Do not skip these crucial pieces.

Any time you are out in winter weather, wear multiple clothing layers to keep warm and dry. Choose snowmobile suits (they are named this for a reason), outerwear, and gloves that are wind and water-resistant and ventilated.

Be sure to choose proper gear for snowmobile safety.

Charge your cell phone fully and bring a portable charger with you. Cell phone battery life will drain quickly in the cold, so keep your phone zipped into an inside pocket.

Look over your snowmobile equipment to make sure everything is in working order. Check your headlights, backlights, brakes, and gas supply. Owners should always consult their machine manuals and guides before operating them. 

2. Take Weather Warnings Seriously

Weather is unpredictable, but checking the anticipated conditions will help you plan wisely. High winds after a snowfall can reduce visibility and require lower speeds on your ride. Warming temperatures may cause fog or melting, slippery ice. 

If the weather forecast calls for unsafe conditions, stay home. No ride is worth the risk of getting lost or hurt due to weather issues. Here are some Minnesota DNR resources to check trail conditions and trail maps.

3. No Drugs or Alcohol

One of the most critical snowmobile safety tips is never to use alcohol or drugs when you ride. Never. Sadly, more than 70% of Minnesota snowmobile fatalities involve alcohol, so zero alcohol is the only right choice.

In many states, drunk driving laws apply to those operating snowmobiles. If you drive your snowmobile while impaired, you face significant consequences.

Drinking and snowmobiling is a deadly combination.

4. Watch Your Speed and Your Group

Riding too fast is a major factor in snowmobile accidents. Pay attention to your speed and stay to the right, especially on hills and curves. Don’t go faster than your skills can support. For night riding, don’t exceed 40 mph.

If you’re riding with a group, stay at a pace everyone can handle. If needed, break into beginner and advanced groups to be safe. Also, be sure you all know the correct snowmobile hand signals. Take a safety course or read up at ISMA to help ensure the group’s safety.

Know where your group is at all times. The lead rider should let all the others pass before crossing an intersection and count everyone as they go by.

Plan check-in stops to do a headcount and make sure equipment is performing correctly. Take a break to stretch and allow everyone to feel refreshed and alert. 

5. Know the Rules

The International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association (ISMA) reminds you to know your riding area’s regulations. Sled registration and use vary in different regions, so be sure you are clear on the rules. 

Consult with local DNR or law enforcement agencies to learn the proper codes, guidelines, and children’s restrictions. Local snowmobile clubs also are a fantastic resource for this information.

5. Be Cautious Around Bodies of Water

Avoid riding your snowmobile on frozen lakes and rivers.

Whenever possible, stay off frozen lakes and rivers. If you choose to go over water, make sure the ice thickness can support snowmobile use. And always wear a life jacket on your outermost layer when crossing a frozen lake or river.

6. Follow Traffic Protocols

When approaching a road, come to a complete stop. Once you are sure there is no oncoming traffic, cross at a right angle. Each sled in your group needs to follow the same practice.

If you encounter other snowmobile traffic on the trail, never drive around a group without them signaling you to do so. A startled driver could turn right into you. And only pass if there is ample room. 

7. Riding in the Mountains

Mountain snowmobiling is vastly different than riding on Minnesota trails. Take the time to educate yourself about avalanche safety, equipment, and practices. The ISMA has an entire section devoted to avalanche awareness.

Consider taking a class to learn about avalanche warnings, best riding practices, and what to do if caught in an avalanche. 

8. After the Ride

Make sure your whole group is in and sleds are off before dismounting. A child hopping off the back while another rider pulls up could be disastrous. Apply this same practice to any stops along the ride.

Check in with whoever knew your itinerary to let them know you are back safely. Look over your snowmobile to assess any damage and store it properly before the next ride.

Snowmobile season is a favorite for many outdoor enthusiasts. Being out in the fresh winter air with family and friends is something sledders think about all summer. Keep those memories untarnished by practicing these crucial snowmobile safety tips.

Insure to Ensure a Peaceful Ride

Lake Region Insurance Agency is proud to be part of the Greater Minnesota community. And we understand the love of hitting the trails. 

We also understand the importance of having adequate coverage to protect you if problems arise. Snowmobile insurance is not only a wise investment. It is required by law in many states. Call or visit one of our offices in Wilmar, New London, or Cokato, MN. Our expert team will help you select the best coverage possible.