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The Importance of a Safety Audit for Your Business

Running and maintaining a business includes the responsibility to keep your employees and workplace safe and secure. A safety audit is an essential process to help you ensure compliance, reduce accidents, and keep everyone safe on-site.

The staff at Lake Region Insurance Agency is here to help you find the right coverage for your business. From liability to workers’ compensation, we offer products that protect you and your company. Call or visit today for a comprehensive insurance review and quote.

What Is a Safety Audit?

A safety audit evaluates your company’s existing safety practices and programs. It systematically assesses the processes you have to determine if there are any gaps in your safety protocols. A safety audit collects data regarding employee training, record-keeping, and workplace processes. 

An audit also can act as a legal buffer if something does go wrong. If you have a workplace accident or injury, proof of consistent safety audits can help mitigate problems. 

An auditor looks at specific areas of a safety program when doing their assessment:

  1. Does it embrace industry best practices and regulatory requirements for compliance?
  2. Is there clear and thorough documentation of safety protocols?
  3. Does employee training happen regularly, and does it empower workers to follow regulations?

A safety audit will look at employee training protocols.

Is This the Same as a Safety Inspection?

A safety audit is not the same as a safety inspection. Facility inspections need to happen more frequently and look for immediate concerns in the workplace. 

A safety inspection focuses on identifying immediate hazards and unsafe practices that may be present in a facility. For example, an inspection may look for dangers such as:

  • Tripping Hazards
  • Fire Safety Concerns
  • Dangerous Substances
  • Incomplete Documentation

So while an audit looks at safety systems for the business as a whole, an inspection looks for immediate and potential concerns.

A Safety Audit Helps Support OSHA Compliance

Fans of the American version of The Office might remember the episode where Michael drives a forklift in the warehouse. He has no training and ends up creating a huge mess and safety problem. 

What is funny on television can put lives in danger in reality. Workplace safety is serious business.

In addition to the impact they have on employees, workplace injuries are also costly to an employer. The private sector has almost three billion non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses each year. This number is staggering, considering how many accidents are preventable.

Office workers need to take safety precautions, too.

Companies must comply with regulations mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Safety audits are a significant part of proving adherence to these rules. Failure to comply can result in fines or even a shutdown of the business.

OSHA compliance officers can show up at a workplace unannounced for an inspection. This may be in response to an employee complaint, repeated insurance claims, or as a follow-up to a previous visit. 

They will look for immediate safety threats, signs of non-compliance, and evidence to support employee concerns. Unless there are catastrophic hazards, the business owner likely will have the opportunity to fix problems before OSHA takes punitive action. 

Consistent safety audits on your part as the owner will help ensure that OSHA doesn’t spot any concerns.

How Often Should I Conduct an Audit?

To truly be useful, a safety audit should happen more than once per year. A regularly-scheduled annual audit may actually be detrimental. 

Knowing that an audit is approaching may cause a sudden escalation in safety measures for that window of time. But then managers relax their standards until the next audit comes around. This behavior does not support workplace safety for employees.

A safety audit helps ensure your staff avoids accidents.

Instead, plan several audits throughout the year so that you can accurately assess your programs and protocols. Depending on the size of your operation, you may want to do a few smaller departmental audits and one business-wide review each year. 

For example, you could do a safety audit on the manufacturing floor at one time. Later you can assess the warehouse and distribution. And at a separate time, review the sales and administrative areas.

How Do I Prepare For A Safety Audit?

First, keep in mind that a safety audit’s purpose is not to penalize you. The goal is to identify the practices and procedures that are working and those that aren’t. Ultimately, an audit serves to keep people safe.

If your staff is following appropriate practices, preparing for an audit shouldn’t be overwhelming. But it may take some time.

Gathering all documentation is one of the most critical pieces. As applicable to your business, the auditor may need to see evidence of:

  • Employee Training
  • Employee Certifications
  • Maintenance of Fire Safety Equipment
  • CPR and First Aid Training
  • Food Handler Training
  • Incident Reports
  • Workers’ Comp Claims

The safety audit team should also review previous audits and any recommended corrections. They need to have access to all regulations at the federal, state, company, and local levels, including documentation and training requirements. 

Safety audits should happen regularly during the year.

Depending on your business, you may have an internal manager who can perform inspections and audits. Or, you might need to hire an outside expert to do the job. And in some instances, you might want to use both options.

In addition to general safety compliance experts, there are also industry-specific people available. For example, the trucking and construction industries may rely on auditors with significant expertise in those sectors.

What Are the Consequences of Skipping an Audit?

Safety audits should be non-negotiable at your workplace. Ignoring this practice makes it far too likely that accidents, illnesses, or injuries will occur. 

And without regular audits, repeat offenses become more common. If your company has too many violations or incidents, you could run the risk of losing your insurance. 

Of course, the most significant consequence of skipping a safety audit is that someone could suffer an injury or even death. There is no way to undo the repercussions of bypassing your audits.

How Can We Help?

Lake Region Insurance Agency has a staff of highly-qualified independent agents. We work hard to protect your hard work.

Your business deserves protection on every level, and we are here to provide it. With team members in New London, Willmar, and Cokato, MN, we can serve you and your business confidently and conveniently. Reach out today to get started.

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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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Do I Need Home-Based Business Insurance?

Times have changed, and our world is shifting to a more digital approach to business. Many people are now teleworking from home or running their own business. For the latter situation, it’s essential to consider home-based business insurance.

Make sure you have the protection you and your business deserve. Check in with the experts at Lake Region Insurance Agency for a complimentary policy review and quote. We are here to serve our Greater Minnesota neighbors.

What Counts as a Home-Based Business?

What do Purex, Apple Computer, Hallmark, and Baskin-Robbins have in common? They all began in someone’s home, basement, or garage. So if you have a home-based business, you are in good company. 

And you aren’t alone, since roughly two-thirds of all companies begin in a house somewhere.

Running a home business has tax, liability, and insurance implications, so it’s critical to know if you fall into this category. Some examples of home-based businesses include:

  • Daycare
  • Pet Sitting
  • Dog Grooming
  • Hairdresser
  • Freelance Writer
  • Tutor
  • Professional Consultant
  • Web Designer
  • Online Clothing Boutique

As more and more owners shift to the virtual business model, the list of work-from-home companies continues to grow. If you fall into the category of a home-based business, you need to investigate your insurance requirements.

Daycare is a home-based business

Isn’t My Homeowners Policy Good Enough?

Many people who run a business from their house mistakenly assume that their homeowners insurance provides sufficient coverage. Unfortunately, this is rarely true.

For businesses with minimal equipment and no client foot traffic, a homeowners plan might be enough. But this is a rare situation and still warrants a chat with your agent to clarify your coverage.

If you regularly receive clients in your home or store inventory on-site, you likely need home-based business insurance. Your standard homeowners plan probably doesn’t adequately protect your business.

Be sure to talk with your independent agent to determine what supplemental or separate protection you need to protect your hard work. From property to liability insurance, you need to make sure you have sufficient coverage.

When you rent rather than own your home, you also need to verify your coverage. Just like a homeowners policy, a renters policy will not fully protect your home-based business.

Limitations of Homeowners Insurance Coverage

Most homeowners insurance policies have limits and exclusions that could leave you and your business unprotected. Typically, homeowners and renters insurance policies lack the following:

  • Protection for business documents and records
  • Sufficient coverage for loss of files and data
  • Liability coverage if an employee or client sustains an injury in your home
  • Adequate replacement protection for business equipment
  • Coverage for lost revenue if something prevents you from running your business from your house

There are many common scenarios when a business owner may run into one of these limitations. 

For example, let’s say that you are the victim of a home robbery, and they steal your business laptop, desktop, and monitor. Most homeowners policies will limit this business coverage to $2500. Anything beyond that will have no protection without a home-based business insurance policy.

Or imagine that a client is at your house for a meeting, and they trip and fall, breaking their arm. If this were a neighbor visiting for fun, your homeowners policy would kick in. But because this is a business relationship, you are out of luck.

Business liability insurance

You’ve worked too hard to leave your business unprotected. Make sure you get a sufficient policy in place.

You probably need a business insurance policy if:

  • You conduct business in your house, including receiving clients.
  • You have employees.
  • You store inventory in your house.
  • You have business-related equipment, such as computers or cell phones.
  • Your company owns one or more vehicles.
  • You store sensitive data.
  • You rely on your business income to pay your bills.

What Should a Home-Based Business Insurance Policy Cover?

When speaking with your independent insurance agent, you should discuss coverage for all of the following needs.

Business Property

As mentioned, most renters and homeowners plans have strict limits on what they will replace from a home-based business. Typically, business equipment far surpasses that amount. 

Additionally, a homeowners policy only covers equipment if it’s in the home. If your business laptop is lost, stolen, or damaged while you’re working in a coffee shop, you won’t have coverage. 

Company Vehicle

Do you use your vehicle for business activities? Your car insurance policy may not cover you if something happens while you’re conducting business. Business auto insurance is a crucial component of your coverage.

Liability

General liability coverage protects you if a client or employee gets hurt in your home office or on your property. It can also cover an employee who sustains an injury off-site while conducting company business.

Product liability is necessary if you sell physical products. This plan protects you if an item doesn’t work correctly or harms a person or their property.

Professional liability insurance offers protection for service-based businesses. This coverage can kick in if someone claims damages stemming from your services or advice.

Since legal and medical bills can escalate quickly, adequate liability coverage is crucial for your business.

Cyber Liability

Cyber liability coverage

Cyber liability insurance is critical for most businesses today. Unless you operate solely with paper and pencil, you should consider this type of policy. It protects you against losses stemming from hackers and data breaches.

Any business that relies on electronic storage or transmission of client and company information should have this coverage in place. 

Consider an Endorsement

In some situations, you may not require a stand-alone home-based business insurance policy. Talk with your agent to see if an endorsement makes more sense for your needs.

For example, for a small additional fee, you may be able to raise your homeowners policy limits for business coverage. Typically, an endorsement is only available to businesses that have few or no on-site visitors. 

Get the Perfect Policy 

Do you have any questions about your homeowners insurance policy and how you can protect your home-based business? The independent agents at Lake Region Insurance Agency are here to help.

With offices in Cokato, New London, and Willmar, MN, we can meet your personal and professional insurance needs. Reach out today to get started.

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What Does a Personal Liability Umbrella Policy Cover?

A personal liability umbrella policy is an additional insurance plan you can purchase. It is supplemental and doesn’t stand alone as an insurance package. Instead, it protects you against expenses that your homeowners or auto insurance policies don’t cover. 

This includes damages beyond the maximum your other coverage will pay. It also covers some situations that don’t fall under a standard policy, such as the expense of a lawsuit. 

Don’t leave your financial security to chance. Find out about the options available to you and get a free quote from Lake Region Insurance Agency today.

Why Would I Need an Umbrella Policy? 

Umbrella insurance coverage starts where your other policies end. It can protect you if a car accident or other incident creates damage that outpaces what your plan covers. Expenses can stack up quickly and leave you buried in debt if you don’t have adequate insurance.

Here is a sample scenario:

You are on your way home from the airport. It starts to rain, and then it turns to freezing rain. You try to find a safe place to park, but your car slides and swipes three vehicles. Naturally, one of them is a Lamborghini.

Luckily, you have auto insurance, right? 

In most situations, your auto insurance is going to do a great job of covering you. Your run-of-the-mill fender benders typically don’t rack up astronomical damages. But every policy has limits. 

While it might seem impossible to do hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage, it actually isn’t that hard. Depending on the value of items and vehicles damaged, or if there are injuries, one accident can put you over the limit.

If your auto insurance has a $300,000 limit, but you’re held responsible for $500,000 worth of damage, you are accountable for the other $200,000. That amount will sink most people, and you could end up losing your assets.

Now, let’s run that again with an umbrella policy in place: 

The weather is awful. You lose traction and slide into the parked vehicles, including the Lamborghini.

Your auto insurance kicks in to cover the damage, and you pay your deductible. The insurance company pays out $300,000, and your umbrella policy picks up the rest.

This scenario helps you protect your life savings because you don’t have a judgment hanging over you. You can move on with your life.

A personal liability umbrella policy also helps protect you in the case of a lawsuit. For example, if someone falls on your steps and sustains an injury, they might sue you. If your dog gets in a fight with the neighbor’s dog or bites the neighbor, they could bring charges. 

Umbrella insurance can pay the medical bills of the person who fell down your steps. It can compensate your neighbor for his dog’s lost show earnings. And it can help you protect your personal assets in the case of a judgment against you.

I’m Not a Millionaire. Do I Really Need More Insurance? 

Many people go their whole lives without filing a homeowner’s insurance claim, having a severe accident, or getting sued. Others figure that if they don’t have considerable assets, they don’t need to worry about lawsuits.

Yes, the chances of being named in a suit are relatively small. But the financial consequences can be devastating.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • No matter the size of your life’s savings, it could be wiped out if you lose a lawsuit.
  • Even if you win the legal battle, you may be responsible for fees to defend yourself. Legal defense costs can run into the tens of thousands of dollars or more.
  • If you have no assets currently, the court can still attach a judgment to your future earnings. 
  • Personal liability umbrella insurance can cover unusual circumstances that you would not typically carry coverage for, such as renting a jet ski.
  • Umbrella insurance covers libel and slander.

There are plenty of situations that may increase your risk of being named in a lawsuit. For example, you and your assets may be at higher risk if you:

  • Own a rental property
  • Coach a children’s sports team
  • Volunteer at a nonprofit
  • Hunt
  • Participate in contact sports
  • Own particular breeds of dog
  • Own a trampoline or swimming pool
  • Have significant assets
  • Have high potential earnings – Liability judgments can attach to future income.

What Doesn’t Umbrella Insurance Cover? 

Umbrella policies cover your liability. That means they pay the cost of other people’s losses if you are responsible for it. 

But they don’t cover your losses. For example, if a burst pipe floods your apartment, an umbrella policy won’t pay for damage to your things. But if the water ruins your downstairs neighbor’s items, an umbrella policy can kick in.

Your umbrella policy will not come into play until after your homeowners or auto insurance pays. It also won’t eliminate your deductible on those policies. 

This plan also won’t pay out for damage you cause intentionally. If you throw a brick through your neighbor’s window, the repercussions of that will be yours alone. Your homeowner’ insurance will also refuse to pay in this type of circumstance. 

A personal umbrella liability policy also excludes any liability you incur performing business or professional activities. You need a business liability policy to meet that need.

How Much Insurance Do I Need?

Just as with any insurance decision, there is no one-size-fits-all personal umbrella insurance plan. You will need to work with your independent broker to determine the best extra liability coverage for you. By looking at your budget and total assets, your agent can help you settle on an appropriate amount of coverage.

Talk to Lake Region About a Personal Liability Umbrella Policy

This type of insurance plan is an inexpensive way to give yourself a sense of security. You can feel confident and prepared for almost any liability circumstance. Contact Lake Region Insurance Agency today and find out how you can have this peace of mind.

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How Does Farm Insurance Coverage Work?

Of all the insurance types on the market, farm coverage is perhaps one of the less well-known examples. Despite its relative obscurity, farm insurance coverage can be a lifesaver for those in the agricultural sector. The right policy can offer tremendous advantages and significant peace of mind.

From protecting machinery to covering livestock, a farm policy can help guard the essentials you need for your livelihood. At Lake Region Insurance Agency, we know how crucial this coverage is for our farming neighbors. Reach out to a team member today for a free insurance review and quote.

What Is Farm Insurance Coverage?

Also known as agricultural or ranch coverage, farm insurance is protection designed for those in agribusiness. It can protect you in the event of many different losses, including loss of:

  • Business 
  • Buildings
  • Livestock
  • Machinery
  • Equipment
  • Tools

Farming is an unpredictable industry at the best of times. It is reassuring to know that your business and livelihood have protection. From unexpected events to freak weather conditions, strange things can happen that damage your ability to earn a living.

What Is Covered By Farm Insurance?

Farm and ranch insurance is a unique type of policy. It can protect you commercially and personally. Its foundation is similar to homeowners insurance, and then the farm owner can add more coverage for commercial property. 

There are four main components to consider in your farm insurance coverage. It’s crucial that you discuss each of these with your independent insurance broker so that you have the protection you need. Not every policy automatically includes all of the following:

1. Farm Machinery and Equipment

Machinery and equipment are integral to any farming operation, and losing them can have significant consequences. 

Damage or loss can also result in a hefty bill if you need to replace anything. A tractor alone can cost more than $200,000 but is essential for any farmer. By taking out an insurance policy, you protect your finances and ensure that the farm can still operate in the face of property casualty.

This category is broad and covers most essential farming property, including:

  • Tractors 
  • Planters 
  • Field Equipment 
  • Hay Rakers
  • Combines 

In addition, portable structures and fences may also have coverage, depending on your policy.

2. Livestock

Livestock is often the heart of commercial agribusiness, so insurance saves you tremendous difficulty if something happens to your animals. 

Your insurance plan will outline the types of peril that have coverage: basic, broad, or special. If livestock is killed or injured due to a covered hazard, you will be able to recoup your cost for the animal. Examples of peril may include:

  • Lightning
  • Windstorm
  • Hit by Vehicle
  • Theft
  • Sinkhole
  • Attack by Wild Animal

Some policies will also protect against freak weather conditions such as floods or earthquakes. Speak with your insurance agent for a full understanding of your plan’s coverage.

If you own horses, you also may be able to purchase coverage specifically for equines. Due to their range of functions, from showing to breeding, horses are significant investments and require specialized coverage. You will generally be able to claim for incidents including:

  • Mortality due to perils or theft
  • Death due to illness
  • Major medical expenses, including surgical costs
  • Compensation for loss of use – This coverage may apply if a horse’s illness or injury forces them to miss breeding or showing season.

Ensuring that your livestock has coverage can protect you from a financial nightmare. When comparing agribusiness insurance carriers, be sure you are clear on the protection you need.

3. Farm Products 

In addition to the machinery and livestock you own, your farm also requires specific products to function. Silage, seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, and animal feed need coverage in your farm insurance policy, as well. 

It is critical to note that this kind of insurance only covers your seeds while they are in storage. Once they go into the ground, a farm or ranch insurance policy no longer applies. 

Crops do not have protection under this type of plan. Talk to your insurance agent about a policy that provides that level of coverage.

4. Farm Liability Coverage

Farms are inherently dangerous places. With heavy machinery and unpredictable animals, accidents are likely to happen. 

Liability coverage can apply to a wide range of situations. For example, if a visitor to your farm gets hurt, it may help cover their medical bills. Or if your cows escape and run through a neighbor’s fence, the policy can cover the damage.

Legal fees from injuries or loss of personal property can add up quickly. So liability coverage is vital to protect your farm and livelihood. 

Are Any Items Not Covered?

Farm and ranch insurance products can carry many caveats. It is essential that you understand what your policy will and will not cover. Most farm plans exclude the following:

  • Fencing – You may be able to purchase a policy extension to cover this.
  • Specific Perils – Be sure you understand all covered and excluded events.
  • Fire – Your insurance agent should discuss any situations in which coverage would not apply to fire damage or loss. For example, there may be specific guidelines surrounding road accessibility for fire trucks.
  • Crops – To protect planted seeds and the crops that you grow, you need a separate policy.

Do I Need Farm Insurance?

Farming can be a volatile industry with thin profit margins. A great deal of your profit potential resides in your physical structures, equipment, and livestock. Taking the time to purchase insurance now could save heartbreak down the line. 

How Can We Help?

Farm insurance is a unique niche, and many insurance companies are touting their services. How do you pick the best option?

Here at Lake Region, your protection is our priority.  As independent brokers, we can access a range of agribusiness insurance providers. This means that we work to find perfect coverage options for you without being obligated to a particular  carrier. 

If you are a farmer or rancher, call or stop in one of our Greater Minnesota offices to get started. We serve our community in New London, Willmar, and Cokato, MN. 

 

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What is Cyber Liability Insurance and Why Do I Need It?

Business owners, we can guess that you practically have your “life” on your laptop. It’s certainly the way of modern business. Cyber liability insurance is your protection in a digitally vulnerable culture.

Customer data and sensitive information are just a few of the items most owners store online as part of their operations. Hackers want to access your systems and your company information for many kinds of exploitation.

When you purchase a cyber liability business policy from Lake Region Insurance Agency, you help protect everything you’ve worked tirelessly to build. Your operations, livelihood, and customers depend on safe and secure online systems. 

And if an issue arises for your business, your neighbors at Lake Region help you get back on your (cyber) feet with quick claims processing and payouts. Reach out today for a complimentary quote and insurance review.

Who Needs Cyber Liability Coverage?

There are more and more cyber data breaches each year, and hackers continually up their game and hone their skills. Malware and ransomware are getting more sophisticated. With each passing week, it’s more likely you or your business could be the target of cybercrime. 

You should consider getting cyber liability insurance if your business:

  • Emails Clients, Vendors, or Employees
  • Takes Payments Online
  • Advertises Online
  • Stores Customer, Vendor, and Client Data Electronically
  • Sends and Receives Documents Online
  • Maintains Social Media Business Pages 

These are just a few of the business scenarios where cyber liability insurance makes sense. The bottom line is that almost every business now has a virtual, online component to it. This fact makes just about every company vulnerable to cybersecurity concerns.

Policy coverage

Not only is your company data at risk online, but so are your operations and revenue streams if you lose control over your information. It’s crucial to ensure your policy covers lost income in addition to data recovery and system repair. Talk with your independent agent about including the following components in your policy coverage.

First-Party Damages

  • Electronic Data Damage or Loss: You could get hit by a hacker, a virus, or a denial-of-service attack. You want a policy that can cover costs associated with data recovery and system repair. Do you store data for someone else? Would you need to hire an expert to help you recover what you lost? You can include this kind of coverage in your cyber liability policy.
  • Ransom Attacks: Increasingly, there are situations where a hacker gains control of your data. Then they send a ransom note demanding payment from you to obtain data access. Or they threaten to launch a virus or further exploit confidential customer data. Your policy can protect you in this event, as well. Cyber liability insurance pays the ransom demand as well as other expenses you may incur in the demand response.
  • Income Loss and Extra Expenses: If your business operations cease or slow down while navigating a cyber attack, your policy should cover any lost income. Further, if you incur extra expenses while getting your business back up and running, your insurance should cover those, too.
  • Crisis Management: Hackers don’t just steal your data. They also damage your reputation. Your business success depends on your “know, like, and trust” factor. You may need to spend time and money rebuilding trust with your clients, customers, and industry. Your policy should cover expenses related to managing your reputation after a data breach.
  • Notification Costs: After a data breach, you have a legal obligation to notify anyone impacted by the crime. Reaching out to each of your clients, vendors, and employees can be costly and time-consuming. An effective liability policy will cover these cyber-repair costs. 

Third-party damages

  • Regulatory Proceedings: Depending on the situation, your company may incur a fine or penalty for non-compliance with data breach regulations. A cyber liability policy can defray the costs of legal representation during your response to the proceedings.
  • Network Privacy Liability: Your policy should protect you in the event of a negligence claim around your data privacy policies and procedures. For example, an employee could open a virus-containing email that compromises your system. Or you could fall victim to a denial-of-service attack. A sufficient business policy covers you if you are found negligent in your protection of customer and vendor data.
  • Electronic Media Liability: This coverage kicks in when there is a lawsuit for slander, libel, defamation, copyright infringement, or privacy invasion. This legal trouble often happens after the publication of data on social media or other internet platforms after a cyber attack.

Take Time to Understand Your Policy

Each cyber liability insurance policy is unique. Work with your agent to carefully examine your coverage requirements and craft the plan that best fits your business operations. For example, a medical office may need more extensive data privacy negligence coverage than a clothing boutique. 

Gone are the days when cybercrime seemed to impact only giant corporations or those in the financial field. Any company that utilizes an online platform to receive, send, or store customer data is at risk. 

Feel Secure Online with Lake Region Insurance Agency

At Lake Region, our customers are also our neighbors. We understand how hard you’ve worked to launch and build your business. 

And we know how essential a solid reputation is for small businesses across Greater Minnesota. We’ll help you guard your good standing in the event you are the target of cybercriminals.

For over 50 years, we’ve built our agency on the trust of our neighbors in Cokato, New London, and Wilmar, MN. Our knowledgeable staff will help you select the policies that meet your budget and needs. 

As independent agents, the Lake Region team can search for precisely what you need among hundreds of policy options. Sufficient coverage provides the peace of mind you need, whether you are online or running a brick-and-mortar.

Contact one of our independent agents today for a free insurance review and quote. We won’t stop until you and your business have excellent protection in the event of cybercrime. We hope the worst never happens, but with our coverage and customer service, you’ll be prepared if it does.