How To Avoid Contractor Insurance Scams

As a homeowner, you carry homeowner’s insurance to protect yourself in case of damage to your home. A devastating storm can leave flooding waters, property damage, and personal injuries in its wake. Perhaps one of the least expected dangers that follow a storm is fraudulent contractors. Most contractors are honest and work hard, but some will follow disasters and try to take advantage of you.

After recent storms and major disasters, a few unscrupulous contractors use a trick to defraud homeowners every year – convincing them to sign away their rights through an Assignment of Benefits (AOB) form.

A contractor or repair company representative will often tell you that an Assignment of Benefits or “AOB” form is necessary for them to do work on your home. They may promise it will make the process easier for you as it will allow them to “handle everything.” They might even offer to lower or eliminate your deductible if you sign the form immediately.

Don’t allow contractors to start work before the damage is assessed by your insurer. Most importantly, don’t sign an AOB form. We are here for you and can help you navigate the claims process and avoid contractor abuse and fraud.

  • Use well know contractors
  • Ask for a written contract
  • Ask to see proof of insurance and licensing from the contractor
  • Make sure your agent and insurance company is involved.
  • Have your claims adjuster inspect all damage?

Five Things People Should Know About Insurance

For many people, insurance can be difficult to understand.  Most people know that insurance is needed, but often they do not fully understand what they are buying or if they are properly covered.  That is why it is important to have an insurance agent on your side.  A good agent will help you determine what your insurance needs are, educate you about your options, and help you understand the specifics of the insurance you are buying.

Here are five things that you need to know as you consider your insurance options.

  1. You cannot add coverage for a claim that has already occurred. For example, if there is flooding in your area, you cannot buy flood insurance during an event.
  1. Coverage gaps can be costly. Having a gap or lapse in coverage can be costly. Always pay your premiums on time, or ask for a grace period from your insurer.  You will end up paying more if you have lapses in your policy.
  1. Insurance is not intended to cover everything. Insurance is designed to provide financial recovery after an accident or unforeseen loss. Every policy has exclusions which are important to understand. Remember, insurance is not intended to cover regular maintenance.
  1. An agent can be a valuable resource. A licensed agent can help you find the best possible combination of coverage, price, and service that fits your individual needs. A good agent will be willing to answer any questions you may have and be there for you when a claim occurs.
  1. Do not skimp on liability insurance. The cost of litigation these days underscores the need for everyone to have an adequate amount of liability insurance.  The greater your assets are, the greater your need is to have your assets covered.  To protect yourself and your family financially, buy enough liability insurance on your auto and home insurance policies to cover above your net worth.  We can help you determine how much coverage your individual needs require.

 

The Future of Risk

Business Insurance Trends

The business insurance world is changing at a fast pace. Technology is continually evolving and businesses must change or die. New technology also brings a change in claims and litigation. Often lawsuits filed today are indicators of business liability claims tomorrow.

Business Insurance

Business or commercial insurance coverage is available for almost every conceivable risk your business might face. The cost and amount of coverage of policies vary among insurers.  Also, the type of business you are in also impacts cost and coverage.  You should discuss your specific business risks and the types of insurance available for your business with us.

Future Business Insurance Risks

Intellectual Property

This is one of the fastest-growing areas of litigation. The average defense cost in 2019 was over $500,000. With more information being disrupted over the internet, claims are sure to increase. Intellectual property insurance coverage protects companies for copyright, trademark or patent infringement, and claims arising out of the company’s operation.

Cyberattacks

Recent news that Russian cyber thieves stole billions of passwords should create heightened awareness about the risks and need for cyber insurance. The problem, Munich Re explains, stems from the fact that “most traditional property and liability policies provide no cover for cyber risks” although there still may be a duty to defend until such time as coverage is determined.

Social Media

Social media is becoming popular with many businesses, and this increases the liability risks. The combination of personal use and business use combined with privacy laws increases the risk to the business of being sued by employees and other third parties. There is a definite increased risk of defamation, libel, and slander for firms who don’t outsource the service.

Directors & Officers Liability

Most business owners don’t believe they can or will be sued despite statistics that show otherwise. The latest number by Chubb Insurance Company shows that about 20% of firms have been sued for directors and officers negligence. Claims can be made by shareholders, regulators, family members, customers, vendors and competitors.

 

Never Sign Away Your Rights

As a homeowner, you carry homeowner’s insurance to protect yourself in case of damage to your home. Horrifically, unscrupulous contractors use an insidious trick to defraud thousands of Florida homeowners every year – convincing them to sign away their rights through an Assignment of Benefits (AOB) form.

 

What is an “AOB” form?

A contractor or repair company representative will often tell you that an Assignment of Benefits or “AOB” form is necessary for them to do work on your home. They may promise it will make the process easier for you as it will allow them to “handle everything.” They might even offer to lower or eliminate your deductible if you sign the form immediately.

This tactic is often used by roofing contractors after storms, or by water restoration companies if you have water damage caused by a leak in your home. However, signing an AOB form efficiently turns over your rights under your insurance policy. If someone can gain access to the roof or the interior of your home before your insurance adjuster arrives, they may intentionally cause extra damage so they can inflate repair costs

Don’t allow roofing contractors up on your roof to “investigate,” or water restoration companies to start work before the damage is assessed. Most importantly, don’t sign an AOB form. We are here for you and can help you navigate the claims process and avoid contractor abuse and fraud.

You can help stop AOB contractor fraud by knowing your rights (including the right to cancel a contract, including a signed AOB form, within three days) and you can also help others avoid a nightmare like Barbara’s by sharing this information with friends, family, and neighbors. Together, we can put an end to contractor abuse and AOB contractor fraud.

Most contractors are very professional, but there are a few that follow disasters and try to take advantage of you.

 

How To Make Your Insurance Work For You

Every year people make resolutions to improve their financial position. Part of that process means looking at your business and personal insurance program and determining if it still works for you. We pride ourselves on attempting to provide the best quality insurance for all of our clients. But the truth is, proper insurance coverage and healthy financial habitats are in large part due to the actions of the clients. Here are a few lessons we have learned to help you make your insurance work for you.

Personal Insurance Tips

  1. Make a home inventory of all your personal property and place a replacement value on it.
  2. Replace your hot water heater if it is old.
  3. Clean our gutters annually.
  4. Meet with your agent to have an annual insurance review. As your life changes, so should your insurance.
  5. Have your roof checked on a regular basis.
  6. Make sure to check washing machine hoses and dishwasher hoses in case they need to be replaced.

Commercial Insurance Tips

  1. Check your workers’ compensation rates and classifications.
  2. Make sure you have written agreements with all contractors.
  3. If you rent or lease equipment, let your agent know.
  4. As your business changes, it is essential to communicate with your agent so proper coverage can be reviewed.

We Believe…

  • in the dignity and importance of people.
  • that every person and business should have the best insurance protection they can afford.
  • that the Independent Agency system will offer the best selection for all people with their various needs in the changing world we live in.
  • in responsive customer service and ongoing education for our agents. This allows them to best serve the customer with the proper protection and appropriate amounts of insurance.

Managing Risk In Uncertain Times

We are living in uncertain times. COVID-19 and all that goes with it have created a new set of operating rules and risks. There is a number of new risks that have emerged as a result of these changing times.

 

It is vital that your business insurance program have the flexibility to respond to the changing and uncertain times we are living in. Your business insurance program needs to be designed to give your business the best possible coverage at a reasonable price from an agent who understands your individual needs.

 

Remote Workers 

COVID-19 has changed the way we think about remote working. Most businesses are having employees work from home, and even if there is a vaccine, the work from home trend is likely to continue. In general, employees are covered for work-related injuries that occur outside the office or other workplaces. Generally, employers are still responsible for injuries that occur during a detour, such as when an employee physically departs from his or her job duties that are considered minor activity, getting coffee, etc.

 

New Cyber Risks

Commercial businesses to become more dependent on the internet with an increase in remote workers. This new normal now requires special procedures and policies to protect your organization, its data, and network. When workers feel secure, you can nurture productivity and enhance collaboration.

Finance, Social Life And Health Of Employees

Because of the requirements and arrangements following the pandemic, employees have been faced with unexpected expenses related to travel, digital needs, accommodation (home workspaces) health concerns, and protective measures. Employers need to find ways to address these needs on a long-term basis, possibly through smaller in-person gatherings, remote learning opportunities, and even allowances for home office improvements.

Employees With Disabilities

Disabled employees need additional support to adapt to changes. Specific measures are required to address their needs and ensure their access to remote works issues.

As with any risk, you want to get out in front of it quickly. The longer you wait, the harder it is to mitigate the damage. The most successful companies are those that put systems and processes in place to help them quickly recognize the warning signs and navigate the best path forward.

In 1989, Oakwood’s founder, Bruce L. Sogn, set out to establish a business that would give him the opportunity to serve the community and to fulfill a need in the marketplace. Today as an independent insurance agency, Oakwood does just that.

After researching the insurance industry, he found that by becoming an independent insurance agent, he could offer a comprehensive range of insurance products and services to his clients. By maintaining focus on competitive products, Oakwood has kept its commitment to service, professionalism, and the highest integrity.

2021 Business Insurance Planning

 

Part of your business planning for 2021 should include an annual        business insurance review. Your business changes, and so do your exposures. After you review some of these items, call our office, and we will be happy to discuss these and more with you.  I

COVID-19 Planning

  • Do you have remote work policies and procedures?
  • Make sure you have a cleaning protocol in place.
  • Check your business interruption coverage; it may need to be adjusted and increased.
  • Make sure your business follows OSHA guidelines.
  • Do you have the right kind of insurance to cover business equipment off-premises?

Items to Consider When Completing a Business Insurance Review

  • Review sales and revenue- Have your company’s annual sales increased or decreased? The more business you do, the greater the potential liability you face.
  • Property Values- Have you added any new equipment, purchased or leased a new building?
  • Did you purchase any new vehicles?
  • Is your safety and loss control program up to date?
  • When was the last time someone reviewed your SIC codes for accuracy?

Have you added any new partners? There might be a need for life insurance.  As a business owner, you can ensure that your company is protected by keeping your general liability insurance, workers’ compensation  insurance, and commercial auto policies updated to reflect changes in your business.

Oakwood Insurance operates as an independent insurance agency, selling an extensive spectrum of           insurance to businesses, families, and individuals.  Our competitive advantage comes from the objective and professional service that we provide our access to a wide range of carriers, and our extensive knowledge of the insurance marketplace.

 

Even Small Businesses Need Commercial

Liability Insurance Coverage

 To protect a small business from potential lawsuits, liability insurance is necessary. Policies vary greatly, and they cover different classifications of risks for varying costs. Before shopping for a policy, it is important to educate yourself about liability insurance.

Commercial General Liability, which is also called CGL, is a very broad insurance product. It covers claims from accidents, injuries, or negligence when the business is at fault.  Small businesses may face a wide array of damage charges. Personal injuries, property damage, libel, and slander are just a few examples.

Product Liability insurance covers legal fees for litigation involving a faulty product.  It also covers any personal or property damage charges caused by the defective product.

Professional Liability coverage pays for damages caused by services.  It is also called “errors and omissions” coverage.  This is for companies that market a service instead of a product. For example, professionals in medical clinics must have medical malpractice coverage.

An Employment Practice Liability Insurance policy offers insurance protection against claims and lawsuits that are brought against a business, its officers or directors, or its employees and managers, against harassment, wrongful termination, breach of employment contract, discrimination, invasion of privacy, compensation issues, and employee benefits administration.

Oakwood operates as an independent insurance agency, selling an extensive spectrum of insurance to businesses, families, and individuals.  Our competitive advantage comes from the objective and professional service that we provide our access to a wide range of carriers, and our extensive knowledge of the insurance marketplace.

 

What Does Your Agent Talk To You About?

When you meet with, or talk to, your insurance agent, what are the topics of conversation?  Do you only talk about your bill, or why your premium has increased?  Is the only time you hear from your agent when they try to sell you additional coverage? Some agencies even try to dissuade you from talking to your agent!

We are here to provide a different approach.  We recommend talking to your agent at least once a year—or even more if needed.  Communication is the key to all good relationships. We will reach out to you and talk to you about the following:

  1. How is your claim being processed?  Can we assist you with the process?
  2. Did you receive a copy of your policy?  Do you have any questions?
  3. Have you made any major purchases like a new car, boat, or other high-end items?
  4. I know you have a wine collection; did you purchase any new bottles that need to be insured?
  5. Your son Travis is heading off to college; we might want to review your auto coverage.
  6. How is your new job going? Do they offer life insurance, or would you like to look at some options?
  7. Have you thought more about identity theft coverage?
  8. These days, many people are driving for a ride-sharing company, is there anyone in your house doing this?

These are just some examples of what our conversations might look like. Of course, we always start our conversations with “Good day it is great to connect,” and end with “Thank you for your business, we value our relationship and love serving you.”

In 1989, Oakwood’s founder, Bruce L. Sogn, set out to establish a business that would give him the opportunity to serve the community and to fulfill a need in the marketplace. Today as an independent insurance agency, Oakwood does just that.

After researching the insurance industry, he found that by becoming an independent insurance agent, he could offer a comprehensive range of insurance products and services to his clients. By maintaining focus on competitive products, Oakwood has kept its commitment to service, professionalism, and the highest integrity.

COVID-19 And Your Business

COVID-19 And Your Business

Most of us are doing our best to comply with the COVID-19 stay at home order.  However, there are also many of us who still must go to our place of work.  Here are some things you can do to help maintain safety and financial health for your business, employees, and clients in the workplace during this time of uncertainty.

We recommend you check with your City, County, State, OSHA, Department of Health, and other agencies for provided employer guidelines, as during this COVID-19 event, policies can change daily.

COVID-19 Workplace Safety Tips

  • Do not leave any valuables clearly visible or accessible.
  • Mandate all employees wash hands frequently and provide antibacterial supplies.
  • Develop an Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Plan.
  • Restaurants that offer takeout services should remove all tables and chairs.
  • Provide gloves for staff to use when cleaning, and frequently clean rooms and any areas to which people have access.
  • Limit food sharing.
  • Disinfect surfaces like doorknobs, tables, desks, and handrails regularly.
  • Use videoconferencing for meetings when possible. When not possible, hold meetings in open,       well-ventilated spaces.
  • Add COVID-19 information and updates on your webpage and social media sites.
  • Consider regular health checks including temperature and respiratory symptom screening, of staff and visitors entering buildings (if feasible).
  • Require workers who are ill to stay home.
  • Consider posting “NO TRESPASSING” signage.

Oakwood operates as an independent insurance agency, selling an extensive spectrum of insurance to businesses, families, and individuals.  Our competitive advantage comes from the objective and professional service that we provide our access to a wide range of carriers and our extensive knowledge of the insurance marketplace.