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Oh Great, A Lawsuit. Now What?

As a small business owner there are fewer things capable of striking more fear into your heart than being sued. Even in a best-case scenario where you have professional liability insurance, general liability coverage, or a business owners policy in place, a lawsuit still means lost time, stress, and possible damage to your reputation.

Regardless of whether you have small business insurance or were at fault, here are four steps you can take if your small business is sued. They might improve the situation, maybe even dramatically.

1) Do not admit fault

You may feel like your business caused the problem, or that you could’ve prevented it, but do not say that to anyone other than your attorney. Even if you’re partially at fault, by verbally or otherwise assuming responsibility you’re setting yourself up to be held fully liable. For most lawsuits you’ll need to retain an attorney, so let them do the talking for you.  Attorney representation is part of your small business insurance, so take advantage.

2) Keep your purse strings closed

Once a problem has escalated to the point of lawsuit there’s nothing positive you can achieve by offering payment. In fact, paying for repairs or damages can negate your insurance coverage, and once something has been fixed or worked on it’s impossible to identify the extent of the original damage. This applies to property damage, bodily injury, and malpractice cases equally.

3) Save everything

You’re probably saying, “No kidding.” But how many times have you reached for a business card or looked for an old invoice, only to come up empty-handed? Having a file dedicated to the legal action is a solid first step, but can’t prevent you from misplacing something, and isn’t fire-proof. Back up your physical records by snapping photos of all documentation and backing them up to the cloud.What is a BOP and why do you need one

4) Reach out to the plaintiff

If you have an attorney or insurance coverage that provides one, you’ll likely be told to not contact the plaintiff and to leave communication to your lawyer. This is the best advice. But in some instances – especially if you don’t have any small business insurance – it can’t hurt to request a coffee meeting. By offering the proverbial olive branch you regain some control, a lot of composure, and the possibility that you can work it out on your own.



There’s always the chance that your small business could be sued, and while these tips will help you navigate such a situation it’s always better to have legal protection. If you’re not protecting your business with small business insurance, now is the time to change that. We can help.

Management Consultants Need Small Business Insurance. Here’s Why.

Hiscox Now Offers an Insurance Product Catered Towards Architects, Engineers and Design ProfessionalsManagement consulting may not seem like a particularly dangerous line of work, but consultants in this space face as many risks as personal trainers or family therapists. Each of these professions  offers solutions to client problems based on their knowledge and experience. Occasionally those solutions don’t work, or may even cause harm – whether it is physical, emotional and financial. But even though the advice management consultants give their clients is aimed at boosting their business, there may be one who is dissatisfied enough to purse legal recourse, with potentially devastating financial implications.

Like football, in management consulting the best offense is a good defense – defense against legal headaches, lost time and unnecessary expense. And the best tools for the job are professional liability insurance and general liability insurance protection.

Professional liability

Also known as errors and omissions or E&O, professional liability insurance shields your management consultancy from allegations of erroneously-provided service and client financial loss as a result of heeding your advice. It protects your business if you are sued for negligently performing your services even if you haven’t made a mistake, and covers your legal defense and financial compensation for your client, up to policy limits.

Let’s say you’re hired to improve operational efficiency in a multi-location financial planning firm. You create several programs to streamline the reporting structure more and speed up decision making capabilities. But since only three of the firm’s five locations implement your plan, it doesn’t produce the predicted improvements – and the client sues for compensation. An E&O policy would defend you.

General liability

General liability insurance deals with the more concrete issues that may arise in the course of your work, such as instances of bodily injury or property damage at your location or your client’s. If a client trips and falls while at your office and breaks a bone, your general liability coverage steps in to defend you and pay damages. Or maybe during a presentation in a client’s conference room your whiteboard falls forward, landing on someone’s cell phone and breaking the screen. General liability coverage will take care of the repair or replacement.

Another option for getting the general liability coverage your need is a Business Owners Policy (BOP). These policies combine general liability coverage and property insurance that protects your business property against physical loss or damage. Since a BOP combines two coverages for one price it’s a cost-effective way to get general liability coverage and property coverage without spending much more in premiums. No one expects an accident, but everyone is at risk; make sure you’re protected.

Aside from helping in instances like those above, having small business is also important for growing your company. Many corporate clients require you to have both professional liability and general liability coverage before they’ll enter into a service contract with your firm. It’d be a shame to miss a great opportunity because of this, so start your small business insurance quote today.

How can I incorporate video as part of my small business marketing plan?

VideoBlogMarketing is one of the many critical functions of small business operations. Even if the majority of your customers come to you via word of mouth, or your service-based business has a high rate of repeat clients, most small businesses do some marketing – a Facebook page update here, a blog post there or some strategic signage around town. Whether your growing business has a formalized marketing plan or takes a more casual approach, using video marketing can be an effective way to step up your marketing game.


One of the biggest benefits to using video in small business marketing is that you can easily integrate video with your existing program.  You can plug videos into whatever marketing and make those campaigns work even harder for you. Here are a few examples:


  • If you blog, make a video version of your next entry. Add it to your blog page, but also post it to video sites like YouTube and Vimeo. The keywords you choose in describing the video can help your video turn up in user searches and enhance your site’s SEO. Almost all of the other major social media networks have video posting capabilities, too.


  • If your store has TV or monitor displays, add some short self-produced videos into the rotation. In them you can answer common questions you get about using products, give an overview of how your services work, or even run video testimonials from customers.


  • If you do email marketing, try adding videos to the mix. Use the email to announce the video’s topic and a few reasons why someone should watch, load in a screen shot of the video, and have the email link to the video on your website/blog/YouTube channel.


As you get comfortable with these techniques other ideas will naturally arise, helping you get even more traction on your video marketing efforts. Be sure to stop back by and add your ideas in the comments!

3 Tips for Better Small Business Holiday Parties

With the end of the year comes a flurry of holidays, and with those holidays come holiday parties. For your staff and clients these festive events are nothing but fun, but as the small business owner you’ve got more on your mind than dinner and drinks; you’re thinking about your liability if something should go wrong.


To help free your mind for fun we’ve put together a quick list of holiday party considerations. Make sure you’ve got everything here covered and your holiday party will be fun for everyone – even you!


  1. Limit the alcohol. We know, most people like to have a drink or three at holiday celebrations. Unfortunately, alcohol is a major factor in accidents and injuries, leading to seemingly inconsequential mishaps like wine spilled on a white couch or much more serious incidents like drunk driving-related car accidents. Parties that take place before the sun goes down are normally less boozy; if you need to have your party at night, encourage guests to alternate between alcohol and non-alcohol beverages with a selection of fun, tasty drinks that are alcohol-free.


  1. Make sure you’ve got a general liability insurance policy. General liability coverage protects your business if there’s an accident that results in bodily injury or property damage. So, if your employee gets tipsy enough to fall and break their ankle, you’re covered for your portion of the medical costs. Or if a guest accidentally rips the drapery behind her table when her high heel catches the drape hem, your GL policy covers the cost of replacement.


  1. Make sure you understand your general liability policy. Does it cover rental equipment that is damaged? Will it cover your party if it takes place outside of your premises? Knowing the details of your policy *before* you plan the party will make it easier to ensure you’re operating within your policy’s limits.


We hope using these tips makes planning and enjoying your holiday party easier – and therefore, better!

Navigating Healthcare Reform for Your Small Business

How to prepare your small business for the fallWith the extensive media coverage and opinionated debate surrounding healthcare reform, you’re likely aware of the healthcare changes happening on a national level, and as a small business owner you probably know that there are options for small businesses. But it’s also likely that this is where your knowledge base about healthcare reform ends. Of all the things you’re dealing with – clients to help, staff to lead, and finances to manage – wading through your healthcare options probably isn’t at the top of your to-do list.


Thankfully, a handful of organizations have stepped up to prepare user guides and how-to websites that can help you figure out what healthcare reform is all about, and how it applies to your small business. Here are our picks:


  • Start with the National Federation of Independent Business’ employer mandate flow chart to determine if the mandate applies to your business. While enforcement of the mandate for employers with 50 to 99 full-time employees has been delayed until January 2016, it’s never too early to being preparing.


  • Next, check out the Small Business Administration’s weekly webinar, where employers can learn the basics of the Affordable Care Act. Topics include cost containment, the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit, the new Health Insurance Marketplace, and Employer Shared Responsibility. Called the Affordable Care Act 101, the free session takes place every Thursday at 2:00p ET/11:00a PT; find the next webinar at the SBA website.


  • Another comprehensive resource comes courtesy of the Small Business Majority, a national small business research and advocacy group. Their website org details the provisions of the law that are pertinent to small businesses and breaks down complex terminology, giving small business owners information to help determine if offering insurance to employees is financially feasible.


By exploring these resources you’ll becomes much more familiar with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA, or Obamacare) and how it affects your business. Keep a list of questions you have based on reading these websites, and the next steps of your health insurance research will be laid out for you.

How to file an insurance claim for your small business

Picture this: why photography can be a risky businessIt’s important to know how to file insurance claims so that your business isn’t caught paying for damages it would otherwise be insured for.

Disasters can sometimes hit your small business. Here are some things to remember the next time you’re caught filing an insurance claim, to ensure your business receives all the coverage it needs.

  1. Always report your insurance claim immediately

Reporting insurance claims after too much time has passed allows room for additional damages to be incurred on your property, which may not be related to the incident you’re reporting, which is what your insurance company will be willing to

pay . The faster you report your incident, the faster your insurance paperwork will be filed, the insurance company can begin and finish its investigation, and the police can evaluate the situation if needed. Additionally, if your delay prejudices the insurance company’s review, the company may be able to deny your claim outright.


  1. Leave the evidence alone

It can be tempting to pick up a hammer and make some quick repairs to your workspace so that you can get back to work. Before you take any steps to repair the damage to your property, make sure to photograph the evidence of these damages, so that you can use it as proof to back up your claim at a later date.


  1. Assess the damages

Make a list of damaged inventory and equipment, repair costs and lost hours of work time that occurred as a result of the incident. When applicable, have an outside authority audit the damages to your property to be used as further support for your insurance claim.


  1. Examine your insurance policy

Insurance policies are not all made equal – be sure to examine yours to make sure you’re aware of any conditions, requirements, loopholes or clauses that could potentially limit the amount of coverage you receive.


  1. Work with your claims adjuster and insurance company

Stay in contact with your claims adjuster, so that you can shoot him any questions you have as you go through the process of filing your claim and make the best and most informed decisions you can in your situation.

Remember, property damage can happen to any small business owner. The best thing you can do to prepare your business is to have an insurance policy that covers potential future expenses and the know-how to use those policies to your advantage.

Tell us! Have you had to file an insurance claim for your small business? If so, what are some methods you found that helped the process go smoother?

The contents of this article and the linked materials do not offer legal, business  or insurance advice related to the needs of any specific individual business. Hiscox Small Business Insurance is underwritten by Chicago-based Hiscox Insurance Company Inc., which is rated ‘A’ (Excellent) by A.M. Best Company. Additional information can be found on the Why Choose Hiscox? page. Coverages are subject to underwriting and may not be available in all states.

Massage therapy insurance: Here’s why you need it

Massage therapist insurance is necessary to prevent any potential lawsuits that may derail your small business.

Starting your own massage therapy business is hard enough without factoring in the potential legal snags that could be thrown your way one day. Because massage therapists perform physical techniques on their clients, there is always a chance that accidental injuries or other incidents may occur. Here are some message therapist insurance tips to think about if you’ve started, or are planning to start, a massage therapy business.

  • Potential Injuries Caused by a Third Party Claim

Clients can injure themselves in an infinite number of ways, and some of these injuries could occur in your place of business. If clients hurt themselves by tripping over a step in your workspace, they could file a claim against your business for negligence. General liability insurance can help protect your business from these lawsuits.


  • Potential Injuries Caused by Your Services

Sometimes injuries can occur, or be exacerbated, as a result of your services, even when you are careful with your clients. You may perform a session on a client looking to ease some discomfort in a specific area of their body and unknowingly make their injury worse. Professional liability insurance can protect your business from injury claims and may save your business from the financial and reputational pitfalls that come from a liability lawsuit.


  • Possible Sexual Harassment or Misconduct

Professional liability insurance can sometimes be the only thing covering your business from lawsuits filed against you or one of your employees for sexual misconduct. Even if your business is not at fault, having that extra protection can help keep your business afloat if legal action is taken.

Massage therapy can be a risky industry, due to the amount of physical contact required in everyday business activities. There could a chance that a client will misconstrue a routine procedure as something more sinister, and sometimes you can’t help if a client is injured while on your watch. Having massage insurance can help ensure your small business is protected from any range of liability lawsuits, so that you can keep massaging in the future.

Tell us! What are some risks you’ve taken while starting your massage therapy business? Is your business covered against potential liabilities?

The contents of this article and the linked materials do not offer legal, business  or insurance advice related to the needs of any specific individual business. Hiscox Small Business Insurance is underwritten by Chicago-based Hiscox Insurance Company Inc., which is rated ‘A’ (Excellent) by A.M. Best Company. Additional information can be found on the Why Choose Hiscox? page. Coverages are subject to underwriting and may not be available in all states.

How to raise startup funding for small businesses

How to raise startup funding for small businessesStarting your own small business can require a lot of time and money from a new business owner. Here are some tips on securing funding.

Securing startup business funding is a often necessary first step in order to buy equipment or hire for your small business. While it may seem daunting to raise startup capital, especially all at once, here are some ways you can get funding for your small business. Read More »

Not another fruitcake! Creative holiday gifts your small business can be proud of

Not another fruitcake Creative holiday gifts your small business can be proud ofHow will you recognize your clients this holiday season? We’ve put together a list of ideas to kick off your brainstorming process.

This holiday season we’re helping you celebrate with a bevy of useful ideas. We’ve shared ideas for showing staff some holiday-time appreciation gifts and marketing your small business already. Now we turn our attention to your customers – the lifeblood of all successful entrepreneurial ventures.

You can use these niceties to make sure that clients know you understand their importance and show just how much you value them – not one motivational poster among them. Read More »

Small business ideas for veterans

Small business ideas for veteransWith Veterans Day being observed last week, we’re providing veterans with ways to explore different career options once they get settled back at home.

Starting a small business can be a great way for veterans to exercise the skills they learned during their time in service. But, it can be difficult to come up with small business ideas that are both fulfilling and successful. Here are a few ideas for veterans looking to start their own small businesses. Read More »


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