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All Posts in Category: Business Insurance

Small Business Insurance

6 Tips to Track Your Small Business Expenses

Small Business InsuranceIf you’re a small business owner, chances are you didn’t start your company out of a passion for bookkeeping. But as you grow, financial management becomes an increasingly important responsibility.

For many, it’s an unfortunate truth. We all know that running a small business takes long hours and a lot of hard work. And this often means tasks like tracking expenses can easily fall by the wayside. But this important job plays a critical role in successfully managing your cash flow.

If you don’t keep tabs on how much money is going out, you can quickly find yourself in a difficult situation. Keeping an eye on your expenses will not only help you reach financial goals, it can also provide some extra deductions come tax time. (For specific advice about your individual tax situation, remember to always consult a tax professional.)

So how can you make sure you’re tracking your costs wisely? Use these six tips as a guide:

  1. Keep business and personal expenses separate. One of the biggest mistakes many small business owners make is mixing their personal and company expenses. Not only is this difficult to track, it can also be problematic in the event of a tax audit. Always use separate bank accounts to pay your bills and carry two separate credit cards – one you use for personal purchases and one that’s just for business expenses.
  2. Know what qualifies as a business expenses. According to the IRS, a business expense is one that’s both ordinary and necessary. Taking a client out for lunch? That will likely qualify as a business expense. Taking your client out to a baseball game afterwards? New changes in the tax law have made most entertainment expenses no longer deductible. Consult your tax adviser for further clarification.
  3. Log expenses immediately. We’ve all gone through a credit card statement and found purchases we didn’t remember making. For this reason, it’s important to record your purchases as soon as they’re made. Taking this diligent approach will help reduce the risk of an accounting error. And there are plenty of technologies that make it quick and easy (see No. 6).
  4. Organize your records. It’s time to ditch that shoebox full of crumpled receipts. Instead, keep all your receipts in a folder according to their month. Or better yet, scan them or snap a picture on your phone to store the images digitally. For recurring payments like utilities, create a notification on your calendar so you can remember to print and save your bill.
  5. Review your expenses regularly. Now that you’re tracking expenses, be sure to take a routine look at where your money’s going. Check your books every week to ensure expenses appear in good standing. This will help reduce the risk of bounced checks or unpaid invoices. Then, at the end of each quarter, look at your expense trends. This can help you identify areas where cuts can be made.
  6. Use technology to your advantage. Keeping a written ledger or updating an endless spreadsheet can be exhausting. Luckily, there are plenty of mobile apps and online tools that can do the job for you. If you’re already tied to an accounting software, major players like Concur and QuickBooks may be a good solution. But there are plenty of other great (and often low-cost) options available. Some other popular options include Zoho ExpenseExpensifyRydoo and Shoeboxed.

As a small business owner, you’ve got a lot on your plate. So when it comes to protecting everything you’ve built, you need someone you can count on.

https://www.erieinsurance.com/blog/how-to-track-business-expenses

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Duane Long - Monte Long

Duane Long + Monte Long

We provide Property, Casualty and Life insurance for personal and commercial needs.
Individual: Home, Auto, Life, etc. … Business, Prop., Casualty, WC, etc.

See https://www.facebook.com/DuaneLongInsurance/ for local news!

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Business-Insurance

Business Risks You May Not Think About

Risk control consultants are the preventative care professionals of business insurance. They can help you detect potential hazards to your business’s well-being and help you understand what actions you can take to keep things healthy.

Good news: Qualifying customers who have business insurance with ERIE have access to customized risk control services. That’s just one more way we’re looking out for you.

Learn more: How an ERIE Risk Control Consultant Can Help You

Bob Kupris, a commercial insurance veteran with more than 30 years in risk control, leads ERIE’s team of risk control consultants. We asked him for an insider’s perspective on what consultants look for – and the surprising things they find.

RISKY BUSINESS

To get things started, let your ERIE agent know that you’re interested in focusing on risk control for your business.  ERIE’s professional consultants can offer many resources to help, including a walk-through for  businesses who qualify. . They’re looking for ways for you to mitigate risks by identifying potential loss exposures and providing information on solutions to control and/or eliminate them.

ERIE’s consultants have specialized areas of knowledge –property, commercial auto, workers’ compensation, products liability and construction/contracting – to better meet customers’ needs.

Their keen eyes are quick to spot things you might expect, such as fire protection. However, there are a few less obvious risks Kupris says are equally as common and – in some cases – on the rise.

SURPRISING CULPRITS

You know the ins and outs of your business better than anyone. So, what might a risk control consultant be able to see that you might not?

Here are a few surprising trends risk control has noticed:

  • Lack of commitment from management. Maintaining a hazard-free workplace is the law, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. What’s more, it’s more likely to happen if owners and managers make it a priority. A recent OSHA study found that non-fatal workplace injuries cost businesses more than $125 billion a year.With that in mind, Kupris says the first thing he notices is management controls to determine the commitment to workplace safety. “It’s one of the most important things we look at,” he said. “Companies that have management support tend to have better safety records and also tend to be more productive.”
  • Data breaches caused by your company. According to the Insurance Information Institute, credit card fraud and employment-related fraud are two of the top five ways consumers fall victim to identify theft. It’s the area of risk Kupris says he’s seen grow the fastest. Having iron-clad cyber security safeguards against hacks and the right coverage is the best way to prevent your company from experiencing, or potentially causing, a data breach.Related Reading: Is Your Business Data Secure?
  • Employees distracted behind the wheel. In ERIE’s 2018 distracted driving study, it was discovered that in fatal car accidents caused by distracted drivers, 61 percent were generally inattentive. Kupris says drivers of commercial vehicles are no exception to this scary statistic and he’s seen a spike in commercial auto claims, which can affect your insurance rates and everyone’s safety. Does your business employ a no cell phone policy for your drivers?If your drivers have to use GPS, is it hands-free?

THE ERIE APPROACH TO RISK CONTROL

Providing preventative plans to these risks and more is where ERIE’s risk control consultants shine. Here are some examples of the most unique support in the industry they provide to commercial customers, at no additional fee:

  • All the tools in their toolbox. For qualifying ERIE customers,consultants offer a wide range of risk control services, including OSHA Outreach Training Programs, customized written safety programs and disaster planning resources from The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety.

  • Support that isn’t just for the big guys. ERIE offers follow-up consultations to help businesses, regardless of whether they’re the biggest fish in the pond. “Many insurance companies won’t go out on something small,” Kupris said. “But at ERIE, we don’t operate that way.” If you want follow-up assessments or training for your business, ask your agent how ERIE can help.
  • A close working relationship with your ERIE agent. “It’s really a joint effort,” Kupris said. “ERIE agents really take a genuine interest in their customers and our team of consultants. That’s something you don’t always see at other places.”
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Umbrella Policy

Why Should I Consider a Business Umbrella Policy?

As a proud business owner, it’s your job to consider the “what-ifs” for your business. Of course, you don’t want to think about the worst… but in order to be prepared, it’s a necessity. No matter how careful or cautious you and your employees are, accidents do happen – and sometimes they can be serious.

 

If you experience a catastrophic accident, things can get costly… and fast. That’s where your ERIE agent and ERIE’s Business Umbrella Policy can help.

 

Why Do I Need a Business Umbrella Policy?

This specialized policy can kick in with extra financial protection against a legal judgment for a covered loss. Business umbrella liability offers a cushion above and beyond the limits of your commercial general liability, professional liability, business auto liability and employer’s liability insurance.

 

Business umbrella insurance could help you when facing a serious and costly claim, for example:

 

  • One of your drivers causes a very serious accident and a suit is filed against your business.
  • A fire starts at your owned location and damages several other buildings in the surrounding area. A suit is filed against your business for the resulting damage.
  • Your business gets sued because a customer is injured by a product he or she purchased through your business.
  • A competitor claims you made false or malicious statements about their business in public or in an advertisement and decides to take legal action.

 

A major claim, like those mentioned above, could threaten the very existence of your business. And if a claim is serious enough, it could even have the potential to put your own personal assets — like your home and your retirement account — at risk.

 

What Erie Insurance Offers

ERIE’s Business Umbrella coverage offers your business $1 million or more of extra protection above your primary Erie Insurance policy’s liability coverage.

 

ERIE’s business policies also give you access to a variety of resources including:

  • Coverage for legal costs to defend a covered claim.
  • Assistance from a risk control consultant who can recommend measures to help you identify, manage and reduce your business’s risks (Learn more about our risk control services.)
  • Access to online disaster planning and business continuity tools through the Institute for Business and Home Safety’s “Open for Business” program.

 

Business umbrella insurance is probably more affordable thank you think.

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Buy-Sell

Business Owners: Protect with a Buy-Sell Agreement

Business Owners: Protect Your Hard Work with This Important Agreement

If you’re a small business owner, you know what hard work means. It means sacrifice. It means connecting to people in the right way at the right time—often during the early morning, in the evening and on weekends. It means putting your business before anything else (even, at times, family). It means being your brand and being on, all the time.

That kind of significance carries extra weight that business owners don’t always realize. What happens when a partner unexpectedly has to file for bankruptcy? Or becomes disabled? Or worst of all, passes away?

Here at Erie Insurance, we’ve seen a number of unfortunate happenings that have affected businesses just this past year—from a 49 year-old business owner who was hit by a car while training for a marathon; to a 25-year old who passed tragically after a car accident; to another who unexpectedly suffered a heart attack.

These are stories of independent insurance agents who represented ERIE—people we partnered with to help customers find customized solutions right for them.

Like all small business owners, ERIE’s agents are committed to doing business in their local communities. They volunteer across numerous organizations, provide jobs and advocate for their customers to help them find the best insurance for them. And also like most small business owners, they are missed by many when they unexpectedly pass.

Because they are independent business owners, we encourage our agents to have a plan in place for when they retire and which can be used if life does not go as planned—something that provides guidance for what they want their business to become.

As your insurance advisor, they most likely advocate that you have a plan in place as a business owner, too, particularly a buy-sell agreement funded by life insurance.

Here’s some information to help you with the conversations about buy-sell agreements and tips for putting one in place:

 

  • What it is: A buy-sell, or buyout, agreement is a legally binding document that determines how ownership should be handled should a co-owner unexpectedly leave the business, whether through death, disablement or other unexpected circumstances.
  • What they should include: A good buy-sell agreement should include a current business valuation clause that allows an expert to assess the value of the business if needed. It should also include who can and can’t be a buyer and how any sale of ownership will be funded—i.e. through proceeds from life insurance, credit or cash.
  • How life insurance can help: When co-owners own life insurance policies on each other that name themselves as beneficiaries (a cross-purchase agreement), life insurance can help pay for a partner to buy the portion of the business that lost an owner if that person passed away. Without this funding, a partner may not be able to afford to buy the portion of the business they’ve worked so hard to build. Instead, the ownership may transfer to the previous owner’s spouse, family member or even a bank or lender associated with the partner who passed. There are also entity agreements designed for LLCs and c-corporations where the company owns the insurance and the buy-sell agreement stipulates the company will buy the deceased owner’s shares.

Consult appropriate, legal, accounting and business professionals and talk to your local ERIE agent today about how life insurance can help you in building this important plan.

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