Long Insurance Services of Kernersville, NC


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All Posts in Category: Business Insurance

Strengthen-Business

Strengthen Your Business in 2018

As a business owner, to say you’re busy, is an understatement…your business is your life. From managing employees, to maintaining quality products and services to meeting your Customers’ needs, it’s a lot. We’ve pulled together five tips to keep in mind in 2018. It’s about taking the time to evaluate, prioritize and delegate for the year and beyond.

1. Set realistic goals. The beginning of the year is a perfect time to set your sights on what you would like your business to achieve in the year ahead. While, it’s important to challenge your business, it’s also important to set realistic and attainable goals. “S.M.A.R.T.”  goals stands for: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. There are many free templates and guides online to assist you in getting your business goals on paper. Just search “SMART goals” and you’ll be able to find a tool that is most helpful and applicable for your business.

2. Look for opportunities to delegate. There are only so many hours in a day and so many days in a week. This year, make it a point to delegate work and responsibilities to your employees. Additional communication and direction upfront may be necessary, but it can free up time for other important business priorities in the future. Additionally, employees will appreciate the additional responsibility and trust you’re putting in them.

3. Expand your digital reach. Digital should be included in your marketing strategy. From updating your site and making sure it’s mobile friendly, to connecting with your Customers and followers on social media, it’s important to weave digital engagement into your overall strategy.  If you’re new to social media, specifically, Facebook®, they have marketing tools and a tutorial, Blueprint, to help you get started. The tutorial will take you through the basics of building your social presence.

4. Make connections. We’ve all heard it—network, network, network. From networking with other small business leaders to networking with new clients or Customers, this could be a full-time job in and of itself. Besides learning what others in your community are doing, there’s an opportunity to gain insight from other business leaders and develop relationships with them.

5. Consult your ERIE agent. Whether you’re growing your home business or expanding to a second location, it’s important to make sure you have the right coverage to fit the needs of your business (employees included). Set up some time to talk to your local Erie Insurance Agent soon.

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Public-WiFi

Using Public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi helps us stay connected no matter where we go. It’s convenient to use at a coffee shop, a neighborhood restaurant or the airport, but how safe is it? Unfortunately, cyber criminals can log in to the same free network that you do and attempt to gain access to your devices and personal information.

“The Wi-Fi may be free, but that doesn’t mean your online activities are safe,” says Cheryl Lorei, a senior IT analyst at Erie Insurance who has worked in information security for 15 years. “The big concern with public Wi-Fi is that your information could be available to anyone on the network. It’s nothing against the businesses that offer free Wi-Fi, it’s just that they’re not in the business of keeping your personal information safe.”

Four tips to help make your online activities more secure

Here are a few key things that you need know about public Wi-Fi security and how to keep your personal information safe.

  1. Watch out for phony Wi-Fi access points. Fake routers are designed to look legitimate, but hackers operate them. With this popular method, called a man-in-the-middle attack, the invader tries to get between you and your personal information that is stored on a banking website or in an email. “These situations can be difficult to detect,” says Lorei. “If you don’t know who is running the network, don’t use it. Always ask the business owner or hotel to verify the network name before you connect to it.” Once you’re finished, remove the public Wi-Fi connection from your device. If your device is still in the mode of actively trying to connect, a hacker may notice and create a phony access point. 
  2. Limit your activity while using public Wi-Fi. When you’re using free Wi-Fi, it’s not a good time to shop online, use social media or access your bank account or email. “You want to avoid visiting websites that save and store your personal passwords or credit card numbers,” says Lorei. “You could inadvertently make it easy for someone to access your personal information. Once they have your password, they will try to reuse it repeatedly to access other sites to gain more information about you.” 
  3. Use secured websites or a VPN service. Generally, it’s best to access secured websites that begin with https rather than http. The s in the address is an indication that the site uses a secured encryption Web protocol to protect the confidentiality of online activities or transactions. A virtual private network (VPN) also offers a connection that is encrypted and secured. VPN can help protect you from digital eavesdropping even when you’re on public Wi-Fi. The fees for basic VPN services are less than $10 a month. 
  4. Turn your smartphone into a secured personal hot spot. Most mobile phones can be turned into hot spots and support several devices at once. However, check your data plan before you try it to avoid unexpected expenses. “Personal hot spots are popular alternatives, but you still need to do your research about how to protect and secure the connection,” Lorei says.

Once your identity is stolen, it can be difficult to recover. “Unfortunately, you’re not going to be able to flip a switch to restore everything,” Lorei says. “It’s a smart move to do all you can to protect yourself.”

Insurance coverage is available for identity theft and fraud. With Erie Insurance’s Identity Recovery Coverage, you’ll get help with the recovery process and coverage for expenses like charges for credit reports, lost wages and even some legal fees. The cost of the coverage is low—about $20 a year—and it can be added to a home or renters insurance policy. A local Erie Insurance agent can tell you more about the details.

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Insurance Audit

Why Is My Business Being Audited?

Erie Insurance’s priority is always to do right by you, our valued Customers. Although an insurance audit may seem like bad news, the truth is that it may not be as troublesome as you may think. In fact, it could be beneficial to your business.

If you have workers’ compensation and/or general liability coverage for your business, it’s likely that your insurer will conduct an audit. This common practice helps ensure that the insurance company doesn’t overcharge or undercharge your business for coverage. In the end, you’ll be reassured that your coverage is up to date and you’re paying the proper amount.

The good that comes from an insurance audit

When you purchase your policy, the initial premium charged for workers’ compensation and general liability coverage is estimated using different rating bases as well as the proper classifications and rates that apply to the business and the work during the policy term. Premiums for workers’ compensation insurance are estimated based on payroll. Premiums for general liability insurance are calculated based on different variables, such as payroll, receipts, sales, units and the like.

Throughout your policy term, your sales, payroll and other variables will fluctuate. The audit takes place at the end of the policy period to collect the updated information and calculate your final premium.

For example, if business is better than you expected and you have hired more employees than you planned, your payroll will be higher and you will potentially have a greater exposure for someone to file a workers’ compensation claim. It’s a smart move to reconcile any differences.

There are three basic types of audits:

  • Questionnaire audit: You will be mailed a letter that provides a website address and a password that allows you to sign on and complete a questionnaire.
  • Telephone audit: An auditor will contact you by phone and interview you to complete the audit. You will initially receive a letter with a date and a two-hour window when the auditor will call you.
  • Physical audit: An auditor will meet with you in person to complete the audit information.

What happens if my estimates are not accurate?

Estimates should be as close as possible to the actual amount of payroll and sales incurred during the policy period. If the estimate is too high, you’ll receive a refund, usually a credit to your current policy. If it is too low, you’ll receive a bill for the additional premium for the audit period and the current year.

(Full Erie Article)

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JD Power Insurance Survey

ERIE Ranked Highest in J.D. Power Insurance Study

Thousands of people recently shared their experiences about shopping for auto insurance in a new national study and Erie Insurance was awarded “Highest Satisfaction with the Auto Insurers Shopping Experience.”

The J.D. Power 2017 U.S. Insurance Shopping StudySM, now in its 11th year, provides an in-depth look at the entire auto insurance policy selection process. It explores why customers shop, their attitudes toward and perceptions of auto insurance brands and how they make their final purchase decision. Satisfaction is measured on three factors (in order of importance):

  • Price—How customers rate their new auto insurance provider on the price of the policy given the level of coverage.
  • Distribution channel—How customers rate their experience interacting with their new auto provider’s agent, call center rep and website.
  • Policy offerings—How customers rate the variety of coverage options, the degree to which their needs are met and the ease of obtaining a new policy.

For the fifth consecutive year, Erie Insurance ranked the highest in the study, with a score of 879 out of 1,000.

The study methodology and other findings

The study is based on responses from more than 16,400 shoppers who requested an auto insurance quote from at least one of the top 25 insurers that have the largest market share in the United States. Customers were surveyed from April 2016 to January 2017.

The study also revealed that shoppers are increasingly reliant on agent recommendations when considering and quoting insurers, compared to 2015 (with 9- and 10-percentage point increases, respectively). Another critical driver of satisfaction is communication. Companies like ERIE that ranked the highest in the study help:

  • Ensure the customer completely understands the coverage.
  • Provide guidance and/or tools for selecting the right coverage.
  • Make certain customers understand their premium calculations.

Are you shopping for insurance?

When you’re shopping for insurance, J.D. Power offers the following tips:

  • Look for an agent with a reputation for integrity and trustworthiness, who can give you thorough advice on the pluses and minuses of various insurers and their products.
  • Compare the terms of various policies and assess how those policies might be affected by factors such as current events, driver performance and acquisition of new vehicles.
  • Be sure you’re well covered in areas where you most need coveragesuch as personal liability (when you hurt other people or their property).

Who Is Erie Insurance?

ERIE has been protecting families and businesses for more than 90 years. The company’s employees and agents follow the Golden Rule—treat others as you would want to be treated.

“As you can see from this study, our prices, products and service often outshine the competition,” says Doug Smith, executive vice president, sales and products, at Erie Insurance. “When you work with an experienced ERIE agent from your neighborhood, you’ll get coverage that exactly fits your life and never pay more than you should. When something bad happens, we’ll make sure you’re back on your way, right away. We’ve built our reputation for being Above all in Service®.”

In the past year, ERIE has made improvements to the auto insurance quote tool on its website. Shortly after the J.D. Power survey closed in January, ERIE launched a refreshed website. For more information, get in touch with a local ERIE agent.

 

Erie Insurance received the highest numerical score in the J.D. Power 2013–2017 U.S. Insurance Shopping Studies (tied in 2016). The 2017 study is based on 16,424 total responses evaluating 21 providers and measures the experiences and perceptions of customers surveyed between April 2016 and January 2017. Your experiences may vary. Visit jdpower.com for more information.

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Business Car Insurance

Ask ERIE: How Does Business Auto Coverage Work

With business auto insurance, customers often ask us how coverage works in certain situations. A couple examples would be when employees drive company vehicles for personal reasons or when they drive their personal cars for their job.

With most business auto policies, the coverage follows the vehicle. So if the employee has permission to use the business vehicle for personal reasons, coverage will typically be extended.

Using a personal car for work

If you’re a business owner and your employees use their personal cars for work, coverage is not provided automatically for you through a commercial auto policy. You would need to add hired and non-owned coverage to your policy, which would provide liability coverage if you are sued following an accident. The employee’s car insurance would usually cover the physical damage to the vehicle.

“The commercial auto coverage provides protection for your interests as the business owner, but the employee’s auto coverage may still be required to cover the claim,” says Leo Heintz, vice president and product manager, commercial auto insurance, at Erie Insurance.

Other ways business auto insurance can help protect you

For both owned and leased cars and trucks, business auto insurance offers coverage for:

  • Damages if your car is damaged or destroyed by something other than an accident, such as theft, vandalism or hail when you purchase comprehensive coverage.
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorists if an at-fault driver is unable to pay for damages associated with your injuries.
  • Liability if you’re responsible for harming others or for damaging their vehicles or property.
  • Medical costs for you or your passengers’ injuries as the result of an auto accident.

It can be helpful to work with an insurance professional like an Erie Insurance agent, who can help you select the best coverage for your business and tell you about policies suited to your specific industry.

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JD Powers Erie Insurance

What You Should Know About the Rise of the Side Business

There’s an exciting career revolution taking place – say hello to the “gig economy” (AKA, the side hustle), a booming new job market characterized by workers who call their own shots, set their own schedules and control their own destinies.

According to the Chicago Tribune reports, “There’s no hard data yet on the size of this labor force. Some say it represents less than 10 percent of the domestic workforce but is growing rapidly, while other studies say it makes up nearly 25 percent. The U.S. Department of Labor is conducting a study to determine its size.”

No doubt, it’s a trend that is on the rise. That – of course – got us thinking: What do insurance needs look like in the gig economy?

  • The Gig Gap: For decades, having a job meant being an employee of a company—often for life. Today, it’s a different story. Many people are a part of the “gig” economy. Upsides like freedom and flexibility attract people to this work. Yet there are downsides like hustling to find jobs and managing a fluctuating income. Another lesser known one is not having enough—or even any—business coverage. Fortunately, there are easy ways to fix that.
  • You’re Invited: Remember the “exchange chain letters?” If you sent a single kitchen towel to the first person on a typewritten list and then mailed the letter to six of my friends, you’d receive the bounty of 36 kitchen towels. These days, invitations continue, but the requests aren’t coming through the U.S. Postal System—they’re coming via email, text and, more often than not, social media.
  • How to Cash in on the Gig Economy: Whether you’re a new graduate looking for a job, a retiree looking for some extra cash or a stay-at-home parent hoping to grow your nest egg, there are many advantages to joining the gig economy. Here are a few.
  • [INFOGRAPHIC] Evolution of the Gig Economy: Gig economy. Side Hustle. Welcome to the 21st Century workforce. Check out a few ways some of the most popular side gigs have evolved over time.
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